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Greetings, I'm Takaru. That is all.

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Kotori Shirohane - Warakuma Train Terminal | Saturday - Morning

Following Rui's returned greetings, the only ones to speak up were Megumi and Kazuki. Kotori, standing aside from them, glanced between the two as Megumi tried to get her fellow Shujin student to perk up at the prospect of a summery beach visit - whilst Kazuki's lack of enthusiasm was only good for a roll of his eyes and a dismissal of her words. As she'd only really seen either of them when everyone had been called upon for a foray into the Mirror World, Kotori wasn't too sure of whether such small-scale bickering was usual for them or if perhaps the mood may turn sour all too soon should they continue - but luckily, she wouldn't have to confirm her fears when an interruption arrived just moments later in the form of Sato.

The third-year gave a brief greeting to which Kotori gave a bow in return. Just moments later, Ryan too approached the group, lifting a bottle of water to his lips - either the morning sun was already getting to him or he was simply more conscious of the dangers of the midsummer heat than others, Kotori surmised as she greeted the first-year student with a polite bow. Ryan too was the first to break the silence as he asked how everyone was doing. "Ah, uhm..." Kotori started, though catching herself from yawning at the last moment and instead just going with a brief nod - hopefully she'd shake off the lack of sleep as the day carried on.

Seeing as the group was slowly growing in numbers, Rui spoke up to announce that there was still half an hour before their train went - whilst that did mean that they'd have some waiting to do, Kotori did breathe a little easier knowing that there was most likely not going to be any panic about last minute arrivals and possibly missing the train because of it. It was then that Samuru, the latest member to join them, arrived as well, setting off another round of reciprocated greetings - though he did seem a little subdued where it came to both Ryan and Sato for some reason. Yet just as she thought that it was a good thing that everything was well prepared, Sato spoke in her direction about his own lack thereof. "Eh?" It took a moment for Kotori to realise that he was, in fact, addressing her; leaving her to blink in surprise before quickly turning to look at her senpai as he asked her for some sunscreen. At his words, Kotori couldn't quite help the faintest of proud smiles crossing her face as she kneeled down to rifle through her bag, quietly murmuring "One moment..." as she did.

Indeed it was only a brief moment before she produced a full bottle of sunblock from therein as she was in equal measures happy for it to have not been in vain and also to be of help. "Please feel free to use as much as you need, senpai," Kotori said as she held it out toward Sato. Between the wide-brimmed sun hat and the high protection factor written upon the bottle, it was not hard to guess that she was evidently one of the unfortunate people who were rather susceptible to the sun. "Uhm, if... you need anything else... ah, p-please let me know," Kotori added - even as she noticed half-way through that she could be taken to be asserting the others to be forgetful or even negligent. Between that and the realisation that her words had likely just gotten her the attention of everyone gathered around, however briefly, was sure to leave her gaze to remain fixed on the ground between her sandals for the next few moments - though she was thankful for the fact that while doing so her hat would at least keep some of her embarassment hidden.
Kotori Shirohane - Shirohane Residence | Saturday, August 1 2015 - Morning

A lazily waving hand found the alarm beeping away into the morning, letting silence fall over the room again. It was a good few seconds before the owner of said hand stirred in bed, slowly sitting up and blinking at the sunlit covers. Stretching her arms out to try and rid herself of her drowsiness, Kotori couldn't quite stifle a yawn as she reached for her glasses placed on the small nighstand beside her - though the clatter of a noteboke striking the ground did wonders for rousing her in surprise. It took her a moment before she realised that she'd accidentally knocked down her packing list for today - and the one she'd spent the past few days revising before making sure she had everything she needed for the day's trip. Incidentally, it was also the reason for her sleepiness.

Given how rarely she went out with other people - excepting perhaps the excursions into the Mirror World, though she could hardly count those as a leisurely activity - she'd been both nervous and excited at the prospect ever since she'd gotten the message and agreed to go along too. And even though she'd made sure to double-check her list - cross-referenced with advice from her mother and anything she might find in travel guides - and triple-checked that she'd packed everything the day before, she'd still kept herself awake half the night, tossing and turning in bed and generally unable to sleep. Still, the prospect of going to the beach - even with the continued mixed feelings - did make some inroads to casting off the lethargy as she rubbed her eyes before going about her morning routine.

---

"I'm off," Kotori called, to which her mother gave a smile as she waved her goodbye. "Have fun and a safe trip," she said, watching her daughter walk off before turning back inside, humming an old tune to herself all the while. Kotori meanwhile was heading toward the proposed meeting point that was the train station. A quick glance to her watch confirmed that she was still well on time - even if she slowed to peek into the bag slung over her shoulder for a last check to see that she hadn't forgotten anything that may have slipped past her notice the last seven time she'd looked. Her mind was placated when she found exactly what she expected within, crossing everything off her mental list that she'd come to know by heart after going over it often enough. The new book, A full bottle of sunblock, even though she'd already applied it at home, her newly-acquired swimwear, a towel and a spare just in case someone forgot theirs, a bottle of water should there be nowhere to get something to drink in the heat - all told, Kotori was more than prepared.

Kotori Shirohane - Warakuma Train Terminal | Saturday - Morning

As she drew closer to the train station, Kotori peered up from beneath the brim of her sun hat. The distinctive silhouette of the building really did stand out from the parts of town she'd just walked through - but at least that meant that it was hard to miss if someone happened to get lost around here. As she approached, Kotori took a moment to check her phone - just to be sure that the time and place of meeting hadn't mysteriously changed from five minutes ago. As it turned out, such was not the case and with her mind at ease - for now - she headed for the platform mentioned in the message.

The train station itself was rarely truly empty. Warakuma was large enough to have people boarding and exiting trains from morning light to the middle of the night even during the summer break - and as such, it came as little surprise when she passed the occasional familiar face; mostly being customers that she'd made deliveries to from her family's flower shop. She even saw a classmate with his family, carrying suitcases and evidently looking forward to spending some time away. However, it wasn't until she stepped onto the platform itself that Kotori caught sight of other members of the group she was a part of - though she was a little on the early side, it seemed that others were even more diligent.

Stepping forth a little more quickly, Kotori headed over to where Megumi was scolding Kazuki for his lack of enthusiasm in contrast to her own - and probably not for the first time this morning, either. "Uhm... good morning, everyone," she greeted hesitantly, giving a bow as she did after waiting for an opportune moment to interject between the two Shoujin students. Seeing as she hadn't really talked very much with either of them, Kotori did find some comfort in the fact that Rui was here too. Slipping her bag off her shoulder, she glanced around the platform to see who else was going to join them.
Kotori Shirohane - Shirohane Flowershop | Wednesday, July 29 2015

"Thank you very much," Kotori said as she gave a bow to the departing customer. As usual around this time of the year, the old man from down the street had come to pick up a bouquet of his wife's favourite flowers - a gesture that put a small smile on Kotori's face every year. Such events always did help make up for her ever-present dislike of standing at the counter of her family's flowershop - no matter how often she helped her mother out, her nervousness never could quite be abated. For that reason, she much preferred to be in the back room, watering the flowers, setting up new arrangements or getting the deliveries ready - but her mother had a knack of leaving her out front with the oddest smile as she busied herself otherwise. Kotori did occasionally wonder if her mother enjoyed seeing her fretting about whenever a stranger walked in - or, worse yet, a familiar face such as a fellow student.

Still, it had been a mostly quiet morning - unsurprisingly, given the propensity of families to go on trips, visit relatives or otherwise find themselves preoccupied elsewhere. There had only been a few visitors and a couple more passers-by who had taken a look at the vibrant display in the shop windows - a notion that made Kotori at least a little bit happy, seeing as she'd helped set them out. Coupled with the summery temperatures, she'd found her mind wandering more than a few times whilst she busied herself with tending to the flowers about the shop between visitors - mostly towards the novel that she'd picked up the day before from the library, but also what little that had been learned from the occasional foray into the Mirror World over the past few days.

Kotori was umming and ahhing over whether to turn a pot of chrysanthemums just that little bit more to the left or the right to put them in the best view when a sudden noise almost made her jump - even though she'd heard it quite a few times in recent weeks, she still was rather unused to the ringing of her own phone whenever she received a message. Looking up to make sure that she wouldn't be bothering any customer if she quickly checked her phone - and immediately regretting it when she saw the smiling face of the next door neighbour walking by outside, undoubtedly having seen her little display just now. With more than a little embarassment, Kotori quickly checked to see what exactly the message was about.

Her embarrasment almost immediately turned to worry when she saw from whom it was. A message from Rui usually meant another visit to the Mirror World was soon in order - whether to explore and understand that strange place or, worse yet, because someone had been kidnapped and forced into it. Almost hesitantly, Kotori checked the message - and found her worry turning into relief just a moment later when she realised that, for once, it was not a roundup call for an upcoming exploration of the Mirror World. This relief, however, was in turn quickly replaced by a slight confusion as she read on. As it turned out, it was a call for meeting indeed - but at quite a different place instead.

Kotori blinked in surprise, her brow furrowed above her glasses at the mention of a trip to the beach, courtesy of Tadao. Apparently, he wanted everyone to take a day off together as a sort of reward of rest for the continued endeavours in the Mirror World - and leaving Kotori feeling a little guilty as she wondered if she could just accept such a gift when she hadn't been part of the team for as long as some of the others or even been on every trip since then.

"Something interesting happen?" her mother's voice suddenly asked from behind her, leading Kotori to jump in fright for a second time in as many minutes and spin around to see her mother's wide smile - evidently, she was more than pleased with the reaction she'd just elicited. "Ah, just a few of my... friends are going to, well, the beach this weekend," Kotori said, glancing between the phone that she'd pressed close to her chest in her sudden surprise and her mother as she spoke. As she did, she could practically see her face light up in delight. "Oh, that's wonderful! When are you going? Does your swimsuit still fit you? Ah, that reminds me..."

---

Kotori blinked stupendously when she found herself standing outside the shop less than five minutes later, relieved of the green apron she wore whenever she helped out and instead clasping a shopping bag, some money and an absolute order to not return until she had everything she might need for a trip to the beach. Turning to look back, her mother gave her a beaming smile as she enthusiastically waved her off - leaving Kotori with no choice but to head off toward Ferrero Mall.
Kotori Shirohane - Abandoned Warehouse | Thursday

Following Rui's question whether she would join them, Fubuki's immediate reaction was one of confusion. Given that the only time she'd been present at a talk about joining the group was when it had been her own turn, Kotori was a little unsure whether this was a good or bad thing. Still, seeing as she was neither running away nor calling them crazy - not quite surprising, given that she'd already seen the Mirror World first hand - Fubuki did seem at least inclined to listen; asking Rui to sit down and explain it all in detail - and leading Kotori to blink in surprise at the sudden boldness of declaring him the boy of her dreams. Said surprise only lasted for a moment, however, before she realised that she was talking about the meeting in the Velvet Room earlier - if there was such a thing as 'earlier' in that place.

As Fubuki was introducing herself in turn, Kotori saw some movement out of the corner of her eye - which turned out to be Akane who was just entering the warehouse as well. "Ah, good day, Hanazawa-san," Kotori said with a quick bow as her classmate moved past the small assembly of people in order to take nearby seat. Following Fubuki's words, Akane's usual straight-forward ways made themselves known once more as she questioned Fubuki's reason for even showing up if she didn't know exactly what was going on. Fearing that her classmate's blunt honesty might come off as a little off-putting, Kotori tried to assuage any ire - at least, she would have if she'd known what to say. Instead, she glanced between Fubuki and Akane for a moment, her mouth opening as if to say something but finding no words before Rui spoke up instead.

Whilst the other three boys busied themselves with setting up another piece of furniture in the back of the warehouse, Rui led Fubuki over to a table surrounded by slightly worn chairs with Kotori following a small ways behind - and only now noticing the strange fact that there was a table where thin air had been just minutes prior. Or at least that's what it had felt like, given how easily she got lost in books and thus failed to notice how time passed. Standing a few steps away, she finally looked about - and realised that all the while she'd been engrossed in the story of the book she was still holding in her hands, the boys had already carried and set up a whole host of furniture.

With a nigh-inaudibly mumbled "S-sorry..." Kotori quickly moved over to one of the empty seats when she in turn realised that this also meant that she hadn't done the slightest thing to help them all throughout; her guilty conscience immediately making itself known as she sat down and overpowering any slight joy at having come up with much the same idea earlier, given that she hadn't gone and actually turned thought into action unlike them. Rui meanwhile had already begun explaining the situation to Fubuki, about how the Mirror World was indeed real - for a given measure of the word - and that with the awakening of her persona, she might be able to help others like they'd done for her.

As he finished, Kotori lifted her down-turned eyes to glance between the two from behind her glasses - and at Akane, who'd made herself comfortable in another chair as well. She wanted to say something to help Fubuki make up her mind - but seeing as she knew nothing more about both the Mirror World and the phenomenon of Personas, there was little more she could do but give an encouraging smile.

At least, that's what she tried - the result was more of a wry half-smile with an apologetic streak when her gaze was met with the sight of Kaminari, Tadao and Kazuki debating over the exact kind of screw that was supposed to be used on the piece they were working on.
Kotori Shirohane - Abandoned Warehouse | Thursday

If one had watched Kotori's facial expressions, one could have easily followed along with the book she was reading - the small shifts gave away what parts she reached. The smile widened ever so slightly when the the story's main character met with her destined one, a small frown revealed the exact moment that the inevitable rival appeared whilst a slight arcing of the eyebrow indicated a slight plot hole - though one she was willing to overlook if it meant that the story could come together in a happy ending.

However, before she could confirm her overwhelmingly likely suspicion a voice managed to break her intent focus on the book in her hands. Though it took her more than a second to tear herself away from the pages after the unfamiliar sound occurred, Kotori did finally look up and peered through her glasses at the source of it. Her eyes widened in surprise when she traced it back to a certain blue-haired girl who had just entered the warehouse - though as it seemed, she wasn't the only one. Her words hadn't been addressed at Kotori but rather at Rui, who turned to greet her in turn - and whose appearance had somehow completely slipped her attention.

Not only that, but so too did Kaminari and even Tadao and Kazuki as well. A surprised-sounding "Ah" was quick to escape Kotori's lips as she hastily closed her book and scrambled to her feet; more than a little flustered at somehow having gotten so engrossed into a silly story that she hadn't even noticed other people arriving. As Rui was asking the newly-arrived girl - who was the same that they'd rescued from Seto just yesterday and who'd been present at the Velvet Room along with all the others - if she was willing to join their by now no longer small group, Kotori slowed her pace so as to not just barge into the conversation; giving a small bow in greeting to the others as she passed by them with a wryly apologetic look for not having done so sooner.

Standing slightly aside and still clutching the book in her hands, Kotori waited for the girl to first answer Rui's question before she would step forward and greet the two with another bow. "Uhm, good day," she said, glancing between the two - and only belatedly realising that it would be rather rude to speak to someone without introducing herself first. "Ah, I-I'm Kotori Shirohane," she quickly said with another small bow before remembering that there was the matter of the warehouse's interior decoration to bring up - though that topic certainly could wait until the blue-haired girl was brought up to speed on the exact nature of this undertaking.

Even whilst Kotori idly wondered about the particular shade that the other girl's hair held, she had yet to actually notice that the unspoken matter had, in fact, already been mostly resolved all the while she'd been focused on her reading.
Kotori Shirohane - Velvet Room | Thursday

The first to break the silence following Igor's inital words was Akane - rather than be content to wait until everyone got over their initial surprise and confusion, she was eager to get whatever this meeting exactly was to entail going. Unfortunately, this did not sit too well with Mako, it seemed, who sounded a little annoyed at the interjection - but before any hostilities might spring up between them, Igore spoke up once more; unperturbed by the brief exchange.

Kotori's initial confusion was visibly mirrored in her quizzical expression when the long-nosed man - if he could be called such - announced a feast of sorts before handing things off to his assistant. Henrietta in turn explained that the Velvet Room would be offering services in form of a meal, as explained by the menues before everyone. This brough about a surprised blink by Kotori who had not seen such a menu when she'd initially glanced about - but as she looked down at the table before her, there now was indeed a leather-bound booklet placed before each and every occupant.

Henrietta let a few moments pass in silence as everyone peered into the menu before continuing her words. This meeting was intended to be an informative one - one which had only now become due with the latest addition of both Samuru and Fubuki. It was also only now that Henrietta explained that they were free to come and go as they pleased that Kotori realised that this was the purpose of the key she had received on her first visit to this place over a month ago. Still, whilst she was not opposed to everyone being granted the chance to improve their abilities of dealing with the threat of the shadows through these services, she couldn't help but feel slightly apprehensive at the fact it would mean yet more danger for everyone involved.

Following Henrietta's recommendation of the desserts - Kotori could have sworn she saw the assistant licking her lips at the word out of the corner of her eyes for but an instant at the mention of that word - there was another momentary pause as both denizens of the Velvet Room let the words, both spoken and written, sink in before Igor thanked his assitant. Turning his rather large eyes back to the occupants of the table, he then declared this meeting adjourned - though he was looking forward to seeing them all before too long; a equally unusually wide smile breaking out across his face as he bid everyone farewell. And with those words, Kotori's vision faded back to black...

Kotori Shirohane - Shirohane Residence | Thursday

...as she found herself back in the seat before her desk, her vision blocked not by darkness but rather the simple fact that her eyes were closed. Kotori blinked a few times as she had to adjust to the strange feeling of being back in reality - before turning her gaze downward. A relieved sigh came over her lips when she realised that she was still wearing her normal clothes rather than the pretty dress of the Velvet Room - she had no idea how she would have explained its sudden appearance to her mother.

With her mind still swimming in questions surrounding both the Mirror World and the Velvet Room and her gaze still down-turned, Kotori's eyes met the still-open school books on the desk before her; a silent reminder that she was almost done with her homework for the summer break. It took her a moment, but she managed to calm the many thoughts circling the unanswered mysteries about the Mirror World and instead brought her mind back on track with the train of thought that had been so suddenly interrupted. Slightly pushing up her glasses that were threatening to begin slipping from looking down too long, Kotori set about solving the remaining problems.

---

With a contented sigh, Kotori closed the last book before her and placed it with its neatly stacked fellow school books. Her homework completed and checked over once - though she told herself she was sure of her answeres, Kotori knew in the back of her mind that she'd still look over her answers eventually - she found herself at complete liberty for the day. As such, her previously banished thoughts did slowly begin to creep back to the fore as her mind wandered to the Velvet Room visit whilst barely stifling a yawn that betrayed her uneasy rest the night before.

However, even in light of this new information, she still could not piece together just what this whole Mirror World was about. What was this Junsei Sekai Tensei's connection with it? And was there any reason behind her own involvement beyond pure chance - or everyone else's, for that matter? A now more disappointed sigh followed a slow shake of her head as her thoughts turned in unsolved circles. Though she knew that these were things of great importance, she could not get to the bottom of them - at least not until she knew more. As such, she decided to put these questions to rest as best she could, instead looking up and out of the window. With sitting in her chair and wondering all day no longer an option, that did mean that she'd need something else to keep herself busy.

The clear blue sky promised another nice if rather hot summer day - leading her to consider a walk to the local park. Perhaps she could take a book with her and find a bench in the shade of one of the trees there. That is, if her mother didn't need any help around the store - but then again, when Kotori had last offered such, she'd been quite clearly informed that a summer break was meant to be enjoyed and that she should spend some time outside rather than stay cooped up inside with her books almost all summer. Again.

Kotori practically jumped out of her seat when her phone suddenly rang. After getting over her immediate surprise and clearly still not accustomed to getting calls or messages, she was somewhat grateful that at least no one had been around to see all that - but that sentiment quickly faded and was replaced by a sinking feeling when she saw who the sender was. Not because she disliked Rui - but rather because getting a message from him usually meant one thing: Mirror World.

Indeed, such was the case this time as well - but this time, the cause was a little different. Instead of it being a call to action due to Megumi or Ayano detecting an anomalous occurence in the other realm or a kidnapping taking place, it was rather more a heads-up on behalf of both Ryan and Sato that they were planning to head into the Mirror World to explore this Seto place more closely and invited anyone who felt up for it to accompany them.

With no lives immediately at stake, Kotori's immediate thought was to abstain - but just a moment later, her previous train of thought she'd so carefully tried to avoid returned once more. Would this perhaps reveal more about the nature of the Mirror World? Even if it was dangerous, that might shed some light on this whole mystery after all. Furthermore, just because no one had been kidnapped did not mean that no one might get hurt - a small frown accompanied the memory of hearing about Shizuka coming under heavy attack just yesterday.

This mental back-and-forth continued for a few seconds before a small sigh came across Kotori's lips. Though she did not enjoy the prospect of perhaps having to enter the Mirror World when it was not strictly necessary, she knew that she'd be feeling even worse if someone ended up getting hurt when she may have been able to help if only she'd been there. As such, she reluctantly got up to get ready to head out.

Kotori Shirohane - Abandoned Warehouse | Thursday

As it turned out, Kotori arrived to late - Ayano informed her that besides Ryan and Sato, both Mako and Samuru had already met up and, under her navigatorial guidance, made their way inside. Guilty though she may feel for it, Kotori couldn't help but feel almost a little relieved as that meant that she'd be able to remain on the sidelines for now - though if the need truly arose, she knew that she'd nonetheless have to brave the Mirror Realm to render any aid she may. As such, there remained little for her to do beside hope that the four managed to complete their exploration unharmed and perhaps even uncover some new information about this strange place called Seto whilst she would wait in the warehouse for either their return or perhaps any new arrival.

Realising that this was the first time that she'd actually spent any time here without the whole group around, Kotori's eyes wandered around the warehouse. Once more, she realised just how derelict the whole place looked - of course she knew that the place was abandoned, but it still possess a rather unwelcoming utilitarian atmosphere with its size only amplified by the emptiness. As the words from the Velvet Room came to mind, Kotori surmised that the warehouse was going to be seeing more use over the summer break - and as such, could really do with a more welcoming touch.

Rather than just go ahead on her own, Kotori resolved to ask the others if such a thing could or even should be done - perhaps one of the Shoujin students. who'd been using this place for longer than everyone else, or Rui, who'd for all intents and purposes become a leader of sorts for the whole group. With that matter decided, Kotori reached into her bag and brought forth the most recent book she was reading. Though she occasionally glanced up at the grand mirror that served as the connection to the other realm just in case, most of her attention was soon focused on the story. Judging by the small smile, she seemed to be enjoying the novel even in spite of the fact that she could have summarised the entire plot from just the title and its romantic genre. But Kotori was not about to let such minor details spoil a good read.
Kotori Shirohane - Shirohane Residence | Thursday, July 23 2015

As Kotori flipped another page in the math book before her, she had to suppress a yawn - and not for the first time that day. The reason for it was not boredom at the subject matter - she didn't mind finishing her summer holiday - but rather the fact that she hadn't really slept too well the night before. That in turn wasn't too surprising at this point, considering that the excitement - at least once everyone was back safe and sound - made for a rather terrible sleeping aid, leaving her to stay awake for hours on end on such days in the past. This time, however, Kotori's excitement had been tainted by guilt - even after she'd been reassured multiple times, Kotori couldn't help but worry about Shizuka who, as she'd found once when she'd returned, apparently suffered heavy attacks in this Seto place. Even knowing that she'd at least aided somewhat in the rescue of Samuru, Kotori still felt like she might have been able to prevent those events from transpiring - but either way, it didn't make for a good night's sleep.

With a sigh, Kotori put her pencil down and looked up from her books, stretching her arms upwards - only now noticing the slight ache that came with writing continuously for quite some time - before bringing them back to rub her eyes behind her glasses; the tiredness never quite having left them ever since she got up that morning. When she opened them again, however...

Kotori Shirohane - Velvet Room | Thursday

...Kotori found herself sitting at quite a different table indeed. Even though she knew she should be surprised at this inexplicable turn of events, Kotori felt oddly calm as she looked about the room. She recognised it immediately - even though it had been more than a month and a half - as the same place she'd awakened at following her kidnapping and subsequent awakening of her persona, Kikuri-Hime. This time, however, the room looked quite different. Where before it had held a dark and mysterious atmosphere, it was now revealed to be a splendid dining hall. In this new light, she could see the hall decorated in many complimenting shades of blue, highlighted by interwoven patterns in gold. As her eyes wandered back down toward the table, she found that all the other seats - one of them replaced by a perch for a bird to perch upon - were now occupied. Tut this time, not by shadowy silhouettes.

Instead, Kotori found herself at the table with everyone else who'd gotten involved with the mirror realm. However, instead than their school uniforms or even their casual clothes, they all were wearing rather more formal and fancy attire. It was only when she looked down that Kotori realised that this applied to herself too. Lifting her arms, she saw them clad in dark blue fingerless elbow gloves. Following the lines of her arms, she further found herself wearing a similarly blue jacket which ended in a long skirt of many large frills, alternating between blue and a pale yellow-gold colour. Where one colour was predominant, the other served as a decorative highlight. This too was true of the heeled shoes she found herself wearing, much in keeping with the rest of her clothes. Additionally, a large ribbon of the same pale golden yellow adorned the small of her back - whilst the same colour drew her attention upwards to a blue flower set in her long black hair, decorated further with another ribbon tied to it. Of course, given that she could clearly recognise all these things and the others sat at the table clearly told her that she was still wearing her glasses.

Rather than confusion or outright embarrassment at clad in such a fashionable outfit, Kotori merely felt a mild surprise - though that did not last for very long before a familiar voice spoke up. Drawing all eyes unto himself with his words, the strange man with his distinctly long nose and large eyes seemed quite pleased to finally have gathered everyone at the table. Henrietta, his assistant, remained impassive at his side as Igor addressed them all with his next words:

"Welcome, to the Velvet Room"


Kotori in return gave a polite bow as best she could whilst still seated. Though she still did really understand exactly what was going on, she couldn't help but feel like most questions would be answered very soon indeed and as such remained silent.
Kotori Shirohane - Seto: Chapel of the Martyr | Wednesday

Looking up, Kotori saw that the attack had been a resounding success. Relief washed over her as she saw the Shadow reeling from a direct strike to the chest from Akane - but more importantly, both she and Rui were unharmed after Kotori's healing magic had done its work. Yet just a moment her eyes widened when the reeling Shadow surged forth with desperate ferocity and brought all four of its clawed hands forth to grab Akane - but Kotori's fears subsided just as quickly when Rui and his persona, Askr, broke the Shadow's grasp with clean cuts along all four arms. Recoiling from this unrelenting assault, Rui saw the opportunity they had been waiting for and called for a final attack into the opening that he'd just created.

Knowing what was coming all too well, used the Shadow's body as a spring to catapult herself away from it - though not without taking the opportunity to inflict a last blow to repay the Shadow's attempt at imprisoning her in its hands. Just a moment later, the shadows within the chapel, having crept back into every dark crevice as Kotori's healing spell ended, were once more cast away by a stark light - this by a double lightning strike as Kotori called upon Kikuri-Hime to keep the weakened Shadow in place for just a moment longer in order for Katsuro to finally finish it off with his more powerful offensive magic.

This time, however, the shadows remained banished. The unnatural darkness receded as the Shadow began to lose the power to sustain itself, flaking away in wisps of black smoke that dissipated within moments. Before long, the entire form had collapsed - and revealed the golden-eyed double of the boy that was still behind the group standing where the Shadow lay just seconds prior. With the immediate threat vanquished, Kotori could finally catch her breath - albeit not without a worrying glance in the boy's direction as he strode forth to meet his other self; her to date unrealised fear of what might happen should someone refuse themselves a second time springing forth once more.

However, his first words were quick to settle this fear. He made no attempt at denying his other self - instead, he wholly agreed with what his mirror image had said. Though Kotori still felt a slight unease at having been made privy to another's private struggles yet again, a small smile still found its way to her lips - much like everyone present, she'd gone through much the same process and, ultimately, had found some peace of mind therein. And judging by the way the boy was whole-heartedly embracing the feelings he'd been keeping hidden from himself, this seemed to do him no less good.

Seeing its purpose fulfilled, there was nothing left for the golden-eyed boy to smile - even as, much like his shadowy form before, he too began to vanish from sight. However, rather than turning into black smoke, he instead seemed to become a soft blue light, slowly rising and gathering above the boy as a familiar card descended into his hand. And as he drew upon this new-found power within himself, the blue glow above him grew in intensity - though never becoming painful to the eye - before revealing a new form, clad in long robes of red and white; reflecting the boy's restored faith in its appearance before fading from view as he turned to face the group that had come to his aid and addressing Rui.

Knowing what happened after she had gained her persona and seeing it mirrored many times since, concern clouded Kotori's expression as she glanced between Rui and the boy speaking to him - the fatigue easily being enough to overwhelm almost anyone in a matter of moments. Still, as Rui gave a brief explanation - seemingly waiting for much the same - Kotori had managed to rest up enough to turn her thoughts to the other group, hoping that the four of them - Kaminari, Shizuka, Sato and Jun - had managed to get through whatever challenges they'd faced unharmed.

It took her just a moment before she shook her head at that thought - after all, besides Jun, they were all undoubtedly experienced enough to make short work of anything in their way.
Kotori Shirohane - Seto: Chapel of the Martyr | Wednesday

Kotori was relieved when she saw that both Akane and Rui managed to weave in between the slashing bone claws mostly unscathed - though she couldn't help but wince whenever a strike drew dangerously close or even managed to inflict a glancing hit. Still, between their direct attacks and Katsuro's magical follow-up blast, the Shadow recoiled and was knocked off-balance; only coming to a stop a few paces away. Judging by the juddering of its wings, the Shadow seemed to be nearing defeat - a thought that only became more concrete when it seemed to have an awfully hard time getting itself airborne. The Shadow seemed to realise much the same - and immediately began to cast a myriad of spells toward the party; seemingly aiming for saturation over precision. Still, it did mean that getting close would be even more of a pain - but Rui nonetheless decided that they shouldn't wait to see if they could down it once more.

Calling on everyone to finish the fight, Rui would take on the Shadow from different directions with Akane whilst Katsuro would lend a magical bombardement to the best of his abilities. Given that they would be going for all-out offence, this left Kotori somewhat worried - even if she quickly nodded in agreement to healing everyone, she still hoped that they get through this unscathed or, failing that, at least without too much pain. Still, with no voices of dissent, the course was decided and the group sprang into action. Dodging the magical attacks of the Shadow to the best of their ability, Akane and Rui dashed forth whilst Katsuro and Kotori were left behind; afforded the luxury of a few additional moments to anticipate any incoming spells as they prepared their own.

"Kikuri-Hime," Kotori called once more, keeping her attention split between both the group and the Shadow's attacks; awaiting the most opportune moment to draw upon her Persona's power to cast a healing spell. This very moment came to pass far sooner than she'd hoped. As Akane and Rui pressed on through the barrage of spells, Kotori spoke a single word: "Salvation."

In that instant, the darkness about the chapel faded as warmth spread all throughout. In an almost soothing embrace, the softly shining light emanating from within Kotori's Persona enveloped Akane, Rui and Katsuro alike. In a single heartbeat, wounds closed. In the blink of an eye, all pain passed from them. In a but a breath, their vigour returned. No fatigue ailed them, no blemish was to be found as Kotori's spell erased all traces of battle they may have sustained; leaving them at peak condition to deliver the final blow to Shadow that was frantically trying to propel itself upward - but to no avail at both spell and blade came crashing down upon it.

Kotori meanwhile, felt the effects of her own spell just as keenly - though so too did she suffer the effects of its casting; a fatigue more mental than physical as she felt the increased healing power coming at a no less increased drain. Not having expected quite as much, she needed a moment to adjust - but caught her breath just a moment later; her eyes quickly snapping up to peer through her glasses at the outcome of the attack - and hoping not to find the Shadow still putting up a fight.
Kotori Shirohane - Seto: Chapel of the Martyr | Wednesday

Seeing as they had enough time to dodge the incoming magic attacks, everyone managed to get through the barrage with scrapes at worst. As such, Akane's scowl was evidently not one of pain but rather annoyance due to the flying nature of the Shadow. Still, she wasn't entirely helpless - instead, Setanta, her persona, infused everyone in the group with strengthening magics. Kotori was thankful for the aid, even as she called out for a lightning strike by Kikuri-Hime - which, no small thanks to the improved power, managed to briefly jar the flying Shadow; just long enough for Katsuro to follow up with a yet stronger spell of the same element. This in turn gave Rui enough of an opening to easily blast it out of the sky with wind magic.

With a loud thud the Shadow came crashing down - but it was only momentarily stunned by this turn of events. Nearly immediately, its skeletal arms lashed out at the air around it whilst it recovered from the grounding. It was once more in range for melee attacks and would likely be an easy target - as long as they avoided getting struck in retaliation. As Kotori looked over the other three to make sure that they were yet unharmed, a brief hope spread in her that perhaps they might just be able to finish this quickly as Rui called for everyone to attack with all they had.

"Kikuri-Hime," Kotori called, the feeling the magical fortification that had been placed upon her thanks to Akane keenly as she fixed her eyes on the grounded Shadow. "Zionga" With no delay, thunder echoed through the chapel as a lightning bolt struck the Shadow - aiding in the assault and, hopefully, making just enough of a distraction for Rui and Akane to safely bypass the bone claws scything the air between them as they drew near. Kotori felt a small measure of guilt at being safe out of range for those attacks when the two had to brave it even as she kept a close watch on them, ready to cast a healing spell if necessary.
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