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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by KoL
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KoL Knight of Lorelei

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"Now that the formalities are concluded, I'll fill you in on your first mission as teams," Mako said as soon as the director was done with the explanations. She made a brief pause to pick a stack of papers from a nearby desk before continuing. "However, before that, I'd like to inform you that our mystics division ran some preliminary analysis on the rocks delivered by Mr. Kazemitsu. While their origins and purpose are still unknown to us, it seems like they are capable of reacting to your Hunter auras, or the power in your tools. This reaction causes a noticeable decline of the demonic power imbued on the rocks. In other words, it seems that you are capable of purifying them with prolonged contact. Please, keep that information in mind, it might be of use in the future."

"With that out of the way, we have two locations you are expected to investigate after you are rested and ready," Mako said as she clicked a button on a remote laid on the desk, causing the lights to dim and a projector to fire up, showing a map with two locations very close to one another marked.

"The first one is the lakeside trail of an old park. We heard reports of strange sights in the area, thankfully, no one was attacked yet, but we want you to go there and smoke out the source of the problem before it escalates."

"The next one is a shrine located uphill from the park. The ancient sealing stones there have been disturbed twice in a single week. Faint traces of demonic power have been found on both occasions but no sight of the culprit has ever been confirmed. We want you to stage an ambush and deal with whatever, or whoever might be behind it."

"Given the nature of the jobs—and the expected collateral damage—Beniha's team will be handling the park, and Mai's team will take care of the temple. The locations are close enough that you may be able to assist one another if the need arises."

"That's all we had for you. You are free to rest for the night and take care of the missions tomorrow. If there are no more questions, you can take your leave now," Mako finally said, announcing that the meeting had finally been concluded.

※ ※ ※

Meanwhile at the demon's gathering place. The snake-like girl continued to observe the meeting silently. Her eyes darted from the human to Shika. A curious glare shone on them as she observed how the demon seemed to have successfully roped everyone on her facade.

Maybe she didn't know what to say or was just playing the role of the group's introvert. The fact was that, as soon as the food rolled by, one of her snakes reached forth and picked a sample. And then, the dark mass of hair gulped it down, before licking its lips with a forked tongue.

Hidden 4 mos ago Post by SilverPaw
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Hoshio Kikuchi

As he meandered around the crowded meeting room, Hoshio soon saw the woman he was looking for. Ah, there’s the little fire-starter. As he approached, he noticed her happily talking to another hunter, who turned out to be another of his team members. Handy, that.

“Evening, you two. Mind telling me your names? I haven’t been sent any files or anything, and I don’t know either of you yet…” Well, the red-haired lady was familiar; if he wasn’t mistaken, she was May or Mai or something. Though maybe that was just a nickname? No way he'd know for sure.

“Hmm, I don’t mind showing you around when there’s time,” he answered Mai’s question as he turned a displeased frown on Maria. “But first things first, Miss Firewings. If you do something so stupid as setting a whole building on fire again, I’m going to make sure you get zero pay. So keep that in mind whenever you feel like playing around again, huh?” Hoshio was obviously irritated, but after a headshake and a sigh, his weariness overcame his anger. He stretched his neck to the side with a creak, and retook a seat near the two women, facing ahead when Mako started her own speech.

“Hey, hear that? She said Mai’s team,” he whispered to Mai while Mako was still relaying her instructions. “Maybe she actually wants you to be the leader, hn? Feel like taking over?” he whispered, entirely willing to pass over the leadership, though his tone was teasing.

Hoshio rolled his shoulders with a soft crack. Ah, a massage would do wonders right about now. Instead of a relaxing break, they were just given another mission. Attacking a shrine…Bold. Have the seals not been maintained properly? Hoshio frowned as he ruminated until the end of the meeting. At Mako’s given permission to leave, he startled and suddenly stood up.

“Hey, you, did you hear that? An ambush. That means no fire, got it?” he turned to Maria, looking her over carefully. Honestly, he was slightly dubious she even knew the meaning of being stealthy, but since she was a pro, he wasn’t gonna needle her too much about it. “I’ll swing around here by noon tomorrow, so make sure I can find you. I’ll drive us to the park, then we can walk. We can have lunch beforehand though. I sure as hell will,” he explained, concluding with a shrug.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Flood
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Flood Cyber-Phantasy Knight

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Gods Play Dice With The Universe
It's Your Turn Now
Carnage One
Let's Samba!


Maria looked incredibly amused at Mai's obvious attempt to get rid of her, but the woman wasn't going to get Maria off her back that easily. Not if she had anything to say about it, and she most certainly did. "What a great idea Mai! We can all tour the building as a team building exercise!" She exclaims as she throws her arm around Mai's shoulders, a more than friendly smile on her face as she forcibly pulls the woman in closer to her. "I can already tell we're going to be great friends, si si!" This is the price you pay for ignoring Maria, she just latches onto you even harder. Pettiness at it's finest, and also how she made some of her best friends!

Ah, but here comes Major Party Pooper. Instantly Maria takes on a somewhat confused expression as she touches her index finger to her lip and tilts her head slightly, looking up at Hoshio with innocent eyes as he attempts to lecture her for the previous debacle at the warehouse. "I sorry, not familiar with ah... nihongo! Please be patient, speak Española!" She of course understood every word that he said just now, but he also had no way of proving this considering she was a foreigner after all. Thus she once again dodges the consequences of her actions. She just gives Hoshio an innocent smile as he reiterates his point about no fire, the look of someone who didn't understand a word he said but was doing her best to pretend she did understand! "Si si! No fire, got it!" She gives him a good ol thumbs up quickly and then stands from her chair, dragging Mai off to wherever she felt like so she could continue tormenting her new senior.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by dioscuri
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Mai rolled her eyes at Maria’s attempt to keep her involved when she clearly was not interested and slipped out of her arms. The foreign hunter could get a tour from one of their greeters; the DHA was not paying her enough to play tour guide. As soon as they were done with the pleasantries, she was going home. There was a bottle of sake calling her name after a night like tonight.

When Hoshio came over, Mai tried hiding her smile behind her teacup whilst he admonished Maria for her performance at their previous mission. Someone needed to call her out for her actions, especially if they had another mission so soon. They definitely did not need to catch a shrine on fire because they were not careful. “No. No. I think you’re better suited to deal with her than me,” she teased back, glancing over at Maria as she continued to listen to Mako’s announcement.

Before she could even respond to Hoshio, Mai found herself getting dragged out of the meeting room. She once again, slipped out of Maria’s grip before turning to the girl and glaring at her. “Bedrooms are that way.” She curtly addressed the hunter for the first time since they’ve met while pointing down one of the building’s many corridors. “I suggest you get some sleep before tomorrow morning. Good night.” Some might have called it running away, but Mai liked to think she was tactfully retreating from the South American hunter. After all, she too needed her rest before dealing with their new mission for tomorrow. Who knows what they were going to find. Mai had a feeling that whatever happened at the warehouse was only the start of something big.

Hidden 4 mos ago Post by TheWendil
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"Oh? But that... means.." Da-Xia is deep in thought at the Envoy's words. She ponders, her eyes gaze back and forth. She rises and strides over to the Envoy. And then, she goes for a hug.

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY! It is not everyday you achieve your big Zero!" After the hug, whether successful or not, she will begin clapping. "Ooooh oooh, what's the equivalent of the happy birthday song in Japanese?"

"Can you make cakes too?" Da-Xia asks Shika, overflowing with enthusiasm. It seemed that now that Da-Xia had jumped to the conclusion that "newly born" meant "today", nothing could stop Da-Xia for wanting to throw them a proper birthday.

"Tragic? You think so? I never really thought of it that way," said the Envoy to Hanako. She crossed her legs and propped her cheek into her knuckles with some expression of amusement or reflection. "I am but two hours old, so stuff like that's never crossed my mind, let alone those I speak for-ooof." And just like that she was grabbed, hugged by the Devil Hunter's living enthusiasm before Da-Xia settled back into some form of civilry. "Well, well, please take these treats from Shika as a toast then, for both our new member and my arrival," she mused, taking the one offered to her and "eating". Held in her hand, the tomato rapidly tore down into smaller and smaller pieces at an unnatural speed, as if it was being rewinded on an old tape. The Envoy didn't open her mouth at all, but did hum when the tomato sped itself into nothingness.

"The black rocks are the beginnings of a new demon," the Envoy said to the ghost girl. "In Japan I think you call it a...Youkai? The ones I speak for are frail and weak. It will take some time for them to manifest. They called out to you because you are the same, something not quite right with this world of humans. We're all strange, aren't we? I guess you can say, the ones I speak for called you all here because it wanted to reach out to those like them." The Envoy smiled and shrugged. "There are many of them, many rocks scattered in this city. Personally, I'd rather they be found by us then destroyed by someone like the DHA."

"Well," Shika laughed, "Making a cake from scratch would take a while, especially if it was a big one. Really though, Envoy, you should have told us ahead of time that you were having a baby."

That probably was not the case though. The curly-haired human leaned against the counter of the bar, sipping at their definitely-not-alcohol again as they toyed with the latest bits of news coming from the eyepatch-wearing devil. "So, these black rocks, are they like eggs that would burst into a bunch of little critters? Or do you need to collect them together to make a god-demon of obliteration?"

The delightful broth and noodles Limen had been treated to earlier — courtesy of Da-Xia — were still churning in his stomach. As such, the sight and scent of what was surely a delicious homemade dish did not quite cause hunger pangs from him. But it was still good manners to try some, so he took one or two tomatoes and plopped them in his mouth. Sweet and savoury; not bad.

Having fulfilled his obligation to the chef, Limen turned his attention back to the Envoy’s discussion. “Ah, that reminds me. I brought some of the rocks along. Doesn’t count as kidnapping, I hope? They’ve been a lot more docile now than back in the warehouse, so I think they’ve taken a liking to me.” A wave and a tug of his hand swiftly manoeuvred his backpack, still enclosed in its protective shielding, through the doorway. Setting it on the floor and at last doing away with the (perhaps excessive but still totally justifiable) barriers, he carefully slid out the chunk of demonic rock onto the bar top. “I saw a DHA fellow make off with some too, so they’re probably vivisecting it without anaesthesia as we speak.”

The bartender had the good grace to turn aside and cough, swallowing his resentment towards the rocks with the advent of their new residency in this lower dimension. Far be it from him not to empathize with the growing pains of struggling to this...confining, plane of existence. A subtle manipulation had the jars emptying their murky liquids into the bar's nearest sink, the faucet directly replacing hobo piss with cleaner water.

If he added the contents of an entire bottle of soap and overtly did a little flourish behind the bar to shake the concealed worried anyone, well, he was just giving the kids a bubble bath. Kids loved baths!

"Yeah, I've got some my own left over. Squeaky clean at no extra charge, as any good barman should." He nodded his congratulations to the Envoy, smirk broadening at Da-Xia's antics and a feigned attempt at Sleight of Hand seeing the rocks emerge from his sleeve and be tossed in an arc to land on the Envoy's couch. His other hand pocketed a tomato, keen to save a snack for later when he was alone with naight but the cold and corpses for company, and munched the other with a verbal pur of relish.

"Ahah, well, something like that. If that's the correct term for birth, then yes, I guess it would be the case," the Envoy said happily to Shika's question. "But it's the latter, not the former. For now, the rocks will just reside where they are so long as no one interacts with them. They seem to attract others of your kind though, so it's best to take them out of sight and out of mind." No doubt thoughts of the ghost-infested warehouse came to mind as well as the rocks' influence on supernatural creatures. Speaking of which, the Envoy was given such rocks by Limen and Rufus. "Nice~" Scooping up the ones Rufus tossed at her, she noted, as anyone else could, the glinted glow sheening the rocks as two of their kind were close now, the ones in her hand and the ones Limen deposited on the bar top.

"Well, I'm glad everything worked out. I got to joust a tree and it's somebody's birthday." Da-Xia seems fine with the situation.

Hanako wondered briefly what 'tragedy' was to a Demon if not Demon babies being hunted down and potentially killed in infancy, but it seemed a futile effort. Demons simply worked differently than Humans, physically, mentally, and emotionally. She wasn’t certain a demon was capable of empathizing as fully as she could. Or, for that matter, hating as thoroughly as she could hate.

She reached a short tangent about if Demons were philosophically even capable of being as monstrous as Humans due entirely to the fact that demons generally killed Humans out of necessity whereas Humans would kill other Humans for more disgusting and base reasons. This, however, was a dangerous line of thought because Hanako’s dual nature made her essentially the worst of both. Fueled by flesh, blood, hate, and fear.

Was she the most disgusting monster in the whole room? What, if not man itself, was-

“Oh! Japanese birthday songs,” Hanako piped up, looking to Da-Xia, “yeah, it’s the exact same as the one they sing in America except you have to use broken English. It sounds like ‘happi basudei to yuu’. It’s not super traditional, but it’s what everyone does so…”

Hanako shrugged before looking back to the Envoy.

“I guess it makes sense if they’re basically a baby demon. When a Human baby cries, their mother goes to help them. That’s how their brain is wired. Although nowadays, that ends up pretty counter-intuitive. In the information age, there can’t be a gathering of demons without someone finding out about it and investigating. They’re just lucky the DHA didn’t know what they were or how to handle them, otherwise that congregation would have been a straight death sentence.”

Hanako watched curiously as the rocks were gathered together. She always was curious about what went into a demon. Or at least, a non-ghost kind of demon. Basically what it amounted to was…

“You get enough stones together for a pull, and hope it’s a 5-star super rare,” Hanako concluded, nodding sagely, “gotcha. Or rather, Gacha.”

Her wisdom imparted, Hanako floated over to the bar to retrieve her Piano Woman, which was a fake drink from a video game. She just wanted to see what the bartender would do.

"Mmm, thank you for the hospitality, Bartender! I think that's all for me, I'd better head home before temptation takes me and I can't drive safely." Da-Xia was an unsafe enough driver when not drunk, what with driving through doors an all that, so her being even less safe probably wasn't good for anyone, mortal or devil. She sent her glass sliding back across the bar back to Rufus before making for the exit. She paused in the threshold to look back, "Do you two need a lift or do you have your own ways home?" She asked to Hana and Limen.

The older demon gave his hunter friend a parting wave. "I'll be all right. Thank you for the meal. See you tomorrow, and try not to run anyone over." Tomorrow? Limen wasn't really sure that would be the case. But Siracha wasn't exactly a sprawling city, and the DHA was sure to be out and about as soon as daybreak came. Perhaps they would indeed see her again soon.

"Hm."

Shika’s eyes settled on the Envoy, before sweeping around to the rest of the demons present. Whether by natural intuition or something else, Da Xia had avoided eating a single tomato despite being eager enough to accept drinks. Curious little hunter. A bit unfortunate too.

"So," they said, their customer service smile stretching their facsimile of a face apart. "Not one of us after all, huh."

"Seems like it," the Envoy said smoothly, catching Shika's eye. An empty glass was placed on the couch arm where she sat while she herself leaned forward now, resting her chin on her hands. "That's fine though. Better to root out anyone not fully committed now instead of later, you know? But man can it be a real bummer sometimes...." The Envoy slid her one-eyed gaze over to Shika, who seemed to be the most competent of the bunch. "Shame indeed. Not one of us."

Hanako looked over her shoulder at her new hunter friend, a little saddened that she wouldn’t be continuing the party. Hanako stretched out, let out a fake yawn, and replied.

“Sure, I could use a lift. As interested as I am in what’s going on here, I can hang with demons any time. Hunters, on the other hand…”

Hanako’s curiosity was what saved her from becoming a real monster. With enough distractions, undeath could remain interesting enough to occupy her time without going into the darker places in her psyche. In this case, learning about how the hunters operated was a once in a deathtime opportunity that she just couldn’t pass up! She hoped it would be fun enough to occupy her for a few months at least, like when she was a hardboiled detective in Kabukicho in the ‘60s. Good times.

“Just lemme use the facilities and I’ll be right out.”

Hanako quickly tagged the bathroom so that she could come to more of these weird meetings in the future, and floated outside with Da-Xia. She got on the woman’s motorcycle, and smiled.

“I’m a helpless, homeless little ghost. Could you take me home with you, brave hunter? I’ve always wanted to see what the DHA looked like on the inside~”

Shika blinked at the declaration of the ghost, then placed their hand on the countertop. That complicated things, for sure. They tracked the movements of the incorporeal being to the bathroom, before letting their senses spread further, slipping through the wood, past the foundations, into the dirt, and finally outside.

A dandelion cracked open on the sidewalk, its fluffy seeds dispersing moments later.

Back in the bar, Shika waited for the human and their ghost-pet to leave, before turning their smile to the others. "So, just to clarify real fast, but that was an incredibly atypical encounter with a Hunter, yes? The rest of you would usually, under most circumstances, put in an effort to kill them? Like, everybody here’s not a pacifist vegetarian soyboy, right?"

They let out a baffled chuckle.

"Cause damn, that was fucking weird."

"Ahah, no less weirder than the usual antics of humans," the Envoy commented once Da-Xia and Hanako finally left them in peace. By choice or chance, only those who truly responded to the rocks' call remained in their abode. "I think it's pretty obvious what needs to be done. Or rather, what's being asked of you all tonight. If it is still night. I'd appreciate it if you helped bring the ones I speak for back to a complete state. Speed up the birthing process, yeah? I'm sure I don't need to elaborate what's in it for you." The Envoy smirked softly at each and every one of them.

"But just in case~ The DHA. Those kinds of people...well, they've not left a good impression on my employers, especially if that Da-Xia is a template. I'm sure we can all agree we'd be much happier without them breathing down your necks, yeah? Help my employers and bring back more of the black rocks, and we can find the answer to exterminating them together~ Well, that might be too harsh of a term, but I think we can settle on linguistics as we go along." The Envoy settled back in her couch, splaying her arms out to with a recline. "I can hear them, sense them, and I know you can too. Screaming out for you to find them. Follow that instinct and you'll find our target~ Some in a lakeside trail of an old park, and some in a shrine just uphill from that park. Let's work together to make these streets a happier place for us Youkai~" She suddenly paused.

"Oh, and if anyone gets in your way...yeah, do what Shika said. Kill them. Especially the ones who've witnessed us tonight."
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by OwO
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With the day adjourned, Beniha was reduced to her business as usual. One thought caught her mind, though. Given the nature of the jobs—and the expected collateral damage... Was the temple supposed to be a write-off? Or maybe it was the fact that strangers may get caught up in the action near the park. Well, if it was true, they wouldn't have sent a woman who probably slept on their motorcycle to keep things on the down-low.

No point in dwelling on it.



The next morning, Beniha had been at the lakeside path much earlier than the others. A preliminary view. After all, if something was going to appear, it'd probably appear when she was alone. If need be, she'd send out an SMS to the other hunters to come as soon as they could. Otherwise, they'd all meet at the time that Beniha had texted earlier. Thus, she woke up early in the morning to see if she could wait it out.

That also meant that Beniha had been sitting alone on a lakeside path for hours, waiting for anything to happen. In fact, Beniha had banked on the possibility that something interesting may appear. The hour of her squad's meeting was approaching and Beniha had seen nothing except for a few branches falling. She was on the verge of grabbing two pans and just slamming them together in an effort to make something happen.

Well, Adam, Kaze, and Da-Xia were to arrive soon. She'd at least wait an hour after that before beginning to hit things.
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Kazemitsu
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If one looked at Kaze in the morning, in bed, they'd wonder how the hell this happened. His head, shoulders, and arms were flopped across the floor. The rest of him was up on the bed, one leg covered by the blanket provided, the pillow across the room, and the mattress partially pushed up against the wall. It was like the bed had been through an earthquake and tornado. Nevermind the sound, it was like a diesel truck was revving its engine whenever the giant man inhaled.

A pang rung through Kaze's head, the demon was acting as his alarm. Those eyes snapped open and he was up on his feet in a flash. What is it? He questioned grumpily. You've slept enough, get going. Was the curt response which got Kaze to groan grumpily. It was probably five in the god damn morning, sometimes he swore that demon worked against him.

Still the room was put back into order and Kaze left the DHA hide-out. Yeah it was early, but it wasn't five in the morning early. He remembered he was supposed to go to the lakeside trail of an old park. He saw the messages of the location in his phone, and a text from Captain Feathers on when to meet. He had a bit of time to kill, but screw that. Being early wouldn't hurt. So he began to walk to the meeting point while humming the song Time Is On My Side, because it truly was in most cases. There had been many a demon hearing that hummed by the gravel voiced Feeder before they were turned into a red mist.

Beniha could hear that humming before she got to see him casually strolling along the path towards her. That massive wool-lined coat nearly brushing the ground as he meandered towards her with his hands in his pockets. It felt like he was actively trying to hide his demonic aura but plenty of that energy flared out. He had been a Feeder most of his life and it wasn't easy to hide that. "Mornin, Captain." He rumbled out, grinning down at the woman as he approached. Pearly white and pointed teeth flashing briefly in the morning light.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Lonewolf685
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Rufus


Christmas must have come early because it was nothing short of a miracle that Da-Xia managed to come in, chat around the room, and leave both none the wise and without a single nibble taken from her. It would have made more sense if the Demon leaving to ride her back astride the hunter's motorcycle was playing some long con to really savor devouring Da-Xia, but somehow, Rufus didn't get the impression such machinations were in the cards.

Oh well, not his problem yet.

"Yeah, collecting rocks sounds like fun, but if the little cherubs go exploding every time I touch them, I'm going to have to ask them to be put in time out. If you don't lay down boundaries early, children just start walking all over you for the rest of their lives, and it's even worse with youkai kids. I swear, the second you realize reality is mutable to your will, you become such a brat about it." Rufus spoke with overflowing fondness, setting aside the immaculate glass he'd polished the entire time for effect and coming out from behind the bar. A pair of finger guns snapped off, tearing open two portals beside him that showed a crisp view of lake and a torii gate respectively.

"Since we have our destinations in order, I'm not breaking any rules by cutting out the travel time for us. Hey, what group of shadowy youkai doesn't have a means of fast travel, am I right~?" Adjusting his ragged cloak, the hood pulled up while the first gusts of frosty air spilled into the bar from the open gateways, Rufus hopped through the lakeside trail portal and turned to give the others a cheeky wave. "I do a lot of loafing around here, so I'll see about enjoying a moonlit walk in the park. Who else wants in? Bet we can find a young couple of star struck lovers and make a meal of 'em if anyone's still hungry. Assuming the DHA doesn't come and deliver take out, of course~"
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ERode Aegis

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[@TheWindel]

Shika closed their eyes briefly, pulling their senses ten kilometers away to the dummy they had left at the shop. Was everything going smoothly? Yes, yes it was. Shop closed, doors locked, accounting done, and everyone in bed. They'll swap tomorrow morning, after this whole debacle was dealt with. Suppose that was that then.

"Well, I'll take the shrine then. And, mm, Envoy, you're coming with! What can you do anyways? Other than be arm candy?" Shika said, hooking their arm around the eyepatch-wearing devil and dragging them off. The bartender looked powerful enough, if such violations of space could be done on a whim, and they gladly strode through, into the barren, quiet shrine. A breath later, and Shika maneuvered them to the large tree beside the shrine. Ropes laden with talismans were strung around it, and there was a fence surrounding the presumably holy tree too, but Shika simply hopped through it, motioning for the Envoy to do the same. They pulled out their smartphone soon after, placing their free hand against their cheek while shooting a wink at the camera.

A flash later, and Shika's first selfie of a soon-to-be-altered tree was taken, and they motioned for the Envoy to join in after they took a couple more.

"C'mon, gotta do it for posterity!"
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by SilverPaw
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Hoshio Kikuchi

Hoshio turned an unimpressed frown upon Maria. “I’ve seen and heard you talking to Mai here, you know,” he told her dryly. He wasn’t sure if she heard, or was paying attention, since she promptly left, dragging his other teammate with her as well. “Good luck,” he called after Mai cheekily, leaving her to the violent woman’s devices with not a small amount of relief. He shuddered to think what it would be like for that one to attach to him. Then again, he had his own worries, what with Maria’s apparent lack of concern with his orders. Sighing, Hoshio departed home to sleep off his stress.
***

The following day, after all the mundane tasks such as showering and eating breakfast, Hoshio called the DHA associates of the temple, their number having been found in DHA’s database. He determined that they only had a vague timeline of when the devils started disturbing the sealing stones, but did not know if they operated on specific days of the week or hours of the day. And while they had closed off the temple from public access via excuse of regular maintenance being performed, they could not prevent any civilians from accessing the grounds around the building itself. Great. Just great. So there could be some punks there fooling off, soon to be devil snacks.

“Haah,” he uttered a sound of defeat. How were they even supposed to stage an ambush when the devils were in a much better position to do so? Not to mention that as far as he knew, no one on his team was versed in sensing demonic presences. They were also going to need a minimal plausible deniability if any civilian did see them with all the unusual arsenal they had to lug around, them all being Bringers…So much hassle.

By the time Hoshio got his things in order and thought over possible plans, it was indeed around noon when he arrived at the DHA base. He typed a, “I’m here, get to the cantina, team. – Hoshio,” into the DHA chat group. He then got his lunch, waited for the arrivals, and explained the tactics once he got ahold of them.

“Right, so I’ll drive us all to the base of the park, then we’ll ascend together. Until we see what the situation at the shrine is, no splitting up. As far as anyone knows, the devils might already be there, and hiding. We also have to check for those rocks, and destroy them as a matter of priority. If there happen to be any civilians there, we’ll also have to be the ones to convince them to leave, somehow. In the worst case scenario, with civilians, devils, and the stones all there, it’ll be a shitshow, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, huh.”
***

The drive to the temple – or rather, the parking spot at the bottom of the hill underneath it – was uneventful. Hoshio did make occasional remarks to clarify some things, and answer questions if there were any.

“If we get lucky enough to set up an ambush, we will. But scouting comes first,” was an example of such an order.

“We’ll pretend to be cosplayers, if we must,” was another, said with a grimace that spoke of unpleasant experience of trying to herd civilians to safety.

“Oh, by the way, can either of you sense devil’s presences?” was a question from him to the two of them.

And so, with some meagre conversation on their part, it was in no time that they arrived at the destination. He parked, got out, stretched, and gathered his bow and quiver from the boot of the car, letting his fellow hunters do the same. “Any last minute questions before we head up?”
Hidden 4 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by The 42nd Gecko
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Da-Xia Chen
A Park



"So... We are to walk around here and look for strange sights? Well. Hopefully whatever devil thing there is as good at stealth as me." Da-Xia putted slowly onto the scene onboard her motorcycle. She came to a stop besides the others.

Da-Xia certainly looked a bit out of place in the park. In a most positive outlook, perhaps she would distract people away from other things? Still, she seemed a bit out of her element where searching, thinking, or anything but direct chivalrous assault was concerned. At least she seemed mildly cognizant of that.

"Oh! And I found out what the black rocks were. Or at least what the nice demons at the bar told me." She suddenly exclaims as she realizes she may have valuable intel. She lets the info out as a burbling stream all running together as soon as or even before she thinks about "It seems like they're the seeds or egg or something of a new demon. A new demon that's so strong, that before it's even born, it's capable of having an Envoy demon person who seems really strong, and also it can call all demons to it or something. And the sentiment seems to be that because I set the warehouse on fire, it's going to be hostile to the DHA and potentially humanity in general when it manifests. Sorry about that."

"But worry not, for if it decides to bear its fangs at humanity, I shall stand fast against it!" Da-Xia dramatically raises her lance to the heavens.
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Hanako awoke to another unfamiliar room, another unfamiliar bed, and another unfamiliar woman. Such was the life of hardboiled detective Yamamoto. Except she wasn't a detective, nothing had happened, she didn't sleep, and she knew Da-Xia at least a little bit.

The reality, of course, was that it had been late, and Da-Xia had taken her to a hotel for reasons known only to the eccentric motorcyclist. For Hanako's part, she ordered a bunch of paid per view pro wrestling on her partner's tab and then played video games quietly in the corner of the room while the woman slept.

Da-Xia's attitude was somewhat worrisome to Hanako. Even a low-level ghost like her could probably kill a DHA agent if she was sleeping defenselessly. Maybe the woman had some contingencies that Hanako didn't know about. Maybe Da-Xia trusted her more than she let on. Maybe she was only pretending to sleep to gauge trustworthiness. Was that just a little insane? Yes. Was it something Hanako thought a DHA agent might do? Also yes.

Regardless, the motorcyclist rode off to her next mission in the morning and Hanako tagged along, deciding to play with the DHA for now. It seemed like it might be fun, and hey, free paid per view. Hanako peeked over Da-Xia's shoulder when they arrived, and the woman related all the information they had gathered.

"Glory to mankind," Hanako piped up, saluting as Da-Xia raised her lance in a heroic fashion.

"Ah... I'm just here for fun, by the way. But I could be useful as a sort of demon radar or something. Demons can hear the stones, if there are any nearby."
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Mai woke up decently rested the next morning. She was glad that she was able to escape her new teammate even if it just was for the night. It seemed like the younger hunter had decided to latch on to her for whatever reason and Mai was too polite to tell her to kindly fuck off. Plus, they were supposed to work together so it wouldn’t help the team at all if she was to sew discourse into it. God knows it was already going to be a handful trying to control Maria who completely brushed off Hoshio’s admonishments by pretending to not understand him.

She let out a sigh as she finished tying up her hair. Mai prayed that today would be better. Hopefully there would be less destruction since they were at a temple and the two troublemakers were separated onto different teams. As she was about to head out, Mai received the text from her team leader. ‘K. Be there in 15. - Mai’ she responded.

Once she got to the base, Mai ordered a small meal before joining Hoshio at the table. She nodded along as he explained the plan to everyone, impressed by his skills. The Kikuchis were a well known hunter family at the Japanese branch but Mai had yet to meet Hoshio. From what she could tell, he was a lot less fanatical about the job than the other Kikuchis she’s ran into before. There were a few times where she asked questions to clarify their situation, but overall she thought he had a solid plan considering how little information they had going into this.

“No but I did pick up a few charms that are able to sense demonic energy.” She pulled out a few bracelets with a single bell on them from her satchel and handed them to her teammates. “It’ll ring more frequently the more demonic energy it senses.” The charms themselves weren’t foolproof. Mai had been in encounters where stronger youkai had been able to either hide their energy or delude the charm, but it was a good safety measure nonetheless. Shaking her head to show that she didn’t have any questions, Mai grabbed her weapons from the car and secured them to her hip.
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Limen had thought of flipping a coin, but it would seem that Shika had already made the decision for him. Might as well balance the numbers. “I’ll take the park too. It has been rather some time since I last ate a live human.” After all, there had been no point exerting himself hunting when man-made massacres and mass graves were plentiful.

Figuring out quite what he ought to think about the swirling portal of impossible physics Rufus had opened before him didn’t top his current list of priorities, but he would have to interrogate the eldritch being for details some day. Perhaps some experimentation would be in order? Well, even the Envoy had stepped through and emerged seemingly intact, so surely it could be of no harm for now. A more cynical devil might have regarded them all as a bit overeager to trust another demon, be it in their tacit agreement to the Envoy’s terms or their willingness to rely on the powers of an unfamiliar acquaintance. It would be difficult indeed to rebut that advocate’s arguments.

Limen, however, strolled on through the portal.

The air was still refreshingly cool. Fitting weather for a relaxing walk indeed, though he had little doubt that the atmosphere would soon take a turn for the worse. Limen shut his eyes for a moment and listened for that unmelodious melody. “Rocks attract youkai, and youkai attract DHA. I reckon our odds of running into hunters are quite something. What say you…“ He paused, briefly. “That reminds me. Have you a name, barkeep? Or are we taking the alias approach à la Reservoir Dogs?”
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Limen was only half correct in his observations, because it wasn’t like the Envoy had a choice in the matter of transportation. For the first time that night-or day perhaps since Rufus’ portals revealed the early morning light-the Envoy’s confident smirk faltered with some confusion in her single eye. So surprised was she that she didn’t have much time to say anything to the one dragging her; such was the confidence now put in Shika’s stride. This persisted for some time before eventually the hand Shika was holding seemed to flop dead and lifeless.

That was because, just before hopping the gate, the Envoy had long since disappeared; or rather, most of her had. The nature of Rufus’ portals was strange indeed but it seemed to have enough sense to follow Shika around until she realized she was only carrying the Envoy’s arm in her grip. Behind the portal, back in the bar, was the Envoy herself, waving with her remaining arm. “You’re a very eager girl when you want to be, huh,” the Envoy observed a bit of her smile returning back to her face. “Sorry but you’ll have to carry on alone. You see…”

Deigning that it was better to just show Shika rather than explain, the Envoy placed her free hand against the portal, only to be batted back by some invisible force. “Seems I can’t move around too freely outside this place. What a strange world we live in! But don’t worry, I’m still with you in spirit.” She gave Shika a thumbs up and in turn, the arm in her hand mirrored the motion. “A piece of me can remain with you outside these walls; I’ll need that back eventually though.” Thankfully, by choice or chance, it didn’t seem the waiting time for that notion would be very long because soon enough the familiar distorted melody of the black rocks rang in their heads.

From Shika to Rufus and Limen, the strange music from before echoed and rung in their ears as a guide to draw them closer. For Limen and Rufus, it directed them deeper into the forested portions of the park. For Shika, the Envoy’s arm simply tapped her towards the long stairway leading to the massive shrine that was their destination. And with the call of the haunted, so too would come the eventual trace of demons and Youkai as well.

It was only a matter of time before they’d crawl and fester towards both locations like locusts. Even Hanako would hear some variation of the noise in her head, though whether anyone on Da-Xia’s team would believe her or the problematic knight’s stories remained to be seen. In Hoshio’s team, Mai’s bell would ring suddenly in response to the sudden change in the air, but only once. Perhaps it was the black rocks or a wandering Youkai. Perhaps something greater.
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Not long after both the Hunters and Demons began to arrive at their destination, a strange buzz could be heard in the wind on the lakeside. It seemed that the prey the Hunters looked for was about to show itself. Without regard for those of its kind, a group of insectoid demons had gathered in the woods around the lake, seeking the allure of the dark stones.

Whether they had been sent here by the Envoy or not was not of importance. What they sought now was to collect the stones and kill those who disturbed their peace. Sensing the Hunters' intentions was enough to send them in a frenzy, rushing to main and devour.

※ ※ ※

As for the Shrine, an eerie aura of stillness hovered over the place. The sealing stones had yet to be further disturbed, but the signs of the presence of the black stones were everywhere around the temple grounds and the trail leading further up the mountain.

An even larger sealing stone blocked the entrance of a cave at the end of the trail, probably being the reason this temple existed in the first place.

Any Hunters or Demons willing to search the premises would find not only the dark stones littering the temple grounds haphazardly but also what looked like signs of scales. Almost like a snake's shed skin. What they could represent and the reason behind their presence would likely be a mystery to the Hunters, but likely not to the Demons.

However, until any of the two sides decided to engage in action, the true source behind this mystery was unlikely to show itself.

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“Well, that sucks,” Shika chimed. “But hey I’ll just do it this way then.”

They pointed outwards with a finger, and from there, a new finger, a new hand, a new arm, a new chest, a new head, a new pair of legs grew, this time mirroring the general physical appearance of the Envoy, complete with eyepatch and suit. Asexual reproduction was a gift that plants had, after all, and all the extra superficial changes just came from the supernatural alterations that Shika could afflict upon plant life. With fake-Envoy beside them, Shika snapped a couple of pictures, did some thinking, and slapped their fist against their palm.
If this was going to be a gathering quest, then it only made sense to make it into a zombie apocalypse, no?

So Shika and fake-Envoy became four. Then eight. Sixteen. Thirty-two. More humans, plucked out from the memories that the corpse-flower had of Siracha City’s residents, emerged from the originators, each now sporting some monstrous tumor in a part of their bodies. As if they were infected by a parasitic devil. Veins bulged out from their flesh, and the horde moved in jerky, unwilling fashions, puppets controlled by the strings of an alien intelligence. Shika smiled, shot finger guns at fake-Envoy, and sent that particular puppet off to start collecting the black stones around the temple grounds.

As for the rest, the corpse-flower had only one thing she wanted to do.

Turn up the volume.

“Ugh, it hurts!” “Someone save me, please!” “M-mommy…” “I can’t, agh!” “K-kuh, just kill me!”

Amidst the cacophony of terror, despair, and all around badness, Shika molded their own body once more, molting out of their skin like the snake scales that glittered around the area. Now standing at seven feet in height with a glorious updo and lips painted as red as blood (or maybe it was just actual blood), Shika fully embraced the role of a truly, magnificently evil dommy mommy, chuckling with dark desire as their puppets continued to shuffle about on the now-desecrated temple grounds.

“Yes,” they chuckled, holding a glass of wine (translucent leaf cup and grape juice) to the sky. “Dance for me, you pitiful mortals.”

If that didn’t grab the Devil Hunters’ attention, then nothing would.

Except maybe bioterrorist attacks in high-population density areas of the city, Shika supposed.
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Gods Play Dice With The Universe
It's Your Turn Now
Carnage One
Let's Samba!


Buzzkills, buzzkills all of them! The night was barely even starting and they expected her to go to sleep? They hadn't had any celebratory drinks, they hadn't gotten to know each other, hell, none of them had even fucked! These Japanese were so damn prudish, it brought a tear to her eye, it really did! But alas it would seem as though she would have to be left to her own devices on this night, as her two teammembers made a fatal mistake in leaving her by herself with no supervision. They left her by herself with no supervision. She did not go to her room, nor did she go anywhere within the Demon Hunter HQ. No, she in fact left the building and instead decided to go bar hopping for the night, brushing up on her Nihongo by listening to people spill out their guts to bartenders and getting absolutely wasted all night long.

Maria was of course the last to arrive to the cantina when messaged by Hoshio, and she really was a sight to behold. She was wearing clothes that definitely didn't belong to her first of all, but more importantly was what kind of clothes they were. A t shirt of some indie band that nobody had ever heard of, way too small for her given how stretched out the logo on the front was and cut off just at the midriff, skin tight jeans that accentuated her curves in all the right areas, a pair of dark shades covering her almost certainly dilated eyes, and what appeared to be a guitar case... "Hey hey everyone, sorry I'm late! Had to find a good disguise for our super secret stealth mission today, also I brushed up on my Japanese! You guys have such weird slang, like what even is a Christmas Cake?"

Moving on from that, Hoshio's plan was pretty cut and dry so Maria had no real objections. Despite the impression she gave off, she knew how to be quiet when she needed to be, she just hated doing so. The sooner this boring ass job was over the better, she wanted to get back to blowing some real demons up, not this lame small fry! As soon as they arrived Maria quirked an eyebrow at Hoshio and tilted her sunglasses down to look him in the eye directly. "Do you really not have a way to hide your weapon during day missions? Come on, I thought I was supposed to be the amateur here!" She cried as she unzipped the weird guitar case she was carrying around to reveal her own weapon stashed away, this was really just Hunter stuff 101!

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for Maria) the need to hide their weapons rather quickly disappeared as their enemy up and announced their presence, the bell Mai had given her beginning to ring rapidly as demons appeared from every angle, screams of agony and terror ringing throughout the temple grounds as Maria sighed and tossed away the guitar case. "Jeez, and I had put together such a cool disguise for this..." She whined childishly as she lit her weapon ablaze and charged at the nearest infected "civilian" she saw. And if Shika was expecting some kind of hesitation from the Demon Hunter than she would be sorely disappointed as the rampant woman smashed the monster aside like a meteor and charged right towards where the bell was leading her. Find the head honcho, kill the head honcho, smash the rocks. This plan was much easier honestly.
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Beniha's reaction to Kaze's entrance was unceremonious. She paused, looked at the large man, and gave a disinterested sigh. They were coworkers, not rivals. There really wasn't any point to his entrance being like that. In her own view, anyways.

"Morning."

Then came the motorcycle extraordinaire herself. Da-Xia's entire speech gave Beniha pause. In classic fashion, she placed a lit incense stick in her mouth and pinched the bridge of her nose. Really, why couldn't these hunters be normal?

"I'm just going to pretend I didn't hear half of that. Just... Demons move out of their own self-interest. Keep that in mind when you call them 'good'."

With Da-Xia came a third. That ghost, Hanako. Beniha didn't even acknowledge her existence besides a harsh glance.

Well, before the arrival of Adam, battle broke out. Large insects excited by their presence came to hunt. With a great sigh, incendiary feathers formed to create a large zweihander.

"Da-Xia. You're the fastest. Make sure people don't get caught by those things. Kaze, same deal. Go for the ones closer to us."

She intentionally ignored Hanako again and left the ghost to her own devices.

With Zweihander in hand, she charged the insect demons. Her goal was simple. Fight her way to the black rocks to either destroy or collect them. Either or.
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That grin grew on the giants face when Beniha gave that disinterested sigh and replied to his greeting. [color=light blue]"What? Don't like the dulcet tones of my humming?"[/color] He teased. He was trying to be friendly, build a camaraderie with the woman who seemed bored of existence in general. Or maybe that sigh was directed more to the wisps of power that escaped him despite trying to lock it all down? Meh he'd poke her about it later.

The rumbling and putter of an engine announce Da-Xia's arrival, with a ghost in tow it seemed. Her first sentence got a brief laugh. "Motorcycles aren't exactly...stealthy..." He rumbled down to her, clearly amused. Then she went on to say that the black rocks were actually a seed, or egg. Sounded more like am embryo to him but either way that spelt bad news. Especially when she mentioned it was most likely hostile towards the DHA cuz of the fire. Shit.

Her last exclamation was joined by the female ghost...being a goof. Well being dead could build eccentricities...possibly? He had never died so he didn't know obviously. As they moved along at a rather sedate pace a buzzing overrode the putter of the motorcycle. Giant insectoid demons were drawing in and Beniha gave them their orders.

"Ah, it's been ages since I got to slap some bugs!" Kaze exclaimed merrily. Some of the insects sped towards him, a nice big one leading the swarm charge. The big man shucked his coat, it was expensive and he didn't want to get guts on it, before he lunged towards the buts. The leading ones scythe-like fore-limbs drew back to cut into him before a loud crack rung out. True to his word he had literally slapped the demon, and the carapace covered head was gone in a spray of green and yellow. The limbs blew past him and then the abdomen trailing its blood in gooey splatters.

Beniha had said to take care of the ones closest and he wasn't seeing anyone else nearby on this cold morning but he still kept his ears open for screams. Did the feather lady even know he was not a speedster anyway? Eh he'd think later, it was splat time now. Another one buzzed in but it actually got a chance to swipe at him. But his eyes weren't normal anymore, they were a deep and vicious crimson, and his hand snapped up and caught the swinging claw. It stopped dead before he turned, dragging the flying bug through the air, to impact with another oncoming one in a cacophony of buzzes, crunches, squelches, and insectoid squealing. As laid back as he seemed he was clearly good at causing much violence, and utterly slaughtering what came at him given that initial bitch slap to end all bitch slaps had made goo of the first bug.
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