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Thread: Astronomika - Shooting Down Falling Stars (IC)

  1. #4481
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Mellon's Avatar
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    Anna Vandemeel
    Location: Mitchell Residence - Outside
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm


    A dog’s weather, for sure.

    Not that it came as a surprise, all things considered. In fact, she knew exactly how the weather would be. Wasn’t it a week ago that she had been standing exactly in this very spot? In this same yellow raincoat at that. At least she'd left behind the umbrella this time. With all the wind it was nothing more than a paperweight. One of the perks of this type of “foresight” at least.

    …or perhaps one of the few things of use to emerge from the second set of memories jammed in her head.

    Even as the others were deep in discussion, Anna’s hand rose up towards the engraved glass panels, the tips of her fingers brushing over their picturesque surface, coated in rivulets of rainwater.

    A painterly forest, bathed in a soft amber glow that gave the entire building an almost surreal aura.

    An unwilling mutter escaped from her lips at the sight, as her hand traced the edge of one of the glass trees.

    “…in the house of amber light, it sees us all.”

    She had her suspicions even at the table when the topic of the Mitchells had come up. A mere suspicion though, nothing more. And if they were to be listened to, then the last thing she would want to do was to pull more attention to the Mitchells. Even if they were to be involved with some of this nonsense, the two of them didn’t need their life made any more dangerous than it already was.

    It was unlikely that Shane was truly intentionally involved with anything they were looking into. The brat wouldn’t be able to shut up about it and his older brother was far too protective for that to ever be the case. As for Zane himself…. well if he was here, she would have an honest conversation with him. And if he was not… then she would apologize later for snooping.

    That was all she could do at the moment, either way.

    "What was the 'thing' you wanted to check here~? The one you ignored last time~?"
    “…mhm?” Anna’s mental reverie was suddenly cut, as her attention was pulled towards the eccentric Chinese mystic. “Oh that. I wanted to check out the garage for starters. Zane, the older brother, mentioned that he was building a car over there last time.”

    “I’m not much of a… technological person, so I didn’t think twice about it last time, but…” A brief pause entered her speech, almost as if she wasn’t wholly sure what to say herself. “… it's pestering me for some reason.”

    In some ways, she’d be more than happy if this entire trip ended up being nothing more than a dead end.

    " I only know of the killer's skill with cutting - near supernatural - and had finished searching the science room for the stargazer's things. A telescope, bisected so cleanly it could only be from the world beneath!”
    “…any particulars about the weapon?” As the topic turned toward Gabi’s killer, Anna was clearly intent on learning everything possible. “Axe, knife, sword? Single-edged or double-edged? Single stroke or hacked?”

    “All things considered, I can’t imagine Nubata not being able to provide some detail at least.” This was followed by an almost casual shrug of Anna’s shoulders. “That guy for sure knows all the ways one can “skin a cat”, so to speak.”

    It was at this moment when the wind seemed to pick up in a howl, almost as if reminding them all of its continued presence.

    “Well, I suppose it makes more sense to continue this conversation indoors, away from the rain.”

    “Before we do that, however…”

    Anna turned towards Seventeen, who was gleefully playing in the rain, almost as if in total defiance of the horrible weather. An almost unbidden smile rose to her face, as she looked at the girl’s innocent antics.

    Come here, duckling. The longer you dance over there, the larger your chances of getting sick.
    “Tule siia, pardike. Mida kauem sa seal tantsid, seda suurem võimalus sul haigeks jääda.”

  2. #4482
    死徒(上級)Greater Dead Apostle Cheetose's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi
    Location: McLampet Saw Mill
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    "..."

    As Gradient squeezed my hand tightly I could only stare back in puzzlement for a moment, not quite sure about what exactly to tell to her. But then, as my expression changed and a calm smile took its place on my face, I ended up saying the clichéd words that most would use in a situation like this.

    "Don't worry. It will be okay."

    But in this case, it was hardly just a commonplace, or cheap words said just to bring a false sense of safety and relief. It was something that I believed, and was going to make sure of. And despite all our disagreements and arguing, Prushka was here to ensure the same thing.

    Reaching out with my other hand, I pat her head a few times, then sat down on the heavy, rusty machinery that was right next to us.

    "I thought it was stupid. That they wanted to solve it like this, and wanted to do it now. I still think it is. But..."

    Leaning against the cold steel, I turned my head upwards to stare up at the dark skies through the holes in the roof.

    "I think it's okay. Because it's so personal. And because that in the end, there is no guarantee that my, or any other solution would work better. So...I think if it was me, I would be happy if others tried to help and give advice. It shows that they care. But if they accept that advice was there to be considered, not necessarily to be followed...That my heart told me otherwise. And yet were there to support me through that, and catch my fall when my plan goes down in flames. That's what I would appreciate the most, I think."

    'I think.' I certainly wasn't sure. Thoughts like that never really had any reason to formalize and solidify in my mind and heart. Before it's always been me, in my own solace. And Angelica, but the problems there were only ever tied to solving the jobs. Which, in hindsight...

    "Which is why I want to give him that much as well, and why I'm just watching and helping him do what he needs to do," I continue as my eyes drift towards the pair in the middle that already started their exchange of words and woes, "So that he can find the solution...the peace that his heart desires without having to suffer for it."

    Which, in hindsight, was just distressing. If these two, who barely even knew each other, could get so upset over such a matter...

    Then how was I supposed to feel? How will I feel? About the person who gave me something in life when all hope was lost. Only to deceive me for years. To be my sister. Be someone I could rely on and someone I hoped could rely on me, to give my life purpose. Only to just push me further away. Who made me think that I could finally understand someone, only so that I would realize that I was never even close to knowing her. Who betrayed me, selfishly left me behind when I wanted to be there for her the most. Who is, even now, playing games with me, and keeps running away from me.

    Do I even want to feel something?

    A sigh escaped my lips, bringing me back to the side of the stage on which the curtain was slowly rising, unraveling the next act that was just about to start.

  3. #4483
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Liana Skye
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    "We live in the town. Our parents' old house."

    Zane's answer is a bit more brusque than his words have been so far, as if he had fallen back to that manner of speaking he used when dealing with people on a daily basis... but Liana could sense that it was more akin to a defense mechanism. This seemed to be a subject which made the young man put his guard up, something that made him uncomfortable and thus, unwilling to discuss.

    At the same time, however, he wasn't rude enough to actually just brush Liana off and shut down the conversation then and there.

    "Believe it or not, Mitchell house is one of the oldest in the town. Been standing there ever since settlers and stuff. Remodeled of course, and rebuilt more than a couple of times," Zane then continued, opening up a bit more. "Our family before us... we used to be glassblowers. Still know a bit of their techniques, though I had to teach myself. My parents... never got the chance to pass them on personally."

    His face darkened a bit and his hands idly played with the screwdriver he was holding. While he was speaking with Liana, those harsh, hawk-like eyes were staring somewhere else now, almost as if reliving some memories - and not all good ones.

    Then again, reading between the lines, it was no small wonder.

    "... Anyways, what comes to the hotel, it should be fine. Those wards... they're of native make. Last gift of the Klallam. Ironically enough, they'll keep the horrors of the town at bay, more or less. Call it the last remnants of an old war," Zane said, a lopsided smirk appearing on his face. "... Or something like that. I have to admit, I'm not privy to that stuff so much. Even if I know more than most. If anything, ask that Auntie of yours about it. She's the one directly linked to it. But yeah, the hotel itself... it should be safe enough to sleep at. Safer than here. Maybe not as safe as your school."

    Zane was certainly being a bit more talkative now than before. Had the whole ordeal in the morning, along with finding Jack, caused him to start trusting Liana more? No, that was unlikely, considering that he did seem to know who she was before-hand. If there was any one way to describe this feeling, it was more along the lines of Zane finally starting to accept who he was dealing with... as if he was falling back to some old habits that he hadn't shown in quite a while.

    Like he was starting to feel actually familiar with the girl before him.

    "Still... you should take your own advice too."

    Zane's words suddenly pierced the silence.

    His eyes were locked straight into Liana's.

    "Don't isolate too much," he bluntly stated, as if he had a pretty good idea what she was thinking. "You can't deal with this all by yourself."




    Anna Vandemeel & Alexstrasza Lockhart
    Location: Mitchell Residence - Outside
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    Ramia chuckled a bit, smiling like she was thinking back to times long gone by.

    "Nah, you haven't seen me there, Fangs. Or rather, I haven't been there," she replied, fondly. "Not this me, at least..."

    Now what did she mean by that?

    "That being said, yeah - I have to agree with Red," Ramia continued as the rest of the group hurried under the eaves of the house. "Souma must have given you more than that. He's definitely the type to be able to read marks and scars left by a weaponry. Call it a 'gut hunch'..."

    She frowned, and Zhou seemed to echo that frown. It didn't look like the two of them thought much of the mysterious boy.

    "... Just like the feeling that he'll turn up eventually - either with more clues or dead. Say what you might about his personality and aura, but I've no doubt that he can take care of himself. Only himself. Even so..." Ramia gazed into the storm that raged across the skies. "... The darkness of this town might be too much, even for him."

    Zhou hummed in agreement.

    "Yup~! I definitely agree there~" She cooed. "If he slipped away, he must have noticed something~! Something he wanted to be the first one to take a closer look at~"

    Her face, while wearing a smile now, was dark.

    "But curiosity kills a cat, you know~? And cats do love to play as snakes~"

    ... Now what did that mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anna
    “Tule siia, pardike. Mida kauem sa seal tantsid, seda suurem võimalus sul haigeks jääda.”
    Before Alexstrasza could question the two more, Anna's voice rang out clear in the rain. Words addressed to the excited girl in a rain gear, jumping around in the puddles... and who now turned to look at the Estonian girl like she had grown a second head. The sheer surprise on Stephanie's face was palpable, as her eyes went wide and her jaw hung open... and moments later, she rushed - more excited than ever before - towards Anna and glomped her leg tightly. Her eyes were practically shining from joy, and she started babbling at nigh incomprehensible speeds.

    No, scratch that, her language was still a mystery to most of them.

    Only, her body language made one thing clear. Just like the way she was pointing towards the distance, towards a certain very familiar building that existed in the town.

    Yes, the message came out loud and clear despite the language barrier.

    She had heard someone speak the same language, same Estonian...

    --- At End's Mercy Hospital?

    ...

    There was no way that was a coincidence.

    "Uh, Red? Before we tackle what the heck's that about..." Ramia started, sounding as surprised as everyone else must have been feeling as well. "What do you wanna do? Do we just ring the doorbell? Sneak in? I mean, I'm pretty sure I'm hearing someone inside."

    Indeed.

    Despite the rain, it was quite clear to anyone's ear that inside the Mitchell house...

    ... Some people were having a conversation in the kitchen.




    Hisa Momoi & Prushka
    Location: McLampet Saw Mill
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    "S-so, to get through to each other... all they can do is to hurt each other?"

    Alpa's voice were a whisper, as if she was afraid that talking any louder might set the two youths confronting each other off. Indeed, even when Prushka had reached out to touch the owl-suit she was wearing, the girl hadn't even shivered. Like she knew that there was something more important at hand now.

    "They don't want to keep avoiding each o-other, avoiding the issue, so they.... they confront it. Even if it hurts - both of them..." Alpa murmured. "J-just because it hurts, sometimes it's worth to take those steps forward, i-is that it...?"

    It was like a realization all of her own was dawning on the small girl - like thoughts of something else were mixing into her field of vision of this brewing battle.

    "... Even if it hurts, sometimes... i-it's worth it..."

    Just like how, on the other side of the mall, another strange and withdrawn girl seemed to have arrived to a realization of her own.

    "......."

    Gradient, having listened to Hisa's words, having taken in her explanation and the pain behind it, gazed at her friend with an unreadable expression. Yet, she seemed to understand. Understand that in this situation, there might have been a superior way - the ultimate right answer to deal with all of this, to make it so that none of this had to happen... but at the same time, it wasn't the right answer. It wasn't the answer that Pyry had arrived to, and neither was it the one Ahti had chosen. In a way, unless they dealt with this the way they thought was the best, the answer they had arrived to... it was meaningless. It would probably just keep repeating. After all...

    Just because you're correct doesn't mean you're right.

    And, when it came to her own demons... wasn't it the same for Hisa? Wasn't it the same for everyone? Gradient seemed to finally understand this, and thus...

    Bonk.

    She grabbed Hisa's head gently with her hands, and connected her forehead with her friend's. Then, locking their eyes together, she struggled once more, to pronounce those same sounds.

    "Tuuu... geeehh..... teeee.... rrrrr....!"

    Yes.

    Together.

    Just like Hisa was here to catch Pyry if he fell... so did Gradient announce that she would be there for Hisa.

    And having made that clear, the strange girl smiled gently and let go, turning to look over the two combatants...

    --- Just in time.

    "Because there was no one to save! How could I have saved people that didn't even exist!?"

    Anger.

    "We existed! Even if you don't wanna admit it, we existed! No amount of excuses is gonna change that!"

    Betrayal.

    "They're not excuses! After I was freed, I put an end to all that! But then, I had to move on! I couldn't wallow in that past forever! I had a future now, dammit!"

    Justification.

    "Future paid for by our blood! They never came for you because thanks to you, we existed! And the only one who could have saved us, you, abandoned us!"

    Blame.

    "I didn't abandon anyone! I protect anyone, everyone I can! That's the whole point of my existence! But I can't protect what doesn't exist!"

    Regret.

    "Then where were you!? All those stories I had to hear, of how you were the best of us, how you would one day come to save all of us... why were they lies! Why didn't you even try to look for us!?"

    Sorrow.

    "Like I said...! I put an end to it all! To everything! Nothing remained after I was done! How could I have known that somehow, in some bizarre, impossible way, Jukola still existed!?"

    Disbelief.

    "Then why didn't you make sure!? Were you afraid!? Or were you in such a hurry to get on with your life of freedom that you didn't want to acknowledge the possibility!?"

    Accusation.

    "If I had known... if I just had known, of course I would have done everything to save all of you! Shit... how could I have left anyone to that fate that I suffered as well!?"

    Despair.

    "Then where where you!? Why did you disappear for such a long time!?"

    Despair.

    "Because I had won my future---!"

    Despair.




    "--- But this world never runs out of people who need to be protected!"

    It was Pyry who struck first.

    "I'll never find peace, no matter how hard I try!"

    Not a strike out of anger or hostility, though his face was twisted into a furious snarl of a wild beast. No, this strike was to deny the truth that had been thrown against his face. The horrible truth that he didn't want to accept. He may have found his freedom. He may have fought and won his future. But at the same time, he had started running. He had started running, to put as much distance between himself and the past that he could never truly forget - which still dictated his thoughts to this day. But he ran nevertheless. Because that was the only way he could hope to find some solace.

    Yet it never came. There was no solace for a man whose only meaning in this world is to give his life for others.

    And now he had learned...

    ... By running, he had doomed so many others.

    Those who had believed in him, called him brother. Hoped that one day, he would save them just as he had saved himself.

    Thus he struck.

    A massive haymaker punch, one powerful enough to throw up a gust of wind.

    --- And Ahti barely had the time to raise his hands to block it.

    "Guh----!"

    The white-haired boy's knees buckled under the force of the strike.

    The ground beneath him broke.

    But his eye shone with fury.

    "I know that... haha... hahahahaha---!"

    A manic laugh rose to Ahti's lips as he glared up at Pyry.

    "There's no peace to be found in this shitty world! No peace for anyone! The future we wish is a lie, and it's just gonna fall victim to fire and ruin!"

    He gritted his teeth together, drawing blood.

    "--- No matter how much I wanna talk, the instincts in my head scream for me to kill! Every day! Kill, kill, kill! Kill everything you see! I can barely smell anything but blood!"

    His voice cracked as he shouted that out.

    "But you can take it, can't you----!?"

    Madness of them both rose.

    "Because it's your fault--------!"




    Retaliation.

    Hunting knife of tempered futuristic alloys was drawn from it's scabbard and cut the night.

    It drew a straight line and shredded through the white clothes of the golden lion. A deep crimson rain was thrown up in the air, a scarlet flower that stained the wooden pillars holding up the roof.

    Yet, almost immediately, that wound was already started to close.

    The two lions jumped back, taking some space between themselves.

    The first strike had been struck.

    The first blood had been drawn.

    Their eyes were practically manic.

    From their clashing emotions and their clashing instincts.

    Slaves to both.

    And thus, they charged forth, both throwing a punch aimed at the face of the one opposing them.

    --- Only for the fists to meet in the middle, causing a blast of winds to shake the whole building.




    "PYRYYYYY---!!!"______________________"AHTIIIIII---!!!"


    Last edited by Verg Avesta; April 10th, 2022 at 09:42 AM.

  4. #4484
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Mellon's Avatar
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    Anna Vandemeel
    Location: Mitchell Residence - Outside
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm


    "What do you wanna do? Do we just ring the doorbell? Sneak in? I mean, I'm pretty sure I'm hearing someone inside."
    Anna rustled the young girls head with surprising fondness and a small chuckle, even as she remained glomped to Anna’s leg seemingly like a vyse.

    So… someone speaks Estonian at End’s Mercy? Out of all the… later. All this will have to be dealt with later.

    First things first. Ramia was completely correct. There were voices coming from inside. While normally this wouldn’t be an issue (after all she was expecting both of the Mitchell brothers to be at home), there was a certain sort of complication at play here. One of the voices was, most assuredly, that of Shane Mitchell. She could easily recognize the over-exuberant voice of young boy, clear as day. It wasn’t surprising. It was his house, after all.

    No, that side of the equation was all fine and dandy. No, the problem was that the other speaker was most assuredly not Zane Mitchell.

    “Its coming from the kitchen. One of the voices is the younger brother for sure. The other I have never heard before. Older. Male. For sure no-one from Pinefall. Neither Orion nor that slimy git Challenger, either.”

    A brief pause.

    Strange. I was here last week at this exact time and there were no additional visitors. In fact, I remember Zane saying that most locals don’t visit often due to bad superstitions related to this place.”

    Better to be safe than sorry.

    The raven-haired witch lowered her hand to the ground, right next to one of the flower beds lining the entrance, almost as if becoming for something… or rather someone present in the dense patches of foliage. In response, the bushes seemed to rustle for a moment... in a manner wholly inconsistent with the whipping of the storm winds that surrounded them.

    A mental link, one very familiar to her, was opened once more.

    "Could you have a quick look through the kitchen window? Make sure they don’t see you though. I’d rather not drag kids into the messes of this side, if at all possible."

  5. #4485
    The Time-Governing Twelve Covenants Airen's Avatar
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    Liana Skye
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm


    Quote Originally Posted by Zane
    "Don't isolate too much," he bluntly stated, as if he had a pretty good idea what she was thinking. "You can't deal with this all by yourself."
    ---It takes her awhile to respond to the reflected words.

    Zane was too bizarre an individual, someone who had clearly known about her existence and yet had taken far too long to also accept it. A strange sort of familiarity that made him hard to connect with, like he was privy to memories she had lost, but also had no intention of sharing those memories with her either, because...

    ---Maybe, she was the wrong Sora.

    No...

    Of course she was the wrong Sora, she'd messed up far too many times to be truly worthy of the name.

    Yes.



    "...Yeah, probably."

    When she does finally respond to his words, his claim that she shouldn't take so much of a burden upon herself, it's with a downcast face that even the light surrounding her seemingly refuses to illuminate, a distant gaze that stares only into the depths of a long-escaped abyss, the forgotten glass of a long-abandoned project.

    "...But I-"

    Stop.

    She couldn't stop last night's events.

    Stop.

    Couldn't save Nora.

    Stop.

    Couldn't do anything for Colt or Vier.

    Stop.

    Hadn't been able to understand how deep Hawthorne's pain apparently was...

    Stop-!

    Fell for the tricks of a non-existent witch.

    Stop!

    Couldn't inspire faith in others.

    She'd barely been able to save Jack.

    Didn't even have a real plan for this apparent week of tragedy besides simply overpowering any opponents that appeared... Hell, she was already preparing for the possibility she'll die, because a part of her felt like it was a real outcome here...

    ---Every failure is just a reminder that she's the wrong Sora, because the real one would have done better.

    "-Sora... Should be able to do so."

    She'd always been the real hero, after all, the perfect one.

    The one everyone actually wanted, the real girl, different from the doll.

    "Heroes are supposed to save everyone in the end, right? Even by themselves if they have to..."

    But I can't.

    Her voice acquires a slight, bitter tinge to it.

    "Already screwed that one up..."

    ---But that moment of weakness is enough-

    "Starting to get the feeling I let you down at some point too."

    No other reason to be this weird mix of familiar and distant.

    -No, it's already too much.

    She sighs, as if to forcibly brush her weaker side away, and-

    "...Sorry, weird moment."

    -does just that, rubbing at a building migraine with one hand.

    Not very cool big sister of me at all...
    Last edited by Airen; April 11th, 2022 at 08:25 PM.
    Exodus (Complete)

    Even if the author is silenced, the performance is stilled and the actors leave the stage, the story will never truly end.

    Regardless of the form it takes, as long as there are memories of it's existence, the story will continue on.

    In a small ward in the heart of a once devastated town, life carries on as it always has...

    Because of you.

    Please, remember it warmly.

    We'll continue to walk down this path for eternity.




    Mugen No Sekai

    "The Illusion Incomplete Memories Produce Are,

    Fleeting, Disappearing into the Future,

    Until the Ruins of Yesterday Overflow,

    For That Which Falls Only to Rise is Simply a--"

  6. #4486
    Time to burn some dread Daneel Rush's Avatar
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    Location: Pinefall High Dormitory – In Front of Xylia Pheme’s Room (2nd Floor, Room 119)
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm



    …is this how people feel when I start rambling? Doesn’t this mean I am, in fact, extremely annoying?

    Baby steps, John Dove. Baby steps. Now, where to begin with this…overwhelmingly pointless response? The worst part of it is that he gets it now. He really, really does. Just a few moments earlier, he was wondering why humans contradict themselves so often. Now that Xylia has ‘attacked’ him (lol) with that very question, the answer’s become crystalline clear in his head.

    “Why do you ask questions if you already know the answer?” He finds that objectively stupid. “Of course I do it because it feels good. Why would I do something so pointless otherwise?”

    Yes, it is as simple as that. Humans do stupid things, and John Dove is the plainest of humans, so he does both plain and stupid things.

    “Just like your incessant drive to be a pain in the ass even if it fulfills no purpose. It’s all about the brief moment of gratification; about feeling good about myself. About feeling like I get to look down on others. It’s all about that rush of chemicals in the brain, right?”

    He actually chuckles at this.

    “And then it’s over and I realize all too well how dumb it is. That it achieves nothing, except perhaps more people mocking me behind my back. Or to my face like you.”

    The solution to being a pretentious know-it-all would be to acquire authentic wisdom—turn the falsity into reality. However, that is probably beyond this ordinary young man. Putting aside the mental and emotional blocks he has placed on himself, there is an inherent, genetic limit to what a single, average, run-of-the-mill Homo sapiens americanus can achieve.

    “But I gotta keep doing it. I can only function by overanalyzing others and pretending I’ve ‘got them all figured out’. Take that from me, and there’s nothing left.”

    Except for worthless, encyclopedic knowledge of the occult. And some sort of ancient artifact that apparently makes people die—and there’re plenty of people/things in this place that kill people far more quickly than some slow-acting curse, so whatever.

    Except for the John Dove standing right here, right now, acknowledging the John Dove who has lived so deplorably for ten years. Make no mistake; it is not as if he has become an unflappable fortress of will—Elaine, Hawthorn, and Vandemeel got to him for a reason. However, this John Dove, the same John Dove that stared straight at Ultravania, will not be swayed by the likes of Xylia Pheme. She, of all people, does not have that power.

    John shrugs. Perhaps, now that he is taking a proper look at himself, he might be able to find a way out of the mire. Just perhaps.

    “There you go: an honest answer to a dumb question. But I’m honestly surprised; I didn’t ever expect to find another person as boring and hopeless as I am. It feels kind of nice, even if this good feeling is in rather poor taste, but whatever.”

    Is it not normal, to feel a bit of schadenfreude when a person objectively better than you is faring worse than you are? To feel a bit of vindication when you realize that, yes, somebody else is wasting away in the muck just like you?

    “Anyway, like I said before, this place is messed up: both this school and this town. Somebody is trying, and succeeding, at killing us. I don’t know what your plan is, but I would rather do anything other than wait here to be murdered, and I would rather make this stance clear before some paranoid idiot thinks of suspecting me.”

    If she tries to kill him later this weekend, it won’t because she thinks him an enemy. It’ll be solely because she’s an asshole. John Dove is making this clear.

    “Alright, I’ve done what I came here to do.”

    When he said he did not need her to open the door to achieve his purpose, he was not lying, nor trying to act cool. He has made his point, completed his assessment, and planted a certain seed that may or may not bear fruit. No matter what happens this weekend, John has almost completed his setup for the hypothetical next ‘loop’. The last piece is in Prushka's hands.

    “But rest assured; I will be bothering you again, eventually.”

    Xylia does not have the monopoly on being a pain in the ass.

    “Good luck, Xylia Pheme. We’re all gonna need it.”

    The guys are probably still dealing with Inacio. Should he go check on Sakura, then?

  7. #4487
    Elise Marie Pelltier
    Location: Big Boy's Gas Station
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm


    Quote Originally Posted by LBJ
    [... Are you sure you really want to ask that question, Girl? Do you really want to get into a talk about the possible existence of what you humans refer to as 'Hell'? Are you absolutely certain that's knowledge you want on your plate?]
    [No, I think I'm good, thanks. I think I've read enough cautionary tales about that sort of thing to know that some questions are best left unanswered.]

    Although, if LBJ is willing to talk, this might be a rare opportunity to gain considerable insight on the nature and origins of Named Demons- No. No. No. My plate is already full. We've got enough earth-shattering revelations lined up for this evening. We don't need another.

    Even Elise's curiosity had limits.

    It was something of a relief to hear that the demon didn't think the purpose of the time loops was to punish them. Cruel, yes, but their suffering wasn't the intent behind it. Even if something out there seemed intent on making use of the time loops in such a capacity.

    Elise nodded slowly at the reflection in the puddle.

    [I wish we could just chalk it up to paranoia, but it definitely feels like something out there out to get us,] agreed Elise, [Trying to drive us apart and against each other...]

    That certainly was what had happened the previous week. Waking up to Cesarina's corpse nailed to the yew tree outside their dormitory had been the breaking point, but things had started falling apart long before then.

    [Any thoughts on what might be behind this? From what John said, it sounds like the Disembodied Man is a prime suspect for being that presence. What did he tell him again? "You did not protect it. It will never end. Unless you all... recollect your crime,"] quoted Elise, [I wonder what we did, or maybe didn't do, that set it off if that's the case? Then again, the Disembodied Man sounds like he's been something of an ill omen around these parts for a long time. Maybe it doesn't need a reason.]

    The reflection had clenched its hands into first. Elise glanced momentary down at her own hands, considerably more relaxed than her counterpart's. The demon's fury directed at whatever was toying with them was... refreshing. In the previous week, it had seemed much more genuine in its respect and amusement about the thing that had murdered Ceasarina and nailed her to a tree. Then again, that was before she'd been killed and had her body reduced to radioactive dust. Then again, the demon had been acting weirdly all week.

    [Also... What about these... eyes you've felt watching us?] asked Elise.

    She glanced about nervously, like there was something watching them, but only saw the storm.

  8. #4488
    for me, there is (you) Katie's Avatar
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    Lucille Faraday
    Location: Pinefall High - Old Dormitory
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm


    It’s pitiable.

    Herself, for being an Inquisitor moved by the slightest of feelings, or the girl, for being trapped here? She cannot judge. They may ignore this in their verdicts, but only the Lord can judge. To presume His Will is a sin that they all commit a million times over. For the sake of the world He wishes for.

    “Judgment is only done when we know enough of the truth. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and say there’s a hot shower and a bed waiting for you.” Carrot.

    “Though if you lie, I don’t mind digging a ditch in the middle of the rain and giving you an impromptu baptism as penance. Not the worst thing I’ve done.” Stick.

    It’s unnecessary, her heart feels. The girl is innocent, it wishes to assume.

    Her brain thinks about the Der Nagel in her sleeves, how many seconds it would take to call the Parting Gift into her hands.

    “Why did you impersonate him? Thorough answers only.”

    Lucille leans against the cold walls of the abandoned dorm room, feeling the stormy gale find its way through the cracks, the wet chill sinking into her bones. Her eyes don’t leave the shackled girl.

  9. #4489
    Glorious Grammar Master Race Frantic Author's Avatar
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    Alexstrasza Lockhart
    Location: Mitchell Residence - Outside
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm


    I smiled brightly at Ramia, nodding enthusiastically.

    "I daresay I would certainly remember meeting someone like you, yes. Although... I have been known to be a tad absentminded. I often forget to turn off the stove after using it!"

    I sighed mournfully. It was unlikely I was to ever be allowed to live on my own.

    "More information?" I said, tapping the side of my cheek as I was vaguely interrogated about my unfortunate time as a supernatural detective. "Hmm..."

    Souma's words ran through my memories like a very annoying stain that you couldn't stab with a knife because it would probably eat the knife and try to shiv you in your sleep or something equally horrifying.

    "--The weapon is smaller than a normal longsword. Single-edged," I said, as I peered inwards instead of outwards. Magic is in my blood, after all. How hard is it to ignite it enough to jog one's memory? "The culprit would be able to access the school at any time, even when the moon hangs high in the sky. Other then that, it was mainly just sexual harassment."

    I blinked widely, tilting my head at Ramia curiously, before my eyes flashed over to Anna. Wait, weren't we meeting one of her acquaintances? Her male acquaintances!?

    Kufufu! Potemkin, you idiot! I now have everything I need before me to conclusively prove that none of our male friends are in even the slightest interested in me! I bet this guy we're going to meet is totally in love with Anna! Like a super classical romance, right?! They're star-crossed because... Because... Um... Well, Anna's kind of rude and that can always put a damper on an otherwise amicable relationship! So now we'll get to see how people truly in love interact!

    ...Why are you flashing me images of some dark-haired girl we know? Don't be annoying, Potemkin. Stalk our classmates on your own time.

    I had to pay close attention to Anna to be able to determine what love looked like. Oh, and kill the faceless man. Oh, and I need to find the Black Key. And talk to Muse. And probably make sure Cesarina is okay. Potemkin would have told me if she was in trouble though, right? Right? To be frank, I'm not even sure why we're here right now, outside of 'John told me to go here' and I didn't really see any reason to say no.

    "We could always just open the door?" I offered, muttering a word under my breath and expanding my bracelet of bone and shadow. A hand of pitch black bone extended silently from a part of it, and the darkness shifted, until a key hung lazily in mid-air attached to my wrist. "And then, after entering, it can be like a classic Scholomance prank! Except with less screaming. And probably less maiming."

    Actually, there might be more maiming, because we don't know who the other person is! How terribly exciting.
    in the end we will make thoughtcrime impossible, for there shall be no words to express it

    #THELEGENDNEVERDIES

    [01:05.15] <@Spinach> I can flash gang signs faster than Sasuke can perform ninjutsu and I rap like Medea's High Speed Divine Words.


  10. #4490
    el bolb Bloble's Avatar
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    Prushka
    Location: McLampet Saw Mill
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    Quote Originally Posted by Alpa
    "... Even if it hurts, sometimes... i-it's worth it..."
    "Yeah. It's worth the pain."

    The girl in the suit must be shaking. Surely there is a reason for it. Some part of her heart that is shaking in response to the blazing feelings before us.

    "It's worth all the awfulness that comes with it."

    I can't know what that reason is. I can't help Alpa heal her wounds. Because at this moment...

    "It has to be."

    All my focus is on those two.
    "PYRYYYYY---!!!"______________________"AHTIIIIII---!!!"
    Blood flies through the air. Violence strikes without warning. Tension rises and crests and blood sprays through the air.

    The waves wash over me. Of the most painfully human emotions yet. Feelings so powerful I don't need Memoire to read them.

    "It... has to be worth it..."

    Feelings that send goosebumps up the back of my neck.



    "It absolutely can't be for nothing. I won't let it be."

    My fists are clenched. Muscles tensed. Jump in there, my body says. Stop this. This isn't make believe. This is real. One wrong move and someone is going to die.

    Instead of running in, I step onto the scooter beneath my feet and lower my knees, hands wrapped around the bars. Staring, all sense focused on the fight.

    It will come. The time will come. But not now. Not yet. You have to wait, Prushka. Until the moment that surfaces.

  11. #4491
    S U P R E M E Mormarth's Avatar
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    Elaine Winters
    Location: Pinefall High Dormitory - Ubon's Room
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm


    "Hmm, so a mixture of natural traits and pure spring waters, huh..."

    I hummed to myself in thought, "Well, the Cascades are known to have hot springs around here and there, honestly, I wouldn't be too surprised if there were a few ferreted away around here, up close to the mountains maybe."

    I finished tending to the wild mane that crowned my head with a mollified grumble, it never looked anywhere near presentable to polite society, not without a whole lot of work.

    Not anymore, anyway.

    Should I be satisfied that I at least don't have hair on my palms, or out of my ears?

    ...

    No.

    "Maybe one of these days we'll go find a ranger or someone who's familiar with the area and squeeze some hot deets out of 'em, ah? Have a hot springs session, that'd be a real girl's day out."

    I smiled, absently filing that away for another time.

    "And, ah, well, the 'nordic badgers'..., hm."

    How could I put this?

    "We're going to go annoy/interrogate some local landowners who might have had a good bit of a old fancy sword, (y'know, Gram, the dragon-killin' one, one of them, anyway, s'the deal with swords...), as to why some dickhead had a hold of it and tried to finagle with some sort of prophecy to turn himself into a demon. Was all a bit convoluted, but he's double-dead now, so we're following up on that."

    Also, might be a bunch of werewolves, but we can save that for a bit.

    I nodded to myself.

    "Probably also going to go and wander by the old lighthouse, where the shin-dig last night went down, see if that crotchity old mormon ghost is still hanging in there, you're welcome to come along, if you want. We're going to go bother Sakura and see if she's interested, too."

  12. #4492
    死徒(上級)Greater Dead Apostle Cheetose's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi
    Location: McLampet Saw Mill
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    "Yeah. I'll be relying on your help."

    Those were the words, accompanied by a warm smile that I could say to Gradient for now. There was much more to express later still - but for now, this wasn't about her, or us. It was about Pyry and Ahti, and that's what we had to focus on.

    Even if it was painful and upsetting.

    The cut from Ahti's blade felt all too real, as even through our dampened connection I could feel Pyry's emotions flare up, alongside with mine. A flicker of anger in my eyes, the want to lash back at him, even if just for the fact that he brought a knife against his 'brother' only using his fists. Fading away just as fast as it occured, replaced by the calmth that I half forced upon myself.

    Things were only going to get worse, so there was no reason to lose my calm just yet.

  13. #4493
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Anna Vandemeel & Alexstrasza Lockhart
    Location: Mitchell Residence - Outside
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    Ramia stared at Alexstrasza with a rather deadpan expression.

    "No. No classic Scholomance pranks. That's a wee bit too much for the normal society - it's almost too much for Scholomance itself," she retorted, before chuckling a bit. "Let's just let Red handle the scouting, and then we can decide what to do with this problem. In the meanwhile though, hmm..."

    Her face finally grew a bit more serious.

    "A single-edged blade, longsword or shorter, terribly sharp..." She murmured, repeating the blonde girl's description. "And the culprit should have an access to the school even at the dead of night..."

    For some reason, the mercenary's eyes drifted over to Zhou, who glared back at her with uncharacteristic vitriol.

    "Don't. Don't even think about it," the bespectacled girl replied, not a hint of her usual aloofness to her. "My brother didn't do it. So don't you dare even suggest it."

    Immediately, Ramia lifted her hands up as if to calm the girl down.

    "Uh, peace, peace! I didn't mean it like that!" She hastily said. "Just that, y'know, your brother seems to use Asian weaponry, which has lots of blades like that. Though speaking of which, since your brother is such an expert... maybe he could help us out? You know, give us an expert opinion?"

    Zhou frowned. She didn't seem to quite believe that the other girl hadn't meant to insinuate her brother, but she was willing to leave it at that.

    "Hmm... maybe..."

    Then, Zhou turned towards Alexstrasza, and her usual languid smile blossomed back to her face.

    "Speaking of which~" She cooed. "What did you mean by that other thing you said~? It got me curious~! You know, the whole sexual harassment thing~"

    Perhaps it was for the best that Anna's attention was elsewhere.

    Namely, on what her familiar, creeping through the well-maintained bushes of the Mitchell yard, was reporting to her. Söörik managed to make his way over to the kitchen window without a problem. With a bit of a hop and jump, he scampered up to the window sill, and from there - through an opening in the painfully ordinary curtains that had been pulled over the window - he was able to spy inside. It took the familiar few seconds to adjust to the light difference and the layout of the kitchen itself, but once it did.

    [Uhh, boss...?]

    Söörik's voice rang inside Anna's head.

    And he described the man who was jovially talking with Shane.


    [I don't think we've seen him before, boss!]

    That much seemed true.

    [They seem to be drinking some hot cocoa though!]





    Liana Skye
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    "........."

    Zane's stare was sharp as she gazed at Liana. Then, after a bit of a silence more, the redhead let out a sigh. Not an exhausted one, and not an exasperated one, but rather... a sigh of a man who has made some sort of decision. "I guess I'll be doing this, then", it seemed to say. Without saying anything out loud, however, he stood up from the chair and rounded the reception desk. Then he patted Liana on the shoulder and nodded his head towards one of the big windows staring out into the courtyard, into the storm.

    --- Come with me.

    In the same silence, the two of them made their way over to said window, where they could watch the dance of lightning across the blackened skies, and the rain that fell down with all the fury that heavens could muster. The winds themselves rattled the windows, but they didn't seem to be in danger of breaking.

    It was certainly a majestic sight... but also terrifying, in a way.

    Folding his arms, Zane kept his eyes tightly at the scenery, and not at Liana.

    "Listen..."

    He started, hesitating for a moment.

    "... I can't be as straight with you as I might want to. You know how it is. If I do or say the wrong thing, cause and effect might get mixed up. So I have to wait for you to play catch-up. I'm not doing it to be an asshole. Just... careful. Too many close calls. Too many roundabouts and jury-rigged explanations to smooth things over. So, when it comes to that stuff... it'll have to wait until you arrive to where I am," he started, speaking with a quiet voice to not let others overhear. "Still. I can say a thing or two about other things. And that's..."

    Another bit of silence, searching for the right words.

    "You're your own person. Never measure yourself by the achievements of an imaginary other. That's a measuring stick you can never, ever satisfy. You should focus on what you can do at the moment, not what someone else might have done. If it's your imagination, you'll never be up to snuff, you know?" Zane finally said, glancing at Liana. "Besides. Heroes aren't ones who save everyone. They're the ones who pick themselves up from the ground and dust themselves off, no matter how many times they fall. Those who try to 'save' everyone are, in most cases, villains. That's a mindset that'll set you down a dark, dark path. So..."

    He grunted.

    "--- Don't be too hard on yourself. You haven't let anyone down. And never me."

    The way he said it, it seemed that Zane wasn't talking just about this moment.

    "Not to mention, well... time gilds our memories. They grow sweeter over time. There's a reason why they call them those glasses 'rose-tinted' you know?" The redhead added. "So don't use memories not entirely your own as a measuring stick either. Especially since..."

    For a moment, a darker expression passed by the young man's face.

    "... Sora might not have been such a good person you make her out to be."

    Somewhere in the distance, a flash of lightning cut across the sky - and few seconds later, thunder rumbled loudly. The two of them stared outside into this dance of light and sound for a few quiet moments.

    Eventually, after clearing his throat a bit awkwardly, the redhead finally spoke up again.

    "... What I'm trying to say is, uh..."

    Deciding to trust his instincts, the boy then lifted his right hand and patted Liana on the head, reassuringly. Like he had some experience about this.

    "--- I've been a big brother for quite a while now. So believe me when I say. You'll do fine. You're doing more than fine, considering the situation."

    Right. Guess he did have experience in talks like this.

    And in being dependable.




    John Dove
    Location: Pinefall High Dormitory – In Front of Xylia Pheme’s Room (2nd Floor, Room 119)
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    "Hah."

    As John Dove retreated from the door of Xylia Pheme, he could hear the muffled voice of the girl speaking to his receding back.

    "'Good luck'? If that's all it took, we'd be out by now. Nah, this ain't ever gonna end," her sneering, loathing voice rattled the wooden surface. "So ya can take yer moral smugness and shove it up yer 'unflappable' ass. Yer gonna be screamin' for mercy, tears streamin' down yer face, by the end of it - just like the rest of us. We're all, in the end, justa buch of mudpuppies struggling in tar."

    Despite the unpleasant mental image that Xylia was painting with her words, she seemed almost gleeful at the thought. Perhaps because she was thinking of the class, or perhaps because she was thinking of just John.

    "It's screwed up already, anyways."

    Her voice was almost inaudible now.

    "So that's why..."

    John Dove was getting further away.

    "--- You gotta make a plan that'll keep yer head above the surface, instead of sinking deeper like ya."

    There was an odd sense of... finality to the last words that the boy heard.

    One that send an unknown chill down his spine.

    A bad, uncomfortable feeling...

    ... That he couldn't just shake off, even though he made his way towards Sakura's door.




    Elaine Winters & John Dove
    Location: Pinefall High Dormitory - Ubon's Room
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    "O-oh!"

    Looking like she understood perhaps half of what Elaine had said, an excited smile still sprung up on Ubon's face as she nodded her head vigorously.

    "Um, sure! Yeah, just a sec then!" she replied. "Lemme grab my raincoat and some snacks!"

    Having said that, Ubon disappeared back into her room for a moment. Through the crack in the door, Elaine, Subaru and Tonkori could see the absolute chaos that was the room of the cyanhead, the multitudes of colours and very... shall we say, 60's approach to interior design. In fact, the pure psychedelia that was dripping from the various posters and other decorations was enough to make one's head woozy. Meanwhile the smell of sugar was enough to make Tonkori wince and hide behind Elaine.

    Finally, fortunately, Ubon emerged back from the room in a colourful raincoat and big galoshes, looking almost like a kid who was about to go jump in the puddles.

    ... She was definitely about to jump into the first puddle she would see.

    "Here we go!" The girl exclaimed, brandishing a plastic bag that seemed to be filled with cans of soda and bags of gummi worms. "Now let's hit the road, girls! Road... to Sakura's place!"

    Less than a minute later, that's exactly where the quartet had arrived.

    And true to her nature, Ubon was already performing a drum solo of a knock to summon Sakura from within her room.

    "Say..."

    Subaru spoke up as she watched the Thai-girl dance to an imaginary beat while she kept hammering the door.

    "... Is it just me, or does it feel like the female members of our class are far more, uhm... wilder in personalities than the gentlemen?" The tiny shrine maiden asked with a raised eyebrow. "They seem so much more calm, most of the time."

    She might have been onto something there.

    However, before Elaine could answer, two things happened at the same time.

    First of all, Sakura's door opened and the girl in question appeared in the doorway, her hair dripping with and with a towel wrapped around it, and another one wrapped around her waist, making it clear that she had just stepped out from the showers.

    "Oh! Well, this is an unexpected group of visitors!" Sakura said with a jovial smile. "How can I help you girls?"

    The other thing was that at the very same moment...

    --- John Dove made his way down the corridor, straight to where they were.

    "And John too!" Sakura added, lifting her hand in a greeting. "What's up, everyone?"

    Ubon, however, went weirdly bug-eyed at that exclamation.

    "F-Fueh!?"

    And froze up mid-dance, like she had swallowed a frog.




    Elise Marie Pelltier
    Location: Big Boy's Gas Station
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    LBJ let out a snort of disgust.

    [... It's all too human.]

    The answer it gave out was, perhaps, not the most expected one.

    [Things that you people see as evil, creatures of the hidden world, demons, nightmares beyond your imagination... most of your kind fail to understand what makes them truly work. To them, what they do is not 'evil' - not as you humans view the concept, Girl. Would you say, for example, that breathing is good or evil?] It continued to question Elise. [What about moving your limbs? Thinking? Blinking? It's the same thing. Our nature as beings in existence is such that we do these things because we exist. Nothing more, nothing less. It's then you, humans, who assign them a moniker of 'evil' afterwards. Like blaming the wind for blowing or the rain for falling.]

    The demon cackled for a moment.

    [Guess you do that as well, don't you?]

    ... It had an unfortunate point there. Humans were quick to cast blame on concepts.

    [But what's happening here, what's watching us here... the malice in it. It's all too human in its nature,] LBJ explained. [Not evil because it's what they do, but because it has chosen to do so. That's where the difference lies. That's why I'd be careful, Girl, in assigning blame to things you haven't even confirmed they exist.]

    The reflection stared back at her with a twisted smirk and darkened eyes.

    [... Who knows? That imaginary something you blame might come to life because of your belief.]

    Having said that, the blonde mirror image on the surface of the water gazed towards the gas station in the distance, and seemingly raised an eyebrow.

    [Speaking of which - sort of... hah. Looks like we might have some company at the bar.]

    It glanced back at Elise, that smirk twisting into a gleeful grin.

    [You were thinking how awkward you felt about this human, didn't you?]




    Lucille Faraday
    Location: Pinefall High - Old Dormitory
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    "No reason to lie."

    The girl weakly shook her head, that look of shame still clear on her face.

    "I... I'm an infiltrator. I'm here on behalf of someone. Your classmate. I act as them when they're not around. Mutually beneficial agreement," the tired-looking girl explained. "That's my deal. So to speak. All my predecessors too. We've all been in same line of work."

    So that would explain the shape-shifting ability, then.

    "However. That night. I was... distraught. Something happened earlier. I wanted to... get out. Headed out of the school," the girl continued. "Ended up at the beach. Wanted to think things over. Clear my head. Been a while since it's... hurt, like that. On the inside. I mean. But... bad choice. I was emotionally weak. And that thing was near."

    She didn't have to specify. That "thing" could only be referring to one individual... a certain dybbuk, a ghost, a revenant near the beach, stalking the white lighthouse that challenged the waves of the ocean.

    --- Michael.

    "... He has a knack. For controlling. Inhabiting. Enslaving. Machines. Was wearing one already. Decided to use me," the girl explained. "It shunted my mind. Away. Locked me up. Used my body to impersonate the boy. Took form of some raven-haired girl. He let his guard down. Knocked him out. Stashed him away. Then took his role. Plan was to kill. At least one of you. I... was trapped."

    She hung her head.

    "... You saved me. Thanks."

    Though brusque and monotone, the sincerity of her thank you was clear.

    "So... there. I was enslaved. By him. That's why I attacked," the girl conclude. "Like I said. He was expert. At possessing machines."

    That would line up with what Lucille had heard. After all, Elise had seen him on a TV screen. Kean was an android, meaning he too was a machine of sorts.

    But wouldn't that mean...?

    "And well. I'm one too."

    The tired-looking girl smiled faintly and nodded towards some of the wounds she had suffered - ones that showed metallic skin beneath her human one.




    Hisa Momoi & Prushka
    Location: McLampet Saw Mill
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm
    [BGM]

    The winds of destruction had descended upon the saw mill.

    Logs and broken bit sof machinery were thrown about by the maelstorm.

    Two fists, neither giving an inch, grinded against each other at the center of whirlwind, pure magical energies ripping apart the colours of the environment and staining them like gasoline. Everything smelt like ozone - crackling, violent ozone that threatened to burn away the air. The ground cracked again, deep into the concrete foundation. Golden eyes glared at an ice blue one, animalistic fury flaring up in both.



    "Grrrr-rhah!"

    Pyry and Ahti retreated their fists at the same moment, but while Ahti was faster, Pyry pressed in harder. He spun around, a massive roundhouse kick catching Ahti on the shoulders. The latter was thrown sideways, crashing through one of the support beams of the building. He skidded across the floor, rolled and rose back to his feet, and like a sprinter, shot back towards his brother, his right shoulder covered in red.

    While one of them was using a weapon, he was also the one without the capability of instant self-healing.

    A more destructive side, but with no capacity of supporting himself.

    --- That's why it was like a mad dash.



    "Ha-! Ha-! Ha-! Raaaaaargh!"

    The hunting knife sung like body electric, weaving a net of destruction around Pyry as Ahti descended upon his brother, straight from a jump that had carried him the last of the distance. The white lion circled around his opponent with impossible speed, striking from every angle he could. He was like a typhoon spinning around a mountain, trying to find one chink, one crack in the impenetrable armor. Each of Pyry's limbs, as tough as tungsten, blocked the incoming strikes - raised arm, raised knee, shot from the elbow, parry with a shin.

    It was a dance of death, fought with bestial ferocity.

    And there did not seem to be an end to it.

    The two combatants knew no fatigue.

    And for that reason...!



    "Hraaaaa----!"

    Another crescent of blood.

    In that ferocious assault of blade strikes, Ahti finally found a moment of weakness. As Pyry had spun around and knocked the knife out of his opponent's hand, sending it careening upwards, Ahti had jumped up as well, spun around, caught the knife in his teeth and brought it down like a spin of a dervish, carving into the left shoulder of his brother.

    In that moment, Hisa could feel it.

    The flare of the golden lion's rage.




    "RRRRRRRHEEEAAAAA---!"

    With a furious roar, Pyry spun around on his heels and used his left hand like a sledgehammer. Those outside could see how a familiar black armor form around that same hand, making it more akin to a battering ram. Eyes seeing red, the golden lion slammed that hand straight into Ahti's head, and there was a sickening sound of a crack.

    Two teeth flew out of Ahti's mouth.

    And so did the knife.

    It shot out like a bullet.

    -----!


    And buried itself into the wall right next to Prushka's head.

    "----------!"

    Rage.

    Unfathomable rage.

    Ironically, not because of himself or his instincts.

    --- But wish for death due to threatening the one who had been able to calm the white beast.


    "BASTAAAAAAAAARDDD---!"

    With a scream that sounded more like an animal than a human, Ahti drew the sword on his back and brought it down with a massive overhead swing. Pyry did not manage to even see the weapon come down, having frozen the moment he saw where the knife had ended up in. The only thing he could was take two steps backwards, his sixth sense warning him...!



    --- And so the weapon came down, cutting a deep crimson river across the boy's body.

    A bleeding arc across his chest, from shoulder-blade to opposite hip.

    "-------- HAAAAAAAA!!!"

    In that moment, Hisa felt it again.

    But this time, much more strongly - like a venom of someone else's making, seeping into the connection that she had Pyry had formed.

    It was clear.

    Sickeningly clear.

    --- Pyry's killing intent.

    He was trying to, with his full force, kill Ahti at this point.

    It was an emotion he had never shown or felt before this point - no matter who he had faced. But now, his heart was clouded by darkness.

    And that darkness was a trail.

    --- Somewhere Hisa could follow, to perhaps find the origin.

    It just needed to become a little stronger now...!

    --- But how long could the two lions stay sane anymore?


    "RHHHHHAAH!"

    Covered in his own blood, Pyry stumbled backwards - or so it seemed. However, with that same move, he grabbed something from the floor. One of the massive metal trays where the serrated, circular saw blade still jutted out. The thing was rusted and broken, but it still had a hefty frame and more weight than your average motorcycle. And with a single, frighteningly easy move, Pyry ripped out the tray and swung it towards Ahti, the saw-blade acting like the blade of a massive axe.

    It was an improvised weapon that made the whole building creak as it was ripped from its roots.

    And now the rusted, serrated blades reached for Ahti's throat.


    "----------!"

    Sparks in the air.

    Screeching of metal.

    Smell of burning iron.

    Ahti, at the last second, swung his sword and cut straight into the metal machine, cleaving through the sawblade of rust and the metal frame that had been built around it. He cleft the weapon in twain, avoiding being crushed in an instant himself. Following that, he swung his sword to the left, bisecting the rest of the machine neatly and prepared to shoot forward to deliver a rain of more strikes at Pyry....!

    --- Only, the golden lion was no longer there.

    No, he had disappeared the moment the strike had connected.

    And in an instant, appeared behind Ahti.


    "HA-------!"

    Before Ahti could realize it, Pyry's armored elbow struck into his stomach, folding him in half like an accordion. A strike straight into the solar plexus that drove the air out of the white predator and made him spit out blood.

    The sound of shattering ribs was clear over the scream of Ahti.



    "--------- RHA!"

    From there, Pyry followed. His right hand reached forward like a claw, caught Ahti by the throat, spun him around in the air and then launched him---!



    --- Straight through two more support beams and the wall of the mill, straight into the storm outside.

    "-----------!"

    Wordless roar.

    With that, the bestial-looking Pyry, drenched in his own blood and that of Ahti, gave chase - jumping straight through the hole he had made with his brother.

    And through that hole, those remaining could see.

    There, on the rainswept courtyard, the white lion had managed to get back on his feet.

    --- And he had thrown away his sword, revealing his shining steel-like claws. His single eye was burning with bright white, an actual flame of fiery mana engulfing his head.

    But through that flame, Prushka could feel it. A familiar rumble. A beating of a heart.

    One that was struggling against chains around it.

    --- It was close to making them crack, revealing the lock...!

  14. #4494
    el bolb Bloble's Avatar
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    Prushka
    Location: McLampet Saw Mill
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    Blood flies through the air

    Bones crunch and crack.

    Bodies strike at each other.

    My hand closes around the knife that has embedded itself right next to me and pulls. The knife doesn't move. So I pull with both hands while pushing against the wall with my foot, and finally, creaking and groaning, it comes out. The familiar, weighty weapon, now covered in blood.

    "This..."

    This is pure violence. Nothing but destruction wrought upon flesh. Left unchecked it'll be just like that day. An aftermath of blood and bones and bodies.

    Emotions intensify. Darkness seeps into their hearts, twisting the two men further and further into mad beasts.

    No more. Things are only going to get worse, so there's no reason to keep calm. Go. Go! They're out there!

    The dragon creaks and groans as I grasp the handle and wrench it a hundred and eighty degrees anti-clockwise. The servos in the motor shift and slots open above each wheel. They suck in air and blast it out beneath and behind, and the vehicle shudders beneath my feet in a way it hasn't done all week.

    "No more."



    Across the floor in an instant. Without even fully activating the booster, it's already on the level of a motorcycle. The plastic groans beneath me, unable to bear the power of its own engine, and I am nearly blown off by the force of the sudden acceleration. The small wheels whine and screech but torque is no longer being directed through them; I sail smoothly across the rough floor as if it was marble.

    They're outside, so it's fine to show it. The important part is that Pyry and Ahti - and their battle instincts - remain unaware. Of the only way someone could possibly approach their high-speed battle.

    Hisa's form approaches as I zip towards her. Affording her a chance to jump on, if she so chooses.

    This is no longer a fight we can't keep up with on foot. Even for your abilities.

    The hole in the wall beckons. The quickest way to the pair of brothers. A normal vehicle would never fit, but my dragon will fly right through.

    Soon it will descend upon them, proclaiming "No more".

  15. #4495
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Mellon's Avatar
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    Anna Vandemeel
    Location: Mitchell Residence - Outside
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    "My brother didn't do it. So don't you dare even suggest it."

    "Just that, y'know, your brother seems to use Asian weaponry, which has lots of blades like that. Though speaking of which, since your brother is such an expert... maybe he could help us out? You know, give us an expert opinion?"
    “Now now, hold your horses you two.” Anna was quick to interject before things got out of hand between the two girls. “We already know that there’s someone who can disguise as Minato. No doubt they would have a matching weapon to complete the disguise at least.”

    “Either way, if it is a single-edge blade then we have limited options. A katana or wakizashi is one interpretation. A second possibility is a messer or a saber of some kind. Could even be a dao or a kopesh.”

    “…or a knife. I already know one infiltration tin-can… sorry, a janitor, in this place with a dangerous looking knife. While not there all the time… wouldn’t be surprised if that bastard could sneak for a quick "clean-up" or two."

    Though, realistically, they didn’t have a lot of information to go on. They didn’t even know what type of weapons everyone in the class used, nevermind someone else. Could even be one of the bloody teachers for all they knew.

    Information from the window poured into her mind, the description of a jacket-wearing man with burgundy hair.

    “Hmm… haven’t seen this dude before. Red, almost burgundy hair. Almost the shade of wine. Unkempt as all hell though. Wears a jacket. Kinda like mine, actually. Red-white with some dragons or some crap like that.”

    “I’ve never seen him before, but… sound familiar to anyone?”

  16. #4496
    The Time-Governing Twelve Covenants Airen's Avatar
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    Liana Skye
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm


    "..."

    ---Much like Zane, she keeps her eyes on the World outside the window.

    The world of rippling winds and heavy rains, of the growing darkness that is fought off only by the briefest of lightning strikes, thunder-cracks that reverberate powerfully through a Club that just barely seems to be holding them back. It's not a gaze fixed elsewhere out of rudeness, no, she stares outside because her thoughts are much like that storm, passionate and ceaseless, something brewing just beneath the surface that she suppresses at all times.

    An invisible monster.

    Not one of the Turnside, a perfectly human pressure that never stops.

    The constant feeling of inadequacy, born the moment she had been freed from a certain hell only to find no one waiting on the other side; the sense of never being able to properly live up to her 'purpose,' the shame of being unable to perfectly bend herself entirely into the shape of what others had wanted her to be, of being unable to escape the depths of that shadow she both loves-

    "..."

    -and resents.

    The idea of "Sora" was sacred to her after all, she hadn't lied to John when she had told him some other existence had touched and affected her forever too, maybe not an antediluvian, but the effect was similar in spirit, bleeding through every aspect of her being...

    Big sister, 'other self', mom's favorite, personal hero, source of life, fragments of which were her only constant family.

    Is it any wonder? That the grip that idea has on her mind is so ironclad?

    ---Even she can recognize it, could for awhile now, but that sort of imprint is not easy to shake even if you know it's there...

    Gotta be as good as Sora.

    Gotta be as strong as Sora.

    Sora had found people that cared about her that way, so maybe she would too, if she was just good enough.

    Helpful enough.

    Wouldn't come back to an empty home.

    Left in an empty capsule.

    "..."

    It's not easy to shake.

    Even toying with some of these ideas come across as strange, perhaps she had always felt deep down that there was some separation between the two of them, the idea that Sora was somehow lesser than she remembers her being feels just as cold and alien and confusing as it does...

    Darkly interesting.

    Heretical.

    But perhaps... A chink in the perfect image, if she can bring herself to really believe him.

    "..."

    When it comes down to it, the reason for her lengthy silence in this moment is an inability to really voice what she's feeling, to respond to words that had never been told to her by anyone that could really understand where she was coming from, and so...

    "...Hah, you're really deep in the nonsense then."

    ...In the end, with a hand on her head (Second guy that has done this to her so far, is she really that puppy esque? She sorta felt like chronologically, she should be the senpai here-!) the only thing she can voice is a lame, casual remark about how deep into space-time shenanigans he must actually be if there own personal timelines were clashing like this...

    Meant this whole situation was screwed, more or less, even more than she had already thought it was, and she had already been considering that they were likely right in the heart of some sort of asinine singularity, nevertheless...

    Even if her response is... A tad awkward...

    She does sound grateful, even if her response to these sorts of emotional moments (that is, where someone is trying to help her rather than the other way around) is to always try to rapidly build herself back up towards looking more 'cool' than 'cute' or heaven forbid 'emotionally damaged.'

    "I won't poke around so much anymore, wouldn't want you to wind up in a Stephen King novel on my account."

    Unreality was, after all, the worst thing ever.

    "I'd have to save you then, and that place sucks."

    No one wants to get dumped into a realm with things that do not conventionally exist, wake up something like that and it's curtains, adios, game over, so-!

    She can acknowledge the big risk he just took, and honestly...

    It was a massive one.

    So-!

    "I think I like your definition of hero better, more reasonable," she chuckles, even though some pain is still present, "Things probably got a bit... Out of hand... When the stakes started being the World."

    Gotta keep going up after all, up and up and up-!

    Or do you?

    Maybe it was fine to just protect your own?

    ...Nah, that was probably a bit too small, she did enjoy the whole super hero thing a bit, so maybe...

    Well, she was still working things through in her head, so it was probably fine not to know just yet.

    "Sometimes I think I'm not paid enough, you know? Although breaking down when a girl has a bit of a moment... That's dangerous," she chuckles again, teasingly, "Not as stoic a guy as I thought you were."

    Her gaze, which had been locked on the outside till now, finally drifts over to the red-haired youth and...

    "Well then I'll take that advice for now, do what I can right now... Which in this case... Is probably braving the storm to get two cars set up, so we can get the hell out of here and you can make it back home. This club is... Some serious bad luck."

    Light gathers at her fingertips as she raises a hand, then...

    "We gotta go out in it eventually, much as it looks like it's gonna suck, so... I'll be the umbrella."

    ---Excess energy expands out, just a bit, heat vibrant enough to burn away the rain waiting outside.



    "The glow has a few benefits, excess of Qi is more or less treated as fire or well heat, so... Long as you stick close enough to me, it should be fine."
    Exodus (Complete)

    Even if the author is silenced, the performance is stilled and the actors leave the stage, the story will never truly end.

    Regardless of the form it takes, as long as there are memories of it's existence, the story will continue on.

    In a small ward in the heart of a once devastated town, life carries on as it always has...

    Because of you.

    Please, remember it warmly.

    We'll continue to walk down this path for eternity.




    Mugen No Sekai

    "The Illusion Incomplete Memories Produce Are,

    Fleeting, Disappearing into the Future,

    Until the Ruins of Yesterday Overflow,

    For That Which Falls Only to Rise is Simply a--"

  17. #4497
    地獄待ち Spinach's Avatar
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    Colt Davin
    Location: Forest Ranger Cabin
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm


    In silent moments like these maybe it wasn’t so bad to be off the path of normalcy, like Hisa or Vier. To peek into someone’s head, hear and see their thoughts. Witness their memories as though they were your own.

    There was little else in Colt’s head in the long silence. Whether it was while Nevada was lost in thought, tracing the scars on his face, or while he stared wordlessly into Colt’s eyes. What did that blue eye see, or what did Nevada want to see, in the boy’s amber eyes? A reflection of somebody else?

    That’s what Colt saw. In the pregnant silence he met the eyes of Nevada unwaveringly. That larger than life, smaller than could be imagine silhouette that overlapped with the one-eyed man’s… it had blue eyes just like those.

    That girl in his class. It was her, wasn’t it? The shrimp who looked and acted like her age had been divided by two, but who had a gift for saying just the right thing at the right time. Three times now he had lent an ear to the wisdom of the unwise. It got him killed once but he didn’t regret it.

    "I see."

    The silence broke.

    "... Yes. I knew Remington Hartley. We were friends. You look a lot like her."

    There was a calmness to the grave voice of Nevada, one which his hands betrayed. They shook and shivered, and the man in front of Colt looked no greater than a twig in the storm outside.

    “I do, huh?” Colt answered, lifting a hand to touch his own cheek, as if checking to see if it were really his own. Three people now had commented on his resemblance to her. The comparisons echoed in his heart, reminding him of the family he had forgotten. “I’ll take your word for it. I’ve got no memories of her, after all.”

    The boy leaned back, running his hand through his hair.

    “The same accident that left us orphaned left me without any memories of my life before it.” He rubbed his empty, useless head. “I guess that Hartley family adopted her, another family adopted me. I don’t even know the details behind our separation. I come to this town years later and hear she’s gone…”

    He gripped a handful of his messy hair tightly. Putting it into words made it clear how wrong something had gone, how somebody had to have made the decisions that brought him from that fire to this moment.

    Like his life had barely been his own. Even now, it might not be his own.

    He loosened his grip, his eyes which had risen to the ceiling came back down to meet Nevada’s own. Was anyone in this place living their life, or was everyone here another pawn on the board?

    After all.

    “And you?” Colt asked, staring at the older man. “You have one, don’t you? A sister who thinks like you do. ‘Humans are awful,’ right?”


  18. #4498
    死徒(上級)Greater Dead Apostle Cheetose's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi
    Location: McLampet Saw Mill
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    As expected, with each blow exchanged, the fight between the two only got more intense. From a heated argument to the overflowing stress and frustration fueling the punches, to the boundless, unreasonable anger directed at each other at full brunt. When did things shift from them trying to understand each other, to neither of them caring how they injured the other?

    Watching them get excessively violent, the forced calmth on my face started making a compromise with all the emotions riled up behind it. The corner of my eye twitched more and more, speaking of a breakdown that fortunately would not come this time. It did not particularly help either that Pyry's emotions were flaring up, stronger and brighter than ever, filling and echoing within my mind to the point that it was hard to push it into the background anymore. Even if it gave a better insight to understanding him and his mind, it was starting to get inconvenient.

    And as brutal as it looked, I knew that they were far from their full potential yet. At least Pyry, he was nowhere near his form that he showed last week yet...But maybe he was just holding back. Maybe it wouldn't have to go that far in the first place.

    My eyes followed Ahti's flying form as he crashed through the feeble wall of the mill and disappeared behind it, followed by Pyry as he launched himself towards the hole as well.

    With a long, deep sigh I stood up from my makeshift seat, and started closing the distance to the hole. Yet before I could take more than a few steps, Prushka's form swooshed by as she rode on her tiny scooter. One glance at her was enough to tell that she would not wait any longer, and that her time to interfere was now - which consequently meant that I had to act now as well. There would have been no point to it otherwise, and the lack of it thereof would likely lead to an outcome even worse.

    "I'll hop off once we reach the outside. You just focus on Ahti."

    Grasping into Prushka with one hand while into the small vehicle with the other, I stepped onto it with one foot and positioned myself to - hopefully - not lose my balance before we got to the target.

    Once we were outside, it would not be necessary since they would be well within my range, but until then, it was undeniably the fastest way there.

  19. #4499
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Liana Skye
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    "Hmph. Blame yourself. You seem to have that effect on people. Can't leave someone like you alone..."Zane let out a harrumph that was somewhere between faux-annoyed and somewhat amused. He folded his arms and shot one last look outside the window, in the storm.

    "Well. Maybe not too close."

    Having said that, he retracted his hand and nodded towards the doors, gesturing Liana to follow him. The two of them started towards the double doors, earning a glance from Fyrtio, who was keeping an eye on the yard. It seemed she understood what they were after, since she didn't question what they were about to do. Thus, they reached the doors with no problems.

    "People will start to talk," Zane added as he pushed the doors open and let the wind and rain in. "That'd be a bother to you, wouldn't it?"

    Having said that, the two teens walked out into the storm - though instead of rain, all they had to worry about was the howling gales themselves as they buffeted the duo, nearly knocking them together and backwards as they braved into the courtyard. After all, just like Liana had said, the excess heat of her internal energies burnt away the rain before it reached them, evaporated it through warmth glow that was like a mystical lantern within the girl - or a gently raging bonfire. Still, despite what he had joked about, the redhead did have to stick rather close to avoid getting wet.

    The storm was rather powerful after all.

    "Let's see now..."

    Zane scanned the perimeter with his eyes, and after a few seconds, frowned. He pointed towards what looked to be a government issue black vehicle - with very government issue plates on it - sitting at the edge of the parking lot.

    "... I think we don't have to even bother with boss's garage. Ferguson should have keys for that," he commented, before starting walking again. "So all we need to find is the car your friend used to get here last night... ah. There."

    Not far from Scottie's car was another one, much more normal-looking vehicle. The thing was, however, Liana had seen this car before - namely, in the teachers' parking lot at Pinefall. And if she wasn't completely mistaken, it had to be Redd Lewis's car. How come it had been the one that Vier had ended up stealing in the dead of the night just a handful of hours ago was anyone's guess, but right now, it was one of their two tickets to freedom.

    "You have any experience with cars?"

    Zane asked this almost normal question as the two made their way over to the teacher's car and he popped up the hood to check on its current state.




    Colt Davin
    Location: Forest Ranger Cabin
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    A pause. A chilling one. Different from the ones before.

    Lightning struck somewhere close by, illuminating the windows with a bright flash. Thunder rumbled almost instantly afterwards, a deafening crack that seemed to split the sky. That one had been close. A bit too close for comfort. However, this cabin seemed sturdy enough, so it should have been safe... right? Well, at least Nevada didn't seem worried. Then again... it was unknown if he felt really anything. Or allowed himself to feel anything.

    Just like now, he was gripping his tea mug again. Hard.

    "--- I have no right to call her my sister."

    That was the only thing he said, regarding that. A raspy sound, full of self-loathing. The origin of that emotion known only, probably, to himself.

    An awkward silence returned, neither of the two men looking at each other.

    But then, as if to break it, as if to move away from under the large shadow cast by the small girl in both of their memories...

    "... But you have it right. Hartleys adopted her. I heard her explain it, one night. When we were at the beach. She had a bit too much to drink, and got chatty," Nevada explained, turning surprisingly talkative himself as he immersed himself in his memories. "She said... she couldn't stay. That night. Your house burnt down. Only the children survived. Barely. The reason... well. She had her thoughts. She said there was a woman. Scarlet hair. Smell of death. But... that wasn't important. What was important, was what came after. What appeared was a presence of the moonlight. A selenic force, she called it. You were... not going to make it. You had put yourself on the line for someone else - and paid the price. And just like the gods of old, while the selenic presence may have wanted to help, it was helpless... unless something was offered in return - as a prayer, as a sacrifice."

    He took a sip of his weird tea.

    "In the end, Remington settled for two things. Your memories. And her... time."

    Another crack of lightning - this one further away.

    And in that flash of light...!

    It ended as fast as it had appeared, those flashing images brought by the thunder and the storm.

    The only thing remaining was the fading echoes of a splitting headache.

    Nevada didn't even seem to have noticed that anything had happened.

    "... I never really understood what she meant by that," he concluded. "But, as she said... she couldn't remain after that. So she escaped."

    His gaze was downcast, focused on the floor.

    "To Road's End. Where she met her death eventually."




    Hisa Momoi & Prushka
    Location: McLampet Saw Mill
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm
    [BGM]

    The far too powerful engine of the scooter roared alive.

    Tires screeched against the wooden floor.

    The machine that had adopted a deceptive appearance to hide its true power bulleted through the mill, carrying the two girls with it. Different though they may be, similar in some ways as well, and though their ways of thinking sparked conflict whenever they saw each other... for once, they were focused as one. A common goal had come to bring them together and to put aside their differences, at least for this evening - this moment.

    This bloody battle that howled outside as the two of them shot out of the whole left behind by the clash of the two brothers.

    --- Just in time to see a shift in the violence.



    Claws like silvered lightning, tearing holes through ionized air and the storm.

    Ahti's final weaponry descended upon Pyry, who lifted his hands - clad in black armor - to defend.

    Metal met metal, black met white, and for one horrible moment, the rules of the world were starting to be bent. Magic, the imagination made real, an affront of World Logic, was pushed to the surface with such a violence that there was no denying it.

    Clash of sparks and metallic screeches.

    A cacophony of multitudes of sounds.

    A blinding light.

    And then---!



    The white lion found himself wounded - against all that his nature had taught to him.

    The claws cut through and they cut deep, drawing arcs of crimson that mixed in the rain.

    The immovable object had finally learned what the unstoppable force truly meant. As while the golden lion may have had his impenetrable armor, the white lion had claws that could not be stopped - not by metal, not by stone, not even by bone.

    "--------!"

    Still reeling from his bleeding wounds, Pyry slammed his armored hands downwards, trying to catch Ahti with a hammer-slam of a punch that would have sent him barreling underground. But the latter was ready. Like quicksilver, he dodged the attack and returned the favor, slashing across Pyry's face and drawing more of that vermillion ire. Golden eyes flashed with fury and the sunrise beast spun around, delivering a massive kick that sent his opponent careening sideways, almost having been crushed with that single attack.

    But Ahti did not stop. No, his magic was flaring up like a wildfire now. He pressed on, taking this advantage to it's logical conclusion.

    He shot forward, like a lizard against the ground, and pulled up with his claws like a rising, cresting wave. And Pyry returned it in kind.



    --- Once again, armor and weaponry met.

    And the screeching sound was almost enough to make the ears bleed.

    Force against force - power against power. And when that power has nowhere to go, it reflects back. A massive, concussive blast of kinetic energy was sent back into the two animals, thrown backwards by their own power. They shot like out of a cannon, each backwards, creating a great, grand divide between themselves. The ground where they had clashed broke and crashed, splitting open and sending durt and mud raining up towards the skies.

    At the same time, the two lions recovered mid-flight. Like as one, like they were guided by the same instincts, they spun around in the air and landed - vertically - to the surface of the tree they were about to hit.

    Pyry was the one to act first.

    He wrapped his arms around the massive pine tree, and with a great, wrenching groan of an ancient wood dying, lifted the tree from its roots.

    Then, landing to the ground, he set that tree like a javelin and --- sent it hurtling forwards!

    Accompanied by a punch of a black armor that shattered it into hundreds of spears!



    "----------!"

    Ahti's growl was guttural thunder. His hair stood up due to the lightning coursing through him. He gazed upon the rain of death heading his way, his eyes focused on the only thing that mattered.

    The golden lion on the other side of the spears.

    And that was why---!




    He sang body electric.

    For a split second, Ahti Jalopeura turned into a hurtling bolt of lightning, streaming across the battlefield even though his body was battered and skewered by the wooden spears.

    He reduced the distance between the two brothers to zero in an instant and slammed into Pyry, burying the claws of his right hand deep into his chest.

    But as he raised his left hand to take his head...!

    "RHAAAAAA---!"

    The black gauntled was ready.

    It descended like a hammer of a judge, about to split the white lion in half.




    Almost.

    It had almost ended there.

    Either by the hand of Ahti, or by the hand of Pyry. Both had been in a position take each other's lives. And both had shown no hesitation. Their grievances, their blame, their regrets, their wishes, their desperation... it had all but evaporated now. There was nothing else remaining but two raging beasts, guided by the instincts that had been built into them by a place that treated humans as nothing more than weapons. They, two hunters made to hunt each other, had been acting as their nature told them to.

    They had been ready to kill. Yet they did not.

    Why?

    Both Hisa and Prushka, watching within the rain, knew. They both felt it. Hisa through her connection. Prushka through her senses.

    --- Even in the midst of their insanity, the two brothers did not wish for the other to die, no matter what they said.

    Thus, as the armored hand fell down and the claws surged forth, both had used their self-preservation instincts to protect each other. Ahti jumped backwards, pulling his claws from Pyry's chest - while Pyry moved to shield himself from the incoming attack, retracting the armored hand that had been about to crush his brother.

    Lightning roared straight above. The storm seemed to laugh at their pain.

    And the two lions...



    "RAAAAAAAAARRGGHHH---!!!"

    Who was yelling at this point?

    It was impossible to tell at this point.

    But what they both stepped forward, hands ready, weapons ready, and unloaded a barrage of strikes and attack on each other.






    It was a dance of death that a human eye could not fully follow.

    Strike against strike, claw against claw, fang against fang, eye against eye.

    Two beasts of same origins crashed together, ripping each other apart in a whirlwind melee that turned the ground around them into a barren wasteland, ripped away the roots, tore away the wind, burnt away the grass and flung away the rocks. Earth was scattered and disintegrated in the wake of the mana that was overflowing out of the two, clouds of gasoline-like mirage existence that burned away in a manner of wildfire, without nowhere to go.

    And after exchanging countless strike, after drawing blood from each other far too many times...

    It all ended in a massive explosion of force as the brothers struck a head against head, forehead against a forehead, trying to crush the skull of each other.

    Where did the man end and the animal begin?

    Was there a difference in the first place? Perhaps not anymore.

    But as the rain of destruction around the two lions fell, as the smoke and dust and debris formed a tornado and flung itself around the combatants, shielding them from view...

    --- That's when Hisa felt it.



    It all came together.

    For the whole week, she had been searching, analyzing and categorizing the feelings, emotions, thoughts and heart of Pyry Leijonamieli. She had become so intrinsically familiar with the boy's inner world that she might as well have called it her own. No, not just this week... through that link, she had been able to fill the missing pieces with the young man she had known last week as well. And thus, it was like a second body to her, in a way. These emotions, though they definitely were his, were so familiar that she could have called them her own.

    That was why she immediately recognized it.

    That foreign venom.

    That code branded into the soul of the golden lion.

    Instincts not of his own making - the ones that were driving him to kill his brother now.

    This was an alien entity within him.

    Hateful. Conceited. Arrogant.

    The brainwashing of the ones who had created him, who still, to this day, enslaved and chained his heart.

    And at the crescendo of this fight, now that their hearts lay the barest and the rawest...

    She had finally caught this snake by its tail.

    And now she could follow to it's source and root it out... yank the sickness into the daylight and burn it, disintegrate it, destroy it for good...!

    She had her target.

    And ironically enough, through that connection... she realized that Pyry wasn't the only one she was feeling. No, the overflowing emotions of the golden lion mixed with that of the white, and they become almost a single entity. A singular entity through which the same poison flowed - a river of commands and brainwashing that was the same in them each. She saw that same river start from Ahti Jalopeura, and meander down into the soul, where it combined with Pyry's path and dove deep, deep, deeper into the depths - into the source.

    That's where the origin of both of their agony was - behind that locked door. She could destroy the source of both of their suffering...

    As long as someone busted down that door of pure, swirling, malignant emotion in her way.



    In that moment, Prushka sensed it.

    The center of that violence, something had finally formed. As she had put it, the chain that was holding Ahti had finally been pulled taunt - almost to the breaking point. The beast that was leashed on it was raging to the point of making those chains creak, and the sounds it made allowed her to pinpoint exactly where it was. There, at the center of them both. It wasn't mere mana that was surging out of them, in that whirlwind of destruction. It was their own, physical emotions, spreading out like a conflagration of feelings.

    They were making their pain, sorrow, hope and dreams visible for the two girls, in hopes that they could save them.

    And she sensed it - it was like a beacon of light in pure darkness.

    A lighthouse.

    Only, it was locked behind something dreadful and dark. A door of malignant emotions and poison, whispered words of hypnotism and brainwashing that had seeped into them both. Yes, at this point, she wasn't merely sensing the soul of Ahti - it was being reflected by Pyry's and the two of them resonated as one. Thus, she saw the great, grand door depicting a copper-rooted mountain and it's nine locks. That was the enemy. Through that door was the source of the poison tearing down them both.

    It was the final gate, the dam of truth, that held back everything they really wanted to feel and express.

    And hidden there, on the other side, was the snake and its venom, one that had caused this all to begin with.

    However, Prushka knew - she could tear down that door like wet paper. They might have been good at subjugating those they lorded over in their arrogance, but they paled in power over emotions when it came to her.

    And if she tore that door down, someone only needed to strike forth, surge forth, and grasp that snake from within the darkness.

    --- And wring its neck.



    Naturally, there was one last problem.

    One last obstacle.

    As the two girls sensed their final enemy, the battle had reached its crescendo. Emotions and souls had started taking a physical form, and that took its toll.

    The two boys were no longer in control of themselves. No, they were being guided by pure instinct.

    And at the moment, they were locked in a struggle - hands grasping each other, trying to bring the other to the ground. An almost barbaric, beast-like test of strength for two humans.

    Except, the two boys...





    --- Were no longer human.
    Last edited by Verg Avesta; April 13th, 2022 at 10:42 AM.

  20. #4500
    Time to burn some dread Daneel Rush's Avatar
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    Location: Pinefall High Dormitory – In Front of Xylia Pheme’s Room (2nd Floor, Room 119)
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm



    The weight of something—trepidation?—halts John on his step that’s never carried any confidence.

    I am not ‘unflappable’. I just have years of practice at hiding my never-ceasing fears. Exactly the same as you.

    For all he has achieved this morning, and any preparations he may make, is there really something he or any of them can do for somebody who has already given up?

    Stop. I lose the moment I begin to doubt myself.

    Hesitation makes it easier to justify doing nothing. He understands this now all too clearly, after meeting yet another diffraction of himself. Indeed, just like Souma, Xylia Pheme is another path John Dove could have taken. It is by meeting such people that more and more of what John Dove was meant to be rises to the surface. In that case, what about Ultravania?

    Well, by now this stupid boy is self-aware enough to accept that he just finds her fascinatingly interesting. It is the nature of this ‘interest’ that remains up for discussion.

    Leaving behind that festering mass of negativity called Xylia Pheme, it does not take long to cross the length of the ladies’ floor to reach Sakura’s place. Another group reached her before him.

    “Ah, I see you got Amaterasu out of her cave,” he says in lieu of a greeting. “Thank you, Elaine, Miss Iburi.”

    Only then does he turn to the Thai girl.

    “Good to see you’re out and about, Ubon. Now, as much as I’d love to be the bearer of good news…”

    John’s face eases back into the expressionless mask he is all too comfortable with.

    “Xylia Pheme is beyond help, at least in this cycle. If anything, I fear she will do something drastic and terrible in the near future. I can only do the obvious and warn you to be cautious about her.”

    Well, perhaps somebody else—somebody better prepared, or just plain better for that matter—could have achieved more, even this late in the week. But why bother with such worthless hypotheticals?

    “For now, let’s just do whatever we can. I do not feel comfortable telling other people what to do, but I can only count on you for your side of the investigation,“ John continues, easing down into a serene smile. “Hwan and Kean should be still trying their luck with Inacio, so I thought I had some time to check on Sakura here before meeting up with them. I guess it was an unnecessary gesture.”

    Turning to the girl under the doorframe, John lets his eyes explore the towel-covered curves of Sakura’s body. No point in pretending girls do not notice the wandering gazes of men.

    “But, Sakura, as much as I appreciate this privilege, I would be grateful if you chose to wear some clothes. You are making it difficult to think of you as a big sister.”

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