Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Gardevoiran
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Gardevoiran Reading or remembering, not both.

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The door to Akiko's room creaked open slowly as Kanbaru arrived, the bard stepping out slightly and staring the bluenette up and down, completely ignorant to her own nightgown being unbecoming of the facade she normally put on. With a flick of her tail, she opened the door and stood in the doorframe. From behind her manifested Castle, who spoke on her behalf in a way to keep secrecy. [ We trust that you'll keep your JSTR from any active hostility. ]

After the moment passed, Akiko brushed the hair out of her eyes and behind... where one of her human ears would go. Did she have them still? Eh, it didn't matter. "I heard something about a serei rejecting you earlier, Kanbaru. Come in, we've got quite a bit to discuss."

She stepped out of the way and let the door open completely so Kanbaru could enter. It'd be an interesting conversation for sure.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Sonnambula
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Sonnambula Stealer of Girls

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Thomas took a sharp inhale of breath as he felt a set of eyes upon him, and a new presence he hadn't noticed before taking a seat at his side. His concentration broken, he turned to see a somewhat familiar face, though one that wasn't as distinct in his memories as the ones who he'd accompanied in Victoire's Floor.

He didn't respond to her initial question, answering with a slightly bewildered expression that she had even approached him in the first place, followed by a crumbling look of confusion and even a little upset. Katie's words echoed within his mind, blending in with his own inner monologue that had been telling him the same thing now since his battle with one of the thorny wolves, no longer than an hour previously at this point. He looked as though he wanted to say something for a moment, but the words didn't seem to come at that moment. Instead, he asked something easier, something he knew his mind would allow him to say.

"How do you get used to it though?" Thomas finally mustered up those words, still staring somewhat blankly at the counter. "I saw someone die today, and then... not a minute later she just got up. But she was dead, she'd been killed, and then out of nowhere..." He turned to Katie again with those brilliant violet eyes, filled with uncertainty as he trailed off towards the end of his sentence. "How long have you and the others been up here? How long does it take to become used to something like... like that?"

It was a realistic set of questions. Not many were used to the notion of death, let alone those suddenly thrust into the Tower's floors. The boy turned to Katie as if she had all the answers to those questions, the key to the root of his disturbance. And she did answer, mouth moving in the motion of words spoken; but no noise came from them. Her lips moved but words did not reach Thomas' ear. She continued talking, as if the conversation was normal for her. But at some point, Katie's expression became confused and her lips mouthed, "Are you even listening?" These too would not reach Thomas. All the boy could hear in the Dangeki was the melody of music that wasn't present before. Or at least, if it was, he clearly hadn't noticed it until just now. Regardless, the source of it came from inside the bar and rest area ever still.

Somewhere among the darkest corner of the Dangeki, there in lay the music that filled the air, a sound only Thomas could hear. Locating it was no mystery, not when the music seemed intent on drawing his attention. Hidden in a corner everyone else seemed to ignore or forget, lay a modest piano that continued to play upon it its melody. Seated behind the keys was its player, one almost familiar to Thomas. She almost resembled one of his own Serei cards; perhaps she was, having caught his attention with eye contact and smirking softly for him to come closer. The music persisted as she worked, lost in her work but still staring through Thomas as a figment only he could see. The lights dimmed between them, shadow surrounding both girl and both until only they were the focal points of this hidden world.

Thomas had returned Katie's look of confusion at first, but at a certain point he felt he couldn't respond to her anymore, feeling more and more distant from her and the rest of the Dangeki as the elegantly played music filled his ears. It drew him off of his seat, almost as though the notes themselves were putting the boy in a trance, and pulled him towards the dark, well-polished wooden beast that emitted those dreamy tones. And, for the first time since he'd arrived at the Tower, Thomas didn't question the piano's sudden appearance. He wasn't concerned with the 'why' or 'how' for once, simply approaching closer and closer whilst Katie and the rest of the bar seemed to disappear around him.

Once he was close enough, his eyes gazed through the open lid of the piano, long metallic strings and wooden hammers strung together in a gorgeous symphonic mechanism of steel and wood, culminating in those ivory keys at the performer's fingers.

As for the performer herself, her abnormal eyes interlocking with his only drew him in closer, a smirk from her indicating she knew exactly what was going on. Eventually, even the wooden floorboards below Thomas' feet had disappeared, and he was left standing next to the mysterious girl on a bed of darkness that crept up the walls and ceiling, completely engulfing his field of view. All except that girl and the piano, her music the only thing that seemed completely real to him in this world at that moment. His fingers brushed along his pocket, where his Serei cards laid, thoughtfully waiting for whatever climax was coming.

"It's not polite to keep a girl waiting," the player finally said. As the first to speak, she couldn't help but give an airy but exasperated sigh. "Does someone like you really belong in this Tower? I can't imagine why you were plucked in here but who am I to judge? Well....I suppose I'm qualified to~" The card in Thomas' hand flashed and thankfully he wasn't completely clueless. One of them chilled his fingers, an icy grip settling along flesh and that was the Serei who spoke to him. There wasn't a need to check. "Oh, you know who I am. Everyone knows. Like that girl over there does." She flicked her mismatched gaze over to Riku and her wolf Serei for although the room was dimmed, it was still there, as if someone just turned down the lights to focus on them.

"You're not the brightest around here Thomas. Why ask pointless questions about death when you could have just asked me instead?" Her fingers idly continued their tune, bringing up a slightly faster pace to their crescendo, before dimming back down to a slower speed. "You know who I am. Everyone knows who I am."

Instinctively, Thomas almost snatched his hand away as soon as he felt the unforgiving chill of the Serei card spread to his fingers, but something compelled him to hold on, his whole hand beginning to clasp around it in an almost protective fashion.

He stayed silent as she spoke, her words resonating over the music, entering his inner-most thoughts. Sometimes it even seemed like he was even thinking those words himself. Everyone knows her. Everyone knows who she is. The boy turned his head back towards Riku for a few fleeting seconds as the girl indicated to her. She knows who she is.

Thomas turned back to the girl. The music at this point, despite its crescendo and tempo pushing forward through phrase after phrase with effortless musicality, took almost a back seat. His eyes slowly closed, the vivid violet colour disappearing as the music decrescendoed back into almost nothing. And then suddenly, within the tiniest corner of his mind: Death.

"I know who you are." Thomas affirmed, his eyes blinking open, looking back down to the girl seated at the piano.

"Mrhn. You're half right. Most people make that mistake; if you know who I am, why don't you use my name? Are you sure you've done this kind of thing before?" Marianne slowed her playing if only to focus on Thomas entirely now. "That's not my card description, is it. I'm just the carrier of Death. I suppose, in terms you can understand, Death is my grandfather." She was very loose in her wording, though it was more likely just to have Thomas wrap his mind around the concept. "But for all extents and purposes, it really doesn't matter. Call me Death if you like, but I prefer my more worldly name~" Her fingers stopped, removing her hands from the piano. However, the music continued to play, each key indenting on their own now.

"This is our first time meeting, isn't it. Well, however real you can consider this. Every Serei is just data. A copy of the original thing. I'm not even really here right now if you want to be pedantic," she spoke with a low hum. "Isn't it funny you got stuck with my card when you're so hung up over a girl dying. Did you fancy her? She's right there you know. Better to make your move on her now before someone else swoops in and snatches her heart."

Thomas said nothing at first, wanting to give the girl the chance to say everything she wanted to say. He kept his eyes on her and her fingers, dexterously weighting each key with a precise and trained technique, while his hand slowly emerged back out from his pocket, the cold Serei card nestled safely between his thumb and index finger. It showed, as he'd assumed, the girl sat before him, as well as her name and title inscribed on a golden plate: Angel of Death, Marianne.

"Marianne..." Thomas whispered to no one in particular as he read the name, his eyes and face remaining mostly blank as he simply tried to process each new piece of information that came his way. As if on cue, Marianne's hands lifted from the piano and a ghostly force carried on in her stead, playing with the same precision and intense musicality that she had previously.

He looked back to Riku as she was mentioned once again by the Serei, this time in a way that bewildered him slightly, his eyes snapping back to her as soon as the idea of attraction was brought up, almost looking panicked. After all, it wasn't his fault that he'd been thrown in as the only guy amongst a group of girls!

"No, it's not that! Just..." He mellowed out a bit, after what he, but not most others with a more boisterous personality, would've described as a sudden outburst. "Just I've never seen anything like that before. Or anything else I've seen here. In the first place, I've got no more of a clue than you do of why I'm really here. Plus, however you look at it, death is death. Maybe I'm just not as used to it as the others are..."

"Death is indeed death. It's neither biased nor predicted. It just happens." Marianne shrugged and her eyes flitted away from little red riding hood. "Those who die in the Tower simply die. Very rarely do individuals cheat me. But that girl has more than a few unsaid secrets about her. Death surrounds her like a shroud~" She leaned forward, interlacing her fingers together and resting her chin on her palm. "Were it up to me I'd happily drag that girl's soul under for cheating me for so long, but as I said, that's not by my authority. I suppose whatever mandates my grandfather put in is heavy on her. Oh well~" She brushed aside the implication the princess had met her demise more than once, time and time again. If Thomas wanted more on that, he could ask Riku herself.

Without warning the flow of the song changed, morphing slower and slower until an entirely new melody was played. Marianne only lifted an eye in indication but paid no major mind to it. "You're luckier than most, seeing death so young. And the more you see it, the easier it becomes. I can vouch for that," she mused. "Though, there's a few individuals in your little group who would love to cheat me now that I think of it. And none by their own volition."

The strangeness of the conversation was something that didn't go unnoticed by Thomas, but the talk of death became something that felt somehow natural to listen to in a surprisingly short amount of time. Perhaps hanging around the Angel of Death herself was having an affect on him. And the more Marianne spoke about her, the more Thomas realised there was something curious about Riku, beyond what was already beyond what met the eye. He looked to the red-clad warrior one final time, a desire for understanding dancing in his eyes, that curiosity plagued with a want for empathy.

His attention was brought back as the music gradually shifted onwards to another piece entirely, a looming and feeling emanating from the melody that the piano produced. His eyes went to Marianne as her thoughts seemingly shifted to the boy's other companions.

"I'm not sure I see it becoming easier for me, but maybe I'm just being naive..." He remained calm and honest, but within Thomas' mind a much darker thought, one that remained unspoken, manifested within his mind. Did that mean that, if the time ever came, his own Serei would be the one to harvest the souls of his own comrades? Even his own? It was an idea he didn't want to dwell on, especially when he'd barely even met the girl minutes ago, but it left a sense of dread lingering within him, one reflected by the dark music that continued to play along as an ominous background to what was otherwise silence.

Marianne left those thoughts to himself; he could think what he wanted because it was infinitely more fun that way. Instead, her own thoughts turned to other things, other topics in conversation. "Did you know everyone has a song?" she asked near out of the blue. "Reapers and those who work with death tend to hear it once or twice, but I hear them more fluently than others. The piece before...well, I'm sure you can guess whose heart it resonates with. But this, well, this is something new. I can hear this tune from many of your companions." Throughout the conversation Marianne's features didn't much change and even now her smirk only dipped just a bit. "Companions is the right term. I'd hardly call them friends if I were you. They're far too dangerous for a cute boy like yourself to be hanging around, especially when such a melody drips from their souls."

The change of conversation was a nice change of pace for Thomas, and though the back of his mind was still plagued with the dark thoughts and images he had conjured only seconds before, in the moment his mind was occupied with the idea of the music connected to the souls of him and his teammates. The boy's features grew more into a look of concern though, as Marianne's own expression changed ever so slightly while explaining her thoughts on the matter.

"Dangerous? But they're my teammates, they've all helped me. From what I've seen so far, in this Tower nothing matters more than companionship." Thomas didn't even react to Marianne's complimentary description of him, taken aback completely by just about everything else that had come out of her mouth. "Should... should I not trust them? Is that what you're saying?" He took a step closer to the Serei, a look of uncertainty taking over his expression.

"I don't know, should you? If you can't make decisions for yourself, maybe you're not ready for my card," said the Angel of Death with another shrug. "I'm not here to hold your hand. Nor am I here to be your friend. But you have my card, so if you don't use it then you must have only yourself to blame, right?" She moved, this time turning to play the melody herself by her own hands. "What you do is up to you. You tell me if this is a song worth trusting in. I just wouldn't wear my heart so readily on the sleeve around some of your so called friends," she said without a beat. "I'm sure you can make the right answer by ear alone. You look like a smart boy if nothing else, Thomas."

Thomas looked back down to the card itself, undecided about how to feel about what he was hearing. Did Serei have the capacity to lie, to bend the truth, to manipulate? And even if they did, what reason would the Angel of Death herself have to lie to someone like him? But either way, she did have a point. He barely knew these people, their intentions, their personal lives. And though that was no reason to treat them coldly, it did create a good argument to take caution.

As if to drive her point into him even more, Marianne's delicate fingers took to the keys of the piano once more, that dark and unnerving melody engineered by her own hands now. Thomas' eyes were immediately drawn to her playing again, before once more back to the card depicting the girl before him, which he then slipped carefully back into his pocket.

"Well, thanks for the advice Marianne, I'll keep it in mind..." Thomas turned to leave, but had only taken two paces when he suddenly rushed back towards the girl and her music. "Wait!", he called back to her as he came back around the piano, this time sitting down directly next to Marianne on the piano stool she'd been occupying solely until this point. "First, I've got two questions I wanna ask you."

"Oh my~" Marianne raised an eye at his sudden quickness, plopping beside her smoothly onto the shared piano bench. "Well, as your Serei, I'm obliged to answer to the best of my ability. You should make it quick though. The longer we talk, the longer you stay spaced out. The others might catch on you're mumbling to yourself~"

"I-I am?!" Thomas expressed some embarrassment at the realisation of the unusual position his physical body had been left in. Following that embarrassment, his cheeks developed a warm and pinkish hue, something he hoped didn't also carry into the 'real' world. But he also knew that he didn't have time to stay flustered either. There was precious little time that he had left in this space and he intended to use it.

"W-well, first of all, I want to know what my song is, if I can at least. And secondly, if you're the one who claims those souls of those who die, I want to know if you've claimed the souls of anyone with the same eyes as me." As though to emphasise his words his eyes widened, their unique colour shining through even the deepest darkness of the shadows around them, staring straight into Marianne's with a definite, though probably unintentional, intensity.

Marianne paused in her playing and for once the room went dead silent. No music and no breathing passed between them as the Angel of Death turned to her ward. A crooked expression etched itself to her face as she peered closer to Thomas, looking right through him. "To hear one's song is to court death. Everyone has a melody, everyone has a swan song. I didn't think you'd want to hear your own death so quickly Thomas. Do you really want to know how your song ends." She left that open in the air for him to even process before she answered his second question in quick succession. "No. I've collected many with violet eyes, but none with your eyes. Not yet anyway. Everyone has a song to end and a time to come. Everyone dies. It's all the same to me, Thomas."

The boy could feel his heart beat just a little faster as the subject of his own death was brought into question, and lips parted to reveal a slightly gaping mouth. In fairness, it was quite a disturbing topic, and that was before Marianne's unnerving delivery of the reality of the situation and his request. Not a word of what followed concerned it, the idea of it being pushed to the back of his mind with the other unpleasant thoughts that had been too difficult for Thomas to process immediately from the conversation, and Thomas took a few seconds before continuing on with what he had to ask next. And his heart only beat faster as he heard what Marianne had to reply with. It was almost unbelievable, so much so that he wasn't truly sure of what to feel. Overjoyed? Excited? Sad? Nervous? It didn't feel as though there was a right or wrong answer the more he thought about it, but nonetheless he didn't let it affect him outwardly, although he couldn't help but look at least a little shocked. After all, he hadn't really expected anything.

For now though, with his questions answered and their first meeting all but finished, Thomas took one last look at the vast sea of ivory keys before him, before turning his eyes back to Marianne. It sounded mundane in his head, but there was something quite interesting about seeing her for the first time without music playing in the background, whether it was from her own doing or not. He simply stared at her for a couple of seconds, taking in the silence of the room, before offering her a smile and a nod.

"Thanks, Marianne. I'll see you later." And with that, he stood up from the stool and walked back the way he came, bracing himself for what would come next with new perspective and with new purpose.

But Marianne was already gone and out of sight. So was her piano and even her space. Instead, Thomas was right back at his bar stool as if he'd never left.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Gardevoiran
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Gardevoiran Reading or remembering, not both.

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Akiko's room in the Dangeki was simple and plain for the most part. Aside from a humidity emanating from the bathroom nearby, no doubt indicative of shenanigans, her bed was neatly made and the table in the room held a small bit of what could be assumed as her inventory. A chipped shortsword laid neatly atop it and juxtaposed the golden arrow beside it, not long after a smoky cat appearing to sit over both of them as a way to safeguard the treasures. Akiko herself sat down on the bed, her legs laying beside her and an arm keeping her up carefully.

"First things before we start accosting eachother for our little pals, you said a card had rejected you earlier?" Definitely one for business, it seemed, though you couldn't exactly blame the cat for wanting to get down. Whatever Kanbaru's friend was definitely sent a malodorous waft across the room, and it didn't make Akiko want to loosen up.

This little excursion did confirm the uniformity of the rooms to Kanbaru, it's sole treasures standing out amidst the wooden interior. Should she have felt insulted by the spectral cat hovering protectively over them? Probably hypocritical given her JSTR, and was it a delight to speak so openly of her. "Yes, we're both delighted you'd have us over, and I'll keep my nun on her best behavior."

Her expression soured at the mention of her latest acquisition, the Serei's hostile presence still making it's displeasure known even without actively attacking her. Settling on the bed alongside the lounging cat, she tipped back her hat and plucked the card from where it was sweating between her breasts. "To be perfectly honest with you, we've been lucky not to find more cards that don't agree with us, but this one seems to hate me for the nature of my partner. Rather intensely. Perhaps she knew the JSTR in another form, but she certainly won't work with me willingly. At least she doesn't seem inclined to kill me outright."

"Given what I think about this tower and the floors we've been to, I wouldn't disagree with that assessment" She chose to ignore Kanbaru's chosen spot to place the card in favor of continuing to brainstorm. "These Serei are incredibly useful, but even when one disagrees with the user as seen earlier with... the Henry Card, I believe, they can at least be used. A card outright rejecting seems to be something of more importance." Akiko eyed the ery card she was referring to, the rejecting one, and simply watched it for a moment with her eyes. "I think I could assess the past of that card, if you would like. Maybe figure things out a little more."

Castle had apparated behind its master as she brought up the past of the card, the golden arrow having been taken and now being nowhere in sight.

Kanbaru shrugged, tilting the card towards Akiko to let her grasp it if she wished. "Feel free. I'm still unsure what I plan to do with it If I can't convince this Bastion to play along. At least we have a store to trade her if she's not gonna budge an inch."

That Castle was now hovering over them both was a bit odd, almost defensive when even the JSTR wasn't making an appearence. Crossing her legs she leaned back, boots idly poking at the floating feline. "Though I have to wonder what you're angle is in all this. Curiousity? Some desire for this card?"

"Well if you can't use it clearly you don't need it, but ignoring that little tidbit I have only one desire for what I wish to gain here." Castle's form hovered down to meet Akiko's head, the eyes on both user and stand glowing red for a moment. The girl stared into the card for a solid few seconds before she retched back and basically slammed her hands on her face.

"Gah! Son of a BITCH!" At first, it'd seem that Castle had disappeared, leaving the user to rub her eyes in anguish. Though, that was only the surface level, as above the bed against the wall was a fresh crater in the shape of a hand. Was... waes that new?

"God dammit, of course the wall was where we'd take out our frustratons... dammit. I hope I don't wake up and taste drywall..." Akiko chafed, one eye open and the other clearly still being rubbed.

Naturally Akiko reaction elicited a wild peel of laughter now that someone else could finally understand the pain that card had put her through. Plucking off her hat she dropped it over the cat girl's face lest the light of the room irritate her spltting migraine.

"Just be glad you weren't eaten by a snake after that. Still, this does show we've found a card that really hates our guts. Best not tell anyone or we won't have a chance in hell of conning them with it into trading for something more agreeable." Sliding the Bastion card back where it came, the orca stretched luxuriously backwards, flopping beside Akiko without a care.

"So what was the second issue you wanted to discuss, kitten?"

Akiko pushed the hat up with a face of annoyance at being called kitten. Lest she wanted to get into the specifics of who could and could not call her that, she knew for sure that Kanbaru didn't sit in the first category. Bah, whatever. "I am fairly sure the card just hates your guts. I was able to see gently into the veil of that past, though unfortunately not much. What I was going to ask second however was regarding what your JSTR was."

Akiko sat up, the hat flopping onto her head and her ears gently poking under it. "Is it like Castle? A Stand? Or is it something more?"

"A Stand? Hmm, that must have been an interesting arrow you bought then. But alas, my lovely, luscious, psychotic nun isn't any creation of mine. Really the nun look is the giveaway if you've ever seen those Conjuring movies." Kanbaru snorted, willing the visage of her parasite to waver in the air, just a glimpse before letting it slip away.

"The JSTR....well, when i first met it, it was a malignant program in a video game- No, she didn't meet me, but another me. Guh, multiverse theory is a bitch and a half to explain when it's jammed into your skull with an ice pick!" It was her turn to grasp at her brow, a quiver of pain from forces she didn't properly comprehend. "It seems...some version of me attracted the attention of a parasite. So when I came here, it latched onto me. Was ingratiating itself till we went to Umbra, where it revealed itself fully."

"She's....clingy, in odd ways. A great fuck in bed, and the best partner in a fight I could ask for, but I don't think she's as well intentioned as your Castle."

Akiko nodded along to Kanbaru's explanation. Multiverse theory was something she was suspecting, but some of this was a bit interesting to properly converse about. "Sounds more like a mutualistic exchange than a parasitic one, if you ask me, and she clearly isn't as well intentioned as Castle, but if she isn't a Stand I'm not surprised."

Castle rematerialized on the bed, sitting in a catlike position despite being its humanoid form. "Assuming that what I learned from gazing through the arrow is true, Castle would be effectively a manifestation of what my Soul is, which sounds different than what JSTR is. However, since only Stands Users can see Stands, I'm inclined to believe that the JSTR and Castle are more similar than I would originally envision." Akiko mused to Kanbaru, Castle shrinking to a smaller, more quadruped form before hopping onto Akiko's shoulder and watching. "Assuming that this is true, I believe the JSTR and Castle meet at a crossroads of the Soul, and that... whatever the JSTR is has become fiercely entangled with yours. As you put, like a great fuck that would be clingy in odd ways." She chuckled at her joke.

"The multiverse idea also explains all these odd versions of Earth-like worlds, and I would be lying if I didn't say that what your JSTR is I think I may have encountered before. Only a far-reaching hunch, mind, but definitely noteworthy." She kicked back on the bed, crossing her legs over eachother. "You remember when you and Rose went off to get arrested in the woods after a threesome while I wormed into the local government?"

"Funny you talking about great fucks when your bathroom still carries that delightful fragrance. Hmm, I don't see Castle being the sort, so you must be enjoying a friendly relation with a Serei of yours." Kanbaru smirked, poking the cat girl's side to lighten the mood amidst discussions of existential dread and the pollution of Kanbaru's soul by foreign entities.

"Oh right, that threesome was fantastic. Wish I had gotten her card. Mmm, I would be hard pressed to find a reason not to have had Solanne out at all times~" She dreamily looked up at the ceiling, rather enamored with that floor of the Tower, before focusing on Akiko again. "I take it you were having a more productive time joining the local government?"


Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Lv1 Shade
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Serin




It’s when that endless night is interrupted does Serin find himself disoriented and confused, the world of carnage that once surrounded him replaced with an unfathomably deep midnight sea. For a moment the knight imagined he may be drowning, perhaps cast into some kind of solitary hell where he’d only ever know the crushing cruelty of water.

Yet he finds his breathing isn’t at all impeded, a new wave of uncertainty worming its way into his waking mind. Was he not on the edge of life and death but minutes prior? Is this not what’s at the end of fate?

Motes of light, singular flecks that stand against the endless darkness, surround the still barely cognizant Serin. Slowly they begin to coalesce and take shape; a sword, shield, and rod slowly orbiting the knight, as if beckoning for him to make a choice.

There’s no hesitation, Serin reaching for the blade of light with nary a moment spared. Its familiarity. Its purpose. It was an extension of a warrior, one that the knight was all too accustomed to putting to use.

The blade melts away at his touch, shifting and reforming into a far longer weapon, an ancient lance with a cutting edge near the length of a sword and forged of gold, below it a black steel shaft and an obsidian gold wing guard. To Serin’s surprise it feels...natural, as if he was born holding this messenger of the end.

As the knight tightens his grip around the light forged weapon, he jolts awake. A thin sheen of sweat glistens across Serin’s form, the recently returned wanderer catching his breath before pulling himself out of bed.

“...Godsdamned terrors, reliable as clockwork.”

Likely he’d been returned to the Dangeki after completing a floor, passing out in his room only moments later. Quietly he was thankful for his form’s propensity for heavy sleep, dipping into the bathroom, its mirror covered still since the first day he’d arrived, allowing himself a thorough shower to wash away the dried blood and other viscera. His gaze keeps itself angled forward, as if refusing to look down at his own body, his calloused digits instead tracing along the scars that mar his shoulder blades and chest - a reminder that he was still here.

After washing himself the knight dresses, wearing the same underclothes he’s always used. A form fitting black shirt and fitted dark blue trousers. It was all the same after all, he’d made it a habit to wear his armor everywhere outside, a selfish desire he’s carried since first waking here.

Wordlessly Serin wills for his aspect to manifest, wild streaks of lightning and solid lines of shadow intertwining and climbing his forearms. In their wake appear gauntlets, an unmistakable stygian black. Soon after the pauldrons, chest plate, legs, greaves, and helm all appear dyed a similar abyssal color with faint gold and crimson accents - made material from the seemingly immaterial forces.

His door creaks open, the now fully armored warrior stepping into the emptied hallways. In a way he was thankful this place had always been quieter than it appeared. Still, strangely, he catches a glance of a figure slipping around a corner as he traverses halls. It was a fleeting sight, the figure distinctly feminine and if his eyes were correct, in the nude save only a hat.

‘Suppose I’ve seen the inexplicable become as reality here.’

Serin descends the stairs with the distinct clink of heavy armor announcing his presence, surveying the lounge area and finding quite a few new faces hanging around the place, his gaze lingering on both the young man with striking violet eyes and then the authoritative young woman with beautifully long stark raven hair.

New blood?

The knight casually approaches with measured footfalls, taking a seat beside the violet haired boy and raven haired girl. He leans back into his chair, resting a gauntlet clad arm atop the wooden bar, looking as if he's about to order but casting a glance toward the two other patrons.

"What's wrong lad, you seem a bit dazed there." Serin directs the question towards Thomas, an easy going attitude obvious in his tone.

"I wasn't aware the Tower was still drawing in new blood; don't believe I've ever met either of you."
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by TheWendil
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Thomas took a moment to readjust to his surroundings, but strangely enough it felt as though no time had passed since his lapse into the limbo he'd been drawn into earlier. It was like he'd woken up from a vivid dream, the most vivid he'd experienced in his entire life. But time wasn't so kind as to give the boy a chance to evaluate what he'd just gone through, and he barely had time to register Katie before a new voice was addressing him.

He hadn't even noticed the large figure looming at his side, though in a way that didn't seem threatening to the boy at all. Thomas, having missed the first thing the armoured gentleman had said to him, turned to face his new acquaintance with a look of timidness but curiosity on his face. This was someone new, someone not from his group and yet, from his appearance and what he had said, it seemed this man had experience in the Tower separate from them.

Forgetting the apology and explanation he had planned to give Katie, at least for now, Thomas addressed the new figure back, not hesitating to immediately inquire about what he wanted to know "I'm, uh... I'm Thomas. I'm sorry, but are you saying you've been in the Tower for a long time now?"

Katie glanced over at the knight in armor but said nothing for the most part. After all, he was initially addressing Thomas rather than her anway. More important was the first boy's seemingly distant stare in his own head and she figured he had to have conversed with one of his Serei. Probably. All the same, she tapped a finger on a glass filled with whatever the Dangeki liked to serve her. In the time it took for Thomas to have his little mental conversation, she had since been served a drink by Cait and was just wasting away time by this point. All the same, she took a sip and waited for the knight to go ahead and speak his piece. "Katie," was all she offered in regards to a name, giving another sip from her drink.

Serin observed the young man closely as he responded, as if taking measure of every shift in tone or bodily movement. A fleeting moment of silence hangs between them, the timid and curious expression crossing his fellow adventurer's face striking a familiar cord.

"Thomas, hm." The knight repeats the name back to him, allowing it to roll off the tongue."I suppose I've been here for a while, though I've never had an interest in keeping the time." A subtle nostalgia threads between Serin's words, steel clawed gauntlet tapping against the bartop in a slow and method rythmn."You seem as if you could still count the days you've been here on one hand though." Gently the armored warrior places a hand atop the young man's shoulder, giving him a jovial shake in the process. "Serin. Or any other nickname you can think of, I'm not particularly picky."

Though his visage is obscured by the helm he wears the knight's gaze notably shifts to observe the collected young woman next, a similar air of silence as he takes her measure. "A pleasure as well, miss." Serin moves his hand away from the fresh faced boy, extending it toward the raven haired girl. "You seem fairly confident, carry yourself well." He offers rather bluntly. "Seems you've seen your fair share of this place. Forgive my forwardness, but how long has this infernal Tower kept you?"

As the armoured knight spoke to him, Thomas could feel his expression breaking through from one of shyness and uncertainty to one of subtle admiration, possibly even awe. Of course, he felt this way towards most, if not all, of the others he'd come across so far, in at least some way, but it was a breath of fresh air as well to see someone who wasn't either a pretty girl or a giant monster. There was something truly genuine about the man as well. Perhaps it was just the knight's demeanour, or perhaps Thomas was wrong altogether, but somehow he felt immediately quite comfortable in his presence.

It put the bright-eyed boy at a loss for words as the knight, who identified himself as Serin, gave Thomas a warm pat on the shoulder, the slightly small boy swaying a little in response to the shaking. Next, however, he turned to Katie, who seemed to be more occupied with her drink than taking to the same curiosity that Thomas himself had. He faced her while Serin properly addressed her as well, waiting to see how she'd react and respond to him. After all, he was still new and unfamiliar, and most likely not just to him.

Katie wasn't sure if she was supposed to shake the armored gauntlet but shake it she did, if only for the courtesy of it all. "Something like that. Truth be told, I can't remember how long I've been in here. Maybe I've been here for years or just a few Floors. You both can tell time moves differently in this Tower," she explained to both boys. That said, she didn't miss Thomas staring at her and so was prompt to stare back. "What? Is there something on my face? That's about all the answers I have for you unless you were expecting something else. I'm just as curious about this place as you are." To that she shrugged before finishing her drink. "I've been on enough Floors though to know there's all sorts of strange types in here so a knight in full armor isn't too surprising. Better than someone sprouting two heads from a shoulder, don't you think?"

"I noticed. I'd always thought my internal clock was decent, until I woke up here that is." Serin nods as the young woman explains her observations, withdrawing his hand and allowing it to rest against the wooden bar once more. "Seems it's always in flux here, as if the entire place is just one waking dream."

A dry laugh filters through the knight's helm at Katie's comment, his gaze returning to the room's few other patrons. "To this day I'm still not sure as to this world's criteria for drawing one in. It takes all types, I suppose. The beasts though, and the landscapes out there for that matter, are so foreign to me that I have trouble believing this isn't some kind of purgatory." Serin gestures towards the iconic notice board, the bevy of quests pinned to it accentuating his point. "Or what half of these missions even are; they range from asinine to lethal all at once."

The knight sighs, shaking his head rather casually. "Perhaps we've managed to draw the ire or blessing of some deity in our prior lives. How about either of you - steal some god's sacred relic?"

Thomas' gaze snapped immediately away from Katie embarrassedly as she vocalised her noticing of it, one of his feet tapping nervously, but silently, against the wooden floorboards. After all, he wasn't trying to agitate anyone here. But what she said was something that was quickly becoming apparent to him, especially now he was back at the Dangeki. Part of the reason why Thomas' self-driven curiosity really wasn't helping anyone, or being satiated for that matter, was because that, for the most part, the people around him were no wiser than he was in the Tower's mysterious ways, and the mysterious ways of many of the individuals inhabiting it.

Serin's question sparked the boy's interest though, and suddenly his head poked up from a slight slump. It was surprising for him to think of it somehow, mostly because he hadn't properly thought of it before now probably. At a surface level, he wasn't sure why he was in the Tower. He'd simply awoken here, probably like everyone else before him, and had gone along with the guidance he'd been given at the time. But now, it was becoming increasingly clear to him. The last thought that had been in his mind that night before he'd been whisked away, a thought that had subconsciously returned to him not minutes ago before he'd left Marianne, that had driven him back to her. He wanted to find his family, his real family.

Thomas glimpsed at his slightly distorted reflection in Katie's glass, his violet eyes vividly forcing themselves into his thoughts in assocation with his realisation, before turning back once more to the knight sat next to him. He took a moment to mull on what to say, but in the end decided that keeping things honest, but vague, was probably the best option for now.

"I'm... not completely sure. But I'm searching for someone. That's probably as good a reason as I can give."

"Hmm. Maybe it's not something we took. But rather something we need." Katie rested her chin on her knuckles, staring forward as if at something outside the room. "Everyone knows whoever reaches the top of the Tower is granted an impossible wish, right? Or something that they want. Something they need. Perhaps that's all there is to it; we each want something and that's why the Tower plucked us. Though some people I know didn't come here in the traditional sense...ah well. It's getting late for that, and Cait's already giving me looks." Indeed the feline bartender was for the group loitering. Night and day may not have had any relation inside the Tower but opening hours did. "Something to think about I guess. Food for thought," Katie said even as she got up and made to depart to her room. "Stick around long enough and you might find more answers than you were expecting. Anyway, I'm heading out for now you two."

For a moment Serin is taken back by the violet eyed adventurer's earnest response; he'd been expecting a more straightforward 'for adventure' type of answer, that was most of what he'd heard up until this point after all. "A noble cause, then." The knight whispers, the flash of a long forgotten face filling his vision for but a split second.

If Thomas' answer had got him off guard then Katie's musings washed over the heavily armored knight like a bucket of cold water. He had been wrestling with the thoughts for months, perhaps a year now, why he'd been chosen but none of those with him had. They'd all gathered under the same banner for a shared dream, hadn't they? Visions of a crimson sky cross his mind and the carnage beneath that same heaven. As Katie prepares to leave Serin snaps himself from his somber reverie, giving the raven haired girl a polite raise of the hand. "Quite the thinker, hm? Stay alive, and until next we meet."

The knight turns his gaze back to Thomas, leaning forward and putting his weight against the bartop. "Certainly that's an interesting reason, but you'll need some more training before heading off into the twisting unknown." Serin gestures to himself, clawed digit tapping against his plate armor with a sharp ping. "Hate to see a new face disappear so quickly, allow me to give you a hand." The knight declares his intent as if it were the most natural thing in the world, his mind turning to his own goals - selfish and altruistic in equal and perhaps conflicting measure.

Serin wasn't the only one whose Katie's theorising had had an affect on, the boy's own thoughts pushed more to the forefront of his mind by her words. It seemed all too apparent to him now that his purpose to be climbing the Tower was indeed to find his true family, whatever state it was in. That in itself had the cogs in his mind whirring like crazy, hopes and worries melding into different possibilities for a bright or dark future. Not only that though, but Thomas was tired. As Katie left, the exhaustion of the events that had taken place since he'd woken up, whatever length of time ago that had been at this point, was beginning to overwhelm him.

As he stood up to leave though, the knight warned him of something that Thomas knew full well of himself. Though things had changed for him during those events, he was nowhere near to the level of the others around him. And, in fact, perhaps training was the most important thing for him to focus on. But then again, probably unlike a fair few people he'd met so far in the Tower, he was only human. He turned to Serin, trying to not let his tiredness affect his expression, which had already dulled slightly.

"Th-thanks Serin, but I think I'll pass for now. Don't worry though, I won't disappear. After all, I think I'm pretty well protected anyway..." Maybe it was a naive instinct, but he couldn't help but look up towards the upper level where his comrades were sleeping, as well as lightly brush his pocket of Serei, as the thought of protection came across his mind.

"I'll be going to bed now though. Thanks Cait, sorry for keeping you up." Finally, the boy politely acknowledged the bartender with subtle look of appreciation and a nod, before giving the lone knight a small wave and making his way upstairs to find an unoccupied room to sleep in for the night.
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Naturally Riku made an overture of asserting herself over her Serei, and Lola responded to this with all the concern it was due; Not a wink. With a put upon sigh she planted a hand on Riku's head and ruffled it, distracting from the swelling oration so she could better force a swig of beer down the princess' lips.

"Sheesh, you're really used to people listening to you. Think I'll have to call you Puppy on account of all the barking for attention, but that's okay, I'm used to siring litters and looking after them." Setting aside the beer she pulled the princess against her chest, an implacable strength to her limbs rendering any struggle moot.

"First off, I've been napping, so this Ami person? I don't know 'em. I'm not gonna just go off and pummel someone I don't know. So settle down and relax a little or I'll put you to bed for a nappy"

“Hey! I am talking to-ghhf!” Riku’s authority came crumbling down as Lola petted her head and had her reminded of just how disadvantaged she was by this powerful new companion. The smother that could maybe resemble a hug further humiliated the princess.

“N-now enough of this! I drew the card! I can...I can throw you back in there! However this works!” Riku attempted to pull herself free of that canine’s grip, but her strength came up to little in comparison to Lola’s.

“Ami is a warrior. A bloody one. She has a sword. She seemed to be like a berserker. Blonde hair, wore a lot of black. Her weapon had strange markings on it, like it was alive and breathing somehow. Anyways, yeah! I need your assistance to defeat her!.”

Riku managed to separate herself from Lola, hopping from her stool and dusting herself off from any fur.

“It’s very important. This tower is full of dangerous people, so I need a worthy ally in this journey. So far you appear more like a dog, than any sort of ally!” The princess had expected a great warrior, not the woman who seemed more interested in teasing Riku than anything else. The princess had her feats and failings, but she could not tolerate her pride being tarnished!

Letting the puppy princess squirm free, the wolf woman watched her rant with an indulgent smirk as she gulped her beer without a care. The hostility was clear and Lola wasn't really opposed to going and seeing this Ami person, frankly she sounded rather fun to Lola, but first she needed to set her summoner straight.

"Now now, no need to go making threats you can't fulfill. We can all be friends here, and now that I'm at your side, those dangerous people won't be a bother to you. Settle down and let's go chit chat in our room."

Sliding from the stool with a wink to the bar tender she didn't hesitate to throw Riku over her shoulder and marched up the stairs, idly questioning which one was Riku or if she should just start knocking for an unused one. Ultimately finding the appropriate room, she marched inside and dropped the princess onto her bed.

"Now are you going to be reasonable or do I need to start laying down the law?"

Riku is off in her head, thoughts of revenge and thoughts of how best to use her other cards are flying through her pretty head. Her consciousness is flung around with all her thoughts scrambled around as she’s yanked by the waist and slung over a big dog’s shoulder.She's right about to speak again before Lola had made her move.

“Let go of me! This is no way to treat a princess! I’m serious! I’ve been embarrassed enough already!” Her voice went into a high pitch, almost a squeak as she desperately tried to recapture whatever little dignity she could muster. Thankfully she didn’t have to endure this for long, being pulled into a bedroom and thrown onto a bed with a pomf.

Riku eyed around the room, realizing she was now in intimate quarters with this newcomer. She’d clear her throat and pull herself up to sit on her rear, glaring at Lola.

“Just who do you think you are? Why are you acting like you have a mind of your own? I summoned you! That makes me your commander!” She insisted, running with her assumptions on how the card arrangements worked in the tower.


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When morning came within the Dangeki-or however the passage of time flowed in the Tower-Cait was nowhere to be seen behind her bar. No doubt she was off taking one of her many “breaks” as per usual. However, the shopkeepers were still there. Emilia was as reserved as ever while Annabel finger gunned anyone who came close by in case they wanted some last minute upgrades to weapon or gear. Regardless, only one description was put on the mission board, the one the group didn’t choose before Victoire’s mansion. It had some different wording now.

Grimmest Grotto: Darkness waits at the bottom of the depths. The surface holds the dead world long since passed its expiration. Gather what you will of treasures if you must. Survival is no longer an option; there is only the exploration of a world that once was.


As soon as the group was ready to enter the only entrance and exit of the Dangeki, they’d be whisked away into the next Floor. Breathing would immediately become an issue. The world was one of water and darkness, deep pressure crushing down on frail flesh as the full depths of the grim prison they stepped foot in menaced all around. Then, the Floor adjusted, and through means of the Tower the pressure relented. They were even able to breathe in the confines of the Abyss, eventually manifesting into the heart of it.

Where once was a prison meant to contain the nightmare horrors of creatures unrestrained, it now was barely functioning as that. The sounds of ghoulish things lurked in the dark; unbeknownst to them, the corpse of a world hung above their heads. The Abyss expanded far and wide, but as it did for most dwellers and travelers, it deposited the group into the Lagoon. If the objective was simply to collect treasure and explore, then surely there was nothing to be feared in the dark depths.

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EMILIA

"I wasn't aware we became a sitcom family. What should we call it—It was the Tower all along?" Emilia said when Annabel came back offering nothing but hugs and kisses. Nevertheless, the alchemist — or perhaps witch? — returned the gesture with a knowing look in her eyes.

That night the shopkeeper duo would be nowhere to be seen. Nevertheless, they would be back the following morning, just before the adventurers departed.

Emilia was indeed back to her passive demeanor, looking every bit as much like a fine doll, attending her store with an indecipherable smile on her lips. Of course, if anyone were to approach her, she would be more than willing to do any last-minute business.

After all, what could be worse than reaching into a new floor — a new world — while unprepared?

CLAIR

"How strange for me to be the first one to arrive. Maybe it's my lucky day, finally," Clair said as she came down the stairs the next mornign, noticing the utter lack of anyone but the shopkeeper duo. "Finders keepers, right?" she said reaching for some ice cream behind the counter, after making sure Kit Kat was nowhere to be seen.

"So, it's gonna be this one, huh? Maybe I should get a new card. That Tiger girl from before would be a good addition, probably," Clair said to herself as she looked at her lonely couple of cards before going to Emilia's place, looking for another partner to procure.

By the time everyone arrived and they departed on their exploration Clair was already all decked out and ready to rumble.

Their arrival to the world of the murky depths might not have been the most gracious one. However, Clair didn't let that shake her spirits even if the frigid water soaked her to the bone.

"Ok, while we decide on a road to follow, or if we will split again like last time, you can gimme a hand here, Aria," Clair said as she pulled Aria's card and summoned a magical gust of wind to dry herself up while waiting for the opinions of the others.

"By the way, is it just me, or does this place smell kinda... fishy?"
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Kanbaru Otoko


Kanbaru's typical irreverence was markedly forced as she came down to the tavern floor to see what quest awaited them, arms crossed with her hands fiercely grasping her elbows while eyes rimmed with heavy circles drank in the information presented.

She turned away and caught a glimpse of a feline, murderous rage burning for a second before she turned away with her hat pulled downwards. The absence of her latest Serei card both burned and soothed her, it's hostile presence long gone yet the indignation of being robbed cut deep. Akiko may have gotten the drop on her, but that time Kanbaru had let her guard down, underestimating how ruthless the ki- the Cat could be. A deep sea exploration sounded like the perfect place to avenge herself with no one the wiser.

The thought of taking back what was lost burned like a torch in her breast, warm to the touch even as they fell into darkness and water. Kanbaru laughed gaily through the water, her powers making it trivial even before the floor itself adapted to their needs. Pulling upon her own powers she could draw the water towards her and expell it backwards, shooting along with the grace of a hunting orca.

"Fishy? We're in the deep. I fully expect crab people guarding treasure. Maybe a musical number or two, though I don't think we're lucky enough to get attractive mermaids down here." Kanbaru replied to Clair, rising up and standing on the water without issue, her sword resting idly on her shoulder. "We may as well stay together. I'd hate to see how we'd handle something as big as that snake from the last floor in tiny groups. And honestly, I expect even bigger to show up underwater."
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Picking herself up after all the excitement earlier, Princess Riku Fuse had changed greatly over her small stay at the hostel between the worlds. She felt refreshed and rejuvenated, the wounds of her previous adventure had been scabbed over and healed. Eloping with her Serei had taught her many things about how the Tower and the strange forces inside of it behaved. It was full of indifferent, malevolent spirits that would just as soon help you as they would harm you. At least now she had gotten something from it, though not immediately useful. A bushy wolf tail now hangs up from her backside, bushy ears fit snugly in the corners of her hair. Short and small but sharp fangs now protrude from either side of her teeth. The princess wolf.

Just as she's starting to get a grip on her new surroundings, it's time again to enter a new floor. This one much more threatening than Victorie's mansion. A dark lagoon that is flooded with mysterious water that seemed dangerous to touch, let alone swim through. At any moment it seemed something would lunge out from those depths and drag you underneath to a watery grave. A terrifying thought, but Riku pressed on with her usual determination.

Though this would prove to be a mistake very quickly. Her boot expected to land on a surface, but it cut through air instead. The princess quickly shot her arms out at her sides to try and steady herself, but she had already lost her balance. With a desperate cry the girl twisted her body to try and grab the ledge as she fell but her fingers too would catch only air. She fell feet first into the pitch black pit. Instead of screaming for dear life, she's deeply frustrated she's already going to die again in a much more embarrassing way. Just when she got the cool wolf appendages too...would they carry over in her next body?

The fall isn't as long as she guessed. Her butt came into contact with something hard and fleshy, breaking her fall and making a splash in lagoon water. Surprised eyes and a yelp are the princess's response to this new information, and a quick rub to that sore bottom. She landed on something soft at least with no broken bones. Feeling around what she fell on however, she realized quick she fell on something alive.

"Oh! I'm so sorry!" She'd leap off immediately, standing in knee deep lagoon water and splashing it everywhere with her quick movements. She'd search frantically for the person she fell on, pulling up their body to the surface. From the depths the form of a boy is dragged up. The same boy she had seen glimpses of throughout her adventures in the travel. The boy was Thomas, someone she had never got the chance to meet.

"Are you alright!?" She asked her companion with worry in her voice.
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The darkness of the Abyss beckoned all those nearby to be drawn further into its depths. It wasn’t long before those travelers among the Tower sprouted up and out into the Lagoon in their own ways. While some arrived just as plainly like Clair, others were indicative of their less than gathered grace. Riku was one such example, and she plummeted atop Thomas. It would have no doubt drawn out the air from him and further drown him into the one of the Lagoon’s pools.

Kanbaru was about the only one to show some care to her arrival, though that came with the territory. Wherever she swam, a mark of red followed as if something was spilled in the waters like blood. That same crimson flow grew thicker until it did resemble blood and clung to Kanbaru’s form. By the time she rose out of the waters, the red dripped off her and changed her attire until she wore more suitable clothing for the Floor. The unspoken sentiment of the JSTR was all there was an answer to any questions she might have held.

Peace and comfort would not last long; it never did in the Abyss’ wake. The shuddering of rolling water and something shaking filled the walls of the Lagoon. They vibrated harshly and the sound became louder. Something felt like it was crashing down or caving in, when in truth it was actually rising up. One of the pools, one very close to the group, bubbled and frothed as a massively smooth form towered high above them with powerful legs. Only when the water roiled down its dull form was it revealed to be a monstrous crab.

Beady black eyes focused on the group, disturbed from its slumber. A piercingly shrill noise filled the air that came from the crustacean and with its massive claw, it made to swing at the nearest person around, pincers snapping hard and taut around the air with such force it could crush bones. Its legs moved as well, slowly charging up as it stepped closer and closer to the intruders that would now soon become its prey. The Abyss was already retaliating with monsters.

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Akiko rose from the water with tendrils wrapping around her, all returning to almost where her head and hair met but with a little bit of give, just in time to catch the back end of the group's conversation, though she certainly didn't have much of anything to weigh in with. Adorning her was the lagoon's algae dangling from her shoulders and it seemed her body was already acquainted to this environment the group was in, ever changing to reflect that she was giving an attempt to blend in, likely for her betterment. "Interesting that we're all here in the same area. I second Kanbaru's idea for sticking together." Akiko strode along the surface of the water towards the shore, though she didn't immediately return to the land and rather hung around in the shallow water.

"So... where's the threat that's always immedi- crab's coming, get ready!" Castle manifested behind Akiko as she spoke, turning to face the newly-rising crab and standing on guard. Even if her disguise was convincing, clearly this monster wasn't going to take kindly to something the same size as these interlopers and so near to them. She needed to act here, and if anyone cared to tell, the glowing red light from her chest was indicative of some sort of change of heart.

Her arms reached out, fists clamping and her attempt at taking the beast's blood captive with the Red Relic, hopefully proving her efforts to be effective. Her goals were to make it restrained for her allies to take it down. That being said, she probably needed to light the fire under their asses.

"Oi, bluey! You're an apex predator, right? Get going with the killer whale instinct!" Akiko shouted to Kanbaru, hoping it'd do something to get her fighting so they all didn't get demolished.

[ Do you wish for me to get closer? ] Castle asked it's user, before the user shook her head. "No. For now, just stay close in case we need to keep safe."

A moment passed before Akiko spoke to herself, musing as her grip tightened. "Y'know, I'm starting to think I can amount more to just knights and a kingdom..."
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Dreaming One
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The stillness of the waters was a deception. As was the deepness of the silence. It seemed as if inside of the lagoon - framed by the thick carcass of the rock walls forming a deep cave - the sound was only existent in a shape of footsteps, echoing through the close space, water drops, as the mass of the waters around sipped through even the thickest of stones - as all water does, knowing no time nor consistent shape to be locked in - and dripped down onto the rocky floors with same echoing sound. Scratches and bumps against these walls made by sloppy steps, or by inhabitants of this world. Light crumble of a few stones to crack and a few pieces of it to fall into the waters with a soft splash. It seemed like all these noises were framed by the deepest and calmest silence one could imagine - as if the absence of noise only accentuated each and only sound to make it more audible, more precise.
It was a lie.

Listening closely, listening carefully, in an attempt to lift up the veil of this deception one would hear something beyond mere silence: a low humming drone, low frequencies barely to be made sense out of, but to be felt, to be touched by, once you would notice it - it was to remain in a shape of a soft touch, its deep humming was filled with whispers of no particular language, a voice of no particular shape: it was to remain on the very edge line of perception - impossible to grasp, understand, fleeing and evading attempts to hold it in mind and memory. It was a sound of presence - a presence of something alive, and yet so massive it could not be simply tackled with any senses one is to have. It was a presence shaped in tension of one trying to push against it, it was there, something, or someone - it was not to be put in words; it only could be heard with one’s whole body. It was a presence of the waters, the tension of its pressure all around.
Or, it was a presence of what the waters were.

She felt and knew of that presence better than anyone.
It was not obvious and clear when she appeared in that lagoon. The moment Tower travelers appeared in it, getting used to the surroundings and looking around - there was no sign of anyone alive - alive that is of a sentient life. Hunger driven crab, aiming to approach the travelers with an intent to eat was certainly not something to consider such. And yet. It was again a presence which spoke whispers of a shape roaming somewhere on the edge of a vision - an incomprehensible fleeting shade of a person, humanoid, anthropomorphic. Before that shape took form.

She appeared as if out of nowhere: a glance around, a glance on a crab coming closer in its hunger, and the third time being the charm: here she was sitting on a rock, some distance away from the attacking monster, observing over with a pair of eyes gleaming like a pair of gems brightened up by the light mirroring in their edges. She looked like a mirage, something the darkness of the Abyss would just create in a reflection of the deep water, a shade of someone’s imagination; or someone who would appear woven out from the electric presence in the air, flickering with the hair long and blue somewhat swaying as if in order to make her stand out from this water soaked landscape of a lagoon; all while she was to sit still on place, looking like an idol of some old and forgotten religion dedicated to worshipping things which were not to have a face on their own.

She was sitting, watching. Observing. Beside her sat another shadow, another mirage, another delusion casted or caused by some feverish mind: a samurai of a flash of long white hair contrasting with the dim black and grey of her clothes, - like in a dream, one could not actually remember the moment these two appeared; it was something to just pop up into existence in the moment of a blink, in a flash of a broken time. Yet there they were.
She tilted her head lightly, her eyes locked still on the giant crab approaching the group of travelers as she spoke softly to her white-haired companion. Her voice is floaty and calming, lacking tone spikes, and with a soft cheerful resonance connecting the words spoken. Her lips even when she speaks are slightly shaped into a thin smile:

Look at that. We have quite a party of guests here. Do you think they might need help, or..?”, she asked her companion while observing the crab coming closer and the actions which were to be taken by the travelers, “...Or could it be that they are quite capable themselves. hm? Quite intriguing.

She said and pondered over the lagoon: the light here was a composition of various colors shifting in overlapping patterns as it was to create a scenery quite comfortable for eyes not used to the blinding darkness of the Abyss. A cold touch of the humid air where brushed through her and her companion's hair and clothes, creating a soft flapping sound.

Either way, it is not very hospitable of us to rest here casually and not offer a helping hand for the travelers in a peril, right?”, she asked a question more rhetorical than anything, as she slowly stood up from the rock she was sitting on; a motion which somewhat made the unheard presence tense in response.
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CLAIR

"I agree with the second half, but... Why did you have to jinx us right from the get go?" Clair said as soon as the giant enemy crab crawled out of the darkness, as if cued by Kanbaru's answer to her earlier joke.

The blonde thief took what little time they had left to survey the area around them. She could see some of her allies scattered around the place. So far, the only one who reacted to the incoming threat was Akiko, who decided to dress in some weird ghillie suit.

"Wait, hmm..." Clair thought as she noticed something she never did before while looking at her pink-haired peer, and Kanbaru as well for that matter.

However, before she could elaborate her thoughts further, they had to deal with their Krusty problem. In fact, she didn't even notice the new arrivals looking at them from the shadows above.

"Ok, I guess that we have to attack its soft underbelly while Catty slows it down?" Clair said as she drew her blade with a stylish spin, rushing in between the crab's vicious claws and legs, trying to find—or make—an opening to retaliate.

"Time to get to work again, Aria!" Clair said as she finally found the chance she looked for, striking one of the crab's legs with a blow empowered by a powerful gust of wind, slowing it down even further in combination with Akiko's ongoing manipulation.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Sonnambula
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Sonnambula Stealer of Girls

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Thomas had been fairly discreet with his return to the group once he'd woken up. A boy of few words already, the fact that he was still tiredly rubbing his eyes as he made his way down the stairs to his companions probably showed that he wasn't exactly in the state to talk anyway. Though he had slept, his mind had remained abuzz with thoughts from the previous evening, ones that he decided to put to the side for now. It was worth having them in his mind, but it wasn't worth having them distract him from the inevitably taxing task ahead of him and the others, if the previous floor had shown him anything.

Unfortunately for Thomas though, he had been the last one down, and so the memo of the possible acquisition of new gear or where the hell they were all off to next went completely over his head. In fact, he was still half asleep when he felt the comforting, wooden floor of the Dangeki suddenly disappear from under his feet. The slight, panicked breath that he'd managed in the moments of being transported to the dark waters of the next floor was violently forced out of his body by uncompromising pressure. It crushed his lungs and squeezed at his torso like dog with a chew toy, his ears ringing so loudly and piercingly that he could barely focus on the immense pain he was experiencing. His head felt like it was about to pop off, and under the water his eyes naturally shut to protect themselves, sealing him away in complete darkness. It only lasted a few seconds, but it was torture. Like a prelude to death.

And then, almost as suddenly as he'd been transported all feelings of pain and suffocation stopped. His body felt light, and though the boy was still underwater he felt air return to his lungs freely, his nose naturally beginning to circulate air again. His eyes gradually opened and, whether it was the water or whatever the Tower was bestowing him with, Thomas found he was able to use his vision as normal with no discomfort whatsoever, blinking as his jacket and shirt flowed around him freely in the water.

Now that he was used to the adaptations though, not that there was much to get used to anyway, he set his sights above to the light spilling through the rippling water's surface. Wherever he was and whatever was around him, he'd probably be ok as long as he found the others. And find them, he did. Well, sort of.

As he got closer to the surface, legs kicking him upwards in tandem with his arms propelling him towards shallower waters than he'd initially been in, the light that had so clearly pierced through to his violet eyes before was suddenly blotted out by something. A small, shadowy form that quickly grew and blotted out the light like some kind of solar eclipse. He pressed on though, unaware of what exactly it was until he realised that, whatever it was, it was hurtling down straight towards him at an alarming speed. At that point though, it was already too late, and the boy barely had time to register the obvious human-like features of the object descending upon him before, all of a sudden, a thud gave way to his vision suddenly darkening once again.

Thomas wasn't quite unconscious, but after his head was pushed back against the rocks below he was certainly dazed enough so that he couldn't immediately surmise the situation. On the other side of the hard rock grazing part of his face his whole head was squished against and underneath something soft, something that he was sure could probably envelope much more of his face and head if he'd been pinned in a different position. In fact, despite the water, it felt warming and comforting, his cheeks tinging with the slightest pinkish heat before the weight on his head abruptly shifted, before lifting entirely. A murky voice called out to him, dream-like through the surface of the water, before splashing hands that cut through the water in desperation finally found a hold on the collar of his jacket and pulled him up and out of the water.

Perhaps it was the sensation of being out of the water into open air of the Lagoon, or perhaps it was Thomas' subsequent realisation of just exactly who and what had crushed him moments previously, but he seemed to wake up very quickly as soon as he'd gathered his bearings. And, as well as that, the boy's cheeks suddenly adopted a far redder tone. He kept mostly calm, it would've been unlike him to get too flustered and jerky even in a situation like this, but there was certainly an element of nervousness and awkwardness to add to his already timid nature. He backed out of Riku's grip quickly, stepping back a few paces in the relatively shallow water whilst ridding himself of some of the water soaking his hair and clothes by shaking like a wet dog a couple of times.

"I-I'm fine... Thanks for your help." He tried to refrain from going into too much detail about what had just unfolded, just in case Riku wasn't fully sure herself either. Whether he wanted to say more after that or not, though, was not an option readily provided for him. From what now seemed like at least somewhat cathartic surroundings, a monstrous creature burst from the water. A giant crab. Certainly not what Thomas had expected, and he had to admit that it was a step down from the intimidation factor of the giant snakes from Victoire's Floor, but that certainly did not mean he would underestimate it. Gigantic claws snapped at the usual suspects as they got close in to attack the beast, but for now Thomas was a safe distance to not be in the way while he was still... recovering.

"We... we should probably go help them." He finally suggested, a small sense of excitement swelling up within him as his glaive naturally materialised in his grasp at his non-verbal command. With that, though, he looked to the girl next to him to see if she'd respond with the same sentiment.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Lonewolf685
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Lonewolf685 Inquisitive and Immortal

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Kanbaru Otoko


It really said something about their journey so far that even the newest people didn't bat an eye when a giant crab came up from the waters to try and eat them. Kanbaru's suddenly red attire was a more noteworthy occurrence, though she'd understand some parties being distracted. Seeing Thomas smothered by falling ass was just that funny.

With Akiko holding the crab in place by its own blood, it seemed unfair to slaughter the animal that didn't know what monsters it had provoked, yet such was the life of cave dwelling creatures. It would be far crueler to the ecosystem to allow such a foolish creature to continue it's genealogy when it was so lacking in survival instincts.

Safe in the knowledge it wouldn't be moving overtly much, she didn't hesitate to spring forward and grasp the crab by the eye stalk, one hand squeezing it for balance while the other stabbed her sword down into the plating that slid over it's maw. Her boots followed swiftly after, both smashing down so she could put her full weight behind levering open the plates and exposing it's maw for a geyser of boiling to shoot forth from her sword into it.

"Keep him steady and we'll be having boiled crab in no time. Yahoo!"
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by ShadowSunRisen
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"I'm so sorry, like really! I had no idea you were here!"

Riku would help the now soaking wet Thomas up to his feet, positively shocked at how much she had bumbled up this meeting. She's too preoccupied with this embarrassing situation to notice the building fight in the distance. Thomas brought her attention to it with his comments. His meek demeanor changed quickly with the appearance of the strange weapon the princess had never seen before. She was impressed with it's design, feeling an urge to ask all sorts of questions about it. Time was not on her side in this matter.

"Oh right! A fight going on? Huh. Already? Yeah yeah I should do something about it..." The flustered princess gathered her wits from her messy entrance. She was happy to join the stranger's side to make up for her earlier blunder.

"Right, let's figure out what's going on and kick a crab's butt!" She'd charge on ahead with brashness. Secretly she hoped if all the attention went to the battle no one would notice her embarrassing fluke earlier.
"My name is Riku, by the way. Nice to meet you! We can forget about that business earlier...alright?"

---



"If they can't make it this far into the Abyss then they are worthless anyways."

Nephy the Unliving growled out a rough response. She was fixated on claws of her fingers, licking them clean with careful laps of the tongue. The samurai tends to cleaning after battling the denizens of the lagoon. They'd encountered much worse than crabs in their treks together.

The samurai was hunched up on a comfy ridge of rock. Her legs dangling above the ground as her toes sway idly with restless energy. An intense boredom sat in her dormant black eyes.

Nephy was a necromancer in her world above. In her life, she had sought to right the wrongs done to her family. To remedy their unjustified deaths and restore their life to them. A path that quickly descended into unspeakable actions and violence. A scent of blood wafted from her shoulders that would never be taken away. Buried deep in the countless lives she consumed in a bid to rewrite history. Truthfully, she only regretted she got caught in the end.

"I'll wait. You can jump in if you'd like. I want to see what these new ones are capable of. The last batch were quite pathetic. Not even worthy to sacrifice."

Nephy would lean forward to her companion, burdened by time itself. She'd grasp a flickering hand and feel it phase in and out of her feeling, intrigued by it even if she had seen it before.

"You're flickering in and out more now, aren't you? It'd be a real shame to lose you."

The cold lips of the deathly specter come to claim her companion's lips. A kiss that pierced through the veil of time like an arrow.

"Try to stay in one place this time. Sweetheart."
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by TheWendil
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The horrors of the Abyss crawled out from the deepest pits of scum and debauchery. They were no stranger to leftovers and castaways tossed down their direction. But these new inmates, travelers of sorts, smelled different than the typical prey that scurried these depths. For one thing, they were strong, incredibly so, strong enough to pin the crab in place. The massive animal was halted in its tracks by Akiko’s Red Relic, water sloshing dirtily on either side as it attempted to still move via instinct and confusion of what was happening. Kanbaru was correct in the animal lacking much intellect.

No sooner was it pinned in place did a plan quickly formulate and execute on action. While Clair dashed forth, slicing at its heavily crusted legs for any leeway, Kanbaru wasted no time in flat out jumping the crustacean entirely. A flicker of motion was present behind Kanbaru and Clair could see the JSTR staring back at her from her perspective. Curious; not many could see the specter constantly hovering over the whale and the program seemed to smirk in this realization. Perhaps the thief was chosen after all…but there was no time to ponder this.

With strikes reinforced by cutting wind, the crab’s legs were harshly severed off one by one, sending roiling and rolling waves of the Lagoon’s pools up high from impact and filling the air with crab scent. The Abyss denizen let out a horrendous and gurgling screech, waving its meaty claws about to smack at Clair on either side while also trying to protect its limbs. In doing so, it left itself open to Kanbaru’s vicious attack. Sprays of hot, arid bubbles streamed forth from the crab’s now exposed maw and its body shook backwards with kinetic force with each attack.

Akiko’s hold on it was straining and weakening and the crab’s violent bucks from being mauled broke the Relic’s control. It skittered haphazardly right in the direction of the two newcomers watching from the lowlight rocks. It was this sight that Riku was charging straight into, the crab all but dead as it tripped over itself, sending more waves everywhere and hurtling towards the newcomers. The Lagoon shook and ruptured from the violent display and with it came the hiss of more bubbles filling the air, the sound of water cascading as more pools suddenly “rose”. More crabs were awoken from the noise and clash of the fight, each one slowly skittering towards the source.

It was also the first thing Katie witnessed as she manifested in the Lagoon. “….not even gonna touch that,” she told herself, watching from the shadows both at the brutal takedown and the other crabs stirred from their slumber. No, this was a fight that wasn’t her problem. Reaching in her pocket, she fished out her only Serei Card as it flashed once, a magical rune that nearly resembled an eye opening up in front of it. “Alright Ciel show me where to go next. Preferably not that way please.”

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Runa stopped before she made another step in the direction of the travelers fighting the crabs; instead she gazed over them and watched them to fight more as she saw quite a few tricks this bunch could pull against the crab - which was dismembered and killed rather quickly. It amused the blue haired girl, who smirked with quite an entertained glance as the flashes of weapons swinging around and striking at the crab, chopping it away, lighting the lagoon a little bit more and dazing the waters around with the insides of the killed crab. This one would be enough to cook and feed upon for quite some time already.

Look at them. These ones are full of surprises. They act swiftly and know their way around. It barely took any effort from them to rip this crab apart.”, Runa said, smirking a little as she replied to Nelphi’s remark, standing still on the rock, retracting to just watching again for the moment. “The momentum of these weapons held and lashed on that beast are of no ordinary adventure seeker.”. She smirked a little at some thought forming in her head, but a thought remained unspoken, only creeping in her mind, unreachable by the outside world.

More crabs started to arrive, awoken by the ruckus and the demise of their kindred one. Runa kept on observing, even though her face remained emotionless at most of it, the mind of hers started to piece various elements of what she saw together. That was the moment when her appearance started to flicker in the place she was standing and sitting. Her body was to turn in shades and colors, splitting in parts and twisting against the light falling upon her, reflecting at her or inside of her like if it was trapped into a mirror hall, quickly becoming into a web of messed up light, which in the end, began to sip into nowhere.

Ah… you know I have to. I have to duplicate my trail. I am not in the mood for some.. uninvited attention, not when we have guests so interesting.”. Runa said simply as she - or rather her presence - twitched and flickered still. A grab on a hand of hers reduced the flickering motions and the kiss that followed felt for Nephy like kissing one pair of lips layered over many others, a fractal of a sensual touch, stretched out on time and space and probably impossible to stop - not until Runa pulled her head away; a smile was her response to Nephy accentuated by the lick on her lips:

Don’t worry, dear.”, she said as the flickering would slowly stop and in a some awkward plopping motion Runa was once again shaped into one, her body not flickering no more. Light casted on her dimmed into nothing before appearing in its natural shape once again.

I am always here”.
And with that she stepped down the edge of the rock and jumped down. A crab which was rushing towards the ruckus and ended up passing past her landing point just disappeared from existence, like if it was never even there. Or was just difficult to notice its demise.
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Gardevoiran
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Gardevoiran Reading or remembering, not both.

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"Fuck, more cra-guh?!" The bard was stunned to see that the crab managed to break free from her grasp, but as Riku slammed into it the reason was kind of obvious. The crab was dead, but more were on the horizon, and Akiko backpedaled towards the rest of the group before realizing something about these beasts. Something she learned in her biology class ages ago, back when she wasn't in this crazy Tower. Thankfully, she wasn't paying off her loans, so things were much better up here somehow.

"Someone wanna find our way out of this jam?" Akiko's hands thrust forward to grab hold of another crab, the beast staggering for a moment before it slid backwards in the waters. It worked! Crabs basically lived with their blood suspending their organs, so she could shake them up and send them backwards with a solid push. The beast was stunned, and hopefully it'd be deterred from trying to get any closer. Though, something told her it wouldn't be that easy.

"Okay, this isn't gonna work that easily. Castle, keep that going, I've got another idea."

[ Are you sure you won't be overdoing it? ]

[color=hotpink]"Nope, but we're not with a ton of options here. Might as well try!"[/color[ Akiko handed her Stand the Red Relic, the apparition taking it and continuing to do just what it's user requested. Akiko herself meanwhile manifested the Purple Relic from her Lorelai card, winding up a powerful breeze and sending a wave across the water to hopefully keep the beasts at bay a little more.

"Wow, didn't think I could handle 2 relics at once. Must be getting good at this." She felt a little proud before she stepped back a little further. "But we're still on the defensive. Bastion, any ideas?" She asked to her new friend, hoping she'd be a little more willing to work with her rather than the JSTR-touched Kanbaru. Speaking of her...

"Make waves, Kanbaru, or do something to take them out! Either one's fine!!!"
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