Status

Recent Statuses

17 days ago
Current Geez, even I'm not that nihilistic.
24 days ago
Did not ask to be woken up by torrential rain at 3 AM on my birthday, but here we are.
7 likes
2 mos ago
Mentally, I am a screaming rubber chicken.
6 likes
2 mos ago
They always talk about enemies to lovers, but what about lovers to enemies??
6 likes
2 mos ago
Ah, my condolences.

Bio

|Majora, Mayjay/Majayjay, Majie, Jora, Scarlet (Rarely)|
"Welcome to White Space."

Most Recent Posts

Rachel and Violette huh? While the latter was new to Eliza, she felt the former was familiar somehow. Didn't Silhouette fail to attack a Rachel?

Wait a minute. These were Ascendancy.

"S h i t." Despite internal screaming, she had to stay calm. They seemed to have no ill intent so far. Plus she hadn't encountered any Ascendancy members face-to-face, so they probably won't recognize her as a Cradle member. Eliza politely listened to Rachel's observations about the party, and it's host. "No doubt the horror's intervention was just the tip of the iceberg. Of weirdness. With so many different factions of magical girl, things are bound to get interesting." She said. "Other than a couple of bumps, things have been okay so far, and I'll make sure it stays that way. People need the break." Eliza crossed her arms. She spotted Oros walking by. Hopefully this conversation won't waste time.

"Though by religion, are you refering to Christianity? Or something else?" She asked Rachel, admittedly curious.
Out of those observing the ice sculptures, Evelyn and North were relegated to their usual NPC selves. They stopped to look at Summer's statue of Cirno.

"Hehe. Looks kinda like you, North." The mute wolf would lightly hit the fairy, pointing between the statue and North; who was starting to feel confused.

"What kind of 4th-wall bullshi-"
While the other witches were already starting on their sculptures, Maura was stumped. She stared intently at the blueprint made of ice, then to everyone else. From Lauren's Lady Justice, to...whatever incomprehensible horror Maribel made, how did they come up with ideas so easily?

She walked up to her ice block and place a hand on it. Sculptures usually took a long time to make, what with the attention to detail, and the risk of having to start over after a bad mess-up. Ice sculptures aren't as different. They took atleast three hours to make, depending on how intricate it is.

So why the hell can't she think of anything?

"Having trouble~?"

Maura looked over to Maribel, who had walked over to check on her. How was she so calm about this? If she was honest, Maura would've expected an outburst like Lauren did. She shrugged, stepping aside to let the witch of Nightmares look over the block. Maribel rested her chin against her hand.

"Huh, why don't you craft one of your old incarnations? Or that caricature people associate you with?" Maribel suggested. Earning a quick chuckle from the other girl.

"I don't think the grim reaper or the fourth horseman fit the holiday spirit, Mari. Remember? I got rid of my role in the coven a long time ago." It was almost tempting for her to leave it at "my role", but has she really let go of that part of herself? The part that served as a guide, a harvester, a reaper of souls?

"Truely, you have grown?" Maribel smiled at her. "Then how about something outside the box? Something you care about?"

Maura looked back at the blank canvas in front of them. Something outside the box, huh? Maybe one of her magical girls? No, too obvious. Besides, she didn't want anyone to assume she's picking favorites. Maybe them? But would they really appreciate their visage being known? They did enjoy their privacy, after all. And for good reason.

Then she had an idea, and began carving. Her ice magic made it easier for her to cut through the ice block, and surprisngly, Maribel was helping her. Well, enough beating around the bush.

"Mari?"

"Hm?"

Maura frowned. "How are you so...calm, about this? About running into me again after so long? After-"

"Don't go burdening yourself with the past now~ I had a little glimpse of what you've been doing while you were gone." Maribel reassured her, and tapped the side of her head. "Mental link." She then continued carving. "You went searching for the next Witch of Dreams, a twin no less! If the boy has the potential, we could have three dream magician with us! Isn't that exciting~? Not to mention I have a new apprentice to meet, seems like. I hope I don't spook her too much..." Maribel began to explain. "You found yourself some more apprentices as well? Amanda seemed concerned for you."

"Uh, yeah. About a faction full now, apparently." Maura crookedly smiled.

"Do they know? That kid you helped, what was their name?"

Maura froze for a second. How long had it been since she's seen him? "Vanhorn. He never really had a name of his own. Just monikers.

"Yet that wasn't a problem?"

She shook her head. "Not at all. But no, I haven't told him yet. Maybe I can introduce him to the others sometime." With one last cut, the statue was complete. The two witches stepped back to look it over. It was similar to the Crimson Cradle's insignia, but instead of just the claw, it was a ghostly magical girl holding the orb in her claws. A typical witch's hat obscured her face, except for a smile. Whether it was malicious or not was up to interpretation.

"Huh. It's still missing something." With a bit of dark and ice magic, she darkened the body of the sculpture, and slivers of magic swirled around the orb itself. "There we go. Thanks, Mari."

"Anytime, dear! If you need anything, let us know. We'll make sure Lauren doesn't bash your knees in." Maribel joked, walking back to her sculpture.

Well, now what? Maybe someone needed help with their snowman?
The last thing Eliza wanted was to get spotted so soon. Then again, hard to be descreet when you're dressed as a christmas tree. "Oh! Um," she quickly looked between the two (There was two new guests? Huh.), they seemed nice enough. Or was normal the better term? Eliza knew better than to go off of first glances, but unless someone found a loophole, they cant really do harm here can they? Atleast not in a violent sense.

Either way, might as well introduce herself. She bowed slightly. "Forgive my intruding. I noticed some newcomers and wanted to see if everything was alright over here." She'd explain. It wasn't exactly a lie, if they had a way to tell. But she had to make sure they won't try anything. Eliza then held her hand out for them to shake. "I'm Eliza!"
Okay now let's move to the important part.

Among the crowd that had watch Maura's performance was the small witch group, and unfortunately Amanda. Amanda tried to disway them from watching, for her patron's sake, but it didn't work in the slightest. They almost seemed...in awe, as they watched the estranged witch's magic at work. The magician couldn't tell if they recognized her or not. She did see them whispering to each other, so it still made her nervous.

Soon as it ended, Amanda was going to follow the group to make some snowmen and whatnot. Until they all noticed Maura approaching them.

Was she really going to confront her sisters? The Cradle Mother didn't know what to say or do exactly once she walked over to them. Surprisingly, neither did any of them. Maribel, Lauren, and Carmen looked at her with widened eyes. While Rowena and Amanda appeared worried for Maura.

"......Uh, it's been a while, hasn't it?" Maura tried to break the ice first.

Lauren looked to the rest of her group, then back to Maura. An annoyed glare replaced her shock. "Are you kidding me right now?! Years of hide-and-seek to figure out what the hell we'd say or do once we find each other, and no one's got anything?!" She scolded the other witches.

"You don't have any ideas either, do you?"

The witch of order would give Carmen an unamused look. "W-Well no, but atleast I can tell how bullshit this is! And YOU!" Her glare would return as she pointed to Maura.

"Please calm down and let her explain-" Amanda tried to intervene, but it seemed fruitless for someone as stubborn as Lauren Corvus.

The witch of order would hold her lion plush high above her head...

...and proceed to bonk Maura's head with it. Repeatedly.

"NEVERDOAGODDAMNSTUNTLIKETHATAGAIN, YOUHEARME?! SOMEOFUSNEARLYHADAHEARTATTACKCAUSEOFTHATBULLSHIT!!" Lauren screeched mid bonking, Maura only able to utter an oddly calm "Ow." during the ranting with each hit. Once Rowena dragged Lauren away, she rubbed her head.

"Okay, I probably needed that too." She slightly frowned, and looked back to her sisters. "So you're...not mad about what happened?"

Carmen crossed her arms, leaning against the wall. "I'll be frank, you had me worried. But I had other things to worry about than that incident."

Lauren huffed, being picked up by the taller witch of life. "For some reason this place doesn't let us hurt each other, so I can't exactly chop your head off right now- Ow!" Her grumblings would be intterupted by Rowena flicking her on the head. She crossed her arms. "You better have some good explaning to do, lady!"

Then there was Maribel, who was calmly watching the exchange. She hummed in thought, glancing between Rowena, Amanda, and Maura. Did the former already talk with the latter? Did Amanda and Maura know each other? Curious as she was, there was no point in dawdling. "Now, now girls. I know this is weird, but let's not lag behind everyone else~ We can talk during the activities!" She'd smile, walking to one of the portals; Ice sculpting in particular. "Not sure if those like us can participate, but it'll be fun, right~?"

With a non-verbal truce, the Walpurgis Night group followed Maribel outside. Each of them begining to carve out statues pertaining to their roles. And because Majora didn't want to stall in posting any further, we can leave it at that. Bother them if you want.
Dance of the Black Swans

Didn't seem like anyone else was on stage. Maura quietly walked up the steps, looking around to see what she can work with. She had the right instruments, and she can adjust the lighting if necessary. But what about back-up?

"Hmmm..." She looked down at her hands. Maura hadn't used more than just her dark magic in awhile, had she? Maybe she could work with something. Maura used spirit magic to summon a small phantom orchestra group. "Right then, everyone, take your places!" the necromancer called out to them, the spirits moving to their respective instruments.

Yet it still felt like she was missing something. As much as she didn't want to interfere with the uniform code of the party, Maura manipulated the magic to give herself the proper attire for her performance. Her brows furrowed in thought, but she shouldn't be overthinking things. She had to clear her mind somehow. Even if it's just for a moment. Maura moved to her position. With a nod to the pianist, she was ready.



The song started off slow, and so did she. Her movements were careful, uncertain, regretful. As if she was reaching out to her past. Her failures. Could she mend it? Must this black swan atone? Was the choices she made right? It felt overwhelming.

But with every step she took, her shadow was right there, mimicking her movements. It didn’t feel anxiety, lonely, or anything of the sort. It just followed Maura’s movements. While her shadow was not judging, it seemed to be getting fed up with the stiff performance. So much so that it stood up off the floor.

Maura’s shadow rose out of the ground like a mermaid jumping out of the ocean. Her shadow started to change shape after it left the ground. It shook it’s hair out, which revealed a bit of color as black tar was flung from her form. Green hair, pale skin, and a black dress that faded into a ruby red. The shadow was even so bold as to wear a jacket along with her elegant dress. The shadow was no longer a shadow, but a separate woman entirely. She extended her hand towards Maura with a smile.

Maura's eyes widened at the appearance of her new dance partner. She had stopped moving, to stare in surprise before looking down at the outstreched hand. She didn't need time to think. A performance had to be given. With a smirk, she took the woman's hand and continued on.

Then as the tempo changed, their movements would follow along, becoming more animate. Maura would make sure they were both in sync. With every ballon, pirouette, and arabesque, ice magic began to decorate the stage around them. Snowflakes seemingly from nowhere, frost and ice creating elegant, strange shapes on the floor below and the air around them. She shouldn't give up so easily, should she? There had to be a reason. There always is. She had to press on, make a new name for herself. And she did. She had always trusted her instincts, why stop now?

While Maura’s shadow had chosen to stand apart from Maura as a different entity, it was still content to dance along, perfectly synchronized with her actions. Though as closely matched as they were, it was always clear Maura was the one leading.

Another shadow looked on from the back of the stage, eyeing the two dancers. It had a massive head and pointy ears. It’s big expressive mouth was mostly hidden from view. But those eyes held enough contempt to scare anyone. Its eyes were lit green with the flames of jealousy, and it retreated from view soon after.

As grand as the ice magic dance was, it was about to be overshadowed. The stage floor became dark, with only ambient light from the ice magic to light it. The jealous shade had become as wide as the entire stage, and was obstructing the back light from the stage. There were a few gasps from the crowd as the jealous shadow opened it’s mouth, revealing a glowing maw. Maura and her shadow were both cast in the mouth’s neon green glow.

Whatever, or whoever had enraged the envious shade remained an enigma. Even Maura was trying to figure things out, yet she treated the shade' intervention as it was part of the show, not stopping for a moment. As the performance reached it's finale, more spirits appeared as back-up dancers; as if they were trying to hold the entity back, and the ice magic became more potent. There had to be a reason. They had to calm it down, somehow. Reassure it, or be forced to take it out.

Though it would soon become apparent that no spectacle of ice or light would put the shade to rest. If anything, the display caused the shadow to bloat with even more envy. It shrieked, it decended, and some of the onlookers gasped too.

Darkness.

But this was just a show, of course. Maura and her shadow were perfectly fine. They had been pulled into the cradle, with an assortment of green lighs scattered around them.

”Howdy Maura!” Viridian replied at last. ”Hope ya don’t mind the intermission. I thought we could talk for a bit.”

Maura gasped lightly when they appeared in the cradle. Regardless, she'd wave back to Viridian. Though her smile faltered when she said she wanted to talk. "If it's about Justine, I already had enough of an earful for the night." Maura said out of slight frustration. Her outfit would turn back to normal for now.

*Smack*

A stray glove had been drawn across Maura’s face. Just hard enough to leave a mark, albite one that would fade in a few seconds. She kept her smile the entire time. ”Got a lotta nerve assumin’ I’m gunna chew you out after a dance. Shucks!” She slid her hand back inside her glove. ”Hope ya don’t mind me takin’ initiative on givin’ ya a lickin’. Figured you’d gave Beacon a shot at ya, wouldn’t mind if I helped myself to one.” She folded her arms behind her back. ”Ya seem lost, and I wanna give you a hand, just like I did with this here stage play.”

Maura comically blinked from the slap, dumbfounded. "...Okay, I needed that." she noted, looking back to Viridian. She tilted her head when the other woman said she wanted to help. "I mean, I guess? I've been doing this for years, long before I inherited all this, so it kinda hurts that the others think I'm foolish for what, taking opportunities? Wanting to care about my agents? Trusting the instincts that got me this far??" Maura would vent to Viridian. She huffed, resting her head in one of her hands. "I shouldn't be screwing up this quickly, y'know? I know the fates are weird like that, but come on!"

Viridian giggled at Maura’s outburst. ”Settle down there, pumpkin. This ain’t exactly a simple matter, we gotta address the pieces. One, at, a time.” She placed a finger against her cheek. ”Let’s look at your outward conduct. Ya say ya been doin’ this for a while, and I trust ya. Ya got yer own girls to worry about and what not. But what makes that so different from the Cradle? And ya do think it’s different, right? Didn’t ya tell Betty and Sam ya never asked to be the Cradle mother?”

Maura hugged her knees in thought. "Well, other than the new resources, I feel like I have to meet the others' expectations after Veronica stepped down. Though I don't even know how high the bar is, I don't wanna let them down." She then frowned. "I'll be honest with you, I would've been fine with my old position. I was surprised when she handed all this over to me. Unsure as I was about it...I trust Veronica. And I trust you. So I went ahead with it. I don't wanna let either of you down too..."

”So the pressure is getting to ya, hmmm?” Viridian stroked her chin. ”Maura, if ya want respect, ya gotta act respectable! Even if ya just as lost as ya agents are, they gotta think their new boss is just as strong as their old one. Ya can’t be tellin’ them that yer in over ya head, pumpkin, it just ain’t right!” She stepped behind Maura and rubbed her shoulders. ”Ya gotta seem cool and collected. Even if everyone’s sayin’ ya screwed the pooch, or ya plans go up in flames.” she folded her arms around Maura’s shoulders. ”Veronica wasn’t so tough, ya know? She doubted herself. She made mistakes. But she always put on a brave face for her agents.”

"Kinda hard to do that when the guilt hits you like a goddamn maelstrom." Despite her mentioning that, Maura smiled. "But...I'll be okay. I just needed to recollect my thoughts. Besides I can't exactly kill Justine twice like they'd want. Not only would that go against my past actions, but the poor girl trusts me too much. Not only would it be too easy, but she may prove useful to us. I was hoping to explain everything properly at the next meeting." she told her.

Once Viridian mention that Veronica herself had doubts, Maura's eyes widened. The veteran Cradle agents seemed to revere the past Cradle Mother as if she was some goddess. But to Maura, Veronica was as human as the rest. Maybe it was cause she didn't understand why, but she respected her as a friend. And she still did. After a moment, Maura spoke up again. "How do you do it?" she'd asked, placing a hand over Viridian's.

”Afraid there’s not much to learn from me, darlin’.” Viridian walked forward through Maura, phasing through her form as shadows tend to do. ”Veronica’s whole reason for bringin’ li’l ol’ me into this world was to separate her personal feelings from her duty. I don’t really remember anythin’ too specific about everyone. I know what they can do in combat and that’s it. Awfully hard to treat her agents as she always had when she can see their every thought. Isn’t that what love is? Just a deep understandin’ of someone else?” She hummed. ”I suppose that’s it for me too. I can be strong because I know Veronica so well. Her every thought is open to me like a book. She has no secrets, and I can’t help but relate to her, ya see?” She looked over her shoulder at Maura. ”You like her too, right?”

"Hm." Maura let her palms rest on her knees."I guess that depends on your definition of 'like'." One of her brows rose.

Veronica’s sister nodded. ”Enough that you don’t wanna go dissapointin’ her, at least.” She turned to face Maura and folded her hands behind her back. ”Let me ask ya this then. Why did ya become a patron in the first place?”

"I'm sure you know what happened with me in the past. To keep that poor soul from dying I ended up making them my first magical girl. When I went into hiding, I had help from them and a few other patrons in getting things set up, get extra help in case I had to fight my sisters. Then I ended up focusing on other things, like protecting Penrose. I usually look for certain traits to ascertain if they'd do well as magical girls or not. Valerie was a hacker of some renown, Amanda was the recent incarnation of the Witch of Dreams, Evelyn was a war soldier to name a few." Maura explained. "Then there's the odd circumstances like how I met Elizabeth, and somehow she's one of my strongest. If only she could stay calm during battle. Guess what I'm trying to say is, I wouldn't have become a patron if it wasn't for my first recruit of sorts."

”Well, that’s a bit of a surprise.” Viridian scratched the back of her neck. ”Regardless, ya ain’t that scared runaway anymore, pumpkin. I know ya handle yourself better around your other girls, but ya gotta just treat the Cradle as an extension of your network.” She drew a knife from her waistband. ”There’s no runnin’ away for ya now. Ya sisters are here, and just as ya gotta confront them, ya gotta confront ya responsibilities as a Cradle mother.” She looked away from Maura. ”Belive in yaself, and eventually everyone else will too.” And then she thrust her knife into an aproaching shadow.







On the stage, the audience saw several snowbuns try to free the dancers trapped inside. Only for the jealous shade to pop like a balloon. There in the center of the stage was Maura, with her shadow holding a black knife up to the jealous shade’s massive heart. It was far more vile and twisted than it’s outward appearance, and it was holding a knife to Maura’s shadow. The two shadows had run each other through. The jealous shade collapsed into dust, and Maura’s shadow fell backwards into her arms. The color left her body, and her black flesh sunk between Maura’s fingers like ink. Her shadow caressed the side of her face before finally sinking into the ground. The black swan was greeted by a swarm of snowbuns as the curtain prepared to draw closed.

Once more, the christmas magic gave her back her ballet outfit. And as the performance ended, once more, Maura was alone. Her tutu faded back to her santa outfit in a burst of dark feathers, and the effects of her magic dispated as if nothing changed. Viridian's dissapearance could cause some concern, but Maura knew she was okay. She took a deep breath, feeling a newfound confidence.

Then she looked down at the snowbuns surounding her.

Maura snorted, squatting down to pet the buns. "My little heroes." she joked, brushing away any feathers that landed on them. Her dear shadow made a point though, something had to be done. So she walked off stage and to the rest of the witches, snowbuns in tow.

Among the audience members clapping as Maura came off stage was a woman in a Christmas themed new years kimono.

”Aw shucks, those snowbuns are the cutest darn thangs…”
I've got to get a proper banner.

So, Eliza and Maribel were some of the few who won.

With everyone else doing their own thing, Eliza opted to stay by Oros and Emily. Idly drinking a mug of hot cocoa (With a bit of ale. She doesn't get drunk easily, but whatever helps she guessed.), she'd keep an eye on everyone else just in case something else crops up. Maura was probably stressed out, so the christmas tree-looking witch was willing to step in just in case. Atleast to salvage the night for everyone else, and her date. She hated how things have gotten so...predictable, references to her powers aside. How annoying. Well, there was one thing she didn't predict.

Eliza glanced over to Justine. As much as she wanted to 1v1 the catalyst of two events that brought others trouble, and as much as she'd like to take her own swing at Maura for the patron's choice, she couldn't help feeling pity for the now-remorseful girl. Especially with the, uh, reception her mere appearance was getting.

Why bother getting angry at this point? There are more important matters than that. If Jenna didn't purify Justine, Eliza was sure Maura would be okay leaving her in the Cradle. Alas, fate seemed to have other plans.

Such as the mysterious guest that caught Eliza's eye.

Now, Eliza was hoping not to ditch Oros so suddenly, but she had her suspicions. Her eyes narrowed once the guest walked away. When she was addressed, she downed the rest of her hot cocoa, and looked back to Oros with a smirk. "Don't worry, I'll try to make this quick. Just wanna make sure this new guy doesn't try anything funny." She winked, getting up from her seat to go upstairs. She'll bother Cerise and Tetrad later.

Even after the little heart-to-heart between her and Betty, Maura still felt a bit uneasy. She'd try not to think much on the comparisons, but what the hell was she supposed to do? Ignore the glaring elephant (elephants?) in the room? If actually caring made her weak, she can't exactly help it. Death has atleast a bit of heart! When they were back inside, the Lord of Change was explaining how his game worked. People put their votes in, and the horror did his thing. Maura would try and comfort Betty when her vote was discarded cause Vocab noped out, wuss. But in the end, neither of them won.

Maura couldn't help but sigh. Not just in relief, but she guessed some part of her wanted Veronica to be there with them. As much as she didn't want to deal with her reaction to Justine. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Though Maribel being one of the winners worried her. Who would she want to invite? Reverie? She was brought out of her thoughts when Betty went to go catch one of those Harebringers outside.

"Uh, good luck then! I'll check on you in a bit!" Maura called out to the bodyguard as she left. Once alone, she'd let out another, more tired sigh. "Everything is fine. You got everything under control. You're not making a terrible mistake being here..." She tried to reassure herself. She'd check up on Justine, see if she was doing okay. Then she went to go find something to do. Probably something no one was doing yet. Maybe one of those stage performances?

Amanda slightly frowned when only one of the twins was able to join them. But she quickly shook it off and smiled at MDP. "Hey, don't worry. One of them's good enough-" Once more she was interrupted by MDP literally pushing her to go see Cerise. A bit confused, she looked over to Valerie who shrugged in return. Together, they hurried back inside.

"Yo! Cerise?! Where are ya?!" Valerie called out.

"Val?? I'm over here!"

When the two approached Cerise by the portal, they could see her talking to another girl nearby.

And now they felt kind of awkward. Amanda and Valerie looked at each other, not knowing who should talk first, then back to the lone twin.

"Hey, uh...it's been awhile has it?" Valerie asked with a crooked grin, which was then greeted by a warm smile. "Good to see you two are still kicking! How are the others?" Cerise would tilt her head, as if to look for someone. The other girl would walk off to leave them be.

"Same as always." Amanda shrugged, turning her attention to the present MDP gave her. Maybe she wouldn't mind her opening it right now. "Is...Cereza okay?" The magician asked, carefully unwraping the gift box.

Cerise's smile faltered slightly. "Still dead, I guess? Been trying to get her revived since the rave, remember?"

Their eyes widened. So that's how the Lord of Change got her here! This Cerise was if she was the only twin who survived that killing blow!

Well, they couldn't explain that to her, could they?

"Right! Right. Sorry, it's been awhile and I've been busy doing hacking shit. You wanna go get some food? Maybe go find some snowbuns?" Valerie suggested.

Cerise's eyes lit up at the mention of the snowbuns. "BUN."

The android snorted. "I'll take that as a yes."

While the two walked out, Amanda went to go sit down with the present when,

"Amanda??"

Maribel and Lauren were busy talking with Viva when the nightmare witch noticed her opposite. At that point did Rowena return with a bunch of flowers, walking back to her seat to start making flower crowns. A fourth witch also had joined them. Amanda stood there dumbfounded. She knew better than to approach the small coven, for Maura's sake, but at the same time...

"Don't just stand here waiting for crows to appear, come join us~!" Maribel called out again. With a bit of hesitance, Amanda sat down by the group.

The nightmare witch grinned at the dream magician. "You already know about us three, but I'd like to introduce you to Carmen! She's the one I invited here!" she pointed to the brunette Witch of Light, who was casually sitting on one of the couch arms.

"Yo."

Amanda and her would wave at each other, before Maribel introduced the two to Viva. Admittedly, the dream magician felt uneasy by the nurse, but she seemed nice. Then again, so does the small witch group. Eh, she shouldn't worry about it.

"So are we just gonna sit on our asses all night, or are you girls up to cause mischief?" Carmen would speak up with a sly smile.

"Oh my, you're so right! Anyone got any suggestions~?"
While the whole confrontation was being delt with, the others got their plushies.

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

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

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

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

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

"Just trying to lighten the mood, seally."

"Val. Please."

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

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

"Guess that sealed the deal?"

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

"Alright! Seal you later!"

"I WANT A DIVOR- BWEH?!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Maura...?"

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

And that was when the horror came in.

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

"W-Wait, this is-!?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

"We have to play that game."

"Agreed!"

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

"What are you-"

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

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

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

"And you three?"

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

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

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

"Good point."

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You were always fond of red velvet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I failed.

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

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

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


Enough.

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

Enough.

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

Enough.

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

Maura was crying.

What’s going on?!?!?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Understood."

Soon as the two went back to the lodge, Rowena would linger outside for awhile longer. Using her wood magic to gather some flowers before heading back herself.
A Bunch of Angry or Concerned People, aka Maura Gets Lynched

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What the he---"

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

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

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

“I don't think that's advised.”

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A horror. Of course.

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

Christmas time was something Maura was fond of, the one day where families get together near the end of a year to feast and give gifts. She always found the decorations, the stories and such charming, but never got to celebrate it in the past. Her work came first. So would it be fair to call this work? Well, however it goes, it should prove interesting.

Such as Maura bringing Justine with her. She noticed the smaller girl's hesitance when she hid behind her, and patted her back with a reassuring smile. "Don't worry, I'll stick by you if you're feeling nervous." she told her. Soon enough, trouble decided to brew a little earlier than expected, in the form of Sakura and his patron noticing their arrival. Or more specifically, Justine's.

"Shouldn't you be in dress code?" Maura looked at Sakura with a raised eyebrow, steping up to block the two in case they tried anything. "Look, it's a long story, but she's under my supervision now and-" before she could explain, an unexpected guest had made himself known. The All-Father himself, and a group of valkyries. "Well things just got interesting." Maura noted. Atleast it got the heat off their backs. She'd have to thank him later.

"The others should arrive soon. Come on, let's look around." She said, looking back at Justine.

Eliza was the next one to arrive. She wanted to wait for Oros at first, but after awhile, it seemed best to go and hope she makes it in time. "Man, my luck with dates kinda sucks." She grimaced. Not only from that line of thought, but from the outfit she got stuck with. Atleast it was different from all the santa claus outfits, but she wasn't one for ballgowns. "If they start cracking jokes, I'm burying myself face first into the snow." She grumbled, standing by the actual christmas tree.

"This is stupid."

"You need a break, Valerie."

"I need to be hacking into databases and finding whereabouts, not whatever this-" Valerie would motion to the dress she wore. "-is."

Amanda rolled her eyes. "Come on, I know you're not sure about this, but we'll be fine. Dan doesn't allow fighting, and we could get more people on our side." She'd explain.

"Or something could happen to screw all this up. Ow." The android would flinch when the other girl smacked her on the head.

"Let's just get some food first..."

Lasty, the Walpurgis Night trio would walk through the portal in unison. "Here we are, girls~!" Maribel stretched her arms out. "My, isn't this place wonderful? Not everyday we get invited to a gathering that isn't our own~" She'd giggle, moving over to one of the seats. Rowena sat down next to her, and Lauren leaned over from behind the couch.

"Eh...the host is a dolphin?" Lauren would look over to Dan with a raised brow.

"Better a dolphin than a shark, they're much more trustworthy." The nightmare witch joked, unaware that Eliza had noticed the three.

"Uh, Maura? Someone invited your sisters. They're there. Right now."

"....FUCK."
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