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4 yrs ago
Perpetually Perfection Preincarnate
4 yrs ago
Ding dong the witch is dead
4 yrs ago
The witching hour
4 yrs ago
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Shion woke from a nightmare in a jolt, sitting upright in her beach chair quickly. She rubbed the sand from her eyes only to see much more around her, an entire beach spread out before her eyes, populated by many girls she didn't recognize, and a few she did. There was the lightning girl from the train station a while back, and there were several P.I. members, most notably Christine. She quickly went over to her to see what was going on, but stopped upon seeing a sign which she quickly went over to read. A prize? Maybe... Yes, she'd have to succeed in this task, there was no option to simply skip it. As she was thinking of what to do next, she noticed that she felt far fewer clothes than normal on, in fact she was wearing a rather cute swimsuit. Finally she went over to Christine to figure out a plan.



Summer awoke to the sun beating down on her. Unfortunately, she had not been granted the luxury of an umbrella to keep it away. The last thing she remembered was doing homework for her school. She must have fallen asleep during it. She looked around as she sat up only to see several other Beaconites in... swimsuits? Indeed, it appeared that even she herself was wearing one. It was a simple child's school swimsuit that would look right at home in Japan. Honestly, it was a bit embarrassing, until she realized something.

"BEACH EPISODE!"
The day after the fight in the graveyard



Makoto walked towards the nearest populated area in the Overcity from where she entered, carrying a large metal container behind her. She was dressed in her black coat and hat, a small metal cube in a sealed pocket. She was looking for an artificer who could finish Ezekial's work.

To that end, Makoto needed to enter the Overcity. The real overcity that this entire parallel world was named after. Most of the overcity was void of any life, and was a great place to drag monsters for a beat down without causing any damage to the normal world. But that changed when you got to the actual overcity. There were enormous building that towered into the sky, and the streets were bathed in a golden light. Even during the day, the sky was always in a state of perceptual twilight. Nothing in the city was brand new, and nothing made sense. You had brick buildings from the medieval ages standing next to buildings that belonged in art deco America. The effects of magic on this place were not hidden. Street lamps were replaced by floating lights, and the signage for some businesses were magical constructs, interacting with all who passed by.

On her way through the city, Makoto passed by a stone sculpture. It depicted a landscape featuring a collapsing castle and a large tank. Standing atop the crumbling castle was a vampire, who was clearly not pleased to be losing altitude. Standing on top of the tank were several smaller girls, boldly holding their weapons up to the vampire. There was a plaque at the foot that read. “Justine falls: A tribute to those who illuminate the darkness.” Makoto was reminded that there was a Beacon HQ here and swiftly changed directions.

Makoto’s surroundings got distinctly older as she wandered down the mages district. This was where a lot of shop owners sold their services and magical trinkets to those who came by. It had been this way for centuries, with the older owners passing down their crafts to the next one. Magic was largely steeped in tradition, and it only made sense that the oldest district would contain the largest concentration of mages. Makoto walked by many stores, looking for that one that mentioned “artificer.” While there were many general enchanters, the specific art of artificing seemed to be in short supply. But Makoto’s search wouldn’t go unrewarded. She eventually came across a sign that read “Winged Monarch Artificing,” which seemed to be exactly what Makoto was looking for. But before she could reach for the door, it burst open. A girl in a kimono was charging after a glowing butterfly. It flew in front of Makoto’s face, and the girl didn’t cease her chase. She tripped on the doormat and flew through the air towards the squirrel girl. ”Gaaaaaaaah!”

”Whoa!” Makoto quickly ducked to the side and caught the girl with her free arm, her head turning to watch the butterfly as it passed by innocently. ”You okay there, Miss…?”

The woman continued to flail in Makoto’s arms until the butterfly vanished in the golden haze of the city. With an exhausted sigh, she lowered her arms. ”Aria.” she said with a whine. ”Thank you for catching me, but I wish you had captured that butterfly instead.” She ran a hand over her face.

”Oh! Was it important to you? I’m so sorry!” She tensed for a moment in preparation to chase after the butterfly, but waited for a response. After all, a hero(ine) always had to help those in need.

”Just a project of mine. No need to apologize.” Aria stood up. ”I was getting irritated with it. Otherwise it wouldn’t have had a chance to escape. It’s probably best if it flew off.” She brushed some hair out of her face. ”I’m sorry, I haven’t seen you around here before. Let’s do a proper introduction.” She grabbed a corner of her dress and bowed. ”I’m Aria Rizzo, but most know me as the butterfly princess or the only artificer in the magic district.”

Makoto sighed in relief. ”Name’s Makoto. I don’t suppose you’re open for business right now, are you?” She attempted to curtsey with her oversized black trenchcoat.

”Oh yes, I’m open.” She folded her hands together. ”What would you like me to do?”

”Well…” Makoto scratched the back of her head. ”I’m kinda hoping that you can mass produce the magnum opus of a friend of mine.” She pulled out a small object, a violet jewel with a silver snake wrapped around it like a spiral, roughly four inches from top to bottom and two and a half inches at its widest. ”It’s a mana collector that’s capable of some amazing things. I’ve got the mundane materials, but I don’t know anyone other than the original creator who could make more, and they’re… indisposed at the moment.”

Aria approached the device and put her hands over it. ”Hmmm, interesting.” She looked at it from another angle. ”It’s pretty complex, not something you’d typically ‘mass produce.’ I can’t understand it at a glance, which is unusual. But the question isn’t if I can duplicate it or not, it’s how much you want to spend, how many you want to make, and how close to the original you want to be.” She looked under the artifact. ”And what do you mean by ‘capable of some amazing things?’ It does things aside from draw in Mana?”

"I’m willing to spend quite a lot, depending on how many you can make. I’m hoping for about fifty, as close to this as you can get, assuming it’s not too expensive for me to handle.” She paused. ”This thing doesn’t just draw in the underlying mana like a normal absorber, but it’s not as complex as a magical coin that can do, well, I’m sure you know what they can do already. It draws in semi-completed magical residue, specifically. Which means that with enough of it, you can replicate small feats of the residue’s specialization. Get enough fire magic absorbed and you can light a small fire, for example. That’s why I’ve had trouble getting it reproduced, because it really was a ‘magnum opus’ creation.”

”So it’s like a power artifact, only it draws in mana from the surrounding area rather than taking it from the user and converting it. The result is that it can then duplicate the effects of other specializations provided enough is collected.” She gently took the artifact from Makoto’s hand. ”Let me make a prototype of the mass production version and see how you like it. Then I’ll have an idea of what the cost will be.”

”Deal.” Makoto grinned.

Aria bowed before heading back into her shop. ”If you don’t have anywhere to go, it shouldn’t take long to make the prototype.”

The winged monarch looked like a giant old tree on the outside, and the interior kept up with the aesthetic. Rather than being built, the interior had been carved out of the tree. One could only guess if it was done by a giant wood eating insect or if mages had taken to carving away the wood themselves. There was a bit of ambient light in the shop supplied by luminescent plants, but the brightest thing there were the butterflies that flew overhead. They were perfectly white, but glowed hues of red and blue. The rest of the shop had your standard array of bookshelves, and there was a magic circle traced out on the floor.

”I’ve pretty much perfected rapid prototyping. Let’s see what we’ve got.”

With a wave of her hand, a transparent barrier appeared in front of her. Part of the barrier darkened up as swarms of butterflies converged in front of her. Individually they weren’t too bright, but when they were all bunched together like that it was hard to look at. Aria’s arms were always moving, but there was grace and purpose behind her actions. Even if Makoto knew nothing about making artifacts, it was evident that she had put in a lot of time doing this. More butterflies joined in, sometimes carrying odd items into the glow with them. A few nails, a piece of copper wire, gemstones, several carried in a breadboard. Then all at once, the butterflies scattered to the ceiling. Where they had been was now a bread board with a few nails driven into it. The copper wire had been wrapped around the nails, and held the gemstones over every post. When Aria snapped her fingers, the device produced a small barrier around itself.

The prototype appears to be a success.” She banished the barrier around herself. ”The good news is that I can mass produce these for you. The bad news is that the final version will be a lot more labor intensive to make. That means that supplying your own parts won’t offset the cost very much. I normally like to use my own materials, but if you believe that your parts are of equal or superior quality, I can work with them.” She stroked her chin before looking up to Makoto. ”I could make you fifty artifacts for say, eighteen gold coins, rounding in your favor. Or two artifacts for three silver.”

”Hmm… Let’s go with four for now, and I’ll come back when I can afford more? I could also just sell you the materials if you don’t think they’d be useful, plus I’ve got more than enough random gemstones and good quality metal in this thing, compared to how much would be needed.” Makoto pointed with her thumb towards the large container outside.

Aria folded her arms.. ”As an artificer, I can enchant my own gemstones. I’m not interested in whatever you’re peddling.” She eyed Makoto up and down. ”But if you’re looking for a slightly better deal, we might be able to arrange something.”

”Right, but getting the high quality gems themselves might… I’ll shut up now. What do you have in mind?”

Aria continued to stare at Makoto, almost in a trance. ”Your tail.” She lifted her hands and twiddled her fingers in the air. ”Five minutes with your tail, six silver, and I’ll make it five artifacts.”

Makoto held back a laugh. ”Absolutely. Take as long as you want~”

Aria was not capable of teleportation, but that is the only word that could be used to describe how she approached Makoto’s tail. She was leaning her head into it ”MMmmmmm.” Aria gently stroked it with her hand. ”It’s so warm, I could almost fall asleep.”




After the “tail” session and collecting all other forms of payment, Aria got to work on making the artifacts. It took considerably more time to make the real artifacts compared to the prototypes. Two hours yielded the five that Makoto asked for. But they all worked and looked just like the one Makoto brought in. ”Well, it’s not quite fifty, but there’s five artifacts for you.” With them all placed on a table together, Makoto almost couldn’t tell which one was the original. ”If you have any future projects, don’t hesitate to stop by again.” Aria’s eyes wandered over Makoto again before she blinked herself out of her trance. ”With Beacon HQ so close to here, I wasn’t sure I’d ever see a monster girl walk into my store. Be safe out there, Makoto.”

"Will do, and thank you so much!” With the artifacts in hand, she left and wandered to the nearest exit of the Overcity.
Summer did as Annabelle requested; not having enough mana to spare, she simply shifted herself and Annabelle into the Overcity. "Alright, now what?" she asked.



@Crusader Lord@Flamelord
Shion simply shrugged and sat back down. She couldn't expect a newly self-appointed monarch to be able to pay that, but it was worth a shot. She'd wait to see how this group acted when their leader was away. Besides, red coins? She'd never heard of those, so the chance to get her hands on one or finding out what they did was worth sticking around for.



Summer rushed over through the barrage of tentacles, dodging this way and that to avoid them, finally reaching Annabelle. "Alright, what can I do to help?" she asked the girl. She had a few ideas, but suddenly Alicia changed them, firing a powerful blast at the Black Coin. "Well, crap..." She'd have to follow along with Annabelle's plan for now; hopefully she could still use her own plan if Annabelle's failed.



@Flamelord@Crusader Lord@ERode
"It's rather simple really, an alliance of sorts. I assume someone who feels secure enough to claim a city as oft fought over as Penrose would have the resources I'm looking for. My offer is pretty simple. I'll work for you if you pay me, not in protection or some other nebulous thing, but rather in magic. Be they magical coins or any other source of mana and magic, at a negotiable rate of 30 silver coins or the equivalent every two weeks. If you're willing to pay that or offer something better, I'll be your most steadfast supporter. If not, I'll ignore your existence as long as you don't get in my way. I don't plan to overthrow you or anything, so if you're simply going to refuse there's no impetus to worry about me. But that's my offer."
@Ariamis



"Hey Alicia? I'm gonna go ahead and use plan B, okay? Otherwise, I think I might have enough mana to screw this over, but... I don't know that I'll make it out since I'll be drained, which would really defeat the purpose, y'know? I'm not convinced I'm going to be much use this time." Summer said sadly.
@Flamelord@Crusader Lord
"That... that's the dumbest barrier I've ever heard of then." Summer said. But now was not the time to wait, so she quickly jumped through the opening and turned around, making sure to record the barrier re-closing for later. "Why did we not try to break it at all? Maybe this girl is right, Alicia. Maybe we set up this barrier after all. I didn't even think of aiming that train at it. I swear, I'm losing my edge." She was very upset with herself given this new revelation.

@BrokenPromise@Shifter_Master@Rune_Alchemist@ERode@Flamelord
"I'll think of something!" Summer replied, heading towards Sammy. "Hi again! Still after Binky? I'd appreciate it if you'd stop. She's a nice girl and she's got things pretty bad... Well, better now that she's under Beacon's protection, but still not great. Anyway, if you could open this barrier like you claim, it'd be really interesting to watch. In fact..." She paused and reached into her handbag pulling out a video recorder. "I'd like to record it so I can learn from you!"



Shion continued waiting for Cindy, wondering when it would finally be her turn to speak with her.





@BrokenPromise@Flamelord
Summer ran ever further into the tunnel as the mana sucking dome grew. She quickly reached the other side of the tunnel, which corresponded to a semi-circle shaped shadow from a headstone just behind the flying Elroy, her figure jumping out behind him quietly. Seconds after, a bright light pierced through the dome of darkness as a Summer's bat unraveled into train tracks leading to the painting, right underneath Regina. The source of the light was a small train that came rushing from the painting all the way to the end of the tracks that had just been laid, hopefully for Summer running over Regina in the process. As it came through the wind from its movement pulled the tarp off the wall entirely, floating in the air for a second before landing painting-down on the ground.

Summer simply leaped in front of Elroy, planning to use her nigh-indestructible body and damage-mitigating magic to tank the hit for Alicia. It was the least she could do for saving her from the dragon. "Hey Alicia, can we go with plan A now!? I've only got just enough mana to pull it off, so if we're going to do it we need to do it now!"
As soon as Alicia's arrow connected, Summer dropped out of the small gap in the dragon's mouth as it opened in surprise. Deciding that a head-on strategy would be futile, she instead pulled out her bat and began waving it in front of the dragon's face. "Here girl, here girl." she said. "Ready? Fetch!" Summer threw her bat into the distance, her magic causing the dragon to run after it like a puppy. During the moment of reprieve, she bit her thumb to cause bleeding and began to suck out her blood, spitting it out afterwards, sucking out the curses like poison from a dragon snake bite. When the dragon returned, happily moving about as if wagging a tail, Summer took her bat back and threw it at Regina, hoping the dragon would run into her in its mad dash towards it.

She took this moment to grab a few items from her handbag, specifically a large paintbrush, a can of paint, a folding ladder, and a large tarp. She quickly painted a tunnel on the tarp and hung it up from the ladder before pulling a multitude of bricks from her handbag, building a brick wall behind the tarp and then running into the painting with her magic to stand far inside the tunnel.
Summer transformed on the way to the graveyard, her trusty bat forming in her hand as she did. When they arrived though, everyone was separated. It was by luck alone that she was in the same area as Alicia, and that fact made her even more confident that they'd win against whatever came next. That being a boy dressed in an adorable king's outfit and a girl with a dragon.

While Elroy wasted time talking, Summer decided to figure out what they were up against. She set her bat against her leg and pulled her sketchpad from her handbag. She began stretching the scene in front of her which with her experience didn't take long at all to have a rudimentary picture of the Bates and the graveyard behind them, crypt included. As she drew, she learned more and more about what she was drawing; the crypt was their main target, if that wasn't obvious from looking at it, and the Bates had apparently used another Black Coin to stall for time!

"This isn't your average darkness... this is advanced darkness! Alicia, they're double coined! Hopefully that means they're doubly weak to light, right? Not... half weak. Oh no, what if they have new magic!? We... we..." She paused and filled in more details of the Bates in her drawing. She flipped to another page and quickly drew Alicia and the final girl in the area. "Well... shit." Summer ran over to Alicia and whispered into her ear. "Do you think you can get through the barrier and make it to the crypt? Me and sword-girl over there can handle these two in the Overcity. Alternatively, I could do what I did to the cathedral to the crypt and a bit of the rest of the graveyard, just on purpose this time. I'll probably get slaughtered on the other side but at least we'd win. Up to you though, great leader."
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