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The Golden Quarter


He saw his death.

Or maybe he had actually died.

He didn’t know.

But he felt it.

The ice gripping his veins, freezing him inside out as his heart crystallized and his mind fell into the blackness between death and sleep, until finally, his brain passed the point where resuscitation would mean anything. He felt it, and he remembered it, even as his blue eyes stared vacantly out towards the sifting crowds, the travellers that evaded them, the shops that closed, the guard that fidgeted at their presence. He felt his death still, and he fell to the ground, knees too weak to keep him steady any longer.

This sucked. Was this Limbo then? Or was this punishment? What was that again…the sins of the father will fall upon the shoulders of the son? He placed his hand against his chest. Breathed deeply. It rattled too hard still, the fleshy lungs that had once been turned to black ice, shrivelled and malformed. The pain wasn’t there, but the horror had been. Horror, with a kiss of death. The words of those around him bounced in his skull, and yet, he could not make sense of them. Couldn’t even move. The boy grasped the hands of others. The woman ran away. Another stayed. Meaningless, meaningless, meaningless.

He felt sick. He felt like he was going to die. He probably was going to die. How many more times was he going to die? Countless, if those sutras were correct. Endless, if those texts were correct. The executioner was a masked aberration in a world of fantastical creations, and they were intruders, to be purged immediately. So…running was just going to be uncomfortable, huh?

Slowly, Yuuki got up, patted the dust off his snow-laden pants, and walked to the side of the road, sitting with his back against the wall. He removed his backpack, placed it on one side, unzipped a side pocket, pulled out a one-liter thermos, and poured himself a cup of roasted green tea. Still fresh. Still steaming.

On a scale of one to ten, he probably didn’t hate that person that much. There wasn’t any prolonged pain, and they were probably just doing their job. And even if he did hate that person, it wasn’t going to help his case in the long or the short run. He didn't think he could run forever, and he didn't want them to chase him forever. So, what was there left to do?

Get comfortable and drink something mellow, cause Fate was turning the corner and none of mankind's inventions could stop the inevitable.

...maybe he can have a chat at least, before the icy death came again.


It seeped into her bones, the repulsive darkness that spewed from the demon’s poisonous words, but that blackness met steel instead, fatigue chased away by the biting pain of her Patron’s reminders. Another had appeared, an existence less foul, but disgusting all the same. What was up with magical girls and Darkness these days? Amaryllis could barely suppress a sigh at the sheer amount of inhumanity that surrounded her, from the man-eater to the void-born, but...she wasn’t in a place to question inhumanity herself.

No, this was simply her deciding that she didn’t like what someone else was doing.

“Nay, maiden,” Amaryllis spoke, the tip of her sword drawing a line through the air, “Tis taboo, true, but I do not draw my sword for the laws and sensibility of modern society. If this wench be grave robber instead of scavenger, I would turn an eye, but an individual should always be provided proper funeral rites after their demise.”

This was simply an extension of her own regrets.

“I know exactly how much of a difference a body makes at a funeral.”

It was neither three seconds nor five seconds, and her formless Patron rattled her left lung in irritation, but Amaryllis smiled. It helped, truly, to verbalize her resolve, hm? One breath, and she lunged, diving into the storm, her Patron guiding the silverlit tip as Darkness consumed her vision.

The Noble Swordswoman was alone, surrounded, entrapped in the Vampire Queen’s miasma, certainly this would be a short dance. As much as Noir wanted to prolong the ball, alas, all good things must come to an end. At least, she’d grant the heroine a painless death. Truthfully speaking, her resolve and words sounded sincere, but willpower alone wouldn’t save the day by itself.

”!?” Nor does arrogance apparently. So confident in her power, the golden-haired dark countess failed to notice the gleaming silver light, shining through all the effluvium choking the air. At least not until it was too late. Ngaaaaah?!!” A bestial roar - akin to a distorted cry of a dragon - erupted from the miasma-coated Harbinger of Decay. The Divine rapier’s tip had sheathed itself in her chest.

”Ara, ara~ Noir, are you alright?” The Mistress made a proverbial head tilt, half-amused, half-concerned.

”Haa… nnngggrrrh!!” The blonde bared her fangs, failing to notice how just an inch to the left, the sword would have pierced her dark heart. Her pride sullied, her facade humiliated, Noir dropped the elegant charade right then, using her arms and wings to hug the blue-haired insect instead, attempting to drain her dry of everything she had. T’was ultimate a mistake to close their distance and Noir would make sure she’d pay for this grave insult!

The fact that such a blow was not enough to end the fight was proof enough that her opponent was monstrous, but Amaryllis was accustomed to irrationality. Sensing danger before even her Sword clawed against her sides, the fencer pivoted around, dropping low as demon claws grasped only strands of hair. Close, but never close enough to be a problem.

As polished steel slipped out of the wound, iron ivy trailed not far behind, the gap in the vampire’s torso becoming a new anchor point for Amaryllis’s chains. Like a careful gardener, she wrapped them around her offhand wrist.

She had the feeling that whatever might she had was insufficient to slay this monster.

But removal?

That was a different story altogether.

Was it the grace of a knight tossing a bouquet? Or was it the might of a peasant tossing a sack of flour? With superhuman strength granted to her by the steel oath, Amaryllis yanked hard upon the leash and swung the monstress skywards, through the black of the miasma and into the blue of the day.

”Nnngrh!!” A furious grunt slipped through Noir’s clenched fangs as her claws found nothing but air. Even though their size gap should give the smaller blonde an advantage in clinging to her foe, apparently, the Rose Knight was agile enough to evade her bear hug point blank.

A hiss, pain throbbing from her chest as her wound refused to heal, regeneration disabled by the divine Metal anchored there. Annoyed and enraged, she used a claw, long nails dripping with miasma, to grab the chain and yank it off her torso. An endeavor denied by the magical fencer as her petite frame was heaved up, launched haphazardly into the air.

Noir’s winged form shot through the dome of effluvium she made, exposed to the open air and the searing light of the afternoon soon. Gritting her teeth, she managed to stabilize herself using her massive wings, then proceeded to do what’s most urgent, yanking the chain off her chest. Therefore allowing the wound a chance to mend itself. However, the effect of having a piece magical metal impaled in her body was still there, halting her healing factor for the moment.

”Oh my~ you seem to be doing well, keep it up, my Huntress. Fufufu~

Well, thank you for the words of encouragement, Mistress. Noir barely fought back the strong urge to roll her eyes. Then again, wait… her Mistress was right, by tossing her away, the knight unwittingly put her out of reach and trapped herself in the miasmic dome, now truly alone. ”Heh…” She smirked, a single fang glinting at the left side of her lips.

A clawed hand reached out towards the effluvial sphere below, palm opened, Perish.” then closed into tight fist. At the same time, the dome shrunk rapidly, inversely proportional with its density. Soon enough, it shall be her tomb. Nay, a tomb implied a body was held inside. Not a tomb, not an urn, an empty coffin instead.

With a bang and a whimper, the dark dome imploded upon itself, scattering rusted petals in its wake. As for the Knight of Rose, however, nothing remained.



@Izurich@Crusader Lord



Maiko usually wasn't late, especially when there were things to actually look forward to, such as the first possibly fun fight in a while. But late she was, arriving at Miso Park with mischief in her eyes and a cooler. "Yo," the girl called at a distance, still clad in her tomboy-ish street clothes, "Brought a gift for your troubles~!"

Slapping down the cooler on a bench, the green-eyed girl drummed the top energetically, before pulling it open to reveal...

A glistening six-pack of fermented durian juice!

"Guess Ami had the same idea, but I'm a generous girl! If sweets are for the victors, then we have juice for the losers! Ja-jann~! Tasty durian juice to wash off the bitterness of defeat! Now, when are we starting anyways? Soon? Now? Immediately?"


✦【S】【O】【L】【I】【L】【O】【Q】【U】【Y】✦

The moon shone, and she stood alone, bathed in fluorescent fire.

Her arms raised towards Diana, entwining in an infinite spiral, caressing the face of the heavens even as slender fingers grasped nothing. The maiden and the moon, separated by the vastness of distance.

But the Heavenly Muses, faceless and flowing, saw the offering and took it, nine celestial flowers twirling around her as moonlight bent and twirled, as her earthly garments dissolved into Edenic dress.


𝔖𝔥𝔢 𝔠𝔬𝔲𝔩𝔡 𝔫𝔬𝔱 𝔯𝔢𝔞𝔠𝔥 𝔥𝔢𝔯 𝔟𝔢𝔩𝔬𝔳𝔢𝔡.
𝔖𝔥𝔢 𝔰𝔥𝔬𝔲𝔩𝔡 𝔫𝔬𝔱 𝔯𝔢𝔞𝔠𝔥 𝔥𝔢𝔯 𝔟𝔢𝔩𝔬𝔳𝔢𝔡.
𝔖𝔥𝔢 𝔴𝔬𝔲𝔩𝔡 𝔫𝔬𝔱 𝔯𝔢𝔞𝔠𝔥 𝔥𝔢𝔯 𝔟𝔢𝔩𝔬𝔳𝔢𝔡.

And yet, each step upon the moonrose staircase cast more light upon the starless void.

𝔗𝔥𝔢 𝔰𝔭𝔞𝔯𝔨 𝔬𝔣 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔞𝔰𝔱𝔢𝔯𝔦𝔰𝔨.
𝔗𝔥𝔢 𝔤𝔩𝔬𝔯𝔶 𝔬𝔣 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔨𝔞𝔩𝔢𝔦𝔡𝔬𝔰𝔠𝔬𝔭𝔢.
𝔗𝔥𝔢 𝔲𝔫𝔦𝔬𝔫 𝔬𝔣 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔠𝔬𝔫𝔰𝔱𝔢𝔩𝔩𝔞𝔱𝔦𝔬𝔫𝔰.

She twirled at the insufficient peak, the Edenic fabric dissolving in starfire. Her arms unravelled like the blooming of a rose, and sparkling sand, lunar dust, fell from the moon, sifting through the gaps of her cupped hands.

The staircase shattered and, arching her back against the tyranny of gravity, she fell into a garden of roses, iron vines tearing into flesh.


𝔗𝔥𝔢 𝔩𝔬𝔳𝔢 𝔬𝔣 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔪𝔬𝔬𝔫.
𝔗𝔥𝔢 𝔯𝔢𝔟𝔦𝔯𝔱𝔥 𝔬𝔣 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔪𝔞𝔦𝔡𝔢𝔫.
𝔗𝔥𝔢 𝔟𝔞𝔭𝔱𝔦𝔰𝔪 𝔬𝔣 𝔯𝔲𝔰𝔱 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔯𝔬𝔰𝔢.

From the rose garden, the maiden knight resurfaced, clad in Silverlight and Starspace.

✦【I】 【A】【M】 【R】【E】【B】【O】【R】【N】✦


In the shadow of the alleyway, she sparkled, but in the light of the sun, she shone.

A jeweled rosary hung from a lacy collar. A sapphire rose bloomed opposite of her heart. A living sword in one hand, a living chain in another.

And her midnight eyes, burning every bright.

She breathed. She lunged.

The sword flashed and tore out the ethereal heart of a spirit, dispersing it in an instant. The dancer pivoted, coiled, and sprung out, another flicker ending another grudge. Fake flowers bloomed, drawing the attention of all, and within that moment of misdirection, her chains flared out, ivy-metal wrapping around more spirits and pulling them in.

One. Two. Three. Four.

Ectoplasm dripped onto the silvered blade, and she flicked it away with heroic disdain, her long hair billowing in a wind of her own making.

That picture-perfect pose was held for three seconds, but before the extermination could continue, a sharp pain drive itself into her mind, her nameless Patron alerting her of the presence of another. A scraping of a file against her ring finger: the descent of a monster girl, clad in Darkness and bearing the wings of a bat.

In the breadth of a second, the spirits dispersed, scrambling in different directions and leaving the bloodied and broken to their misery and their cries.

In the breadth of a second, those cries were silenced by the living shadows that surrounded them, sealing them all in black coffins.

In the breadth of a second, Amaryllis felt the creeping of decay and death, as the sword in her grasp hummed like a tuning fork.

Anticipation? Anxiety? It mattered not. That monster was an enemy.

The streets were silent now except for the cries of distant sirens, rusted petals dancing like falling leaves. A flourish of silver, a click of her heels, and the Knight of Rose straightened her back, offhand placed against her lower back as she leveled the point of her beloved rapier onto the newcomer.

“Art thou the villain of this tragedy? Nay, but thou art equally as foul, a vulture that would rob the bereaved of even a body to bury, a hyena that would deny the injured their opportunity to seize another day.”

If this was a moonlit night, she’d be in perfect form, but the radiance of sunshine reflecting off her mirror-polished blade was beautiful as well.

“Cease and desist thy plundering, wretched thief, lest the only mark you leave upon this world be the rust upon my sword.”

That alien tongue rasped against her spine.

Her Patron offered five seconds for an answer.

Amaryllis will give her three.
@Izurich


“Wow, Mary, didn’t know you were a fencer! Never struck me as the type, you know? But I guess the whole hidden depths thing you got going on is pretty deep!”

“Well…yeah.”

“You thinking of setting up a club at the college about it though? Like, doesn’t really sound like either fencing or European history, yeah? And I’m sure you’d get way more interested parties if you do that think where you wear full armor, then remove it, and it turns out that you had a sexy swimsuit underneath!”

“That’s…going to chaff.”

“And then all the others will go ‘woah, who’s this hotty! I didn’t know she wore things other than boring ol’ sweaters and sweatpants’ and suddenly you catch the eye of that British dude you’re always sneaking glances at. Cole, was it?”

“I-it’s not like that…”

“Geez, what is it like then, Mary? For what other reason would a fair maiden like you, the princess of the engineering club, shoot bedroom eyes in the direction of that handsome foreign noble every class? Oh, the amore in your eyes, the blossoming of the rose~! How lovely it must be, to be young and free, beautiful and pure~!”

“It’s…well…”

As the two followed the flow of the crowd through the typical Penrose morning rush, Amaryllis pursed her lips, wondering how exactly she had been dragged into this situation to begin with. The woman beside her, Aurora Mackenzie from Penrose Technical’s Accounting course, certainly didn’t fit the definition of an accountant, and it was only extra bothersome that she imprinted herself upon a fellow student immediately afterwards. With a white blouse and a black, lacy bra underneath, as well as a pencil skirt and stockings, Aurora looked more like a hot teacher than a student, her pink highlights bobbing up and down as she strutted through with a Louis Vuitton bag slung on her shoulder. In comparison, Amaryllis’s outfit was so much more simple and drab, her clothes just a pair of non-descript, gray sweatclothes, while her shoes were running shoes and her fat backpack threatened to clobber people beside her whenever she had to turn around.

It was nothing but pure regret, really, that she had taken this particular route. If this was Aurora’s normal path, the shy magical-girl-in-hiding was definitely going to have to find a detour next time, especially cause taking the subway was a horrible, terrible mistake when the metal detectors went off and that asshole of a cop stopped her for carrying her sword in her bag. Yeah, THAT was what messed everything up to begin with.

Ughhhhhhh, and now she needed to come up with a way to explain that she was monitoring Cole from metalworks because he might actually maybe possibly be a gremlin constructing illegal weapons during off-hours at the shop…without coming off as insane and stalkerish as well.

In the back of her mind, her Patron clicked, tapping at the inside of her skull with soft pains, but a good few months had made her more or less accustomed to the pain of communication. Cole was nearby then, huh? Meant it was time to get the helllll out of this area, without seeming rude either. Amaryllis restrained her urge to let out a sigh, instead turning to Aurora with an awkward, hesitant half-smile as she prepared to lie about a whole truc-

Splat.

Red on the chest. Red on the face. Red on the lips. Red in the scream, shaking into her spine as the claws of an ephemeral spirit sprouted from Aurora’s chest. Warm. The flesh and blood that splattered on Amaryllis was warm enough to burn. Three stakes of agony shook hesitance out of her, and with a wordless cry, a steel chain burst from her left hand, wrapping around the scepter and flinging it a block away. Already, more screams were bursting out, the flow of the crowd shifting to cacophony. The image of the demon-scepter burst into her mind, followed by twelve taps against her index fingers, and then a thirteenth on her middle fingers. She wasn’t watching, but her Patron was, formless and ever-present despite being sealed in her backpack.

But she had no time to fight, not when the woman who had just been talking to her was entering a state of shock, bleeding profusely from her chest. No time to transform, no time to wait for an ambulance, no time to even shift locations. Against the panicked crowds, Amaryllis could only kneel down, pressing her own body against Aurora’s as her chain slipped into the backpack, pulling out the amethyst-encrusted rosary, already thrumming with magic, already burning with molten iron.

Torn flesh folded back, but the blood could not be restored, and she pushed away instead, half-dragging, half-carrying the limp body into a neglected alleyway before dropping her there. Blood. She was breathing shallowly, but at this point, the Healing Artifact granted to her by the Sword couldn’t guarantee anything else.

The fear was palatable, the tension and uncertainty a felt blanket against her consciousness.

Amaryllis closed her eyes.

A thirteenth tap on her middle fingers.

A magical girl had done this, not just a monster.

First, she got held up by that dumbass cop. Then, she gets interrogated by someone who thinks she has ANY interest in a body-snatching gremlin. And now? This shit? For no reason other than to fuck with her day even more?

The indigo haired girl took a breath. A deep breath.

Steadied herself. Dropped her backpack. Drew her sword.

“Tomorrow.”

That was the promise she made, because today…

"𝔗𝔥𝔢 𝔩𝔬𝔳𝔢 𝔬𝔣 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔪𝔬𝔬𝔫, 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔤𝔯𝔞𝔠𝔢 𝔬𝔣 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔭𝔢𝔱𝔞𝔩𝔰.
𝔘𝔫𝔡𝔢𝔯𝔫𝔢𝔞𝔱𝔥 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔤𝔩𝔬𝔯𝔶 𝔬𝔣 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔥𝔢𝔞𝔳𝔢𝔫𝔰, ℑ 𝔤𝔞𝔱𝔥𝔢𝔯 𝔱𝔥𝔢𝔪 𝔞𝔩𝔩 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔭𝔯𝔢𝔰𝔢𝔫𝔱 𝔪𝔶𝔰𝔢𝔩𝔣.
𝔄𝔪𝔞𝔯𝔶𝔩𝔩𝔦𝔰 𝔈𝔳𝔢𝔫𝔦𝔫𝔤𝔰, 𝔎𝔫𝔦𝔤𝔥𝔱 𝔬𝔣 𝔱𝔥𝔢 ℜ𝔬𝔰𝔢!
𝔐𝔞𝔶 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔣𝔩𝔬𝔴𝔢𝔯 𝔬𝔣 𝔶𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔥𝔢𝔞𝔯𝔱 𝔟𝔢 𝔯𝔢𝔣𝔩𝔢𝔠𝔱𝔢𝔡 𝔴𝔦𝔱𝔥𝔦𝔫 𝔪𝔶 𝔰𝔦𝔩𝔳𝔢𝔯𝔩𝔦𝔤𝔥𝔱!"


...she had some weeds to pull.
@Rune_Alchemist
Danbooru > Gelbooru, if only because the mods actually delete the shitty pics. Also, their tagging is hella superior.



@PlatinumSkink@Ariamis Thanks for the note. I grabbed 'Trained' and 'Hidden Death' for Perk and Benefit respectively.

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