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Shadows Of Paris

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Friday had been a mostly quiet day, which was the plan, as Marinette and company had another trip to Inaba planned. Marinette had stopped by earlier on, however, to see Kanji’s progress for the plushie. He turned out to be further along than he had implied, and not a single stitch was out of place; Marinette happily praised Kanji’s work, causing the bottle blond to blush. While she was there, she looked over the items that Kanji had set up for the current projects, noting that Kanji seemed to have everything for now. Before leaving, she once again offered a trip to Paris if there were any specific materials needed, to which Kanji merely nodded his affirmation.

Other than that, nothing major really happened, allowing Marinette to finish quite a few of her commissions, readying them to be sent out whenever she was able to. 

As per her usual, Marinette woke up in her normal morning zombie-like state; despite getting more sleep than she did before Hawkmoth’s defeat, it still somehow felt like a personal war of her versus morning sleepiness… mornings won most of the battles, too.

By the time her partners showed up, Marinette was mostly coherent and heavily caffeinated given the twitch in her muscles every now and again. Mornings can pound salt…

“Cheese! I need good cheese!” Plagg was the first to enter before any of the others, his cries for cheese filling the apartment. “Adrien committed the greatest atrocity and got me that processed filth!”

“You’re the one who destroyed my cousin’s stuff!” Adrien snapped, “Do you know how hard it was to make a somewhat-believable excuse?” Adrien looked rather frazzled and a bit wild-eyed. “You almost revealed yourself to Felix!” He quickly turned to Marinette, trying - and failing - to look like a stern parent. “Plagg’s in trouble, so no fancy cheeses for the next week if you have any. Any moderate will do for Plagg.”

Unable to resist, Marinette laughed at her boyfriend and the pouting kwami, the force bending her at the waist as she held onto her stomach. 

“This is no laughing matter, Pigtails! I must cleanse my palate of the processed filth!” Plagg flew into the fridge, his holder cursing as Plagg downed some half-decent cheese before Adrien grabbed him. “Much better,” the kwami purred before floating over to nuzzle Marinette. “This is why Pigtails is my second favorite.”

“I’m not falling for that,” Adrien huffed. “That innocent act will get you so far, especially after what you did.”

“He had it coming, besides I made sure it was nothing important and easily replaceable.”

“That doesn’t make it right!” Tikki scolded her other half, “What if Adrien couldn’t come up with an explanation or replace whatever you destroyed?”

“That’s why I did something replaceable and only when M. Stick-in-the-Mud’s back was turned. Besides, we know Pigtails agrees with me!”

Sensing that they weren’t going to get anywhere with Plagg being this stubborn and insistent, Adrien and Tikki both shared a sigh with each other. Marinette wisely kept her mouth shut; while she did agree with Tikki and Adrien, another small part of her (the more chaotic side that seemed to have awakened after being Lady Noire) agreed with Plagg.

By the time Luka and Kagami joined, Plagg was hiding in Marinette’s signature pigtails, most likely to avoid everyone’s disappointed looks.

“So what’s the plan again, M?” Luka asked. 

“We’re looking over the grimoire today,” Marinette explained, “hopefully we can find a sort of silence spell so that the kwami can actually have more fun and enjoy themselves without fear of being discovered. But we should also see if there’s anything else in the grimoire that might also be useful in the near future.”

“Also, I think we should look to help the kwami in other ways,” Kagami added, “Maybe the grimoire will give us ideas or answers on how we can do such things?”

Opening her translations of the grimoire she’d put on an encoded file on her computer - a task everyone had helped with -, Marinette and her partners began digging. As the four made comments of what sounded useful or would help the kwami, Marinette made sure to mark those areas.

“Oh look, this one is the power up you guys used from Frozer!”

“This one sounds cool, it’s a barrier for akumas! We could use that whenever Marinette has to leave.”

“What about this one…?”

“Oh, look at this one! Akuma repellent charms!”

On and on it went. Along the way, some of the kwamis pointed out things that they were interested in. The problem then became, they didn’t have a lot of the ingredients that were needed for a lot of the stuff. 

“We could try substituting this with lavender, perhaps…” Marinette mumbled out loud as they worked, “I didn’t notice a lot of ingredients the last time I went to Master Fu’s before he lost his memory… I took whatever I could find, just to be safe.”

“Maybe we could try this one with other herbs instead of… whatever they’re called… I really don’t recognize any of these…” Adrien and Luka both studied the screen.

“Perhaps it’s more than just herbs and plants,” Kagami suggested, “This ingredient translates into French as Mermaid’s broken tears, but what if it’s just a tear from heartbreak? So maybe… anything could possibly be an ingredient?”

“That could work,” Marinette murmured as she rested her chin on linked fingers. “We’d still have to be careful when experimenting and try to go as close as we can. Perhaps we should document our experiments so we know what works and what doesn’t.”

At the mention of implied science, Adrien instantly perked up. “I agree! We should experiment!” He eagerly stated, “The more information we have, the better! We'll find a way to do so in a controlled setting and keep track of everything. We can encrypt any new data here as well.”

“Let’s focus on what we have on here for now,” Luka suggested, “If we get some of the stuff it’d look like random items which may look suspicious to our friends if we were to run into them.”

“That’s probably for the best,” Kagami nodded. As if on some weird cue, everyone’s stomachs grumbled. “Well, we can do it after lunch. That should give us enough time to collect whatever we can grab.”

You feel your bond with Adrien, Luka and Kagami improving…

The four started to head down only for Marinette to stop, hearing someone call her name. “Guardian Marinette, please wait! We have a formal request…” Roaar implored.

“We want to go to Inaba with you guys!” Tactless and straight to the point, Trixx flew in front of Marinette’s face with eager eyes. “I want to see that sly, charming girl you matched me up with again! I sensed she’s truly impressive at my craft, being able to switch between herself and whatever she needs to be at the moment! She is a perfect Fox!” Marinette was surprised with Trixx’s praise; he hadn’t shown this during the era of Rena Rouge. The kwami was practically cooing at the thought of working with Rise again. “Such a fiery spirit, yet so much compassion…”

Marinette tuned out the Fox kwami as he continued on with his praise; he was beginning to sound like a fanboy instead of a deity, which was going to be rather awkward for the idol. Instead, she looked to Roarr, asking, “Which would you like to see? If Naoki is out of town again, I don’t think things will work out.”

“It’s the bear-turned-human I’d like to see, if possible. I have some techniques I can inform him of that will help you in the other world. If we run into… Naoki, you said?” Marinette nodded at Roaar’s inquisitive look, allowing the kwami to continue on. “If we run into him, then I wouldn’t mind seeing him, but I’d like to focus more on your clawed friend. His skills are good for self-taught, like many of you are, but he could improve greatly.” Roarr silently thought to herself for a moment. “As for young Konishi… Your leader of the Investigation Team is doing marvelous work helping that wounded soul; I honestly don’t think I could really help that. Still, I won’t choose favorites, so if I can see Konishi, then I would like to see him as well.”

“I can do that, we’ll just have to figure out a way to do it without drawing suspicion.”

The sound of a crash then cackling could be heard from downstairs, ceasing any more conversation. Roarr and Marinette took a glance to see Trixx must have flown down to investigate or help with the chaos.

With a sigh that sounded almost exasperated, Roarr began to make their way downstairs. “Come, Guardian Marinette, we should probably see what is going on and see how we can stop it. I have a bad feeling that Plagg and Xuppu have gotten bored… again…”

Snickering at the almost defeated sound, Marinette quickly made her way downstairs. She could already hear the sound of Adrien and Tikki’s scolding… 

Your choices on Trixx and Roaar’s wielders have earned their admiration… 

Magus Rank 6!

Lunch was a chaotic event, thanks to Plagg and Xuppu (plus Trixx once he joined in on the fun) with many of the kwami and the guardians trying to at least calm down the situation. Luka seemed to have found a way, surprising not only everyone else but also himself. He’d been idly plucking at his guitar strings, not really playing any songs, just creating random tunes. Despite not having the equipment to make his guitar audible to his partners, it seemed enough for the kwami with their enhanced hearing.

All chaos ceased as the three kwamis all seemed to relax and rested in Luka’s hood, no one dared to breathe for a few moments thinking it was some sort of trick or ploy to get them to drop their guard. Yet.. nothing happened. The little chaotic mini-deities were soothed. 

“That’s the fastest I’ve ever seen them calm down… how in the…?” Tikki seemed at a loss for words, still dazed - as well as feeling calmer herself -  over the revelation. “It’s just like with Master Fu…”

“Well, people do say music soothes the savage beast or something like that… maybe that’s it?” Adrien nervously chuckled while rubbing his neck. “Though I am grateful for this, we should try and clean up before they wake up again…”

“Not to mention try and gather what we can for the spells and potions we marked that were possible for now,” Kagami added.

With a bit of a struggle from everyone so as to not wake the ‘sleeping lions,’ they managed to successfully remove Luka’s hoodie from him and lay it on the couch. Marinette went down to the bakery to grab any items they’d need as it wouldn’t look suspicious to any customers who saw her while the rest looked around the apartment. They decided that using Marinette’s room was safest for now as it would allow privacy (plus, it was too far away from anyone for them to hear them). 

The first spell they tried was the silence spell - one that would allow kwami to go undetected within a certain radius. Needless to say, their first attempt wasn’t the greatest as they nearly ended up temporarily muting themselves a few times. That being said, Luka was key to this spell. He had somehow picked up on the fact that the spell was sound-based. It was all about listening with preparations and the actual castings, yet they had been unable to find the proper timing that went with such, always being just a bit off here or there.

Finally, finally, they managed to successfully correctly cast the spell. While it was through sheer chance, Luka thought he heard something off in everything. Adrien scrambled for the notebook they were using so they would know how to correctly create the spell, firing off questions in rapid fire to make sure every single detail was recorded. In true Luka fashion, the musician calmly answered every question without missing a detail.

The group was a bit tired from this, but pressed on to begin the next ventures. They separated into two different groups for now, Marinette and Luka focusing on making anti-akuma charms while Adrien and Kagami tried to make the power-ups. The team did their best to make the charms as inconspicuous as possible, focusing on things like necklaces, earrings, bracelets - items that could be easily hidden.

At one point when attempting to see if the power-ups worked, Tikki tried an ice power-up and ended up sneezing frost instead. The Guardians let it slide.

“Tikki used Powder Snow,” Adrien joked with a slight chuckle. 

“Let’s just be glad it wasn’t super-effective…” Kagami grumbled. “Back to altering the recipe… maybe less mint this time…”  

“True, although that would be an interesting move for you if you could combine your elements.” Adrien made a quick note before glancing them over. “Still haven’t a clue what banshee’s hair is for the Aqua power-ups…”

“Maybe a musician’s hair or guitar string?” Kagami threw in some mints in the improvised iron bowl. 

Everyone looked to Luka, who sighed. “I’ll get the scissors,” he said. 

Adrien tapped a pencil against the notebook while they waited, taking a glance over the search app he had opened. Perhaps some information on banshees would help. “If that doesn’t work, maybe it has to be a female singer or musician? I think Banshees were only female and usually a sign of death… Maybe it’s a mortician we’re looking for?”

“It could be that or something involving water. It seems like banshees are connected to water, so guitar boy could still fit. Look here!” Plagg pointed out another part of their lore which unknowingly complicated things for the Guardians.

“Well, we’re just experimenting for today so if this doesn’t work we’ll just try another time. One day we’ll get it.” 

Turns out that Luka’s hair wasn’t what they were looking for; however, it did provide some interesting effects and information. Sass, the kwami who volunteered, temporarily gained a water trail that followed behind him as as he flew around the room.

“I have a thought, but it’ll take me some time. Be right back,” Luka informed them as he transformed into Nathair and slipped from the room, grabbing an empty water bottle on his way out.

Left behind, confused and clueless, the three other Guardians glanced at each other and saw they were all wearing the same expression - one that said what just happened? They had no choice but to wait for now. In the meantime, Adrien joined Kagami and Marinette in finishing the current batch of charms; they predicted they would need so many that they decided to break bits up in batches. 

Familiar footsteps were eventually heard from the stairs as Luka returned in civilian form, the bottle peeking out of his pocket as well as a... bag? Before setting down the bag, he removed the water bottle filled with slightly murky water. 

“Where did you...?” Adrien picked up the bottle, carefully inspecting it. “Wait, is this from the Seine?”

“Yes; to be more specific, it’s the water from around my house.” Luka began to empty out the bag, some of the items looking like ones they were running out of. “I got a few more items we need immediately and some different items to try for the two spells.” 

“May I ask why there are guitar strings?” Kagami picked up the mentioned item, trying her best to be careful. She didn’t know whether or not this was sturdy or fragile. 

Luka glanced up from the bag, eyes softening a bit as he looked at the string. “I want to use that to make charms for my bandmates if that is okay. That string is from one of my spare guitars; if I use that for not only charms but something for you guys as well, I can use an excuse that will be believable for Juleka. I thought it might be a good idea since she asked me what I was up to last night; hell, I didn’t even know I was doing something suspicious so I thought it might…” Luka waved around his hands, collecting his thoughts,  “...appear like I was trying to make something special in secret.”

Awwing excitedly, Marinette moved to hug her boyfriend. “That is both sweet and smart! We can totally work on theirs before we go! We figured on mostly focusing on immediate family or close friends, so that works. We’re almost done with the charms for M. Simonov and Adrien’s family, so we’ll all start on yours next.”

For the next few hours they focused on the charms, their main objective for the silence spell was completed and now they wanted to keep their families safe. Amelie, Emilie, Felix, M. Simonov, Tom, Sabine, Rolland (and Gina upon her next return), the Couffaines and Kitty Section, Tomoe Tsurugi, Tatsu and the rest of the staff at the Tsurugi residence. They covered anyone in their immediate circle, their next batch would focus on the remainder of their friends and any teacher they could get a charm to without drawing suspicion. 

You feel your bond with Luka, Adrien & Kagami improving again… 

Any leftover ingredients were stored away with Adrien and Luka both offering to make some sort of shelving unit or an armoire. Whichever they did, they wanted it to look ordinary and easy to overlook to anyone who came into the room. 

“You guys should get ready for your trip tomorrow.”

Right, the trip… oh, shit, the Inaba trip! They forgot all about going to Inaba already! Sharing a look of panic, three-fourths of the group then broke to hurry back to their houses to pack for the overnight stay. It was probably quite the sight to see everyone pull a ‘Marinette moment,’ scrambling to rush downstairs and out the door; all nearly tripping over their own feet, only catching themselves from falling and doing any damage.

Marinette sent a message to confirm with Kanji about staying the night before remembering that she had to send a message to Chloe; the bluenette mentally scolded herself for forgetting about the new member of the team. While she may still be home and had a bit more time, she still did her best to rush to pack. Thankfully, the kwamis had her back, helping with items she may have forgotten or replacing the items she threw in by mistake (seriously, why did she throw in her school tablet again?).

At the last minute, she remembered her promise to bring Roarr and Trixx, so why not bring the others for a trip? Or rather bring the ones the IT had been using? Marinette had a feeling they would enjoy the time away; it would be almost like a mini-vacation for the kwami. With a gentle touch, she carefully packed the boxes in her bag. While she was sure that no one in Inaba would go through her bag, a paranoid part of her still told her to hide the boxes at least. 

Just as everyone - Chloe included, as she was now part of the Investigation Team - joined Marinette in her room, Kanji sent a message that he was by the shrine and waiting for them. Like before, he would escort them to his house to avoid the police.

“Sorry I’m late,” Chloe apologized.

“No worries,” Adrien waved her off, “You’re just in time, actually.”

The two blonds and Kagami watched as Marinette said her goodbyes to her parents and the remaining kwamis. “It’s also kind of creepy that his reply came in at the same time we arrived…”

Kelpie (or Luka with the Horse alone, not to be confused with King Kelpie) set up a Voyage, and the group made their way through, spotting Kanji on the other side. 

Kagami quickly noted how he seemed a bit… upset. “Is everything okay?” 

Kanji shrugged off Marinette’s question, trying to go for a reassuring smile… or rather a smirk. “Nah, I’m good. Just some trouble with the police thinking I’m up to my old tricks again. Even after...what, two or so months of trying to show I’m not the same punk as before? Even now, they all look at me like I’m going to beat another biker gang again.”

“... biker gang?” Chloe asked.

Chie - who alongside the rest of the Inabans had arrived with him to keep watch for any police - explained, “There are and were some biker gangs that make a lot of noise around here. Kanji fights them off because they keep him and his mom up.”

“...that’s adorable,” Marinette cooed. “You’re a good son, brother.”

As Kanji pointedly pretended he hadn’t heard Marinette’s comment, Kagami laughed. “That sounds like something Luka would do if he wasn’t so calm all the time.” 

“What can I say?” Giving a shrug, Luka had an easy going smile. “I’m more of a lover than a fighter.” Now it was Adrien, Marinette and Kagami’s turn to blush. 

“Let’s go, you five,” Yukiko chuckled.

“Oh, before I forget… Can you all come to Kanji’s house with us? I brought some other visitors who wanted to come along with this trip. Oh… and is Naoki around?”

“Naoki? He’s still on his trip,” Yu answered. “I think he’ll be back next week, or maybe a week after… Hold on, I have it on my phone.” Pulling out his phone, he quickly checked. “He’ll be back next Saturday, can I ask why?”

“I thought he’d like to see Roarr,” Marinette explained, “I even brought Mullo in case Yumi’s around, though I’m still unsure how I can do so without creating suspicion…”

Yosuke ruffled Marinette’s hair, grinning when she pouted and gave him the stink-eye. “If you don’t see her then you don’t see her, you’ll figure it out tomorrow. For now, we should hurry back. Who knows when the cops may show up here?”

“Right, let’s go!” Rise cheered quietly.

Doing their best to avoid looking suspicious - a difficult feat with such a large group - they managed to make it safely to the Tatsumi household. With the household’s matriarch out at the moment, they didn’t have to act as cautiously as they did outside. Marinette handed out the boxes of Kaalki, Xuppu, Orikko, Roaar, Trixx and Stompp to their current holders, informing the team of each kwamis’ food preferences.

“I want them to enjoy this trip as well as allow you to bond, but if things become too much, I can take them back in the morning. Xuppu and Trixx, as the most chaotic duo under Plagg, you two behave.” Marinette sounded more like a mother scolding her kids than someone in charge of almighty magical jewelry. 

“Don’t worry,” Yosuke promised, “I’ll at least keep Xuppu in check as we’ll be in the same houses.”

"I’ll help too!” Teddie piped in.

Roaar stopped Teddie's offer. "I was actually hoping that you and I could work on some of your techniques. Your weapon is the same as my wielders when transformed, so…"

"Oh…" Instead of looking disappointed, Teddie perked up and nodded his head. "Yes! I'd like that! Anything to help out everyone!" 

"Well, that's settled. We should head back now before things get more crowded outside." Chie stood up while sliding Kaalki's Miraculous around her shirt, since she couldn't exactly wear them home. "We'll be over around ten. That should give you enough time to get ready."

"If you need anything that Kanji can't handle, let us know and we'll try our best to help you."

"Thanks Yukiko, we appreciate your offer and all you're doing for us." 

Yukiko gave a nod to Adrien and a quick goodbye to the group before slipping out with Chie. Not long after Rise and Trixx followed, Yosuke and Teddie left next, Yosuke reminding Teddie to not make talking to Roaar so obvious out in public as the bear-turned-human was eager to start a discussion with the Tiger Kwami. 

"Guess that leaves me last," Yu started with a slight smile. "Have a good night, you guys, I'll let Nanako know you're here when I get home." On his way home, the silver-haired teen felt eyes were watching him. When he looked around, however, there was no one even around. He was alone.

Walking the rest of the way, he hoped that he’d been alone the whole time.