Neon Knights - (Die Granitkammer, Ritterplatz, Bavarian Alps)

"Seek not knowledge of the profane, and guard well our ancient secrets"

Those words echoed near endlessly throughout the chamber in which Sigmund found himself, recited in unison by five disparate voices as he cast his gaze low to the cold ashen granite on which he now stood; an intricate spiral pattern curled outward beneath his feet; an inkvine scar of gold-leaf marring the otherwise uniform surface.

A lone silver light bore down on him from above, illuminating his the Knight in a room otherwise concealed beneath a veil of impenetrable darkness. But he was not alone, within the darkness sat the five 'Geissler', the Castigators of the Order. Each nestled within one of the five points of the star shaped chamber.

"Do you understand the meaning of that oath Ritterkaptin?" A low voice boomed from within the umbra, it's tone laced with repudiation and anger. Sigmund said nothing for he could not speak at all, his mouth had been fettered in iron the very moment he'd entered the chamber. This was no courtroom and their would be no defense; only castigation, reproof and punishment.

The voice continued apiece it's shadowed owner all too eager to dutifully lacerate his silent victim "My fellows may query so obvious a line of questioning, but I fear it necessary Captain. You see it isn't often we have to remind so distinguished a Knight as yourelf of the very tenets by which he lives his life! I mean by god man! Even the most pigheaded and ignorant of novitiates can recite these oaths rote. And yet you!; a Knight of more than forty years service has either forgotten them or god forbid, flagrantly defied them! This chamber almost saw fit to have your very memory rendered from the Order's history!... But fortunately for you, the Grand-mistress herself saw fit to render you mercy of a sort".

Sigmund threw his gaze upward in shock, his eyes casting surprise into the darkness beyond. The trail that had led him to this very chamber was stained dark with misgivings surrounding the entire Unaufhörlich line, the very same family line of the Grand-mistress who now showed him mercy! He had been close to something when they came for him; close to what he could not say. Save that it was something dark stirring within the heart of the Order, but that was mere memory now. His papers were destroyed and he stood in chains; spared only by the mercy of the very woman he'd sought to investigate. He would've laughed at the irony of it, were it at all possible...

His all too brief reverie came to a sharp end as another voice cut through the darkness. Softer and more even tempered than the last. It was a contralto, one he recognized but couldn't quite identify. None of the 'Geissler' were known to the other members of the Order, save for the Marshals and the Grand-mistress; so whoever now addressed him was not one of their number. Her voice was soft, almost cordial and scarcely a whisper compared to the blistering invective of the preceding speaker."This mercy is not without cost however Captain." She noted, almost with the kind of casualness one might use to address a friend "You are to travel to the United States. Upon your arrival you will undertake a mission of the gravest import. Be forewarned dear Knight, should you abrogate or fail in this task..."

She didn't need to finish her sentence, it was eminently clear to everyone in the room that to fail meant Sigmund would become one of the 'verschollen' the lost Knights that stained the Order's memory, like a half forgotten shame that keeps one awake when on the precipice of sleep.

Exile to the U.S was preferable... marginally at least to being forgotten. In truth being 'Assigned Stateside' usually entailed the Knight in question either retiring in ignominy or meeting a grisly end trying to hunt in an environment wholly different to the disciplined and stringent nature of the Order. And retirement wasn't an option this time...

"You will be briefed upon your arrival in New York." Her tone darkened as she continued, the grim air of threat obvious within it. "Return to us a redeemed man Ritterkaptin, or do not return at all"

Those were the last words Sigmund heard before he felt a needle pierce his neck and consciousness slip swiftly from him. When he awoke he found himself in a car bound for Munich airport, from there he would board a freight plane to New York and then onward to wheresoever they had deemed fit to send him.

Much of the trip passed Sigmund by in a blur of color, noise and light. He had sequestered himself deep in thought, as he was so often wont to do in times of crisis. Sitting there, in the belly of the plane silently sifting through the raging tumult that had built within him since leaving the Ritterplatz; endlessly repeating events in his head in a vain attempt to pull some semblance of sense from the morass. By the time the plane had touched down at Newark Airport, Sigmund had finished flitting between regret, despondence and sheer bloody minded rage, and had at last come to settle on a sort of resigned determination. He was close to something, that much he knew and no damn exile to the states was going to stop him, but there was little he could do for now. Once his mission was completed he'd return to Germany and back onto the investigation... what little remained of it at least.

As he had expected there was an Order representative awaiting his arrival once he disembarked. What Sigmund hadn't expected however, was for the man to hand him two sealed envelopes and a small leather suitcase then to walk off with nary a word. With a tired groan the Knight shrugged it off and examined the first of the envelopes. It was a simple white affair, albeit with the initials N.Y intricately written onto the front. With a quick slide of his finger along it's dexter side the envelope opened to reveal a note contained within.

(Ritterkapitan Sigmund Johan Weisinger

Welcome to the Americas Captain.

Sealed within this envelope is the address to a bar known as 'The Wayward'

You're foremost orders are to proceed there with haste and begin to ingratiate yourself with the local Hunter community.

You are to proffer your help in whatever local matter is currently occupying their attention, and aid them in the utmost.

When you feel sufficiently settled you may proceed to open the accompanying envelope and proceed from there.

A car with civilian plates has been provided for your transportation and is currently under the supervision of the parking attendants. I would urge you to note that this vehicle is filed under your actual name, so please refrain from crashing, dangerous driving and running down pedestrians.

The Order will only cover repair expenses for your vehicle ONCE. Any further damage will result in a itemized bill.

Accommodation and a small office will be arranged for you on arrival at 'The Wayward'. Please contact my staff to facilitate this arrangement.

On a more personal note. Now that you are operating under my jurisdiction I must urge you to exercise the utmost caution in your work. Any issues you create will inevitably become problems for me... I dislike problems. So please ensure you don't cause any or become one yourself Sigmund.

Regards

Lady Charlotte Narvaez
Order U.S Liaison
)

"Well she seems very friendly!" Sigmund mused to himself as he stooped to pick his case, carefully sliding both the envelopes into his coat. As he began the walk toward the terminal amidst the picking rain, he found a few stray questions preoccupying his thoughts... "Who the hell packed this suitcase and how did it beat me here?... Is this even my stuff?" These questions continued to bedevil him even as he collected his car, inadvertently scaring one of the attendants half to death in the process.

The car in question: a Chrysler Fifth Avenue, suited the old knight quite well; indeed he found himself appreciating it's rather understated charms almost immediately. And while it was clear that Sigmund was no mechanic he could certainly admire the way it rumbled with subdued power beneath him. "Well old girl at least they got you right" He noted with an appreciative pat of the dashboard. "I think I'll call you... Hanna"

With that final bit of rumination, Sigmund navigated Hanna out of the parking structure and back into the wide world... right into the true deepest circle of hell gridlock. The chorus of New York's honking horns were punctuated with a single anguished cry that day~ "SCHEISSE"

After what felt seemed like an eternity behind the wheel of his new car, Sigmund pulled up at last to his destination 'The Wayward'. Squinting through eyelids hung heavy with dark bags, he glared at the sign beyond his car window. Satisfied for now that it wasn't some hunger and jet-lag induced hallucination, the old man grabbed his bag and hauled himself out of the car. Every movement of his aching body was audibly accompanied by a veritable orchestra of cracking joints and creaking bones, all eager to protest the hours of sheer miserable inactivity.

With a triumphant huff of effort, he at last extricated himself from the car, taking the moment to celebrate his entrapment with a perfect languid stretch, pure ambrosia for his aching, cramped muscles. After taking a moment to recall that he actually needed to lock his car door; Sigmund pinched his nose to ward off the more pressing signs of exhaustion, and with a deep breath stepped up to the 'Wayward's" door and crossed at last the threshold into his new life.

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