Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Sonnambula
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Thomas didn't say a word on the way back to the hideout. Though at least Runa had stopped the bleeding, meaning there was no immediate threat to his life, tremendous and nauseating pain remained as an overwhelming reminder of what had just happened, even though his memories of it at this point were slightly fragmented. But his wounds and exhaustion weren't the only reasons why he chose not to speak. His eyes seemed vacant, framed by a sunken expression and perpetually cast down to the ground, not looking up to acknowledge anyone or anything. From any outside perspective, the boy would probably seem hollow. And that was how he felt, perhaps unsurprisingly, not least because at most times he was only really half-conscious, almost like he was stuck in a bubble. But that didn't mean he wasn't thinking.

What had happened? Why had it happened? Why had he acted the way he did, or was this simply the true him that he was only just now discovering? The more the boy reflected, the more questions came to him. It was a revolving door of the same thought process, but no matter how many revolutions he did, there was only one exit. One question that, more than ever now, he longed to know. Who was he?

The confidence Runa had helped him to achieve before was shaken and shattered almost completely by this recent turn of events. Sure, maybe he hadn't known his roots, but at least he knew himself. Or so he thought at the time. Now he wasn't sure he knew either. And it didn't help that his trust for Runa had been shaken just as much. Had she known this whole time what he was, and just wound him up like a music box until he played? Was that why she took him to the Eater of Dreams, to Nephy?

As the group came to a halt, once back at the camp, Thomas finally looked up to the others around him as though he'd just woken up from a dream, though the same sunken expression still implied that he wasn't completely there. He barely acknowledged the newcomer, only looking over to her for a few seconds before his attention shifted to Runa when she approached him and Riku.

The boy felt compelled to step away from the demon, a sudden worry coming over of what else she could bring out of him, but with Riku next to him he felt comfortable enough to stand in place. It wasn't until Runa was ready to guide the two of them away that he finally spoke up, after a long period of complete silence.

"What the hell did you do...?" His voice was weak, but shook with anger still. Anger that he tried his best to control lest he fall back into the darkness he'd found himself in before. "What the hell did you make me do? I didn't know what I was doing, I couldn't control myself, I... I could've...-" The boy stopped himself from continuing any further as he felt his emotions boil up dangerously within him, gritting his teeth and clenching his jaw to stop himself from carrying on any further. He just gave Runa a hard stare, a glint of fury in his eyes. Those evil eyes.

Despite himself however, and though he wasn't completely sure of the situation at hand, he followed Runa's instructions and would wait for Riku before proceeding with her down the passageway that had been revealed to them by the demon guide herself.
Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Gardevoiran
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Gardevoiran Reading or remembering, not both.

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[ Akiko ]


[ Akiko, wake up. ]

Five more minutes...

"Okay, she's not waking up, so..."

... whuh?!

Akiko woke up with a stir, looking down to see none other than Lorelai picking up the cat over her shoulder and starting to carry her off towards the darkness of the Abyss. "Okay, okay! I'm up! Jeez, you guys can't let a cat sleep for a little longer?"

Lorelai placed the scheming cat down gently as Castle remanifested behind the two. "I apologize, but the situation has grown more dire than last night. We ought to be moving." She paused for a minute before leaning down and gently grabbing the cat's chin. "After all, I'd be a shameful knight if I didn't protect my queen, wouldn't I?"

"Heheh, yeah." Akiko smiled, stretching for a second before looking around the corner at the rest of the group. She chose to stay behind a wall for the night so nobody saw her, but she'd prefer to keep her impression up-"Who the hell is that." Her eyes locked onto the cat barbarian across the other side of the group, next to Kanbaru. Lorelai peeked around the corner as well to get a glimpse.

"Another... alluring traveler arriving, assumedly to travel with your group. Why do you ask?" Lorelai fawned and inquired before she raised an eyebrow. "It couldn't be that you're jealous, are you?"

"No, of course not. Why would I be jealous." Akiko scoffed as Castle floated over beside her. She wasn't jealous, she just didn't like the vibe of another cat being around here. It was messing with her radar.

"My Akiko? Jealous of another cat around here? My my, how interesting! And here I thought the queen was above these feel-" Lorelai was cut off mid sentence by Akiko reabsorbing the card and stuffing it into her dress. "I'm not jealous since I only love you Lorelai, but sometimes you definitely push it." The two would have some real alone time later, both to discuss this and also scheme.

Akiko stepped out from behind the wall and rejoined the group, stepping to Kanbaru and the new barbarian girl. "Oi, bluey. Awfully quick at wanting to make new friends, aren't we?" She looked at the whale with a bit of concern before eyeing at the cat barbarian. "Don't believe we've met before, stranger, but I think we'll have to wait on that for just a second..." Akiko's tails flashed through the air in a similar fashion to Runa's previous exploits of time as the demon approached the group and spoke about the presence approaching. Just in time, too, meant Akiko could actually act here instead of waiting on the others to speak up.

"What she said. Come on, Kanbaru, let's get moving." Akiko grabbed the whale's wrist and started to pull her away from both the barbarian and the encroaching storm. Castle, in cat form, leapt onto the whale's shoulder and just stared at her with intrigue. What was it about this girl that made it's master so enticed?

Runa approached Akiko with a warning of the predictions, and Akiko nodded. "Noted, but if I'm to be honest, I don't think we really need to predict where it's going. Looks like it's on a pretty straightforward path." They'll just have to keep themselves ahead of the cloud, and thankfully Akiko could figure out just where to go, converging onto the same tunnel as everyone else (hopefully still holding onto Kanbaru). It was then her eyes settled onto Thomas.

How... interesting. Seeing Thomas made her think of how he and Riku had been getting closer and closer together. Almost made her think he was going for her royalty, too. Actually... if Akiko was going to be a queen, then getting into a relationship with a princess, even if she was scorned... noted.
Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by ShadowSunRisen
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Riku had gotten a rough sleep. She twist and turned constantly in a measly 5 hour nap that left her groggy and exhausted when her eyes peeled open at the end. A sleep without any sleep, more befitting the deaths that she had suffered through in her past. The princess made her way out to the center of the camp once getting her early bathing and grooming done. She'd kill for a proper bath, doubting this lousy floor had such luxuries. Now changed out of her usual adventurer gear, instead wearing a casual professional look

Thomas and Runa got her attention immediately and she'd head to them straight away. That whole business with Nephy felt like a dream, but seeing how Thomas glared at Runa told her that last night was very real. Akiko too was there with Kanbaru, it seemed Runa and her were friendly. Katie had warned her about that one. Though on the surface, Akiko seemed charming. Kanbaru was threatening and as scary as ever and the princess was sure to keep her distance.

"Okay, everyone. Chill out." Riku naturally took to the role of peacekeeper. "I think we all made some mistakes but we got out with no issues. And Thomas learned something about himself. I'd call that a success!"

Although she didn't fully believe her words, she expressed belief and wanted to help put any bitter feelings aside between Runa and Thomas. Maybe deep down she'd admit she was motivated by her own guilt in the situation as well.

Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Dreaming One
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Confusion in Thomas’s voice spoke enough on itself, more so than anything it spoke of his distrust towards everything, mainly in Runa herself as she stood there, looming over the knight boy like a mirage or an ill spirit. Maybe she was either, or even both of these things. She leaned over to Thomas’s face, getting closer so her eyes met with his eyes - in the direct gaze. In that gaze Thomas would not see any emotion, in the deep blue of Runa’s eyes there was nothing clear to be seen except for the said endless blueness of her eyes, as deep they were, they were also cold and almost lifeless - in a similar sense of how an ocean is to be seen lifeless - a mass of water stretched over the land with the waves shifting; so were her eyes, light lightly shifting reflected in them. but the blue of the color remained cold and impenetrable.

“You did not, but you will learn. This is how power is acquired. It might look intimidating at first, but you will be able to learn. You will”, Runa said, before leaning even closer, so only Thomas would hear her words: “What I did is to make sure of your future survivability. You may thank me later”, she said with the voice of hers never changing at all, which possibly added some uncanny undertones.

She moved her head away after that and nodded to Riku, giving her the usual smile as she responded: “Indeed, he has. That knowledge will open many doors for him to step through and discover things which may potentially bring him in the spotlight of a world. One of them at the least of it. It is quite a lot”. Runa said and stood up, motioning to Riku, Thomas and the others to stand up as well: “We have not much time to spare, unless you want the ill spirit to catch up on us. Follow me, the tunnel will provide us quick passage underground”, Runa said and went into the said passage she opened a moment ago, taking the position of leading the party of adventurers onward.

She stepped into the entrance and further into the tunnel - the walls of the cave narrowed the path down under the ground into the rocky area, otherwise prepared for the escape prior to: the staircase made out of the stone for easier descent as well as various plants and moss of fluorescent nature - which were put too specifically and with a certain sense of measure on the walls for them to be growing there naturally - to illuminate the corridor; even though despite that calm and somewhat shy presence of green-ish light making sure the walls were to be seen - the end of this passage was covered in the distant darkness, impossible to understand where it would lead towards to.

Nevertheless, Runa led the party of adventurers on - for some time they would all remain in the narrow tunnel of the cave, with little of anything to look at, with an exception of moss and fungus growing on the walls of the cave. A hum could be felt coming from somewhere outside of these cave walls, a hum on the frequency so low it was impossible to properly hear, but the texture of its presence would most certainly be reflected on each of the adventurers one way or another.
It felt like a breath of the water massive. Or something that lived there.

Soon enough Runa was to break her silence once they all approached what seemed to be the end of the tunnel, her voice as usual calm and undisturbed by anything: “Watch your step now. The passage might get a little tricky now.”, she said and stepped into the darkness.. which resulted to be a little pocket of shadow, casted on by the steep angle the passage took. Past that angle, following Runa, the adventurers were to see a wide and open space of the underground cave, stretching onwards to the places beyond the eyes could see, the walls shaping the cavern towered over the party and made them look tiny compared to these walls, stretching downwards, into the blackness of the Abyss. The path were one for them to take from that exit - the continuation of the passage they just used went along one of the walls from one side and with the bottomless pit from another. The cave was illuminated by the light sipping through the cracks in the walls on the sides and above them - it was rather unclear what the light itself was and what was its source, but one thing was certain enough - it was not strong enough to cast away the darkness of the pit gaping below the path they stepped on. It was enough only to make them see towards where the path continued - the set of staircase once again, disappearing into the what looked yet another ruinous building, wood and stone of the building structure merging with moss and rock of the cavern forming some way of entrance into what otherwise remained unseen by the darkness of this place.

“We are almost there. Our way out is through that staircase”, Runa said and made the first step along the path before them.
Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by TheWendil
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The cloud that drew even Runa’s attention moved at a remarkable speed. By the time the group got to actually moving it long sing blanketed the entrance of their camp. The stones rotted where they stood. large chunks of the structures fell apart and crumbled to dust as the call of death spread out like a living plague. Although Runa’s instincts led the group out of harm’s way for now, the constant hush of a cold breath to the back of their necks was a heavy reminder of the threat that continued to hound them, hound all in the Abyss.

It was by this instinct that led Runa towards the pitch dark opening of the caverns where all light was swallowed. One by one they were expected to cross over the other side, rewarded with more twisting and turning internal structures that only made the head hurt the longer one stared at them. Near-immediately in crossing the black expanse did the air change. It was minute, small, but noticeable all the same, yet no sign of anything physical changed around them.

The lights provided by the tunnel cracks did well in keeping the path open to their eyes but there were still patches of darkness here and there. The staircase Runa led them to each held little corners of darkness embedded in the walls as if trying to find refuge from the glaring light that provided them sanctum.

“What are you doing Riku.” The voice was just as cold as the air the princess breathed, if not colder. It was one very familiar to her ears as well.

There, hidden in one of the larger crevices of darkness around the group, was a flash. The owner of the voice stared back at the girl whenever she locked sight and caught a glimpse. “What is that ridiculous outfit. What are you doing here?” the figured said in veiled hisses, dripping with a steady frustration that matched her expression. If Thomas noted the concern of his newfound friend, it wouldn’t be for long. Just as soon as he’d turn away, his own eyes would catch sign of another dark crevice.

Staring back at him from its opening was a man. He said nothing, only looking through the boy with a stare that could pierce stone and bone. Flesh seemed to be as thin as paper compared to the man’s sight, one that read Thomas over.

“Playing pretend Magical Girl, Kanbaru? Get real," snarled a voice only the hunter could hear. There was no specter to manifest before her, no physical shape like the others. There was only the annoyance that bristled against Kanbaru’s ear from the darkness, one all too familiar.

Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Lonewolf685
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Kanbaru Otoko

There was a lot that happened and a lot that Kanbaru just had to ignore, the Abyss a place she found increasingly confusing just for how people and events were want to come and go with seemingly no measure of reason behind them. Perhaps if her parasite was more cooperative they could have kept track but she wasn't inclined to, so Kanbaru settled for tugging down the brim of her hat and continueing on in their flight from the untouchable miasma choking life from the Abyss.

A cheap adversary, and Kanbaru didn't know if she longed to crush the source of it or leave it behind entirely so it was someone else's problem. If she couldn't freeze, shoot, punch, or stab something, it was simply a headache for the whale. Kneading her temple as she felt the stirring of a more tangible cranial pressure, she found herself mounting a staircase of slashing light and shadow.

One with a particular voice that had her halt mid-step. The belated fall of her foot was heavy and sounded like an uproar to her strained ears as she focused on her surroundings with a heightened sense of tension. Her sword was in hand, balanced on her shoulder not for comfort, but to better bring it down on whomever borrowed that voice. A voice that shouldn't be here, when even her Serei was long absent.

"I'm more real then you, impostor." Kanbaru retorted icily, forcing down the desire to snarl as she begrudgingly continued up the steps. "If she were here she'd be running this shitty Abyss, so don't waste my time when you can't grasp how awesome she was- Is."

Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by ShadowSunRisen
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"Knowledge or not, it was still an awful thing you did Runa. You are lucky no one was hurt. You don't seem to care about people putting themselves in danger over what you tell them to do. Just because I want peace doesn't mean I'm on your side."

The princess eyed Runa carefully as she talked up to her, summoning courage to go toe to toe with the elusive woman. Runa's power was still an unknown and that scared the princess but she couldn't let Runa go around and bully Thomas into dangerous schemes either. There was some guilt for herself at joining along, and she was regretting her choice.

Conversation began to fade as the crew pressed on further into the heart of the abyss. A dark mist began to settle overtop of them, obscuring vision and leaving Riku to feel stranded and alone when she was only a few feet away from her companions. In this cloaked shroud, a visage of a figure she knew all too well approached her. One of her mother, a figure that brought a storm of emotions ranging from rage, fear, pity, and love all at once. The shock of seeing her made the princess step back and reach for her weapon immediately. Her rational mind told her that Hideya couldn't be here, not now. It was impossible. But the sight of her and the sound of her voice sent shivers down Riku's back.

"That's not you, mother! You're...you're not real!" Riku stays defiant, using her scythe as a comfort tool more than any intention to attack.

"I'm on my own now! Away from you! I'm my own person now so just...go away!" With that, she'd slash forward at the visage in an attempt to dispel it and cast that image from her mind.

"Thomas! Runa! Kanbaru! Someone! Are you out there!?" The princess called out, feeling desperate for help in her panicked moment.
Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Sonnambula
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Even just a look at this point could tell the most oblivious of fools that Thomas had lost his spirit. Barely any response was elicited from Runa's private whispers to him, his expression remaining numb and sunken, and his eyes glassy and lifeless over their usually vivid violet hue. By the time Riku had come over to diffuse the situation, the boy was already trudging away towards where Runa had gestured. As far as he saw it, he was done with the situation. And besides, as far as he was concerned, the only doors that opened up as a result of him discovering this new "power" he'd attained led only to more uncertainty as to who he truly was. But to him, the eyes he possessed were the eyes of a monster. And though he looked human, for all he knew, he could be one.

As the group followed along behind Runa through tunnels that seemed endless in scale to contradict their narrow, almost claustrophobic, width. While Riku was feeling regret for her part to play in joining along with Runa's set-up, Thomas felt an overwhelming sense of shame and guilt, stemming from fear and uncertainty of himself, after the events of the previous hours. There was no doubt that the boy had played himself, and even then, there was no excuse for the potentially lethal destruction he'd almost caused. And if it happened once, who's to say it wouldn't happen again?

Perhaps it was subconscious, perhaps purposeful, but it was with these thoughts that Thomas began to distance himself from his friend, finding himself alone instead of at her side for the first time in a while it seemed. Maybe it was for the best. And, as though the Abyss were responding to that thought in an attempt to bring certainty to the boy's choice, it swallowed him whole into pure darkness as a cavern laid stretched out before the group.

It wasn't long until that isolating darkness began to lift however, rays of light embracing and spreading across the cavern floor and walls whence they came. It was a striking enough change for Thomas to finally lift up his bowed head, though it wasn't half as alerting as what was to follow almost immediately after. A voice from behind him, raised only slightly at first, words coming out somewhat indistinctly to his ears, suddenly cried out his name, instantly revealing its familiarity to Thomas. Suddenly, all thoughts of distance were out of the window, as the boy started towards the call of his friend...


... only to freeze at the last second as something, or indeed, someone else caught his sight. In fact it was almost like he had no choice in the matter, his body and mind submitting to an unseen force that drew his attention to the darkened figure that called to him in silence. A look of concern washed over Thomas' face, as features became more clear to him. A vision of a large, scarred man, a mop of short black hair riding down partially over one side of his face stood metres away from him. A piercing that could kill met Thomas' mutedly shocked look, one that dared him to run away as much as it dared him to approach, a stare that sent stinging impulses up his nervous system, that rocked him to his very core. And, perhaps most importantly of all, a stare that came from a pair of glowing, violet eyes.

The boy shivered, an icy tingle running up his spine while his breath became slightly erratic. His eyes almost seemed to turn golden for a second as he held eye contact with the mysterious man, but a blink almost immediately after restored them to their usual hue. With a faint glow, his glaive appeared in his grip, the first time he'd held it since his battle with Nephy. It didn't seem like Thomas had summoned it on purpose though, more of a fight or flight response if anything.

"Who... who are you?"

Thomas asked the violet-eyed figure ahead, trying his best to sound composed despite falters in his speech. The boy didn't move a step closer to him though, almost held completely in place by the mere sight of him. By that stare. That ominous stare.
Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by TheWendil
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No matter how much Riku called, there would be no answer to meet her. Despite the group’s close proximity and Runa’s careful instructions, it was as if everyone disappeared and walked into their own little dark corner. The result left only the princess and the Shogun. Hideya’s stare did not break even and she lashed out with a flick of her hand faster than Riku could process, smacking away the pathetic strike meant to harm her. Further disappointment colored her gaze.

“Do not dare to speak out against me,” the woman hissed, tone remaining low but sharp. “On your own? Your own person? You nearly got your friend killed because of a foolish decision. What were you thinking, trusting a demon? Did I teach you nothing child.” Hideya took a step closer, uncaring for the impossible angles of which she walked in the caverns. Her visage was very real, as real enough as far as the princess was concerned. “You do not belong here. All your silly tirade has done is further cause me stress and endanger the people around you. Come home, now.”

Further away, but in all actuality just a few feet from Riku, was Thomas experiencing his own surreal visions. The man who stared him down said nothing, nothing of his questions and nothing of his surprise. The only sentiment given was his own stare, one that furrowed into a glare as violent irises reflected back at Thomas like a questioning mirror. They glinted in their hue before the man shook his head with heavy exasperation. Something negative was mumbled under his breath, uttered just enough for Thomas to pick up some wording. Then the man turned away to leave the boy once more as if abandoning the child yet again in his life.

The others of the group held forth their own realities conjured by the Abyssal environment around them. In one moment, Akiko was with the group and in the next she too was gone; or rather, everyone around her disappeared. The once powerful monolith that was Castle was nowhere to be found no matter how hard the christened Jester called out. Nor were there knights to find her in the mish of light and shadow, her hand empty of any Serei cards. Her own appearance changed as well, reduced to a simple school uniform that marked her attendance at Miso City High. There was little more than the girl who had nothing before entering the Tower, the sun shining bright above as if the journey had only been a pipe dream.

But it was no dream, a fact only the most selfish of the bunch could understand very easily. The voice in Kanbaru’s ear made an audible sneer to match her own disdain. “Those are some big compliments for someone who ditched you. You always defend people like that, or just the ones who give you a good fuck?” Touka’s voice jeered. Words were put into physical shape with the former Magical Girl now standing in front of the hunter. She crossed her arms and gave Kanbaru a shark-toothed grin.

“Honestly, if you really thought she was a good friend, maybe you’d have stuck around when the magic left. You ditched Ami so it’s only natural seaweed head here ditched you too. And what’s with the get up? The stupid hat? Still wanting the glory days? We all moved on and grew up, but clearly you never-” The false Touka’s eyes widened and a wet gurgle bubbled from her lips. In moments the protrusions that embedded themselves into her torso revved with vigor anew and the buzzsaw whirled harshly before swiping upwards. Shock and hatred towards the whale were Touka’s last sentiments as her bisected body fell apart into a shadowy mess.

No sooner was the specter vanquished did Kanbaru feel a cold but tender hand cup her cheek. The JSTR loomed above like a silent angel, its smile as radiant as the light filtering through the cavern’s cracks. Driplets of “blood” painted its saw but this didn’t deter the virus from patting and caressing Kanbaru’s cheek like a good girl. She didn’t need friends anymore, or anyone for that matter, not when they lovingly had each other. Everyone else was only a happy distraction.

Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Gardevoiran
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The world was starting to attack the group, and Akiko could feel the pressure. The world felt like it was starting to fall apart, even, though it was a lot more real than Akiko had ever felt before. But it wasn't like she could focus in on anything about that, the sounds of her group were ringing in her ears. [ I hope this means you're starting to care about others. ] Castle remarked, manifesting behind Akiko as she turned to look at the others.

"Kanbaru! Riku! Snap out of it, it's just a-" but before she could finish her sentence, the world shifted to a different reality. One where she was younger, though not by much, and the world around her was much different. A high school courtyard, maintained likely by some gardening club, her cards and tools gone, even Castle having been robbed. Her world was stolen, but something about this reality felt... off. She wasn't sure what exactly tipped her off, but between having a bachelors while attending a high school and knowing she recognized none of this landscape, she could piece it together. This was an illusion, no matter how real it felt, and being on her own sucked, but she'd done this before. She'd do it again.

Thankfully this time, if this architecture was to be remembered, it was Miso High. That meant she had an edge here, given what the Tower experiences taught her.

"Is she okay?" "There's that new girl again..." "Should we get a teacher? She doesn't look so good..." "What's her problem?"

The other students gossiped as Akiko raced through the halls of the school. The Abyss could try a lot of things on her, the monotony of normal life, the loss of those who finally cared for her as she was, but there was something it couldn't take away. Reality had reports of weird things, and given the pasts that she gazed into, she knew there was one place that stemmed a lot of things, nothing by which was normal.

The Detention Club. Hell, maybe she'd find Kanbaru there. Would be nice to see a friendly face in this school, real or not.
Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Lonewolf685
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Kanbaru Otoko

The shadow was a liar, for it couldn't be Touka, and if it wasn't her then nothing it said could hold any merit. But dismissing those venomous words was harder when they struck so deep, slicing through her defenses like a poisoned knife her foot fell and couldn't rise, the whale stricken with a look of horror on her face. Sickness crept up her throat and she clamped a hand to her mouth as she realized even lies were built on a nugget of truth.

"I...wasn't leaving you, Touka. I wasn't! I was not going to leave you!" She screamed, eyes shaking at the apperation forming before her. The physical reminder of her past, resplendent in the Magical Girl attire she hadn't seen in so long. Since the Magic had left and their world fell apart without anyone noticing. A quiet apocalypse that took so much. Their power. Their unity. Her partner.


"I was gonna get an apartment when I went to college, and I was going to invite you Touka. I was! We would have been toge-" Her pleas fell on suddenly deaf ears, Kanbaru's words choked down as her ever near companion bisected the false Touka. The sight of such blood and viscera was a bizarre comfort, as a real Magical Touka would never have fallen so easily. She knew that would have been a mess of wires still thrashing about and trying to skewer them, not some mess of shadow fading away. Replaced by the silent nun hovering before her, comforting Kanbaru with her touch.

The whale stepped forward, sword falling with a clatter of steel on stone as her arms enveloped the JSTR in a desperate hug. She shook with half formed sobs, eyes wet as she struggled to keep down her tears. A sadness gnawing at her not for the apperations death, but for reminding her that her appearence in the Tower had robbed her of her plans.

"I d-didn't chose to come here. We were moving on. We were..." Kanbaru whimpered, fingers curling against JSTR's back before looking up with red, puffy eyes to the angelic parasite. "I'm an awful person. Yurei was so innocent and Chie had so much potential, yet both are dead because of brats and that fucking snake! Why do I get a second chance at power when...when Touka needed it more? I don't even know if she'll...be alive, by the time I leave this Tower."

"So please, help me fix this mistake. I need her to be okay." With a final gulp of air she stilled her trembling, brushing the back of her hand across her cheek and staring at it with a grim smile. The dry glove creaked as it closed into a fist that she dropped to her side.

"And if she isn't, help me with that saw of yours. There's a snake and an Angel's spawn who deserve your tender mercy."
Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by ShadowSunRisen
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Riku wished to deny her mother's claims but finds her voice choking up. Her heart raced and she began to feel panic crawling up her back. She wanted to run and flee somewhere, escape this torment and Hideya's awful gaze that pierced through her being. She is tempted to lash out at the figure with her scythe and tries to tell herself that the apparition isn't real, but she can't compel her arms to make the move. Her mind can't erase the doubt, and the princess is left stuck in place.

"You don't understand. And you never understood. I do this exactly because of how you are, you control freak! You never let me have a life! You wanted to control every single thing I did, and I only existed to play my role in your story. I wanted to be my own person! Someone that was real!"

Working herself up with words, Riku steps forward. She then broke into a charge and tried to rush through the ghost and run right on through her mother and break through the mists to the other side. She could hear voices out there, and a male one she recognized. She'd nearly stumble over herself to scramble to the source of that noise and soon collide into something warm and fleshy.


Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Sonnambula
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Thomas' questions begot only silence. Only those eyes communicated in vague terms, staring right back at his own. That stare creased into an accusatory glare, the man looking down at Thomas as though he were some kind of imposter for the simply bearing the eyes that he did. But the boy neither recoiled nor advanced, weapon in hand still while he remained frozen in place. Perhaps by fear, perhaps by curiosity. Most likely, it was a combination of the two, amongst other things.


Thomas' expression fell as the violet-eyed figure shook his head with a sigh. Though he was sure he had no idea who this man was, that show of vexation and contempt hurt the boy. Like he'd disappointed someone important to him, an unseen and unknown connection that had been frayed. And to that end, as the violet-eyed man finally turned away to leave back whence he came, a look of total desperation came over Thomas' countenance. Now he rushed forward towards the apparition with the utmost urgency, glaive dematerialising at it only hindered him in his mad sprint.

"Wait! Don't go, please!"

The boy cried to the back of the fading figure. Finally he'd found someone who looked as though they knew something about him, only to receive nothing in return. Visage or not, it felt as though someone close was leaving him.

And so, once again, Thomas found himself standing alone, in the midst of complete darkness and absolute light. All that was left were a few lingering words, from a broken and muttered sentence. Words that Thomas would keep in mind, but couldn't find the heart or headspace to comprehend right now. For a few seconds he just stood there in stunned silence within the shadows, staring at where the man had stood only moments before. Followed by deep, deep frustration. He felt betrayed, he felt screwed over once again.


The side of a fist was slammed with alarming force into the rough stone wall, crimson blood flowing as sharp rock grazed Thomas' hand. With tense and high emotions bubbling to the surface, another brief glint of gold came and went over his violet eyes, from which tears began to form. His knees bent and he bowed his head to the ground in despair.

"Who the hell am I? What the hell am I?"

Alone was what he was. The cursed hue of his eyes reflected in the droplets of tears which slid down his cheeks, leaving a faint line of moisture behind, before dropping off his face to meld into the ground.

But, despite whatever he might've thought, he wasn't alone. At least not for long. Before he could descend further into the darkness, a familiar voice was there to pull him right out.

"Rik- uff!"

The equally familiar source of that voice crashed into Thomas blindly, knocking him to the ground and into one of the rays of light spilling through the cracks in the Abyssal walls. Those tears he'd been facing down at only seconds before now rubbed into his back, a few wet stains on his clothing. They were present, but behind him. In a figurative and literal sense.

The boy sniffed and rubbed his eyes and face fervently to try and hide any evidence of his upset, though red and puffy eyes and cheeks, along with a glistening sheen that remained over his irises, made it pretty obvious as to what had happened.

"Y-you ok?"

Thomas asked Riku concernedly, his voice faltering slightly. He looked up to his friend, now that he was able to see clearly.

Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by TheWendil
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TheWendil The Wendil-Sama™ / ಠ_ಠ

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Nothing. There was nothing to await Akiko’s first and only entrance into the Detention Club room. Only empty desks and a low-lit sun greeted her, indicative of the passing of afternoon and the time to leave school grounds. Well, that wasn’t completely true. There was one person who looked as if she waited for Akiko all this time and with her attire, she hardly stood out from anyone else in this botched reality. Dressed in a Miso High school uniform and sitting atop a desk was Katie, arms crossed with flicked her eyes over to Akiko.

“What are you doing in here?” The afternoon sun glinted through the window and cast the room in half-shadows. It seemed perfect for someone like Katie. “Didn’t you hear those other girls? Get out. You don’t belong here. There’s something wrong with you.” Her words were brief and dismissive, as icy as if Kanbaru herself spoke them aloud. Speaking of her, the whale was nowhere in sight, solidifying Katie’s observations. Soon enough she slid off her desk and stalked closer to Akiko.

“Maybe you didn’t hear me the first time. What part of get out didn’t you understand?” Katie said simply but with disdain. “Students like you don’t belong here. People like you don’t belong here. Nothing special or unordinary ever happens to people like you and the moment you step out this Tower you’ll realize that once you’re back to your uninspiring life. So get lost because I’m sure you’re so used to hearing that by now.”

Katie already turned around, uninterested in the other student’s response or rebuttal. “It’s getting late. Go home before a teacher finds you and drags you out. I bet you’d like getting expelled anyway since it’s not like anyone wants you around here,” the fabrication Katie said. Or, perhaps, there was some truth to her words with real sentiment bleeding through. It was difficult to tell in the Abyss and with the bristling, open hostility in the air.

Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Gardevoiran
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Gardevoiran Reading or remembering, not both.

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"Oh, it's you." Akiko's immediate words were tinged with a sense of... relief, at first, before Katie began, but there were... things that she picked up on. A number of things. Sure, the tone was filled with a raw sense of disgust and hatred, but Akiko was hardly bothered. In fact, Akiko welcomed the hostility with a sickening smile on her face. And although the constant pleas of Akiko leaving was the obvious path this Tower wanted her to go through, she simply walked over to the desk Katie sat on and smiled.

"So I'm still here. In the Tower?" her voice was monotonous, not tainted with any sort of satisfaction or fear, rather just blanket annoyance. "Fantastic, so this is just an illusion. One meant to pry at me and get me to give in." The teen pulled her backpack up beside her, pulling a small item out of it. A small plushie, that of a purple cat. She gently stroked it's cheek before continuing her musings. "Just one issue with that, and this whole plan of trying to get me to crumble. I know what the end of this trick is, and I've heard everything you've said before."

Akiko didn't move, simply stared at the door and at Katie. "I was basically raised in an asylum for my apathy - my inherent desire to not care about others. People called me sociopathic, psychopathic, and the whole time I just never understood what they meant by that. I've had caretakers say the exact same thing as you, and I've found a way to go against everything." Akiko offered a nonchalant smile. "Who knows? Had I a circumstance similar to Kanbaru or Ami, maybe I'd have been a dark magical girl. Just. Like. Them." Akiko's words carried weight, each one feeling like it had a respectable heft behind it. "And sure, maybe nobody wants me here, but I'll tell you, that just makes it all the better for me." She laughed a little under her breath.

"Because I'm here now, and I plan on making it most everyone else's problem." That voice was different, almost as if the world was crumbling around her. As if she was trying to take the reigns. After all, with her certain set of powers, she'd been able to read into the future and pasts of others, and slowly but surely she'd been starting to see through her own realities as well. This world she was in felt hardly more than words on a page, and she was getting ever so close into reading between the lines. Honestly, she was starting to notice a couple of patterns.

"I might not throw my own punches. I might not play the same game as you all. I might be different, and wrong, and nobody might want me here. But I'm not afraid of you."

"Or Ami."

"Or Riku. Or Thomas. Or Rose. Or Kanbaru. Or anyone." She smiled, crossing her legs over eachother and simply watching Katie's every movement, her cat plushie sitting on her lap with its eyes trained as well.

"It's getting late. Maybe you should leave the new queen to her business?" She smirked. "After all, I'm building a new regime here. Sure, Rome wasn't built in a day, but that doesn't mean I can't try."
Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by TheWendil
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TheWendil The Wendil-Sama™ / ಠ_ಠ

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"Was that supposed to be your sad little backstory? Am I supposed to feel intimidated or sympathetic? Either way, it's failed in both its marks." The false Katie turned back, just enough to level her gaze at Akiko. "Tower or Abyss, it hardly matters at this point for you. Maybe you're warrant of a different type of notion after all." As she spoke, the false Katie turned right back around until she was fully facing the other girl. Her expression remained neutral, unreadable even, but the difference in the world around her was notiecable. And then it quelled just like that, Katie pressing forward with a fist swiftly connected to Akiko's cheek. How far it launched her off her "throne" she didn't care.

"Hard to bow to a queen when you're on your ass. You don't have any power here," Katie said factually, almost robotically. "Yes...perhaps the parameters regarding your existence have indeed changed. Calculating probability of threat level. Now."

The fist landed against Akiko's cheek, the girl falling back behind the desk she was on with a thud before she scrambled back to her feet. She wiped the blood from her mouth and cracked a wicked smile, almost as if she was expecting that. "So forward, but what else did I expect from you?" She dusted her skirt off and straightened up. "What's the matter? A little worried about me? But you know I wouldn't fight back, unless you think that I have a reason to." She stepped forwards around the table, plushie still in hand despite the blow to her cheek. "This illusion isn't keeping me held down, maybe you're worried that I'll get my stuff back and bust free from this?" All she was doing was musing. Observing. Waiting for a moment to break free.

"You could explain a few things. Couldn't hurt at this point." Akiko requested, tasting blood still along her lip. "Maybe we could even reach an agreement?"

Akiko's words strangely had little effect on "Katie", not like they should have had. The dark haired girl was staring somewhere past Akiko's shoulder, as if gazing at something far away and distant. "Situation reorganized," she said without warning, the pupils of her eyes narrowing. Out one ear and into the next did Akiko's questioning sift through. "Processing. Yes. No. Yes. 0.3%. No." It was as if she held a conversation with something not wholly present in the school room and the afternoon sun outside the window remained stagnant and in place. "Yes. Reconfiguring then. Situation analyzed with appropriate action to take place. You have been deemed no longer someone we can observe," the illusion spoke with its eyes now set staring right through Akiko, as if visualizing crushing her chest.

Then the fake Katie pounced, body stilted and moved as if strings attached to her limbs like a puppet. She flailed and clawed at the other girl in a violent display, eager to put an end to the entity in front of her. "There is no need for explanation when the correct desire has been chosen. The time for negotiation is over," the illusion said in hollowed fashion.

With a red flash, Akiko's Stand remanifested and caught the slashing and claws from the other girl, Castle coming back in full force. "Again, so forward! But looks like I've figured something out. Sure, I might not have my cards, but I've got my stand back. And frankly..." Castle slung a mighty shove out of it against 'Katie', not looking to do damage but just create distance between the two. Akiko restanced back up, her body ready to move if she had to, and Castle stayed in position to bisect the two and create a wall.

"I'm not sure exactly what you're getting at here, but we both know it's only a matter of time before I find out." Her eyes flashed red once again, momentarily taking in the detention club room before she spoke again. "Hope your ready, because you've just unleashed the Kraken."

".....situation reassembled," the fake Katie spoke. Thoroughly shoved back, the illusion skidded along the school room ground with a scuff to her shoes. Despite the priority for no long lasting damage, the shove still crumbled "something". Be it a lung or an intestine, the fake Katie's stomach looked disgorged as if it was eating itself up from the inside. Regardless of these grevious injuries, it stood up without wobbling legs and looked directly at Akiko....no, at Castle. "This was unexpected. You should not have access to that in this space," the illusion said before something manifested behind it. A shadow of a shape, humanoid and outlined moved out of into Akiko's perception, as if it had been there the entire time.

"Very well. The situation has been deemed necessary for further force in inhibiting you. Release restraints and engaging with the target," were the fake's words from its own lips. Out from the false Katie's shadow slid out another being, one who tossed aside the makeshift Katie like a latched off puppet. "Force will be initiated," spoke the stranger as it lurched forward with an inhuman speed, hand curled into a fist to slip past Castle and strike through Akiko's head whole.

But its fist met with the ghostly specter once again, the attack being blocked but not without damage to Akiko herself if the bruising on her hand indicated anything. "So that's what you look like." With a red flash of a gaze, Akiko understood... some kind of connection. However vague it was, there was some sort of familiarity with what this individual had been involved with. The mysterious stranger from the first floor, who spoke of nobodies and somebodies was the notable one, but with the world colliding around the two it was evident Akiko had to act. She backed away as Castle lurched its hand towards the Demitroop, looking to land a swift hit to it's kneecap to hopefully put it's intense speed down. She couldn't afford to keep relying on her... Rune Sight, to keep herself alive entirely, she needed to neutralize what she could.

"In a world of Somebodies and Nobodies, where do you fall?" She mused once again, ready to dodge herself to stay out of harm's way. Castle moved independently of her, so she had a lot of avenues to use.

"Irrelevant question. There is no point in talking," was the Demitroop's response. It swiftly swiveled from Castle's lurched blow like a dancer. With grace and dexterity it wrapped its thighs around the Stand's outstretched arm and grappled tightly with a squeeze, only to push all of its momentum into flipping backwards. The result was lifting and practically tossing Castle away, the Demitroop's thighs unlatching. In midair, it rocketed its momentum right toward Akiko, spinning around until its legs were aimed and ready to slam into the girl with its thighs wrapped just around her throat. "You will be eliminated for being a conspirator of the Jester," the Demitroop droned.

As the thighs came to smash, Akiko rolled out of the way with a surprising level of dexterity, rushing to stumble back to her feet as Castle remanifested from behind her and threw her across the room, only manifesting for a moment before she landed and stared at the Demitroop. "You know, you could at least explain who the hell this Jester is before you tell me I'm conspiring with them!" She flashed her eyes again. "Unless you mean Kanbaru's Stand-like thing, but that's weird even for me."

[ I have an idea. ] "Yeah, I read ya, we're going for it!"

Akiko stanced back up once again, ready to catch another punch it seemed, but something about it felt... off. Her form wasn't on it's peak, she wasn't as flawless as she wanted to be. She was taking a risk by doing this.

"Do not dismiss your guilt. You have spoken to them a number of times before. Your first Floor in the Shattering world was your point of contact," the Demitroop said as it got up from its position on the floor. "Have you not questioned your affliliation with Kanbaru and the manifestation of your powers. You are a Jester that must be destroyed before fully maturing," the Demitroop continued on monotonously. Sensing the falter of weakness in Akiko's form, the Demitroop planted one foot backward before rushing toward her again. This time the ending flows of its cape twisted and gnarled into fists, the fabric curling as it punched forward rapidly towards both user and Stand. The very air itself rippled and shook with its fast work of blows raining towards its target.

"You fool."

"CHECK-MATE!" Castle, for the first time, finally spoke itself as it emerged and started to match the Demitroop's speed, hurling punch after punch to a rhythmic "MUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDA-". With every blow from Castle meeting a blow from the Demitroop, Akiko's will hardened further. This... this was Castle's strength! This was what it could do! Whatever that arrow did all those days ago finally resonated with her, and she was using it to the fullest. Soon enough, Akiko started to step forward, eyes continuously gleaming a bright red as Castle's rush intensified, the distance between the two shortening but the onslaught still unrelenting.

"If I'm supposed to fully mature, then I have to say, if this is where it begins then I'm ecstatic to see where it goes."

There it was. The tell-tale sign of all Jesters, whether Akiko realized or not. The crimson glow of her eyes said all that needed to be spoken for the Demitroop as it met Castle fist for fist and blow for blow. The shockwaves of their matched pace and strength sent ripples into the air around them and the very imagery started to crack, as impossible as that seemed. The Demitroop narrowed its eyes as slowly, if only by inches, it was forced back. The school room around them trembled by the might of their blows and whole chunks of the "wall" fell apart, crumbling to the ground in dust. Where they once stood were dark patches of the world outside, or rather, the Floor of the Abyss, realm of the Tower....and something else.

Something else indeed. Something enough for the Demitroop to leap back from Castle's onslaught. It floated backwards in a seamless dash, landing on its feet with its body hidden under its cloak. "There is another. There are....calculating....three. Three of you here. Reassessing the situation," the Demitroop said to itself. "Nephetos. Potential threat....something else. This is not over," the Demitroop said with barely contained vitriol towards Akiko. However, it wouldn't be leaving her unabated just yet. The only reason it chose to deal with other matters was because of the second force coming closer....now.

"You will be eliminated one way or another. She can vouch for that," the Demitroop said ominously before it floated backwards and sunk into the shadows. No sooner did its presence disappear entirely did the casual footfalls of someone else entering the ruptured and ruined Detention Club room reach Akiko's ears.

"Did I hear that right. A queen you said? Sorry, but between you and me, you're not crown material," said the real Katie, strolling in what was left of Akiko's illusion.

Akiko's heart pounded as the world grew quiet for mere moments, Demitroop absconding and the soft patter entering the room as Akiko turned to face her, Castle demanifesting with her eye glow fading. The world around them was merely crumpled strands of the illusion, the wooden floorboards all that remained as the walls were completely gone. This was the real Katie, though, even Akiko could see that. "Nice to see you, Katie." Akiko straightened up once again, lip dripping blood and words flooded with sarcasm, but the next sentence seemingly dropped all of that. "How's it going outside? How're Riku and Kanbaru?" As far as Katie could tell, Akiko was as genuine as she could be for someone who just fought for their life. "Or do you think the Abyss is saying something by bringing you and me together?"

"I'm surprised you're actually concerned for someone other than yourself," Katie said in natural deadpan. "You already know Kanbaru can take care of herself, though I am surprised you're asking about Riku. She's not as frail as she looks and I have a feeling there's something watching over her anyway." She wouldn't make mention of her arrangement with Ami on such matters, though it would explain the blonde's absence. Hands in her coat pockets, Katie approached closer and only stopped when she noticed a crumbled up body on the floor.

"....is that supposed to be me? Well, whatever it said to you, it's probably the truth," said Katie.

"What can I say? When a girl steals a card that intrigues the panties off you, you can't help but admire her, right?" Akiko's clothes started to wear away, her normal attire slowly returning to form. "But you already knew about that. How's Bastion treating you, by the way- ahh, we can skip that. We'll catch up later when we're at the bar."

Regarding the mangled corpse, Akiko shrugged it off. "I think it's uglier that way." The cat couldn't help but let out a chuckle at that. "And whatever it said isn't anything I haven't already heard before. Hard to get under someone's skin when the world around you has already tried to bring you down a couple of times."

Castle appeared on Akiko's shoulder, sitting behind her neck as her ears finally sparked back up. She was back, alright. "So, why're you here now?"

Katie's expression didn't change much, even as the Bastion card was mentioned. She was fine with Akiko skirting around the issue because a fresh, "None of your business," was ready on her tongue to drip out. "You have some high expectations, assuming we're making it back to the Dangeki," Katie mused. She didn't miss the subtle compliment regarding that corpse however, raising an eye just, just slightly. Then she shrugged because she was probably reading too much into it. "You must not think that too much if it looks like I'm left without a spleen," she noted, studying the mishapen and twisted features of her own corpse. "I prefer looking with a normal face, so you're right about that."

Katie's attention was back on Akiko to the next question, met with a shrug. "Something drew me here. Call it a hunch." In truth she was also keeping an eye on Riku and Thomas; last she checked, they were getting themselves killed fighting the deranged local undead wolf.

"Considering I make it a point to not throw the first punch, I'd say she had it coming." Akiko blunted. "Regardless on the illusions of this place, probably doesn't help sticking around here. We should probably get moving, try and get back with the others." Akiko stepped towards the doorway before turning and looking at Katie. "Unless you're getting your rocks off looking at a deceased doppelganger that collapsed on itself after a shrug, anyway. I'll wait, it's no big deal."

"Considering you're the one I found left around with my corpse, you're not exactly one to make those kind of snarks," Katie said right back. "Someone might be getting the wrong idea walking into a scene like this, especially the owner of that corpse." Still, there was little left to discuss although Katie did scowl just a bit at some notion she died from a "shrug" as Akiko put it. "You're very insufferable," she said, already moving towards the doorway as well.

"Thank you, I pride myself on being everyone else's problem." She stepped to the side to let Katie go first, sarcasm dripping with the blood. "At least, that's what my mom said before sending me to the local asylum."

"You poor thing. No wonder they let you loose," Katie deadpanned.

The moment Akiko took a step forward, something sharp buzzed in her head. Sharpness at first, but soon it degraded into a light sensation as if air was filling her ears. Whatever pain there was soon flitted away as something carefully proped into her head and into her mind. A line of communication was being formed by instinct alone and soon a familiarity would wash over the girl from the point of contact. It felt like Kanbaru, eerily so, only more intense. No....this was the specter attached to the whale. The JSTR. The program gently pushed and prodded to establish a link of unspoken contact, such were the benefits of giving one's goals and sense of self in the efforts for more power, the mutual benefits of one Jester to another.

Something was coming through. A message, a sentiment, something shared, images and visuals from Kanbaru's own eyes. Nephetos and Runa. But that didn't matter. There was something forming, some role to play. The JSTR conveyed its message to Akiko and her Stand; the end of this Floor drew near and the key of escape lay in the very girl standing in front of Akiko. The efforts were simple, disturbingly so; Katie would undoubtly take care of the rest. All Akiko needed to do was give her a little....push. There was something inside the girl, something festering and dark and barely constrained to the surface.

All Akiko needed to do was give a push.

The girl stumbled back for a moment, hand clenching her eye to keep it from burning, but as the pain slowly died the messages became clear. Like a little voice in the back of her mind, Akiko knew the very steps to advancing herself with this sort of path, and try as she might, it was entirely obscured from her vision. She couldn't tell the future or the past from it. As the pain died completely, Akiko looked at Katie with a grim understanding of what she wanted to do. Almost like what she had to do. She had done it a moment ago, but this one felt so much different.

All she needed to do was give a push.

For a moment, she thought about it. She had a whole code she lived by that kept her in line, with her principles, but now there was probably the clearest path to power in front of her and all she needed to do was subvert them once again. She stared at Katie, knowing what she needed to do, nay, what she had to do.

And... she spoke.

"If someone were to offer you power beyond your dreams, and you just had to kill me for it, would you?" Akiko asked, staring at Katie with a dead seriousness. There was no movement, no action, just words in that exact moment. She could see the future, but she wanted to know it as the present. "Would you make that deal, Katie?"

Katie stopped in her tracks, both from Akiko's words and from noticing the other girl wasn't moving with her. "What kind of question is that?" Not to mention, it came out of the blue seemingly nowhere. Perhaps another round cycle in the Abyss had finally gotten to Akiko's head, but she somehow doubted that. "That's an awful lot of assumption and self of importance there, not to mention a very specific choice of wording." But she could tell Akiko wasn't going to budge until she got an answer and so one would be given. Katie didn't bother looking at her, still faced towards the doorway and outside where the rest of the Abyss lay. Where the rest of hell awaited.

"If you really want to know what I think....then yes. But not because of power. There's a few reasons why you should stay dead," Katie said in a low chord of hiss in her voice.

The cat didn't respond, merely pondering the information given to her.

".....is that all you wanted to know? This silence is getting awkward, and not just because my corpse is a few feet away," Katie said, voice ringing in Akiko's silence.

"Yes, it is." Akiko straightened her back out. "Or, it was. But you probably don't care about the semantics of why it's there." She put her hands in her pockets and stared at Katie, a grim smile washing over her face. "Why're you here. Not this place, but the Tower itself?"

Silence pervaded the space between the two girls, silence that felt like an eternity when it was only heartbeats. Then she turned around to fully face Akiko. "What is this, an interrogation? Why do you care why I'm here." The so called Queen hadn't once made mention of that, not since the very first time.

"Well, when you can read between the lines of the worlds we go through, hearing what you think sometimes helps." The cat on Akiko's shoulders perked up, staring at Katie. "Of course, if you have nothing to hide, then there's no reason to keep it from me. Unless, of course, you're afraid to share." Her eye flickered a red glint as she spoke. "Embarrassment, frustration, denial, there's plenty of reasons one would be afraid, but you're often stoic. Why did that question finally prompt some reaction from you?"

"It's not often I'm around people who want to know my business, so forgive me if I'm a little skeptical on the sudden interest in me." No, it wasn't sudden. There was once a time...regardless of how much she tried, Katie couldn't dissuade the ice in her tone or the newfound hardness in her stare at the other girl. "I have an affliction. I came to this place to find a way to mitigate it. It's as simple as that," she said curtly, trying to loosen her shoulders despite her hackles raising. "You love prying into people don't you. Is that how you connect with them when you can't feel anything else?"

Akiko's grin widened. "I'm a psychologist. My very nature is to pry at the seams. And that story about an affliction is definitely interesting, but it doesn't fit. It doesn't belong here." Akiko stepped forward once. "You can get medicine to treat an affliction, to lessen the pain. You don't need to come to a magical tower and risk your life just to treat a bad case of depression. Everyone else has illusions of grandeur that could be realized, but you're young and spry. You're a square peg in a round hole. What else is there? What's the full story?"

The world almost seemed to shrink around them as the doorway closed, leaving them speaking on a fractured floor.

Instinct took over Katie's body and her hands moved on their own when Akiko approached closer. The sharp end of Pendragon rested near Akiko's throat, the sword held tightly in Katie's grip by one hand. "You sure sound like a psychologist alright, as if you know anything about me." The normalacy of stoicness that usually made up Katie's expression dipped into a flicker of other emotion. She made no move to attack however, Pendragon held abaited to keep Akiko away. "It's a very strange case of affliction, one I doubt you'd be able to cure with a university student's interpretation of how the mind works. So I'll ask again one more time. Why the hell do you care?"

Katie stared with a dark look. "Unless you're starting to see some cracks in your vision, mind reader. Something coming back to you, hm?"

"I can always ask. And pry." She ignored the sword and kept asking. "Your insecurities are a crowbar, prying in. Why don't you want me knowing any of this?" Akiko asked closer, feeling the wedge between the two growing ever smaller. In a physical battle, sure, Akiko wasn't much, but when they couldn't run away? That was where she shined. "I care because I care about you, Katie. Probably more than anyone else in this Tower does."

"No, you don't."

There was more venom than Katie intended in her voice but it was no less than the truth. "Maybe you did once but I can hardly see anything genuine about that now. Don't feel too discouraged, because I don't go around telling people what's wrong with me, not just you. Especially you though. You might find some way using that against me, knowing you," she retorted. And then she paused, some thought to herself as silence built up between them once again. "You didn't answer my question. What else are you starting to remember," she said very, very carefully.

"Bold of you to assume I don't care. Everyone here's out for person number one, and I'm the only one asking how you're doing. That should mean something, right?"

The words sat with Akiko momentarily before she started to remember, before it clicked with her finally. "... when we were fighting Nephetos, I moved in a way that felt familiar, but I wasn't able to see the future then." Akiko answered calmly. She shook her head for a second before she realized a weird understanding of this world they were in. "I... understand."

"There's plenty of people who care about me here...."

Katie said so, but whether they were for Akiko or herself she wasn't quite sure. She could list off Riku and Thomas, Ami, but such were names she herself also kept at a distance. It remained the focus of her mind until Akiko finally spoke up on the matter. "You...understand what exactly?" There was suspicion in her voice...no, paranoia. Something dark flared and festered within her and she remembered not to get too close to this girl. This girl, who was causing more and more distortions and mania than she realized; it wouldn't be very hard to simply flick her wrist and lob off Akiko's head.

Akiko looked at the ground around them. It started to grow ever so clear. This world they were in was a set of words on a page, yet she had been given the ability to not only see into the chapters of other characters, but she was given the keys to something far greater.

She looked back up at Katie, slowly. "How many times have we done this, Katie?"

Silence, for the last time.

"....too many for me to count," Katie snarled, wringing her wrist to make with decapitating Akiko.

Akiko's body moved on its own, reaching out to grab Katie by the neck and simply hold her there. "I remember there was one time you said you liked this." Akiko smirked, not even moving her face to look at Katie in the eyes. "We've seen this room a hundred times over, maybe even a thousand, and no matter the outcome here we both know what happens in the end. What really goes beyond here. We both know exactly how this room ends."

Akiko's head moved up, eyes aflame with a creepy glow. "You really think you can try and pull a fast one on me? In here?" She asked, her tone unsettling as it continued. "You think you can dethrone the queen to this kingdom, Katie? Bring an end to everything that I've been building towards?"

Castle manifested behind Akiko with the same red eyes. "We've kissed in this room as many times as you've died in this room, ignoring that corpse."

"Piss off".

The dark energy building from within and behind Katie exploded outward, manifest as a large and spectral arm. Coated in darkened scales, it gripped itself into a fist even as Katie dangled from Akiko's own grip. Pistoning backwards, it smashed into Akiko's body with a blackened punch, Katie dropping down to a knee, coughing as a hand pawed at her throat. "Ami....is a thousand times better than you ever were," she growled, the darkened energy emanating outwards from her body. The distilled and spectral arm hovered by her side as she stood back up to face the other girl.

"Good to see you have your memory back, just to beat it out of your head again. We must be running on different wavelengths as usual because I never die here," Katie snarled once more. The depth and pitch in her tone continued to take a drastic turn but despite the energy leaking out of her in swells, the JSTR in Akiko's head approved of the situation. More. Just a little bit more. Already Katie was launching another spectral punch right towards the other girl.

At first Akiko laid motionless, still taking the world in as she came to terms with the reality she was in. Slowly, she stood back up, and her eyes landed on Katie with a glow. "Ohho, you've said that before, but here's the thing - I"ve seen my own death in my visions." Akiko's neck momentarily ripped apart before sewing back together, later her arms doing the same, and her legs, until she straightened her back out. "We've been here countless times, we've died here countless times, we've fucked here countless times, but the difference between what you and I see is that yours always end right here, in this room. Am I wrong?"

The spectral punch collided with Castle in a dazzling display, the cat's stand managing to take it and keep on rocking. "Doesn't that tip you off? Doesn't that concern you that, even if you win here, something happens that keeps you from the truth? Something deep inside makes you yearn to see what lies beyond this forsaken room?" Castle stayed next to it's owner, already prepared to catch another punch.

"Doesn't it bother you that I know what happens next after you die?" She asked, a maniacal laughter seeping out from somewhere in the room.

"Do you really wanna deal with the gravity of this situation? Or do you want to try and help me end it, Katie? For you, for Riku, for Kanbaru, everyone in here."

Akiko raised her hands up in defense, blood pooling out from her side. Guess that the punch onto Akiko from earlier did more than she bargained for, but regardless her intent was clear. Akiko was trying to spare Katie.

"You're delusional as always...."

Katie had no such memory of her own death, nor did she see the end of the journey in this room. No, she knew damn well the cycle only ever continued when they reached the Tower's top. A million different variables could be at play but everything ended at the top. For a moment she wondered if this Akiko had learned too early; she recalled they often had confrontations here but never where Akiko was spouting madly about futures that never came. So what changed now? It didn't take her very long to deduce the culprit, even as her spectral arm continued pushing Castle back. Runa. That was the only possible variable to this anamoly and an Akiko ranting about futures that could not exist.

"You're speaking nonsense," Katie growled. At this point a shroud of blackened energy hovered around her body and over her form. She stepped forward and with it, darkened spotches of pure energy burned wherever she walked. "You're no queen, just a sociopathic narcissist. The only one with the rite to any rule is me".

"The only one with the rite to any rule is you, yes, yes, you're very predictible." Akiko asked, Castle still holding... more than it's own. If anything, the mania took Akiko by the heart and kept her throwing. Even as blood poured from her, she was still fighting with a ton of strength. "What's the use of us fighting? We can bring an end to this, together."

She outstretched her hand. "We loved eachother in the past. We can both leave here if we care to see the end of this journey. Put your weapons down, listen to the rambling of a madwoman."

"Don't try and act like my friend now, Akiko."

By now Katie's voice was strained and guttural. Something else was clawing to take surface from the depths but all she could think of was the variables, of the factors, of all the possible outcomes that could have led to this specific situation. And all of it pointed to Runa. All because of the demon's personal talks, talks she noticed with Akiko and talks she should have put a stop to. And now they were here. It was sickening. First she would kill the demon and then she would finally kill Akiko.

Katie's eyes rolled back and all she saw was black.

"... Castle, throw me that way."

The stand changed to grab Akiko by the legs, putting her into a lifting throw, and the cat soared out of the illusionary room. With the distance between the room and her growing, the cat quickly found solace outside of the illusion once again, returning to the Abyss where she felt the worlds reconvene. Her irises were permanently tainted, once an emerald green and now replaced with a bloody red. She was now gazing through the world and seeing every path, every possible way to move forward, every outcome, every solution, every death. Whatever that was, she finally realized the futility of it all.

Even with that, with the illusion of choice in a world that'd been played back hundreds of times, she knew somewhere there was something she hadn't tried. And she'd find it.

No matter the cost.

All she needed was that little push.

Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Dreaming One
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Dreaming One

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The remnants of what used to be the phantom Touka had nothing left to say, nothing more than harsh gurgles and curses towards the other girl, vibrant and hateful. The JSTR paid no heed of these intrusions as it continued to hold comfort to its living vessel, a saintly expression painted on a face only Kanbaru could see. But before such grand goals could be accomplished and they set on such a path, there was the Tower that stood before them. Indeed, it was their only obstacle unless one counted Akiko's stubborness. That was neither here nor there when they had so, so many steps to lay forward, some of which included the two coming closer to them.

As the first to break free of her delusions, it was natural Runa would seek Kanbaru out. It was a meeting long overdue, the parasite in Kanbaru's head prodding her temples in a certain direction. Was that excitement? Some sort of euphoria? It was something that caught the JSTR's attention as it made Kanbaru notice not just the demon, but the demon her pet tag along. The others of their party still remained in their own little fantasies, no doubt walking in circles like Riku and Thomas. Whatever was to be said would have no ears to lend to. The JSTR focused itself peculiarly on Nephy, though the wolf could not see the specter.

The whale followed her parasite's prodding, turning with surprise to find Runa approaching her for the first time since they'd fled the pizza party. She startled, shifting behind the JSTR with a hysterical laugh as she rubbed at her eyes to try and erase any signs of her breakdown. It was a fools errand but she made the attempt and emerged with a flicker of her bravado sliding into place, but with Touka's bisected specter gurgling on the ground she was far from boisterious.

"Somehow I'm not surprised to see you two together so amicably. Call it familiarity but you strike me as good friends." She said, leaning against her nun for emphasis before stepping forward to clap Runa on the shoulder. "Good on you. Glad to see you have someone special making this hole in the ground a little more tolerable. We'll have to find the time to dish all the dirty details while Nephy's busy, kay?"

Nephy was sat up on an old and cracked stone wall, blasted apart from age or ancient battles. The ruin was her perch and from it she looked down on Runa and Kanbaru. She'd kick her feet idly as she licked her nails between her fangs, coated in the blood of some beast she had slain some time ago. The kill still tasted fresh on her tongue, an intoxicating taste.

"I do not like the whale, Runa. I don't know what you see in her. She is much too clownish."

The wolf launched herself off and landed next to Runa, running a hand through her ragged mane which would pull out some mangy hair.

"And she carries something else with her. I don't know what it is yet. I just feel it." Nephy's instincts could only skim the surface of the parasite deep in Kanbaru's heart. All she could tell is something was off, and Kanbaru appeared like she had two heartbeats instead of one at times.

Runa’s presence was as flickering as ever, her shape alternating between spaces and between points of view as her ghostly shape appeared here, and appeared there. She alternated between times and shapes of adventures to come, and witnessed some glimpses of the fantasies forced upon them to witness, to perceive.
She found it all quite amusing.

Nephy soon found her way to appear in the place, sitting idly and approaching Kanbaru, as the demon would finally do too, making sure that the other adventurers were too busy at the moment to have even a hint of the conversation they were about to have. The demon stepped quietly and silently, as if she was not here in the first place.

“Oh yes, I do feel it too quite as well too. And this is what we actually need to discuss. Or rather, with what we has to have a discussion”, Runa said and approached Kanbaru with a light bow: “I must apologize for this inconvenience but there would be no other way to have this… talk a heart to heart between us here and we do need to have one indeed in order to… work through the situation we are having at hand”, Runa said, her words are as usual full of mist and smoke, no clear intentions only directions her voice would take.

It seemed quite a bit of work and setup to prepare just to gain an audience with the duo, but the JSTR was no stranger to lofty goals and such like that. Although, much like Nephy, there was some apprenhension to be felt among the two parties. For every bit of fascination and interest the JSTR held towards the wolf, there was an equal amount of disdain and dismissal aimed right at Runa. There was something about this blue demon that sent every motion inside Kanbaru's head to kill on the spot, to rend apart and tear whole as she dared to make a mockery of standing before her. The rampant and killing impulse faded just as fast as it came with no such justification of why coming from the JSTR.

Perhaps it saw something the whale didn't, something in the demon's past; or perhaps her future. Regardless, it held begrudging pervalance towards Runa until it faded back to indifference. All the while, the JSTR focused too much on the mangled wolf that served as Runa's companion. Much like the demon, there was something very fascinating about....ah. There it was. How interesting indeed. The virus could see why its vessel took such a fond liking to this chosen one....but these were ruminations for another time. The question of the hour hung in the air above both parties until the JSTR directed Kanbaru to speak out what they both knew what was wanted.

Ever since the pizza party the JSTR kept its sights on Runa, for despite her alterations and splinters in time and space, her goal remained all the same; getting out of this hellhole.

It was fittin in a way that the white haired companions to Runa and Kanbaru were radiating such hostility, both nun and wolf radiating an intense desire to murder their partner's counterparts. But neither gave way to homicidal impulses and instead opened up discussions like the civilized people they weren't. The quantness of the situation roused further levity in the whale who through an arm around the multi phasic Demon's shoulder and pulled her into a sidewards hug, trusting her parasite to keep the two in the same phase state.

"So, you two have come for me and my friend's help to get out of here? Not surprising. We are rather good at that, and lucky for you two we happen to be in the business of helping other's dreams come true. In fact we can get Nephy here a miracle substance called Shampoo that would make her hair the fluffiest, silkiest, loveliest thing you ever touched!"

Nephy's ears go flat and she gives a not subtle hiss when Runa is snatched up in Kanbaru's embrace. She wasn't worried for Runa, moreso frustrated her one companion was getting touched by this oddly smelling whale. She hadn't forgotten the motorcycle bike either, she had scrubbed her cheek for hours.

"Does this have anything to do with the boy?" Nephy asked Runa, knowing she had been acting funny since their encounter. She had wanted to intervene in several Tower members now, and it was beginning to bother the wolf. Yes, it was good for the plan but playing with their food like this was not something she liked to do.

"Or is the little red girl. The weird one with the invincibility?" Nephy listed off the various things she remembered, struggling to make sense of things.

The motion of Kanbaru’s hand to land on Runa’s shoulder made a slight flicker in the shape of reality around them - Runa did concentrate her presence in here for that forming embrace was to land properly and in so they were now with Kanbaru in a sideways hug, despite demon’s more frequent flickering on spot. Kanbaru’s arm would acquire a flash of various distorted colors, as if the light itself would have troubles coming through the shape of the demon girl.
Who kept on looking around with her eyes cold and deep, two blue mirrors reflecting who - or what - ever she was looking at, and giving not chance of reading through her mind what was there in her head, and what did she want.

“Boy.. and a girl… and more. They are all important, Nephy. Kanbaru here too is important. And her mysterious companion will too”, the demon replied, looking over her wolf companion and then landing her eyes at Kanbaru again. She certainly did know more than she led on.

“As for your services yes, your help would be the most crucial now. Me and Nephy; we must leave this place. We must leave the Abyss. And I am sure we realize here what is the way for this to happen.”


It played over and over again in Kanbaru's mind, and she could feel the entity behind her deepen its smirk. False. They didn't need the broken boy or the red cloaked girl. All that they needed resided in only one. Something shimmered behind and above Kanbaru, not too dissimilar to the effects shifting around Runa's constant state of influx. Physical hands rested on the whale's shoulders with an all too real grip as a great shadow loomed out from her back, hunched over the girl. Dissipation inversed on itself and flesh formed fully with the JSTR manifesting for the first time in outside observation. Its lower half crept out from Kanbaru's back like a shadow while the saintly nun continued resting its hands on its vessel.


It stared in its serene mask at the two but more importantly, focused its full brunt towards Nephy. There was a low but shrill noise that only the wolf's trained ears could pick up on, reminescent of metal shrading against each other. It was probably the best method of communication between the JSTR and its newfound liking because its sentiment was shared to the wolf. No, there was no need for the others. There was one among them with the power to weaken the Abyssal walls and barriers that kept them imprisoned, especially whatever law held Runa in place. A dark force of energy resided in the one named Katie, and this sentiment was shared to Nephy and its vessel.

It was one thing to feel the JSTR against her but she could certainly come to enjoy her in the flesh, especially when she was hugging another babe as well. The impression of lies drifted through her head, her parasite telling her that Nephy and Runa weren't being very upfront with her. That was fine. Kanbaru knew the best way to address deceit was her special brand of blunt force honesty.

"I can see you two want out, and it just so happens my friend and I can do that for you if you're willing to help us get the pieces we need. A particular piece, with a nasty habit of stabbing her problems, and who just so happened to befriend an old compatriot of mine. You've probably seen her already. She's kinda like Nephy here in temperment." Kanbaru looked back over her shoulder past the nun, winking at the irate lupine for added measure.

At the feeling of the wave of power crashing against her and the sight of the shadow clawing out from Kanbaru's back, Nephy drew Nekuromata. There's a clean pull of the blade and it flashed briefly, poised to strike.

"Runa she does not come alone! Something is inside her!" Nephy warned, expecting a fight immediately. Her instincts were telling her to flee, a first feeling for a long time of dull mundane encounters throughout the abyss. Something else as powerful as them was inside here now, which rung alarm bells in the wolf's head.

The information about Katie hadn't gone ignored. Nephy had been attracted to her for unsure reasons, but now knew clearly what the raven had been holding in her heart.

"It wants the raven, the black haired one. What do you want with her? What power does she hold?" Nephy's tone became more demanding. She'd look to Runa to see what she would do, prepared to fight or even perhaps flee if the warnings she felt were true.

Runa watched the appearance of JSTR with some silent amusement - while not showing any signs of emotion to be expressed, besides the usual held back smile shaped on her, the lack of any action she took was the sign of her being impressed and intrigued by this turn of events.

“I imagined your shape differently. It is always elusive to the eye, perhaps it is due to your nature being of such elusive and never lasting shape?”, Runa asked, looking up; she did take a slight step aside though, watching JSTR to take form and then approach Nephy with some sort of communication situation. The words further revealed by Nephy made Runa to tilt her head and ponder over their meaning - in her case it was an attempt to discover what was already discovered, to remember what was never forgotten because was never realised.
Such was the way of time for her.

“A raven, huh? Now that’s interesting..”, Runa said, looking back at Nephy, Runa’s smile held no meaning to people not known to it; but Nephy could read its message this time with the light tilt of Runa’s head - “the hunt is soon to be on”

“What kind of power would that be..”

Now wasn't this interesting. The wolf's actions betrayed her true values, and the JSTR would have raised an eye if the programming allowed such human monikers. Why did any of that matter to the wolf? Katie was a means to an end, and the end was escaping was it not? Surely the wolf was no stranger to pawns and pieces, to sacrifices that needed to be made for her own survival. That was the law of the Abyss, the only law of instinct Nephy should have known in her fractured existence. All the same, it caught the JSTR's amusement to see her so riled up on a suggestion. No, there was no hesitation of it; in order to escape, they would need the force inside Katie to act as a conduit.

It reminded Nephy as such, flashes of a bestial thing laying waste to the lower dwellings of the Abyss, that which Nephy caught sight of and knew. There was no point playing pretend. The wolf knew exactly what sort of things festered inside that girl and how its power could be utilized in weakening the barriers. All this and more passed from parasite to vessel to wolf, and eventually to demon. It was simple, truly. All that was needed was just a push and Katie could unravel the festering inside her. And then, the two were free to utilize that chaos for escape, to shatter the walls foever.

"Funny you call her a raven when she's a brunette. And what's with the panic, I thought it was obvious I had the JSTR here with me. After all she helped me fight you." Kanbaru folded her arms as she found herself bereft of a huggable demon. She'd make do inverting positions with her nun, finding herself the one draped over her back, arm curled to tenderly cup the shark's cheek in her hand.

"It's all rather simple. We need Katie, or rather, we need the monster beneath the skin. For reasons we...don't see any point in telling you, killing her is strictly off the table, and really it wouldn't help you. But if we all come together, we can isolate her from the more bleeding heart members of our party, and I know Akiko won't lift a paw to help. Then, oh then little corpse wolf, you can get to do what you're best at and push her over the edge." Kanbaru said laconically, only to blink as the faint gurgles of a specter reached her ear.

"And, obviously, you can't kill Ami to do it. But with all those prickly spirits inside you, someone has to know how to haunt a broken little girl like Katie, no~?"

Nephy didn't like this one bit. Katie and her weren't exactly what you could call friends but something about this felt deeply wrong that the wolf could not place. She couldn't dare entertain the idea she liked Katie and wanted to protect her, but the cold looks both Runa and Kanbaru gave and the idea of ripping out the beast inside. It sounded too much like things the wolf had experienced herself.

She would sheathe her blade and give a forlorn look to Runa, and then back to Kanbaru.

"It will not...hurt her. Right?" The wolf asked to Kanbaru, her voice lower than her usual malice filled tone.

"We need her alive. For the beast. Of course."

It was already decided. The JSTR physically wrenched its lips into a near-deranged smirk as it felt what occurred just further away. A change in the wind, a spike in the air. They didn't need Nephy and Runa, only their cooperation and that much was enough. Akiko had proven herself useful after all, worthy of their mantle and namesake. By choice or chance, the deed was already done and all in the area could feel it, from Runa to Thomas. The world around them shook as one by one the occupants in the cavern were roused from their delusions.

The air became heated and charged with a sickening energy as the Abyss itself shook from a sudden force breaching it from the inside out. A monstrous noise rang out through the air, one that rattled Nephy's undead bones and threatened to unravel her from the very core. Yes, there it was. That was what they were looking for.
Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by TheWendil
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TheWendil The Wendil-Sama™ / ಠ_ಠ

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Cold. Quiet. Blackness.

It was as if cold ink or tar was splattered all over her face and sludged down into her retinas. Despite the violation, it did not burn, did not sting. It was comfort, like a strange blanket that draped over her features and frame. The more she thought, the more it engulfed her until there was little more than the. Cold. Quiet. Blackness. Anything else was a distant sound to her, muffled and distorted and unable to reach her ears in the. Cold. Quiet. Blackness.

Her body felt bloated, enlarged and weighed down by heaviness that riled at her mind and seeped into her bones. Her stomach churned, organs meshing and convulsing on each other in a sea of. Cold. Quiet. Blackness. It became too much, too much, and it choked her, strangled her lungs. She hurled out the etched essence, a pitch-dark fluid in thick torrents streamed out from her mouth and hitting the ground with a horrendous hiss like acid. Then the liquid lurched up.

It defied gravity and splattered back to her face, back to her body, coating and melding overtop. Her body felt bloated yes, but this was new, this was unnerving. It stretched and pulled, muscle and sinew tore and regrew with bones expanding. The eyes she knew to be within her deepest desires stared back like a hollowed-out mask with unreadable intent and emotion. The world rumbled and the Abyss shuddered as something grew up high for all to see.

It smashed and wrecked the cavern that was once their escape, letting loose light to filter through completely and indicate their presence to the field of fog that was Death pursuing them. But death would come to them all soon enough. A horrendous animalistic roar tore through the air as the beast swiveled its head in a maddening fury. The rightful ruler outstretched its wings, and like an angel cast out of the gates of Heaven it loomed over the hellish world beneath it.

The black crowned ruler gazed upon its land and the dragon let loose another roar. In its wake the Abyssal walls shuddered and cracked. Death would come soon but for now, death would follow in the blackened dragon’s wake. The dark beast thrashed and lashed out, a pitch-black blotch in Akiko’s vision no matter what path she looked through, what timeline she peered into. All that she saw, was all that the dragon saw within the.

Cold. Quiet. Blackness.

Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Gardevoiran
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Gardevoiran Reading or remembering, not both.

Member Seen 10 mos ago

"Grrhhh... son of a-GHRAHH!"

The blood was pooling harder from her side, but thankfully she had an edge on this situation. The bright red glow in her hand brought the blood flow to a halt, the wound clotting and scabbing before she fixed her outfit. To the onlooking Lorelai and Hellsword, Akiko looked like shit, but it was slowly being fixed. "We admit, you have looked much better before." Hellsword was the first to comment on the state of affairs, noticing a rather timid Lorelai not wanting to speak up on the matter. The cat shrugged it off though, standing rather weakly as her eyes flashed and shimmered about. "And we also admit, you're acting rather manic."

"The entwined souls are correct. Akiko, you don't look so well. And... you're younger?" Lorelai noticed the finer details there with Akiko's body. Seems even though the illusion had worn off, Akiko had reversed the time. Just a little bit, not too much, but it oddly fit her. "What happened? What happened in that brief darkness?"

The cat stepped over to the edge she landed on. There was a stint of black, but she hadn't expected this to happen. This didn't appear in her visions, this was something new entirely. At least, it was new now. Something she was afraid of, sure, but at least she could focus on it now. Maybe not in any of the loops, but she did pick up a thing or two from Runa.

"We don't have to go down there. We can stay up here, let you rest." Lorelai stepped over and offered a shoulder for the cat to rest against, if only for a moment. She was concerned, far more than she had been before, even when Akiko was moments away from getting strangled by Ami and Riku.

But. The cat knew better. "No. We need to get in there. A queen protects her subjects, that's how it should be." Castle manifested behind her once again, full ghost form, just staring down with it's user. "You guys better be ready. I can't imagine this is gonna be an easy fight."

Within an instant, Castle flung its owner, Hellsword and Lorelai left looking at eachother before they shrugged and dissipated, returning to cards once again in Akiko's possession.

A couple of feet away from Nephetos, Runa, and Kanbaru, the cat landed with a resounding thud. She stretched her arms out and flashed her eyes at the ghost before she looked at the rest of the combatants. She eyed them up and down, trying to figure out what pieces of the puzzle they fit into. Trying to decipher their pasts once more, but with an added edge. After a moment, she spoke looking at Kanbaru.

"Katie's sick, she's got some kind of affliction that modern medicine doesn't work with." She stepped forward, her attention turned to stare at the monster they were about to face down, looking for some story or edge she could get. "Hopefully that's the sort of haunting that you were looking for."

Castle manifested, hovering on Kanbaru's shoulder before nuzzling the whale. Maybe she'd get the memo.

"Listen up. That monster was Katie, it's not anymore. There's a chance that she could be fractured from it again, but that's not priority one. Priority one is making sure everyone here gets out alive." It wasn't often that the cat took charge like this, but the haze of the infinite caused her to realize. There was a way out of this. For everyone.

She flicked her head towards Runa and Nephetos. "You two, stick with Kanbaru and keep that thing at bay. Runa, if you see an opportunity to get in there, seize it." Akiko's eyes flickered, as if she was doing the same thing. "I'm going to Riku and Thomas. I'll keep them safe while trying to figure the same out."

She nodded to them. "Don't ask questions. Save us the precious time we'll have." And with that, the cat made a mad dash towards Riku and Thomas. She knew the other three would be fine, it was the new ones she was still trying to decipher.
Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Sonnambula
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Sonnambula Stealer of Girls

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There was no time to talk and ask questions though. This was something Thomas realised almost immediately after his question, whatever answer Riku was about to reply with crushed and muted under a roar unlike any other he'd heard before. It tore through his senses, near deafening as the cavern shook with the force of it. Though it seemed omnipresent due to its immense volume, the source of that guttural howl was easy to spot. In fact, it was about all that the boy could 'spot'.

A colossal beast, coated in dark, shimmering scales, contrasted only by a light underbelly and light blue patterns that streaked along its large, muscular body. Soulless marble-like eyes framed a face which inspired only terror, with teeth that looked as sharp as its claws, not to mention the pointed twin blades that tapered off its tail. Its wings meant that there was no room for confusion as to what this thing was, allowing it to soar up high and, in the process, rip open the very cave they were in like a paper birdcage. The dazzling light that now shone forth with the absence of walls and ceilings sealing it away made the creature seem almost angelic, a sheen of radiance shining around its majestic form. But this was no angel. No, this was a dragon.

Another roar, and the state of awe and fear which had kept Thomas subservient and frozen for the duration of the dragon's appearance snapped away just like that. That didn't mean he wasn't still feeling both of those aforementioned emotions, amongst plenty of others, but he now instead fuelled himself with those feelings, not waiting for Riku to get up off him as he kicked himself up off the ground. He held the princess in both arms, carrying her much like a knight from a fairy tale would. Except he definitely wasn't taking on this dragon alone. This thing looked like it would take more than just a single stab to get rid of.

Luckily though, it didn't seem like he was alone anymore. The newfound light that had flooded the cavern clearly revealed the locations of his fellow party members, all of whom by now seemed to be aware of the giant dragon raging overhead. In fact, Thomas clearly saw one of those party members rushing over to him and Riku at that very moment.

Akiko? Thomas thought it odd that she would be the one to approach the two of them, especially given that he'd barely spoken to her since his arrival, but at this point he definitely wasn't going question it. He held Riku tight as he ran to meet Akiko in the middle, calling out a question before he'd even stopped in front of her.

"What do we need to do?!"

Part of Thomas wanted to ask something else, like what exactly was going on or where the hell this dragon came from. After all, it was like it had appeared from nowhere. But, given the circumstances, that could all wait. What needed to happen now was action. Still though, the boy couldn't help but feel some shred of familiarity from the beast hung high above the group. Like a deep-seated presence he could recognise, but it was too distant to decipher. But how was that? What was there to recognise in the face of an animal that only screamed of death?
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