Why the west wing first? Well....for one, he didn't trust the back door -- that was too obvious. And secondly...
He didn't want to go into the basement.
He knew he'd have to eventually, since that was most likely where the device was. It wasn't by chance he was sent here, or given this specific assignment. They, of course, knew of his affiliation with this manor...they knew he could find it.
"No, it won't be in the open," Suoh remarked softly, still on edge. It took a few moments for them to get around to the side of the manor, considering it was huge, but when they did he stopped to stare up at the wall. It seemed normal; decorated brick with an ivy-strewn lattice placed against it on one area.
He stepped towards the lattice, but at that moment a small explosion erupted from somewhere behind the house, near where they just were, and someone cried out.
"And suddenly the threat is realized..." Suoh murmured, seizing the lattice and climbing quickly up it. As much as he didn't want to be inside the place, he did want to get out of the horrible rain... "Does is seem like it might be a suitable exam now?"
Halfway up, he stopped and felt the wall next to him. Stealthily, a small section of the 'wall' slid aside, behind the lattice, and revealed a dark opening.
"Might as well get this over with..." he remarked, slipping into the opening.
If he hadn't been taking the mission seriously sooner, Kaile's demeanor changed entirely when he heard the explosion. He narrowed his eyes slightly, scanned the side of the building for any other potential threats before following Suoh and beginning to climb the lattice. When it came to him being in danger himself, Kaile wasn't bothered, rarely adapting a serious attitude even then. He knew he was capable of taking care of himself. But knowing that another of the students had been injured bothered him, and at the very least made him aware that he would have to be much more cautious than he had been.
It wasn't like he didn't trust Suoh to find any traps himself, but...better to be on the safe side.
He followed his partner into the opening, looking around in the dim light as he did so. There was definitely something strange about this place...
Normal security systems didn't cause explosions, after all.
"Lead the way," he commented once they were inside.
The inside of the mansion made Kaile's discomfort worse, and he looked around warily, uneasy. This room...the "Red Room", as Suoh had called it...it wasn't that different from a normal room, but...
To Kaile, it seemed as though the room was dyed in the color of blood.
He retrieved the blueprints Suoh had inquired about from a pocket of his uniform, then walked to a nearby table and spread them on the dusty surface. Though he knew he should be focusing on them, planning how to carry out their mission, he couldn't help but be distracted. A creature, Suoh had said?
Maybe there really was a good reason to send a combat specialist.
The thought of a potential battle brought Kaile back to his usual mood, and he turned his own flashlight onto the blueprints. "So...if we don't find it in the west wing, where should I be expecting to fight this thing? And what is it, anyway?"
"I don't know, I've never seen it," Suoh answered, standing near Kaile to peer down at the blueprints. He paused to clean off his glass with his sleeve. "But...I do know he was studying planar travel."
The SeeD candidate had a feeling this device had something to do with that. He had no proof, though...just a gut feeling.
"If we don't find it in the west wing, we'll check the basement," Suoh answered, sliding his glasses back on his nose and tracing the passageway into the basement with his finger, "...this way. That is our assignment."
It didn't matter where it actually was, it just mattered what their orders were.
Something large skittered rapidly across the room directly about them, sending dust drifting down from the ceiling, and Suoh glanced up sharply.
"We should keep going," he said, drawing out his pistol as he moved towards the door. "We'll check the library first -- it won't just be laying about in the guestrooms."
The redhead immediately turned his flashlight to the ceiling at the sound, but was met with the sight of only paint. "Guess that would be your creature." He snatched the blueprints up immediately, folding them as quickly as he could and shoving them back into his pocket while beginning to head toward the door. The flashlight was switched off and returned to another pocket, and he pulled his knives from their sheaths, not pausing his steps as he did so.
Should they be met with an enemy, Kaile would much prefer to be able to defend himself than to have a nice bright light to shine on them as they tried to kill him.
He opened the door and glanced up and down the hallway before stepping out, but the only company they seemed to have in it were a few mice that ran into a hole in the wall at the sound. Safe for now, at least.
It wasn't far to the library, but Kaile didn't want to rush, despite the need to finish the mission as quickly as possible. This wasn't exactly the most welcoming place for visitors; judging by the explosion they had heard before entering, Kaile didn't doubt that there were other traps present. On the other hand, they didn't know where whatever was upstairs was going. The faster they could get through the hallway, the farther they could get from it. It wasn't as though Kaile was afraid to fight it, but he would prefer to get the device and get out of the mansion without having to.
"Who's this 'he', anyway?" He glanced to Suoh as he started down the hallway, curious. He didn't like it, knowing that the boy had been here and seemed to know so much about the place...
Kaile wanted to know, too. He didn't want to ask too many questions, but...he wanted to know.
"No," Suoh murmured in response to Kaile's remark about the sound. "It's not."
The creature he remembered wouldn't make a sound like that, but who knew what else was in this place. It was possible that nothing belonging to the original owner was even here, and all of this had been set up as part of the exam. But...
Somehow, he didn't think that was the case. It still felt as sinister as ever.
The hallway was gray and dust-choked, though it must've been richly-decorated once upon a time. It almost looked as though it had been abandoned for hundreds of years, though Suoh knew that wasn't true.
"The patriarch, of course," Suoh murmured absently, moving into the corridor. The feeling of his wet candidate uniform against his body caused him to shudder inwardly and feel nauseous, but he took care not to show any outward sign of this. How could he be a SeeD if his will wavered because of childish phobias?
His steps were cautious, his sapphire eyes sharp and his senses alert, but there seemed to be no traps awaiting them. Perhaps that meant they were heading the wrong way...
Still, the library was too obvious a place not to check, since they were near it anyway.
"Look for double doors framed with gold..." he said, recalling to mind the image of the library entrance.
No? So there was more than one "creature" in the mansion...This was starting to get almost exciting. Kaile remained alert as they moved down the hallway, scanning the walls, the floor, the ceiling with his eyes and keeping his knives firmly in his grasp.
Another vague answer. Kaile sighed inwardly - he supposed he shouldn't have expected any different. Suoh did have a reputation for being quiet, work-focused, and not at all social. Why would he be different with his exam partner?
Double doors framed with gold....Ah. They came into view a short distance down the hallway, and upon reaching them, Kaile put a hand on an ornately detailed handle and pulled.
His eyes grew wide as the hallway was illuminated with a bright orange light, and cursing, he dove past the doors just as a ball of flame flew out.
"You okay?" he inquired, coughing; he couldn't see Suoh, momentarily blinded by the light, and with another cough he stood, using a knife to help him to his feet.
Suoh body hit one of the walls audibly and he hissed, clutching his arm to his chest. "I didn't say open it!" he growled angrily through clenched teeth.
His left arm was partially blackened and sizzling, the scent of burned fleshed causing his stomach to turn. The spell had devoured the sleeve of his uniform and the shirt beneath it, scorching the back of his arm. Hissing with pain and narrowing his eyes, Suoh slowly turned his arm over to assess the more sensitive underside. Luckily, it didn't seemed to be as badly burned, though there was sections of missing skin. Gritting his teeth, he quickly pulled off the remains of the white glove, forcing himself to flex his fingers a little.
Fire spells weren't supposed to do that! Elemental magic was not real fire!
"Kaile! You'd better not die!" he said breathlessly. Fortunately, his right hand was fine, and he pulled out his pistol.
Inside, the library was burning.
"Stirred up the dust!" came a young feminine voice. "You stirred up the dust! Now the flames of ignorance shall devour all knowledge!"
The girl -- a young girl who looked no older than twelve -- raised her hands over her head, fire swirling around her arms. Her skin was a light gray, gleaming orange in the firelight, and her hair was a shock of soft pink, short and frizzed like it was filled with static, longer strands hanging around her face. Her eyes were wide and she wore a black, knee-length, loosely fitting dress that was held up by spaghetti straps to show off her flesh. Against her neck was a thick line, resembling the metal teeth of a zipper, and some of the skin was cut out of each shoulder to reveal ever-turning gears that clicked and rotated when she moved, her arms also stripped of skin in certain symmetrical areas to show glistening black muscle.
She hurled another ball at Kaile, cackling wickedly, then darted with amazing speed to the back of the library, where she rapidly climbed up the wall like a spider and onto the ceiling. Once there, she hung upside-down from the ceiling, staring at Kaile and grinning insanely with sharp teeth.
"The dust says you enter my domain from the room of red, and the room of red you shall return!"
This wasn't good. Kaile may have not known anything about the mansion's history or what was in it, but this wasn't good. He glanced to Suoh for a moment, barely long enough to note that his arm was burned, before catching sight of the girl throwing another ball of fire and jumping back again. He landed smoothly, knees slightly bent, then propelled himself forward, over the smaller flames that consumed the doorway and into the library. He didn't have time to worry about Suoh right now - if he didn't fight, they would both die.
"Stay back!" There was no reason to further endanger his partner. He had been the one to open the door, he was the one most trained for combat. He had to fight.
Damn, she was fast! He couldn't make this a contest of speed or magic. But she seemed to be weaponless; if he could get close, he would have the advantage.
"Shut up already," Kaile said with a half smirk, keeping his eyes on the girl. With barely a glance to the side, he jumped toward a bookcase, slamming a foot into it and causing it to topple. Before it hit the ground, he jumped onto it, using it as a springboard to reach the top of another, and without a pause he leaped at her, swinging his knives forward.
"Wicket!" Suoh exclaimed, moving into the library after Kaile, despite his partner's words. He had never seen her like this before, even when...
"Don't do anything rash, Kaile!" he shouted over the roar of flames. "She has a passcode that shuts down her..."
Suoh trailed off, ducking into a nook created between the end of a bookshelf and a corner, by the entrance. He pressed his back to the wooden side of the shelves, thankful the fire had yet to touch them. He couldn't recall the passcode! He had used it when he left this place, and learning it had caused him a great deal of trouble...
But that had been so many years ago...
Fighting the constant pressure of panic welling inside his chest, Suoh closed his eyes to clear his thoughts. First things first; Kaile would need some aid against Wicket.
"Haste!" he cast on his partner, hoping that would help even the odds a bit more. He then sank to a crouching position, trying to tune out the sounds around him and concentrate on the recollection of the passcode.
Wicket only laughed, flipping out of the way of Kaile's attack, her body twisting and maneuvering in a way that was clearly not human. As if there was any doubt to begin with. She somersaulted on the ceiling as if gravity had been reversed, extremely fast and agile. In the blink of an eye she dropped to the floor, quickly dancing away and swinging her hand out. Suddenly, a sharp bolt of electricity shot towards Kaile, zapping down rapidly from the ceiling.
"Foolishly foolish fool!" she said gleefully, not stopping for an instant. "You can't stop the Wicket! Defiling this sanctuary will not go unpunished!"
He heard his partner enter behind him, but Kaile had no time to be distracted by him. He had no idea what this child - or whatever she was - could do. How could she travel the walls and ceiling of the room as easily as if they were the floor!?
No; he couldn't let his focus shift. Keeping his eyes on Wicket, he brought one knife up in a defensive position the moment he saw her dropping, didn't relax his guard when she moved back or even as he felt his speed heightened by Suoh's magic. He jumped to the side, dodging the lightning bolt, then began to charge forward, directly at her, hoping his speed would be close enough.
He had to get close. That was his best chance, regardless of his partner's warning.
"Firaga!" Kaile doubted it would hurt her, but that wasn't the intention. He didn't stop running, intending to charge through where his own spell had been before she could see him and hit her.
The firaga exploded in a flaming burst as if hitting its target, but when Kaile charged through the inferno there was nothing on the other side to strike.
.....She was gone.
Suddenly a hand seized Kaile's ankle, and something sharp came right for his lower back.'
Wicket was in the floor! Melded into it, as if she was not an individual but actually a part of the room! Now only her face was visible, the hardwood fading into her skin in a way that made it impossible to tell where exactly one ended and the other began. Her arms were visible, one gripping Kaile's ankle tightly and the other holding a long, sharpened piece of wood, with she was using to try to stab him viciously in the back with.
For a moment, he thought he had caught her off guard. But then Kaile realized with a shock that she was gone, and before he could react, she had hold of him.
His eyes went wide. How!? What was she!? He twisted, catching sight of the wood, and used one knife to block her attack. But he couldn't keep the position for long. He had to think quickly; he couldn't let her keep surprising him like this! Bending without moving the defending knife, he stabbed the other into the hand clutching his ankle, intending to force her to release him.
But that wasn't enough. He had to hurt her. Kaile plunged the knife deeper into her hand, trying to keep her from moving.
A smirk curving his features, he looked down at her childlike face.
It was completely reckless - he was aware he would be caught in the spell as well, but if it worked, it would be worth it.
His smirk didn't fade, even as the glow of the spell began to surround them.
"Kaile!" Suoh began, jumping up from his place by the bookshelf. "Don't--!"
The explosion from the Flare spell erupted in the room, blanketing everything in searing white, and Suoh instinctively shielded his face with his arms. That idiot! Was Kaile trying to get himself killed?! At the center of his own spell!
Wicket screeched loudly, dropping the sharp piece of wood to cover her face as much as possible as the Flare engulfed him. Her scream was horrifying, blood-curdling, bouncing off the walls like an orphanage was being torched. Like the entire room was screaming with her.
The spell ate at her flesh, chewing away the skin off her arms and the side of her face left uncovered. Cogs and synthetic muscle were bared beneath, oozing with a thick, black liquid that seemed to act as both a lubricant and her form of blood. It would not be enough to kill her, but it would buy Kaile a few moments.
Suoh's jaw tightened, glancing up when the brightness of the spell began to recede. For a moment, he could see nothing, his eyes trying to readjust after the sudden flash.