Ace sat on the branch of a tall tree, watching a young woman enter her house. She leaped downward, a twenty-foot plunge, and landed with grace. The former leader then knocked on the front door.
“Yes, how may I help you?” the young woman questioned.
“Sorry for bothering you so late. I’m new to the area and I’m a bit lost. Do you know where this place is?” Ace asked, showing the woman an address.
“Ah, this is very close. From here, you….,” the young woman directed.
Ace nodded, not paying attention. Her true intent was to evaluate if this person carried the “potential”. Once the young woman finished, Ace collapsed on her right knee, clutching her leg.
“Sorry, just a little bit tired from all my walking today. Mind giving me a hand?” Ace requested, extending her right hand out.
“Of course. Don’t worry, your destination is only five minutes away. Are you in need of some rest? You can sit on the bench over there,” the young woman replied, clutching Ace’s hand.
Ace grinned, standing back up. She thanked the woman for her help, hobbling over to the bench. With that moment of contact, she confirmed that this woman did indeed contain “potential”.
“Thanks. I think I’ll sit here for a bit. By the way, my name’s Ling,” Ace introduced herself using a pseudonym.
“I’m Tono. I hope you arrive safely at your location,” she answered, closing the door behind her.
Ace crossed her legs and began whistling a children’s song tune. The wind picked up and a piece of paper landed on the woman’s lap. She opened it up and scanned the contents.
“No need to worry about her for now. Only a selected few would be able to determine she has “potential”. For now, her powers lay dormant. There’s no reason to involve her for the foreseeable future,” Ace said, whistling her tune in between words.
The wind chimes above her clattered, producing an unpleasant sound. Ace sighed, standing back up again and headed toward her next destination.
“My lady, I monitored her as you requested,” her assistant reported.
“Any signs that she may awaken?” the woman questioned, tapping the desk.
“From my observations, she did not exhibit any noticeable signs. I also conducted an emission test, but results came back as negative,” her assistant answered, handing her a sheet of paper.
“I see. That is unfortunate. It may be time for me to intervene in this matter. Not too much, of course. Al, please prepare the necessary tools,” she commanded and headed over to the wall of masks.
Al nodded, heading toward the armory. The woman gazed at the wall, pondering which mask suited the task at hand. A majority were purchased from auctions with prices ranging from affordable to exuberant.
She selected a steam punk styled one. The right eye slit was a goggle, adorned with decorative golden cogs. The left eye slit was standard masquerade design with a thin rust colored mesh covering it. A gas mask mouthpiece provided the final touches.
“This should give her enough of a scare,” she remarked, strapping the mask on.
“Long, can you follow up on this for me?” Tess asked, handing him a folder.
“This is a file on Ace. What do you want me to find?” Long stared at the Gatekeeper with a surprised look.
“That is a complete list of all the locations Ace visited when she did an investigation on the Traveler. Cross reference it with the news database in the Crossroads. Mark down the locations where strange occurrences or any interesting news occur. Hopefully, this provides us a list of areas to monitor,” Tess explained.
“Sure, I’ll see what I can find. Anything new on what we talked about last time?” Long asked.
“No, we’ll maintain the status quo for now. If anything were to arise, I’ll notify everyone immediately. She’s very good at hiding her tracks,” Tess said.
“Got it. Have you visited Michi’s grave recently?” Long brought up.
“No, does something concern you about it?” Tess shook her head.
“I was looking at the readings around that place the other day and noticed elevated levels of abnormality. Not sure if it’s residue magic left over from what happened, but wanted to check in with you on it,” Long replied.
“Hmm, that is of slight concern. I’ll head over when I’m free and examine it myself. Thank you for bringing that up,” Tess decided.
Long nodded and left. The Gatekeeper went over to her computer, confirming the data Long spoke of earlier. She pulled up records from a different area, comparing it with the grave site. Almost a complete match. Tess scooted back from her desk, pondering what this could mean.