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Thread: Astronomika - Shooting Down Falling Stars (IC)

  1. #4601
    el bolb Bloble's Avatar
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    Prushka
    Location: McLampet Saw Mill
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    "Uh, well, um."

    What is this!? This dual attack!? These unbearably corny words!?

    "I mean, um, that's."

    It's like the air is full of honey. Everything feels sweet. Too sweet. Like good things aren't supposed to happen but they just did.

    "D-don't, uh, m-mention it, no wait, uh..."

    Ah, I can't take this anymore! Why are you two so cute!? It's like a picture from my childhood! That's not fair, Ahti! You can't just smile so sincerely like that! Not while finally getting along like real brothers! You're gonna make me cry and I promised I wouldn't cry anymore! I'm so happy I'm literally shaking!

    "G-geeze, what are you even making me say..."

    It's just...



    "..."

    Reaching out, I wrap my fingers around Ahti's hand, and squeeze.

  2. #4602
    Elise Marie Pelltier
    Location: Big Boy's Gas Station - Bar
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm


    Quote Originally Posted by Billie Boulders
    "I'll go put her to bed, so we'll have to take a raincheck for a moment. Though, hm… I'm pretty sure there were two. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, that is. Just that they were, yeah, pretty interchangeable. I think they were siblings or something, but if I'm honest, I never really interacted with them too much."

    "Like said, it's that old theater joke of switching their actors mid-play without anybody noticing. That's how little impression they tended to leave on others."
    Yikes, I've been accused of being a background character before, thought Schoolgirl C as she recalled a brief encounter with Xylia on a very similar evening so long ago, but it sounds like they take it to a whole new level.

    "I'll have to take you up on that raincheck, Ms. Boulders. Thank you again! Goodnight, Ms. Carrie, rest well."

    She waved as Billie hauled her friend away to sleep, rather impressed by Billie's display of strength.

    Huh. Does Billie have a spare bunk here in case people have, uh, too much to drink? wondered Elise as Billie disappeared up the stairs with Carrie over her shoulder, Big Boy's is pretty out of the way relative to the rest of town. Or is Carrie just staying here? For that matter, does Billie live here too?

    She took a sip from her drink and set it back down on the counter and stared down at her reflection within its depths.

    [Hisa said that she encountered Rozencrantz, and that he's staying at the Owl's Nest… Maybe Rozencrantz is Guildenstern, but either way Rozencrantz was there too. Hisa and I also thought that Guildenstern might've messed with us last week too. Despite the warning Hisa got about looking for Guildenstern, I think we should visit this Rozencrantz and see what he knows about both Pinefall, and, well, his counterpart.]

    Elise glanced out the window, catching a flash of lightning from the storm beyond the walls of the bar.

    [Maybe not right now, but tomorrow will be too late… That might have to be a future us problem…]

    Elise sighed and took another sip from her drink. Turning her attention back to what Carrie had said about the raven statue that had once been perched above the entrance to Pinefall's main building.

    Part of a set of three... translated Elise as she deciphered Carrie's slurred speech, Huginn, Muninn, and Odin? The ravens are gone, but Odin is still around somewhere... I wonder where the second raven was, and where the old man is for that matter...?

    Elise frowned to herself, and to the reflection in the depths of her drink, as she considered where the other statues might have been.

    If one raven was at the school, I'd guess the other was at a similar public building built by the McLampets? Maybe the hospital. It'd likely have been removed in the various renovations there too. Maybe the McLampet manor itself? Maybe the cemetery? Odin had a claim to the souls of dead warriors, right? Isn't there a statue of an old pioneer or something up on the Ghostwood Overlook? Good view from there, for sure. Could that have been Odin? I don't think it was stone though... I might have to take a closer look at it some other time too.

    From what Carrie said, it sounds like we're stuck in the middle of something that's at least partially a spiritual turf war between Team Raven and Team Owl. If we're going with a bird theme, I guess that makes us Team Dove?

    She briefly considered asking John if he'd want to be a mascot, but decided against it.

    Given that the local church is a forgotten ruin, and the Lowgate family isn't doing much better, I think it's safe to say that our team isn't much of a contender around here anymore.


    Elise frown deepened as she considered the state of Team Dove compared to Team Owl and Team Raven.

    This isn't like hockey where we can just cheer for another team when ours gets eliminated, but I don't think we're in much of a position to make a comeback at this point... Still, it's clear that Mr. Oceandrop is all in for Team Owl. Or, at least, strongly opposed to Team Raven if he's going around knocking down their monuments. I wonder whose jersey Mr. Halloway wears these days?

    Elise slid off of her stool and collected her coat and backpack before picking up her cup.

    [Well, it's time to get awkward, I suppose, and find out what Travis and his new friend have been up to.]

    With one last sip from her drink, Elise turned and made her way towards Travis' table.

    "Hey Travis! I didn't expect to run into you here. Or, well, anyone, really," said Elise as she approached the table.

    She turned to the green haired girl with the eyepatch and gave her a friendly smile, "Hi! I'm Elise! Nice to meet you."

  3. #4603
    Konkon Kitsune~ Kuroyuki's Avatar
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    “Vier”
    Location: Ghostwood National Forest (?)
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm


    As I slowly stalked my way towards the campfire, I noticed something disconcerting. This wasn’t the same forest that I walked into hours ago. While the forest still felt gigantic even by my standards, the overall atmosphere was different. Even on established paths in the Ghostwood National Park, there was a sense of foreboding. The depths of the Ghostwood National Forest were even worse as you could see how poorly lit it was, how ancient the woods felt, and most importantly… How steeped in the Turnside it felt.

    These woods on the other hand… There was light and plenty of lights. Through the tree canopy, while thick, there was starlight piercing through. An absurd amount of starlight, almost to flare-like levels, which made my sneaking significantly harder. And of course the campfire that I was walking towards. It was a good, vibrant campfire. Seemingly out of place with that simple smell was the distinctive smell of coffee and s’mores. While the smell of s’mores was… normal for normal people. The coffee was more familiar for me yet foreign. I was more used to it as a caffeine delivery system. An espresso shot. Murky, sludge that still had plenty of the grounds in it. The coffee brewing over the campfire was a good roast that was slightly wasted in an environment like this. And up ahead, I could hear the person in front of me whistling carefree. They were either confident in their ability to handle anything that occurred… Or the forest we were in was comfortable and forgiving enough to allow such behavior.

    I hope it was the latter as I took a step closer to the campfire. Anyone capable of experiencing what I went through confidently would be someone to befriend or avoid. As I tried to rehearse my responses and analyze the person humming in front of me… I just appeared in front of them and the campfire despite the fact that I was a good few meters away on my last step. My stomach started growling at the smell of food in close proximity. The person I was trying to sneak up on? Full EVA suit. Not just any EVA suit. A Soviet EVA suit. A SOVIET EVA suit in NATO.

    Before they turned around, I schooled my facial expressions and had to remind myself that the person in front of me wasn’t my enemy. Not instantly. Only if they engage first or obtained intelligence deemed otherwise. I’m not in a T0 unit anymore. I’m not in German SOF. Heck I’m not even in NATO. So I had to let my preconceptions and biases go.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soviet Astronaut
    "Um......... hello?"
    “...Hello. Nice day for camping?”

  4. #4604
    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

    "The police?" I peered at the girl curiously, frowning a bit as I bit the side of my lip, a hint of teeth showing through that I had otherwise trained myself to keep hidden in public. "Are they not as easily susceptible to suggestion as any other member of the public? Are I not the same as a young girl in love, desperately calling out for the person she's searching for?"

    I slumped a bit, looking at my rather bedraggled form. No, I was definitely no picturesque image of a teenage girl in love. If anything, I looked more like a rather depressed cat. But I perked up quickly when Ramia mentioned her nature, which I had yet to hear of, looking at the girl with newfound appraising eyes, as an eater of mankind does to another existence that it can respect. The Nubian rose several notches in my personal list.

    While not much of a comedian myself - although I did enjoy a good practical joke every now and then - I found that the idea of 'being' a comedian was not something that was particularly within my skillset. I could weave spells and words, but not really the ones that would bring others to me. I am, in essence, something that destroys.

    "Are there types?" I asked, placing a finger on my cheek as I held it up with my other arm, my eyes unblinking. "I was born strigoi, and as strigoi will I die. Royalty amongst royalties, able to name the exact place and time where my sires were the day Cain rose and Abel fell. Although, I suppose for someone so cold-blooded by nature, do I perhaps run a tad hot?"

    An attempt at humor. It fails as miserably as a gorgon hairdresser.

    Turning into mist? Check. Commanding wolves? Not so much, but does it count if you kill them and make them shadow wolves? Charming others? ...In a way, maybe? Honestly Potemkin, our capabilities really are quite classical, if anything. Are we not enticing? Do we not entice others into doing what we want? ...Actually, don't answer that. I'm not sure I'll like it so much this time.

    Really, we need to get a few other voices into our head Potemkin. Oftentimes it feels like I'm all alone in here. Do you think whatever blades the Matriarch mentioned are perhaps attached to a voice? I would prefer it not be a voice per blade though. What if we have to collect twelve of them!? Can you imagine having twelve voices in this head of ours Potemkin?! It'd be a total cacophony! We'd be left unable to even think.

    Maybe it's for the best it's just the two of us in here for now. At least we like-minded individuals can discuss our differences in a civilized manner.

    "Perhaps due to how I was raised?" I offered, tilting my head to the side with a smile. "In part, my demeanor is due to my teachers. Did you know that it's frowned upon to harm others when you are being groomed for leadership? Discipline is, naturally, required to instill obedience. My masters have always had little use for prodigious talent on rampages. It must be kept to heel, much like a disobedient dog. In the end, power only respects power. I experienced harsh lessons in reality that lead to an... understanding, shall we say? The lessons you remember the best always have to be carved in a few times, just to let it sink in to the flesh and soul."

    I looked around surreptitiously before leaning in to whisper:

    "In fact, I'm starting to suspect that my presence here was supposed to be a punishment! A way to teach 'humility' and 'respect' to someone a bit too far past the boarding gate to really kill off anymore. Unless she gets herself killed, naturally. Then, it's just an 'unfortunate incident'."

    I sighed wearily, shaking my head with a lazy smile as I shrugged my shoulders.

    "In fairness, I was never very interested in the political bits. Teacher warned me that would end up really biting into the scales as I grew older and wiser, but I sort of... ignored him?"

    It really wasn't fair. He didn't pay any attention either! Why am I getting lectured about politics when every time I'm slightly involved you get very, very involved and most if not all of it ends up not mattering! Wait, actually, in this instance it sort of mattered a lot didn't it?! Maybe I should have been paying attention closer! Actually, Teacher, why weren't you involved!? Isn't this totally outside of the scope of my expertise anyways?! What exactly am I doing here!

    In reality, I smiled brightly and held up a V over one of my eyes.

    "And now here I stand before you, properly-raised and totally well-adjusted! Admittedly, some of my mistakes have been, to be frank, rather... spectacular."

    Potemkin, we probably shouldn't talk about that sort of thing with anyone, right?

    Can we go back in time and choose a different set of words to come out of our mouth? M-Maybe she'll forget it when time resets?!

    "B-But such a thing is irrelevant! Yes! Instead let us focus on more realistic issues, such as what to do when he comes out of the house. From what I remember, he seemed to really enjoy my presence. Or hate it. It's honestly hard for me to tell which one it is with most of the people who I encounter, as they either speak entirely too much or too little."

    At least Cesarina likes us, Potemkin. And the tiny morsel does too. Oh and the Executioner! And m-maybe even a few more!? We're doing pretty well here, actually. None of our dear roommates seemed all that interested in speaking to us, after they moved out. In fact, they all seemed to leave the school in its entirety. Are we really that bad of a roommate, Potemkin? Truly and honestly?
    Last edited by Frantic Author; May 23rd, 2022 at 02:31 PM.
    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.


  5. #4605
    for me, there is (you) Katie's Avatar
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    Lucille Faraday
    Location: Pinefall High Dormitory
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm


    Smears of blood stain the floor, a trail leading to ill omen. The sight reminds her of everything and yet nothing at once in the pool building. Colt’s body, what remained of Xylia, Mercedes… it all blends together, creating an unpleasant sickness she is well accustomed to. Though now those are only imagined atrocities, rather than real ones. The blood is definitely fresh, so many there is a chance to change whatever fate lies in store.

    She thinks John’s assessment of it likely being Inacio or Souma is on the mark, but truth be told she believes she lacks the full wealth of knowledge to make the deduction as firmly as he did. A part of her mind thinks about that psychic, the one encased in metal and slag, but wouldn’t they have seen the “suit” itself? Or perhaps they will.

    Regardless, that is useless conjecture. The goal now is to progress while keeping everyone safe. That, she can do. That is what she is supposed to do, to always do.

    “Miss Faraday, please watch the rear. Kean and Miss Techne in the middle; Kean, we need to know the slightest blip in that scanner.”
    Lucille is well aware as to why she should be in the rear—to best defend against the threats that come from the back, but she does not like how John has put himself up front with Hwan. Hwan can certainly take care of himself, but for John… She doesn’t like it. Not one bit.

    “Are you certain you want to be up there?” she asks, trying to respect his decision, though her brain and heart are telling her not to. Her unspoken words are obvious, as quiet as her actual ones may be. Stay in the middle. Be safe.

  6. #4606
    Overly devoted enthusiasm... fufufu~ Ayakashi's Avatar
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    Maid
    Location: Owl's Nest Hotel - Barney's Room
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    Quote Originally Posted by Barney-sama
    "--- Are you really a maid of this place?"


    "Huuu..."

    A strange dejected sound leaves her mouth. It's something rather akin to a balloon filled with depression deflating miserably. A truly pitiable sight. Did the question hit her already non-existent confidence? Or gasp, is it because truly, something terrible has been found out about her?! Has Barney-sama pierced the veil of mysteries surrounding this helpless maid... or is he just wondering if he could request a local maid for himself? Perhaps he fancies maids... a lot of people do.

    "As I said... sniff... I do not technically work for this place... I'm not even a real maid... can't do things properly... sniff..."

    The question appears to have been the drop which made the cup overflow. Tears can be seen streaming from the maid's eyes as she is barely holding herself from crying. As she feels the water roll down her cheeks and wipes them away, the maid realizes how unsightly she is being and turns around to run away from all this, from her failures and shame. She does not want to seen anymore, nor se anything.

    Alas, she turns around and runs into the door frame instead of out of the room.


    Was it an animal being gutted? A malfunctioning phone? An internet modem dialing up? What a mysterious, tragic sound. She hides her face, but nothing can hide her shame as she clumsily opens the door and runs away, all red faced. Hopefully she doesn't trip on anything, but the maid is... surprisingly fast. In fact she's just darted off like a rocket, was she perhaps meant to be an athlete, rather than what she was trying to be right now? Life is mysterious.

    Vivienne Bianchi takes further emotional damage.
    Last edited by Ayakashi; May 29th, 2022 at 11:40 AM.

  7. #4607
    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

    I watched and listened to the exchange between the two with an eyebrow raised, slightly amused at the bickering and the debatable comments made about the people standing right next to them.

    Certainly, I can't have been that scary. Neither could Prushka - with her stature, there was not even a chance.

    And what's this about, almost underestimating espers? Maybe espers are not anywhere near as powerful as gods, but there is potential, especially in fields different from just physical prowess. And just monstrous strength certainly isn't always the best solution to a lot of situations...

    Of course, since they were just joking, it was hard not to smile. Just like how it did not feel appropriate to interrupt them, now that they finally had the opportunity to exchange a few friendly words with each other, and to be free.

    Yet, eventually, their lighthearted banter ended, and Pyry turned to me to say just a couple of words, simple ones, that felt so hard to react to even despite that.

    "R-right..."

    Feeling slightly embarrassed all of a sudden, I could feel a warmth, and a hint of a colour return to my pale skin.

    "It's nothing. It was just some fortunate circumstances that allowed me to intervene and assist here and now."

    In the end, it's not like I had to work for years on some complicated solution that was otherwise out of my reach without sacrifices. Sure, some research was necessary, but my powers were quite the suitable choice for situations like this, even by default.

    "Though, if you want to thank me..."

    Contemplating for a moment, my eyes wandered up onto the unfriendly, dark skies and the large trees of a forest that hardly meant any good looming over us;

    "Then you could do it by taking us back to the dorms. Or out of here, at least. Camping out here in the middle of this storm is hardly pleasant, and we had some people to report back to still."

  8. #4608
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Elaine Winters
    Location: The Lighthouse
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    Joshua frowned.

    "Honestly... not even half of what that youn'un said made any sense. Then again, I think we've been dead for different amounts of time, which... complicates things. See, when you become an existence like this, the flow of time becomes 'hazy'. Non-linear. Meaningless. Your consciousness, or if that's even it anymore, kinda forgets to follow the laws of cause-and-effect," the spirit explained, making a vague and slightly annoyed gesture with his hand. "So the thing you might be experiencing first only happens because of what you experience afterwards. To give a very rough example."

    Subaru, upon hearing this, tilted her head in confusion.

    "But... would that not get terribly confusing?" The girl asked. "To live life in such a way?"

    Joshua barked in laughter upon hearing that.

    "When you're a being lke us, you rather stop caring! Or perhaps, your common sense deteriorates to the point you don't even mind it. It's not like what those Klallam and their spooky cave paintings were said to do to people. A human can't live in a non-linear time, not without going a bit mad. A spirit on the other hand..." A sour grin appeared on the ghost's face. "... Well, I don't like to toot my own horn, but we've less qualms about stuff like that. The thing is though, that youn'un was a fresh little dybbuk, relatively speaking, so he might have had... trouble adjusting. Maybe he needed to get all his ducks in a row to even think of pulling off what he wanted."

    The sailor descended into silence, and his grin disappeared. What it was replaced was a more grim expression.

    "... At least that's what I hope it was. Because that's the only explanation I have for all that nonsensical rambling he did."

    "Well, Michael aside for now..."

    Sakura's voice cut into the conversation, sounding perhaps a bit more harsh and cold than it usually was. It seemed that the memories of the revenant inquisitor still lingered heavily on her mind, and the brunette did not want to dwell to deeply on him.

    "What about the other thing Elaine asked about?" She inquired. "Odin, the lighthouse and... other things?"

    Joshua grunted, but once again that same sour grin rose to his face - this time seeming more amused than before.

    "Odin, huh? Well, I do know some! Mainly because this whole place got started because of those pagan worshippers and their one-eyed All-Father!" Joshua explained with a chuckle, even though Subaru frowned at his words. "See, this place wasn't certainly started by the puritans, and neither theirs nor our ways really caught on. The local church is a proof of that. Still, back in the day, long, loooong ago, a bunch of vikings came ashore here. We're looking for something, as I understand. They set up shop here because there's this... uh, what was the name again? Grove of Fetters? Something like that, nearby. Nowadays we just know it as the Worrywell Grove, where the Ol' Hangman tree used to reside. Naturally, the Klallam didn't take well, and they got into a bit of a spat. Both the people and their supernatural allies."

    The old ghost snorted, loudly.

    "Why d'ya think the hotel up the hill is plastered with wards against Injun gods and spirits? That's the work of the vikings and their blood, traditions carried to the newer generations from that small war they waged," he continued. "Anyways, the local spirits got their behinds handed to them, which is why they went to hiding. But instead of punishing the losers, the horn-helmets brokered a peace. The klallam and the northerners continued both to live here, while the latter traversed Washington state to look for whatever they were after. Or so I hear, at least. But that's why you see marks they left behind everywhere."

    The ghost sweeped the air slowly with his hand, as if gesturing towards Road's End as a whole.

    "You only have to look at some of the names of the locals, the names of the places, the traditions we have, how they speak here..." He said. "Hell, there's even those statues, built out of the same spirit-trapping lava rock as this lighthouse. Two ravens, and one old man. I think the old man might still be up at the overlook, though under a disguise. One of the ravens, the one which resided at the McLampet Estate was bought by some outside collector years and years ago, and the last one... well, it used to be at your little school house. But where it was taken, hmm..."

    After thinking for a moment, the ghost simply shrugged his shoulders.

    "Unfortunately, I haven't the foggiest. Never followed where ravens like to roost."

    He then lifted a finger, and smiled somewhat wickedly.

    "... I do, however, know of the Kincaids. Anyone local does, even though they keep mostly to themselves. Kincaids are the landowners of Road's End. You want to build here? You'll have to go through them. That made them one of the Three Families of Road's End, alongside McLampets and Halloways. And the reason why they owned all this land? Well..." He paused, retracting his finger and rubbing his chin. "... They happen to be direct descendants of the vikings that landed here. The ones from the biggest boat at least. All on that boat were, well... cursed. They carried with them an aspect of a wolf. And not just any wolf. Just like the old man had two ravens, he also had two wolves - and I suppose the Kincaids are the other wolf. Where the other one is, I've no idea. And speaking of families..."

    Joshua cast his eye to the broken things around him.

    "There might be a connection between the former light of this light house, and the Kincaids, along with their ancestors. See, while the members of that big boat carried the curse, there were smaller ones too... and their descendants also lived in this town. One of those families was eventually hired to craft the light they used up there once Lady was gone. In a weird way, it was almost a replacement," the ghost explained with a chuckle. "Mitchell was the name of that family, if I remember right. And they built one hell of a beautiful lantern. One that they called..."

    A cold wind seemed to somehow sneak it's way in, and brush past the backs of those gathered in the room.

    "--- Amber Eye."




    Liana Skye
    Location: Canseliet Clinic
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    "... Kincaids."

    Cathie answered immediately, like some sort of revelation had dawned upon her.

    "It's gotta be the Kincaids. The big three families of Road's End are McLampets, Halloways and Kincaids, and there's always been rumours about Jack being a runaway son of the..." Realizing suddenly something, Cathie awkwardly turned towards Sierra and hung her head. "Oh, uhm... sorry, Sierra. I didn't mean to say it in a bad way. But... you should know that that's what the rumours are. That your father used to be part of the Kincaid family, until he was either cast out or until he ran away. And that he came back to... well, sort of stick it to them."

    Sierra, looking perhaps somewhat calmer than she had been for most of today, shook her head quietly, signalling that she didn't take umbrage with what the redhead had said. Instead the small girl put a finger to her chin, eye gazing at the floor while her mind was clearly working through the new thoughts and possibilities brought forth by what had been revealed.

    "No, that's... that's alright. In fact, that would make sense. My p-papa was... always very antagonistic towards the local landowners. That would be Kincaids, of course," the small girl answered. "If he was formerly of their family, it would explain some of the meetings they had, and how he had to use a shell company to secure the land. So it's very likely that my father was part of their family, only to become distant and change his name."

    Cathie, upon hearing that, nodded and hit her palm with her fist.

    "Right! That's actually it!" She exclaimed. "Now I remember, sorta! See, the rumour mill got those two often confused. The rumour that Jack was a former Kincaid who changed his name... and the fact that there was another Kincaid family member who did the same. 'Stella Kincaid', to be more specific. She changed her name because of something that happened, perhaps another rift in the family, but actually stayed in the town under her new name... her new name..."

    The enthusiasm in the redhead's eyes died down slowly, only to be replaced by a frown.

    "Dammit... why can't I remember? It was on the tip of my tongue? What... what name is she known by these days? Or did I even know it in the first place...?"

    Cathie let her eyes sweep the room, but unfortunately, nobody else had any answers for her either. The only thing she saw was that Sierra, who had been silent for a while, was frowning.

    "Um, now that I think about it..."

    Sierra looked finally up to Liana, a confused and slightly worried expression on her face.

    "If, uhm, if these Kincaids are a pack of... werewolves, and if my papa is part of them, then... am... am I a werewolf too? But I-I didn't transform! No, more than that, I've never had any trouble during full moon," Sierra said, sounding slightly distraught. "While my papa has disappeared during most of them, I... I've never had to do the same. Would I not just remember it? Or... is it something that happens when I get older?"

    Out of everybody involved, it was Jayesh who provided answer to that question.

    "No."

    He shook his head sharply.

    "A lycanthrope, at least a typical one, transforms regardless of age. Though, the full manifestation of the bestial side only occurs during teenage years. It is, after all, a symbol of puberty. In a way," the taciturn boy explained. "But still. You would have noticed something. If you didn't, that means... you're not a werewolf."

    A look of both relief but also further confusion washed upon the one-eyed girl's face.

    "B-but, then... if I'm not a werewolf... but my papa is... d-does that... does that mean that I'm not p-papa's...?"

    Before she could even properly finish that sentence, Aleen had wrapped her arms around the girl and pulled her in for a calming hug. The bluehead patted Sierra's head and let out calming noises, hoping to defuse the situation before it went any further. At the same time, her red eyes looked at Liana, hoping to find some sort of answer.

    Indeed, lycantrophy was hereditary more often than not. There was a slight chance it might not be passed down, depending on the parents... but such cases were exceedingly rare.

    So... what did this mean?

    Why wasn't Sierra a werewolf?

    And what---

    Beep, beep! Beep, beep!

    Wait, what was that noise?

    "Ah, apologies. Don't mind me..."

    Scottie took out a strange machine from his pocket and began to fiddle with it, staring what must have been a screen of some sort. Wait. Did the agent have a pager? And had he just gotten a message into it?

    So many things, happening at the same time...




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

    "Wha-gah-I... damn it!"

    For some reason Travis' reaction came out as an angry whisper and before Elise even knew what was happening, the boy grabbed her by the hand and pulled her to the nearest seat to sit down. He then hastily looked around, as if trying to make sure nobody was paying any attention... and from the looks of it, they weren't. Or perhaps the other customers of the bar simply thought it was best not to get involved in whatever weirdness was occurring there.

    Travis' green-haired companion on the other hand...

    "Oh, hiya!" The girl greeted Elise with a warm grin. "So, you're the 'chipmunk' that caused Travis over here to almost choke on his drink. I'm Augusta. Augusta Tremolo - Though most just call me Auggie for simplicity's sake. Nice to meet'cha, Elise - Though it almost feels like this isn't the first time we've met, haha..."

    Something in the way the girl said it, and her Italian accent... and come to think of it, her hair too... it almost felt familiar. Not quite, but almost. Like the hardware had been the same, but the software used had been different...

    ... How odd.

    "And well, it's a bit of a coincidence we ended up here. I was sent to keep eye out on Travis here..." Augusta nodded towards the boy, who grunted in annoyance. "... After he left the hospital saying he had something to do. I caught up with him in town, and afterwards we decided to take shelter from the rain here. Looks like we weren't the only ones who got the idea though!"

    The green-haired girl chuckled and winked her good eye at Elise. Travis, on the other hand, rolled his eyes and groaned, again.

    "... Yeah. I had something to take care of, and apparently the Italian Barbershop Quartet over at the hospital didn't think I'd be able to handle it on my own. So they sent one of them after me. Bunch of busybodies..." Travis grumbled under his breath, keeping his voice quiet. "... Didn't expect to see you out here though, Chipmunk. Didn't I tell you to be more careful? Why the hell are you out and about in the storm anyways?"

    His eyes gazed Elise's form up and down, and then, he let out a small snort.

    "You look like a wet dog, too."

    Augusta, upon hearing this, cocked an eyebrow at the boy's words.

    "You're not too snappy-looking either, Travis. And why'd you suddenly get so surly?" She asked, looking somewhat smug for some reason. "I didn't know you were this girl's parent or something."

    A quiet growl echoed from the boy's throat.

    "That's not it. I'm just..... ugh. Fucking whatever."

    He shook his head, as if banishing this annoying topic as well, and instead leaned in closer and brought his voice down to a hushed whisper.

    "More importantly, Chipmunk. See that guy over there?"

    He subtly nodded towards the other table where the local fisherwoman was talking with the scruffy looking older man.

    "... I think we hit the jackpot by coming here, actually. See, I regocnize that guy," he explained. "I recognize him from a picture that was shown to me earlier. I think that's..."

    He paused, perhaps for a dramatic effect.

    "----- I think that's Elaine's brother."




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

    "Hmm..."

    Ramia let out a thoughtful hum from the tree, narrowing her eyes while she gazed at Alexstrasza. For some reason, an uncomfortable sensation ran through the vampire's body. This was not the way human beings looked at each other. This was more akin to a researcher or a professor appraising a project and trying to see just what made it tick and just what sort of mistakes had happened in its creation. The kind of stare that looked right through you and somehow saw the internal workings no matter how you tried to hide them.

    "... I'm not so sure about that. Whoever your sire was, there's this... odd feeling I can't shake. Say, do you have some urges that other vampires don't necessarily have?" The dusky-skinned girl asked. "Perhaps a habit of hoarding? Not necessarily items or treasure, but anything really... knowledge, skills, people, lovers... anything like that? Or, perhaps, do you you find yourself enamored with battle? Of the roar of blood that happens during conflict?"

    Before the blonde girl could answer...

    Haha. Ha. Hahaha. Ha.

    Potemkin's thoughts, finally as more than distant emotions, filled Alexstrasza's mind.

    Greed and bloodlust. Aren't those the two things we excel in?

    The monochrome creature seemed to sneer in the darkness of the girl's mind.

    Even this desire for friends we have, to be ourselves but not let that dictate our path. To use this power we blindly acquired for the sake of ourselves and our desire to save those we wanted to live... isn't that just another form of greed, in the end?

    She was laughing.

    Really now, my Rotund Self... we're so greedy for friendship and connection that we're desperate, are we not!

    "It's just a thought but..." Ramia continued, snapping Alexstrasza away from her thoughts. "The more I look at you, the more I sense something amiss. If you don't mind, I'd like to give your body a closer inspection once we're somewhere warm and with a change of clothes. That's... uh..."

    She chuckled a bit awkwardly.

    "Sorry, that came out wrong. Slipped into my alchemist mindset there," she admitted. "Don't worry, I didn't mean it in any perverted way. Just a regular health check-up, really."

    A silence of sort descended after that hasty explanation, one that was eventually broken by Ramia once more.

    "That being said... he's sure taking his sweet time, huh? Did something go amiss...?"

    Indeed, the redheaded guy still hadn't come out...




    Vivienne Bianchi
    Location: Owl's Nest Hotel - Room 305
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    By the time the maid got to the third floor, she was no maid at all. Instead, she had reverted back to the regular old Vivienne Bianchi, who was currently making her way to a certain door.

    This week, that door had led into the room of the French reporter who was still very much alive, but who seemed... well, it couldn't be said that her and Vivienne were friends, really. Not yet at least. Not in the way the fake Alex had treated Vivienne until that night when the masks had been cast aside. This Alex Terrot was far more like a machine than the impostor had ever been, so laser-focused on her tasks that she barely had any thought to spare for anything else - even those who claimed they would help her, like Vivienne.

    This Alex Terrot was, to put it simply, extremely hard to get along with.

    But last week, it hadn't even been to her that this door led to. Instead it had led Vivienne and Prushka into the ruins of Alex's madness and obsession. A hollow grave riddled with signs of just how badly the case was eating her from the inside. Knowing the true personality of the French reporter made it easy to see how she would end up driving herself into such a state, and making sure she wouldn't end up like that would be extremely difficult... especially for someone like Vivienne.

    --- As if sensing her thoughts, as the girl was walking through the corridor, a flash of something in the mirror stopped her in her tracks.

    For a moment, she had seen herself in that reflective surface, only... only with piercing, red eyes and a sneering smile that seemed to mock her. Mock what she had accomplished so far. Mock the way she kept running in circles.

    But as Vivienne gazed at the mirror, it was just her usual reflection there. Quiet. Taciturn. Emotionless. Silent.

    Silent as the whole hotel seemed to be. Perhaps James Halloway had made sure not to let any commotion spread after he had found his niece. Otherwise Vivienne would have surely heard a ruckus from downstairs. Though, speaking of hearing, come to think of it...

    ... As she had ran away from the room just minutes ago as a maid, hadn't she heard that older man call out after her? Like he wanted to say something?

    Well, perhaps it wasn't important.

    Ka-click.

    Sudden sound drew Vivienne from her thoughts, and she found herself looking at the slightly ajar door of the room #305. Through the gap in the wood, she could see Alex Terrot's suspicious glare as she stared into the corridor, piercig Vivienne with those eyes.

    "... Why are you sneaking out here?" Alex asked curtly.




    “Vier”
    Location: Ghostwood National Forest (?)
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    "Mhm. You could say that."

    The astronaut's voice was muffled, and it was hard to tell whether they were a man or a woman. However, they did not sound hostile... and while they had been certainly surprised by Vier's appearance, that's all that they were - surprised. Instead of appearing cautious or afraid, they simply shifted their balance on the log a little bit and leaned towards the fire, warming themselves up in its glow. Which was ridiculous, of course, since no one inside an EVA wouldn't need a campfire to...

    Wait a minute.

    Looking at them closely, or rather, looking at their suit closely, that was... most definitely...

    --- American flag?

    But, wasn't the design of the suit...

    "----!"

    Sudden, stinging headache ran through Vier's brain, and for a moment, her eyes saw two sceneries - one looking at each one. There was a Soviet cosmonaut there, sitting on the log. But there was also an American astronaut. And there was someone else with that astronaut, a shadowy figure sitting right next to them. Two images superimposed on each other, like two possibilities that...!

    "--- Don't think too hard on it."

    The astronaut's voice was calming, and it made the raging confusion inside Vier's mind subside.

    "We're in the Forest of the Unconscious. I think you've simply got us mixed up with someone else - a symbolism of your mind, of your side," the astronaut continued, fixing the positioning of the s'mores. "Don't worry about it too much. I'm pretty sure that us and you... well, I doubt we have anything to do with each other. We just happened in this same part of the forest where time doesn't matter. It's frighteningly easy, you know, to slip into unconsciousness. But at the very least, here we're quite safe, around this campfire."

    The astronaut pulled one of the s'mores out of the campfire and offered it towards Vier for her to eat.

    "Something sweet will make you calm down, I guarantee it. And while you're eating, if you want..."

    They adjusted themselves on the log again, to full direct their helmet towards the girl.

    "... Want to tell us what brought you here? Usually it's just those who are searching really hard for something that find themselves in this place."

    They paused for a moment, and then continued, somewhat sadly.

    "Or those who are utterly lost."




    John Dove & Lucille Faraday
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    As the group advanced towards the faculty office, the tense weight on their shoulders seemed to grow heavier. The air was thick with smell of blood, despite only a miniscule amount of it having been spilled. Either it was some sort of trick played by a supernatural effect, or perhaps it was... simply their minds. After all, both John and Lucille had encountered atrocities of the last Sunday, and seen many terrible things.

    And now those nightmares convened again, this time inside the main building of Pinefall High.

    Finally, the group reached the door to the faculty office itself. One thing that they immediately noticed was that the lock had been broken, and that while the door was not ajar, it was still open. One brisk pull of the handle would open up the way quite easily. Which meant... what? Had someone broken into the faculty office? The victim? Whoever was responsible for the blood? Was there even a victim and a culprit?

    All eyes turned towards Kean for a moment, and the silver-haired boy stared deep into his gadget. Finally, he bit his lip and shook his head.

    ---- No one was around.

    But for some reason, that didn't make things feel any less tense. If anything, the fact made the air feel even colder.

    "... I'm opening it, then," Hwan said quietly, putting his hand on the handle. "Slowly."

    Then, once everyone was ready, the white-haired boy started turning the handle as quiet as he could, slowly sliding the doof forwards and opening an ever-increasing gap into the wall. The teacher's lounge was silently revealed from behind the door, and as it was, the smell of blood in the air got stronger. For a moment, the group thought they would see a sea of crimson on the other side of the door. However...

    ... It was almost lke nothing was amiss.

    Like everything was normal.

    The difference between the stench and what they saw was staggering.

    Though, as the group started to scan the room for anything out of the ordinary, small details began to crop up - details that were just wrong. A stack of papers that had been disturbed. A single book that had fallen off the table and onto the floor. A computer chair strangely out of place. A cabinet door with a nick or two on it. All signs that would have not been out of the ordinary in any well-used office but... in this silence, there was something strange about them. Just like there was something strange about the sharp cut that someone had made into the surface of one nearby desk.

    Had... had a fight of some sort occurred here? Had someone defended themselves?

    But who...?

    "Guys..."

    Kean's voice felt far too loud in the silent room, despite it being nothing but a whisper.

    "There. Can... can you see it?"

    His finger rose and pointed to one corner of the room. A corner which lay in the shadows, barely visible from the door. It took a moment for the others to see what exactly was bothering Kean about that corner, but as their eyes adjusted into the darkness... they could definitely see it.



    Seven droplets of blood.

    No more, no less.

    Arranged in almost a pattern on the floor.

    And tucked into the corner itself, as if hiding it...

    --- A bloodied, familiar eyepatch, with its strap cut.

    Like someone's last message, left as a gamble as the end approached.




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

    Pyry gazed up at the rain falling from the heavens and scrunched his nose.

    "Mm, you got that right. Plus this doesn't feel like a place to celebrate at all," he replied while steadying himself a bit. "Now, let's see if I can..."

    With some effort, the blonde boy finally managed to drag himself into a full upright position. He swayed a bit on his feet, but after taking a few moments to breathe and to center himself, he managed to get steady once more. Then, carefully, he stretched his back to the right and to the left, letting his shoulders pop and allowing his considerable healing powers to take effect. Once he was starting to be once again in a walking condition, Pyry turned to look at the other boy still sitting down on the muddy ground... and flashed a grin.

    "... Need some help there, bucko?"

    Ahti snorted in response.

    "Yeah yeah, screw you too," he said while extending his hand upward. "Once you're done flexing your healing factor, get to it already."

    Chuckling to himself, Pyry walked over to the other boy and caught a hold of the extended arm. Two hands wrapped around the wrists of their counterparts, and with slight effor, Pyry managed to heave Ahti back up to his feet. The white-haired boy stumbled forward a few steps, but with the help provided, he too steadied himself once more. And while he wasn't healing like Pyry was, it seemed that some of his strength was returning to Ahti, allowing him to function properly at least.

    Thus, there they stood. The two boys. Each one grasping the hand of another. Like two mirror opposites who weren't that different at all in the first place.

    Two brothers.

    "... There's lot to talk 'bout, y'know?" Ahti grunted. "Just in case you try to gimme the slip."

    Pyry laughed and shook his head.

    "I'm not going anywhere. But this isn't the time or place," he answered. "Once we've rested and dealt with a whole slew of other problems... that's when we can talk about our stuff."

    The white lion nodded.

    "I'll hold you onto that... Pyry."

    The golden lion returned the gesture.

    "You got it, Ahti."

    And with that, they finally let go of each other, and turned back to the girls that were waiting. Ahti made his way carefully over to Prushka and leaned downwards so he could get under the umbrella as well. Pyry, on the other hand, marched over to where Hisa was, and put his hands on his hips. For some reason, he looked that girl up and down, as if planning something. Something mischievous, if that slight grin on his face was anything to go by.

    ... In fact, it was an almost dangerous grin!

    "Hmm... guess the fastest way to get back is to jog. Though while Gradient might be able to keep up with me, you can't," Pyry said as he suddenly advanced towards Hisa, arms raised, fingers wiggling and still wearing that dastardly grin. "Which means...!"

    Before Hisa could even think of dodging or running away, Pyry's right arm lunged forward and wrapped around the girl, lifting her up. Though, thankfully, not like a rolled up carpet or a piece of luggage. Instead, Pyry positioned the girl so that she was sitting, with his forearm acting as a sort of seat and his elbow working as the backrest. Like that, their faces were right next to each other, and Hisa could now properly hear the goofy chuckles that the boy had been holding back.

    "There we go!" Pyry announced, grinning from ear to ear. "Now you won't fall behind!"

    Ahti, watching this bit of nonsense happen, snorted.

    "That's where I got you beat, Pyry," he announced suddenly. "See, unlike you, I have it this easy."

    Then, almost casually, he reached out and caught Prushka by the nape of her neck. Lifting the girl up from her clothes, he deposited her on his shoulder, perching her there like some sort of strange bird. Then he crossed his arms across his chest and flashed a smug smirk towards his brother.

    "See? Both hands free."

    Pyry cocked an eyebrow at the sight, and then turned to look back at Hisa... and some sort of other devious idea seemed to dawn in his mind.

    "I guess that has it's perks, yeah. But then again..." He said, his voice lowering as he leaned a bit closer to Hisa, close enough that their foreheads almost touched. "Having her at this height also has it's good parts. In fact, it's giving me an idea..."

    There was something a bit dangerous in those golden, feline eyes.

    "An idea of how to thank you further, in fact."

  9. #4609
    S U P R E M E Mormarth's Avatar
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    Elaine Winters
    Location: The Lighthouse
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm


    I rubbed at my face slightly, taking in the revelations with a slow, steady mental beat, focusing on each point one at a time.

    Right.

    So.

    Spirits have a strange relationship with time, which, considering what I knew of the liminal nature of spirits and their lying between here and, well, whatever comes after, is within the realm of possibility.

    I'd never really sat down and spoken with a ghost about such a thing, but the data point fit my frame of reference, so I accepted it.

    Distortion of perception of cause and effect, non-linear time...

    Seeing everything that has happened, is happening, is going to happen, but in a distorted, non-sensical way influenced by your own perceptions.

    Hm.

    So there is something of the old Cyclops lingering about, coming with the vikings on their longships to Washington.

    With their cursed crews and their hungry gods.

    I scratched at my neck.

    Looking for something, hm?

    I frowned, place of fetters, hm?

    Let's see, old norse, it's tickling something in the brain.

    Something's I'd rather stay buried, but, well.

    We don't have that luxury anymore, do we?

    Fetter... Fjotur?

    Fjoturlundr.

    Fetter-Land, I think, a place of sacrifice, according to Tacitus.

    Something in the sagas.

    It sounds familiar, something important happened there? Something lost there, maybe.

    I frowned.

    Can't be Gram, they have that.

    One-eyed...

    The Spear? Gungnir?

    Maybe.

    Hmm, Worrywell Grove is a place of interest, then, but I doubt it's the same one.

    Natives got pissed, because of course they would.

    Fought, got the snot beat out of them, Lost Vikings broker a peace, because they aren't interested in beating them senseless (for some reason).

    Something to do with the local spirits? Maybe wanted some Lebanstrum for old Ofnir and his posse.

    Could be, anyway.

    The Overlook statue, likely of Grimnir himsel, Ravens are MIA or purchased by 'someone'.

    Then, the Kincaids.

    I listened closely and tried to keep my nails from digging into my palms too hard, I didn't want to frighten anyone.

    Who knows what the hell it'd do to this spooky place anyway.

    Descendants of the cursed Vikings, carried the aspect of a wolf, one of them, anyway, the Old Man had two of them.

    I shivered in my coat.

    Hope I wasn't catching something, last thing I needed tomorrow was to be laid up with pneumonia.

    The replacement light for the lighthouse crafted by some other descendants, Mitchells, I nodded.

    Beautiful Lantern, Amber Eye.

    ...

    I glanced around.

    "House of Amber Light, it sees us all, Break away from within the eye..." I murmured.

    Then frowned.

    "Where's that lantern now, those Mitchells still got it?".

  10. #4610
    The Time-Governing Twelve Covenants Airen's Avatar
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    Liana Skye
    Location: Canseliet Clinic
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm


    "Stella Kincaid..."

    I muse to myself, sounding the name out slowly, hoping to spark more memories from the depths of my soul. Of course nothing really comes, memories of that sort are not so easy to grasp, although...

    It does sound correct.

    "If you can't remember her name, perhaps you can remember her appearance?" I suggest when Cathie looks around for support, tilting my head slightly to the side in thought, "My memory of her is twenty-one years old so it's pretty much guaranteed to be out of date... But if she changed her name and kept on living in town without issues she can't be on... Super bad terms with the landowners, right? Although family politics can be complex things I suppose, even before we get into the oddities of werewolf clans... Jack might be the one to ask actually..."

    Of course if Stella had been a part of some big shot family, then...

    "Geez, first grandma was a physician for the McLampets, now the old bestie was part of the local werewolf gang... I'm way more connected to this town's nonsense then I thought..."

    That's not even bringing up whatever my bizarre relationship with Zane was, one that I could put a number of theories on now, all a mix of super interesting and simultaneously troubling, all in their own unique ways, still...

    "Sort of offended she never wrote me a letter or came to visit, kinda messed up."

    I say jokingly, although it's only half of a joke really.

    Stella should be one of the few who understands this whole reincarnation deal, dropping by to say hi would have been nice...

    Quote Originally Posted by Sierra
    "B-but, then... if I'm not a werewolf... but my papa is... d-does that... does that mean that I'm not p-papa's...?"
    "..."

    Of course, the time for levity soon falls away again as a certain observation comes to light, as crimson eyes look up at me for help, and an unspoken implication threatens to rip the heart of a child asunder, it's...

    "...There could be a few reasons."

    ...Not the first time I've heard those sorts of words.

    Not the first time I've seen a kid reach that sort of conclusion... It's a natural insecurity, the same an adopted child might feel if their parents have other, biological kids, that they themselves aren't really their kids, that they're inferior somehow, that they're loved less, yes...

    It's not an uncommon story.

    But it's also a tragic belief, because it's complete nonsense.

    Family is not so simple or cruel a concept.

    "It's normally hereditary, but not always... Depending on your mother, there's a chance you might not have inherited it, that something in her would counteract it... It's rare, but not unheard of and from what I can tell of the Faradays they seem to have some sort of divine blood to them. But I can't say anything for sure in that regard, Jack would be the one that knows best in this case, I can only offer you theories, but..."

    I stand up.

    Stand up and walk over to the girl that looks like she might break if the wrong things are said here, and-

    "...There is one thing I know for certain, an absolute truth that cannot be denied, alright?"

    -rest one hand gently on her shoulder, voice quiet but filled with the old gentle strength I had lost amidst my own emotional turmoils and that always seems to come so much more easily for the sake of others...



    "There is no scenario where you are not his daughter. None. Absolutely no chance whatsoever. You are his kid."

    There are some things that just have to be said, some things that people won't realize unless they're forced to realize it.

    "I don't need blood to prove that either, family isn't so simple a concept, so let's just set it aside for now."

    So I do, still speaking in a gentle, soothing voice. Of course these sorts of concepts are hard to put into words, feelings are often transient in that regard, but...

    "Family is... Unconditional love. Love with no strings attached, it's a... Complicated concept I guess, but feelings are... Sort of hard to put into words at times..."

    She wasn't sure she had ever actually felt such a thing herself after all, perhaps Sora had felt it from Shouko, but as Liana...

    It was unclear, still...

    "Blood doesn't always lead to this love, it can, but it's not necessary to manifest. Some people never get it from their blood family at all, but I can tell you for certain that Jack loves you unconditionally. The first thing he asked me when we found him beneath the shelter was whether or not you were okay, it was eating away at him the whole time he was down there, wondering if his daughter was alright... He held on because he needed to get back to you. Told us to leave him, take you, and get out of the club and away from danger. That's unconditional love if I've ever seen it, he put you entirely before himself in every regard... That's what a parent should do, so he's your dad, no matter what."

    I smile gently, aware that this is a bit of a clumsy talk, but...

    "Family is stronger than blood, the people you choose to care about are just as valid a family as any blood ties might be. It's not a weaker connection, it's not less real, family is family even if a blood tie doesn't exist... At least that's what I think, and I've always lived that way."

    It's true.

    Even if Sora wasn't quite as... Perfect as I thought she was...

    I think we were the same in this regard.

    "Most of the people that would call me 'sister' aren't related to me by blood, but I'd protect them with everything I have all the same."

    As for Scottie well, with eyes drifting to the side for a moment...

    "Police pager?"

    A simple question.
    Last edited by Airen; June 5th, 2022 at 09:31 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--"

  11. #4611
    Elise Marie Pelltier
    Location: Big Boy's Gas Station - Bar
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm


    "Nice to meet you, Auggie!" cheered Elise as she took a moment to settle in to the seat she found herself quickly dragged into.

    Augusta did seem familiar somehow.

    Green hair. Italian. I feel like there's a more than a passing similarity between her and Cesarina. Are they relatives, maybe? wondered Elise, Or, maybe she's someone I knew before? That could explain why we both have that sense of having met each other before, but not quite, perhaps?

    "You do seem familiar to me too, although I can't quite put my finger on it either..." admitted Elise, "And thanks for looking out for Travis, by the way."

    "I, uh, told Ms. Boulders that I was out on a walk, got caught in the rain, and took shelter here," admitted Elise sheepishly, "But, uh, well, actually I heard that there's a local, Ashley Xavier, who might know some things-"

    About me.

    "-and I heard he's a regular here at Big Boy's and hoped I'd might be able to catch him here on an evening like this-"

    Elise motioned with her head towards the storm outside.

    "-but I guess I wasn't that lucky."

    Elise gave a quick surreptitious glance towards the previously unknown individual, who Travis had identified as Elaine's brother. The scruffy looking man talking with the woman who was presumably Suzy Marlin who was evidently not Ashley Xavier.

    As frustrating as it is that I came out all this way just to end up empty handed, I have to admit, there's a small part of me that's a little bit relieved that I can kick this can a little bit further down the road, thought Elise, Not that I can keep on doing that forever. After all, there's a Road's End.

    "That's Elaine's brother, eh?" said Elise in a hushed town as she turned back to the occupants of her table, "I think I can see the family resemblance. I guess she's looking for him then? Does he know she's looking for him?"

    Who else would have a photo of Elaine's brother but Elaine? I wonder if he's avoiding her like Devon's been avoiding me? He's got to know she's in town too, and it's not like it's hard to find any of us at Pinefall.

    "I'm pretty sure that's Suzy Marlin that he's with. She's a local fisherwoman, which should be obvious given her gear. I've been meaning to ask her about good local fishing spots, and this might be a good excuse for us to introduce ourselves if we wanted to make contact, perhaps?" suggested Elise.

    Elise paused to take another sip from her drink.

    "Oh, and, speaking of telling me to be careful, Travis, what happened at the hospital after we parted ways last night?" asked Elise, "I didn't get a chance to check up with John or Prushka this morning."

  12. #4612
    Time to burn some dread Daneel Rush's Avatar
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    Location: Pinefall High Main Building
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm



    Wrongness.

    That is the word that fill the forefront of John’s mind as the group advances towards the faculty office. A disruptive feeling of incongruence, like somebody completed a puzzle with a piece from a different one. It only grows stronger as they find the broken lock, the lack of signal in Loinnir’s sensors, and the false normalcy found in the room once they set foot inside.

    It is truly unsettling. The little things that disrupt the apparent normalcy are almost too obvious—little details here and there that make it all too clear that something wrong happened here. Furthermore, the all too powerful stench, overpowering to such a degree that it makes John wonder if it’s meant to mask something else.

    And then Kean notices the blood. And the eyepatch.

    John Dove sighs. He probably has no idea why.

    Focus, John Dove. On the things you can do. No point longing for power you cannot have.

    “Let’s remain calm,” he says, perhaps more to himself than to anybody else. Then, he turns to the others.

    “Do you all smell it? The inexplicably overpowering stench of blood? It could be a psychosomatic reaction, but I’d rather not dismiss other possibilities outright. Not in a world with magic and robots.”

    The only thing he can do is pour out ideas. Perhaps, if he is lucky, a single one of them might have eluded their more capable minds.

    “Kean, Lucille, Miss Techne: please go over the entire room, see whether there is any other evidence of whatever happened here. And see whether you can turn on the lights. No point in pretending to be sneaky anymore.”

    If turning on the lights draws the enemy to them and attacks, then they make their stand here. As simple as that.

    “In the process, please look for anything that could be an originator for this unnaturally powerful scent. We should consider the possibility that somebody may be using such strong stimuli to incite equally powerful emotional reactions from us.”

    To mess with their minds, and erode their ability for rational thinking. Against such an attack, at least, John Dove could prove a formidable opponent.

    Of course, John does not ignore the other, more plausible option: that there is a large enough blood spill somewhere they have not yet found.

    “Hwan, please help me over here,” he continues as he kneels by the blood spots on the ground. “Let’s not touch anything just yet.”

    He really could use a Polaroid camera right now.

    “Seven droplets…perhaps a purposefully-drawn pattern? It might be Big Dipper, or maybe…”

    If it’s the Big (or Little) Dipper, then two of the handle’s stars are too close together. Souma would not make such a careless mistake…unless he lacked the mental and/or physical faculty to be careful. On the other hand, perhaps he aimed for something not so obvious that the enemy would notice it.

    “…the Pleiades?”

    His occultism-saturated mind promptly recalls countless myths and traditions, for that cluster of stars appears everywhere and everywhen, from the first line of the Babylonian star catalogues to Blavatsky’s cosmology. Indeed, aren’t the Seven Stars of the Pleiades the first focal lenses for the spiritual energy of the Seven Rays?

    Just as inevitably, he recalls that mysterious, dangerous, wondrously interesting person; one of two with the faculty to fill his world with color.

    …no. This is probably not Ultravania’s style.

    Pindar called them peleiades, “a flock of doves,” in what some take as a reference to the birds pulling Aphrodite’s chariot—

    John shakes his head with almost too much force, as if thus hoping to banish the myriad factoids spreading in his mind like an infection. Perhaps they’re just seven drops of blood that happened to fall here, and he’s trying to create patterns and purpose where there’s none. Even if they were in fact placed there for a reason, Souma would not have aimed for such obscure references. If anything, if he was in such a dire situation that he felt the need to leave a message, then he would have gone back to the basics of the basics in his mind.

    “…he might have gone back to Japanese,” he murmurs to himself before turning to Hwan. “I know I do wrong by assuming just because you’re also Asian, but perchance would you happen to know a bit of Japanese? Perhaps enough to see some meaning in this blood pattern?”

    He shakes his head.

    “Unfortunately, my knowledge of Eastern traditions is scarce. I don’t know if the Japanese have some special meaning for the Big Dipper, or the Pleiades.”

    His investigation of the blood pattern over for the time being, John then sets his attention on the eyepatch. It is bloodied, its strap cut. He’d need to pick it up for examine that cut more closely, but first…

    …how…what has to happen for it to fall on the floor like this?

    The two split parts of the strap…aren’t they a little too straight? Their angles respective to the eyepatch itself…aren’t they suspiciously symmetrical? It looks like a ‘less than’ sign, or rather…

    “An arrow pointer…?”

    John follows the ‘direction’ of the arrow towards a nearby locker. Could it be…?

    Again, it could be just him finding meaning where there is none. However, John Dove chooses to follow this one hunch, and walks over to the locker. All too carefully, he examines it for anything unusual or potentially dangerous before reaching out to open it…

  13. #4613
    Konkon Kitsune~ Kuroyuki's Avatar
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    “Vier”
    Location: Ghostwood National Forest (?)
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    Quote Originally Posted by Soviet Cosmonaut
    "Mhm. You could say that."
    I was somewhat surprised that they didn’t fully agree or disagree with my question. Which meant that despite being in an unusual outfit, they had to be somewhat familiar with the forest. Even if I was unsure on why, they were outfitted with an EVA suit. Was it the sealed nature of it to prevent natural chemical weapons from contacting any part of their body? But if that’s the case, then why were they by a fire preparing coffee and sweets? Ingestion of open products would require you to open the sealed suit… Unless the Soviets managed to find a way to filtrate liquids or sterilize food items… I started studying the EVA suit to see if I could spot such a thing until I realized one thing.

    There was an American flag on a Soviet suit. No, an American suit with the Soviet’s flag… The more I tried to make sense of the image in front of me, the less it made sense. One second, it was a Soviet Cosmonaut in front of me. The next second, it was an American Astronaut. Occasionally it was neither or a mishmash of the two. Then there were moments when there was a shadow of something next to the American Cosmonaut. Trying to process this was taxing as if I was trying to…

    Quote Originally Posted by Soviet Astronaut
    "--- Don't think too hard on it."
    And as I focused on the Soviet Astronaut’s voice, the growing migraine disappeared as suddenly as it appeared. With that in mind, a hypothesis started to formulate in my head…

    Quote Originally Posted by American Cosmonaut
    "We're in the Forest of the Unconscious. I think you've simply got us mixed up with someone else - a symbolism of your mind, of your side. Don't worry about it too much. I'm pretty sure that us and you... well, I doubt we have anything to do with each other. We just happened in this same part of the forest where time doesn't matter. It's frighteningly easy, you know, to slip into unconsciousness. But at the very least, here we're quite safe, around this campfire."
    I decided to sit down on the farthest part of the log away from the American Cosmonaut. Close enough to interact without issues, but far enough for me to hopefully have a reaction time to counter any sudden hostile movements. Unconsciousness, Mindscape, or whatever reality I was in, it always paid to be cautious.

    “So I’m safe as long as I’m here… And we’re only meeting due to an intersection of space but not time… That would explain why I’m seeing what I’m assuming are the various possibilities. So what is happening in reality then?”

    Certainly that does seem true. I’m warm, comfortable, and currently not under any perceivable threats at the moment. In fact, the Soviet Astronaut was offering me some of the s’mores right now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soviet Cosmonaut
    "Something sweet will make you calm down, I guarantee it. And while you're eating, if you want... Want to tell us what brought you here? Usually it's just those who are searching really hard for something that find themselves in this place. Or those who are utterly lost."
    I casually waved off the Soviet Cosmonaut’s offer of s’mores for now.

    “I can’t accept that since you were making it before I got here. If you have extra ingredients, I’ll make some as well while I talk.”

    I pause for their answer and whether or not I could make my own s'mores before continuing on.

    “As for how I got here… I was trying to track down someone in the forest, but somehow I got misled off their trail and deeper into the Ghostwood National Forest. Once I got into its depths… I was in a horrible storm so I made a survival shelter with fire. But I noticed something off. I couldn’t see too far into the forest like a pitch black darkness was surrounding me. I tried tending my fire diligently and some other tricks to no success. The darkness kept coming closer and closer until I decided to try and call for help. Which then led me here.”

    I decided to look back at the American Astronaut.

    “What about you? How did you end up here?”

  14. #4614
    el bolb Bloble's Avatar
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    Prushka
    Location: McLampet Saw Mill
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    "Uwa!"

    A hand suddenly yanks me up, and when my stomach stops spinning the ground is suddenly much, much further away.

    "Ahti...!" What's the big idea!? Is this a guy thing? Showing off your talents to your brother or something? Well don't think I'll leave you alone just because it's familial bonding. I've got standards too and being treated like a makeshift helmet isn't one of them! Even if it's on the heels of a heartwarming moment! Even if Ahti's hair is... actually full of sticks and blood and mud. Ew.

    "Okay, okay, enough happy stuff. Any more of that and I'll explode. Seriously, you two are like, glowing with good vibes right now. It's almost more than Memoire can take! I'm going to remember this feeling for the next century, that's how strong it is!" That's no exaggeration. An emotion this strong is exceedingly rare. The whole air is suffused with it. I haven't felt anything like it since the most perfect days back home, when all of us are together. Hisa must having trouble dealing with it too. She's the grumpy type, so there's no way this much concentrated happiness can be good for her.

    "Now let's put a pause on the festivities - that means no wuvvy duvvy smoochy woochy, Lion-O, I see what you're doing - and get out of this rain and clean you two up."

    The saw mill is only a few steps away. We can talk more easily in there. It should be safer than an open clearing, too.

    I turn my head towards the unsung heroes of the evening. "That okay with you two? Alpa, how's the suit holding up? It's not leaking is it? At least we can dry it off a bit and give you somewhere nice and closed-in to take it off a bit." She and Gradient (who is that girl anyway?) must need a break as well. No one here is ready to run through the woods.

    Pat, pat.

    Finally, as revenge for being picked up so suddenly, I scratch Ahti right behind the ears.

    "That-a-way, Scrooge!"

  15. #4615
    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


    Colt’s eyes fell.

    “There are others like me who remember dying. Seems to be quite a few, at this point I reckon half the class is retaining memories.” Wisps of heat fluttered above the cup in Colt’s hand. He stared down into his tea, the flickering grey above the dark drink changing to the color of blood in his mind. The tea beneath it twisted into the chlorinated blue of a swimming pool, and he weakly smiled at the memory which bled into his reality. “Which is to say, I think at least that part of your theory is right. I didn’t live long enough to see it, I may have even been the first to bite the dust… but I’ve heard about it.”

    He took a sip.

    “The massacre.”

    The tea was back to normal.

    “You’re also right about there being a puppet master pulling the strings behind the stage. But they’re… not real. Not yet.” Colt scratched the back of his head, searching for the right way to explain what he himself could only superficially understand. “There is a sort of monster in this town, its existence is just an idea, a meme, and it can’t appear properly. Not without convincing enough of us that it’s real. In fact, just by talking about it now, I’m probably screwing up. That thing wants us to talk about it. But it wants us to talk about how it’s real, not about how it’s just a piece of fiction.”

    To what extent was he harming himself, and those he should consider his allies, by talking about it? Did it accomplish anything to omit its name, to speak aloud its state of nonexistence?

    “It likes to brag that it’s behind it all. I have reason to believe that isn’t true. I also have reason to believe it may just be another part of someone, or something, real’s plan. Perhaps that’s where Guildenstern fits in.”

    Colt took another sip and looked back up at the ranger.

    “Regarding what’s happening to my classmates, and their deaths, that’s all I know. All I know except that… it starts tomorrow. Or rather, tonight. So if you have a plan to prevent it, you might need to act soon. As for me, I…” His voice trailed off, remembering what had been written in Prushka’s notes. That message to not only herself, but any classmate trapped in this recurrence. “Will likely die. I don’t want to plan on it, rely on it, and just let myself die and re-do it all ‘better,’ because what happens this time is as real as it was last time, as real as it’ll be the next time….”

    He wrapped his hands around his cup, the once-scalding heat of the tea now reduced to a comfortable warmth which permeated his fingers.

    “But, at the very least, if there’s anything I can know which can make a difference ‘next time,’ I’d like to know it.”


  16. #4616
    死徒(上級)Greater Dead Apostle Cheetose's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi & Prushka
    Location: McLampet Saw Mill
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    "What a rude assumption, I'll let you know that I'm pretty good at running---"

    Before I could finish the thought, a powerful arm grabbed me and lifted me off the ground, and by the time I could blink once I found myself sitting on Pyry's arm.

    "Wha---"

    My eyes grow wider as they are locked with his, which feel awfully close all of a sudden, before I avert my gaze and clean my throat in an attempt to regain my composure.

    "Y-you missed your chance for that, now that you went and revealed your plan," I answered his words that only managed to make things even more embarrassing, "Maybe after you showered you might have a chance."

    Though clean or not, nothing remotely close to that was okay in public, and not at a rundown mill like this.

    "I'm not much for staying here any longer," I spoke up again after a few moments of silence after hearing Prushka's suggestion, "Most you can rest on is the dirty concrete or the rusty, moldy machines, and good luck finding a spot that's safe both from the rain and the wind. Not to mention, if you let your muscles relax now, it will be that much harder to get back up and take the trip afterwards."

    God forbid that we get too comfortable, and the night falls upon us. That was borderline suicidal, and there was too much to do tomorrow still to get that careless.

    "Of course, if you're up to something around here then you are more than welcome to stay, but I'd prefer to be back at the dorms."

  17. #4617
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Elaine Winters
    Location: The Lighthouse
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    Joshua snorted, in a way that sounded rather annoyed.

    "The old one?" He asked rhetorically, before spreading his hands. "Look around you, kid."

    Spurred on by his words, Ubon, Subaru and Sakura started to gaze about the room as well... and soon enough it became clear what the ghost had meant. Indeed, Elaine had noticed hints of it when they had first entered the lighthouse. Amber-colored shards of glass, scattered about the stone floor and hidden among the lost and forgotten furniture, caked in dust and turned into pale, grimy shadows of what must have been their former glory.

    The old Eye of the lighthouse was broken. Shattered. Either by human hand, or then by falling from the top floor where it had been set up all those years ago. And while it was hard to say thanks to all the other clutter here as well, judging by the pattern the shards seemed to have... yeah. It was quite likely that it had fallen from up there. But, whatever had happened to it, one thing was clear right now...

    ... The focal point of the lighthouse, the reason why it should have existed, was long since destroyed.

    "... I did hear some murmurings though. Passersby and the like. They were planning on restoring the thing, even came here to take some measurements," Joshua then continued. "Though this was years, years ago. I think. The Mitchells were, of course, hired to do it again - that was their field of expertise. Or used to be. Not sure if they passed their skill on to their son before they were offed. Anyways, this was before that. So, they wanted to make a new light for the system up there, and got most of it done, from what I hear. The amber casing, the paneling and all that jazz. But before they were... missing some piece, from what I understand. Project kept getting pushed back. Until..."

    He made a slicing motion across his throat, wearing a grim face.

    "--- Some madman got to the Mitchell couple. Took them out before they could properly finish their work. That was the end of any talks of restoring this lighthouse," he spoke. "The way I hear it, the glass case was bought by someone out of town and was never seen again. Figured I'd never know who. Until... this week, actually."

    His red-and-green eyes narrowed.

    "That lady wearing way too much cheap perfume and with a face of someone constantly smelling urine. The one wrapped in all those furs. She had to be that someone, or at least connected to that someone," Joshua revealed, his voice having a hint of anger to it. "Came here to check out the original. Murmured all sorts of nonsense to herself. Even went as far as to do drawings of the mechanical parts still upstairs."

    It was clear that the spirit did not much care for this woman.

    "She didn't seem like the type that actually cared about the lighthouse, however."




    Liana Skye
    Location: Canseliet Clinic
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    "Mm."

    While perhaps a little awkward, the words Liana had spoken had come straight from the heart. And it seemed that everyone around her agreed. Zane, Kajal and Jayesh, who all had siblings of their own, nodded or murmured something in agreement, while both Cathie and Aleen smiled encouragingly at Sierra. The tiny girl, who had been looking so lost before, had now regained some of the hope she had gained when her father had been found. Indeed, though the idea still seemed to bother her a little bit, and though there were still questions that remained to be answered, one thing was clear even to Sierra.

    "Y-yeah... he's my papa. No matter the circumstances, he is. He's... he's always looked after me. Always put me first, even if... even if sometimes his work and project demands so much of him," Sierra spoke quietly, but with a hint of a smile now. "I... Mm. I guess I can ask him when he wakes up... ask him a lot of things. But I-I think you're right."

    Family could be complicated. It could be even be sad or painful.

    But sometimes it didn't have to be.

    And though there had been a small moment of doubt here, the bond between Sierra and Jack was clearly so strong it could weather times of weakness like this.

    "T-though, speaking of which, umm..." Sierra, looking slightly embarrassed, gazed up at Liana and fidgeted with her fingers. "Would... would it be alright if I, too, called you a sis---"

    "--- If you've got questions for Mr. Pinkerton, I'm afraid they'll have to wait."

    Dorothy Canseliet's voice cut into the conversation, turning all eyes towards the fae who was ascending the stairs making nary a sound. It seemed that her work at the clinic had finally come to a close, and while she was wearing her usual slightly mischievous, more than a bit mysterious smile, there was a hint of seriousness to it as well. A hint of steel that could not be denied.

    "He's stable, for now. Whoever the attacker was knew what they were doing. This wasn't an attack made to kill, nor was it a coincidence that you were able to save him," the good doctor explained as she strode over to the tea pot to pour a cup for herself. "But it has still left him in a greatly weakened state. It might even be a day or two until he's able to regain consciousness. In other words, he needs a lot of rest."

    Taking the cup, the fae let her eyes roam the room, looking at every individual gathered there, before finally stopping at Liana.

    "... Besides, I have two other patients as well. It looks like I'll have my hands full this weekend," she said with some dry amusement. "Luckily, I should be able to handle it... as long as an appropriate price is paid. That's how it works, after all."

    In the background, Zane frowned, like he had been expecting this.

    "Well... I'll try to jump through some loopholes. Our kind is expert at trickery, so sometimes why not practice it on ourselves?" Dorothy continued, with a hint of a smirk on her face. "Though I can promise nothing, of course."

    Lifting the tea cup to her lips, she took a sip... and immediately removed the cup, and frowned at its contents.

    "... Adequate, I suppose," she added, though didn't really sound like that was the word she wanted to use.

    Meanwhile, it seemed that Scottie had finally read through whatever he message had gotten, as he pocketed his gadget and turned to look back at Liana. For once, the jovial and slightly quirky smile the man liked to wear was gone, and instead there was deep sense of seriousness, and even a little bit of hurry, in it. Like something had happened which had flipped a switch in him - turning him from Scottie to Special Agent Ferguson.

    A proper FBI agent.

    "Looks like Sheriff Kennedy pulled through," Scottie said, his voice tense. "Thanks to a dream I had, I asked him to be on the lookout for a man that we had encountered previously. A shoe-salesman who visited the sheriff's department, offering his wares. As said, a couple of nights ago, I dreamt of him. He said that he had yet to reveal all. That there was more to come. And that I would know of him by these words."

    Scottie paused, as if digging some sort of information from deep within the vaults of his memories.

    "A man who came here from the woods. A shout of a silver fall. In the house of amber light. It sees us all. Break away from within that Eye. Escape from the umbra sea. The Mad whispers it again: Stars, fall for me."

    A strange sort of silence fell into the room following those words. It was as if everyone had their own, unique reaction to hearing it.

    Sierra, naturally, simply looked confused. Aleen, on the other hand, shivered like she had felt a creeping terror. Cathie was deep in thought, her brow furrowed. Kajal's taciturn expression twitched slightly, while Jayesh glanced towards Zane - Zane who, for some reason, clenched his hand into a fist. And then there was Fyrtio, whose face had gone extremely serious, her mouth a sharp, dry line at this point. Lastly, Dorothy... well, she smiled only in the way a fae could.

    "... I'm sorry, but I'll have to hurry along. I need to see this man and ask him what he knows," Scottie finally continued, pulling on his jacket. "Miss Skye, if you wish you may accompany me. Your knowledge and intuition have proven invaluable so far, and I certainly wouldn't mind borrowing that brain of yours further."

    The Omkara siblings, upon hearing this, looked at the girl as well.

    "We can take care of explanations. Together, we should be able to build a full picture of what happened last night," Jayesh said, and his sister nodded. "In other words, you should go if you feel this is important."




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

    Upon hearing the question about the hospital, Travis frowned. Frowned deeply, like thinking back on was an ordeal in itself.

    "Well... the good news is, I managed to find out what's wrong with 'Stephanie'. Sort of. We also have medication, so the little squirt should be alright for now, at least. Not sure down the road, but... we'll cross that bridge when we get there," the spiky-haired boy said, his voice sounding uncharacteristically soft as he mentioned the kid. "As for the rest of it... it was a mess. No, we didn't get into any trouble. But that midget had a computer disc with her that contained some information from the faculty, so me and Johnny-boy, and a couple of others, ended up pouring through it and..."

    He searched for the right words for a moment, before finally letting out a frustrated groan and scratching his head in annoyance. Finally he took a hold of his pint and downed half of the beer in front of him, before slamming the glass back onto the table. None of this seemed to have offered any good answers to what clearly was troubling the thug-like boy, but at the very least he had gotten a moment to think about it more.

    "... Gottlieb Pharma. They were started by Sidney Gottlieb. If you know who that is, you know exactly what sort of crap we're dealng with. Not only that, but it sounds like my... mentors are involved with them as well. And this whole web of conspiracies going on at Road's End. Because, apparently, Gottlieb Pharma is just a branch of Montauk. Knowing you, you should know who they are, Chipmunk," Travis finally explained. "In other words, they're running End's Mercy, and perhaps working together with Oceandrop Project. And it's all some sort of big test case of healing a new sort of syndrome that's..."

    He paused.

    He glanced around.

    And then, with darkened eyes, he leaned in closer.

    "... Supposedly, it's us. They claim that we're delusional. Imagining an illusionary world of supernatural to cope with trauma and alienation from the society at large. A shared world where we can all fit in. That's, supposedly, what's really going on. They even had patient files for us, about who we 'really' were. Except... well, that midget and John didn't exactly believe it. Neither did any of the rest," he continued. "... Honestly I don't know what to think. To begin with I'm not exactly the same as you. If anything, I'm a moron who broke my personality and psyche just so I'd get picked up by Mr. Oceandrop's little club and I could track down my...."

    The boy paused, looking for a moment like he had gone too far. And in a sense, he had said more about himself than he ever had before. Broke his personality and psyche? So did Travis do something to himself, just to... get chosen into the Oceandrop Program?

    "... So I could track down my mentors and perhaps... one other person. A moose of a person," Travis finally muttered, quietly. "Honestly, that's not even important. Point is, I'm an outlier. Unlike you lot, I never experienced a 'delusional world' like that. I just instilled some of those mannerisms into my self using... some less than pleasant means. But that was enough to fool our principal. Which begs the question."

    He raised a finger, his eyes almost piercing now.

    "--- Does this mean that it really is just a delusion? Or does it, instead, discredit the idea that it's a syndrome they can just quantify like that? I'm not sure, and frankly, I've seen some stuff, Chipmunk... seen some stuff that I can't just pass off as delusions. No matter if it's a contagious syndrome that fools all your senses. And I take..." He paused somewhat awkwardly, glancing towards Elise. "... You're part of that same other world, aren't you, Chipmunk? Which means you aren't just an outsider like me either. For you, that's a question whether or not your whole identity is a lie or not."

    Another pause, this one only broken by Auggie slowly sipping on her cola - and looking like she had had some time to wrestle with this question as well.

    "... I'm having hard time knowing what to believe anymore. It's like this whole town, this whole situation, even us... have just gone insane already," Travis finally admitted. "So the only thing I can do is to take care of what I can, and what I understand. For example, knowing that the blondie was looking for her brother, if I come across him like this, I can---"

    Whatever he was about to say was silenced as the door to the bar opened up once more, letting the storm in for just a moment. A tall figure stood in the doorway, dripping with rain. Then, they stepped forward, closed the door and returned the room to it's previous peace and relative quiet. Finally, they started towards the tables, making a beeline towards one of them in particular...

    ... And the man stopped to greet duo that Elise, Travis and Auggie had been keeping a close eye on for a while now.



    "Finally made it, huh? Did you have trouble?"

    The scruffy-looking man turned to greet him.



    "Nothing I couldn't handle."

    Answered the newcomer.




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

    "A memetic being, trying to make itself real..."

    For some reason, Ranger Savage glanced towards Nevada with a sharp look.

    "Ring any bells?"

    Nevada, on the other hand, had stopped tapping away at his keyboard, pausing whatever work he had been doing. There was a sort of pained look on his face, like he was remembering especially painful, and again his hand reached out for his scarred face - almost instinctively, and touched upon the wounds there. His singular good eye was gazing somewhere far away, somewhere where neither Colt nor Max could see.

    Outside, the storm continued to howl. It sounded like it was laughing.

    "... I think I know what you're talking about," Nevada finally grunted, breaking the silence. "It's been at Road's End for a long time now. Perhaps even longer than Guildenstern. An accumulation of the 'darkness' of this town. Like a personification. Not real, yet not quite unreal either."

    Without even realizing it, the older man touched his eyepatch.

    "It wants to... prove... that it's real. Thus it claims ownership of the pain and suffering. Feeds on it. Like a violent thought you try not to think, but end up thinking even more," he added in a hoarse whisper. "A sudden urge to jump off a steep cliff. A momentary urge to simply punch someone to see what happens. An instinct to walk in front of a speeding car, for no reason in particular. That's what it is."

    A lightning scored the sky somewhere close-by. However, Nevada's face relaxed, and he let his hand fall.

    "... But it's not Guildenstern. They may be linked, that I do not know... but Guildenstern is definitely real. They are flesh and blood. And they are here, at Road's End. Have been for quite some time now," he spoke with conviction, driving away the sneering shadows with his voice. "Unlike that thing."

    The expression on the ranger's face was somewhere between a frown and an accusation when the man finally finished saying his peace. Max even growled slightly, squeezing the armrest with her fingers tightly.

    "Why haven't you talked about this before, Nevada? You clearly know what it is."

    The broken man simply shook his head.

    "... It's not important. Not regarding Guildenstern. And the boy is right. The less we acknowledge it, the better," he spoke, grimly but without backing down. "That's how thoughts, ideas work, after all."

    Thus, instead of following further along this subject, his eye levelled a stare at Colt.

    "Instead, we should focus on Guildenstern. And what will happen to him, his friends and his classmates."

    Ranger Savage sat there for a moment, stewing in her frustration. She was clearly not happy that a topic like this had eluded her so far, or rather that Nevada had purposefully kept it hidden from her... but at the same time, she was a practical woman. What was done was done, and after letting herself fume for a while, she sighed, shook her head, and moved onto the immediate topic at hand.

    "... Fine. You're right. We've got bigger problems at the moment. Namely, that class of yours," she said. "I'm not sure how much we can help regarding if you... 'loop' again, but if you come find us earlier, I'm sure we can be of assistance. Just mention who you are, and what you know. We try to be pragmatical, so we should believe you regarding this. And you should be able to find us here, in this cabin. Just take the road out of town for a mile or so, and take the forest road to the east. Eventually you'll come across this place."

    Having said that, Max rubbed her chin.

    "As for other things, check the main building's storage if you want. There are some hidden messages left there by what I believe are the class from twenty-one years ago. That's what put us on the trail of Guildenstern in the first place. Maybe you'll figure out more about them than we did. There's also Remmie's old house. If you... want to check it out. Here, I'll write the address down for you," Max said and scribbled said thing on a post-it note which she handed to Colt. "Lastly... keep an eye out for your classmates. If Guildenstern is like we believe them to be, they could be... anyone. But they'll want to be close, so they can spread the most amount of misery and paranoia. They want to enjoy it, after all. So, look for anyone who is acting odd, or suspicious or... in a way that's just a little bit off. And what comes to rest of your class..."

    Lightning struck again.

    Gears seemed to be turning in Max's head.

    Rain fell harder.

    But eventually... a pained, almost self-loathing expression rose to her face, and she averted her eye, biting her lip in pain.

    "... I'm not sure if we can do anything to help you guys yet. We're just two people. And even if we try... it might be too late," she said, quietly. "And even if it's not... we might not make any difference."

    It was clear she hated what she had just said.

    "....... I'm sorry."




    “Vier”
    Location: Ghostwood National Forest (?)
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm

    "Oh, us? We're waiting for someone. Or searching. Same thing, really."

    The astronaut answered jovially and glanced next to them. There, upon the log, sat that strange silhoueted for of... someone. It was definitely a person. But for some reason, Vier could not see them, see who they were. Perhaps it was because of the same reason as to why she could not see the Astronaut's face as they lifted up the visor of their helmet and popped the s'more in. It was more as if they had thrown it into complete darkness, followed by the visor slamming shut.

    "Still... hmm. Ghostwood National Forest, huh? I've read about that, I think. It's back in US, no? Washington state? Then that would mean... well, sounds like you and us are quite distant from each other indeed - in various ways," the astronaut continued. "But more importantly, it's one of those places, isn't it? Where the hold of reality is... loose. Even more so than your regular ancient forest. Call it ambient magic, or the Threshold being open, or whatever these terms are. Point is, a forest like that is less about here..."

    They pointed at their helmet.

    "And more about here."

    They patted their chest - right where their heart was.

    "A place like that responds to your own feelings, your own doubts. If you try to isolate yourself, if you try to keep yourself away from others, the forest will respond in kind. It'll close you off, and surround you with nothing - because that's what you desire. Mind you, this is all just my speculation, so don't take none of it too harshly," the astronaut spoke, before suddenly gesturing towards the bags of marshmallows, crackers and chocolate. "Oh and do help yourself. We've got plenty."

    They then sighed a little and took the kettle off the branch, pouring themselves a cup of coffee while the bonfire happily crackled in the starry-skied night.

    "Our unconscious is a reflection of our selves. How we feel the world is. How we want the world to be. How we experience the world."

    Like a pitch black darkness, with nobody but yourself.

    Danger everywhere around you.

    Only your own skills and knowledge keeping you alive.

    "Maybe that's what really got to you, then? Your own heart, mind and soul," the astronaut asked, tilting their head a little bit. "And when you decided to call for help, you reached out beyond who you were... and slipped over the threshold, properly to this side. You became properly lost, but also properly started searching. And in a way, our collective unconsciousness is what connects us all. Humans that is."

    Opening their visor again to show nothing but darkness, the astronaut took a sip of their coffee.

    "You took this as a shortcut to find someone. Because you allowed yourself to look for someone," the astronaut concluded, before looking straight at Vier. "Say..."

    The astronaut took another sip and then glanced to the side. Beyond their silhouetted companion. Beyond Vier.

    All the way to the third log in the triangle.

    Where someone was sitting, roasting their own s'more.

    Someone who Vier hadn't noticed yet. Or had they even been there at the start.

    "... Was it her you were looking for?"

    The astronaut asked that question.

    And that fourth person...



    "Oh? Hi, V. Fancy meeting you here."

    Turned to look at her.




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

    "H-hey, it's not that bad!"

    Upon hearing Hisa's words, Pyry blushed a little and protested... though he then took a look at himself. At the ruined clothes, the bloodstains, the mud and the various branches and sticks stuck in his hair. Then, with a little grimace, the golden-maned boy hung his head.

    "Eugh... yeah, it is that bad, huh?" He admitted, letting out a little groan. "Been a while since I've looked this beat up..."

    Meanwhile Prushka had managed to make Ahti do an odd little jig even in his current state thanks to the dexterous fingers that had assaulted his ears. Alpa, on the other hand, had walked up to the duo and - after politely waiting for the boy to calm down once more and regain his compure - she lifted one of the flappy arms of the old owl costume and showed what... what was probably a thumbs up?

    "Y-yeah. I'm fine. I've made... modifications. To this suit, I mean," she admitted. "It's sturdier and h-has insulation too... it's very warm in fact. And dry. In fact I think I'm t-the best off out of all of us..."

    Honestly, the whole group was looking like a bit of a mess right now, weren't they?

    "Muu~!"

    Though Gradient didn't seem to mind. Indeed, the strange girl had ran up to Pyry and Hisa with a mischievous and almost smug smirk on her face, looking like she had caught the duo red-handed out of something. Hisa could remember seeing that same smirk on the girl's face back at the night-time lakes, only this time it was almost double the size. And before the black-haired girl could prepare for it, Gradient even went as far as to playfully poke at her sides - an especially easy target now that she had hard time defending herself, considering where and how she was.

    It was like Gradient was saying: "You sly little devil, you~!" or something approximately like that!

    ... But she certainly looked happy. Extremely happy. Like all the worst-case scenarios that had ran through her mind had been proven wrong.

    "That being said, hm... I think Hisa's got a point here, Squirt?" Pyry finally spoke up, having regained some of his dignity. "While I can warm myself up naturally, we've got plenty of wear and tear here. Might be best to gather up at the dorms, even if you guys plan on heading somewhere later. Everyone could take a shower, switch clothes, all that jazz. Plus uh, I was sorta kidding. I mean, my car's right up there by the road."

    He pointed his finger towards the direction.

    "We can take that to the campus."

    Ahti, upon hearing that, hummed in momentary thought, before nodding and looking up at the girl on his shoulder.

    "That's not... a bad idea, isn't it? To tell you the truth, Imp, I'm not feeling 100% right now, so I wouldn't mind resting up in a proper place," he said, before grinning. "Y'know, before you drag me into whatever the next bit of weirdness you've got planned."

    Still cackling to himself, Ahti started forward, as did Pyry - with Gradient and Alba following close-by. As they walked, the white-haired brother turned towards his sibling.

    "Though uh, two questions. First, you guys think you have any food? We haven't exactly eaten well today, and it'd help me recover too."

    Hearing that, Pyry looked at Hisa with a cocked eyebrow, looking slightly amused.

    "I think we can manage that, no?" He asked. "We've gotten pretty good at sneaking out some food from the kitchens, plus I remember Sakura having enough for a platoon at the dorms."

    Having heard that answer, Ahti then turned towards Prushka.

    "And second. Uh, Imp?" He asked, looking a bit confused. "I got most of that but..."

    The white lion paused, before scrunching his face.

    "What's 'wuvvy duvvy smoochy woochy'?"

    Pyry nearly tripped over his own legs upon hearing that.
    Last edited by Verg Avesta; June 9th, 2022 at 12:51 PM.

  18. #4618
    The Time-Governing Twelve Covenants Airen's Avatar
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    Liana Skye
    Location: Canseliet Clinic
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm


    "Well, I don't think anything in town is exactly unimportant."

    I say in response to the siblings words.

    "None of us are here for no reason, everything will probably have some sort of meaning in the end, and with all these reactions you guys are having to the poem... I probably should go listen to this shoe salesman, sounds like it's about the lighthouse or something? Lighthouses can also be called watchtowers after all, so that'd be a sort of eye, and that would sort of explain the umbra sea bit as well, considering it gives off light..."

    My eyes drift through the room, taking everyone else in... Aleen's frightened reaction to the poem was interesting, but Zane's clenched fist brings about a strange surge of emotion in me for a moment, a bizarre sympathy that makes me want to reach out and comfort him somehow, but...

    "Not sure I'd call my intuition invaluable though, I'm just your everyday time cop."

    I maintain this lighter air a bit longer than everyone else, perhaps because I'm sick of moping? Or just because I feel strangely better now in spite of how dark the future is?

    Regardless...

    "But very well, if I do go, you guys will need to know this at least." Letting my amused smile fade a bit, I allow my own brand of steel to enter my voice. "Like I said earlier, we're all caught in a time loop. It's five days long, Wednesday to Sunday. The town gets blatantly hostile tonight, and tomorrow everything goes crazy, then we start over again on Wednesday. From what I heard from the others the school was hit particularly hard last time, and some bad things happened in other parts of town too, so everyone will need to be on their guard. These Einherjar people might still be a problem for us, especially if they meant for us to escape with Jack."

    My eyes flicker to Aleen, a calming smile meeting her shivering form.

    "Everyone should stay together as much as they can, no one goes anywhere alone, at least two people, but three is probably better. Of course in my opinion no one should really go anywhere until I get back, we got through last night together, so doing it again tonight should be a pretty safe bet, but..."

    I let my gaze drift back to Zane, my next words aimed mostly at him, even if they also applied to everyone else.

    "I can't actually stop anyone, since I know some of you have things you need to do... I can only ask you to be careful and to know that you can come back to me for help if you get into trouble."

    He doesn't have to struggle alone, although he might honestly be better off just shutting himself and his brother away in their home. Still for some reason I want to remind him anyway... That it's perfectly fine to come to me if he needs help, because people in his situation are known to isolate...

    Still, moving on...

    "I know of at least two shapeshifters in town now, so that's becoming something we need to watch out for... As Mr. Bond once said, Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action... We haven't gotten to a third incident yet, but considering we do seem to have enemies, it's best to assume it's still a possible tactic they could employ and adjust our behavior accordingly... Maybe set up a code-word of some sort in addition to the everyone stays with at least one other person rule? Agreeing on a radio frequency to use if we do wind up separated longer than expected is probably a good idea too, better to be over-prepared than under-prepared... So the frequency Scottie's radio uses perhaps?"

    We need some sort of systems in place to fight against the town, a password wouldn't help with a possession case, but something like what Nora was doing should fail to a password system... Radios would help me keep an eye on Zane at least, and...

    Well, it's just a good idea in general, especially when someone had gone to the trouble of knocking communications out in the first place.

    It meant they wanted people isolated from each other.

    "As long as we take the proper precautions, what happened last night shouldn't be able to happen again. I trust you guys, so as long as we keep a clear head about ourselves, we should be fine. Share what we know with each other here, get everyone up to speed with our bizarre side of the world," I nod towards Aleen and Cathie, "And then hopefully this shoe salesman gives us a few more pieces of the town puzzle. Even if he doesn't, I know the name and room number of our culprit last night, so there are some things we could also check out at the hotel later... Nora was her name. Nora "Norumbega" Gagnon."

    Again making a circuit of the room, my gaze goes to Dorothy, a frenzy of images of our last meeting -as recent as it was- flashing through my mind, a newfound uncertainty in exactly where I stood with her making me more than a little nervous in this instance, but...

    "Auntie..."

    ...Well, I don't have any intention of giving up on this title even if we might be struggling a bit, however-

    "I express my apologies for any trouble I may have caused you this week, any Sora might have caused too, she's a part of me, so I feel it's only right I do so."

    I don't know the origin of her pained face from earlier, whether it was because of my accidental rudeness with the phrasing of my question or because Sora's fate caused her pain for some reason, but...

    "I also appreciate you putting up with me as much as you did this week... I don't know how resistant a fae's memories might be to a looping phenomena, so I want you to know that much at least, just in case I don't get another opportunity to tell you."

    A slight bow, Japanese style.

    Respect towards an elder and a deep acknowledgement that she had done a lot for me...

    Even if her mannerisms being so reminiscent to mom meant I found myself being a bit too familiar with her from time to time... If nothing else, I didn't want her to hold a grudge against me for that, fae were notorious for being able to hold grudges for ages, but more importantly...

    I rather like this 'aunt' of mine, blunt as she might be with mental bombshells, so I'd honestly prefer we continue to get along in the future.

    "If your loophole for Jack doesn't work out, I... Don't have much on me I'm afraid, but I could figure something out... The laser sword my old man gave me, perhaps?"

    Symbolically, a knight giving away their blade had to mean something, and it was my only real tie to the doctor that woke me up, so it should have enough sentimental value to serve as form of payment, still...

    "All this being said, it's just a hypothetical right now, after all..."

    ...my gaze finally returns to Sierra.

    "I'll only leave if it's alright with you."

    I smile gently at the girl.

    A smile without judgement of any sort, one with a glowing affection I hadn't really felt in awhile...

    She had almost said it after all, and I had almost had a heart attack from how cute it was.

    "I promised to be your knight this morning, and a knight should do as their princess asks, no?" I let out a chuckle, "But more importantly, if I'm going to upgrade to sister, I really have to give this guardian thing everything I've got."

    So saying, I reach out a hand and...

    "It's perfectly okay to call me that by the way~"

    ...Ruffle her hair a bit.

    Just a little.

    "I've always felt most motivated when acting as a big sister. It's quite the morale boost for me, really~"

    "If you feel safer with me here with you, then I'll stay. There's no pressure at all."
    Last edited by Airen; June 11th, 2022 at 03:38 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--"

  19. #4619
    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


    Likely, Nevada had his own reasons to have kept knowledge of Dot to himself. Even if opting to not speak of it, not to share information about it, was the correct thing to do, Colt felt in his gut that there was more to the decision than pragmatism.

    The boy nodded, reassuring himself that he hadn’t made a mistake by disclosing the malignant meme’s existence, or lack thereof. It was better to know that it was something that didn’t exist, rather than to let the unaware jump at shadows on the wall and think it’s real.

    “There’s not much to apologize for. The odds are stacked against you, and at this point we’ve met too late to make a difference.” Colt looked down at the note handed to him, memorizing its contents. Mystery or no, this was a place he would visit regardless. “But another impostor case, huh?”

    He sighed.

    “That’s a breeding ground for anxiety, distrust, and worse.”

    Another sip of his tea.

    “This Guildenstern picked a good forest to hide his tree. Odd and suspicious, that’s about the entire class, y’know.” Colt shook his head at the thought of trying to narrow down any of his classmates that fit the bill, because honestly, he could point to more than a handful. “But at the least, I can pass it onto the others I can trust. There are a few.”

    He looked over at Nevada.

    Including your sister.

    “I have things that I must do on Wednesday night. There’s a meeting in the forest that I gotta be there for, someone who I need to find. But maybe I should come to you Wednesday morning and ask for your help.” At that, Colt let out a dry chuckle. “Would beat going out alone again and getting nearly lost out there.”

    Then, Colt turned to the direction of the door Ranger Savage had emerged from a few moments ago.

    “Speaking of meetings in the woods, is she awake in there? She’s someone I need to talk to.” Then, he looked around for his clothes. “There was a sight on that pistol, I need to give that back to her as well. Seems it’s hers. Or maybe it’s just her job to get it back.”


  20. #4620
    Konkon Kitsune~ Kuroyuki's Avatar
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    “Vier”
    Location: Ghostwood National Forest (?)
    Phase: Evening Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Storm


    Quote Originally Posted by American Cosmonaut
    "Oh, us? We're waiting for someone. Or searching. Same thing, really."
    The American Cosmonaut looked at the shadowy silhouette that was next to them. I could only assume that the shadowy silhouette was the person who the American Astronaut was waiting for. However, even if I tried to focus in on them, I couldn’t see any further details unlike the Soviet Astronaut where they seemed to flicker on what I saw. Also unusually, despite seeing the American Astronaut clearly and concisely, I was unable to see their face when they lifted their visor. It was like looking into a void and even then I couldn’t tell if the Soviet Cosmonaut was male or female from the sound of their voice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soviet Cosmonaut
    "Still... hmm. Ghostwood National Forest, huh? I've read about that, I think. It's back in US, no? Washington state? Then that would mean... well, sounds like you and us are quite distant from each other indeed - in various ways. But more importantly, it's one of those places, isn't it? Where the hold of reality is... loose. Even more so than your regular ancient forest. Call it ambient magic, or the Threshold being open, or whatever these terms are. Point is, a forest like that is less about here..."
    “You remembered correctly. Ghostwood National Forest is in Washington in the United States. As for its loose hold of reality, I would have to assume so… The forest hasn’t had the best reputation with foreigners and woodcutters somehow getting lost in it.”

    I would have to admit that while I’m familiar with locations with ambient magic. It seemed that the area just had a tendency to favor mages or it would be a Turnside creature’s abode. I haven’t come across any “Thresholds” being open or areas that affect the local time-space continuum to the point that I could speak with a Soviet Astronaut.

    Quote Originally Posted by American Astronaut
    "And more about here. A place like that responds to your own feelings, your own doubts. If you try to isolate yourself, if you try to keep yourself away from others, the forest will respond in kind. It'll close you off, and surround you with nothing - because that's what you desire. Mind you, this is all just my speculation, so don't take none of it too harshly. Oh and do help yourself. We've got plenty."
    I absentmindedly nod. From the way, the American Astronaut described how this Forest of the Unconscious, I certainly do fit those characteristics. For the time until I found Hawthorn, I decided to discard my emotions and keep my thoughts about tracking down the target. Even after deciding to abandon my mission due to the weather and forest trying to encroach on me, I had to focus on survival first. Even my decision to call for Lobo was less out of emotional distress… But more a recognition that I couldn’t solve this issue with my ability. It’s only moments like these that I can take a tactical pause to sit here, cook a s’mores and then organize my thoughts…

    Quote Originally Posted by Soviet Astronaut
    "Our unconscious is a reflection of ourselves. How we feel the world is. How we want the world to be. How we experience the world."
    It was possible to change someone’s subconscious… In theory, I could do it. But it wasn’t as easy as manipulating someone’s perception of reality. I had to manipulate sets of memories to effectively change someone’s belief system so thoroughly and naturally that their subconscious accepts the change. If possible, the changes would be gradually over multiple sessions. But it’s all theory work.

    Quote Originally Posted by American Cosmonaut
    "Maybe that's what really got to you, then? Your own heart, mind and soul. And when you decided to call for help, you reached out beyond who you were... and slipped over the threshold, properly to this side. You became properly lost, but also properly started searching. And in a way, our collective unconsciousness is what connects us all. Humans that is."
    And to this portion… I could not make sense of it. I know that our emotions and mind were all ultimately electrical signals. By harnessing and utilizing those signals, I manipulated a person’s memory, perception, and even their emotions. However, the soul… I couldn’t quantify or describe that. It was something that I had to admit that I didn’t understand. How to read someone’s soul was something else entirely. So I could only nod politely to the Soviet Astronaut’s explanation as I started placing together my s’mores as they took a sip of their coffee.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soviet Cosmonaut
    "You took this as a shortcut to find someone. Because you allowed yourself to look for someone. Say..."
    I looked at them in mild confusion. I wasn’t searching for 40 when I went into this forest and this Forest of the Unconsciousness expedition was entirely unplanned. I followed their line of sight to where they were looking.

    Quote Originally Posted by Soviet Cosmonaut
    "... Was it her you were looking for?"
    “...!”

    Quote Originally Posted by Zieg?
    "Oh? Hi, V. Fancy meeting you here."
    I managed to stop myself from jumping out of my seat. However, I couldn’t stop myself from showing a look of shocked surprise for a brief moment before schooling my face back to a more normal, curious look. Normally, I wouldn’t have held back my emotions before her. But… Was it really her? For all I know, this could be an imposter… A mind game by that Soviet Cosmonaut. And if it was her… Was I worthy of calling myself her friend still?

    “Yeah… Wasn’t expecting to see you here, Zieg. How exactly did you get here? And I guess I also have to ask when is it for you? For me, it’s at least three years after Flame Moth.”

    I decided to munch on my s’mores while my foot tapped out a simple morse code but with one little twist. I introduced 410’s personal cipher. Alphabet moved to the right four times for the first letter. Left once for the second letter. Normal. Left four times for the fourth letter. Right once for the fifth letter. Then normal for the sixth.

    ‘Not moth.’

    Now let's see if she responds with the proper op name... If it was her, she could decode my little message. If she can't, then... I should assume something is trying to manipulate me. Starting with my 'friendly American Astronaut.'

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