Hidden 2 mos ago Post by TheWindel
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Back in the Dangeki Café, Cait continued to idle about at the bar area. Naturally, it took a while for Team B to recuperate and get themselves swinging back into the motion of events. By now Black Pentacle was probably well off into the depths of their adventure and may have even been a day or so ahead of the other guys; maybe even further. That was neither here nor there though when Team B was finally piecing itself together, starting with the energetic girl who volunteered to find her companions.

“Ruby Chariot, huh? A bit wordy and pretentious but I’ll see what we can do,” Cait mused to herself. By now the drunken stupor possessing her actions had sobered up into normalcy. It was enough not to scare of the newcomer at the very least. The cat noticed Hannah rousing from her Awakening and stumbling into the world of the Tower. And so, the girl with the white mask made her way next to Cait, sliding up beside her and questioning about her ear.

Cait’s ear twitched a bit from this question but she didn’t move away even as Hannah, or rather, Caprice, plucked something unseen. Instead of the usual accounted money trick, Cait’s expression dipped into one of delight once a sweet treat was offered instead, coated in blues and yellows. “Wooow, you really are a magician! Thanks so much hun!” The cat eagerly took the pastry in hand, nibbling on it with broad waves of her tail behind her. By the time Sherry returned with Lin and a new girl in tow, she was swiping the last of the crumbs off her lips with her tongue.

“Ah, you’ve got a good eye on you….Lin, right? A natural-borne instinct for treasure. You’re not half-bad for a barista too,” Cait said with a smirk and a wink. “But it’s just like I said to the others…er, guess I’ll need to explain again since not everyone was here, eheh…” So Cait did exactly that, elaborating a second time on the Tower’s nature, Serei cards, as well as the two quests hanging on the billboard behind them. Not to mention Black Pentacle’s location, but that was pretty much a given.

“Mhm, I usually don’t allow two groups at a time taking the same quest, but I’ll sweep it under the rug for now because of your tasty treat.” The bar cat nodded at Hannah before noticing her mask. “Oooh, you must be the group leader then, right? Personally, White Masks is such a cool name that I think I’m just gonna let you sign that up now!” Similar to Umi from earlier, Cait produced a blank piece of paper and pen, quickly sketching the visage of a mask on its parches.

Their newfound Guild name, White Masks, scribbled itself magically beneath the symbol before curling up into Cait’s hand for safekeeping. “Now then, just like the others, feel free to take the same quest and go through the front door. But remember, if you wanna prepare for anything, now’s the time lovelies~”

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Kanbaru Otoko


"Ugh, note to self, never Quick Run through portals." The bluenette rubbed her head, finding herself in total darkness, dusty wood beneath her as she rose from supine to standing. Blindly groping forward she felt more wood panelling, fingers running against walls till turning about to feel the wood rattle on a hinge. A bit of searching and she found the handle, stepping out into a hallway of what seemed a house down in similar enough aesthetic to Cait's tavern. "Fantasy world. Riiiight"

"Now where did everyone else go..."


Commander Lorelai


The knight nodded her head thoughtfully, an unfettered smile pulling at her lips and her eyes drifting shut to match Akiko's words to her own vision. Soon after she let out a laugh, shaking her head as she settled upon her saddle comfortably.

"Your candor is much appreciated. From what I've read in my academy days, the floating islands are certainly a mystery, but texts such as ours were rather lacking in poetry. Now I see it is perhaps that the lands above themselves are simply beyond the grasp of words. It is for the best then, that such mysteries will inspire others to unravel them and give meaning to their lives. A blessing for future story tellers.

Caught up in her whimsical notions of neighboring lands she didn't consider the peculiarity of tavern keeps extolling the beauty of her Lady, and Durgan wasn't hearing the thud of a lying heart to make trouble of the situation, even if the beast seemingly rolled its eyes all the same.

"My name? Oh, my goodness, how rude of me. I am Lorelai, a soldier of the Imperium and happily commisioned to the personal service of the most noble and just Lady Asgard. I sincerely hope you can sing tales of her beauty to the lands you travel next, for I have never known a lady fairer then she." Lorelai spoke with overwhelming passion, hands clasped over her chest in an unspoken prayer as she swayed too and fro. There was no snorting or breaking from formation, but the Black Pentacle would be able to note expressions ranging from fond indulgence to exacerbation in the men escorting them as they marched on.

"You'll see soon enough. Really I'm quite plain, a common woman in all things that matter in such arenas not pertaining to my Imperator given duties. I dare say the maid force make me look like an unwashed peasant in comparison to their grace and poise."
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"Darkness is where the Heart is."



Caprice spoke softly when she leaned forward to perform her trick as Cait let her, not wanting to harm in case those ears weren't just for show. "Such delightfully large ears can get awfully messy, no?" Caprice smirked as she performed the classic 'quarter in the ear' trick, only this time, pulling forth a light blue glazed and yellow sprinkled donut that matched Cait's hair and eyes. "One for you and one for me!" She pulled a second donut out from behind the first, this time with a black glaze and red sprinkles, before offering the donut that matched Cait.

As she was proclaimed leader and "named" the group, Hannah could not help some surprise creep into her eyes. Fortunately for her, that's what Caprice's mask was for. No matter.

"Actually, we'll take the second. The Crimson Pact. It sounds delightfully romantic, with the castles and moonlight. I wouldn't want you to get in trouble, and besides.." Caprice's tone hovered over the Crimson Pact, savoring the words for a moment, before she scooted herself off her chair. Her cane mysteriously missing, she posed for an officious statement, with her left hand over her heart. But her right hand was palming back a single card between her fingers. "As a Magician of Honor and Integrity, I despise cheating in all it's forms." However, despite her proclamation, each time the card was face up to the onlookers, it was a new card. First, Queen of Clubs, but it was Cait. Second, Queen of Diamonds, but it was Lin. Third, Queen of Hearts, but it was Rosea. Finally, Queen of Spades, but it was Sherry. Caprice herself was absent from the gallery.

“Neat tricks, ‘magician'.“ Lin scoffed at the sleight of hand being displayed by her new “leader”. “But I hope you can cast real spells. We’re not headed to any birthday parties here.” Removing herself from the bar, Lin stepped towards the bounty board to get a better look at the options before them. “Still, I have to agree with you on where we should go. You girls can go sightseeing all you want but like I said, I’m here for treasure. If I have to cut the profits four ways fine, but I’m not doing it with the scraps left behind by another group.”

"Well, this place got crowded faster than a subway during the rush hour," Sherry said before letting out a hearty laugh while scratching the back of her head. "Hi there, I'm Sherry. I can't say that I'm here for fame or fortune, but I certainly would like to find some cool places to visit so I'll be looking forward to working with ya'll," she said, introducing herself in a cheerful tone.

After her self-introduction, Sherry moved to the mission board and took a look at the quest the others were proposing before nodding silently. "Yep, it looks alright. If that's what you guys wanna do, I'm fine with it. So, how about we get going while the idea is fresh?" she asked, looking at the others, especially their appointed leader.

"Certainly, let us depart. Caprice, by the way." Caprice turned the card in her hands sideways to be invisible before flicking it away as she introduced herself.

As one by one each member of the newly appointed White Masks introduced themselves, the front door of the Dangeki Cafe would grow brighter around its hinges. Similar to Black Pentacle's own experience, a single step through the door would take them forward into a new world, a new floor within the Tower. "Good luck you all~" was Cait's parting words, licking her fingers idly of some residue pastry frosting before the world around them changed and shifted. At once, the air was immediately colder and the sky, if there even was one, was a translucent darkness held lit by only a singular object; a moon as red as freshly spilt blood.



It was a blessing the Tower didn't have a cruel sense of irony-yet-because the place the White Masks had been dumped into was a small village. Judging by the decor and overall atmosphere of the place, it was easy enough to deduce the location lived up to the expectations and implications of its quest line. Indeed, the Crimson World held many wonders, vastly strange and unique from their ordinary lives in Miso City. And as they stood there, probably gawking, the reminder that this was all very much real and prevelant would come in the form of a shaking, feral roar that resounded around their spots in the graves.

The roar gave Caprice pause, as she took a defensive half-step backwards, before letting out a slight tisk at her own slip. "It seems we are unwelcome guests, no? Perhaps we should seek out whatever manor or castle appears to be the most prominent. If there are any misunderstandings, speaking to the ones in charge might clear them up, and if we will simply face battle, then the quicker we get to our objective, the fresher we'll be for it."

Turning to the nearest building, Caprice whipped out her candycane once more, tapping it on the ground. A framework of candy canes began building the framework of a stair up to the roof of the structure. Then, a second tap and "planks" of some other sort of hard candy fell into place. Walking up to the roof, she looked around for any particularly impressive buildings that might indicate great wealth and power.

The roaring that shook the land did not stop. If anything, the bellows seemed to get louder and more ravenous but they were already brought to the highest pitch. That was because whatever was causing them came from the White Masks' surroundings. The ground around them shuddered and trembled as the gravestones turned in their rooted keeps. It was difficult to make out before but now it was all too clear; in place of where a name and words should have been, there was only a carved mouth filled with rows of teeth. So great were the number that it was hard to imagine how these things ate, especially with how much was sticking out their maws. Slowly, they hobbled towards the group of adventurers, dirt trailing behind them as the gravestones moved like teeth in the earth. Some of them, those closest to Caprice, were already starting to bite and gnaw on her candy cane stairway, making the structure dip and bend.

"Woah, things got grave all of a sudden," Sherry joked after being startled by the ravenous headstones. "I don't know where we are but I don't think that this has anything to do with us being unwelcome here," she added, following their leader but not before having to hop over the graves that devoured their way out.

“Whoa! I guess we're getting right into it then." Lin said as the group was suddenly swarmed by living tombstones. Though her basic instincts told her to run, something inside her urged her to fight. It was perplexing. She had no weapons or abilities to her knowledge, yet no matter how much her mind screamed for her to run, her feet stayed still on the ground. Her emotions spinning between fight or flight, while the others took action. Finally, she decided to give into the aggressive feelings.

With a scan of the impending hoard, Lin found the closest headstone and charged forward. As the distance closed, she planted her left foot in the ground and brought the right back then launched forward towards the animated grave marker. The second her kick made contact the slab of stone was reduced to a shower of pebbles.

"Holy shit I hit like a truck!" Lin exclaimed under her breath as she lowered her foot back and assumed a classic martial arts stance. "Alright then. Come get some you stoney bastards!"

Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by The 42nd Gecko
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"Unwelcome or not, I think haste is warranted." Caprice indeed quickened her steps to land on the roof before the appetite of the graves collapsed her stairs.
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It would have been a simple enough matter. She could easily just shut up and go with the flow. Akiko had managed to talk their way out of the situation, the commander was practically eating out of her hand as Akiko flirted with the oblivious woman. It would have been easy to just obey this woman, go meet with whoever this Asgard was, follow the laws of this world and its authority. For a time she even considered doing just that, following the group at a sedate pace, rolling her eyes with the guards as Lorelai completely missed Akiko's obvious flirtations.

But would that really be any different than what she did before? Would she be seeking adventure if she just let herself be lead around by the nose by some nebulous figure of authority she had just met? The answer was of course no, she would not be. A pirate would let herself be kowtowed by power was no pirate at all, just a coward with a fabulous outfit on. So Rose did what any reasonable pirate would do.

"Well, I appreciate the offer, but I'm gonna have to pass. I'm getting kind of bored of this walk and I'm missing out on a lot of valuable treasure hunting time! So I'm gonna head out now, you can all come if you want." She referred to Akiko and the others as she said this, turning around and walking away from the group with nary a care in the world and a spring in her step. She also started whistling, just to really drive home how little she cared for this authority and her big puppy. Truly, the greatest pirate in the world.
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"Oh? Is that so? That's quite a shame since I was considering inviting you for lunch, and perhaps, offering a reward if you could help solve this case. If being in the good graces of the Imperium's Justice won't entice you, having a head start in your treasure hunt certainly will, right?" A rather soft, almost cheery voice coming from the direction the group was walking said as Rose attempted to excuse herself and walk away.

The soldiers that accompanied Lorelai stopped dead on their tracks as none other than The head of the Imperium's Justice, Lady Asgard, the Crimson Knight, walked towards them. With a wave of her hand, she commanded them to be at rest before they could drop to their knees and bow. "I see that you've missed the thief but found some very interesting people, right Lorelai?" she said to the—no doubt overenthused—knight riding on the back of the great war while guiding the newcomers.

"Now then, would you join me at the table while we explain the situation to you? It must have been quite frustrating to be mistaken as criminals right as you arrived. Please, allow me to rectify it," Eleonor said in a softspoken voice, demonstrating that she was well-aware of everything that happened as soon as the Black Pentacle arrived in the village. She might be no Yggdrasil, but the Crimson Knight had her own means of keeping up with the flow of information.
"They say that dead men tell no tales. But, when the graves themselves have mouths, one can never be too careless, right?" A voice coming from the darkness beyond Lyn said in a nonchalant manner not long before the crack of a gun echoed in the night. One, two, three, ..., six shots, and six blasted tombstones later, the owner of the voice came into their field of view.

The woman who seemed to appear from within the darkness itself had a pale—nay, greish—complexion, ashen hair, and eyes the color of rich burgundy wine. If her Victorian style dress, along with the one too many belts she had as accessories, didn't make her stand out as an inhabitant of this real, the smoking antique revolver and the mysterious "case" she carried would. She was certainly a sight to behold, especially as she moved down the cleared lane between her and Lyn before stepping on Caprice's half-eaten stairway.

"That was impressive of you," she said after holstering her gun before tipping her hat at the fighter. "I take it that your lot have just arrived to this world, haven't you? It's very rare to see new people who can deal with this kind of stuff without freaking out. Anyway, here goes a free pro tip: Those graves are like the guard dogs of this place. Do you know what happens when intruders make a ruckus while breaking in, don't you?" the woman said to Lyn just as the sound of another fresh wave of graves crawling towards them became noticeable from the dark.

"The name's Maria by the way. You guys can count yourselves lucky for running into me out of all Hunters," she said as she nonchalantly climbed the steps towards Caprice and Sherry, leaving Lyn behind in case the fighter still felt like punching out some more tombs.
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To abandon one’s own team, their own Guild, so readily was nothing short of bold. But Rose’s spirit called for no less and if anything, it showed the rest of Black Pentacle what truly resided in her soul. A pirate was a scumbag, no matter how glossed up they were. But it was often those bottom feeders who wound up festering the most valuable treasure. By choice or chance, that was how the world turned.

Perhaps then, the coming events would be of no true coincidence. The rest of her companions would be forced to listen to Eleonor’s boring introductions. No doubt they would learn how this shattered world worked, the rules in place of it, and the function of those fancy-looking books by their side. Rose would miss all of this, assuming she cared about it to begin with. A pirate could and usually would learn by experience anyway and so too would Rose follow that creed.

Eleonor’s manor wasn’t too far off from their spawning point and so before she knew it, Rose had walked back into the village of Rivenwood. Maybe she was the only one of them to realize Kanbaru had gone missing and had set off to find her blue-haired companion. Whatever the case, she wouldn’t be granted such luck so easily, not when it was a busy hour for the village occupants. Rivenwood buzzed with the noises of daily life all around.

Each one of them set about doing things villagers usually did; that was neither here nor there in the grand scheme of events. No, what did matter, most of all, was that Rose was bumped. Rather rudely too, the figure dressed in a coat and bouncing off Rose. Whether the Black Pentacle member would fall from the force or not depended on her reaction. What was certain though, was that Rose would get a good look at the person who ran into her.

“Hey, watch where you’re going kid,” the coated figure said. The voice was distinctly feminine. Without seeing a face, it was easy to deduce she might have been a fair bit older than Rose. What was most interesting was the coat she wore, the same dark one both the Mystery Dude and the Mysterious Figure held. Only, this woman wasn’t speaking in riddles-yet-or getting ready to kick Rose’s face in. But she did sound a little annoyed, dusting her coat off while a card flopped out of her sleeve onto the ground, backside facing Rose.

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Kanbaru Otoko and ???


Hesitant steps and the creak of floor boards were all that Kanbaru could judge the town home by, hearing not a peep to tell her that anyone else was home. Fortune was favoring her with a lack of a criminal charges on this adventure, or so she'd like to believe, if she could make her way out undetected. With one hand balanced against the hall she crept onwards, wincing at the lack of stealhieness her attire conferred. By her guess this was a decent housing, no rot in the wood and, if cramped, it was built well enough not to blow over in the wind. Wherever they'd landed they at least chose a setting that had a fairly healthy fantasy aesthetic.

"No one home?" Kanbaru asked amusedly, poking her head into what seemed to her eyes to be a very basic kitchen. There were tables for cooking and tables for eating, a pot for cooking.and a pot for dirty dishes. Even to a student this was a spartan dining area and she couldn't imagine prepare cereal here, but that was probably the city girl in her talking.

"Some one is." To answer Kanbaru's question, a quiet little girl would appear from behind the currious guest. Making less noise than the dead air filling the house with the one exception of a couple of clicks in place as locks solidify themselves. A pair of shackles cuffing Fortuna to the handle of a loose and open door. The door itself was obviously not strong enough to withstand any well meanted attempt to break it apart, or even just spending a minute to jiggle the handle free from the shackle.

"And who, may I ask are you to appear here unnanounced? Hm~?" Her voice was soft and unthreatening. Though a tinge of demand still lingered in the directed question.

There was no shame in admitting Kanbaru leapt with fright at being startled by a child she hadn't heard a peep from. There was in coming down only to find her wristes bound without even seeing how they had come to be affixed to an ajar door. Instinct kicked in and she tugged, finding the door swung easy on joints that didn't look like they'd take more then a handful of good kicks to come loose. Satisfied on a superficial level she turned to the appearent resident, eyes widening a fraction to find a child. "What the? Sheesh kid, are you faster then light or just magic?"

The bluenette shrugged in the face of the tiny inquisitor, leaning against the door in a show of non-chalance marred by her previous fright. "What can I say, but that I was lost on the road of life and stumbled into someone's cupboard. I guess one as young as you wouldn'tt get it, but weird things can happen when you leave a tavern. People wake up in the strangest of places!"

"Ohho...." Giving the door a good solid kick, the once solid door chipped and splintered to the point it was barely hanging on its hinges. Only a defunct handle stayed clamped to the wrist of the bule woman. "Than you may leave. One of your intellegence surely must know not to snoop any furhter." Rather than to get into it further with the guest, the rogue simply walked away with as little noise as she entered with. Obviously her hiding place wasn't near as well hidden as she prefered; gathering her stash to move out once more.

It must be a local thing to show off casual feats of blinding speed and strength as this child was, otherwise Kanbaru had to assume she was trying to impress or intimidate Kanbaru. Lord only knew why she'd bother but it seemed she couldn't find a reason either as she dismissed the bluenette with a nary a glance back to make certain she left. With yet another flippant shrug she conjured up a bit of water with the rogue's back turned and pushed it into the shackles lock, where it flash froze and expanded rapid enough to smash the mechanism. "Well here's your toys back. Don't go slapping them on strangers willy nilly."

If Kanbaru had any idea where the other's were she'd have entertained the notion of further investigating this shady figure, but being alone as she was and with no actual certainty she could return to the Tavern on her own, it was best she skedaddle while the opening was still presenting itself. Loot only held value to the person who could return home with it, after all. So she navigated the house far more casually and traipsed out the front door without a care, innured enough from the home interior to not be awed by the village outside. A well travelled thoroughfare stretched in either direction before her, spurring her to pick a direction at random and keep her eyes open for an ecclectic band of merry travellers in weird outfits and with amazing hair.

Half an hour later, she found only one such individual, and she was sprawled out on the ground after seemingly running into a woman with a most strikingly familiar coat. Her curiosity aroused, Kanbaru approached the downed Rose and offered. "Heya Rose, was wondering where everyone got to. Making friends already?"
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Lin Liao




Ready for anything coming her way, Lin swiftly pivoted at the sound of gun fire. Though instead of bullets flying passed her, several of the gravestones being the actual targets of the gunman blasted apart. The origin of the shots revealed herself from the shadows. Tipping her hat as she passed by and complemented Lin on her ability to demolish the stone beings. “Uhh. Thanks? And you are?” Lin asked. The answer would come shortly, but not before the huntress pointed out a new wave of the gravestones was on its way.

Though Lin was becoming confident in her fighting ability, it was clear everyone else was choosing to avoid the monsters using the roof. Begrudgingly the monk decided to stick with her team and abandoned her front line position. Following Maria's path, she used what remained of the stairs as an elevation boost to flawlessly leap through the air and onto the roof with her team. “Huh. So tell me, Miss Huntress." The midnight haired girl said crossing her arms and aiming a glare at the gunslinger. "Why should we consider ourselves lucky? Do the other hunters not come equipped with stone piercing rounds?”
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Once everyone finished reaching the roof, Caprice tapped her candy cane against the roof and let both it and her teetering stair poof back into nonexistence. Caprice indeed quickened her steps to land on the roof before the appetite of the graves collapsed her stairs.

"Apologies for the loud intrusion, Lady Marie." Caprice took a slight bow, the backwards slide of her rear foot subtly supported by a gingerbread terrace. "Though, if I may impose on our good fortune a little more, might I ask for a safe place to regroup and perform introductions? I'm not sure now is the time, if the guard dog's barking have alerted their master." Caprice sweeps a hand out at the rampaging graves.
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"I think I'll accompany this group to Lady Asgard, and represent us on the group's behalf. I'll find you later." Akiko said calmly to Rose as she walked away. Someone needed to know that the group meant no harm to the village, and certainly Akiko was the one to actually do that. She could only hope that Rose and the others would know to keep their head down and not stir up too much trouble... wait, where even were the others? So far it just seemed like Rose and Akiko were around. Bah, Akiko would find the group eventually. Right now, she was the Black Pentacle Correspondent to Rivenwood.

Though, immediately after speaking to Rose, Akiko heard the voice of a new woman.

"Oh? Is that so? That's quite a shame since I was considering inviting you for lunch, and perhaps, offering a reward if you could help solve this case. If being in the good graces of the Imperium's Justice won't entice you, having a head start in your treasure hunt certainly will, right?"
Lady Asgard

"O-oh my! You must be the fair Lady Asgard!" Akiko acted in genuine surprise, though maybe not in the way it was intended. Akiko was surprised because it was the same woman that she saw in Lorelai's flashback. Christ... that must've certainly been years ago, why was she so young? Something had to be up with that, and Akiko would definitely be the one to find out in a while. For right now, she had to keep up her ruse. "I apologize for her rudeness, your radiance. She's not the patient type and is not used to such a meeting. I, on the other hand, am absolutely delighted to be in your presence, as well as the presence of Lady Lorelai."

"I see that you've missed the thief but found some very interesting people, right Lorelai? Now then, would you join me at the table while we explain the situation to you? It must have been quite frustrating to be mistaken as criminals right as you arrived. Please, allow me to rectify it,"
Lady Asgard


"I would be honored to be sat at a table with a lady of your illustrious quality." Akiko said with a pleasant smile on her face. Ugh, these pleasantries were starting to grind her gears. Hopefully this wouldn't have to be held up for much longer. Speaking of pleasantries, though, Akiko lowered herself into a bow before Lady Asgard, splaying out her skirt in her hands as she did so. "How foolish of me, not even to bow in front of a lady of your prestige. I am the traveling poet, Akiko. I'll gladly be the one to represent my group on their behalf."

Akiko's face looked up at Lady Asgard's once again. Though, whether it was to bask in her beauty once more or rather to gaze further beyond, nobody could tell.
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"You don’t need to explain your companion’s behavior," Eleonor said as Akiko tried to justify Rose’s rudeness. "I’m sure you don’t have any intention of stirring trouble, do you? After all, I don’t think you plan to extend your stay here indefinitely," she added, with the same radiant smile as always.

After laying down a not-so-concealed threat in the most casual manner possible, she said, "Don’t worry with pleasantries either. I’m not on duty right now so, at the moment, I’m a simple citizen of the Imperium much like you. We are all born equal under the eyes of the Imperator. Now, let’s go before the lunch gets cold. You too, Lorelei."

While the redhead led the way back to the mansion, after dismissing the soldiers that came with Lorelei, Akiko would have the chance to peer deeply into her mind. The sights waiting for her were many, complex and shattered like a scrambled jigsaw puzzle. A happy and fulling childhood, the shock of being betrayed by her twin sister, the gruelling life beginning of her life in the Imperium’s Military, and the feeling of finding home once again with her new unit and then… A trap during the invasion of a foreign land, another betrayal, the commander she trusted her life on forcing himself on her, a child she never asked for… a gift, a jewel as red as freshly drawn blood, a void, endless lives being taken, and lastly… something peering back at Akiko herself from within the turmoil hidden behind Eleonor’s lively facade.

"Gotcha!" Eleonor—or was it someone else inside her mind?—thought as a dark smirk found its way to her angelic face.

"Beware ye who stares at the abyss. You never know when it might wink right back at you."
"Cool! It seems like you found a hotshot right off the bat didn’t we?" Sherry joked as Lin and Maria joined them at the roof. "I guess that I agree with chief here. We better find a safe spot before we can get to the details of this situation."

"We are passing explorers so don’t wanna disturb the peace around here more than we need to, right?" she said, looking at Lin and Caprice, before looking around to see if she couldn’t spot a place that looked more inviting but the foreign scenery washed out in dim, crimson moonlight really wasn’t helping.

"Maybe… should we wait until it’s morning? I can’t see a thing in this darkness," she said innocently, which was only good to get a chuckle out of their current host.
"Well, if that’s what you want, you’re gonna have to wait a lot. We may have a moon, I don’t think I’ve seen the sun rise in the whole time I’ve been here," Maria said in a nonchalant manner after letting out a chuckle. "That said, I do like your style, girls, it’s good cautious, especially when you find your way into a world where dreams come to rot."

"Let’s get going, I know of a nice place nearby. I trust you don’t have a problem with talking over drinks, do you?" Maria said as she jumped from the building they were standing to a nearby crypt, and then, continued to hop from roof to roof until she made her way out of the fairly large cemetery—expecting the newbies to do the same—before anything bigger came after them.

A little while later, they would find themselves in a shabby-looking tavern, in an equally shabby-looking village, which happened to be a few minutes away from the dilapidated cemetery.

"To answer your question from earlier, before anything else," Maria said, as she nursed a glass of a clear drink which had a washed off red coloration—just like everything else in this world—while sitting at a table right by the foggy glass windows. "The reason you were lucky that I found you is because pretty much anyone else who’s still alive would use you as bait to make a quick cash. I, on the other hand, prefer long time investments, if you know what I mean," she said as she gestured them to go forward and order something right as a red-haired barmaid who looked to be around Caprice and Sherry’s age, but considerably less well-nourished, brought a plate of fried peppers and onions to their table.
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It was a simple enough matter to just leave her "Guild" behind. Their lust for adventure was simply lacking, she had no real reason to adventure with them beyond the fact that they had woken up together. If they could not keep up with her pace, they would be left behind. Before she even knew it she was back in Rivenwood, hands on hips as she pondered what her plan of action was. The peasants around were of note, perhaps grilling them for info on nearby ruins-

So lost in thought was she that she had been completely unprepared to hit the ground face first, a stranger knocking her over as she stood in the middle of the street. Stranger was a rather apt description actually, considering the garb and mystery of the cloaked figure. She barely managed to hold back a "Mystery Dude?" comment as she more closely observed the figure before her. The figure and voice of this cloaked figure clearly distinguished this person as being a Mystery Lady, most definitely not a Mystery Dude or Mysterious Figure. The Mystery Lady dusted herself off quickly, her posture one of annoyance as she likely prepared to get back to whatever she was doing.

The card tumbling out of her sleeve did not escape Rose's notice, even if it had seemingly escaped the Mystery Lady's. The arrival of the familiar bluenette was a perfect opportunity, Rose crawling up to her knees and taking Kanbaru's hand to pull herself up, using the other hand to both push herself up to standing position, while also covering and then palming the card into her puffy sleeves with no hesitation. "Sorry about that Mystery Lady. You caught me off guard!" A faux nervous laugh escaped her lips as she rubbed the back of her head, depositing the card into the backstrap of her bra, and then quickly throwing an arm around Kanbaru.

"Kanbaru, good to see you! We lost track of you, so I volunteered to go searching for you while Akiko dealt with the local constabulary." The lie escaped her lips easily, much more easily then it ever would have in her old life. She really was born to be a pirate huh?
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Lorelai


The journey to the most noble and benevolent Lady Asgard's abode then prooved her accolades were well deserved as she met them on the path. Lorelai halted in her banter, the familiar warmth welling in her chest as she gazed down upon her lady, only to be curtailed by the twinge of regret that came upon seeing her smiling so angelically despite her knight's failings. She clutched at her chest, the scraping of metal clawing against her breastplate lasting a few moments before she grew terribly self conscious.

"You honor us with your presence, milday Eleonor." The knight said upon dismounting from Durgan's back, head bowed in gracious subservience before rising, a faint dusting of color across her cheeks upon hearing Akiko's words about her own status. "P-Please, I am not worthy of such titles. I am simply a soldier blessed to serve under her betters. Me, a lady? Truly your flattery is without end, poet."

Her great beast, lacking any such attachment to station and courtesy, trundled off ahead as the soldiers dispersed back to the village to resume their duties. Between the Judge and her dog, what were they needed for but an audience?

Acting on Eleonor's prompting the party made good time to their destination, the chateau was quickly reached and the procession was met by mirrored walls of maids. Solemn, stern, and some even sporting scars that wouldn't be found in the kitchen, yet still dressed fully as maids and bowed to them as they entered the abode. "This way everyone. The weather is too fine for meals in doors."

Lorelai led them on past stairwells and halls, emerging to the back of the chateau upon a broad patio of stone pavers that gave way to lush grass before everything the eye could see was swallowed by rolling waves of barley and the sky above. Furniture of wrought iron was laid out without a scuff mark to be seen, laden with fine table clothes and platters of fresh fruit and dainty sandwiches. The spread's color palatte was decidely red, with strawberries being in vast abundance.

Several maids flanked the patio doors, and to them Lorelai gestured while handing off her sword and standard. "Do not hesitate to ask for of the maids if you find yourself in need. Milady's generosity has been extended to you, so do not let propriety halt you here. Sit where you may."

Left unsaid but obviously implied by her taking the spot to the right of the head of the table was to not take Eleonor's spot. To any who so dared, they'd receive a glare fiercer then the beast Lorelai had ridden in upon could muster.
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“Mystery Lady?” The cloaked woman looked around to see who Rose was talking to. As she did so, she noticed a blue-haired girl walking up to them and offering a hand to the downed adventurer. So that must have been a companion then. All the same, it took the “Mysterious Lady” a long while before she looked down on herself. Realization kicked in and she nearly facepalmed were it not for the hood. “Oh, I see. Ah, that would confuse people now wouldn’t it? Then allow me….”

With a theatric arm sweep, the woman cast aside her dark coat to the far winds. The clothing dissipated with a soft green hue as the figure beneath was finally revealed. Most of the villagers didn’t bother to look as usual. Magic and whatnot were commonplace in this shattered world and Rivenwood was a gathering hole for weirdos anyway. All the same, some of them did gaze in awe at the woman’s more…magical assets.

“….to introduce myself! There’s no need to fret dears. I should be the one apologizing for my grouchy tone earlier when clearly you two are simple adventurers on a grand quest,” the woman cheered. Seeing Rose and Kanbaru together, she locked eyes with the bluenette for a moment. There was a stench unbeknownst to Kanbaru clinging to her form, a scent of trouble that the woman was too familiar with. But she paid little heed in acknowledging it.

“The name’s Bella, dears. And your names would be…?” Bella leaned in expectedly, not going to be satisfied until a proper introduction was given. And once it was, she continued with, “Such brave ladies you are. Your outfits tell me you’re ready to explore the worlds, no?” Worlds? That was an interesting way to put it. What was even more interesting was how Bella looked at Rose now with a small smirk. “You need to be prepared when traveling. Is that why you stole my card~?”

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"It sounds dismal to me, but perhaps the sun doesn't suit every soul. I assume some must prefer the Crimson Moon." Caprice glanced up to the sky and moon in question, a hesitant hand hovering close to her heart.

Caprice was happy to follow Maria out of the reach of the living graves and to the Tavern. Caprice might not be exactly possessed of the agility to leap from building to building, and so instead she continued her method of creating stairways from place to place, letting each temporary construct fade away after she and anyone else who wished to use it had finished walking upon them.

Caprice seemed distracted from Maria's words as the barmaid brought around food. Her eyes strayed from Maria to take in the tavern and the conditions within. The frown of her lips was quickly concealed by both of her hands rising to clasp in front of them. But even they betrayed her tension with their own creasing wrinkles as her fingers clenched too tightly together. She did not touch the food.

With her silence, it fell to Lin or Sherry to respond.
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Lin Liao




“Whatever. Let’s just get out of this place before the sound of these things drive me insane.” Lin grumbled casting a side glance at the gnashing tombstones.

Following close behind the huntress, she was able to keep up quite expertly. Each of her jumps were nimble and graceful with little effort. However, it was hard to enjoy these new found abilities of her’s as something Maria had said was clouding her mind. The phrase she used to describe this place, “a world where dreams come to rot”. What exactly did she mean by that? True the white light of the sun had seemingly been replaced by the crimson hue, but surely this society couldn't be in complete despair. Unless it was not man, but monster that reigned over.

Her dark thoughts were all but confirmed once they had arrived at their destination. The village they found themselves in appeared to be in a very rundown state. Every building was in such disrepair that Lin worried anyone of them might suddenly collapse. Hesitantly she followed Maria and the others into a tavern that made the monk oddly miss the cafe. Seating herself in a wobbly yet stable chain, Lin listened to Maria’s answers to her previous questions.

“I take it money is tight around here for everyone. Believe it or not I can relate to that.” Lin said as she watched the poor barmaid place food in front of them despite clearly needing it more than anyone it was given to. Her eyes lowered to her hands clasped together as they rested on the cracked wooden table. Taking a deep breath, Lin reminded herself of one very important thing to relieve her saddened state; None of this was real.

“Alright, let’s get down to it then.” Lin spoke up. Her eyes drained of all pity and once more filled with fierce determination as they locked with Maria’s. “You want us for some sort of profit, and I’m looking to make one as well. Tell us what you have in mind and we’ll see if we can make a deal.”
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"Ah, allow me to introduce myself fair Mystery Lady who is no longer a mystery!" Rose bowed with a flourish, one arm on her chest and the other behind her back as she straightened herself out. "I am Rose Fortis, the greatest pirate this land has ever and will ever know!" It was then that Bella's words fully registered to Rose, a light blush dusting her cheeks as the card slid out of her sleeve and into her hand. "I would never steal from a beautiful lady such as oneself! I was merely borrowing it. It's like you said, one can never be too prepared in a strange new world." And what a world it was, filled with magic, giant doggos, goth generals, the list goes on and on. "These cards are quite the resource really. I was wondering what this one did, if you would mind explaining? You were the owner of said card after all."

"And I'm Kanbaru Otoko, the wondrous water mage of good fortunes. And I suppose now, the more sensible member of this partnership." Kanbaru sent the pirate an aggrieved look, one that the sticky fingered thief would know was more for getting caught then for trying to swipe what she saw was a Serei card. Raising a hand to pinch the bridge of her nose she pantomimed shame in the hope it would temper any reprisal from the noble looking lady. "You really must forgive us. It's a strange land to us and Rose here is awfully exciteable, though I do share her interest in that rather ornate card of yours, if you would be so kind as to elaborate."

"It's not nice to steal dear, and even crueler to compliment the one you stole from." Despite her words, Bella regarded the two girls with a cool expression, taking in introductions and excuses in the same manner. "Ah, but youth is always so filled with excitement, aren't you? Though it's funny to call them a resource when you don't have one yourself~" Bella said, looking directly at Rose. "It is a nice card though. I hear it contains a powerful warrior from this world so it must be fate you "borrowed" it from me. Or maybe it was choice or chance~ From what I heard, that warrior resting in your hands has powerful control of the natural world, if you catch my drift. It's only natural I'd be drawn to a handsome fellow like that."

Her words were brushed off with little regard, mere pleasantries being exchanged between the dashing pirate and the beautiful noble. "A powerful warrior you say? Perhaps I should summon this warrior and see what his capabilities are..." It made sense, to begin gathering a crew since Akiko had effectively gone MIA. Yet something told her... something told her that this warrior might not be as cooperative as Akiko's card was. Further questioning would be needed. "Out of curiousity, if I decide to summon this warrior and we find ourselves not getting along. Would I be able to like, unsummon him so I can just use him as a transformation?"

"Hmm? Oh sure you can unsummon it. And if you can't, well, I've still got my own card to use against him." Kanbaru said with a shrug, dismissing any concern as she pulled the Henry card from her sleeve. She had a vague notion of what he could do and what he'd offer her should she consume him, so Kanbaru felt secure in her safety over whatever warrior this world spawned. Then again, maybe that was Henry's greed slipping through. "Though do we really want to do this on a busy street? I couldn't hold my arm out straight without smacking someone here."

It was cute, almost charming to see the girls answer their own questions by themselves. It was almost like Bella wasn't even needed and indeed, she would have left them to it were it not for the obvious notion lingering. "Still, all the same, you did take my card without asking and without permission. That's still a very unkind thing to do." Bella pouted, resting a finger on her cheek as she watched the two naughty girls. "Though, I guess it's not really stealing if I was trying to give it away in the first place. It's just my luck to come across a pirate and a sales pitcher. Surely if you want the card indefinitely, you have something to trade me in return~?"



"Are you perhaps, asking for me~?"Rose held a hand up to cover her mouth in a demure fashion, eyes narrowed as she stared at the not Mystery Lady. "Alas, I could not chain myself down, no matter how beautiful the maiden! Tis the curse of one who seeks the horizon!" Another change in dramatic pose, the back of her hand held to her forehead and a faux forlorn look on her face as she stared into the sky. "But perhaps, I could offer you..." A twirl of her hand, some sleight of hand, and a rose was offered to Bella, formed of pure magic. "A rose, almost as beautiful as you. Almost." Follow up with a wink, and perfect.

The bluenette scoffed at the pirate's theatrics before stomping her heel down. A tactly placed patch of ice shattered under heel like a pane of glass, lending a grandiose air as she raised her hand in offering to the noble. A trickle of water curled from within her sleeve, winding around her arm till it formed a stalk of thin ice shining radiantly in the midday sun. Blooming into a rose of her own she stepped in close, just an inch beyond Rose's own offering to the noble. "No, she requires a rose to surpass all conventions of beauty. Take mine as well, and grasp a treasure whose beauty will never melt before the sun, much like your own!"

Bella didn't last a full minute without laughing at the absurdity of all this. It was bare enough both girls had come to the exact same conclusion in mind with the exact same set up and execution too. Though for all their efforts, it didn't make much of a difference. A few seconds later and Bella was holding her arms over her stomach, catching her breath from the public display. "Wow. I haven't had that much fun in a while. Yeah, no, you two can keep the card. I'm much happier getting this as a story to tell the others, ahaha!" By now some people were indeed looking at the trio as if they had each sprouted three heads. It was a sign Bella's time was up and she breathed an easy sigh.

"Ah, but sure, I'll take these as souveniers. You girls are like, what, a few years my junior? Thanks but no thanks~" Bella idly plucked the two roses from each of their hands, idly stepping away with a twirl. "Oh man, I know exactly who to tell this to. And I got it from two cute girls too. I'm so gonna rub that in his face!" Bella mused to herself, casting a final glance at the two adventurers. "Oh, by the way. I know you heard it already but I'm supposed to tell you again. 'Beware the man who speaks in masks'....yeah, kind of creepy, right?" Displaying a magic of her own kind, Bella tucked away the roses into her chest before dancing away into the group. If the two bothered to look closely from her parting, all that was left of her, proof of any indication she was there at all, was a fresh tulip planted among the walkway.

Not that the villagers cared, though most did try to walk around it since "magic" was involved.

A few moments of silence passed as both girls tried to comprehend just what had happened over the past minute. In the end, Rose simply shrugged as she tucked away the card into her cleavage. "That was fun. We should do that more often honestly, really adds some variety to the mysterious strangers."

"I know, right? She didn't even try to kill us. Real big improvement." Kanbaru said with a smirk, trying to ignore the many wary looks they got for their performance.

Rose chuckled as they began to walk off in a random direction. "Haha, yeah... But in all seriousness though, I lost Akiko."

"I lost everyone. Kinda sorta accidently broke into someone's house and got konked out. So, any idea what were doing here?" The bluenette shrugged, folding her hands behind her head as she followed along. It wasn't like she could leave a lost pirate all on her own, or they'd wind up hearing about her stealing an airship or some such.

"No clue. I was just gonna go looking for some treasure, probably stumble onto whatever it is we're supposed to find. I get the feeling that the world is just like that ya know? Not like it's gonna keep us here for months until we find just the right path. Unless it does."It was a worthwile question to consider, just how smart was the world that they resided in? Everything in here was data right, meaning someone had to have programmed it all. "I'm thinking of all this like a video game right? Someone made this world, meaning someone made the quest too. They probably want us to find the quest, so any good game designer would nudge the player onto the right path. I figure we'll get our hint soon enough. Who knows, maybe someone will fall out of the sky and give us the quest."

It was at that exact moment that a young boy fell from the sky, landing directly in front of them.

The ground cracked and splintered under his weight as he rolled to Akiko and Rose's feet, unconscious and battered from some unknown battle. A small groan escaped his lips, even as his wounds began to knit themselves shut before their very eyes.

".....Rose, can you ask for a mountain of gold and a bag of holding to fall out of the sky? I want to see if you're on a hot streak." The bluenette adventurer remarked, blinking away the surprise that came from a boy falling from the sky to lay at her feet. A song was working its way through the back of her head. She crouched down, noting his regenerative powers with a whistle of appreciation, her finger prodding his soft cheek to no response. "But hey, you wished us up an adventure. Nice one, Rose."

Rose blinked lightly in surprise, looking at the sky, then looking towards her hands. "Well who knows, maybe a functioning airship and several hot butlers onboard will drop out of the sky as well." She looked expectantly at the sky, waiting for her airship and harem, only to be disappointed. "Well it was worth a shot. Hey wait a minute..." She prodded the boy's ribs with her boot lightly, another groan escaping his lips as she looked at the card she had just received. "This is the guy. I just got his card!" She exclaimed, completely ignoring the panic of the civilians all around as they scrambled about. Well, not completely. "Anyways, I think we've just about overstayed our welcome here! We should probably get going before the police show up, especially since this time I don't think they'll just let me go!" She quickly bent over and picked up the lad, getting him into a sort of backpack style carry as she looked around for a clear path. "Ok Kanbaru, my loyal 2nd in command! I think they're called lieutenants on ships. 2nd mate? Gah, pick a direction for adventure!"

"Heh, well I can't say I don't like the sound of it." The water mage shrugged, letting Rose volunteer herself for the carrying of the pretty boy. Picking a street that looked the least packed, cutting up to the north with distant mountains to be seen, Kanbaru led the way at a speedy trot. "Careful not to drop him too much. He doesn't look to bruise but we'll need our meal ticket feeling real grateful when we start digging for clues from his noggin!"
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"Would it really be a matter of preference when you have no control over the world in which you live? Most of those you see don't even know that something like the sun exists. It's only people like us—who come from the outside—who are aware that such fairytales are real," Maria replied, looking to the receding barmaid after wetting her lips with her drink.

"I guess that you could say that," the pale looking huntress said when Lin mentioned that money probably was a scarce commodity in these lands.

"I do appreciate a like minded businesswoman. I'm tired of neophytes that only know how to grief when they realize the situation they got themselves into."

"I'm searching for partners to help me take a look at this neat little chateau in the countryside. If you are into it, we can share the profit evenly," Maria said as she finished her drink. Right about the same time, if anyone were to check, they would notice that the food before them disappeared mysteriously, the culprit being none other than Sherry who was already licking her fingers obliviously.

"Well... it didn't look like the two of you were going to have any so... I couldn't let the food go to waste, right? Ehehe," the well-endowed girl said in a sheepish voice while scratching the back of her head, after having used a little bit of magic to clean her hands, of course. "Anyway, I guess that I'm ok with whatever she says, after all, she's the one who's the boss here," she said while looking at Caprice.
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Caprice's eyes flitted back to Maria for a moment as she spoke about the world and their nature as outsiders, apparently it catching her interest once again. Her eyes lowered again after as she thought during Lin and Maria's negotiations.

Sherry's impressive feat of cleaning the entire plate so quickly and subtly did bring a well-needed touch of levity to Caprice's cheeks, as a smile managed to peek out from behind her hands, and she lowered them, no longer having anything to hide and more confident in her body language. "Not a problem, Sherry. Impressive work, and not a bad outlook to have."

"I believe your proposition is amenable to our mission here. Even if you intend to betray us, I imagine it will be more entertaining than simply being hunted by dogs as we stumble along aimlessly. Partners, then? As the less acclimated outsiders, it seems you're offering us the better of the deal to me." Caprice offered one of her gloved hands for a handshake, as the other again brought forth a single card as if from nowhere. Slowly twisting, the visage of Lin, Sherry, and then Marie in turn, were revealed, though Marie was only in silhouette as of yet.
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