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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by FamishedPants
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FamishedPants Peacekeeper

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and her cool pals!

“Does anyone hate this as much as I do?”

— Betty Biohazard

“I do."

— Samantha Howard

“I don't."

— Emily Ackerson


”Oros! Aria! Binky!”

Betty called the names of her new friends as she wandered the halls of the hotel. Quietly, as Betty was aware there were people relaxing at all hours of the day, and who wanted to hear a teenager screaming the name of three other girls? Don’t answer that.

She had seen the portal open in her room, but she was hesitant to walk through it by herself. Because Betty knew that Justine would be there, and Eliza and Maura would likely be there with her. Needless to say, she wasn’t going to go to a party if she had to stand around someone who she despised. If that were the case, she’d just as soon stay home. She didn’t think Trixy was going to be there, as she and Tetrad had left with Veronica. That just left her new friends.

Oros was MIA, had been since this morning. Betty was a light sleeper, but Oros had left the hotel a 4 when she woke up. Aria had left to get something, and none of the Binky clones would say anything about Binky’s true location. They just went on about what a good-for-nothing weakling he was.

It looked like Betty was going to spend Christmas alone. She supposed she could always go down to the arcade and play around a bit, but it sucked that she couldn’t enjoy the party without rubbing elbows with Justine. If only there was someone else.

And there was!

Samantha Howard was likewise not eager to jump into the portal. Parties in Penrose were always a recipe for disaster, and she didn't exactly fancy Dan's place. The biggest obstacle to her rejection of the gathering entirely was Emily's request. Somehow, she couldn't back out of the promise she made last time they were on the beach, and the only people who generally had that sway on her were Veronica and Trixy.

Sam chalked it up to Emily appearing completely unthreatening, and honestly rather cute. It reminded her of Mika. Well, the one from this timeline. The difference was that Emily wasn't lewd in the least and her cheeks weren't as pinchable (or were they?).

"Ah, whatever!" she set off from her room to the entrance of the hotel in her costume. She had agreed to meet Emily before leaving for the party and the girl was due here any minute now. It was as she was walking that she saw a stray Betty, yelling (not really) out names.

"Hello," Sam greeted monotonously. "You're... Betty, right? I think I saw Oros leave, and some other girl left who might be Aria," she tried providing help.

Betty’s face lit up, like she had just locked eyes with the love of her life. ”And you’re Silhouette! Veronica’s number two!” Though as fast as that rush of joy came, it left her face. ”Maura, Maura’s number two. I think? Or did that go to Eliza?” With a sigh, Betty’s back fell against the wall, and she slid to a squatting position. ”So why are you still here? Not a fan of parties?”

Betty obviously struck a blow on Sam’s pride with the 'number 2' comment but she refrained from letting it completely sour her mood. "It doesn't really matter.” Sam lied, as it did, in fact, matter to her. As Betty took a squat on the wall, Samantha went down the hall momentarily. She turned back to answer Betty. "No, I can't say that I am. Never was, either, but they tend to get out of hand in Penrose." Sam rested an arm against a wall. "Should I assume the same can be said about you?"

She looked to Samantha. ”I don’t really have anyone to go with, and I don’t feel like being around someone who’s there.” She folded her arms. ”I like to spend time with friends if given the chance. But with her there I don’t think I’d enjoy myself too much.”

"I understand." Samantha nodded. "If it weren't for a friend of mine I wouldn't've even considered it. But she ended up convincing me to promise, so I can't stay behind," she again glanced down the hall, then turned to Betty with a raised eyebrow. "Someone upsets you that much?"

She scoffed before looking away. ”It’s Justine. I’m not ready to deal with her yet.”

Sam blinked. Repeatedly. "Did I mishear you? Because it sounded like you said 'Justine'."

”I did.” Betty turned her head back towards Samantha. ”Veronica had sealed that monster away forever. Not even a week after the fact, Maura released her on the behest of a Beacon agent of all things.” Betty looked back at the floor. ”’She’s been purified, I’ll keep a close eye on her,’ like that stopped Justine in the past.”

"You're... joking, right?" Samantha's tone became a lot less monotonous and a lot more irritated. "Maura can't be that stupid, right? To take Justine from a place she can't escape and just let her out, even after all we and a lot of other people went through to put her in?" It looked like Sam was either in doubt or about to have some sort of breakdown. "She knows that could only cause problems with more than half of Penrose. There's no way. It's another Justine, right?"

”It was disgusting to hear her talk about it with Beacon.” Betty stood up and turned to Samantha. She was visibly shaking. ”So this, this bimbo asked Maura what had happened to Justine, and she just casually mentions that she made a contract with her to keep her from falling back into Father’s hands. And then when I dared to say Justine had squandered the second chance she had been given, do you know what the sarraf of Beacon said? This is Alicia, mind you, not the ascendancy.” Betty Sniffed. It sounded wet. ”She said it was a matter of perspective!”

Samantha fell silent. Betty's emotions starkly contrasted Sam's. It didn't seem to make her sad, it just seemed to piss her off. "You know what? I won't stand for this! If you're telling the truth - and I have no reason to believe you're doing otherwise - then I'll just remove the problem myself. Those other ‘perspectives’ can fuck themselves.”

”I really wish I wasn’t.” Betty hugged herself. ”Mind if I tag along?”

After some time, Samantha looked down the hall once again. She exhaled a sigh. "...I just remembered that if it's at the party, I actually can't do anything physical there, so I’ll have to wait until later," she began to reign her anger in, slowly. "But I have choice words for Maura and Justine if she is arrogant enough to attend. I can't nor desire to stop you if you want to watch that."
”Good.”
Just then, a faint knock could be heard down the hall that Sam was constantly looking at. "It seems my friend is here..." Samantha almost seemed embarrassed by something. She looked at Betty. "I'll introduce you. She's the well-meaning, naive sort, so she'll definitely try to make friends. Uh..." she rubbed the back of her neck. "It's gonna be... weird."

”Weird?” Betty tipped her head like a confused dog. ”How so? A lot of magical girls seem pretty eccentric, I don’t mind.”

"She's going to be ecstatic about the party." Sam said, beginning her walk towards the door. "It's more that I doubt I'm going to be able to completely hide the fact that I'm about to tear someone's head from their neck. It's just going to be awkward, you know?"

It would only take a dozen seconds or less to reach the lobby entrance. Samantha opened the door and on the other side, of course, was an excited and costumed Emily. "You showed up."

"Oh, of course!" Emily beamed. "If something came up I would've told you! So are you ready?" she asked. It was at this point she noticed Betty behind Samantha. "Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t notice you had someone with you. Are you going to introduce me to your friend?"

”Oh, wow…” Betty’s eyes trailed up and down Emily in morbid fascination. After dealing with all that political intrigue, someone who could smile as brightly as this was a sight for sore eyes. The only other person she knew with such an infectious smile was Trixy. Betty found herself practically pushing past Samantha just to get a better look at her. ”Betty Barton!” She took Emily’s hand in her own and gave it a quick, firm handshake. ”We’re co-workers. She was just telling me about how excited you are for the party, but I didn’t get your name yet.”

“Oh, sorry about that, Betty! I’m Emily, a friend of Samantha’s!” Emily gave Sam an uncertain look as though she sought confirmation about that fact, prompting the black-haired girl to sigh.

“Yeah, sure.”

Emily returned her eyes to Betty. “Anyways, are you coming to the party with us? Dan does a good job of providing for his guests from what I’ve seen, so I can’t wait!”

The overwhelming positive energy radiating from Emily only seemed to make Sam feel more awkward, like she had predicted. “Yeah…” she halfheartedly agreed with Emily who, at least for now, was fooled by Sam’s indifferent facade.

”I wasn’t going to.” Betty’s tone became somber, if just for a moment. ”But that was because someone I don’t care for was there. But if both of you are coming, I want to go too!” She crossed her brow as that trademark Betty Barton determination took hold of her. ”Let me go get dressed, I’ll be right back!” Betty took off to get on her christmas clothes.

Once Betty left, Emily’s smile almost disappeared. “Is something the matter?” she worried. “You don’t look happy at all.”

Samantha motioned for Emily to come inside the hotel and closed the door behind her. “I always look like this, you know.” Sam leaned against a nearby wall, crossing her arms and looking off at nothing in particular. After a few seconds, she began fidgeting by tapping her feet against the wall.

Emily looked at her feet, then back up to her. “...so, um,” Emily put on a brave smile. “It is okay if you don’t want to talk about it. We can talk about something else! Like, um, what you’re looking forward to most at the party? Is it a game? Food, maybe?” She didn’t receive any answers from Samantha. “Uh, okay! What about people? Are you excited to see someone there? A friend, perhaps?”

Her question caught Samantha’s attention. After nearly a minute ruminating on something she looked down at the floor. “Everyone I am especially close to has left Penrose, so I don’t imagine they’ll be joining us today.” Sam then looked up at Emily. “Yeah, everyone’s… gone. All that remain are acquaintances. You’re the only friend I have left, so I’m here for you.”

“O-oh, well I’m very glad you agreed! I’ll make sure we have a great time!” Emily tried to keep the conversation from getting stuck in gloom. “Who knows, maybe you can find a new friend at the party! It’s certainly an opportunity!”

Samantha sighed. “I doubt people are going to want to be anywhere near me.”

“Huh?” Emily tilted her head. “Why is that?”

“You’ll see soon enough.”

It was not long before Betty returned while wearing a suitably Christmas-y outfit. It was just something you could buy almost anywhere this time of year. Just a red and white Santa suit. With black stockings.

”Sorry for the hold up! I wasn’t going to go before I met you two.” She stood between Emily and Samantha, eyeing them both individually. ”We should go before all the eggnog is gone.”

Betty found her hands being taken by Emily and squeezed tight with excitement. "You're absolutely right! Oh, I just love eggnog!" she looked around Betty to see Samantha. "Are you ready?" she asked, giving Betty her hands back.

"As I'll ever be.”

....

....

….

Eventually, the trio found themselves a part of the winter wonderland that Dan had created for the guests of the party. It was certainly worthy of praise, but that was probably the last thing on Samantha’s mind for now. Despite her clothing being rather unfit for the climate, having assumed they would just be at the beach, Samantha didn’t seem cold in the least. It could be the dolphin’s influence, the heat of the rage building within her, or perhaps the proximity to Emily, who was intentionally making the area around her warm.

In any case, now that they were here, Samantha didn’t seem like she was going to sit still very long. That was also the situation with Emily, although for completely different reasons. The fire-spec looked wide-eyed at everything around her and her mouth hung open in awe. “It looks so pretty!” she cheered, admiring the place.

While Betty was also surveying her surroundings, it was less out of wonder and awe. It didn’t take her long to spot Maura and the company she arrived with. ”Seriously?” Betty hugged herself. ”She personally arrives with Justine? ” Betty’s teeth were chattering, and not because of the cold.

Unfortunately, that was all the waiting Sam could do. Furious and looking for answers, she flounced in Maura’s direction, followed by Betty and a very worried Emily. She couldn’t care less about anything or anyone else at the moment. Mariette, when she approached and attempted to hand them a plushie, would not even register on Sam’s radar and was completely ignored by her.

Emily was lagging a few steps behind but still stopped for Mariette, offering an apologetic smile. “O-oh, sorry about that! I’m… not sure what’s going on, but I’m sure it’s just really important, so I don’t think Sam means anything by it!” Emily attempted to cover for them. Samantha didn’t slow down in the slightest, so Emily couldn’t wait around any longer. Though she wasn’t able to introduce herself, Emily did thank Mariette when the girl handed her a plushie and went ahead and took Sam’s too with the promise of telling the girl where it came from when she calmed down. She gave a very quick bow before letting Mariette continue with what she was doing and trying to catch up to the other two.

Her approach was anything but subtle. Anyone who bothered to stop and look at Sam could tell something wasn’t sitting right with her, and her direction only made it more clear what that was. Maura, of course, would eventually find it difficult not to notice the agent stomping towards her. It seemed she had more than her sisters to worry about.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by DarkwolfX37
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DarkwolfX37 Yami

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A Not At All This Happy Shion & An Even Less Happy Summer In: Not My Time Of Year


Shion found herself at the Christmas party, unsure of why she was there, urged on by her promise to Oros and by her Puchuu Ko. Meanwhile, Summer appeared there as well, urged on by me, the voice in her head. Summer was given a stuffed wolf by a girl she was fairly sure was considered Beacon's enemy, but she didn't care enough to question it. Shion on the other hand perked up slightly when given a stuffed dragon, as would be expected of her. When the two passed each other, both going to the most secluded location at the party that they could find (ironically causing them to meet at it before Shion left for another spot) Summer wondered if the other girl had put that Ruby Coin to good use. She supposed it didn't really matter in the end.

Are you seriously half-assing something like this?
Yes. Yes I am.
1x Laugh Laugh
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by BrokenPromise
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BrokenPromise Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

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“Boy am I glad that ominous timer turned out to be nothing!”

— Oros


Christmas was an interesting holiday. When Oros used to be called Mika, she never really thought about it too much. It was a very special day where a man in red came down the chimney and left gifts for her. She never thought about how illogical it seemed. In truth, she didn’t care why the gifts were there. The point was that every Christmas she got something, and that made it just as good as her birthday.

Going into her teenage years, she did hear rumors in school. She distinctly remembered an underclassmen approaching her and smugly proclaiming that Santa wasn’t real. She didn’t know how to respond. Of course, it wasn’t hard to rule out Santa’s existence. Adults without children weren’t exactly cautious with hiding the truth, and even the smallest amount of scrutiny was enough to unmake the fat man. It wasn’t until much later that she discovered why this was a big deal. The reason why parents lie to their children about Santa is because it’s the most selfless way to give something. Her parents were willing to give her something even though they wouldn’t be thanked for it. Not directly at least. The child’s good will would go to some mythical figure who never existed. And maybe it was fun to see how gullible children were.

Weird.

Oros had some last minute perorations to do before her big Christmas plan(s) went into action. This was going to make her a bit late, but she was sure Eliza would forgive her.

Oros was in the same neighborhood as sanctuary. Tall, ruined buildings stood around her, and she dragged her feet behind herself. ”Ahhhh…” Being a normal magical girl working for a horror was hard. Now that her body needed sleep, Aigorost’s many voices made rest difficult. At least it made waking up early easier. ”Shit! Aria, where are you?!”

”Right here!” She popped out of a garbage can.

”You know, we really gotta get you a new face claim for the next season. That one doesn’t fit you any more.”

”I already picked one out!”

”Whah!?”

”I’m messing with you! Just playing along!” She laughed.

”Right well, screw you.” Oros folded her arms. ”Did you get the stuff?”

”But of course!” She opened her gourd and pulled out a tiny glass urn, which soon became a massive urn once it was out of her gourd. ”And you?”

Oros reached inside her shirt and pulled out a crate. ”I overestimated how well the purification potions were being protected. They practically had them laying at the front gate, just like two weeks ago.” She stashed the crate. ”Guess nobody wants to get purified. I’m pretty sure I could have just asked for a few.”

”Are the Binky clones in position?”

”Yup, how about yours?”

”Of course!”

”Suppose we can just go to the party then. Got a costume?”

”That wasn’t a serious question, was it?”




Oros was the first to appear in an outfit that is quite honestly too stylish and cute for words. It had a mid rift, it had thigh-highs, it had a plaid Christmas cowl with a bell attached to it, and it even had a neko mimi for people who are into that. ”Can’t wait to out cute that tater tot Emily goes everywhere with.”

”Ara ara~!”

In no time at all, Aria had appeared in an equally attention grabbing outfit, one that showed even more skin. It was a vest and skirt, with arm warmers and knee-high boots. The entire outfit seemed to glitter, and there were heart and star accessories all over it. And of course, she was wearing a Santa hat.

”Aren’t you cold in that?”

”Aren’t you?”

”I mean, yea, just a little.” Oros looked side to side. ”Seriously, Aria, you look like you wanna get laid or something.”

”Maybe I do.” She winked. ”But no, I’m just a little tired of blending into the background. People tend to take notice when you ‘open up’ a bit more. I’m sure you noticed.”

”Open up huh?” She grinned. ”Well, can’t say I disagree with you, but I’m not sure if you’re going to attract the attention you want with that.”

”You sound like my mother now!”

”What can I say? I learned from the best.”

Oros was able to pick a few faces out of the crowd. She spotted Mia, who she would be trying to avoid at all costs. After the thing at the orphanage, she wasn’t sure if she was ready to talk to her. Who the hell makes trees so big and with so many branches? She was sore for a bit after falling, and forgiving Mia for such a thing wasn’t going to happen any time soon. Penny was there, but she had decided to fuck off, so that was just as well. She noticed Shion was present, and would definitely approach her later. And then there was Eliza.

”Whoa…” Oros needed to rub her eyes. ”A pine is fine too!” She laughed at her own joke. ”Good luck Aria, I’ve got a scratching post to sink my claws into.” However, Oros didn’t get very far when Mariette approached her. She lowered her gaze onto the eyepatch girl. ”Mary?” She didn’t take her eyes off the girl as she plunged her hand into her gift bag. ”Don’t mind if I do, Mary! I hope you’ve given my offer from before a bit of thought.” When she pulled her hand back she had gotten… ”A pig(10)! Hah, I love his disproportionately big nose! And of course, everyone knows that a pig’s orgasm lasts fifteen minutes. They’re one of my favorite animals for that reason alone.” She shrugged. ”Well, I’ve got a date, so we’ll talk later.” The pig vanished into her hammerspace before she stood next to Eliza. ”Hey! Love the costume! Mind if I tuck some presents under there?” Before Oros could resume flirting/catcalling, she noticed Samantha was coming closer, with Emily and Betty in tow. ”Well if it isn’t my three favorite friends!” She spread her arms so that she could receive a hug. ”No punches this time, okay? I won’t pounce on you either!”

@Majoras End @FamishedPants




”For me?”

Aria reached into Mariette’s bag and pulled out…

”A tanooki! Wait, no it’s just a racoon(6). Still a lovely specimen.” She put it in her gourd. Before she could say anything more to Mariette, she had already run off.

It seemed that everyone was already forming in groups. This was unfortunate, as it had been Aria’s strategy to pick off a straggler. Despite her new occupation, Aria was actually an introvert. She preferred to toil away by herself or try to sell a single customer some awesome new product or service. Perhapse if she waited, she’d get her opening.

But salvation would come in the form of @DarkwolfX37’s characters the two newly arrived! She wasn’t sure which one to approach, but with the brown haired one walking away from the blue haired one, it seemed like she might be the friendlier of the two. And Aria needed that with so much stuff going on.

”Well hello there!” Aria slid in beside Summer. ”I don’t think we’ve met, I’m Aria rizzo, Monarch artificing! Er, guess I work for the Golden Trove now.” She extended her hand to shake. ”But enough about work, what’s your story?”




Unfortunately, Maura and Odin weren’t the only patrons to come to the event. A large portal opened up nearby, and something horrible tumbled through it. A conglomeration of living clay that howled like five different nocturnal animals. It did not take long for that clay to reform itself into something slightly more presentable.



“Thirsty? 😂 Only student🏊🏽 athletes 💯👌🏼 get thirsty 💦 ☝🏼we thirsty for motivation ☑️💪🏽 ROMANS 8:28 🙏🏼🙌🏽”

— Lord of Change


If Penny got a glimpse of the creature, she might notice an uncanny resemblance to Aigorost’s avatar. Anyone well read on horrors would be able to tell this was a lord of change. Simply one of a plethora of creatures that horrors have in their back pocket. Their very existence in reality can warp it in strange and unexpected ways. Even just one is enough to doom humanity or send a parallel reality hurdling towards oblivion. Magical girls do not fight lords of change, they prevent them from being summoned in the first place. But there were a few key differences with this one. For one, it was far smaller than a normal lord of change. Even if it was ten feet tall, it was just a fraction of the height they typically were. Their massive power also made passing through portals extremely difficult due to their high concentrations of mana. They usually required long rituals to be carried out to leave their dimensions and influence other worlds. The presence of a Santa hat on it’s head also didn’t go unmissed.

The lord of change prepared to speak, but stopped when Mariette approached it. “I find games of chance like this to be unsatisfying. There are no stakes, and all of the outcomes have the same basic effect. Though I appreciate an attempt at entropy.” They reached into the bag and pulled out a plush. “I do think it is commendable how the recipient does have the ability to alter their choices. As an example, this Lion(2) could have just as easily been a tiger. Not unlike the way magical girls are created, both at the whims of fate but able to steer themselves in one direction or another.” They placed the lion plush beside themselves.

Moments later, a giant cage spinner fell out of a portal beside the lord of change. “But I am not here to partake in festivities. I am here to elevate you out of despair before plunging you into it again, not unlike the tumbling cards in a cage spinner.” It waved one of its arms over the strange contraption beside them.. “Once you are all settled, perhaps you would be interested in playing a game? The winners will be united with distant friends, if only for the duration of the party. It doesn’t matter if they are separated by cities or death, I can return them here for a time.”

And with that, many magical girls would receive texts on their phones.

Lily got a text from Amber
“Arrr, what scurvy dog stole my ship!?”

Shane got a text from Regina
“Oof! Northern beacon is rough! But at least they aren’t the Ascendancy! :^>”

Aurelio got a text from Abigail
“You and Sally still dating?”

Emily got a text from Lupa
“Hey kiddo! How’s the party?”

Connie got a text from Lotus
“I hope you’ve been training, because I won’t go easy on you next time.”

Penny got a text from Mika
“We should have pizza at the party!”

Mia got a text from Faith
“Merry Christmass~!”

Deni got a text from Su
“Hello, Ronin. Are you and your sister okay?”

Maura got a text from Veronica
“We need to talk.”

Samantha got a text from Trixy
“Thinking of you and and that dynamite body!”

Sann got a text from Tetrad
“EDIT:Woops, wrong contact!”


It did not seem to matter if they had ever handed their friends in question their numbers, they had been texted regardless. Those who had added their friends would see the text messages as if it came directly from their friends phone. If this was a trick, it was a very good one.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Flamelord
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Flamelord

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The time had come at last. Alicia wasn't sure what she had been expecting, but at least this time around arriving in Dan's dimension had been a little less unexpected. Compared to suddenly waking up there, this time a portal simply appeared in front of her while she was in Beacon HQ> Then it was just a simple matter of stepping through to a winter wonderland.

For a moment she hesitated, held back by memories of last time. But they'd handled Dan easily enough once the deception had been revealed before, so there probably wouldn't be the same amount of trouble again. Having overcome that moment of doubt, she stepped through along with the others.

On the other side Alicia found herself in a ski lodge decked out for Christmas. It reminded her of a vacation she'd gone on once, though that was a lifetime ago by now. There was a giant christmas tree, presents, a fireplace, all the trappings you would expect. She had ended up in much the same way, her costume transformed into a christmas themed parka. It was in the spirit of the seasons, though perhaps not as festive as everyone else. No doubt the rest of the dimension was like this too. More snow seemed apparent out the window, though she didn't get to see much from her vantage point.

Lily soon approached, and Alicia greeted her with a mild hug as she was hugged first. "Nice to see you too Lily. Merry Christmas, I suppose."

Once Lily had released her she stepped over, holding Kimble's hand with a nod. "Sally, you make it sound like that's a legitimate question," she noted happily. Unless that girl from the raid showed up again, there was no question that Sally would be lucky. The only detail was when her luck would choose to apply itself.

Like most occasions such as this, there were plenty of familiar faces. The motorbike girl from the raid, apparently. Maura, Penny of course, Ja-Kayli. Times like these also made evident the faces that were missing, but she did her best to not dwell on that. Just like how she pointedly ignored Justine. "I guess Maura took her out of the vault," she muttered under her breath.

she paused as Mariette approached with a large sack, eying the girl cautiously. Un-mind warped she might be, but that did not mean Alicia forgave her. Not when she had done little to actually earn it. Their eyes remained locked as she reached into the bag and pulled out some kind of dinosaur, possibly a stegosaurus, which she made little move to acknowledge. "Thank you," she said, succinctly and definitively. This was another present from Dan, nothing more.

Moving on from that, she generally wandered as her phone buzzed with a text from Penny. 'Sounds good, I'll keep that in mind', she shot back. Which was enough to carry her through most of the discord. But once she did catch wind of what was going on, she glanced over to Kimble. "We should probably get out of here before the patrons start trying to out-weird each other," he observed, already moving for the door. Discretion was the better part of valor, and these seemed particularly boisterous.

@Shifter_Master@PlatinumSkink@Ariamis
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Majoras End
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Majoras End Oyasumi~

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A Bunch of Angry or Concerned People, aka Maura Gets Lynched

Oros would receive a glare from Samantha in place of a hug. "I am not in the mood right now," she 'gently' informed Oros, eying Maura from around her. "Could you please move?" she asked in a threatening manner, with Emily finally arriving to the scene. The poor girl didn't seem to know what had put her friend in this sour mood, nor what she should do to make it better. She worriedly looked between all present.

Oros didn’t flinch, instead remaining there with her arms stretched out. Though perhaps it was less that she wanted to hug Samantha and more that she wanted to act as a barrier between Samantha and whoever she was pursuing. But her gaze was on someone else. “I wasn’t sure if you were going to come, Betty.”

Betty didn’t say anything. It was clear she had moved past being upset about what was going on. Her brow was crossed, but she let Samantha do the talking for now.

Eliza didn't even need to look twice to know why Sam was pissed off. She facepalmed. "Maura, raging bull at 6'o clock. Might wanna take it outside." She'd warn the patron beforehand, glancing to the witch trio. Luckily they were busy talking to someone to notice. Eliza silently hoped Christmas of all holidays wouldn't be ruined, frowning at the thought as she hugged her bee plush. Regardless, she was ready to pull Oros away if things turned physical.

Maura on the other hand already saw the trio's approach from the corner of her eye. "Oh great..." She groaned. Not only did she have to avoid her sisters, she had to calm her agents down before they expose her anyways. Tucking her ghost plush under one arm, she'd motion for Justine to go ahead and go.

The glare she had given to Oros was leagues under the death stare that she gave Justine. And it was a death stare. One could easily surmise it wasn't restraint keeping her from taking Justine's head. But, perhaps sensing the futility of the act, Samantha did not allow her attention to linger on Justine as the girl left. It instead moved to Maura.

"What the he---"

Before Sam could start yelling at her, Maura would drag her outside. Well, more like lightly pushing her forward. "I'm more than aware why the hell you're pissed off but I'd rather not sour the mood of everyone else in this goddamned party so we're going to discuss this outside okay? Okay!" she'd say in a single breath, and a rather forced smile.

Begrudgingly, Samantha agreed. "Fine," she huffed. "Lead the way."

Betty was about to follow them outside when Oros stepped in front of her. This didn’t amuse her too much. “Move.”

“I don't think that's advised.”

Betty took a step towards Oros. “You're not nearly as cute as you think you are. This doesn't concern you.”

Oros lowered her arms, and her smile left her face. “Your feelings concern me more than you think .” She placed her hands on her hips. “Let Silly handle Mau for now. There's someone else you want to talk to, isn't there? At least it sounded like it last time we spoke about her.”

Betty folded her arms and looked over her shoulder. “It's too early.”

“Now, when she can do nothing to hurt you, and vica-versa?” Oros's smile made a triumphant return. “You're going to have to do it eventually. Rip that bandaid off, then we can enjoy the rest of the party...” With a huff, Betty stormed after Justine. The hotel owner let out a care free sigh before placing her hand on Emily and Eliza's shoulders. “So, eggnog?"

Emily's concern for her friends wellbeing was apparent but she still managed a soft, yet genuine smile for Oros. "Y-yeah. Eggnog!"




Once they were out of the lodge, Maura made sure no one else was nearby to hear them. She'd then move over to sit on one of the benches, leaving some room for Sam if she decided to sit as well. She looked out to the snowy landscape. "Winter was always my favorite season." She said with a faint smile, more or less trying to defuse the tension between them. Maura sighed, looking back to Sam. "If you'll let me, I'll explain everything, okay? You have every right to be angry. All of you."

Maura's attempt at easing the situation appeared ineffective. Samantha crossed her arms and tapped her foot. "I don't need you to tell me that," she answered curtly. "What I do need is a reason why. Because this has to be some insane, complex plan I'm just too stupid to see, right? There's a big payoff for making what I assume is going to be at least half of anyone in Penrose our enemies? For invaliding that entire ordeal we had not long ago which resulted in a fair amount of resources being lost and casualties? Let me hear it."

It seemed tempting for Maura to automatically put the blame on someone else, but how could one blame someone who technically didn't exist anymore? For now, she just talked.

"When Jenna helped us defeat Justine, she used a purification potion on her body. Not only did that sever her ties with Father, it was on the verge of reviving her. Atleast, until we intervened. I wanted to make sure my deal with Jenna, now known as Kayli, went through in full. So when I found out Justine's spirit still lingered, I decided to negotiate." Maura explained, looking back out to their suroundings. "Mind you, the rest of the stiffs in the cradle were just that, stiffs. So this will be a one-time thing, assuming our other hits don't get purified. Anyways, I didn't trust her with any other patron, and I didn't want Father to corrupt her back to her wicked ways. So that was one of the reasons I took her in. I couldn't lie to Alicia, so I bent the truth a little. I know how light-users work."

"And yet you could've avoided all this convoluted bullshit by simply keeping Justine where she had been, couldn't you? What better way to show people that she'll never again bother them by entirely removing her from the picture?" she adjusted her stance. The space on the bench next to Maura remained empty. "But instead we're just allowing her to, what, passively destroy relations with the copious amounts of people she's pissed off? What's her purpose, here?"

With a bit of her magic, a strange chessboard would form in her lap. On one side, the pieces represented the Cradle's agents. On the other, their respective enemies. She moved some of the pieces around, Justine's dead in the middle. "Another reason was that Sonia managed to escape somehow. No doubt she won't take her master's downfall lightly. Depending on how delusional the maid is in her condition, we may need the help. Not to mention we're still small compared to our dear compeditors, we have to make our quantity up for quality. Play our cards right, Justine can be a valuable agent. Most importantly..." Maura would then smile again, almost viciously.

"Her being under contract, I can take away her power, the same way as I can give it." She'd bring a fist down on Justine's chess piece, seemingly reducing it to ash. "One false move, and I'll reduce her to her mundane self as I send her down to Hell by my hand. She'd be helpless with the arms of demons clawing at her, trying to claim such a valuable morsel as their lunch, or their pet even..." She chuckled grimly. Realizing how she sounded, Maura reoriented herself. The chess piece would reform.

"Uh, forgive me for that. But anyways, I don't want you to feel like your efforts were in vain. I probably wouldn't have got to talk with her, if we weren't able to defeat her. But for now, Justine's nothing short of a lost child. She needs someone to guide her on a better path. One that won't run us the risk of an apocalypse for what, the 8th time in a row?" Maura would look back to Sam with a raised brow.

"It's not enough," Samantha shook her head. "I'm not buying it. You're trying to tell me that it's worth it to keep Justine around because Sonia might be upset her smug, malicous master was finally served her just desserts? If anything the fact Sonia might be able to physically interact with Justine at any point is the biggest threat she could pose." Samantha's tone betrayed contempt for the very notion Sonia was worth considering when it came to this matter. "Besides, if you've got such power over Justine, then Justine has no meaningful power. Replacing her with anyone else would not only be around as effective, but we'd suffer less recoil."

Samantha tried her best to take deep breaths but it was hard to say if it worked. "...I can't stand for this, Maura. Because what you're asking me and everyone else, is to play nice just because she was purified! Treat her like some pretty little princess despite the fact she nearly crushed my fucking heart?"

Maura furrowed her brows. "No. I'm only asking all of you not to turn against me over one damn choice. If you can't do that, then what's the point of this? What's the point of me becoming leader, which I didn't even ask for, if I can't even do that right?!" She'd take a moment to hug her ghost before she rose her voice any higher. "I don't wish for her to be forgiven. I only wish for her rehabilitation, not to mention this party's bound to be screwed already just by me and her being here. I won't force any of you to work with her, just..." She sighed, burying her face into the plush.

"If you had chosen to do just about anything else, almost ANYTHING else, Maura, I would probably have made less of a deal about this. But trying to rehabilitate Justine of all people? That's not 'just one choice'. Do not try to downplay it." Sam rebuked, angrily. "And it's one that not only fucking pisses me off, but will actively become a detriment to us."

Samantha was frustrated, and it became clear to her this conversation wasn't going anywhere. She opened her mouth, likely to spit more venom in Maura's direction, but then her phone vibrated. She pulled herself from the conversation just long enough to see a text from Trixy. Her expression became complicated, with lingering traces of her anger, realization, and a hint of sorrow. Her eyes almost seemed to water.

She took in a deep breath, then exhaled. "You know," Sam said, her tone becoming a lot less intense. "This party was the reason I even stayed in Penrose. It was for a friend's sake. And now, here I am, livid, and the most prevalent thought on my mind at the moment is how much I desperately want to tear someone's throat out instead of how I should be spending it with her. I don't think Trixy would want that, and I don't think Emily deserves it."

Samantha looked off towards where she had left Emily, Betty, and Oros. "...I'll ignore Justine for now, at least."

Maura wouldn't look back at Sam, but a quiet "Thank you" could be heard from the former. Once she went back inside, the necromancer would reach into her santa hat and grab her phone. Well, the phone Eliza got her in the past. "Weird, I thought I didn't bring this." she muttered, checking to see who texted her. Her eyes widened when she saw who was, but not just out of surprise. "Oh no..."

The message itself could mean many things, but at this point she was getting anxious. Did Veronica catch wind of what she's done? Did the others find out? Who's to say they weren't angry too? What if Veronica regreted her choice in giving her the Cradle? She already screwed things up, and with one of the best agents in the group at that, why not take everything back? why not?!

But she shouldn't be thinking this way, should she? Maura took some deep breaths, looking back to the window to see what was going on.

A horror. Of course.

Maura pondered if she should even participate in...whatever the hell it has in mind. Never trust a character with magenta as their dialogue color. But after what happened with Samantha, should she even risk it? Her ghost in one arm, she stood up from the bench and walked away from the lodge. Maybe some sight-seeing could calm her down.
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H i l a r i a



"I was canonically here first! I swear!"

— Hilaria



Hilaria was meandering about the party with little purpose or care in the world except for the hot chocolate she was sipping on. Much like the other guests, she too was wearing appropriately festive attire, although the way in which it fit her was maybe a little less than appropriate. But in a world where girls could do battle in a slightly modified birthday suit, this was far from appalling.

She greeted anyone who tried interacting with her with a smile and a wave, signing up for White Elephant, Sledding, and the Fortnight battle, and she naturally thanked Mariette with a head pat when the girl presented her with a cute little cheeseburger plushie (3). Aside from this, she idly watched people as they began joining the party, taking note of Justine, whom she was at least 20 percent certain was the reason for that big battle not long ago. But, much like most of the features promised in Cyberpunk 2077, her death was a lie. Hilaria didn't really care as much as others, though. She was enjoying the party. Others, however, were not.

With all her huffing, puffing, and stomping around, Hilaria couldn't miss Samantha's storming towards Maura had she tried. Being completely unaware of what exactly it was that was causing Sam distress, Hilaria wished the girl a successful argument under the baseless assumption that Maura had served her some bad-tasting food. She would also make a mental note to, when things settled, reprimand Maura for such laziness in the kitchen. Food could only taste bad if the chef was lacking in some area, be that preparation, acquisition, or talent.

Luckily for Maura, the Lord of Cringe Change that suddenly appeared had been a sufficient enough distraction to grab Hilaria's attention. Having worked with a horror on more than one occasion, Hilaria was well aware of what had just shown up. But that little santa cap was pretty cute, so the reality-warping potential end to all mankind was less threatening than normal. She made sure to get a closer look at it while listening to it speak, curiously eying the item it had summoned.

Seeing nothing whatsoever wrong with agreeing to partake in a game offered by a being of its nature, Hilaria became eager to see what was in store for them. She took a big swig of her hot chocolate as she thought about what the prize was. Did she even really want it? Her memory was so shoddy she didn't even remember the people she used to love or like. How could that even work? Of course, just as she was wondering this, she got a text from "Justine".

Justine
"Wisa! Are you aware of these cretins engaging in a foul whispering campaign? They're saying you've resorted to vandalism! As if you would ever lose your Noble Spark!"


Hilaria went through a few stages in a matter of seconds. She had paused at first because she didn't understand whom the text came from. Then, as she tried processing this information, she paused mid-sip as she attempted to figure it out. And finally, once she did understand who had just texted her, she rather violently ejected her hot chocolate onto the ground in a coughing fit.

"W-what?" she seemed uncharacteristically frantic, addressing the Lord with purpose. "What's your game?"
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“I think it’s because of Dan’s magic! Even our pets get to attend the party~” Lily answered Alex as she crouched down to pet Tim, before she stood up and looked Alex over.
“No, you look very handsome, Alex!” Her head leaned to the side as she had a goofy grin on her face, and she playfully tugged on the red scarf.
“This scarf especially looks good on you! You look like Kamen Rider with that on!”

"Hey Sparky-chan, been a while."

Lily turned, and blinked upon seeing the pink-streaked person speak to her. She blinked, as she did not immediately realize who they were...Until she remembered who used that as their nickname for her, followed by him confirming it.

"Bet you don't recognize me. I'm Sakura."

“No way! Sakura! AAAHHH!” She hugged Sakura, and afterwards released the hug, seemingly a bit surprised.
“You’ve changed a lot since we last met! Did you use one of those Red Coins? Nice choice on the hair styling, it’s really vibrant and electrifying!”

As they conversed, she took a mug of hot cocoa that was served on a nearby table, sipping on it as Sakura spoke.

"Anyway, this is shaping up to be something nice, bud and Sparky-chan?"

Lily nodded rapidly, causing the cocoa in her mug to slosh.
“Yeah, it’s wonderful! I get to see all my old friends, and meet new ones too! Dan really went above and beyond!”

Sakura then noticed someone in the crowd and departed; Lily waved back to him, not minding it at all as she moved on. She was glad that Dina didn’t reject her show of affection knowing how fussy the cat girl could be about such things. At least she’s really embraced the Christmas joy, she thought as she noted her daring dress. She also noticed how she seemed to keep herself busy, pacing back and forth frantically as she looked over the party.
“You were working with Dan on this party, right?” She asked.

Before she could follow up, she heard Sakura yell out at the back of the lodge.
“Vicky? Must be one of Sakura’s friends,” she verbally thought, smiling in a ditzy way.
Umukamui arrived, and Lily curtsied in response to her greeting, wanting to show respect to what she thought to be a kind Puchuu. She nodded to her musings as she took another sip.
“I guess so. But wow! You look super pretty, mister Umu!”

Lily observed as Dina first spoke up, followed by a shocking arrival as a large man dropped in, exuding a divine aura about himself. Lily reeled back by surprise.
“Woah! Is that a God?” She had heard about them from Alex as he occasionally spoke about Sol Invictus, but she had never seen one in person before. The sheer difference in presence from a Lesser Force like Dan was something else entirely.
Seeing from his red coat and a sack full of gifts, it was clear he did not intend to crash the party, but rather join in it, which calmed her down.

She audibly gasped as Odin then spoke, mentioning how Sakura was a man (something she suspected but wasn’t sure of until now), and how he mentioned the Yule truce.
“He mentioned Yule! And the eyepatch-!”
Umukamui then mentioned who the God was, and Lily nodded rapidly, leaning over to Alex.
“It’s Odin! I remember reading about him in coll-high school!”

Once Odin had calmed down the initial tension, Lily was approached by Mariette, who handed over an adorable cow plushie. Lily’s mouth was wide open in surprise as she held the gift, followed by biting her lower lip.

“Mariette...” She knew things were awkward between them, but she could tell from the dark magical girl’s expression that she really wanted this party to happen, no matter how difficult it might be.
“...Thank you. Also...” She picked up one of the cow plushie’s arms, and waved it at Mariette while speaking in a silly deep voice:
“Moo-rry Christmas, Moo-riette!”
She hoped that she could catch the stoic girl giggling from her antics. It would be the tiniest step in mending their relationship, but a step nonetheless.

Afterwards, as Mariette went on to give plushies to others, Lily went over to Alicia, greeting Summer on her way.
“Merry Christmas, Summer and Alicia!” Lily greeted after the hug, happy that her affection was reciprocated. She quickly bounced over to Connie’s group, her eyes sparkling as she saw Melisa and Magical Dream Princess.
“AAH, I can’t handle it! Connie’s red dress! Gaia’s hair! You’re all so sweet I’m gonna get diabetes! But I’m a magical girl, so fortunately that won’t be a problem!” She winked as she giggled, enjoying herself fully in this party.

That was when Lily noticed a new entity had arrived; it was unsettling, as if an abstract art piece had been given life. Fortunately it changed into a recognizably human shape, seemingly having arrived with a benevolent purpose. Lily was curious about the game the Lord of Change offered, even if she couldn’t fully follow what it was saying.
“By cities or death? So could you meet with-”
Then she heard her phone alert, and checked the new message, only to scream in surprise.
“AMBY?! Oh my gosh, this can’t be real!” She stared at the message, not sure if she could believe it.
“She...I can talk with her? I could apologize to her, and...Thank her, too...”

Lily then heard how Ruby addressed the crowd, stars lighting up in her eyes.
“Events? EVENTS! Gimme all the events!” She screamed as she rushed down to the tanned girl and wrote up her name in the application, signing herself to every single one. She was running in place from how excited she was as she made her White Elephant wish in secret.

“This is going to be the best Christmas!”



”This is going to be the worst Christmas.”



Regret. That was the emotion ruling over Justine as Sakura was the first to explicitly acknowledge her presence in the party, or rather the impossibility of it. Indeed, it was nothing short of a miracle that she was still living...Or a curse, as some might view it as.

”Well, I...”

She attempted speaking up for herself, but the words would not come out from her soft voice. Fortunately, a God soon interfered, allowing her to hide back behind Maura. Her Patron had assured to be there for her, and Justine nodded, finding herself slightly clutching at the hem of Maura’s dress, as if a child clinging to a mother. But she wasn’t feeling nervous as much as ashamed.

Her new Patron deemed it vital to attend this party, for reasons she had kept to herself. And as she had promised to keep her eyes on her newest magical girl, she had dragged her with her to the party. As much as she had wanted to stay away from the social gathering, fearing to meet the people she had hurt, she couldn't; if she didn’t obey, her contract would be broken ,and she would be sent to an infernal punishment. But it wasn’t as if she was afraid of such a fate, deeming herself deserving of perdition. Rather, she felt she owed it to her victims to save others from becoming new ones, and to prevent the kind of tragedies like she had inflicted in such glee, once.

For centuries, she had let Father dictate her will, twisting it towards malice and cruelty, and she had enjoyed it, as sickening as it now was to reminisce. She bathed in the blood of her enemies, and deemed herself worthy of worship by all mankind so she could crush them all under her foot. All that evil was towards the goal of destroying love itself, like she had promised on that fateful day she forged the unholy pact. After she was defeated and spared, she thought she could have an easy life being worshipped as the best delivery service in the Overcity. But even so, that malignant will was there, a screeching bloodstain in her mind. A foolish misunderstanding led her back on the warpath, but eventually she would have been driven to commit more atrocities, an inevitability in her cursed life.

Now that nauseous play had ended, and it’s curtains drawn away, revealing the true Justine that lay underneath the Horror’s domination. What remained was a meek girl who now wished she could take it all back; her weakness as she fled from the villagers so long ago, her hate as she cursed the world in the black rain while holding her dying sister, and her desperation as she accepted Father’s dark gift.

At first, she had resolved herself to a hopeless fate once she was freed from her endless nightmare, only to be exhumed from the proverbial grave. She could not tell whether Maura truly believed she could be redeemed, or if she was simply to be used and discarded away, like she had done herself countless times. Justine couldn’t deny slightly feeling the latter soon after the party had started, as Maura and her were confronted by what she recognized to be her former adversaries and victims; Silhouette, whom Justine had fought on the floor of a cathedral plummeting from the sky and later in the lost dimension, and Betty, who was the bargaining chip she had used to enact revenge on Mariette.

”M-Mis-”

Maura gestured for Justine to leave, causing her to visibly pout before she nodded; it would make sense for Maura to abandon her, as she was the root of all the problems she was having. Justine then yelped softly, as she realized who had approached her; Mariette.
The bat plushie was nearly shoved into her hands, causing Justine to step back and balance herself. Her face turned red as she saw the reminder of her shameful past in a cute, huggable form.

”M-Mariette...I...”

She tried to speak up, but she couldn't find it in her to look at her in the eye, and so she the moment passed, with Mariette going to give plushies to others. Justine could tell something was different about Mariette now, but she couldn't say what, as she was already struggling to find her own identity. Knowing it was only a matter of time before someone would again come and yell at her, she resolved herself to imminent scorn and took a seat at one of the tables near the Christmas tree, holding the bat plushie close to her chest while waiting for the first one to cast the stone.



Sally giggled with a hand over her mouth as a punkish-looking party guest saluted her.
“Looks like we’re already making an impression,” she commented, only to be startled to a giggling fit by Aurelio.
“Oh you~” She playfully mused when she was kissed on the cheek. “There’s not even a mistletoe. But you’re lucky you look dashing in red, Aurelio~” She gave him a kiss on the cheek as well.
“Merry Christmas~”, she greeted, and afterwards pouted with a finger to her lips as the various games and events were revealed. “Hmm, it’s hard to decide what to do...Maybe I’ll leave it to Lady Luck.”
As she did, she closed her eyes and reached for Mariette's plushie bag, finding a bunny plushie for herself.
"Yay!"



Kimble smiled widely, and wrapped her arms around Alicia’s arm, holding it close.
“Great to see you here too, Aurelio!”
She then nodded as Alicia suggested going outside.
“Yep, let’s go! I would love to take a tour of the island. I heard Lily say it’s beautiful! Would you like to build a snowman~?” Kimble asked in a singing voice.
“There’s snowman building and other events from what I heard over there,” she said, pointing in Ruby's direction. She also expressed her gratitude when she received a cat plushie from Mariette.
“I bet Beacon would crush it in a snow for battle!”

But before Alicia and Kimble reached the door, the star atop the christmas tree began to shine brightly. Like snowflakes, blue particles slowly drifted down from the ceiling until they spun around in a vortex and in a blue flash Dan had appeared.



“Merry Christmas, everyone!” The Lesser Force greeted in a booming voice that reached to every corner of the lodge.
“First of all, I would like to thank you all for coming to this Christmas party! It means so much to me to see so many familiar faces, and even a few new ones, together at such a happy time of the year. I'm glad that even great lords have graced us with their presence! I am truly honoured!” He bowed to Odin and the Lord of Change.

He then floated down, drooping from tree branch to tree branch like a waterdrop, until he hit the floor like a cube of jelly.
“But all of this wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for my good friend Mariette for giving out invitations!” Suddenly, a spotlight appeared over Mariette, followed by the sound of hands clapping everywhere in the room including Dan before the spotlight closed.
“Thank you, Mariette! Now, as you may have heard from my lovely assistants, there will be many events that people can participate in if you’re feeling bored, including a sleigh ride for two pulled by genuine yule goats. Of course, any outdoor activities will be rewarded with a Bronze coin for participation, and stage events a Silver! The Arena also makes a return, for those wishing to further practice their skills in Keijo.”

He then summoned a Snowbun on his fin, showcasing it to all.
“And last but not least, there is a petting zoo, where you can pet fluffy Snowbuns. But oh no, the snowbuns have escaped and scattered across the island!” He added, sounding theatrically dramatic.
“But don’t worry, any snowbuns you find and pet will be touched by the joy of Christmas magic, and will hop on back to the petting zoo. Whoever catches the most snowbuns gets a little reward. But be warned; only the very best can catch the Harebingers of the Bunnypocalypse; they are tricky little bunnies! Whoever can catch even one of them earns a Gold Coin! Good luck!”
Lily grinned, rubbing her hands.

”You just wait, Harebingers! I’m coming for you! But wait, isn't it cold outside? I'll be fine, but there's, um, others...” She glanced at Umukamui and Aria.

"Oh, no worries! Your clothes are enchanted to provide warmth and protection from the elements, so you'll only feel the slightest bit chilly when outside. Even if you were buried in snow you'll be as snug like a bug in a rug."

Lily nodded, glad to hear that hypothermia was not a danger.

“Later today, we will be holding dinner over at the feast hall, just beyond this door,” he said, gesturing to a massive door that was placed to the back of the lodge. Lily’s mouth watered.

”Oh, I wonder what kind of delicious food we’ll be hav-”

“We will have carrot casserole, cabbage casserole, and liver casserole,” Dan announced with a bright smile. “Traditional Finnish Christmas foods. Isn’t that great?” Lily’s eye twitched.

”I get that you want to appreciate Christmas culture, Dan, but liver casserole? Really?”

“It’s traditional!” He protested. “But oh well, if that’s not up to your appetite, we will also have more regular food like porridge and chicken. Anyway, we will also hold the White Elephant gift exchange at the feast hall, as well as a special gift I have for Mariette," he added with a wink.
"For more information on the White Elephant, please consult Ruby,” he said, opening a spotlight on her in turn before it closed.
“For refreshments, we have hot cocoa, eggnog, ale, and glögg!” As he said that, he summoned a big red cup. Lily now looked befuddled.

”What even is glögg in the first place?”

“A traditional spiced drink from Sweden made from berry juice. It’s delicious, I assure you! And if you find an almond in your cup of glögg, it’s a sign of good luck!”
Lily sighed, and took a sip of her cocoa.
”Well, I guess I could try it.”

“Now, without further ado, please enjoy the party!” Dan announced.

Dan then floated down to Sann, a smug smile on him.
"Anything I want? There is something I definitely want~".
He dove towards Sann and...gently landed on top of her head.
"Aahh, nothing beats the cushiony feel of a girl's hair..." He squeaked.
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<Ruby> Mariette gave a mouse plush to Ruby. She honestly wanted to give her two plushies, because she instinctively wanted to give one to Sakura and one to Violet, but they were one person now. It would be more fair like this. Ruby placed a hand on her shoulder and said to meet her later… Mariette nodded. ‘Alright. I’ll come find you when I’m done,’ Mariette replied with an understanding tone, before turning and walking to hand plushies to more people.

<Kayli, Rose, Iris> Mariette briefly inspected Kayli. This was the person Rose and Iris had talked about, huh. In any case, thank yous were given, ‘Merry Christmas,’ was said, and Mariette moved on.

<Connie, Gaia, MDP, Shane, Melisa> Mariette managed to produce complementary butterflies for Connie and Gaia, smiling as they thanked her. ‘You’re welcome- eh-’ Mariette was highly startled by MDP hugging around her after getting her unicorn. While quite uncomfortable with the contact, she let it be because Christmas spirit, and then received something in turn. Something for a good night’s sleep…? As a Horror girl, Mariette was often plagued with lack of sleep, she wondered how those powers would interact…

‘… Thank you, Dream Princess. I’ll try it out,’ she said, bowing to her, before putting the present down into a portal she opened.

Mariette got a little wide-eyed when she produced a bunny for Shane. It wasn’t Bunny, he was safe, but still, she had a soft spot for bunnies. Still, it looked good on him. ‘Merry Christmas,’ she simply nodded, and then Melisa…

Melisa was so tiny. Honestly, it was kinda bewitching for Mariette to look at her. And then, when she got the turtle to move with her, and then rode on it… Mariette’s cheeks flushed a bit. That was so cute. A somewhat flustered Mariette had to turn around and leave, she had more plushies to spread!

<Deni, Eli> Mariette approached the two girls, and stopped for a bit. Deni and Eli raised their gazes and looked up at her, Deni expectantly with a smile, and Eli with some amount of worry. Finally, Mariette reached into the bag she brought and produced a pair of bird plushies, each in the colours of their respective recipient (normal transformation), which the twins accepted. ‘Merry Christmas, Ronin, Miko,’ Mariette said.

Deni grinned widely, while Eli got a kind little smile and curtsied a bit.

‘Merry Christmas, Mariette!’ Deni said excitedly.
‘Merry Christmas, Mariette,’ Eli said, more calmly.

Mariette nodded, and then kept going, leaving the two with their new bird plushies.

<Samantha, Emily> Mariette was a little shocked at Sam just completely ignoring her. She was one of those she absolutely wanted to give something, due to the help at the mansion. ‘I’ll… come back when she’s in a better mood,’ she quickly determined as she handed one to Emily instead, nodding to the girl’s apologies. Oh, well. Guess she’d go give some others, then.

<Oros, Aria> Oros was as eccentric as ever, which actually made Mariette smile a bit genuinely. Mariette was momentarily worried that Oros would think Mariette was calling her a pig after that particular plushie was retrieved, but she seemed happy. Then Oros dropped the pig fact. ‘Um,’ Mariette didn’t know how to respond. ‘Alright, later then. Merry Christmas,’ Mariette said as Oros left for her date.

Aria was a much simpler encounter in comparison. She got a racoon, and it fit her excellently. Mariette quickly moved on.

<Lord of Change> WHY IS ONE OF THOSE HERE!? Who invited it!? Are we all in horrible, horrible danger!? I feel like it should be way more powerful than Dan and could completely overrule Dan’s rules! I… I have to give it a plushie, don’t I?

Mariette was very visibly frightened as she made herself approach to offer a plushie. ‘M-merry Christmas?’ she asked, as she offered one. She was also the closest one when it started declaring its intention. She didn’t really get it. Uh. Moving on.

<Alicia> Mariette felt a bit scared that this particular exchange wouldn’t go well. But, it seemed Alicia wasn’t going to cause any drama during the Christmas party. Mariette was thankful for that. She quickly moved on, not to bother the girl with her presence any longer.

<Maura> Went off without a hitch. She got her ghost plushie. Hopefully it would comfort her in the rough seas ahead…

<Hilaria> Mariette had to ponder if Hilaria had somehow been able to just home in on the cheeseburger plushie or if there was some form of fate attached to it. Oh, well. Mildly uncomfortable with being patted, Mariette regardless nodded and continued on.

<Lily> The girl seemed to take her cow well. And then, with the joke… ‘Pffth,’ Mariette couldn’t help but exhale a little in amusement. ‘Merry Christmas, Lily,’ she quickly covered, and then was on her way to the next person.

<Justine> … Was this girl actually regretting her actions? She looked very awkward with Mariette. Still, Mariette didn’t want to talk to her more than she had to, and as such turned and walked pretty quickly. She had better things to do right now.

<Sally> Got another bunny. Lucky, Mariette privately thought. Bunnys are the cutest.




Penny decided to throw herself into the snowball fight.

‘P-Penny incoming!’ Josefin called from the snow-fort that she and Taihei had quickly constructed for cover using their magic, the blonde girl quickly dodging out of the way, definitely outmatched.

‘Penny…?’ Lea looked curiously on who had joined the snowball-fight. The elvin monster girl smirked, lifting more balls of snow with her wind. ‘Fufufu. Brave of you, charging straight into a gathering of our forces. Let us show you how-’ -and her speech was interrupted by a snowball hitting her in the side of the face.

‘WE’RE NOT ALLIES HERE, IN CASE YOU FORGOT!’ an excited Victoria-clone that had thrown said snowball at Lea, taking cover inside Tullia’s ice-fortress that was growing by the second.

‘Grr. I’ll show you!’ Lea changed her words, using wind to throw snowballs both at the Victoria-clones and at Penny!

‘Penny…’ Freya breathed out, looking over at her with slightly wide eyes. ‘I’ve… been meaning to-’ and then she too got interrupted by a snowball to the face.

‘Dialogue later, fight now!’ Mayra laughed, having just thrown that snowball at Freya. The dragon-girl then turned to smirk at Penny. ‘I’m so happy you’d join us, Penny! I’ve been wanting to challenge you! Let’s do this!’ she called, and soon enough more snowballs were being thrown, the battle flaring up additionally.

To summarize the hecticness going on a bit.

Josefin and Taihei were teamed up, using magic to build a snow-fort while Taihei was also using Gravity-magic to shield from other snowballs or throw them back. A weird amount of snowballs seemed to constantly slip through and hit her, though.

Lea, Esther and Olivia were teamed and probably had the most firepower, Lea making and throwing snowballs with wind, Esther with branches and vines and Olivia with various spirits helping her. They didn’t have a lot of defense, though, beside some trees Esther was making for them.

Tullia was creating this massive ice-fortress that was manned by an army of Victoria clones throwing snowballs, with ice-magic constantly making new snowballs for them as ammunition instead of needing to go down to the ground to pick up more, they could all stand on the battlements and not run out of snow.

Jelena and Mayra WERE teamed up, until Mayra dumped a large amount of snow into Jelena’s coat. After that, they split up and were on their own. Jelena, Mayra and Freya were therefore all three on their own, but the three of them were the mightiest physical forces of the group, so they could handle themselves fine with high speed and powerful throws.

And that’s about that.




collab with twave

After Mariette made her rounds handing out gifts, Ruby would track down the girl to talk. Wouldn’t be long most likely but the girl felt it was important. ”Mariette.” The djinn girl would run up. ”Hey, I need to tell you something important. Uh… probably should be a bit more private. Not that it’s a big secret.” Taking a look outside she would gesture for her to follow.

Mariette was a bit tired from having needed to talk to everyone at the party, as a not super-sociable girl, so something more relaxing was in order… like a private conversation with someone she could relax around. That worked.

‘Alright. Let's go,’ Mariette agreed and followed along with the girl's move.

Moving off to one side the girl would give a big smile. ”Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. Alright so, this might be a little awkward but… well you remember your friends the Djinn Sisters yeah?” She would start.

Mariette nodded. ‘I do. You're them, right? I can feel the wish still working…’ she stated, smiling a little bittersweet smile. That, and she'd gotten a report from ???, who's monitoring the city and the people in it.

Looking a bit surprised for a second, Ruby would nod and give her friend a hug. "Yeah. I got the chance for a wish of my own and this is what I wanted." Snapping her fingers the Holiday theme would give way to her more Arabian garb for a minute. "Tada. Eh… What do you think?

Mariette hugged her friend back, then watch her transform back to her regular transformed self. ‘It's what you wanted…’ Mariette repeated, before making herself smile a bit. ‘It looks great. It just, feels a bit weird. My two friends have become one friend. It feels, I don't know, lonely? Still, I'm happy for you.’ She wasn't sure how to put it into words.

She was glad that the change didn't seem to cause any issues. After a bit she would step back and let the Christmas attire return. "Maybe a little bit. Because of Ilum we had a mental link so it was always like I was talking to myself in a way. I'm me again. Or at least as much as I can be as a magical girl." She would chuckle a bit.

Mariette nodded, not entirely being able to imagine talking to someone else but feeling like talking to oneself. Were they that similar? They always felt so distinct… ‘… Have I ever asked… who you were?’ Mariette asked, realizing she may not have been a good friend having been too occupied to ask about her friends.

The slight confusion was understandable. Mariette has been taking this very well. Asked about herself she would think about it for a moment. Well, she'd been telling her friends a little more lately. "Ashley Granger. I was a snooty cheerleader. Usually people went with it, I was popular after all."

‘Ashley…’ Mariette repeated the name. She nodded, then next question. ‘How old were you? How did you get picked up?’ Mariette asked, deciding she wanted to know.

"16." She answered. "I snuck into the back of a museum and knocked over a vase. My patron was inside and I made three wishes. I got what I asked for, but in the process became his servant." That had been many years ago now. Up until recently she didn't really dwell on it all that much.

‘I see…’ Mariette said, nodding to Ruby's story. ‘I was saved by my patron. He saved me from my father. I followed him in gratitude… or so I would have told you. I never considered that I was never given the choice to not be saved. Why are patrons like that…?’

Ruby would shrug a bit. "I don't really know. I guess they just see us as tools or lower beings. Djinn are tricky, I should have known better." She would stop and think a moment. "If you ever need some help or a place to stay my door is always open." Glancing around she would lean close so they could speak lower. "Say, is that why your gift wish was what it was. Is that something you want?" She was trying not to go into specifics in case anyone was listening. Crazy magic and sneaky people.

‘I know. I'm really happy that I'll always have that. Thank you…’ Mariette replied to the open door part. Then, Ruby asked about that, and Mariette's lips parted as she sought the answer. She… really couldn't answer it without a small speech to do it justice.

‘"Would I have turned out fine?" … It's a question I've found myself asking. If Asengav hadn't saved me, would I simply have died in my dad's basement, or would I have emerged at the end okay? Could I have survived to live a normal life? Or, would I have lived a broken life, never really recovered from my past?’

‘I found myself wondering that, with no way to get the answer. I figured, "maybe others wonder the same thing", and as such I decided to make that my gift…’ she explained, also with lowered tone. ‘Th-that's not silly of me, is it?’ she asked, worried.

Ruby would pull out a little notebook and look it over for a moment. She would let out a small hum and close it again. ”Well… I can’t really help you with that directly. But maybe I can try and see if I can work something out so you can have a chance at being a normal girl. I can’t really make any promises.”

‘Ah, wait. That's not it,’ Mariette shook her head, but smiled a bit. ‘Now that I'm involved with the magical world, I don't want to go back. I'd like to improve my position and get a better life, but I don't want to leave behind what I have. My gift simply ponders what would have happened if I wasn't saved… something like that. But… Thank you, for considering it.’

Ruby would shake her head. ”Oh, well I couldn’t take away anything. But I was thinking maybe find someone that knows about the magical world and could be your mom or something. What do they call it? Guardian? I don’t know. Beacon does something with Fake Parents but I don’t think that’s a good fix.” She would think a bit out loud toward the end.

‘Um,’ Mariette blinked a bit as she thought about that prospect. ‘Well, um, there’s… two, that could potentially already fill that role. One’s Su. Su offered to be my mom, after all this is over…’ she said, looking away and looking a bit embarrassed. ‘The other’s Joe. He’s an interdimensional tourist. He lets me stay at his house and eat the food he cooks. He’s nice…’ Mariette blushed a little. ‘… So if Su and Joe got married, that’d be perfect… teh-heh, Su and Joe…’ The girl looked like she privately enjoyed entertaining that odd thought.

”Oh.” Maybe she didn’t quite have a feel for this friendship thing like she thought. Well no harm done. ”I see. Well then it sounds like you’re already on the right track.” She would brighten up.

‘… Maybe. I’d have to embrace them, first,’ Mariette commented. ‘If possible, I’d like to help you with something, too. You’ve helped me a lot, after all. It’d be nice if I could do something in return.’

”Thanks. If I think of something I’ll let you know.”

‘Good. Shall we return to the party, then?’

”Sure. There’s still a lot to coordinate for the event. I just wanted to be sure you knew and were okay.” She would head back toward the lodge.

‘I understand. Thank you for looking out for me,’ Mariette replied, and then they could head back.




When they returned, Dan had shown up and started talking about how this would go down. Mariette listened modestly intently, when a spotlight showed up over her. She kind of went a little stone-faced awkward at this, but made herself smile and nodded.

Then there was a mention of the Snowbuns.

‘S-snowbu-!?’ Mariette blinked wide-eyed at the little creature, the absolutely most adorable thing she’d ever seen. Dan finished his explanation of the game…

and Mariette was gone. There was no sign of her where she’d previously been seen. Because she’d opened a portal and vanished. Where, might you ask?

Obviously, she was standing on a portal above the island, spreading her arms and summoning her mystic power, opening arrays of portals across the island, applying both Absolute Direction and Awareness to track down the bunnies! She… had… to… get… them…! Then however she would catch one with her 4 agility was another issue altogether. Clever use of portals, hopefully…!




‘Hahaha, so that’s how it works!’ Deni chuckled at the event. ‘Sounds fun! What do you want to do?’

‘We could probably benefit from one of those Gold Coins from Snowbun hunting…’ Eli said, smiling back to her sister. ‘Still, I’d very much want to try sleigh-riding. It sounds like fun.’

‘Then we’ll find time for that! Now, hm?’ Deni said, as she found herself having gotten a text message. She went to it, and… ‘Oh, Su! Alright, gotta answer this,’ Deni said, smiling as she did.

”We’re okay! Thank you for last time, we haven’t been hunted down yet! How are you and Helga doing? We’re currently at the Christmas Party in Dan’s dimension! We got our own little Christmas Island! There’s a lot of people here! Will you be coming?”
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"Sakura...you've got your dick back" Alexander found himself tearing up at the good fortune of the other guy (at last). "I just...I can't imagine how horrible it was to have had your gender changed like that." yet before he could celebrate with the other guy, things got a little heated...and then unheated thanks to a surprise appearance by Odin of all people. "Huh, Didn't see that coming"

Then something he was nervous about happened; Lily and Mariette met. 'I mean, I know I already talked to Mariette, but I still can't help but be worried.' Yet nothing happened. Mariette gave Lily a plush animal, Lily mad a dumb pun, and all was right with the world. Before getting his own plush, he let out a sigh of relief "Thanks. You look like you're doing much better" Alexander told Mariette as he got his own plush, a sheep (which Dave quickly claimed, for some reason)

Lily then started frolicking around talking to other people, excited at the prospect of Christmas events, and Alexander smiled 'Yeah, I don't know what I was worried about. It is Lily after all, even if people tried to ruin her Christmas, she'd find a way to fix that. She probably didn't even need me to talk to Mariette.' Being so out of his element, Alexander wasn't too sure what to do, so he just decided to take in the relaxing atmosphere...until he saw a face he really didn't expect to see 'Hang on, is that?' he started walking over to her, and the closer he got, the more sure he was "Justine? Wow, I never expected to see you here" There wasn't a trace of hostility of any kind in his voice, just confusion and genuine surprise
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by BrokenPromise
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“Good talk Justine! Let’s go eat some bon bons!”

”Not until after we kiss under the mistletoe!”

“Hah! Smooth move, Joker!”

— Betty “Biohazard” Barton and her good friend Justine "Joker" von Visceral


Betty was beside herself. No one could tell that by looking at her face, which was devoid of any real emotion. But they could hear her feet as she power walked across the floor. Oros might have been able to block her from following Maura, but the way her feet were moving she could probably walk over anyone. There were no three magical girls present that could contain her, and she might even be able to trample a Lord of Change in her current state.

Justine was seated just so, in front of a rectangular table that ran to either side of the lodge. The fire crackled and snapped behind her, lightly obscuring her features. At a distance she looked like a silhouette against the flames, albeit one that everyone recognized.

Justine did not look up when she heard Betty’s thunderous footsteps nor when a wooden chair was dragged across the floor. She positioned the chair between everyone else and Justine, before sitting in it hard enough to slide backwards a few inches. And then, she did nothing. With everyone behind her, Betty just stared into Justine’s eyes. Her shoulders were a bit rigid, but if no one had seen Betty’s approach, they might have assumed nothing was really wrong.

Justine kept her eyes to the table as she heard incoming footsteps, and clutched at her plushie as Betty took her seat. She then shyly looked up, to see Betty’s fiery gaze.
She closed her eyes, and slowly nodded.

”...”

Justine opened her mouth, as if to speak, but then closed it. An awkward silence passed until finally, in a meek voice, she spoke.

”I sold you to the Mint...So I could buy their services,” she stated, having returned back to looking at the table.
”I gained soldiers and information which was useful in my revenge against Mariette. For that...I’m sorry.”

A tiny sigh escaped her lips. “And of course, you don’t know what the Mint did to me. Doubt you even thought to ask.” Betty folded her arms on the table. “That was it then? I was just traded for services? You didn’t use me for anything else?”

Justine weakly shook her head. ”That's right. I knew of your affiliation with Veronica and the Crimson Cradle, which was why I didn't even consider using you as a servant. I simply handed you off, and didn't think on it...Until now."

“So where do we go from here?” Betty bit the corner of her lip. “Maura hasn’t told us anything. Are you going to work with us now? Can we really trust our backs to you?” She groaned. “Do you even trust us?”

Justine sniffled, and caressed her plushie.

”I trust in Mistress," Justine finally admitted.
"And I trust you too. It's just...I don't know how to show it. I've never trusted someone before, not even Sonia. I honestly haven't talked much with her about my duties..."

“Oh please, spare me the self pity!” Betty stood up, practically launching the chair out from under herself. “Is this really Justine von Visceral, sin of pride? You can’t even keep eye contact with one of your victims!” By this point, a few other girls had taken interest in Justine, and Betty’s side of the table was getting crowded. “Damn it!” After surveying those approaching, she looked at Justine. “Justine, I have no idea if anything you said was the truth, but you can believe me when I say that you most certainly shouldn’t trust your back to me. You have some serious ground to cover before we consider you one of us.” She turned part way from the table, only to look back in Justine’s direction. “My memories of the rave are a little hazy. I vaguely remember Veronica pushing you and I together…” She trailed off. After some thought, Betty crossed her brow. “You’re never going to get that close to me again.” Betty pushed her way past everyone who had gathered around. “Where the hell did Maura go? Is she crying too?” Betty was out the door before she even finished talking. She didn’t even react to her phone buzzing.

As Betty left, Justine could only nod, as she held back her tears.
”...I deserved that."
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Shortly after Mariette had handed out her gifts to each member of their little group, a red-haired girl appeared before them in a puff a purple smoke. After welcoming them to the party, the girl presented them with a list of activities they could sign up for.

“O-Oh, wow!” Connie exclaimed, her eyes shimmering with excitement. “T-They all look like s-so much fun!”

“Then let us sign up for all of them,” Gaia proposed.

“Wowie zowie~! Magical Dream Princess wants to do them allsie, too~! (giggle!)” the whimsical girl added.

Scarcely a second later, Lily darted over to the small group. Moving with the speed of a lightning bolt, she cheerfully greeted and hugged each of them in turn, while also complementing their outfits. Connie was barely able to squeak out a simple “T-Thanks, Lily! A-And, M-Merry Christmas…!”, before the green-haired girl had zipped away to spread holiday cheer to the rest of the gathering.

“Wowie zowie~! (giggle!) She’s, like, super duper nicey wicey~!” MDP observed with a big smile. “Oh~!” she exclaimed when a cute jingle indicated that her phone had received a new text. After the whimsical girl had retrieved the device, she gave a happy squeal upon seeing who the message was from. “Goody woody~! (giggle!) Penny Wenny’s heresie weresie~!” she would announce with a cheerful smile, before frowning as she read the rest of the robotic girl’s message. “Awww, but she’s feeling grumpy wumpy~?”

'That’s okie dokie, Penny Wenny~!’ the whimsical girl would text back. ‘Magical Dream Princess will come find you firsty worsty, and cheer you aaall up~!’ After adding nearly a dozen cute emojis, she hit the send button.

“I-Is P-Penny o-one of y-your o-other friends?” Connie inquired.

“Yeperoonie~! (giggle!)” MDP replied. “But, like, she’s not just any wany friendy wendy,” the whimsical girl clarified with a wink. “She’s Magical Dream Princess’s super duper pretty witty wuvy dovey girlfriend wirlfriend~! (giggle!) And, like, there’s Magical Dream Princess’s super duper best friendy wendy in the whole wide worldsie~!” she squealed after catching sight of Amanda at the nearby refreshment table. “Pastel-chaaaan~!” she cheered as she glomped the dream magician (and possibly caused her to spill her drink). “Merry Werry Christmas~!” she added, finally releasing her friend and handing her a colorful present. “Like, this is Magical Dream Princess’s special wecial present wesent just for you~! (giggle!)”

Before Amanda could thank MDP for the gift, the hyperactive girl gave a sharp gasp as she caught sight of something occurring outside. “Wowie zowie~!” she exclaimed, her eyes shimmering with delight. “Like, they’re having a big snowball wowball fight out theresie~! (giggle!) Come on~!” she added, scooping up Melisa and her turtle, while grabbing Amanda’s hand and dragging her along, too. “Let’s go see if we can play with them~! (giggle!)”

Rushing outside, MDP didn’t stop until she had dragged her friends right into the middle of the wintery battleground. “Like, can Magical Dream Princess and her friendy wendies play, too~?!” the whimsical girl asked excitedly. “Can they~?! Can they~?! Can they~?!”






Meanwhile, back inside, Connie was looking around the crowded lodge to see if she could find anyone else she knew. The timid girl smiled upon catching sight of Ronin and Miko, as well as Rose and Iris, but there were other guests that made her quite a bit less happy, and actually quite a bit nervous. There was the boisterous, bearded man, for one, although his intimidating demeanor paled in comparison to the starkly terrifying entity that arrived next. Even though the strange being wore a Santa hat, Connie still felt very uncomfortable just looking at it. Then it began to speak. Connie didn’t really catch all of what it said, but she did hear something about being reunited with old friends, which reminded her of a rather disheartening fact. Despite having given her an invitation, Faith had yet to arrive at the party. Connie knew she was probably busy getting settled into her new home, but the timid girl had still hoped that her first friend in the magical community would be able to make at least a brief appearance. After all, she had brought a special present for her…

“M-Mia,” Connie asked her friend hesitantly. “D-Do you t-think Faith’s g-gonna come? I-I was h-hoping she’d b-be here by n-now, but…”

“Just give her a bit more time, little sister,” Gaia reassured her. “I know she will be here if it is at all possible for her to come.” A moment later, the verdant girl’s phone began to buzz. Retrieving it, she gave a small frown. “In fact, this appears to be her now,” she noted as she read over a text from Faith, wishing them a Merry Christmas. “Although I could have sworn I left this phone back in our room…”

“O-Oh my gosh!” Connie gasped as she looked at a message displayed on her own phone. “I-I j-just g-got a t-text from L-Lotus! B-B-But, L-Lotus is…” her voice trailed off as her hands began trembling even more than usual.

“Something very strange is going on here,” Gaia observed as she fixed the newly arrived being with a piercing gaze. “And I plan on getting to the bottom of it.”

Gliding over to the bizarre creature, the verdant girl was about to ask it some rather pointed questions, when a cheerful voice interrupted. It appeared as though Dan had finally decided to make his grand entrance, and after doing so, he dramatically announced the start of yet another activity. Gaia, however, was not about to be sidetracked by the whimsical dolphin, and pressed on undaunted. “Excuse me,” she said, addressing the Lord of Change. “Am I to assume you were the one who sent those texts to our phones just now? And just how, precisely, do you intend to reunite us with friends who have passed on from this life?” she added, her expression providing a clear indication that she was in no mood for games.
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While the whole confrontation was being delt with, the others got their plushies.

Like Eliza, Valerie facepalmed as she watched Maura and Sam exit the building. "I knew this was too good to be true..." she shook her head in unamusement. Atleast her boss made a good call it seems, but the android quietly hoped they could talk it out. They did not.

"Doesn't seem like they affected the mood too bad, we should still be fine!" Amanda reassured her, taking a sip of hot cocoa. When Mariette approached them, they were given a seal and a kitsune plush, respectively. Amanda chuckled. "Cute little foxes, aren't they? But they're quite mischevous. I tend to find one or two running amok in my dimension." She'd explain to Marriete as she looked over the plushie, then look to her with a warm smile. "You've captured their energy quite well!"

"I guess you can say it has her..."

When Amanda looked back to Valerie, the cyborg had placed her seal perfectly on top of her head. It even wore her santa hat for her. "Seal of approval." she'd finish with a deadpan expression.

Amanda blinked, appalled by the pun. Then grabbed Valerie's hat and threw it at her face, earning a chuckle from the other girl. "I apologize for that. Anyways, thank you for the gifts, Miss Mariette." She looked back to Mariette with a nod.

"Just trying to lighten the mood, seally."

"Val. Please."

Amanda's reaction only egged Valerie on. "Don't give me the cold shoulder, I'm only having a whale of a good time."

"Okay now you're sealliously annoying-" The dream magician paused at the sudden pun. Valerie bursted out laughing at her reaction.

"Guess that sealed the deal?"

"I disown you." Amanda quickly walked away from Valerie to find anyone else to talk to.

"Alright! Seal you later!"

"I WANT A DIVOR- BWEH?!"

Before Amanda could escape the onslaught of puns, she found herself tackle-hugged by MDP. "Dreamy!" she exclaimed with a genuine grin, bear-hugging her back. Once released, the magician was presented a, well, present. Her eyes lit up, "Oh my goodness, you shouldn't have! Thank you, Drea-" once again she was interrupted when MDP noticed the snowball fight outside. And was promptly dragged away.

Meanwhile, the witch trio was talking among eachother, occasionally watching the others in the party. From Mariette, Maribel was given a purple dragon plush, Lauren a lion, and Rowena an owl.

"Thank you kindly, dear~!" Maribel smiled at the portal witch. While Lauren nodded, and Rowena quietly thanking her. Then Viva boldly approached them.

"Hm?" The nightmare witch turned back to look at Viva with a smile. "My my, brave enough to approach the wicked witches I see~" She chuckled at the nurse's offer.

Lauren calmly bumped her lion plush against Maribel's face. Emitting a half-assed "Roar."

The nightmare witch's expression went blank for the moment. "Uh, you bored, Lauren?"

The younger girl would flop over the back of the couch. "No shit. I could probably play lion tamer now, but that'd be out of place here."

"Oooh..." Maribel patted Lauren's head. The latter would look up at Viva.

"You could probably hang with us for awhile. We're Maribel, Lauren, and Rowena." She'd introduce themselves to her, pointing to the respective witches. "Got a name yourself, toots?"

While the other two chatted with Viva, Rowena was distracted by some of the party-goers confronting someone. Someone familiar... Her eyes widened when she realized who it was.

"Maura...?"

She looked between her sisters, tempted to go approach her. But Rowena didn't want the other two to notice. Not yet anyways. Besides, Maura had already left the room for the moment.

And that was when the horror came in.

"WHAT THE HELL?!" Lauren screeched as the Lord of Change made his appearance. Though, his tiny santa had earned a chuckle from Maribel, who was completely unfazed. The horror explained his reason for joining the party, a game apparently. Probably Bingo, if the cage spinner was a hint. Then everyone got a text message. Despite the witches not even having phones.

"W-Wait, this is-!?"

"Our coven sisters..." Maribel finished Lauren's exclamation, their shocked expressions mirroring each other. The witch of Order quickly ran up to the Lord of Change. "How do we know this isn't an illusion, Horror? You claim to plunge us back into despair afterwards, so how true are you to your word?" truthfully, she had no ill intent. Her expression showed more curiosity than skepticism.

Meanwhile Valerie and Amanda spat out their drinks in surprise when Cereza and Cerise texted them each. The android quickly ran back to the magician. "One of the twins just sent me a message." She held up her phone to show Amanda.

Valerie got a text from Cereza
"Is everyone still okay?"

"I know, I know! Look!!" Amanda took her turn to show Valerie her message.

Amanda got a text from Cerise
"Merry Christmas! Forgive us for not being there with you guys!!"

They'd look down at the phones, then back to each other.

"We have to play that game."

"Agreed!"

Rowena could've been worried about whatever the Lord of Change had in mind, but she was waiting on Maura to come back inside. So when Samantha returned alone, she decided to check on her. "...Excuse me." she quietly said, standing up from her seat and bowing slightly to Maribel and Viva before leaving.


The witch of life stepped out of the lodge and looked around. "...Where are you?" she uttered to herself. Maura couldn't have gotten far, could she? She slipped the jacket she had on and walked around, looking down to the snow for any footsteps. Rowena saw the ongoing snowball fight nearby, and stopped a short moment to watch. When was the last time she and her sisters had a snowball fight of their own, she wondered.

Eventually she'd spot Maura by one of the buildings, she was looking at the decorations in wonder. The witch of death would pet a passing snowbun with a smile, as Rowena walked up next to her. Surprisingly, Maura didn't react strongly to her presence. It could be that she knew it was inevitable one of her sisters would find her, or that the ordeal about Justine made her too tired to care. But she appreciated the company, nonetheless.

After all, Maura knew her blood relative wouldn't hurt her.

There was a comforting silence between them, then Rowena spoke up. "...It's almost nostalgic being here. Even though we haven't been here before. Weird, right?" She looked at Maura with a smile, who nodded in reply. Seeing as she wasn't talking, the witch of life asked a different question. "Something troubling you?"

Maura sighed. "I allowed someone to live and ended up pissing off the people I care about. It's stupid." she explain.

"Hmm..." Rowena perched her owl plush on her shoulder. "Sounds familiar, doesn't it?"

"What are you-"

Maura went silent when she realized what her sister meant. The day she broke her oath. The day she fled her coven's wrath and became a patron. The day she killed...

Her face contorted in fear, tightly hugging the ghost plush in her arms. "...It all went wrong..." she whispered, repeating the same words she said to Veronica once she told the truth. Rowena took notice of this, and pulled her into a side hug.

"That day, I saw how afraid you were when Reverie died. How furious Maribel was. I didn't know what to do when you ran away." Rowena frowned at the memory. "We ended up separating from each other, if you're wondering where the others are. Some felt you had the right idea, that standing by and doing nothing wouldn't help preserve order. Others had conflicting interests,"

"And you three?"

Rowena shrugged. "We had different reasons, but it was mostly to find you. she turned to face Maura. "Don't get me wrong, Mari and Lauren have understandable reasons, but I didn't want them to hurt you."

"Wait." Maura furrowed her brows. "I get Maribel's contempt, but what's Lauren got to do with this?"

Rowena shrugged again, looking unamused. "She's the Witch of Order, what else did you expect."

"Good point."

The two began to walk around as they talked, occasionally stopping to look through the windows of buildings. "Well, I guess my next question is: Why aren't you at the party? Things got alot more interesting back there." Rowena tilted her head.

Maura sighed. "Other than avoiding a second lynching from our sisters, I don't want to ruin the party for my agents any more than I already have." she'd glance at the lodge, and back to Rowena with a comical look. "Besides if a bar fight breaks out, I don't wanna deal with that shit."

The taller girl chuckled. "Understandable, but are you sure you'd want to skip out?

"I'll be fine, Rowena. I've spent Christmas alone before and it never bothered me."

Rowena crossed her arms. "You were always too busy gathering souls to join us."

Maura smiled. "And you'd always save my presents for me to get later. Not to mention a slice of cake."

"You were always fond of red velvet.

The both of them giggled at the memory. "I missed you, y'know?"

"Yeah, I missed you too." Maura checked her phone for any new messages. Her smile faded when she looked back at the most recent one. Why did she have to text her now of all times?

"Oh, the Lord of Change dragged you into it too?" Rowena asked, having looked over to see what she was bothered by.

The Witch of Death rose a brow. "Dragged into what?"

"Some sort of game. Whoever wins gets reunited with old friends even if they're dead."

Maura's eyes widened. If that were true, Cereza and Cerise could come back, even if for a day. Or even the past Witch of Dreams! But that'd only be if they messaged someone. Then again, they might not be so lucky. "Who messaged you?"

"One of our old coven members, all three of us. Guess yours is a friend?" Rowena explained.

Maura looked back down at the phone. "....I don't know."

They stopped walking then and there. "Well, if you don't want to be a part of the party, you could atleast try and get your friend here. Right?"

The smaller girl's eyes widened. She violently shook her head. "No, no, no, no, no! Who says she isn't as mad as the others?!"

Rowena thought for a moment, before grinning. "Who says she will be angry? Besides, there's the chance that you won't be one of the winners. So why not risk it? You've always trusted your instincts, what do they say?"

Maura went silent in thought. She looked back to the lodge, and began running back. Until she saw Betty. "Fuck." Maybe her second lynching was quicker than she expected. Maybe she can still walk the other way if she hurried.

This is a collab now. Broken as Betty, of course.

“Is that how the new cradle mother greets her body guard?” Betty practically growled the words through her teeth. She didn’t stop advancing towards Maura. “I take it things went well between you and Silhouette? It looked like you were getting ready to return.”

Maura slowly turned to face Betty, her brows furrowed. She really didn't want to go through this again. Once was enough. "Why should I? Don't want to ruin your Christmas even more." It was tempting to snap at her, but what good would that do? It was probably obvious things didn't went well. At all. "I was only going back to play that Horror's game. That's all."

Rowena carefully walked up next to her as soon as she saw Betty. "..." she looked between the two, before waving at the bodyguard. Looks like she went back to being silent for the moment.

She didn’t even react to Rowena’s appearance, focusing squarely on her lady. “The horror’s game, huh?” Betty shoved her hands into her pockets. “Well go on, I’m not going to stop you.” She took a deep breath and walked past Maura, not doing as much as glancing at her as she walked by.

The cradle mother's expression cracked into a frown once Betty was unable to see it. Regardless, she'd continue walking back to the lodge, Rowena following next to her. Her sister would gently pat her back, looking over to Betty once.

Betty continued to walk until she arrived at one of the many Christmas trees around Dan’s islands. She reached out with one of her mitten clad hands and placed it on the base of the tree, rubbing some of the snow off of it. She looked over her shoulder to make sure there was no one in sight. Once she confirmed she was alone, Betty broke down and cried. The gentle howl of the winter islands masking her sobs.

Rowena frowned, and whispered to Maura. "Say something to her..."

"And what, make things worse..!?" Maura whisper-yelled back. "You saw what happened back there..!" she took a tired breath, pinching the bridge of her nose. "I'm gonna participate in the Lord's game. Then I'm leaving..." there was a hint of remorse in her voice. Before she stepped inside, she tried to see what Betty was thinking.

Veronica’s magicom network allowed for wordless communication between agents, but like any microphone, it could also be used to listen in on thoughts. At least if you were Maura. It wasn’t exactly a tool to diagnose people’s emotions or see the emotional well being of agents. It was more a tool for communication during operations and a way of keeping tabs on spies that might try to under mind her operation.

It did let Maura tap into her agents senses, run through their photographic memory, and listen to their inner voice. It was hard to tell what Betty was looking at because her vision had been distorted with tears. However, she was repeating something in her head like a mantra.

I failed.

I failed her, and she has left. Not even a goodbye. My only friends have left with her, and there hasn’t been a post on cradle net for days. We are being replaced. She has replaced Veronica, and I have been replaced by Justine. I do not know why a snake like her is replacing me. They spend all their time together, they came to the party without Silhouette and I, and she dotes over her.

Justine is weak and feeble. Without Father, she is nothing. How could Maura be blind to this? I cannot even have a proper catharsis with such a meek individual. She did so many horrible things to everyone, to me. I have no idea what the Mint made me do, what was done to me. Does Maura think this is forgivable?

I cannot even talk to her. She avoids me to play games with horrors. We have been replaced. I am nothing. Because I failed.


Enough.

As Maura listen to Betty's inner thoughts, her grip on the doorknob trembled. Rowena asked if she was alright, but she couldn't hear her. Or it was cause it didn't matter.

Enough.

Maura gritted her teeth in an attempt to stay calm. She walked away from the door, and began following after Betty. She started off walking normally, then broke off running, sprinting even.

Enough.

Betty could hear her approaching. Before the bodyguard could turn her direction, Maura would tackle her into a hug. No matter the type of reaction, she'd notice something unexpected.

Maura was crying.

What’s going on?!?!?

Betty was blinded by her own tears, so her entire body trembled when she was surprise tackled by Maura. She was practically rolled through the snow. She raised one of her hands and found Maura’s torso, at which point she returned the hug. Betty didn’t rise from her knees, and the two continued to cry together.

"N-Never think that you're a failure, got it?! N-None of you are failures!!" Maura sniffled. "It's my fault for being so stupid! I-I don't deserve to be concidered your leader, I didn't even ask for it!" For once, her deep breaths proved useless. How long had it been since she cried? She burried her face into Betty's shoulder. "Damn that Horror, I don't even deserve to face Veronica after this!!"

Meanwhile Rowena would stay out of it. She'd stand by, just in case, but she knew it was a personal matter.

Eventually, Betty got in control of her breathing again. ”Maura?” Her voice cracked. ”I don’t really understand what’s going on. But it’s nice to know I’m not worthless.” She wiped her eyes. ”Sorry for making you feel bad. That’s not something a body guard should do.”

"I-It's alright." Once she was calmed down enough, Maura rubbed the remaining tears out of her eyes. "The last thing I want is any of you to feel like you're nothing." She sighed. "I still have to make up with Samantha later. Well, if I can." Maura hugged her knees, and looked back up to Betty.

"Your feelings are all understandable, truely. I won't force you guys to work with Justine. Just...give her time to atone. She may be meek now, but I'm confident she'll be a good agent eventually." Maura explained, ending with a tired chuckle. "Some patron I am, huh? Acting on intuition rather than reasoning." she shook her head. "Not to mention I'm a bloody hypocrite."

”Maura.” Betty was still holding onto her shoulders. ”You don’t have to put yourself down to make everyone around you feel okay. You don’t have to ask people to punch you or stay out of our way. I’m suppose to protect you. If you’re worthless, I’m worthless.” She sighed. ”Just-” She cleared her throat. ”Involve us in what you’re doing. You don’t have to be as amazing as Veronica. Just, just use us. Don’t leave us to rot. I don’t know why Veronica handed Cradle to you, but she must have seen something that made her think it was a good idea.”

Maura managed to get her smile back. "Don't worry. I wont leave you all behind."

”Alright.” Betty stood back up and helped Maura to her feet. ”That’s part of your coven, right?” She drew one of her katanas, which was a candy cane now thanks to Dan’s magic. ”I’ll make sure nothing happens to you.”

"...Oh now you notice me?" Rowena gave Betty an unamused pout.

"Heyeyey, this one's harmless! She just came out to check on me! Besides it's kinda hard for me to avoid all three of them while we're here!" Once Maura had quickly explained, she motioned for the other witch to come over. "Betty, this is Rowena. The Witch of Life, and my actual sister." The taller girl would bow politely as she was introduced.

”Sorry about earlier! I had a lot on my mind. I’m Betty Barton, but my friends just call me Betty, or Betty Biohazard if they’re feeling spicy.” Betty did a curtsy. ”My lady says you’re okay.” She waved her candy cane around. ”But I’ve got my eye on your sisters.”

"Understandable, Miss Barton." Rowena smirked, a hand in her jacket pocket. "Maribel can be unpredictable if unchecked. Anyways, you can't keep your friends waiting any longer, can you? I'll catch up later." she winked.

Betty took Maura by the hand and walked towards the lodge. ”I don’t want you to get the wrong idea.” Betty had switched over to magicoms. ”I doubt I’ll ever trust Justine. But I’m going to believe that you’re going to work closer with us moving forward.”

"Understood."

Soon as the two went back to the lodge, Rowena would linger outside for awhile longer. Using her wood magic to gather some flowers before heading back herself.
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.:⋮Total snow-fare⋮:.

Penny noted the fact that all of the girls in this snowball fight knew her. She noted the comradery between them all, the posturing of the Fey looking, the desire to challenge from the draconic one, the desire to talk from the lizard one.

She noted it, and for the moment simply ignored it, and while she ignored it, she would dance across the battle field, reveling in the physicality of it all. She was always in motion, dodging around incoming snow fire, sometimes even catching the offending snowball just to throw it back at the one who targeted her in the first place. Her throws were fast, accurate, and seemingly never ending. Yet she was only one person. And it was only a matter of time until some hits landed.

But Penny didn’t care, and slowly the Queen of Penrose relaxed more and more. With that relaxation, she became ever more dangerous. A particularly strong hit would knock her into the snow, and from the powder seven Penny’s would rise up. The squad of Penny’s would work together flawlessly. Two would start building a fort of their own. Two would blitz out continuing the mobile assault from earlier. The last three would stay where they rose and quickly begin raining an unending flood of Snowballs from their position. Ice was continuously forming new snowballs for the three artillery position girls, in addition there were small sprites that were gathering and forming snowballs as well that would suddenly appear to assist Penny as well.

It didn’t take long to realize that Penny was, by herself, more or less stealing the ideas of everyone else in the battle. Add on top of that her already proven physical advantage and it wasn’t hard to see how she could handle more or less charging into this ‘conflict’ without any backup.

It was total chaos.

Then MDP and her friends arrived. One of the ‘Hit-and-run’ Penny’s would build a small mound of snow for cover nearby her hyperactive girlfriend before replying. “The More the merrier!” She would pop up from behind the small fortification to let fly a few snowballs “You three teaming up with me or just sticking together?” She would ask, a playful gleam in her eye.

Aighorost’s arrival was noted, as was the untraceable text that Penny recived. She resolved to ignore both. Mika was an acquaintance at best, and an enemy at worst depending on how Penny wanted to view things and she knew better than to trust a damned Horror.





-=ƎDoll acquisitionE=-

”Thank you, Mariette” Aurelio would say as the small girl popped away. Tucking the small Unicorn under his hat for safe keeping.

Aurelio was typing….

Abigail got a text from Aurelio!
“Yeah, we are still together. In fact, we are currently on a date in Dan’s dimension again! It’s all wintery this time, sorry you couldn’t make it, lots of familiar faces here at the moment.

But how are you doing? Heard that you went north. Sorry I wasn’t able to say good bye, but I hope things are going good for you up there.”





<<Not enough PC status>>

“Why wouldn’t I?” Viva would reply with a smirk “The wicked always have more fun” She would say a bit teasingly. She was about to say more when the Horror showed up, and she couldn’t help but throw a withering glare at the abomination. She liked the whip wielder.

“Viva” She would introduce herself to Maribel with a pout, still glaring at the Lord of Change. She had thought of such a good follow up line for Lauren before it’s interruption.

She would tuck a Spider plushie away into her Hammerspace, not giving the gifter a second look.



@PlatinumSkink, @Ponn, @Majoras End & [@Broken Promise] & @Majoras End
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Shion had sat down in a corner, holding her new stuffed dragon close and trying to take a nap.



Summer opened her mouth, paused, then closed it. She didn't get any sort of vibe from this girl. Sure, why not?

"I don't know how to answer that question." She replied in a depressed tone with strong undertones of repressed anger. "I don't know how to make this last longer, either."

...

Inertia is a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force. It is also a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged. It can be summarized as resistance to change in some other physical property. It is what is currently forcing me to make a short diatribe on what it is so that I can pad out okay good she's not looking anymore POST POST IT

@BrokenPromise
1x Laugh Laugh
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Alicia nodded along as Kimble suggested taking a tour of the island. "Well it is Dan's realm. I can't imagine he'd deliberately make a place that looked bad. At least without a request to do so." Maybe there were people who enjoyed that sort of thing. But for now she would expect the picture of holiday cheer while they were here. That was what they had gotten during the beach vacation after all.

Before they could leave, Dan appeared. Also Maura left, followed by some of her cohorts, but Alicia could only spare a bit of sympathy for her. Cradle business was Cradle business. It was on her to keep her people under control.

For now she turned back to listen as Dan made his host greeting. Dinner was good, though the entree list sounded a bit unusual. The return of Keijo earned a lofted eyebrow, though she supposed she shouldn't be surprised. How did that even work in winter? Beyond that it was typical snow activities, with prizes for participation. She should probably find it sad that those were needed, but it wasn't as if Dan was using the money. So she merely nodded along.

Glancing over at Justine once Dan was done, Alicia decided to avoid that particular meeting too. It wasn't as if Justine needed more people to hassle her, and what was there to say? 'Sorry that the attack didn't work out, I know you planned to betray us but it's okay because I panned to betray you first'? Ridiculous.

For now she turned back to Kimble, whilst others filed out of the lodge. "Shall we?" With that she stepped outside into the snowy town. Almost immediately they were confronted by a fairly sizable snowball fight, though most of the snowballs were aimed away from the lodge at the moment. The fact that Penny was in it though was not much of a surprise.

"Looks like they're really getting into it," she noted to Kimble. "It might be wiser to err on the side of caution first. Should we do our sightseeing tour first?'

@Ariamis
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“Money money money we like to party. I know you hate it ‘cuz I bank with everybody, ”

— Oros


Oros, Eliza, and Emily were all enjoying the eggnog as the party happened all around them. The beast girl in particular had better impulse control now that she wasn’t a monster, but holding back on what seemed like a near infinite supply of “the nog” proved to be impossible. She had drank her daily calorie requirement in eggnog alone.

“Don’t worry about Samantha or Betty, I’m sure they’ll be fine.” Oros hugged her friends closer. She still had a firm grip on both of her mugs of eggnog. “It’s easy to get blue during the Christmas season. Why do you think they celebrate so much? Just ignore everyone’s problems, that’s what they’re suppose to be doing!”

Like most people, Oros was not above listening in on conversations. It wasn’t something she did on purpose (usually) but if someone in an area mentioned one of Oros’s trigger words, it would cause her ears to perk up a little bit higher. And that had most certainly happened.

“Hmm.”

Once the offender made themselves scarce, Oros’s grin swiftly returned. “Well silver is good, but we really gotta make sure we get those gold coins!” She looked between her friends. “We need to chase down a hairbringr and do some Keijo, because I guess there wasn’t enough of that this season.” Oros took a step backwards. “Yea, we should be able to catch some floof. Keijo we could do one on one or two on two. If you girls were both interested in that, someone owes me a favor.” She looked at a very specific magical girl at the lodge. “Isn’t that right, Shion?”

@Majoras End@FamishedPants@DarkwolfX37






”A girl with meta tendencies? Must have copied Oros!”

— Aria


”Ara ara~ <3!”

Believe it or not, but Aria, that merchant in the overcity, was pretty excited about the prospect of earning money while playing games. Though she was talking to someone who had yet to give her name.

”I was just asking what brought you to the Christmas party. I’m not too familiar with all the girls in Penrose. As for making it ‘last longer,’ are you saying you have difficulty keeping conversations going?”

That annoying girl from earlier leaned into the conversation. “You could try reacting to stuff that’s happening around you or inner monologing. If you want to make it interesting I’m afraid that’s outside my area of expertise.”

Aria sighed when Oros retracted her head. ”Right well-” She smiled. ”There’s gold to be earned. Did you want to try keijo or catching fluff balls?”






”I’ve been using the wrong color code all this time REEEEEEEE!”

— Betty “Biohazard” Barton


Between getting angry at Justine and having a breakdown, Betty felt pretty empty in the moment. Like she had exhausted all of her emotions and had nothing left to feel.

Maura was definitely a more caring person than Veronica ever was, but where Veronica felt like an immovable rock that could weather any storm, Maura was a tumbleweed bouncing with the current. She did have a lot sprung on her, and perhaps Betty was being unreasonable to expect her new boss to be like Veronica. As great as Veronica was, she ultimately chose to hand everything over to Maura. Betty knew that Maura could likely read her thoughts, but it was really difficult not to focus on the differences between the two.

Fortunately, something else would occupy her thoughts shortly. There were the money earning events, which partially interested Betty, and also…

”Kate?” Betty’s trembling hand could barely hold onto the phone. With everything going on, she couldn’t react properly. Her eyes turned to the elephant horror in the room.






“Imagine touching Mika’s boobs and regarding her as an acquaintance/rival when she sends you a text for pizza and chill.”

— Lord of Change


Aside from the Lord of Change’s pulsing external organs, they made no attempt to address any of the questions that were aimed at it. Several seconds passed by where it might have seemed like the entity hadn’t heard anything that had been asked of it.

“Has it been a week yet?” The Lord of change looked to Mia, swinging it’s entire body in her direction. The abomination’s massive, beautiful face was just a few feet away from hers. It spoke with all of it’s voices. “Asking a horror for knowledge is often ill advised for reasons you can probably understand. Surely an entity such as myself — one that can bend causality and logic at a whim — should have no problem with the temporary resurrection of a loved one?” There was no malice or aggravation in the horror’s voice. “I have no intention of resurrecting anyone as a mere demonstration. Who would kill them once I brought them into this world? I’m taking my chances with the rule’s of magic as is. If you doubt my abilities, play to get one of your living friends here instead. It might be more productive in the long run.”

With Mia addressed, the Lord of Change looked to Hilaria. “The game isn’t too difficult to grasp. In fact…”

Everyone would recieve another text, this time it would be from a mysterious sender. Not reading the text simply wasn’t optional, as it would override anything the users were doing on them at the moment.

The last text you received was an effect of the Christmas magic that permeates this place. There are no cell towers, and they are unlikely to receive your text if you sent one.

This was simply to draw your attention to a game I’m hosting. I will explain the game now:


The texts would then end in a video URL that played what was presently happening in the lodge around the Lord of Change.

“All you need to participate is the name of someone you’d like to join the party. You then simply text their name to me, and they will be added to one of these cards.” They reached into the cage spinner and pulled out one of the cards to show everyone. “The cards will be divided into batches, and the batches will then be spun separately. A single winner will be taken from each batch, who will join the party. The only requirement is that they are part of the magical world: a patron or the servant of a patron. They need not be alive. Though do keep in mind that regardless of where they are, that is where they will return when the party ends.” The Lord of Change tossed the card back into the spinner. “I see no reason to dally here. Text your requests and I will fill out the cards. Now.”

Please read the OOC post if you plan on participating.

[@everyone lolz]
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Moving along with Mai, Shane listened to the information on how the game worked. So the text he got wasn't necessarily from Regina. Or it was but perhaps compelled given that there were texts coming in from people that couldn't have sent them. That considered he began to lose interest in whatever it was going on. "I think I'll pass and leave spots open for others." Were circumstances different he might have tried to see how his friend was doing. She was still around in the real world though so push come to shove a call or trip would remedy that. Those that were lost did not have such a luxury.


Being taken outside to the battle, Melisa looked around at the madness. There were a number of groups flinging snowballs at each other. And then there was the one girl army that was Penny. Watching the ruthless efficiency of Penny was something of a turn off for the doll girl. Pummeling an opponent into submission didn't sound fun. She was also beginning to pick up a pattern to the robotic girl's behavior. "I don't like this game. I think I'll try and catch one of those cute bunnies." Taking the reigns she would turn to walk off with her turtle. A magical girl she may be, but her driving motive wasn't really combat.
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Okay, so backwards establishment. Deni probably learned Su left at some point in the time-skip. She’ll have been very sad and tried calling Su to talk about it, and if she failed sent a text message. Mostly just wanting to know why directly from Su, that way she can be more fine about it.

When Loc here says those who arrive through his game need not be alive, Deni freaks out a little, because Su isn’t dead, right? Loc can confirm she indeed isn’t dead. Deni’s relieved, considers for a bit if she wants to vote for Su or not, because if Su’s picked maybe someone else loses the chance to remeet some dead person they could otherwise never meet again. However, she figures that the more the merrier, if more people vote more people will be coming to the party, and it would be cool if Su could make it, and as such she votes for her with the additional message that “Helga can come with her!”.




It’s in the middle of the snow-battle, with Penny growing fiercer by the second and more people joining. Freya was the one who was actually able to keep up with Penny’s physical capability, not even Mayra could do that (due to Mayra having invested a bit in magic, too). Anyway, eventually she noticed she had a phone in one of her pockets. Freya lifted it, and-

‘…!’

Proceeded to throw the phone into a tree over there with her full gigantic strength where it promptly broke into pieces, Freya’s eyes wide. From that moment, she no longer could participate in the snowball fight and had to run off. She was left gasping a bit in the forest, before she grunted and went off to search for a single individual. She found her sitting behind a tree playing a game on her phone.

‘I received a text-message. Track down where it came from,’ Freya commanded her, deeply frowning.

‘That’s usually easier if you don’t break the phone. Fortunately, I already know who sent it,’ the girl replied, rolling her shoulders a bit. ‘There’s a horror playing a game. Send him a text message, and you enter a lottery in which you may have a reunion with someone from your past. The person need not be alive. They’ll return to where they were before after this event. The text was an appetizer, meant to get your attention. A second message, that I guess you never saw, explained the rules. So, who was it that texted you?’ she asked, peering up at Freya. Freya grunted, and looked away.

‘… A long dead ally from my homeworld. A… very close friend…’ Freya muttered.

‘So here’s your chance to bring her back from the dead for a short time. Maybe. Why not go for it?’ the girl asked.

‘… It’s not that simple. The monsters were the enemy. Now, I am the monster. She’d see me as an enemy. That and…’ Freya grunted. ‘… I don’t see how seeing her again would help. Astrid’s dead, so her experience doesn’t matter. It would be purely for myself if I were to try to get her back. I can’t see how that could possibly be anything but just painful for me,’ she muttered, unconvinced and uneasy.

‘That, or it could be a cathartic moment of healing. Wasn’t that what that boy told you? Heck, you’d never have opened up to me like this before you spoke to him,’ the other girl said, poking on her phone.

Freya frowned. Indeed, that’s what that boy had said. That her impression of things was all wrong, that she was the one who hadn’t grown up yet. The idea frustrated her, yet…

‘… Geh. Fine. I’ll try it…’ she eventually gave in.

The other girl smirked, and handed Freya a new phone, using which she could send the text-message to the horror…

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”There’s just enough of me to go around.”

— Binky


Some people might think Binky felt left out by not being at the party, but they would be thinking wrong. As delightful as a sip of eggnog with Betty would be, she hadn’t exactly enjoyed her vacation in the beech dimension. With her luck, the lower half of her body would be frozen in an ice cube, and she wouldn’t have enough mana to thaw herself out. No, it was best she remained here. It was just a shame she couldn’t be there to comfort Betty.

Just as well. Someone had to manage the hotel. Of course, that was well under way thanks to Binkies many clones. There wasn’t a lot of things for her to do. It was kind of upsetting, really. Ever since Binky became a magical girl, she had pretty much been slaving away making coins. Under veronica, she made coins, under beacon, she made coins, and even now she was working on coins. IT was a shame she couldn’t do anything else. She hadn’t ever slain a monster before, and Sammy chasing her was the closest she had gotten to a real fight. Even if the red coin helped a few people, she felt like she wasn’t doing enough. Even when Betty got captured, there was nothing Binky could do to really help her. Some outside girl ended up getting her back.

Binky picked up a red coin, examining it. She wanted so badly to use it, but Betty had already said she liked Binky just the way she was. But why? Who could possibly like someone so pathetic? Was Betty’s comment just a result of Stockholm syndrome, or was there something worthwhile for her to do here?

*knock knock*

Binky had locked herself away in her room. She was pretty sure no one had even seen her enter the door. Maybe if she just ignored it-

*knock knock*

It wasn’t Oros, she’d just invite herself inside. Same with Aria. Betty could teleport through the gap in the door. Maybe it was a confused guest? All she had to do was wait and-

*knock knock*

No, no it wasn’t possible. Had the Mint discovered her location? She lifted up her covers and prepared to climb under the bed. Before she could start, a voice called out to her.

”Binky.” The stranger’s voice caused the entire room to tremble, but she sounded like a relaxed sigh. Almost as if she was whispering directly into her ear. ”We haven’t met. But, Oros told me, you were here.” She breathed out.

Binky remembered Oros talking about a special guest. She sighed and turned towards the door. ”What do you want? I’m busy.”

”Bro.” She exhaled again. ”I want, to get paid, for my job.” there was a slow inhale from the other side of the door. ”You’re weak, Binky. But you want, to be strong, right?”

The coin forger folded her arms. ”I made the red coin, but I choose not to use it. If I want to get stronger-”

”Bro.” The stranger inhaled again. ”Transforming, is like, just one way to change, man.” Binky was pretty sure there was some golden smoke lealing into the room from under the door. ”Fast results, aren’t like, lasting, results. You can, get stronger, without coins.”

Binky was skeptical of the stranger’s words, but her interest had been piqued. As soon as she flicked the lock, the door creeked open.

”Ahhh.”

What walked in was some white haired girl with a body suit and the largest dart gun Binky had ever seen. And some stuff happened after this, but BP’s writing software took a big ol’ dump on him again. He has figured out why this keeps happening to him though, so that is good. Regardless, he’s not going to write out the rest of this scene again. We’ve got some other shizzle to frizzle!






“I was happy once, I’ll never do that again.”

— Lord of Change


Most of the magical girls present were hungrily sending texts to the Lord of Change. Each sent one caused a card to appear and fall into a pile. Even some late arrivals at the party were playing the game. Pac-a-fist had taken the day off to join in the magical girl fun, and someone else was sending a text as well. Even Aria’s familiar Rupy had taken out a cell phone and was texting on it.

”I can’t believe you would vote against me, Rupy. After all we’ve been through!”

The texting spree was over and done with pretty quickly. The lodge became deathly quiet as the Lord of Change lifted their head and glanced at those present.

“A total of 25 votes.” The Lord of Change cast their hand towards the cage spinner, and the pile shuffled itself into 5 neat stacks. “A number that can be divided by 5 easily enough. We will spin each of these piles separately, and a single winner will be drawn from each one.”

The cage spinner made no noise as it spun. The crackling fireplace was the only thing that could be heard as the first batch of cards were tossed. When the cage spinner stopped, the Lord of Change picked the card off the top, examined it, and placed it in a separate pile. The remaining cards turned to ashen dust and seeped through the bottom of the cage.

The second spin behaved much the same way. A single card was drawn while the rest turned to dust.

Then there was the third spin, and everything looked good until the Lord of Change pulled out a card. “While I have the ability to manifest anyone I wish in this space, not everyone wishes to be here. Katelyn’s card will be discarded for this reason.”

As the card turned to ash in the horror’s hands, Betty looked to the floor and balled her hand into a fist. But she could do little else to protest.

“Should this happen twice in a batch, all the votes will be discarded.” The remaining 4 cards were tumbled again. It felt a bit longer than last time. Some of the magical girls leaned in as the Lord of Change drew the next card. “Much better.”

The next two cage rolls were much like the first two, without the drama of an unusable card.

“We have our five winners.” The Lord of Change tossed the cards out in a perfect fan. Each one turned into a swirling portal, and someone started to step through. “Conflagrations to Eliza, Magical Dream Princess, Hilaria, Pac-a-fist, and Maribel. Your wishes have come true, if only for the duration of the party.” The Lord of Change swelled in size, gaining an extra foot or two on top of their height. “Though perhaps I am the real winner for being allowed to partake in the dark emotions permeating this party. Regardless, I bid you all adieu.” And with that, the horror vanished without a trace. Not even the cage spinner remained. All that was left was the plush that Mariette had handed it earlier.

Tetrad wandered through the first portal, wearing a pretty generic santa suit. Very tame for how she usually dresses. ”Wow, I didn’t think that would work!” Tetrad looked at everyone. ”Well hello everyone! Some fairy girl handed me a ticket to this party, so here I am!” She she casually approached the other cradle agents, but was stopped in her tracks by what happened next. The smug grin of a party girl was quickly replaced by a look of shock. ”No way…”

Cerise came out of the next portal. Needless to say, anyone who knew her knew she was very dead. Tetrad was one of the few who saw her body committed to the earth.

Next was, uh, “Justine.” We’ll just let Famished take it from there.

The fourth portal actually had two people, a boy and a girl. They looked oddly familiar. Two red-headed twins.

”Oh wow! There’s a lot of people here!” The girl said. ”You like crowded parties, don’t you?”

”Bet your ass I do!” The boy’s eyes scanned everyone with a particular hunger in them.

”Elroy!” Pac-a-fist chirped before diving into the boy’s arms.

”Gamer girl!” He chuckled. ”Yea, let’s you and I take a walk.”

The girl shrugged her shoulders. ”We you have fun! I’m going to finish decorating the garage!” And with that, the girl vanished through the portal.

The last portal contained a coven sister of some kind. I dunno, I didn’t ask a lot of questions. You do the thing, Majora.

[@everyone lolz]

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After a brief chat with the Norse god, Kayli took her leave. She would see that several others would go and speak with the former horror girl. Judging by the reaction of Justine they were not pleasant words. Others left to join in various activities and as the cabin emptied out and many others moved on the Keeper stepped up and laid a hand on the other’s shoulder.

”Hanging in there?” She would ask with a calming tone.

Justine fidgeted from Kayli’s touch, not having expected her to come so close to her.

”...Was that a bat joke?” She asked, looking at her with a morose expression while holding her bat plushie.

”The people here hate me, and for good reason. Even Mistress Maura left me...”
She looked down at the table.
”...I saw Mariette too. I don't know what to do.

With a light frown the white haired girl shook her head. ”Apologies. Poor choice of words on my part.” She offered a smile and took a seat. Looking around the room she would stay silent for a minute or so as she collected her thoughts. ”Maura has a lot to deal with. Give her time to work things out with her agents.” She would reassure the girl.

Turning her attention directly to Justine she would continue. ”Everyone else does not understand what has happened to you. Who you were died in that dimension much like how Janet has given way in order to fulfil a greater purpose. You will have the chance to prove yourself. Of anyone you could exemplify that the blackest of hearts can change to become a light in the darkness. That was her wish. The question then is, shall you embrace it?”

Justine nodded weakly, and looked at her plushie.
”...How did you do it, Janet?"
She asked as she looked at her.
”How did you free me from my curse? Father had bound me deeply to his bloodthirsty darkness, yet you managed to overcome that. It's...well, amazing."

Rather than continue speaking out loud, she changed over to telepathy. Being completely open about what she knew wasn’t wise just yet. ”After Janet returned she was still a monster girl. She was given a gift that inspired her to seek out the knowledge to give others the same opportunity. Finding that knowledge she worked with Beacon in order to produce purifying items. Those were met with mixed results in the community. Yours was particularly potent in order to free you from Father’s grasp just as Janet had been.”

Looking down she held up a hand and it glowed with light magic. ”Perhaps overreached in order to find further purification, Janet became a vessel for the magic she sought and was ultimately transformed and replaced by myself. I do not consider myself to be Janet in the same way, though I possess her knowledge as well as the knowledge of an acquaintance of yours, Cindy Ford. You may call me Kayli, the Keeper of the Keys.” Dispelling the magic she would offer a hand to Justine to shake, letting her take the initiative if she chose to take it.

”Incredible..." Justine mused. She hesitated at first with her hand as she peered upon the glowing hand. Then, she took a deep breath, and took the hand in a handshake.
”Nice to meet you, Kayli."

With a smile she patted Justine’s shoulder. ”You as well. As I said, I believe you have the chance to prove you aren’t the same person. It will be difficult, and I will do my best to assist where I can.”

”Yeah..." She glanced over at the other party guests; some had left outside to engage in snow activities, while others stayed to converse and enjoy the refreshments.
She frowned.
”Now I just have to figure out how."

She would change back to telepathy. ”Perhaps you could provide some information to help those from the past. Those that have been taken deserve to be returned. Perhaps even information on those that Mariette took in the past. They as well are yet still being held” She would inquire.

Justine had a pained expression upon hearing Kayli's suggestion.
”Oh...Them. I let Sonia handle the list for them. It must have been destroyed alongside the castle..."
She hung her head.
"I'm sorry, but I honestly can't remember their names. I was irresponsible in my conceit."

Suppose that made sense. ”As far as I know, Sonia is still out there somewhere. Do you think contacting her would be helpful?” She wasn’t really sure how their relationship was. From what she remembered it was one of subservience.

Justine shook her head. "She would try to bring me back to Father, knowing him. He had bent both of our minds to his will. But while I was freed, she is still under that influence. I need to free her, before she does something horrible..."

That was when Justine noticed someone approach the table she and Kayli were sitting at. She put a hand to her mouth, her eyes wide in shock, as she recognized the magical boy.
”A-Alexander?"

Memories flashed before her eyes, of the time when she was confronted by him at the top of the castle, his anger like a blazing flame. She remembered mocking him for his beliefs, ridiculing him in her bouts of madness. He was the one who rescued Lily, and in turn paved the way for her defeat on that night of the blood moon.
Justine turned her head away, averting her eyes; she prepared herself for being yelled at...But instead he greeted her, without so much as a word of discontent. She blinked as she glanced back at him, and found herself taken aback by his genuine surprise.

”W-Well...It’s a long story," she admitted.
”But the short version is that I’m finally myself again. Not...The crazy girl who kidnapped Lily." She then glanced at Kayli, wondering if she was going to say anything, and then noticed the results for the avatar’s game had arrived. Justine did not participate in it, not taking any kind of risk to participate in something held by an aspect of any kind of Horror.
”Anyway, how are you doing, Alexander? Have things gone well with, um, Lily?" She asked, trying to start some small talk as a step towards her new life.
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