Recent Statuses

4 yrs ago
Current When you've replied to all the RPs you're in and you're just waiting for one of them to move.
5 yrs ago
Taking a break from RPG this weekend. May be away longer to take a break.
1 like
6 yrs ago
Gah. RPs are so slow around this time of year.


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Most Recent Posts

Having spotted that Eliza had broken away from the others, Kayli made note to speak with her. It was something she'd intended to do eventually anyway. After chatting with Penny she would part ways and step into the cabin to see how things were going. From the sense she was getting, not well. Staying silent for a moment she would eventually step up.

"Eliza... Are you feeling alright?" She would ask with a slight air of concern.

Eliza flinced, her head snapped over to look at Kayli. "I-I don't know- I shouldn't be- Everything is fine- Everything is not fine- I have to- I-I can't-" The witch was trembling, her breathing uneven as she continued mumbling. The more she was entrapped in her thoughts, the more anxious she felt. Felt like some animal trapped in a cage. Everything was fine. So why wasn't she fine? Has this even happened to her before?

Seeing that the girl was going through some kind of breakdown, the healer would hold a hand up. "It will be alright. Let's be calm." A circle of magic would draw on the floor around them. The circle would glow with a warm light as Kayli's magic focused into Hallowed Ground. A feeling of calm filled the space. She didn't sense any mental mutations at the moment, but if any were there they would be surpressed. Psychic magic worked to try and relax the witch's mind as her suggestion did its work.

As Kayli's healing magic worked on calming her down, Eliza focused on taking deep breaths. In. Out. In. Out. Eventually, her anxiety attack stopped. The witch's grip on her poor bee plush loosened up. She looked back to the other girl with a crooked smile. "T-Thank you, Kayli."

Her magic doing its job the girl smiled softly. "You are very welcome. What's going on? Do you need help with something?" She didn't want to pry too much, but whatever was going on seemed to be pretty dramatic. She certainly hoped that returning the Soul Jar hadn't contributed. As unlikely as it may be.

"Well my date didn't end well and I was left alone with my thoughts for more than five minutes," Eliza explained with a frown. "I can't even relax here. I'm so used to things being okay before everything goes wrong, and prioritizing everyone's safety over just calming down and having fun. Hell, I should be used to nothing going the way it should but I'm...not." She sighed. "I'm worried I might have to leave before something happened. Misfortune's a bitch to me for some reason, and I don't want to be the cause of dismay."

Perhaps Kayli's positivity made it a bit harder for her to understand the sentement. To be sure the feeling of futility did happen to her at times. People reacted differently to that kind of stress. "Can I help in any way?"

"...I don't know." Eliza appeared conflicted, but then her expression softened. "Well, can you stay by me? Atleast until I know I won't freak out again."

"Of course. And if you need anything just let me know." She would answer with a smile.

Eliza smiled back. "Thank you."

"Let's go for a walk and get away from all this here. As you suggested I don't think you should be alone right now. How does that sound?"

The witch nodded. "Y-Yeah, that sounds good!"

"Great. Let's see..." She would look at the scheduled events. "How about some casual ice skating? I haven't done that in years."

"Oh, that sounds fun!" Eliza's eyes lit up at Kayli's suggestion. "There was a skating rink in our town back home, and me and my brothers-" She pause mid-sentence in realization. Her brothers. How long has it been since she heard of them? "Me and my brothers used to hang out there alot on our free time. I hope they're still okay." She sadly smiled.

"Well, maybe some day you can go see them now that you have your Soul Jar back." The two would walk in the direction of the lake.

Rose, Iris, and Connie would arrive at the lake for ice skating just as many others were. Taking a look around the twins would spot Kayli walking up just after she'd finished speaking with Penny. "Kayli, over here!" She raised up an arm and waved the white haired girl over.

The many things running through the white haired girl's head were interrupted by her name being called out. Setting aside her thoughts for a moment she would scan across the area and quickly spot her friend. Approaching with a smile she addressed the three. "Hello Rose, Iris. A friend of yours?" She would ask looking over to Connie.

"Yes, this is our friend Connie. " She would step back and move her friend forward just a bit.

"That's so? It's a pleasure to get to meet you Connie. Have you been enjoying the event so far?" Despite the nightmare girl's usual apprehension toward new people, this girl didn't seem to set off the usual nervous response so strongly. Perhaps it her cheerful tone or inviting nature.

“I-It’s nice to me you, too, Kayli,” Connie would reply with a smile. The twins’ friend seemed to give off an exceptionally soothing aura, which made the normally timid girl feel extremely relaxed and secure. It wasn’t exactly the same level of reassurance Mia’s presence provided, but it was certainly close. “O-Oh, yes!” she added with an enthusiastic nod when asked if she was enjoying herself. “R-Rose and Iris have been nice enough to do s-some of the events with me and it’s been s-so much fun! W-Well, except for that one scary part… O-Oh, but, uh, t-they said that maybe you could h-help us learn how to ice skate?”

Resisting the urge to ask about the “scary part” the girl would look out over the ice. After a moment she would nod. ”Yes, I believe I can do that.” She would step over to a shelf and look through a bit to find some skates that should fit each of them. ”Try these and let me know if they fit.” She would take a seat on a bench and try on the pair she’d picked out for herself.

“T-Thanks,” Connie replied after being handed a pair of ice skates. Taking a seat next to Kayli, she began putting them on. “T-They fit great!” she beamed. “S-So, uh, h-how long have you known Rose and Iris?” Connie asked hesitantly. While she was somewhat aware of the twins’ strange circumstances (and Hilde’s as well), much still eluded her, and even what she did know was more than a little confusing.

"I've known them as long as they've been alive. I was affected by the same magic that changed them. It was somewhat my fault, so I'm sorry if that caused any problems." She would explain vaguely to the twin’s friend.

Rose and Iris would get their own skates on.

“I-I see…” Connie said softly. “S-So, umm, are you, I-I mean, did you u-used to be the one who, uh, c-created Hilde…?” the timid girl asked, a bit unsure of the exact terminology to use.

”I… She gave it some thought for a bit. ”Contributed.”

For a moment, Connie simply reflected on Kayli’s somewhat ambiguous answer. “O-Okay, well, uh, i-it looks like we’re all set, s-so should we get s-started?”

Kayli would smile. ”Of course. And sorry if that answer isn’t all that clear. It’s rather complicated and I don’t entirely understand what all occurred.” She would help and guide the three to the ice and help each one out. Using her magic to create some barriers, she gave them a sort of railing to hold onto. ”Let’s start out by just getting used to standing and stepping."

Over the next several minutes she would instruct and guide them through how to skate and fall should they start to lose balance. Moving the barriers to move them they would adjust to moving about on the ice. As they became more accustomed she would encourage them to try letting go every now and then.

At first, Connie’s trembling legs made it difficult for the poor girl to even stand on the ice, but with the help of the barriers, as well as Kayli’s gentle instructions and kind words of reassurance, she was soon able to progress from standing to actually skating, albeit while still holding onto the barrier railing for support. “I-I think I’m g-getting the hang of this!” she announced happily. “N-Now I just have to s-see if I can do it without h-holding onto s-something…” Tentatively taking her hand off the railing, she let her momentum carry her across the ice. She didn’t want to try moving under her own power just yet. For now, she just wanted to try standing on the ice without support. Although she wobbled a few times, Connie was relieved to find that she was able to recover her balance, and once she felt comfortable, she slowly began to skate using slow, careful motions. “I-I’m skating…” she whispered to herself as a big smile spread across her face. “I-I’m really skating!” Moving over to Kayli, she took the white-hair girl’s hands and gave them a gentle squeeze. “T-Thank you so much for t-teaching me!”

Throughout, Kayli moved between them to steady each when they started to lose balance. Rose tumbled once, unharmed. When Connie came up to her teacher, Kayli smiled warmly. "Of course." She would keep pace with them as they began to more easily move around. "So are you from Penrose or did you come due to events going on?"

“N-No, I’ve lived in P-Penrose all my life,” Connie replied. “B-But I only became a m-magical girl a few m-months ago. I-It was really hard at f-first,” she continued. “B-But thanks to my b-best friend, Mia, a-and all the new f-friends I’ve made, t-things have been getting better. H-How about you?” she asked. “H-Have you been l-living in Penrose long?”

Nodding to the question. "Many years. This magical stuff is still pretty recent for me too, but I'm older than I look. Kind of in an odd spot now though." There was a slight pause before she would clarify. "I'm trying to figure out my place. I know I would like to support others. Need to get myself settled into a home first I think."

“Y-You don’t have a home?” Connie asked, frowning slightly.

"Not currently. I can get one though so I'm not too concerned with that." She would skate around a bit before coming back. "I have a place to stay right now so I'm not on the streets if you were worried about that."

“O-Oh, that’s good,” Connie said with a smile, clearly relieved that the girl wasn’t completely homeless. “M-Mia and I live at the orphanage,” she explained, “b-but we could probably let you stay for a f-few days if you had no place else. T-That’s what we did for a f-friend of ours who got hurt and n-needed a place to recover.”

”That is very kind of you. Noting she was in an orphanage, she pondered a bit to herself. Once she had a place of her own perhaps she could offer them a place to stay. Would need to get to know them more first though. ”I will keep that in mind. How do you like it there?”

“I-It’s nice enough, I g-guess,” Connie answered, looking a bit uncertain. “I-I mean, we have our own room, a-and the s-staff treat us well, b-but, uh, there are a l-lot of b-bullies there… M-Mia does her best to k-keep them from b-being mean to me, b-but then she gets in t-trouble, and I feel b-bad, because I-I’m the reason for it… she added, her countenance taking on a more sullen appearance.

Easily able to tell that Connie was telling her the truth, she put a finger up to her lips for a few seconds. ”I see. Well...” She would ponder for a while more, but what she was thinking couldn’t really be done, at least not without some kind of intervention. Probably best not to jump to conclusions though. ”If you had a choice what kind of place would you like to live in?”

Connie thought for a moment. “W-Well, um, I g-guess someplace like where we are n-now? I-It d-doesn’t have to be all that big,” she added. “I-I’d just like it to be safe.”

"Makes sense." She would admit.

With their conversation concluded for the moment, Connie took some time to look around the sizable ice rink. She giggled when she saw Dan in his hockey gear, and waved to him and Lily as she skated past them. “T-This is s-so much fun, isn’t it?” she asked the twins who were skating on either side of her. Although I wish Mia was here, too, she kept to herself. Of course, her best friend was probably having a wonderful time with her date, Connie reflected with a smile, and that was really the most important thing. Indeed, she found she couldn’t keep from blushing just thinking about it. I’m just so happy for her, and she deserves it for having to take care of someone like me for so long.

"This is fun once you get the hang of it. You think Penrose has a rink or lake for this?" Iris would admit. She would turn to Kayli who had the more likely chance of knowing.

"I believe there is a rink. We'll have to see if it's still running." With the way things were going in Penrose there was no telling if it was open or not.

“Y-Yeah!” Connie agreed. “I-It would be r-really fun to go there together if it’s s-still open. I-I don’t know about you guys,” she added, “B-But I can’t wait until things s-start getting back to normal.”

A chuckle escaped Kayli’s lips. ”I don’t know if normal applies to us, but it would be nice to see things return to how they were in some fashion.”

“I-I guess you’re right about us n-not exactly being normal, any more,” Connie conceded. “I-I used to h-hate that this happened to me, but now I’m k-kinda glad it did. I-I’ve been able to make s-so many wonderful friends since becoming a magical girl, l-like Rose and Iris, Lily, Faith, Emily, oh, and Amanda!” she added, waving to the dream magician as they skated by her group.

Amanda's eyes widened. Seeing Connie out ice skating, she excitedly waved back, earning the interest of the nightmare witch skating next to her.

"Friend of yours?" Maribel asked.

"The brunette over there's Connie, the nightmare magical girl I told you about."

Maribel's eyebrows rose. "Really now?" She had been wanting to meet the girl, but from what she was told, Connie was easily spooked. And with the haunting air around the witch, she didn't want to scare her away. Regardless, Maribel carefully skated over to the other group. "Pardon me, but you're Connie, right?"

“T-That’s r-right,” Connie replied to the somewhat imposing woman. “I-It’s, uh, n-nice to meet you,” she added with a shaky wave. “U-Ummm, are y-you a f-friend of Amanda’s?”

Maribel gently smiled. "Well, yes. She's the one who told me about you~" She quietly explained, not wanting to scare Connie. "I'm Maribel, the Witch of Nightmares. I've been looking forward to meeting you."

“R-Really?” Connie asked, somewhat surprised. “W-Why would you w-want to m-meet me?

"Why wouldn't I~? It's not every day you meet someone with the same magic as you!" Maribel skated around Connie with an excited grin, then back to her side. "Maybe you needed a mentor~"

“M-Mentor?” Connie echoed, frowning slightly. “Y-You m-mean you w-want to h-help me w-with my m-magic?” The idea of having someone who shared her specialization give her pointers and advice was certainly an appealing one, but Maribel seemed a bit… unnerving… Was this really someone Connie should trust? Then again, she seemed to be friends with Amanda, so maybe she just looked creepy?

Maribel genuinely smiled. "Mhm! I'd be happy to!" Though seeing as Connie appeared unsure, she continued to explain. "I know you might feel off-put by me, but this is something i've never expected, two nightmare specs in one...century? Well whatever. Maybe my last incarnations were more lucky, but it seemed nice to get to know someone like you. I did hear you were the meek type, and I wanted to help you overcome such fears." She looked back to Connie. "That is, if you desire such."

“O-Oh, uh, y-yes!” Connie confirmed after a moment. “I-I’d l-like that v-very much! I-It’s b-been r-really d-difficult, b-but lately I-I’ve been w-working on o-overcoming s-some of m-my p-phobias,” she explained. “L-Like, j-just a f-few w-weeks ago, I t-took a r-ride in a h-helicopter, e-even though I-I’ve always been t-terrified of f-flying. I-I’ve s-still got a l-long w-way to go, s-so I-I’d be h-happy to have a-any h-help you c-could give!”

Kayli only knew the little bit about Connie that her Ally had told her, so this information about nightmare magic was new. It may explain Connie's hesitancy. "Seems like there's been an influx of dream magic lately. I'm sure there's a lot to learn about it." She wanted to encourage Connie to learn. Such a magic surely was difficult to master on one's own.

The twins had been chatting between one another for a while the others talked. After a bit they had an idea. First they would check with their friend though. "Uh, Connie... Would you..." Rose stopped for a moment and moved up close to whisper. "I'm not sure how to ask without just saying so... Do you hope to be adopted some day?"

“U-Uhh, I g-guess?” Connie replied, while nervously playing with her hair. “I-I mean, I a-always w-wanted to b-be adopted by a l-loving family, b-but I’m s-sixteen now, a-and I’ve b-been l-living at the orphanage my whole l-life, s-so I’ve k-kinda given up h-hope that a-anyone would ever adopt me b-before I t-turn eighteen…”

Rose would let out a long Hmm sound as she thought about it. How the whole adoption process worked was beyond her. Maybe Kayli knew. She would look at the older girl for a moment who had turned her attention back to Eliza who had been skating nearby, listening casually. Then it hit her. Flailing for a second she stopped herself and she stepped back. ”Ah I see. Yes. Well maybe it’s not too late. I bet you’ll get somebody before then.” She tried not to give away that she had an idea, but she wasn’t the most subtle.

“Y-You really t-think so?” Connie asked, wondering if her friend knew something she didn’t. “I-It would be a n-nice Christmas p-present,” she added with a hopeful smile.

The Spirit girl would nod. ”It would wouldn’t it.” She began to hatch a plan. Would need to get away and track down someone a little later.

"Hah, that's funny." Eliza finally spoke up, with the topic of an orphanage brought up. "Before I became a magical girl, my dad worked in an apartment turned orphanage. My brothers and I would sometimes help out, at least until I moved away." She frowned slightly. "I didn't even think about them until now. I could say I miss them, but I'm probably considered dead at this point. That or the monsters from that damn fog got to them." The witch chuckled dryly.

“T-That’s awful!” Connie gasped. “C-Can’t you at l-least check to s-see if t-they’re all r-right?” the visibly worried girl asked.

"...I don't know. I mean, that's all the way out of state." Eliza shrugged. "I'd say I can't leave Penrose, but I don't know if my contract with Cindy still stands after Maura got my soul jar back."

“O-Oh… I s-see…” Connie frowned. She felt bad, but she really didn’t know what else to suggest. “U-Umm… I, uhh, r-really l-like your outfit,” she told Eliza after a moment, in an attempt to turn the conversation to a hopefully more positive topic. “I-I’m Connie, b-by the way,” the timid girl added, raising a trembling hand. “A-Are you o-one of A-Amanda’s friends?” she asked, looking over to the dream magician.

Eliza looked down to her outfit. "Oh, this? Uh...thanks." she shook the other girl's hand with a crooked grin. "I'm Eliza. Wait, you were at the raid, weren't you? I saw you with Amanda the last time we were here."

Speaking of the magician, looking over, Connie would see Amanda trying to keep her balance. She did nearly faceplant against the rink, but rift-hopped herself back straight.

“I-It’s nice to m-met you, Eliza,” Connie told the witch as they shook hands. “A-And yes, I-I w-was there h-helping my f-friend Ronin,” she confirmed. Then she saw Amanda almost fall face-first on the ice. “O-Oh, g-gosh! A-Are you okay, Amanda?!” She asked the dream magician, who seemed to have recovered her balance. “I-If you’ve n-never skated b-before, Kayli’s a v-very good teacher,” she helpfully noted, gesturing to the white-haired young woman.

Kayli’s attention would turn to the girl on the ice. Looking back and forth for a moment she would move around on the ice. ”I am willing to help if you would like. Connie, Roes, and Iris have been wonderful students.” She would skate out a bit toward Amanda to steady her.

"Hey- No, no I'm fine! No I do not need help!" Amanda backed up, trying to wave Kayli off. The nearby Maribel had an idea, and with a mischievous smile, she snuck away for a moment.

"I know I almost lost my balance but I am completely- GAH?!" Before Amanda could finish her sentence, the nightmare witch speed over behind her and picked her up with a twirl. "Got ya, ehehe~!" Maribel giggled, even as her opposite tried reaching over to smack her.

"Don't. DO. THAT! I could've had a heart attack!!" Amanda yelled in embarrassment.

The sudden grabbing of the other girl gave Kayli pause. They seemed to be playing though so she didn’t intervene. ”Well, seems like you’re having fun.” She would say playfully. She wouldn’t intervene unless Amanda asked for it. Her offer would still stand on lessons.

Connie was somewhat startled by Maribel’s pranking of Amanda, and frowned as the dream magician berated the nightmare witch, her expression a mix of confusion and concern. “T-That w-wasn’t v-very n-nice…” she said softly.

Eliza shrugged. "Eh, let them get along. Better them becoming friends than enemies."

“I g-guess that’s t-true…” Connie conceded, although her voice still sounded a bit uncertain. Being the victim of bullying herself, she didn’t like to see it happen to anyone else, especially a friend, but if Eliza thought they were just playing around then maybe it was okay? “S-So, um, h-have you b-been enjoying t-things so f-far, Eliza?” she asked the witch.

"I-" Eliza paused to think. Connie could see her brows furrow, before she returned to a neutral expression. "I've been better. I'll leave it at that."

“O-Okay…” Connie replied, frowning once again as her efforts to create a more positive atmosphere continued to fail miserably. Eliza seemed to be going through a really difficult time, and although Connie didn’t really understand the girl’s situation all that well, she very much wanted to help her. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be anything she could do.

It was about then that Dan announced that the next event would be soon begin- downhill racing. While Connie had wanted to try all the various events, she found herself a bit hesitant to participate in this one. Still, she had made a promise to herself that she would work hard on overcoming her many fears, and this was a good opportunity to do that… “S-So, uhh, a-are y-you g-guys g-going to p-participate in the r-race, or w-were you p-planning on s-staying h-here?” she asked the members of their (no longer quite so little) group.

Leaning over to her sister, Rose would whisper to her. After a moment Iris would nod and Rose would turn back. "We have to take care of something. We could meet up with you after the racing event." She would offer.

“O-Oh, uhh, o-okay,” Connie replied, looking a somewhat uncertain. “S-See you l-later,” she added, giving the the twins a shaky wave as they departed.

"Depends on what Kayli wants to do, for me. I feel like Amanda's gonna be stuck for awhile." Eliza looked over to the aformentioned, who was being carried like a favorited plush by Maribel.

Kayli would look off in the direction of the race. She would cross her arms and tap a finger on her elbow. "Well, we can head that direction. Maybe do something more casual than racing. But a nice slope like that would be good for some sledding."

“O-Okay,” Connie nodded. “L-Let’s d-do that.” She was somewhat hesitant to leave Amanda alone with Maribel, but Eliza didn’t seem to think the dream magician was in any real danger, so Connie followed Kayli as the white-haired girl led them up the slope to where the race was taking place.

When Gaia and Shane arrived at the slope, they discovered that the racing would not begin for a while yet, but Dan told them that they were still free to do some skiing, sledding, or snowboarding in the meantime. Choosing a pair of snowboards (with their outfits changing to more suitable attire for such activities), they raced down the slope’s various paths, doing a few tricks along the way. The pair had thoroughly enjoyed having the mountain all to themselves, and by the time the main event was getting ready to start they had gained considerable knowledge of the terrain.

“I do hope our practice runs have not given us an unfair advantage,” Gaia said with a playful smirk.

Seeing where everyone else was popping up for the race, Shane shook his head a bit. ”It looks like they’re using a different slope. This should be fun.” The two would make their way up to join the others. They were given the rules which made it sound a bit harder than one might think to win. ”Hm. Well, should we use a sled so we can go together?”

Gaia pondered Shane’s suggestion for a bit, before smiling. “Well, it does allow us the chance to win as a team,” the verdant girl noted. “And it would also allow us the opportunity to get closer to one another,” she added with a wink.

After picking out their sled, the pair took up their positions, Shane in front, and Gaia behind him. Soon enough, Dan gave the signal, and they were off. Due to the somewhat peculiar victory condition for this particular race, it wasn’t necessary for them to be the fastest racer, just faster than half of their opponents. Of course, since it was hard to tell just how many racers were participating, Gaia knew that all they could really do was try to remain in roughly the middle of the pack and hope for the best. As it happened, even that was easier said than done, as most of the racers had apparently missed the part where crossing the finish line first wouldn’t give them first place, and so were now hurtling down the slope as fast as possible. Thankfully, there were still a few who were moving at a more leisurely pace, relatively speaking.

“Looking good, you two!” Gaia called out to Ronin and Miko as she and Shane pulled up beside the twins. “I hope you don’t mind if we get ahead of you!” she added playfully.

Casting out a long, green tendril, she wrapped the vine around a nearby tree and used it to slingshot their sled around it, granting them considerable momentum. It wasn’t long before they’d raced past the twins, as well as the squabbling Mayra and Victoria. Meanwhile, Shane had been using his Earth magic to help guide the sled through a series of banks and curves, not to mention creating the occasional ramp with which to avoid some particularly nasty obstacles. After several exhilarating minutes had passed, the pair finally found themselves at the finish line.

“Well, that was certainly enjoyable!” Gaia said with a melodious laugh. “In fact, I wouldn’t mind taking another shot at it, and try for a more traditional first place finish. But first,” she added, as she helped Shane up. “I am most interested to see who the winner of this competition shall be.”

Melisa, bolstered by the adorable army at her command, marched her forces, intent on hunting one of the Harebrigners of the Bunnypocalypse. Fortunately they didn’t have to march far, as they soon found what they sought; a large frozen lake, covered in clear ice that resembled a mirror in its reflectiveness. Regular street lights illuminated the lake, and a chain link fence bordered it. And there, in the middle of the lake, a Harebringer could be seen; the silver-furred Snowbun was in an ice skate, much like Mario would ride an oversized shoe, and used it to figure skate around the lake with incredible grace. The Harebringer was accompanied by three other Snowbuns, following their leader in a line, and creating the illusion that a many-segmented caterpillar zigzagged across the ice.

Looking out over the ice the doll girl began to survey the area. It had been a while since she’d ice skated. Thankfully her tiny stature should prevent the opportunity to fall through the ice. After a bit she put together a plan. Firing some magic into the chain link fence she would take control of it and make it fold away and lay down by the lakebed.

Whirling around she would raise her cane. ”Alright everyone, let’s get their attention!” Acting as a conductor she marched them a little bit close and directed the snowbunnies in an orchestral number.

The Snowbunnies nodded, the ones with doll hand harnesses having performed a salute, before they began to play in unison; they played a bombastic marching song that roused the attention of the Harebringer and its followers. It wiggled it’s cute little nose, and slowly approached as it formed an 8 on the ice, though still keeping its distance from Melisa.

Seeing that the Harebringer wasn’t going to get much closer Melisa began to move her marching band further down the bank to give the hare more space and hopefully closer to the bank where the fence was laying on the ground.

The marching band moved as Melisa wanted them to, advancing down the bank as trumpets blared and drums resounded. The Harebringer raised an eyebrow, and slowly followed after; it seemed that it was unaware of the chain link fence lying on the lake shore it was now close to.

As the four puffs got closer the chain link fence popped up like it was spring loaded. Acting like a metal net it tried to wrap and ensnare the lot.

The Harebringer reacted with amazing agility, performing a jumping pirouette to dodge Melissa's trap, followed by two of his followers. However, the third one was not as fast, and ended up ensnared by the net, chittering loudly as it wiggled in a panic. The Harebringer only shook its head slowly, purposefully ignoring the Snowbun's pleas as it retreated back to the center of the lake.

”Aw man.” Stopping their march the doll turned around and ran back to free the bun that had been caught. She would give the fluffy creature a big hug. ”Don’t worry, it’s okay.” She would pet it gently. Seemed like her prey was swifter than she'd anticipated.

Looks like she was going to have to go after it herself. A few ideas crossed her mind, but she really wasn't the greatest tactician. Still, she had to capture the floof. Taking a small amount of the fence she would create blades for ice skates on her feet. Taking to the ice she began to move closer while the chain link fence began to work its way under the ice.

With the skates and a bit of practice, Melisa found herself capable of swiftly moving across the ice, with little wind resistance to slow her down thanks to her diminutive size.
A couple of Snowbuns attempted to follow her, but they ended up slipping and sliding around the smooth ice like hockey pucks. The rest of the Snowbuns decided to surround the lake and watch Melisa. The Harebringer giggled as it watched the bumbling Snowbuns, seemingly unaware of the metal that approached it from the depths.

Melisa would begin to circle and would form one of her cannons. She began to fire in order to try and take control of the metal blade of each skate. The fence would stay hidden for now.

The Harebringer avoided the cannon shots, leaping and hopping with deftness. However, one of the skating Snowbuns following it was hit in the skate, allowing her to control the metal. The Harebringer then realized what Melisa was planning, and turned angry with furrowed eyebrows. It now picked up speed as it skated around Melisa in turn, its skates glowing blue. That’s when Melisa noticed a line the Harebringer left behind, followed by a cracking sound as the ice under her began to split, opening up from the exact pathways the Harebringer took; he attempted to cause Melisa to topple off the broken piece of the ice and into the water below.

The skate she managed to tag would turn off and in the direction of the snowbuns waiting on the bank. It would lightly bump the few that had slid out onto the ice. As for Melisa, on the bottom of her feet the skates morphed into spiky cleets to give her grip on the ice. The fence would make its move and come out of the cracking hole to make another attempt at catching the Harebringer.

The fence snapped up like a hungry alligator, and caught the last skating Snowbun protecting the Harebringer. With the other one having been led to the bank and surrounded by her Snowbun forces, the silver-furred Snowbun was now alone. In response, it chittered loudly in frustration, and stomped on the icy lake, causing countless cracks to spread and break the ice into tiny pieces, including the very island Melisa had clung to; a desperate final move to attempt to send Melisa sinking to the bottom.

With the ice breaking up, Melisa would indeed lose her footing and drop into the water. As with last time she had essentially no buoyancy and immediately began to sink. Waving a hand she would release the adamantium claws she'd been hanging onto. The small objects darted upward and began cutting away at the ice around the Harebringer to trap it on a small piece where the fence could make one last pass.
The Harebringer was taken by surprise as the adamantium claws sawed the ice around him. He jumped, attempting to escape, only to be caught by the very last piece of the animated fence Melisa had prepared. Melisa climbed back up to the bank, where the Harebringer was dragged to, and successfully petted the creature; it turned docile, and restored the ice back to its former splendor, sitting there with a tired expression. The Snowbuns hopped and bounced in cheer for their victory.

"There there, everything will be okay." She would scoop up the silver bunny and cradle it gently. After a little while she would begin to lead her little troop back in the direction of the cabin. "C'mon, let's go somewhere where it's warm."

Moving along with Mai, Shane listened to the information on how the game worked. So the text he got wasn't necessarily from Regina. Or it was but perhaps compelled given that there were texts coming in from people that couldn't have sent them. That considered he began to lose interest in whatever it was going on. "I think I'll pass and leave spots open for others." Were circumstances different he might have tried to see how his friend was doing. She was still around in the real world though so push come to shove a call or trip would remedy that. Those that were lost did not have such a luxury.

Being taken outside to the battle, Melisa looked around at the madness. There were a number of groups flinging snowballs at each other. And then there was the one girl army that was Penny. Watching the ruthless efficiency of Penny was something of a turn off for the doll girl. Pummeling an opponent into submission didn't sound fun. She was also beginning to pick up a pattern to the robotic girl's behavior. "I don't like this game. I think I'll try and catch one of those cute bunnies." Taking the reigns she would turn to walk off with her turtle. A magical girl she may be, but her driving motive wasn't really combat.

As everyone was coming in, Ruby was going to each and getting a guest list made up. As well she was taking down signups for the various events they would be having. "Welcome everyone, I will be your assistant event coordinator for the day. Please check with me if you would like to sign up for any of our events. We have White Elephant, Snow Fort Battles, Sledding, and Snowman Contests." As more and more arrived from various places she began teleporting around in puffs of purple smoke. Everyone could choose to participate in any event they would like.

As guest made their gift wishes for the White Elephant exchange, boxes of varying size and shape would appear on a table in the back of the lodge. Once all the gifts and guests had arrived they would be allowed to pick one at random and receive whatever it was inside. Guests would be free to trade gifts in the end if they so chose.

Mariette would arrive and hand Ruby a Mouse plush. Before the portal girl took off she would reach out and put a hand on her shoulder. She would say in a lower tone. ”Hey, do you mind if we talk for a moment or later. I have something important to tell you as a friend.”

Entering through another portal three figures would look around at the beautiful lodge. Suddenly finding herself in a lovely red dress Kayli would take stock of those present. Justine's presence was something off a surprise. There seemed to be a number of patrons here as well that she should perhaps speak with.

Rose and Iris' clothes changed in a like thematic fashion. Excited for such an event things were looking like they would be a lot of fun. It was then that Rose spotted Odin. Gasping she ducked behind her sister. "Eh? What is it?" The girl would look around confused, looking for a threat.

Pointing over her sister's shoulder the small group would follow the invisible line. "I-It's the Odin. Hilde's patron was Huginn and Muninn. They served the Allfather." She squeaked out. Sucking in air she would hold her breath as Kayli turned made her way to the Norse god. "Kayli, what are you doing?" After a few moment the twins would follow after.

Approaching the patron, Kayli would give a polite curtsy. It was what she could provide for respect in such short notice. While she didn't have as intimate memories of the Norse, Cindy had still been well aware of them and their exploits. "Allfather. It is both a surprise and honor to meet you. I assume you patron one of the girls in attendance." She would open.

There was a brief interruption as they received plushes. Kayli with a Owl, Rose with a bat, and Iris a Goat. They each thanked the girl for the gifts.

With their first date going well, the two love birds decided to arrive at the Christmas party together. Shane would come by Mia and Connie’s place to meet up with them.

“Look at you, showin’ off,” Mia teased the magical boy as he used his Earth magic to elevate himself up to the two friends’ window. “Y’know, if you texted us, I would have had the tree bring ya up.”

”Ah well… Too late I guess.” He could see the portal to Dan’s place was open inside. ”May I come in?” He would ask.

“Of course!” Mia told him with a laugh. “We were kinda startin’ to worry ya might not make it,” she added as she helped him through the window.

“H-Hi, S-Shane!” Connie called from where she was sitting on the bed, filling a large drawstring sack with some wrapped presents. “I-It’s n-nice to s-see you a-again!”

”Nice to see you too Connie. Have you been doing alright” Last he checked the nightmare girl had a little trouble with her magic and such. He didn’t completely understand how all that worked but it sounded like it could be difficult.

“O-Oh, y-yes!” Connie told him with a bright smile. “M-Much b-better, t-thank you f-for a-asking!” she added. “T-Thanks to Mia’s help, I-I’ve f-finally b-been a-able to g-gain c-control of my m-magic,” she explained, looking positively elated. “L-Like, j-just the other d-day, I was able to p-paint a picture w-without anything c-creepy appearing in it! I-Isn’t t-that great?!”

Grinning he would nod. ”That’s awesome.” He would look at the sack. ”Bringing along some gifts for friends?” He would assume.

“Y-Yeah!” Connie would confirm happily. “H-Hopefully t-they’ll all b-be a-able to m-make it…” she added, frowning slightly.

“I’m sure they’ll be there,” Mia reassured her. “In fact I’m positive that at least one of them is gonna show up,” she added, giving Shane a grin.

Seeming to catch the clue he would nod. ”I’m sure they’ll all be there.” He would smile. Since this was the first time here he took note of the decor from where he stood.

Shane would notice that the room in which he found himself was a bit on the small side, but still decidedly cozy. Dominated by a rather sizable bed, it also contained a small table and kitchenette. A large tv covered much of the wall opposite the bed, while scattered about on the other walls were various colorful landscape paintings, along with a single illustration of a pink-haired girl fighting several robed figures. He would also notice that the bed itself was covered in dozens of stuffed animals and other cute plushies of various kinds.

“Shall we be going now?” Mia asked, having just finished changing into her magical girl form. “I wouldn’t want them to start the festivities without us.” she added with a wink.

“A-All set, Mia!” Connie replied as she gently closed up the sack, having ensured that everything was packed up nice and snug. “I j-just know this is g-gonna be s-so much f-fun!”

”Yeah. I think it will be. Might be a bit odd in swimsuits but whatever.” He would chuckle.

Stepping through Dan’s portal, Connie, Gaia, and Shane would find themselves in a veritable winter wonderland.

“Oh w-wow!” Connie gushed as stars seemed to fill her eyes at the sight of it. “E-Everything looks s-so pretty and f-festive!”

“Including us, or so it would seem,” Gaia noted, while taking an approving look at her new, holiday-themed outfit.

“O-Oh, g-gosh!” Connie exclaimed with a slight blush as she finally took note of what she was wearing. “Y-You’re right, Mia! A-And y-your hair! I-It l-looks like a C-Christmas tree!”

“How appropriate,” the verdant girl said with a grin. “And you look like you’re ready to hit the slopes for some snowboarding,” she added, turning to Shane. “The goggles are an especially nice touch.”

Reaching up he would check the goggles on his now apparent hat. He would look over his outfit. ”Wow. This is a pretty nice outfit. I approve.” He would look over to Gaia. After a moment he would blush a bit and then poke fun at himself a bit. ”Well, I think we have the red and green theme down pat.”

A moment later, a cheerful voice called out, “Ta daaa~! (giggle!) Magical Dream Princess is heresie, along with the super duper adorable worable Melisa Wisa~! (giggle!) Wowie zowie~!” the whimsical girl exclaimed as she bounced out of a nearby portal, with Melisa at her side and several sparkly clouds piled with presents floating behind her. “This placey wacey is, like, sooo super duper Christmasy Wistmasy~! (giggle!)” she added, spinning around with her arms extended, before whirling outside and trying to catch some snowflakes on her tongue.

Some girls that enter into Dan’s dimension went through some more dramatic changes, especially if they were rather unique. This time however, the two foot magical girl kept her physical form while she was now clad in the garb of a nutcracker soldier, complete with a big bushy mustache. ”Oh goodness.” Reaching up she removed the stache, apparently attached with a simple magnet. After a moment she would giggle. ”This is adorable. Wow.” Putting the cane over her shoulder she marched around just a bit. ”Haha, oh my. Your dress looks amazing Princess.”

Twirling back inside, MDP squealed with delight at the sight of Melisa’s new outfit. “Like, you look soooo super duper cute, Melisa Wisa~! (giggle!)” the whimsical girl told her, kneeling down to get a closer look. “You can be Magical Dream Princess’s Personal Worsonal Royal Guard~! (giggle!) And, like, super duper thankie wankies~!” she added when the doll girl complimented her own outfit. “Magical Dream Princess totally wotally wuvs it~! (giggle!) It makes her feel all Christmasy Wistmasy~! Oh~!” she exclaimed, her eyes shining even brighter at the sight of some of her other friends. “It’s Connie Wonnie and Gaia Waia~! And somebodywody Magical Dream Princess doesn’t know yet~! (giggle!) Like, what’s your namey wamey~?!” she asked Shane, while bouncing up and down with glee.

Putting on a serious face for effect and replacing the mustache the tiny girl would stand straight and salute. ”Yes your majesty.” The persoana didn’t last as she quickly began giggling.

Spotting the excitable girl inbound Shane would let the girl speak until he was addressed. He would smile and offer a hand to shake. ”Shane. It’s nice to meet you. It’s Magical Dream Princess you said?” He would try and confirm.

“Yeperooni~! (giggle!)” MDP would confirm. “Magical Dream Princess is Magical Dream Princess~! But you can call her MDP, for short~!” she added with a wink. “It’s, like, so super duper nice to meet you, Shaney Waney~! (giggle!) Oh~! And this is Melisa Wisa~!” she said, gesturing to the tiny girl. “Isn’t she, like, the most adorable worable dolly wolly person worsen you ever wever saw~?!”

”Oh man, that’s a perfect Christmas outfit for you.” He would laugh a bit.

”I know right! It’s the best.” She would twirl as if in a play. She had to grab her hat when it almost fell off from stopping.

“O-Oh m-my g-gosh!” Connie gushed, her eyes sparkling as she knelt down next to Melisa. “Y-You look so c-cute!”

“Most appropriate indeed,” Gaia added with an approving smile.

It was around then that Mariette appeared and handed each of them a small plushie.

“O-Oh, w-wow…!” Connie said with surprise as she was handed a colorful butterfly. “T-Thank you s-so much!”

“My most sincere thanks as well,” Gaia told the white-haired girl as she received a butterfly of her own, in a color scheme that complimented Connie’s. “These are very lovely.”

“Like, super duper thanky wankies, Mariettey Wetty~! (giggle!)” MDP cheered, giving the probably very embarrassed girl a big hug after receiving a pink unicorn. “Magical Dream Princess will totally wotally cherish werish this for ever and ever~! (giggle!) Oh~! That reminds her~!” she added, reaching over to one of her floating clouds and taking a wrapped present to give to Mariette. “Heresie~!” she told the portal girl with a happy smile. “If you open this thingie wingie right before you go beddy bye, it’ll give you the sweetest weetest dreamy weamies you can imagine wagine~! (giggle!) Merry Christmas, Mariettey Wetty~!”

Shane would get a bunny plush which he would tuck into one of his coat pockets where others could see it. ”Thank you Mariette. That’s very sweet of you.”

Getting a turtle plush half her size, Melisa would hug the soft plush. ”Aww, thank you miss. Hmm, how am I going to carry this? Oh!” Placing a hand against the fabric some metal strands would flow through the threads and form a sort of skeleton inside. Setting the plush down she would begin walking around and the turtle would start to plod along behind her.

“Awww~!” MDP squealed at the sight of Melisa’s turtle. “He’s, like, the perfect werfect friendy wendy for you, Melisa Wisa~! (giggle!)” she told the tiny girl. “Like, you’re so little wittle, you could probably wobably ride him, if you wanted to~!”

Pink eyes lighting up the doll would gasp and look back at the plush. ”Oh my gosh you’re right!” Hopping on the turtle she would use a little more metal to create reigns and begin riding around at a comically slow pace.

Magnolia - To the Exhibition (Exiting)

With an unusual determination, Ariel briskly moved forward in the direction of the exhibition. Even so she thought about the questions posed by Trinity. "Well, my mom used it to make machines and things infuse with magic and control them. . Like her arm. I have a few designs she sent. I don't really understand them to be honest, but she's hoping that if I absorb the magic of the lacrama then I can use it to construct something. Pretty sure she mentioned Archive magic too to help me learn. Some kind of newer magic involving tech and information. The kitsune girl would try and explain as best she could. To be fair, this kind of stuff was still fringe magic involving the merger of magic and technology that few people perfected. Indeed, if her mother hadn't been such a prolific hoarder of knowledge it might have been further obscure.

Moving along she would enjoy the brushing from both Ethel and Trinity. Big floofy tails had advantages it seemed. Before long though D'angelo would come bounding up, having followed the slight commotion the transforming girl attracted. Her fox ears twitching and turning back a bit her heightened senses picked up they were being followed. Looking back she would slow and let the man catch up. [color=thisle]"Hello again. Come to join us?"[/color] She would give a big grin.

Beach Vacation

It was a sunny day, like always, in Dan’s dimension. The dolphin seemed to be busy as he bounced and popped around the place, seemingly preparing for something. Then, a portal opened next to the central fountain of the island, and Shane appeared.
The dolphin squeaked in surprise, and like a popped balloon, haphazardly flew right up to him.
“Welcome, Shane! Oh boy, are we going to have a lot of fun!” He shook his hand with his fin.
“It’s not often that someone comes to visit, so it makes me really happy to see you took Paree’s offer! Now, what kind of surfboard do you like? Blue, green, red, a color not seen on Earth?”

Smiling as Dan excitedly came over and began asking questions, Shane shook the hand. ”Well thank you for providing the chance to come. Hmm, I would like green I think." He looked up at the clear blue skies. Certainly was a nice change to the cold of winter. ”Oh yes, I invited Gaia as my date.” She should be just behind him through the portal.

“Ahh… This certainly is refreshing,” Gaia would say with a contented sigh as she stepped through the portal. “Thank you, once again, for inviting me, Shane, and thank you for having us, Dan,” she added, giving both a dazzling smile. “I am certain we shall have a most splendid time.”

“You brought a friend!? Smashing!" Dan was so happy on seeing Gaia that he ended up flying on the green surfboard he had summoned for Shane, circling the two. “Would you also like a surfboard, Gaia?”

“That would be wonderful,” Gaia told Dan, unable to keep a melodious giggle from escaping her lips as she watched the whimsical dolphin fly around her. “Perhaps an electric blue one, to compliment Shane’s choice.”

"Coming right up!" The dolphin flopped down to the ground, and began to roll in place, soon becoming a blue circular blur, not unlike a certain hedgehog character. Soon, electricity built up, forming a surfboard with a radical look to it.
"There, made with blue electricity," the Lesser Force stated, and handed it over to Gaia. "I can also give out surfing lessons if this is your first time on the waves."

“Thank you for the most generous offer,” Gaia said with an appreciative smile. “But I do not believe it shall be necessary. Thanks to Mother’s blessing, my reflexes are greatly enhanced while in this form,” she explained. “Thus, I am confident that I can provide Shane with a suitable challenge, despite this being my first time upon a surfboard.”

”I’ve never surfed before. Usually kept my feet on dry land where my magic was more useful.” He would look at the surfboard for a moment. Despite never having touched one he had a sense that he could use it to great effect. An oddity as a result of the Red Coin he used. Though up until now he hadn’t even had the chance to test it out. ”Huh. Well I could probably use some pointers.”

"Excellent. Let's get this radical rendezvous underway!" Dan squeaked. Dan clapped his fins together, and the three of them teleported to the sandy beach close to the shoreline.
"Now then, the most important thing to remember is to keep a steady footing on the board."
Dan had turned into a beautiful blue-skinned woman, a colorful surfboard on the ground before her. She stepped on the board, and bent her knees. "Lowering your point of gravity and bending your knees are the basics of keeping balance, as is spreading your arms to better control which direction you're shifting your weight." She smiled. "The rest comes from experience."

Laying the board down the boy would stand on it while it was on dry land. He would do what he understood from Dan’s instructions. And from his form he seemed to have picked up on it right away. ”Like this?” He would ask to be sure.

Dan looked down at Shane’s feet with furrowed eyebrows. “Hmm...You’re bending a bit too much, Try straightening your posture a bit...There we go, that’s it!” She gave a thumbs up.
“You’re ready now. Have fun!”

”Cool. Thanks for the pointers.” Hopping off he would pick up the board and put it under one arm. Heading to the water he would get about waist deep before slowing down and waiting for Gaia to join him.

Catching up to Shane, Gaia grinned at her date as she ran her fingers through her verdant tresses. “You know, this place truly is a paradise,” she observed, sighing blissfully as she basked in the warm sunlight. “It’s hard to imagine that it’s still winter back in Penrose.”

”It is. But that’s what makes getting to visit all the better.” He would say as they waded out further and began to make their way out into the white water where they could begin catching some smaller waves to start. ”Alright, let’s give this a shot.” Moving along with the wave he would drift a bit along. Feeling confident with how it felt he lifted himself up and planted his feet on the board. Shifting a bit based on what the Mount perk told him he was off on his first go even if it wasn’t all that wild. ”Ah, so that’s how that works.” He hadn’t tried riding or driving anything since his transformation.

“Looking good, Shane!” Gaia commended, clapping her hands at the magical boy’s efforts. “Now, let the Daughter of Mother Earth try her hand!”

Paddling out into deeper water, the verdant girl waited for a large swell, before leaping onto her board and riding across the wave’s length like a pro. Giving voice to a melodious laugh as she rode through the tube, the botanical beauty reached out her hand and let her elegant fingers run through the water.

“Mother’s Mantel! I have never experienced anything so exhilarating in my life!” she exclaimed with a brilliant smile upon rejoining Shane. “I cannot thank you enough for allowing me to have this experience!”

Shane would watch the girl surf like it was natural and ride for quite a ways. We're this any average beach trip he would be inclined to one up the competition. Though that wasn't exactly why he was here and Gaia and her excitement of getting to come was more than enough to distract from that. "I'm glad you accepted. I'll be honest, I wasn't really sure who to ask until we got the chance to work together." He would say with a slight blush. Walking back out to take another go as they spoke. They would stop on a sand bar so they could talk just a bit though.

“Tell me, Shane,” Gaia asked with a slightly mischievous smirk as she leaned over on her surfboard and rested her head on one hand. “Out of all the girls in Penrose, why did you choose me? Was it simply for convenience’s sake? Or was there some characteristic of mine that you found appealing? My exotic appearance, perhaps? Or maybe my polite and serene disposition? Honestly, I really am quite curious,” she added, her smile widening as she gave voice to a small giggle.

He somewhat expected this question to come up sooner or later. So it didn’t take him all that long to answer. ”A little bit was convenience, but really a number of things. My magic kind of gives me some insight into people and the kind of things they like. So it doesn’t really take me long to get to know someone. I love your unique look, but your personality and how you conduct yourself were a bigger factor. The fact that you serve Mother Earth and not some entity that is out to take over whatever is significant too. And I spent a lot of my magical career with a pretty close connection to the earth. I feel like that’s a big thing we have in common. After all that I figured the only way I’d know would be to try.” He would hold his board and sit across it from Gaia.

“The thing is, Shane,” Gaia replied hesitantly. “I’m not sure if you really do know me. I can’t help but wonder… Will you still find me as attractive when I am no longer acting as the Daughter of Mother Earth?” she asked, a look of concern in her eyes. “You know, I’ve… never been on a date before,” she continued. “When I am in my mundane form, I can be a bit… rough around the edges. It was always hard for me to form relationships. The boys I liked were always intimidated by me, and the boys who liked me were lecherous assholes who got to learn the hard way why the nicer guys were scared of me. Wow…” she added after a moment. “I very rarely swear while in this form. I guess it shows just how much that whole situation really bothers me.”

He gave it some thought. None of those things were significant red flags for him. ”Well… I’ve never really been on a date either so this is new for the both of us. When we first actually met though you were untransformed so I got some read on that side as well. I didn’t get the impression you were that difficult or anything. Really though, we’ll never know if we don’t try. I'm not expecting to be an item after one date. That's not how people work, magical or otherwise." He did his best to reign in expectations. Some people dive right in and get themselves into a mess. Wasn't really what he wanted to do.

“True enough,” Gaia agreed with a smile. “And I feel the same way. It is nice simply hanging out and getting to know one another like this, although,” she added after a moment, her voice taking on a slightly more playful tone. “I do believe my dearest Connie would be very disappointed if you and I failed to share a single kiss before this date is over. She is such an adorable romantic,” Gaia went on. “You should have seen her face when I told her that I would be going out on a date with you.” She giggled musically. “I do not think I have ever seen her so happy in all the long years I’ve known her.”

"Aww, Connie sounds like a sweetheart." He would laugh a bit from the girl's description of the reaction. "Maybe I should see you home once we're done here and we'll share that kiss. So long as you're okay with that." He would offer a smile.

“Yes,” Gaia agreed. “She certainly is. And that sounds absolutely lovely, Shane,” the verdant girl added with a warm smile when the magical boy mentioned escorting her back home. “You know, the Daughter of Mother Earth cannot give her first kiss out to just anyone, but I believe you have already proved yourself to be a most worthy recipient,” she told him with a playful giggle.

"It's an honor" He would grin. Their trip here was only just starting though. With that taken care of he would look out over the water. He would point out a spot where the waves were a bit bigger than what they've tried. "Well while we're still out here let's make the most of it." The two would head out over the water and begin to make several passes, just enjoying themselves on the surf. After a while Shane began to get more and more elaborate and risky with tricks. Despite the difficulty he managed to keep his footing. It was a blast to do though. Admittedly he enjoyed watching Gaia and how excited she was to be surfing as well.

After a good amount of time surfing, the two would make their way back to the shore and where Dan was waiting for them. "Man, that was a lot of fun. I never realized what I was missing." He would look over to Gaia beside him. "Though it was a lot more fun with you. You were really good out there."

“You have become quite the skilled surfer yourself,” Gaia replied. “And now that we have both mastered the art of riding the waves, we can have a proper competition when next we visit this tropical paradise,” she added.

”Oh, you’re on.” He would chuckle as they came up to Dan.

The dolphin was sitting on a beach chair, a big pair of sunglasses over his eyes and holding a folding sunscreen tilted to reflect the sun's rays to his blue about. He lifted them up as the two approached him. "Well, wasn't that a lot of fun?"

“It was indeed,” Gaia told the dolphin warmly. “Thank you again for hosting us. I do not wish to speak for you, Shane, but I, for one, cannot wait to return here for our next date.”

Raising his eyebrows for a moment. ”Our next date? Well…” He wouldn’t finish that thought for effect. He would turn to Dan. ”It was great. I don’t know what else you had planned but I’m looking forward to it.”

The dolphin stood up on his tail and clapped. “Excellent! I know just the thing: hang gliding!” He clapped his fins, and the group found themselves at a very alarming location; they were on a platform situated on the rim of a dormant volcano. There were hang gliders resting on the corner of the platform, as well as skydiving suits. “You can use the thermal updraft from the volcano, and really soar the skies!”

“Oh, my…” Gaia observed, as Dan brought them to the location of their next activity. “I must say, this isn’t exactly what I was expecting…” Then, her emerald lips curling into a smirk, she added, “Do we need to sign a waiver for this?”

Dan dismissively waves his fin. "Oh, you don't need to worry, it's 100%, completely safe...I think!"
A puff of smoke manifested around him, and he appeared to wear a red and yellow onesie. "Now, let's do some extreme sports! Woohoo!"

Looking down the mountain it was a good way down. This was quite a bit different than the boy expected as well. He felt that he would be fine doing this activity. Actually it might be a whole lot easier for him. His boo… er, sandals quartered his weight. ”Wow.” He would laugh a bit. ”Funny enough the first time I ‘flew’ it was on a boulder of all things. Now I get to actually try with some proper equipment.” He would walk over to the equipment and look it over. Not that there was a lot to it mechanically. This time though he would fully use his magic since falling out of the sky didn’t sound like a fun idea. ”Alright. Have you ever used one of these Gaia?

“I can’t say that I have,” the verdant girl replied. “But if Dan says it is safe, I believe we should take his word for it. After all, it would reflect rather poorly on him as a host if we were to get injured while doing one of these activities,” she added with a grin. “Would you like to go first, Shane?”

”Sure thing. But let me explain how this works first.” He would begin going over the various parts and ways in which you control a glider. He also had some pointers for a few scenarios. One could have mistaken him for an instructor.

“My, my…” Gaia observed with an approving smile as Shane showed her the ropes, as it were. “You are quite the expert! Am I to assume you’ve done this sort of thing before?”

Chuckling nervously he would rub one arm, something he did more as Shannon than currently. ”Eh, no. I have a particular magic that allows me to expertly control and ride things. I wouldn’t be doing a very good job as a gentleman if I didn’t try and keep you safe.”

“What a fascinating ability!” Gaia marveled. “I can see how that would be a very useful skill to have,” she added, before striking a pose of exaggerated shock. “Why, Shane!” she gasped, while placing an elegant hand on her chest. “I had no idea that boys these days could be so chivalrous!” Treating him to a dazzling smile, she glided over and wrapped her arms around him. “If my heart knew any fears about our upcoming aerial excursion, they have now completely departed,” she told him as she gazed affectionately into his eyes.

At first Shane was amused by Gaia’s overacting. She seemed to enjoy playing up her responses. He didn’t think what he was doing was all that significant. He was going to downplay the complement when the verdant girl moved in close and embraced him. Looking back into her eyes he would put an arm around her as well. ”Of course. I wouldn’t want any harm to come to you.” He would say in a softer tone. He wouldn’t push his luck right now though and just give her a comforting hug as it were.

Allowing Gaia to take a step back in her own time, he would move them over to the suits. ”We’ll want to wear these. It can be a bit chilly and the wind a little harsh.” He would take up one of the suits and hand Gaia hers as well.

After taking a moment to playfully run her fingers through his hair, Gaia slipped away from Shane and began donning the flight suit the boy had handed her. “It sounds as though it shall be quite the exhilarating experience,” the verdant girl noted. “Although it is a shame these suits cover up so much of my stunning body… Especially since I know how much you enjoyed feasting your eyes on it,” she teased, giving him a playful wink. She had never flirted with a boy to this extent before, but it was clear to see that the nymph-like girl was very much enjoying herself.

”Kind of hard not to.” He would tease back a bit. He would get dressed into his own suit. On returning he would take his glider and point out a few other things before he would demonstrate launching off into the air. He would be able to glide fairly slowly while he waited for Gaia to catch up.

Keeping in mind everything Shane had just taught her, Gaia also took to the sky. Soon she was soaring high above the ocean, giving voice to an exuberant laugh as she felt the wind blow through her verdant hair. “This feels absolutely amazing!” she called out to Shane as she pulled up beside him. “And what a view! I can see the entire archipelago from up here!”

”Yeah... I’ve never been this high up before!” For a while he would just glide and look down at the earth below. You don’t really know what you’re missing until you could see it from overhead. And the area was beautiful, just like what you would expect to see on a postcard. After a while he would begin to try swooping and rolling. Head back in the air he would begin to have more fun just flying through the air.

Dan soon followed after them in his own tiny glider, swooping around like a hummingbird.
“YEAAAAAAHHH! Flying with friends is the best! It’s so exciting I could explode!”
In an ironic twist of fate, that’s when it began; Shane and Gaia heard a rumble slowly build up from below them alongside a plume of smoke that began to rise up; the volcano was turning active. Dan squeaked. “Whoah! Even O’l Smokey’s getting fired up!”

“Uh, should we be concerned about that?” Gaia asked the dolphin as the volcano below them seemingly prepared to erupt.

“Uh, no need to panic, you just have to-WATCH OUT!” At that moment, the volcano erupted, causing magma to burst forth from the depths of the earth, as well as a shower of flaming rocks.
“Dodge the rocks!” Dan shouted as the debris shot out towards them.

The volcano erupting surely was not on their list of activities. Dan confirming this wasn't just some thematic event. Shane pulled up a bit with his glider to get above the others. "Stay close! I'll deflect the rocks." Using his Earth magic he would start redirecting incoming rocks so they would curve to the side enough to miss the trio.

Shane successfully redirected the rocks, causing them to fall down into the ocean. However, magma was now beginning to spill from the volcano.
“Oh no! My island!” Dan squeaked, and with a clap of his flippers teleported out of there. The two could see how he had appeared back at the platform, now mustering his magic to create a tidal wave that swept over the volcano, cooling the magma and turning it into volcanic rock.

“Mother’s Mantel!” Gaia exclaimed as the volcano violently blew its top. Clearly alarmed by this unforeseen development, Dan frantically instructed them to dodge the flaming rocks spewing from it, something Gaia managed to accomplish quite skillfully. “I once played a video game with a similar premise,” she told Shane, once she’d joined him at a higher altitude. “But I never thought it would serve as training for the real thing!”

A moment later, the Earth mage employed his magic to redirect the molten boulders away from their small squadron, before Dan used his own magic to extinguish the volcano completely.

“Nice work, Shane!” Gaia commended. “You too, Dan,” the verdant girl added as she glided down to where the dolphin was waiting. “I only wish I could have done something to assist you. Unfortunately, my magic usually isn’t too helpful when it comes to dealing with volcanoes…”

Following the rest to the ground he would look around to see what might have been impacted by the blast. Given this was Dan’s world he was a little curious how such a thing could happen without the patron realizing it beforehand. Concentrating his magic he would feel out the earth for the cause and if there would be further eruptions. ”Is this a normal thing?”

Dan wiped the sweat off his brow with an oversized napkin, and sighed in relief when the activity finally ceased. He then turned to the two with a droopy nose.
“I-I’m sorry...” He fidgeted in place. “I’ve recently been experimenting with magically altering this world, you see. Some of that magic ended up embedded into the fabric of this reality, connecting it to me and my feelings.” He teared up.“I-I got too carried away by excitement, which caused the magic within the volcano to respond, nearly hurting you-!” He then began to cry loudly, his tears coming out like tiny fountains. “ I ruined your vacation! I’m a terrible host!”

Shocked by Dan’s anguish, Gaia rushed over to the dolphin and gave him a big hug. “Shh… Shh… It’s okay,” she told him while gently patting his head. “We all make mistakes. And you have been a most splendid host,” she added, giving him a warm smile. “Our vacation wasn’t ruined, it was simply made more interesting and memorable. Don’t you agree, Shane?”

Having what happened explained to him, he would stand back up. He would give the dolphin a pat on the head. ”Yes. It’s all good Dan. We’ve had a great time so far and no one was hurt. I think now maybe we can just relax and enjoy the sounds of the ocean.” He would assure the aquatic patron.

Dan squeaked when Gaia gave him a comforting hug, and calmed down. He wiped his tears and nodded. "Th-Thank you, Gaia, Shane. Allow me to make ends one last time." The Lesser Force clapped his fins, and they teleported back to the beach, back to their beach wear and sitting on beach chairs. A table with drinks was set right next to them.
Dan then bowed. "Now, please relax, and enjoy the rest of your visit. I'll be going now to work on my little project, but I'll come running if you call me. See you later!" He then disappeared with a puff of blue smoke.

For the next hour, the two simply relaxed and chatted about various things, getting to know one another a little better. Soon enough, it would be time for them to head back, and Gaia took Shane’s hand as they approached the portal.

“Thank you again for such a wonderful time,” she told him. “I do not think I shall ever forget this for as long as I live.”

"It was my pleasure. I'm glad you agreed to join on such short notice." He would lead them through not far from Gaia's place at the orphanage.

“Sadly, I believe this is where we must part ways for the evening,” Gaia observed, before wrapping her arms around him. “Although I also believe this is where we share a farewell kiss,” she added with a smile.

Giving a slight chuckle Shane would put his arms around the girl as well. He would lean in and give her a kiss, holding it for a few seconds. After a moment he would draw back. "Maybe next time we could go out as our mundane selves. Get a feel for that side too hmm?" He would put the idea forward.

Gaia closed her eyes as she felt Shane’s lips touch hers. It was the verdant girl’s first kiss, after all, and she wanted to enjoy the sensation to the fullest. After several blissful seconds had passed, they slowly pulled apart. Shane then went on to ask about the possibility of going out as their mundane selves.

“I… Think I would enjoy that,” Gaia said after a moment. “Although I don’t know of too many places we could go, what with Penrose in its current state,” she added with a slight frown.

Shane could think of a few things still around to do. How exciting or whatever was harder to say. "Well give it some thought and let me know what you'd like to do and we'll figure it out from there. That sound good?"

“Yes,” she agreed. “That sounds like a splendid idea. You know, I am quite fond of playing video games,” she added. “So if you can find a good arcade that is still open, that might be most enjoyable. Worse comes to worse, we could always play some games here,” she noted, gesturing to her room at the orphanage. “If you don’t mind Connie being there, too, of course.”

”Not at all. I don’t think I’ve actually played a video game in years.” He would muse slightly. Being a wanderer since joining the magical world he didn’t really settle anywhere to play all that much. Maybe he did play something at one point, but it was such a rarity he all but forgot about it.

“Wonderful,” Gaia replied. “In that case, I greatly look forward to it. And I promise to go easy on you for the first few games,” she added playfully.

”I look forward to it. I guess I’ll see you again soon at the Christmas party. Oh and let me know how Connie reacts to our date. I’m sure it will be adorable.” He would give her a quick peck on the cheek. ”Have a good evening.” He would step back to leave.

“I shall certainly do so,” Gaia told him warmly as she stepped onto a lowered tree branch and allowed it to raise her up to her window. “And a most pleasant evening to you as well,” she added, blowing him a kiss before slipping through the window and disappearing from view.

There were many things that the twins had hoped to accomplish. Most of those things seemingly impossible with the various people and factions as they were. A number of things had changed though, not the least of which was the leadership in the Cradle. Maura seemed to be much more... open to dialog with those that weren't necessarily friends. If nothing else Kayli had left a good enough impression to act as a mediator for leaders in both Beacon and the Cradle. Though just as likely they could, and likely would, use the encounter to size each other up.

Whatever the case a place of meeting was struck in the Overcity. Given the circumstances a private room at a bar was booked where they could be uninterrupted but wouldn't be in some shady corner of nowhere. Arriving early Kayli would protect the room with what she could. Can never be too careful. Her guests would arrive and find drinks provided.

At the designated time, Alicia strode into the bar with a confident and formal demeanor. This was strictly business, and she held little illusion that things would go smoothly. Veronica might not be in charge of this particular group anymore, but no doubt her influence still loomed. That was why she had agreed to this meeting. She wanted to see what the new head was like.

Directed to the private room, she nodded to Kayli as she entered. "Hello Kayli, nice to see you again. I guess you've been pretty busy since we last saw each other."

Penny's warnings still rang true to Maura's head. Should she be doing this so early? Could she make a good impression at this point? She didn't know, but she trusted Kayli could help things run smoothly. Besides, Maura had her own questions in mind.

Not opting to shadow-hop this time, she'd enter the room a bit after Alicia, Betty in tow. "Good evening, everyone." she waved, then turned to the Beacon leader. "You didn't have to meet with me if you didn't want to, so thank you for coming." she smiled.

Betty was standing at Maura’s side. The girl was armed to the teeth, and she had her palm resting on the hilt of a sheathed sword. Unless someone had seen her fight, they might have found it curious how she had so many swords, and only two hands to hold them in. Her brow was crossed, and she eyed the two other girls carefully. Her fingers twitched, and her breathing was deep.

The keeper gave a nod to Alicia and stood from her seat. "Penrose has a lot going on. I said I would work on things like this and I seek to keep to my word. Suppose it's a surprise to both of us it was so soon." She would step up as her other two attendees arrived. "Hello again Maura." She noted tense girl next to the patron. Clearing her throat a bit she gestured to the mearby table where they could sit. "Yes, thank you all for coming. I don't have specific topics for us to discuss other than perhaps one, but we could get to that later. I though it best if we use this time to sit and talk over some tea or coffee. Or if you would prefer we could order something more specific." She would offer as she guided them.

Alicia took a seat just before Maura arrived, and the meeting could begin. She nodded to Betty out of respect but otherwise didnt pay her too much attention. She seemed to just be here a a bodyguard, so that was what Alicia would treat her as.

She then turned back to Kayli. "Coffee would be good." she decided. It would let her keep her nerves calm. Having made her order, her attention finally settled on Maura as she sized up the Cradle leader. "Well, the cradle is one of the major players in Penrose. With Veronica heading off for greener pastures, I figured I should learn who I would be dealing with from now on."

Maura hummed, sitting down across from Alicia. "Well, I'm sure you have your questions. I'll answer them the best I can." she looked over to Kayli. "I'll take some tea then."

Kayli would check with Betty, but she did not appear to be in a very talkative mood, and just shook her head. With that, Kayli stepped off to one side briefly to pour the drinks. Coming back over she would set the respective drinks before each. Any fixings they might want would be there on the table for them to use. Sitting down herself across from Betty the girl would sip her tea. For the moment she would let the other two speak.

Alicia nodded gratefully to Kayli as she took her drink, gently blowing over the surface to cool it off before she made any effort to actually drink it. Just because she had the superhuman ability to regenerate from burning her mouth didnt mean that it was an experience she enjoyed inflicting upon herself.

While holding on to that, she began the question and answer session. "I suppose my immediate question is what your intentions are for the Cradle. Veronica told me what she had in mind, but she's not here anymore. So what do you intend to do with all this power?"

"I don't exactly have a huge goal in mind. Mostly just getting Penrose back to normal at the moment, and preventing the apocalypse." Maura took a sip of her tea. "Things may be calm now, but who knows what may happen next."

Betty took a deep breath and smiled at her new employer. “Whew! For a second there, I thought you were going to bring a big sweeping change over the organization. Boss always had faith in your style.” Betty took her hand off of her sword and sat down beside Maura, totally enamored with her new employer. Then she turned to the others, at which point her eyes darted between the two other girls she had yet to introduce herself to. “Right." Betty twiddle her thumbs and looked off into space.

It was nice to hear that Maura had no plans beyond preserving peace and preventing general doom, Alicia was not content to just accept that answer on simple faith. Too many things had happened for her to trust a complete stranger. Particularly someone Veronica trusted enough to take over for her.

While Betty spoke with her boss, Alicia took the opportunity to sip her coffee. The bitter liquid kept her mind focused for the conversation, and she prepared to resume.

“That’s good to hear,” she agreed with a small nod. “At least the Cradle is being consistent.” That had been Veronica’s self professed goal after all, or something like it. But having confirmed it, that led to a natural follow up. “And how do you feel about the Ascendancy? Veronica wasn’t exactly fond of them after the Rave. They weren’t fond of her either.”

Maura sighed. "I'll be honest with you, they're not exactly my cup of tea either, er, no pun intended." she let her head rest on her hand. "Though from what Penny told me, you guys didn't ask for their intervention did you? Y'know, with the whole 'vacation' thing?" she appeared concerned.

"Thats right," Alicia agreed, not surprised by Mauras opinion in the slightest. It was hardly unique. "With so many of us gone the city was being overrun by monsters. They stepped in to keep things under control. I had hoped that I could convince them to leave once we had returned, but the attack at the Rave made that unviable."

Truth be told, she wasn't sure what it would take to get them to leave now, short of a directive from the central organization. But that didn't seem likely to happen any time soon.

Betty threw her hands onto the table and stood up. “Well maybe the rave wouldn't have been a problem if they didn't insist on playing directly into the PI's hands!" She spit out her words like they were venom. “Also, maybe don't ally with someone who nearly destroyed the world? There had to have been better choices than Justine, right?" Her body was trembling. “Go ahead, say something about Mariette! The only reason we allied with her was to get at Justine. And you know what? It worked!"

Maura recoiled slightly at Betty's sudden outburst, but tried to calm her down regardless. "Easy there, tiger..." she patted the girl's back., causing her to sit back down. Her gaze lost all intensity as she let out an exhausted sigh."I'm sure they were as unaware of the PI's involvement as we were, at the time." She turned back to Alicia. "Look, they may have good intentions, but the Ascendancy's methods contradict that. You know how the saying about the road to Hell goes. That's my only gripe about them." Maura took another sip of her tea.

"You're still angry about Mariette, aren't you?" She frowned.

Alicia did her best to keep her calm, sipping her coffee through the bodyguards outburst. "As Maura said, we had no idea that they were anything more than a tabloid. Unless you're saying that Veronica knew and decided that a magical bomb would be a useful part of her plans." It wouldnt have surprised her for a former Coin broker after all.

Betty rubbed her head. “I'm saying they involved themselves in something that they were ill equipped to face." She looked off into the distance.

"Technically, we all weren't. But I get it."

Alicia chose to ignore Betty for now, with that line of conversation seeming like a waste of time. What had happened, happened. They just had to live with the outcome.

Personally, she had not had any intention of bringing up Mariette, since that was another legacy of Veronicas leadership rather than Maura. But since it had she felt obligated to address it. "As a matter of fact, there weren't," she replied simply. "No one else was willing to acknowledge the threat she posed. I did what I felt I had to."

Having said what she needed to there, her focus returned to Maura. "What is there to be angry about? Everything was resolved, assuming the eldritch Horror doesn't notice she's been reverted from her brainwashing of course." Alicia was skeptical of how viable that solution was, but everyone else seemed to be confident that things would work out.

"Guess that depends on if she decides to break off of Asengav completely." Maura shrugged. "They could try and get more magical girls free from the mind-control shtick, but he's bound to piece things together if they're not careful."

The subject changing to something she felt more involved in, Kayli would sit forward. "I need to try and get in contact with Mariette if I can. I can see how someone like her could be conflicted about things when they were taken in at such an early age. She needs guidence, idealy from someone that she doesn't feel is trying to use her. Though talking about it makes the whole thing sound fishy." She would admit. Several steps had been made, but it was hard to tell if the efforts would turn out for anyone at this point.

"Regardless, its not my business anymore. You've dealt with the major threats. I intend to focus on making sure nothing steps into that void," she replied. She did her best to be calm and reasonable about it, but she was not entirely content. Still, if Maura was anything like Veronica then being up front about that would only be a weakness.

"Alright. But if you don't have any further questions, may I ask you something?" Maura asked Alicia. "Are you okay? I mean, with everything that's happened, it's bound to strain people, but I can't help worrying." She appeared genuinely concerned.

An eyebrow rose as Alicia looked on Maura in surprise, but her response was about as automatic as breathing. They might not be enemies anymore, but that did not mean they were friends. Especially with Betty being so hostile and being right here. "I appreciate your concern for my well being, but Im fine," she replied, leaving things like that without a desire to elaborate further.

Maura would blink, unimpressed, before it turned into a mischievous grin. "Come on, you don't got anything? Don't want to beat something up for your frustrations?"

Betty’s hand came to rest on the hilt of her massive odachi. Or to those unfamiliar with swords, a two-handed katana. “Maura, if someone layed a finger on you, I’d cut that finger off, along with the hand it was attached to." Betty fret her brow. “But if you insist on having Alicia punch someone, I can take it! She can hit me!"

Maura pouted at Betty. "You know I can take a simple punch! And I don't want you accidentally cutting her hand off either." she turned to Alicia. "It's up to you though, dear. If you have anything else in mind, we can try that." she smiled.

“I won’t cut her, because I’ll be letting her hit me!" Betty leaned in front of Maura while pointing at herself. With both hands. her sheathes lightly bumped into Maura as she did so. “Do it!"

Listening to the exchange, after several moments Alicia interjected. "I don't intend on punching anyone," she protested firmly. Or venting, or doing anything that could make its way back to Veronica's ears. "I'm fine."

"Alright, I won't prod you any further. Bettymoveoutoftheway." Maura shrugged, moving Betty back to her seat. "Well then, what do you want to do now?"

With questions of her emotional stability resolved, Alicia returned to the matter of business. There was not much left to do, at least as far as she was concerned. She was getting a read, though whether it was a read that was correct was an entirely different case.

For now she returned to her coffee, which was mostly finished by this point in the conversation. “I suppose the only thing I’d want to know at this point is your relationship as head of this portion of the Cradle to Veronica herself. Does she have access to your memories too?”

Maura hesitated to speak. This tick did not go unnoticed by Betty, who jumped onto the table and pointed at Alicia.

“Classified information!" Her finger was hovering a few inches over her head. “As an intelligence gathering organization, you can’t expect us to give away all of our secrets all willy nilly- Hey, I didn’t notice, but you have nice hair." She kneeled in front of Alicia. “It’s so shiny! I could have shiny hair, but it’s white so that would be kind of annoying. But yea!" She fret her brow. “Revealing information like that would be like me asking you what kind of shampoo you use, it’s never gunna happen!"

To be fair Maura didn't know what her relationship with Veronica was exactly. So when Betty intervened before she could work out an answer, she mouthed a "sorry" to Alicia before moving the bodyguard back to her seat.

Alicia resisted the urge to roll her eyes once more as Betty spoke up about classified information and whatnot. Perhaps it had been too much to ask, but she had nonetheless held out hope that it would work. As expected of an organization made by a Coin Broker, they had their fair share of secrets it seemed.

For now, shed just have to be more direct. "Fine. Then how likely is it that Veronica will swoop back into town one day and make all this talking pointless?" If she couldn't know how far her reach extended, she could at least know that.

"Highly unlikely." Maura took a moment to finish her tea. "Veronica had to disrupt something important when she first returned, I don't think she'll will again any time soon."

Betty sensed Maura’s uncertainty again, and probably felt like she had to redeem herself. So she added on to what Maura had said. “More importantly, Veronica surrendered the Cradle to Maura with the bindings of a magical contract. It’s impossible for her to get it back unless Maura signs it back to her."

There was some silence for a bit. Kayli would look at Betty for a little while before turning her gaze to Maura. "I do have something that I'm sure several of us have questions about. Justine. I was able to confirm her purification and her profession of repentance. Have you worked out the details of your agreement?" Given Betty's direct encounter, the Keeper did her best to calm the room with her magic. Being under Justine's control was something she understood on a personal level.

Maura seemed to flinch when Justine was brought up. "Erm, yeah. I was hoping to explain to the other agents next meeting, but to keep Father from corrupting her again, I took Justine in." She crossed her arms with a sigh. "I'm more than aware my choice will not be...well-received. The purification potion kept her torn between life and death, thus I was able to negotiate with her. Look at this as her rehabilitation." She looked to Alicia. "And I'm aware she may try to deceive me. I'm keeping a close eye on her for a bit to see that won't happen. If she dares to lay a finger on my agents, the contract will be nulled, and I'll drag her to the depths of Hell myself. I have a few friends down there that'd love to say hello." Maura looked into her tea cup and furrowed her brows. "If anything, I can have Eliza babysit her instead. she joked.

“She was already given a second chance, and she squandered it." Betty propped up her head with her elbow. “She should have been executed." Betty’s reaction wasn’t very strong, but Kayli was being stressed to her limit. This was more taxing than the twin’s attempt to break into Abigail’s mind while it was protected by the spark.

"Why do you think I'm watching her closely?" Maura raised a brow. "Not to mention that was when she was still corrupted. Call me curious, but I want to see how this new Justine ticks. If it doesn't work out, well, it's like I said. Not to mention Sonia's still out there somewhere. We may need the extra help against her."

An eyebrow rose as Alicia regarded Betty. "I believe that squandering is a matter of perspective," she noted, as the one who had been working with Justine up until now. Sure, she had done bad things in the course of that time, and there probably would have been some betrayals, but the actual cooperation itself was not, in itself, proof of her evil nature.

After a moment she shrugged and placed her now empty cup down on the coffee table. "Well, I dont have anything more to discuss," she noted, before falling silent to let Kayli and the others converse if they wished.

Another silence fell, and as it seemed that everyone was done talking, Kayli would break the silence and wrap up. "Well then, if there isn't anything else I suppose we can call this a close. I want to thank you again for agreeing to meet. Not everyone may agree with methods or decisions, but I think it's worth at least trying to work things out. If for nothing else for the sake of what remains of the city and its inhabitants. Given the last few months I don't imagine the area can take many more events like it's seen." She would try and bring them all to some common ground. If nothing else having the world burn around them was hopefully not the goal.

Three girls approached the entrance of the Sanctuary. One had long white hair, striking ice blue eyes, and a calm, almost disarming aura about her. Following behind were twins wearing elegant black dresses adorned with roses, one had plum colored hair with curled ponytails while the other had mostly short royal blue hair. Speaking with the one posted at the door they requested speaking with Penny Asimov.

The girl posted at the door was outside the Sanctuary rather than inside it as normal, they also seemed to be out of uniform, either that or their uniform was rather mundane compared to normal. Baggy cargo pants, and a large zipper jacket. The hood was up, but the girl in question was leaning up against the wall looking towards the sky so her face wasn’t fully hidden. And long neon blue hair could be seen spilling from within the hood as well.

“Newcomers looking for the Queen?” The girl would ask, still gazing skyward “Mind if I ask what it is you’re wanting to talk with her about?”

Taking a little more time to observe the one before her, Kayli offered a smile. Drawing on memories not her own was still a bit slow for her. ”I wish to be of assistance to you and the inhabitants. My name is Kayli Devon, the Keeper of the Keys. However, you may more recognize my predecessors, Cindy and the Howell sisters.” She offered some vague, yet apparently truthful information about herself.

Penny would adjust her gaze towards three girls in front of her, taking a closer look at all three of them with a guarded look in her still golden eyes. Locking eyes with Kayli after a moment “And how exactly did this latest twist come to be?”

”The twins attempted to make use of a wish and I was the result.” She answered calmly.

Sitting forward Penny would maintain eye contact, before speaking softly “Running full system diagnostics. Machine status: Fully operational. Combat Stations: Online. All Systems: Primed and Ready.” A short transformation sequence later and the Queen was no longer in hiding.

“And what assistance is it that you want to provide to me and mine?” She would ask still sitting, though the pressure of her presence was notably greater now that she was no longer sealed.

She opened her mouth for a moment but paused briefly as if considering something. It wasn’t long before she continued. ”I am made up of your friends. Facets of their personalities and memories. My magic has been altered though so I may provide others with purification unassisted. That is my primary purpose. But I do wish to fulfill some of the goals Janet, Jenna, and Cindy did. I can help with defense in the form of wards and maintain the peace with my own inherent presence.” She offered. For the moment she was acting a little like Janet with her straight forward answers. There certainly didn’t seem to be any attempt to hide anything.

“So, potions and Coins still, just cutting out the middleman.” Penny would say with an amused lilt as she stood. “I take it Alicia doesn’t know about this” She would say more than ask, knowing that if Alicia had Penny would have learned before just now.

“And what about them?” Penny would go on before Kayli could answer, nodding at the rose themed girls that flanked the Keeper of Keys. “Who are they?” She would ask looking at the girls in question willing to let them answer in place of Kayli if they wanted.

Rose waved a bit, somewhat excited. ”Good to see you, uh, again? I think we’ve met. You can call me Rose.”

The blue haired girl hadn’t entirely been paying attention, looking around from time to time. Now she just nodded a bit. ”Iris. We are the Keeper’s Guard”

Kayli let out a little sigh as she turned back to Penny. ”Hilde tried to pull the Howell’s out of the magic from the wish and got caught up in the transformation as well. They are my allies and defenders. It is unfortunate, but we are unable to change our fates now.” She shrugged a bit. The two other girls didn’t seem to mind Kayli implying that they served her.

Penny would nod as she folded her arms across her middle as she continued to examine the three before her. She would be silent for a few moments, obviously contemplating. “You are free to enter Sanctuary, it’s never been my prerogative to turn away those that find this place, nor am I going to change that anytime soon.” She would start once again settling her focus on Kayli “But there are two things I want to cover with you before you head inside. First is a promise I made to those within the Sanctuary.”

“I promised that I would never enforce purification on them, as I know that there are some that prefer their new found forms. To say nothing of the fact that they have been forced to lose the form they had before. Know that if you break that promise of mine there will be consequences.” She would explain firmly.

“Secondly, if they ask, you get to explain what happened to Cindy. I won’t announce it to them that you used to be her, but Cindy and Janet did put me in an uncomfortable spot for a moment. So if it comes up, it is your responsibility to explain it.”

“If you can agree to those two points we won’t have any complications going forward.” Penny would conclude comfortably. “Any questions?”

”I agree to and with your terms. I may be tasked with purification, but I would much prefer it be done by choice. And who I was is not as important in my opinion. It might be better to consider me as inspired by the others.” Her mood shifted a bit as her smile brightened up. This process was going to have to be repeated when she went to talk with Alicia. There had been some internal debate on who she should go to first. Eventually the Sanctuary won out as the wish was primarily made for them.

“I consider you someone new compared to who it is that comprised your memories.” Penny would say “I’ve enough experience with splitting and stitching the soul than to assume you are the same as them. But not everyone is going to be the same, and I’m not going to be the one feilding the questions when people start asking.” Silently Penny wondered how the Sanctuary would feel to learn that the Cindy copy was now gone. Mostly relieved she was willing to bet, but her being the one to tell them might not be received too well considering how poorly her first announcement of it went.

“Regardless, welcome to Sanctuary”

”I see no reason to bring it up. I’m telling you because I trust you. If it does come up then I will explain as best I can.” Seemed the best direction to go. ”And thank you. Even though I’ve never been here myself, I miss the place.” She gave a warm smile as she was let in.

Penny would nod once again, some of her cold demeanor finally bleeding away as she turned to lead the way. “Follow me, I’ll introduce you to Dina. She’s the Regent so she’ll want to meet you as well.” With that she would open the door and step inside.

From there she would lead the three back into Penny’s room. It was larger than most of the other rooms in the Sanctuary and was divided into two parts, one was a sitting room. Which had a halfway decent couch and a couple jury rigged chairs around a rough metal coffee table that had a handmade metal chess board set up on it.

The other part was the bedroom, which rather than actually having a bed held a large nest of blankets and a night stand that had a plush doll of Penny and a small lamp.

Dina for the most part, was curled up atop the massive pile of blankets, her tail swishing lazily as she waited for a couple of catmaids to serve her a snack. She had gone through a lot of experiences, and since she had managed to convince that despite the gruesome toll the bakenekos sustained during the attack. Her eyes rested lazily on the opening door as she stretched into a more graceful position, scanning the new arrival.

“Your Highness? Fancy a snack?” She said, questioning Penny, as she ushered the maids to go and increase the snack amount.

“I’m fine Dina, don’t want to dip into the screws at the moment.” Penny would say as she walked into the sleeping area “Brought along company though. A few new faces that want to help defend Sanctuary, they are also bringing Purification expertise.”

Seeming more at home inside, Kayli took a brief moment to look around while being led down. Probably the most notable thing aside from the people there was the statue to Cindy. That perhaps added a little context to what Penny had said earlier.

Regardless when presented to Dina, Kayli gave a respectful little bow with Rose and Iris following her lead. ”It’s a pleasure to meet you Dina. I hope we aren’t interrupting. My name is Kayli Devon and these are my allies, Rose and Iris Silva.”

Dina’s eyes went back and forth with the trio of people that had come in. She was about to greet them with a smile, when the word “Purification” was slung around. Her wariness then kicked into full gear and assumed a neutral expression.

“Pleasure is all mine.” She said in a rather cold addressing. “And I am the one that should be asked for leave. This is her Highness room after all. However, If I am bold to assume, I would say she wishes me to make sure you all feel welcome with the due respect you deserve.”

She paused for a moment. “Would you care for a snack?”

Thus far Dina kept her cool as expected. Though this was just the beginning. ”If it isn’t too much trouble that would be lovely.” Kayli responded back.

“Not at all. Just the usual” She said, as she snapped her fingers to signal the squad of maids.

"I brought them here to meet you" Penny would confirm once greetings were exchanged. "They didn't come seeking refuge like most of those here, they came looking to give assistance." She would explain pulling over one of the chairs. "Both as defender and warders, but also in offering purification to those who want it."

Dina's wariness about purification was known to Penny, as she held some of her own concerns on the topic as well. Which was the main reason she wanted to introduce everyone. More eyes on Kayli to help keep things going smooth, and make sure she wasn't taking advantage of the girls here.

"Dina is the Regent." Penny would turn towards Kayli and her followers "I'm not always available, for a host of reasons, but she speaks with my voice when I'm not available"

Nodding to the explanation, the three visitors took a seat. ”Yes. I have heard of this place as a refuge for those that are hunted or may not have a home. While I am not a monster girl myself I am quite familiar with the hardships they experience. I understand that this facility was attacked recently. I can create defenses to hide and ward off others from slipping in unannounced.” She would begin with something relevant, since it was surely a fresh topic.

Dina took a small breath as she looked at the newcomers. “It’s not the first time I have heard this plight. Not the last time I shall hear of it.” The catgirl then licked one of her hands and adjusted one of her ears, as her sight pierced. “It’s either folly, or hides ulterior motives. Especially if you pair it with the Purification, the anathema that Beacon has for monster girls.” She paused. “We’re not in a position to be exactly trusting, even if you are truly sincere.”
“I’ve met you before. Not with this face. But not with this name either. Yet the paradigm stays the say. How can the purifier support the corrupted?”

”Why must it always be so black and white? I don’t wish to purify those who refuse it. Not everyone is unhappy with how they are. And that is perfectly fine. I am not beholden to anyone, much less Beacon. They may agree with some things I do, but I doubt their leadership at large will be happy with me before long. An unfortunate but necessary consequence if one actually wishes to operate beyond their rigid mindset.” Her eyes narrowed a bit, but the move almost seemed in jest as she brightened up again. Waving a hand next to her she couldn’t help but smile. ”Besides, what I offer is far more refined than any potion or coin. There are some mental mutations that are less than helpful to themselves and those around them. Individual mutations can be selectively removed while leaving the rest of someone as they are.”

Folding her hands in her lap, Kayli kept her eyes on Dina. ”If it is the case that you do not want or need anything from me though that is just as well. Penrose has enough going on to keep anyone occupied.” An understatement if there ever was one. Sanctuary or no, her work was cut out for her.

Penny was tempted to point out the hypocrisy of asking for a non black and white out look while painting Beacon in purely black and white roles, but didn’t really want to hash out that argument at the moment. She made no secret about her status as a Beacon member to the girls here, she never had, but somehow people kept forgetting it.

“Sanctuary is open to all who need it” She would say instead “Even if we turn down your offer of purification, healers and defenders are always welcome. Though we would need to move before S.E.P. wards started to work again I think”

“Yet, for it to stay open… certain agreements have to be made.” Dina said. “T’was never about the black or white… but more of what it appears to be. Sanctuary can’t afford to be murked down.” She paused. “Thing is, we’re just a bunch of misfits. But we’re not exactly rebels. Your offer is welcome, however, it is folly to assume that people will agree with such… outlook you have quite easily.” Dina said.

“I know you mean well.” She paused. “But you must be careful about it. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, as they say.” She perked up, when she smelled the tray of tea and pastries her cat girls had managed to bring in to serve. “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but I cannot afford to drag Sanctuary into more than we can chew.”

“So, here’s the thing.” She perked. “You never ever mentioned purification. You are just a healer who for some reason, likes tea and biscuits.” Dina said nonchalantly. “Don’t advertise what you’re capable of. Start little by little.” She added.

“That way we can see how serious you are.”

Kayli listened carefully, and for a moment she didn’t seem to catch Dina’s drift. Were her sensibilities not as mellowed out she might have taken offense. Presented with tea and the pastry she took part and thanked the maids with a smile. Mulling it over she eventually nodded in agreement. ”Yes, you are right.” She held the cup and saucer daintily, clearly versed in some etiquette when presented something more familiar.

Looking between Dina and Penny she chuckled to herself a bit. ”I am glad I came. Things are still a bit confusing for me and I could use some grounding. I would love to assist you in any way I can.” Taking a sip of her tea the tension in her body relaxed a bit. It wasn’t something she realized was happening. She really didn’t want to screw this up, and given who she was there was ample opportunity for that.

Penny waved off the maid that approached her with a smile. The serving tray was filled with bits of polished scrap from the looks of it and Penny would have to remember to thank them for the thought next chance she got.

"It's nothing against you" Penny would say after giving everyone a chance to settle in with their tea. "More so that the last time wide scale free purification was brought up here in the Sanctuary it nearly ended badly." She would look down as she contemplated how to go about explaining things. "I have contacts due to my connections. Who provided some potions and coins for the sake of offering what you now offer. Few trusted it then, it's not much better now"

"Oh, I see. She glanced at Rose and Iris for a moment before looking back to Penny. "I don't want to create more trouble if it can be avoided." Apparently she would have to shelve some of her ideas for the time being. To an extent it conflicted with the purpose of her creation. She still wanted to help everyone here as best she could, and there were many ways to do that so it would be alright.

“There’s more help than just fancy abilities who tend to attract attention.” Dina said. “You could run errands. Not all girls here have… amenable appearances, as you might have surmised.”

“Shoring up defenses is something else, as well as medical help” Penny would add “Most of the wards on this place are to prevent people from finding it which is quickly proving to be no longer any real defense. And there are only a few girls that live here full time that have access to magic that can help heal.”

“I appreciate the offer, and I feel that you do genuinely want to help the girls here.” Penny would say before sighing a bit “It’s just that the timing of it all that’s the issue. Some of the girls here are still unsettled due to an attack that happened recently, same day as the purification announcement in fact. Slow and steady is the best way at the moment otherwise they are going to scatter and then no one gets helped.”

For the most part the two other girls had waited quietly. Beginning to see a pattern though Iris would speak up. "I think we get it. Kayli can let her passion get ahead of her sometimes. Rose and I can keep an eye on her. Slow her down." Catching a slightly surprised look from Kayli, Iris gave her a cheeky grin. Keeping their leader out of trouble was their job after all.

“Believe me… It’s not the first time I have seen tempers very hard to control.” Dina said, as she stared at the trio. “So, are we in agreement?” She said, eyeing Penny first and then the trio of girls.

“I’m fine with this” Penny would agree with a nod.

”I can agree with that.” Kayli would confirm. The two others would nod as well.

“Then we have reached a consensus. Let us enjoy the tea then.” Dina said, as she began to cat-lick her own brew. “We can hash out details later.”

Having received a message from Connie about a Christmas party, it took several days to get back a response. The message was brief and cryptic, but implied something significant had happened. After a little back and forth a meeting was arranged to clear things up as best it could.

Since most of Penrose was still in ruins, or at the very least, shut down, Connie suggested that they meet in her and Mia’s room at the orphanage for lunch. Hilde had been there before, and, as far as Connie knew, still possessed the ability to teleport, so getting in discreetly shouldn’t be much of a problem. Connie nervously waited on her bed, while Mia went out to get some pizza for them. Connie knew she probably shouldn’t worry, but Hilde’s messages had been somewhat mysterious. Something had happened, and the timid girl was worried about her new friend’s wellbeing.

Since some secrecy had been requested so as not to cause a scene, a couple girls walked their way around until they could see the window to Connie's room. Sending a message first to let her friend know she was about to enter she waited until she saw a read checkmark. Transforming, Iris placed a hand on Rose's shoulder. For Connie, two winged girls suddenly appeared in the room. The red haired one raised a hand and waved sheepishly. "H-hi Connie. I-it's me, sort of. "

“Eeep!” Connie yelped, jumping up and hugging herself as two strange girls appeared before her. One of them did seem a bit familiar, though… “H-Hilde…?” the timid girl whispered, clearly very confused. “I-Is t-that you?” Turning to look at the other girl, she added, “I-Is t-this a f-friend?”

Perdictably Connie jumped. At least the girl didn't completely freak out though. "Yeah, it's Hildebell. Or as much as I can be I guess. I remember being Hildebell." She put a finger against her lips for a second thinking about it. Her attention shifted when Connie pointed out the other girl. Smiling brightly she put an arm around Iris, her pigtails bouncing a bit as she moved. "This is Iris. She's my twin sister. It's kind of hard to explain but I got caught in a magical spell and it, well, did this." She gestured to her and the matching girl excitedly.

Connie’s eyes grew wide at her friend’s explanation. “R-Really? A s-spell did all t-this? G-Gosh… Oh!” she exclaimed as something occurred to her. “I-I’m C-Connie, b-by the w-way,” she told Iris, while holding out a trembling hand. “I-It’s v-very nice to m-meet you.”

Giving a soft smile, Iris gently took the hand and shook it. "Lovely to meet you. Rose told me all about you. I look forward to getting to know you myself." She would release her hand and stand up straight. She certainly didn't seem as excitable as her sister.

“R-Rose…?” Connie asked with a frown. “Y-You d-decided to c-change your n-name?”

"Wah?" She waved her hands. "N-no. I-I woke up as Rose. I love the name Hildebell. Its just- "

Iris held up a hand which cut off Rose. Kneeling down, she spoke softly. "The magic that effected us was meant to create a new magical girl. The best I can explain is that Hilde's memories still remains inside of Rose and she would like to remain your friend." She smiled. "And I would like to be your friend too, if you'll have me."

Rose looked around a bit. Not seeing Mia she would ask. "Is Mia around?"

Connie’s troubled eyes seemed to water as Hildebell, or rather, Rose, spoke, but then Iris went on to calmly explain the situation, concluding with a request to be friends, and Connie’s somber demeanor changed in a heartbeat. “O-Of course! I-I’d love it if w-we c-could be f-friends!” Connie gushed happily as she wrapped Iris up in a tight embrace.

Rose then asked about Mia, but before Connie could reply, the door opened and the tomboyish young woman herself entered carrying a pair of pizza boxes.

“Pizza’s here!” she announced, before freezing in her tracks at the sight of their two guests. “Uh, who the heck are you?”

“Hi, Mia!” Connie greeted her friend exuberantly as she finally released Iris. “T-This is H-Hildebell, b-but she g-goes by R-Rose, now, a-and this is her n-new sister, Iris!” she added, introducing her new friends. “T-They s-said they w-were in s-some kind of m-magic spell a-accident, or s-something, and… Yeah…”

“Okaaay…” Mia said as she slowly put the pizza boxes down on their small table. “Well, it’s, uh, nice to meet you, I guess?” she added, holding out her hand to the two girls. “A-Anyways, you guys hungry?”

The girls let the two friends update one another. After Mia put the boxes down Rose ignored the food question and grabbed Mia's hand. She pulled her over to Connie and Iris where she gave them all a big hug with her arms and circled the bunch with her wings. "I thought I might never get the chance to see you again! I'm so happy!"

“M-Me too!” Connie agreed with a big smile. “L-Let’s promise to always be f-friends, n-no matter what!”

"I promise." Said one twin.

"Alright." Said the other.

Letting everyone out of the hug, Rose was about to turn to deal with the pizza when she remembered something and snapped her fingers. "Oh yeah, try not to tell everyone who we are. The girl we work for might get in trouble if certain people find out." To a degree there was limited they could do to keep all the details under wrap. What Kayli did to out herself they could only partly help with.

“O-Okay,” Connie said with a nod. “I-If anybody asks, I-I’ll just s-say that you’re our n-new friends, Rose and Iris. A-And that reminds me!” she added, while reaching into her jacket and retrieving a small piece of colorful paper. “I w-wanted to invite you to a C-Christmas Party! T-This really adorable t-talking dolphin named Dan is h-hosting it in his beach dimension, a-and I think it’ll be r-really fun!” she told them with an excited smile as she handed the magically duplicated invitations to each girl.

“It’s one heck of a beautiful beach, that’s for sure,” Mia agreed. “And it’s the perfect place if you’re getting sick of our current arctic climate,” she added pointing her thumb at the window. The weather outside had noticeably worsened, and snow was beginning to be blown about by a harsh wind.

The two took the invitations and looked them over. "Oh yes. I believe Kayli received one of these. We would love to join you." The girl nodded approvingly.

“G-Great!” Connie cheered, her eyes shining with joy. “M-Mia and I c-can introduce you t-to Amanda, and M-Mayra, and a-all our other n-new friends! A-And you c-can introduce us to K-Kayli! Oh! A-And Faith m-might be there w-with some of her f-friends, too! She h-had to move away, b-but she said she’d t-try to make it, i-if she could,” Connie continued to ramble. “O-Oh… B-But, um, I h-hope s-she doesn’t g-get upset that you c-changed your n-name…”

“Come on, Connie,” Mia chided playfully, while putting an arm around her friend’s shoulder. “This is Faith we’re talkin’ about. I’m sure a carefree person like her would be perfectly fine with it, especially considering Rose’s current situation. Besides,” she added. “We’re not really supposed to tell people that Rose and Hilde are actually the same person, remember?”

“Oh gosh!” Connie exclaimed, while placing her trembling hands over her mouth. “Y-You’re absolutely r-right! I-I’m so s-sorry!” she apologized to the twins. “I p-promise I’ll t-try to r-remember!”

"Maybe it's best to think of us as Hilda's friends too?" She gave as a suggestion. n

“O-Oh, u-umm, I g-guess that c-could w-work…” Connie noted, not fully convinced on the idea herself. “B-But then, w-what should w-we say if p-people ask about H-Hilde?”

Pondering the question a while, Rose pointed at herself. "Not that I want to say this, but Hilde is gone. I know you because Hilde did. But the spell used Hilde as a vessel to create us to fullfil a purpose. We exist now to aid and protect Kayli in her mission." She put her hand down on the table and went quiet to let that sink in.

“G-Gone…?” Connie echoed, her voice a plaintive whisper, and her eyes filling with tears. For a moment, she just sat there, a look of confusion on her trembling face. “O-Okay,” she sighed, while lowering her head in sullen resignation. “I-I understand. Y-You j-just have her m-memories, b-but you’re n-not her. N-Not really… H-Hilde was my f-friend,” she added, using the soft sleeve of her jacket to wipe the tears from her eyes. “A-And I’m r-really g-gonna miss her. B-But, I also m-made two new friends,” she smiled up at the twins. “A-And that t-takes some of the s-sadness away.”

“Thanks for agreeing to come here, and for explaining everything,” Mia spoke up. “I know ya didn’t have to, but it really means a lot. To both of us.”

Rose cringed as Connie worked through what she said. It clearly hurt her to hear and see how the girl reacted. She seemed to react as though Hilda was still somewhere in there as she held a hand over her heart. She was starting to tear up herself. "I'm sorry. I just… It wouldn't be right to pretend. And Hilde would want you to know. She wrapped the two in her arms again. "You were some of her best friends and it's a blessing to hold her memories of you."

“T-Thanks, Rose,” Connie told her, smiling as she returned the girl’s embrace. “I-I just know w-we’re gonna have l-lot’s of fun t-together, r-right Mia?”

“That’s right, little sis,” Mia chuckled. “But what are we still sittin’ around here for? That pizza’s gonna start gettin’ cold soon!”

Letting them go again, Rose moved around the table. "Alright. Let's eat. " After letting her secrets out she felt a little tired. As they went along though and got the chance to relax they moved on to more fun topics. As they would find, Rose seemed to have inherited Hilde's cheerful demeanor while her sister Iris was a lot calmer and kind of anchored her sister before she got too carried away.

After the meal, the four of them spent the rest of the afternoon playing some board games, just as they had on the day they’d healed Faith and Hilde got her new name. With the departure of Faith and the death, for lack of a better word, of Hilde, the memory was now a bittersweet one, but Connie cherished it nonetheless. And now a new memory was being made, the first of what she hoped would be many more to come.

As a Beacon member, most of the daytime for Janet and Jenna consisted of going to school. As a former adult classes weren't something super hard to do. The plethora of new information and how the subjects had changed was eye opening though. They always felt like a parent going back to school only to learn that they remembered very little. Still it was always a welcome break from the fighting and power plays. It was as close to normal as one got as a magical girl.

Despite that the city wasn't doing so hot, the suburbs still had a decent number of people living there. So Gregory Penrose High School didn't really suffer massively from student drop off just yet.

Today they were out sitting on the stadium bleachers of the school. Old habits died hard so even though it was just high school football, Janet and Jenna were super into the game. They had invited Hilde to join them this time and they did their best to explain what was going on. The Spirit girl was quite confused by a good deal but the excitement of the crowd was contagious and she found herself reacting with those around her. The Penrose Dragons vs the Silverburg Strikers was the game today. And thankfully it was a decent game where neither team got trounced. Ultimately the home team lost by a hair, perpetuating the rivalry further. Good thing this was just a game though.

Afterward as people were clearing out Janet and Jenna had their attention grabbed by hearing their names called. Looking around through the people leaving they spotted a girl, one of the cheerleaders, waving them down. It wasn't anyone they recognized, not that they knew everyone there but still. Making their way down the bleachers they looked down. "Hey. We're you calling us?"

The girl hopped up and slid her way through the railing to stand up by the three other girls. "Mhm. I knew I was here for a reason. You probably don't recognize me, but I wanted to thank you for your help." She would gesture them follow as she made her way down the exit under the bleachers.

The two looked confused as they followed. "Thank us? For what?" They cautiously followed, ready to transform at a moments notice if the need arose.

Lowering her voice she whispered. "Helping Mariette." they'd moved around off and away from where everyone else was headed. Once they were out of sight she skipped ahead of them and chanted. "Tell me what it is you wish." A ruby colored plume of smoke swirled around the girl and the cheerleader was replaced with a girl clad in a white belly dancer outfit. "Tada! It's us, Violet and Sakura. We found a way to be rejoined! You can call me Ruby now."

Janet and Jenna were clearly tense as they watched a magical girl transform in front of them. From the incantation, appearance, and explanation it became pretty clear who, or sort of who, they were talking to. "How did you manage…" Jenna started to ask.

Ruby waved away the question. "Don't worry about it. It's not really important. What is is making sure you're rewarded for helping us out. I don't usually like to do repeat customers like this, but I think I can make an exception." She would give a wink.

While the two twins were standing around deliberating on what to do next, Hilde raised a finger while staring confusedly. "Excuse me. What is going on exactly?"

Giving a big smile, Ruby answered. "Wishes. Once I'm done with Janet and Jenna then maybe we'll see if it's alright to give you one." Hilde gave her that "no way" kind of look and Ruby nodded slowly to confirm.

For the Beacon girls there were a number of things they could wish for. Really the list might as well have been endless. However they were in a spot. They'd managed to free both Mariette and Eli from their patron's mind bending, but only Eli had completely broken away. Alicia hadn't been completely happy finding that out. On top of that they'd had some trouble with Rachel's request. After getting a prototype weapon made they set about with a test. They were not however smiths and the spear they created cracked and broke apart after its first use. They still needed and wanted to help Beacon though. Now they needed to prove to Beacon that they were still on their side. That mostly meant winning over Rachel which was easier said than done. They had been encouraged to give it another shot, though they were pretty sure it wouldn't work. So maybe…

"We have an idea of something. Can you do weapons?" She would ask hesitantly.

Pausing for a moment Ruby gave the question a think. "You'll have to make the wish and see." Even if she considered them friends it was still fun to tease.

Jenna chuckled a bit. "Of course. Alright well… I wish we had a weapon that could purify on contact." She glanced at Janet for a second who nodded in agreement.

As usual Ruby had to await confirmation that the wish was good with her patron. But shortly she held her hands out and an orb of light formed in front of the twins. It began to grow in size as tons of magic flowed through her and into the sphere. "Your wish has been granted."

Janet and Jenna watched to see what form their wish would take. Before it would take shape though it turned translucent reveling it was hollow and empty. The confusion didn't have time to set in as the sphere suddenly expended and encompassed Janet and Jenna while shoving Ruby and Hilde back.

This of course surprised Hilda and she was thrown to the ground. Picking herself up her eyes darted to where her allies were. The two inside the bubble were glowing and cringing as whatever magic inside was flowing into them. "What is this!? What are you doing to them?" Getting to her feet she said her incantation to transform.

Ruby didn't even get up. Not yet anyway. She stared at the magic she'd unleashed with her mouth hanging open. This wasn't what she envisioned. What was… Ilum. Breaking from her confusion her eyes drifted over to Hilde who was now in her magical girl form. A stream of magic and spirits deflected off the barrier surrounding Janet and Jenna. It took a few seconds for her brain to catch up with what Third Eye was telling her. "No wait! Don't…" Hilde disappeared from the spot she was standing and teleported inside the barrier.

Immediately the Spirit girl began glowing as the magic inside began flowing into her as well. Her body wanted to seize up and she struggled to even lift her arms. Eventually though she managed to get a hand on both of her friends. She was going to get them out of there. Concentrating as best she could she activated her teleportation.

The light was intense and Ruby had to shield her eyes. It was only a matter of seconds and she'd barely had time to react. There was a loud bang and the light vanished. Jerking her arm away she looked at the now empty space where the three other girls once stood. The magical sphere wasn't there either. Leaping to her feet she whirled around looking for where they'd gone. They couldn't have gone that far. Should be able to see the blinding light somewhere at least. There was no sign though. Putting her hands to her head she began to panic. "What did you do? Ilum. Where are they?" She didn't get a response. Cursing to herself she started when she heard people coming to investigate the disturbance. Just before someone entered Ruby blinked away to the safety of her dimensional home.
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