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Greetings, I'm Takaru. That is all.

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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.
Kotori Shirohane - Seto: Chapel of the Martyr | Wednesday

As the shadow stirred from its post transformative lethargy, a voice called out to be careful - but though he raised his voice, the boy seemed to understand that as far as fighting this shadow, matters were out of his hands. Kotori was glad for that - she wouldn't have looked forward to trying to keep an eye on yet another possible target for the rearing shadow. Akane meanwhile merely let out a hollow laugh at the whole scene, not perturbed in the slightest - in fact, she even seemed to have look forward to it as she charged together with Rui, their personas forming behind them to aid in the attack.

With a scan still oustanding, Kotori kept a close eye on the two as the Shadow began to swing at them; sending deep red blades slicing through the air towards its attackers. However, her worries seemed unfounded at the two had enough experience to see such an attack coming, leaving Rui to go for a counter-attack whilst Akane was free to charge in under his cover. Katsuro meanwhile had an easy time striking the distracted Shadow with an enormous lightning bolt that roared down with a deafening thunderclap. To Kotori's relief, however, none of the attacks seemed to cause any unforeseen consequences - for the moment at least.

Just a moment later, Megumi announced that the scans had been completed - and immediately warned them of the Shadow's arms. It seemed that they were the key to its attacks; always preceding a strike of either physical or magical nature. Knowing what to look out for would hopefully mean that they'd be easily able to avoid any attacks - only for the shadow to give a condescending chuckle as if to taunt that very thought. The next moment, a loud crack echoed throughout the chapel as its leathery wings stretched and flapped, a gust of wind blowing across the area as it lifted itself airborne and thus out of reach for any would-be attackers at close range.

However, their troubles did not end there. Immediately after, the Shadow begun to swing its arms wildly - which caused a rain of magical projectiles to fall toward the group on the ground. Some left a fiery trail, others glowed with an unsettling light from within - but all exploded when the hit the chapel floor and gave everyone all the more reason to dogde the incoming attacks. Kotori, more used to being covered from attack by the front line - and ever thankful for it - suddenly found herself coming under direct attack as well and was only barely able to avoid being hit in the initial attack.

It was a rather stressful experience to have to divide her attention between the inbound magical attacks and the status of her fellow group members - but luckily, they seemed to have been more alert to the Shadow's moves and did not seem to be in immediate need of healing. As such, there was little else left for Kotori but to aid in the offense - whilst also hoping that perhaps they might be able to interrupt its magical barrage in doing so. "Kikuri-Hime," she called, keeping the shadow fixed in her sight behind her glasses to be ready for any magical projectiles being cast her way, "Zionga."

Another, albeit smaller, bolt of lightning crashed into the flying Shadow. This would grant the others an opening they could use for heavier attacks that in turn might just be able to force it back onto the ground - or at least, that's what Kotori hoped in between quick breaths as the by now almost familiar fatigue once more started to make itself known.
Kotori Shirohane - Seto: Chapel of the Martyr | Wednesday

Too late to stop the transformation, the group could do little more than watch as the shadows from every corner and crevice of the chapel seemed to darken before being drawn into the golden-eyed boy being charged by his other self - who was almost immediately flung back as the Shadow called out its nature. The darkness gathered around it, forming a pitch-black shell which, just moments later, was pierced by a red claw of sorts. Tearing its way out of the by now fading darkness surrounding it, the Shadow revealed itself in its transformed state - a red-skinned demon, clad in a rather odd-looking set of clothes. Horns sprouted in between its blond mane, claws formed where feet should be and from its back grew a set of leathery wings and boney arms ending in yet more wicked claws. A tail uncoiled itself out from beind the shadow, the pointed tip swishing through the air even as the Shadow's golden eyes locked onto the group.

Even having seen multiple such transformations up close before, Kotori still couldn't help but feel unsettled at this sight - to know that such a twisted creature seemed to lurk inside everyone served as a reminder that the same had been true of herself. But luckily, thanks to the efforts of her now fellow group members, she instead had Kikuri-Hime at her side - and together, they could help others in the same way. Rui, meanwhile, showed no such brief hesitations - instead, he was quick to order the group in between the shadow and its progenitor; leaving it little choice but to engage them if it wanted to get at its real target. As Rui and Akane took up the front line, much as usual, he gave out immediate orders - though knowing nothing of this Shadow's capabilities, there was little else to do but attempt the usual method of engagement.

Kotori gave a quick nod in agreement. Taking a deep breath to calm herself, she kept her eyes on the Shadow even as Rui's Askr cast a spell upon the party. She could feel herself become lighter on her feet, every movement seemingly easier than just a moment ago - this would make both evading enemy attacks and landing one's own a little bit easier. Megumi was quick to respond to the request for a scan - likely having already begun even before Rui asked this of her - whilst Akane seemed only to pleased to have an opportunity to take down yet another large Shadow in order to rescue someone from their inner demons - literally. As Katsuro's persona, Giley Corey, was more adept at magical combat than up front fighting, he too took up position behind the other two in order to take the fight to the Shadow.

This left Kotori to find herself once more behind Rui and Akane as they would lead the attack. With so little yet known about this Shadow, she opted to stay put for the moment; prepared to cast a healing spell at a moment's notice rather than risk springing some unknown trap by going for a first strike and calling a lightning bolt down. As such, she closely watched any move the Shadow may make - whilst also being sure to keep an eye on the other three members of the group in case they needed healing.
Kotori Shirohane - Mirror World: Seto | Wednesday

With the presence of another person made known to them, though nothing beyond this mere fact, it was quickly decided that one team should head there immediately. Rui was quick to volunteer himself as that team's leader and soon after, Kotori found herself, together with both Akane and Katsuro, elected for this purpose. Knowing how well the former two worked together in battle, Kotori was glad to be by their side - and, even under the circumstances they found themselves in, she couldn't quite help but glance nervously over to Katsuro; not because she was worried whether how he'd hold up in his first exploration of the mirror world, but rather hoping that he wouldn't bring up the topic of the exam results again.

Either way though, given the rather odd circumstances that surrounded this newest location, it was equally quickly agreed upon that some further exploration should be done - for which Kaminari stepped forth, soon after assembling a group consisting of himself, Sato, Jun and Shizuka. The remaining few meanwhile would stay put, both to act as backup if needed and to make sure that the coast was clear for Megumi and Ayano to keep use their navigational skills undisturbed. With the plan thus formed, the groups split up and headed towards their respective destinations. As they did, Kotori quietly wished Kaminari's group to stay safe - particularly her fellow Agriculture Club member, given how the recent events in the club had made things a little awkward as of late.

Kotori Shirohane - Seto: Chapel of the Martyr | Wednesday

No matter how many times she came to the mirror world or ventured into a dungeon, Kotori was still as perplexed as ever at the sheer oddity of the place. The unnatural pale green illumination of the whole area seemed to serve only to cast a surreal light and deepen shadows because of it, leaving her to glance about in fear of any shadows using this to sneak up on the group - even if their navigator did not pick up any sign of hostility around them. In such a state, Kotori followed as Rui lead the group onwards - until they reached the location of whomever Megumi had sensed a while ago.

As it turned out, the sight that greeted them was a church of all things. Though she didn't know what to expect, the location once more took Kotori by surprise. By now, she'd all but given up on trying to somehow map these places to their counterparts in the real Warakuma - mostly because the fractured geography of this realm just refused to make sense to her. However, they were not here to make sense of this place - at least not primarily - but instead to investigate this presence. Starting up the stairs, much like everyone else, Kotori's eyes passed over the carvings and etchings that adorned them. Not a particularly religious person herself, she did still recognise the occasional symbol - though that did little but reinforce the notion that, for whatever reason, this place seemed to be primarily christian in origin; if less the forgive and turn the other cheek sort but rather the eternal punishment kind, if the various depictions of torture were anything to go by.

After noticing those, Kotori tried to keep her eyes firmly on the stairs in front of her - even if the slight movement of her head betrayed her glances that would otherwise make for a rather blurry picture without the aid of her glasses. However, it was not long before they shot up to the door at the top of the stairs as a voice drew everyone's attention to the same place. It took her a moment to realise what she was listening to - and barely an instant for her cheeks to take on a tinge of red which she could only hope was being masked by the green light when a second, almost identical voice yelled about... certain preferences. Even as her fears of yet another shadow encounter rapidly rose, Kotori still felt the almost familiar unease at being an unwitting witness to someone's best kept secrets being revealed without their consent.

The group quickened their pace, hoping to interject before anything worse could happen - but just as they reached the top and Rui threw open the church doors, the fateful words were yelled out. Inside, they saw a uncomfortably familiar scene: two people stood apart from each other; twins in all things but their eyes - which were of an unnatural golden colour in the one facing them. The other, meanwhile, was charging at his counterpart with a weapon in hand - disregarding the sudden rush of shadows into his intended target that told them that they had truly arrived too late to prevent the shadow from gaining power through denial.

"Kikuri-Hime," Kotori was quick to call, knowing from experience that this was very likely not going to end without a fight. She wanted to give a warning not to attack the shadow - the danger thereof still fresh in her mind after what had happened when Jun had done the same - but the others were quicker in acting upon this; leaving her to instead cover them if the shadow decided to attack either them or its own progenitor. As such, Kotori was ready to cast a healing spell at a moment's notice as, with the help of the calming familiarity of her own persona, she pushed her worries to the back of her mind and instead focused her attention fully on what lay ahead.
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