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Thread: Astronomika - Shooting Down Falling Stars (IC)

  1. #4201
    Time to burn some dread Daneel Rush's Avatar
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    Location: Pinefall High Dormitory – Souma Nubatama’s Bedroom (Room 109)
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast



    “Multiple instances of attack in the same location, using different methods. It remains to be seen whether by a single actor or different ones. I guess we could compare the heights of the blood patterns to get a preliminary idea, but…what do I know. A crime scene investigator, I am not.”

    With that said, John rises to his feet, presenting a nod of appreciation to Souma who agrees to support Alexstrasza today.

    “Thank you, Souma. Really. Have a good day, you two…”

    He hesitates. There is something left to say. It contributes nothing to the discussion, but he will regret it if he keeps it to himself.

    “I…know nothing about ‘killers’. I have lived a peaceful life, keeping myself out of trouble.”

    He may not know much about killers, but he knows way too much about death.

    “I hold to the belief that even the worse human still possesses the ability to choose. That we all have the choice to take the easy way and walk the path of evil, or choose to do the right thing…”

    For whatever reason, his eyes set on Souma, his inexpressive stare nonetheless carrying an intent John might not realize himself.

    “…no matter how painful it may be.”

    Walking past the two, John stops in front of the door, turning to face the pair.

    “And that is why I can place my trust in you. Even if we were to become enemies one day, I will not regret this. Because I chose to trust you.”

    His hand falls on the doorknob.

    “Please be careful, you two,” he adds, before glancing at the blonde sorceress. “Alexstrasza, please take care of yourself. Remember that Miss Feroce is waiting for you.”


    *** ***


    Location: Pinefall High Dormitory – Ground Floor

    John Dove makes a brief stop by his bedroom to pick up his backpack before resuming his plans for the day. The whole time, he ponders the whys of that little speech before leaving Alexstrasza and Souma. They do not need his empty reassurances, certainly coming from the likes of him. What weight do his words carry before one who carries herself a sorceress, educated in the ways of the arcane at the school of the dragon? What else but laughable are his words to the likes of Souma Nubatama, who likely knows death far more intimately than the ‘cursed boy’ himself?

    Were those words truly meant to them, or were they the means to reassure himself? Does he really trust them? What does it even mean, to trust them? What exactly does he expect from them?

    “What, exactly, can you do for them?”

    Ah, there it is. That most worthless part of a much worthless person.

    “Actually, what can you even do, period?”

    It does not work. It has stopped working. This cannot sway him, for he already knows. Even if the only thing he can do is crawl through the muck, he has no reason to stop crawling, and every reason to keep going.

    If you have no expectations of yourself, then there is no reason to doubt.

    It is with this haphazard conviction that John steps into the dormitory’s common area to find…whatever this is.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ramia Ramalsaqr
    “Perfect timing, detective. Looks like we have a cold-blooded murder in our hands. And plenty of leads to go on with, too.”
    “I think this case solves itself: the culprit is Vandemeel, and the weapon is her rear end. As for the motive…” John makes a point to pause as if seriously pondering the matter. “…either a severely downgraded retaliation for past events, or…”

    His eyes rest on the overexcited and satisfied-looking Akita.

    “…incitement by a third party, perhaps?”

    Miss Loonwaters might want to learn from this mutt.

    “Good morning, Ramalsaqr, Vandemeel, and…” Only now does he realize the identity of the ‘victim’. “…Zhou Coastrise. A welcome surprise, if not entirely unexpected.”

    John is not aware of his expression gradually relaxing as he moves from the sofa group to the smallest character in this scene.

    “Miss Iburi. We have not spoken since…the beach party, I believe. I am glad to see you are well.”

    The placid gaze rests on the dog.

    “I see you have been taking good care of your partner, Tonkori. Thank you very much.”

    And last but certainly not least…

    “Elaine, and…”

    John Dove short-circuits for a moment.

    “…um, I want to say ‘Loinnir’, but, uh…”

    Is this another Subaru Iburi situation? But, they have not looped back yet.

    “…good morning…?”

    How vexing.

    Fortunately (?), by this point, worrying about Kean Loinnir’s makeover feels like a waste of effort, so John decides to just not bother.

    “Um, in any case, yes, breakfast is my immediate plan, and it would be most pleasing…” And most convenient. “…to have your company.”

    His serene expression does falter for a moment.

    “It is a shame, though, that our morning conversation would be likely to touch several unpleasant topics.”

    His reply now given, John hesitates to settle on any of the chairs, hoping to wordlessly encourage the others to instead follow him to the dining area. Instead, his eyes float over the scene in front of him: a simple moment of peace that feels almost at odds with the disturbing reality encroaching upon them.

    John had it easy last night. A lot happened, but he was surrounded by allies and his life was never at risk. What challenges did the people in front of him have to overcome to make it to this morning?

    He does not know. What he knows is that they are here, alive and well. And that fills him with an emotion he needs a moment to recognize as relief, pure and authentic.

    …huh.

    Yes, he is surprised. He was once an empty child, after all. When did he get filled with enough things to be able to experience such an emotion?

    He sighs to re-center himself, for John Dove will not allow himself to look overwhelmed in front of his classmates.


    “…but, really, it is good to see you all.”

  2. #4202
    el bolb Bloble's Avatar
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    Prushka?
    Location: Pinefall High Pool Building
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "Hmm, hmm, hmm!"

    I rub my chin as I lean back in my chair. The perp's talking alright, but it's only the easy stuff. He's clearly got some things he's too spooked to mention.

    "A gator, eh?"

    Puff, puff. I pull on the cigarette and exhale, breathing slowly and deliberately as I form my words.

    "You know alligators are South-East only, right Briggs? We're as far from Florida as it gets without taking a trip through BC. Ain't their kinda climate. Whatever you've got down there, it's something else." My voice drops low, becoming spookier, as I turn the bare lightbulb above us swings unsteadily on a wire, sending shadows dancing across our faces. "Like maybe a secret compound, recently built, with people still in it. Or some kinda monster from the deep... got a friend who was down there, actually. Says he saw it. Says he ain't seen the person who was with him since. Still looking for her."

    I lean forward, putting out an imaginary cigarette in an invisible ashtray to punctuate the idea.

    "As for the clock tower... pretty interesting story. I was wondering why a school'd have a clock tower, y'know. Especially with no clock in it. I'd like to get a look at it. Maybe Mao would give a tour if I asked real nice... would have to wait for next week though. Teachers are all gone for the weekend... but you've gotta be curious, right?"

    I lean in, eyes glittering, shadows flickering.

    "You went to school here too, didn't you? That tower must've been there while you were a student. Didn't you ever wonder what was up there? Wouldn't you wanna go, if you had the chance, to see?"

    The room goes silent.

    Heartbeats pass.

    I stare into the eyes of Jake Briggs, my own eyes unblinking.

    And.

    Then...

    "Bwahahaha!"

    I lean back and let loose the breath I'd been holding.

    "Hehe! What'd you think, Briggs? Pretty hardboiled, right? Could I pass for one of the detectives in those books of yours?"

    I tilt my head back.

    "I was scary, right Ahti? And cool, right?"

    Back to Briggs. A cheeky grin stretches across my face.

    "Alrighty, wanna keep talking about this card? Or ya ready to pick another?"
    Last edited by Bloble; November 3rd, 2021 at 07:27 PM.

  3. #4203
    Konkon Kitsune~ Kuroyuki's Avatar
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    Vier Wolff
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club - Garage
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994
    Weather: Overcast


    After lockpicking my way through, I started analyzing my surroundings. As expected, it was just a garage. Tool shelves, car lifts, and its associated equipment all around the area. However in comparison to more normal garages, there were several small details that indicated that the owner was a car connoisseur. There were several specialist tools such as the fabric sheet that dealers used to protect cars from the elements. The ownership of multiple cars and the one visible car was a well-maintained American muscle car.

    I considered looking at the other car hidden underneath the dealership protective sheet, but I figured one car would be sufficient. After all, if we’re moving from the hardened facility. The probability of everyone being able to disengage and escape safely was lower. Those of us who were combat capable would have to find our own exfil if we were still alive. I was going to start hotwiring the muscle car, but then I noticed two things that got my attention.

    The first thing that caught my attention was the photo on the desk.

    The Photo


    For a brief second, I thought I was looking at Lucille Faraday. At the very least, I was looking at someone she was related to. At the very least, a sister or a mother. However, it was peculiar that the owner was associated with Lucille Faraday or her family. Combined with the unknown male in the picture, it just raised the peculiarity of the photo. If the unknown male was the owner, then why were there additional unknown church members here. Why would Lucille Faraday and her faction fail to warn me of additional friendlies or additional threats? It raised the odds of conflicts between friendlies or risk to allies significantly. If the unknown male wasn’t the owner, then why was this photo here? I stopped the needless speculation upon noticing the next attention grabbing item in the garage.

    The second object was a suspiciously heavy duty safe. It was suspiciously too heavy to be casually in a garage even if it was the country club owner’s garage. If it was a standard safe, I would’ve been able to have lockpicked my way through it slowly but surely. This safe… It had a complex locking system to say the least. While I could still bruteforce it open, I wasn’t good enough to break into it before the electronic keycard mechanism realized it was being tampered. I would attempt to disarm that… But my skills in disarming electronic devices were limited. That kind of work, I let Zieg handle those… However, if I found the owner’s keycard… I would have enough time to bruteforce the remaining locks. I sighed before resolving to investigate the owner’s room in the country club. If I recall correctly, the Omkaras told me it was on the second floor. All I needed to do was avoid everyone else.

    With that thought in mind, I relocked the door to the owner’s garage and made my way back to the country club as carefully as I could to avoid people as much as I could to the owner’s room.

  4. #4204
    S U P R E M E Mormarth's Avatar
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    Elaine Winters
    Location: Pinefall High Dormitory - Common Room
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast


    Oi, what's with that self-satisfied expression on your face, Kean Loin-near, seeing you look like that makes me want to bully you, you know?

    Puttin' me on the spot...

    Honestly, feed them one complement and they're completely incorrigible.

    "Don't act cute, Mr. Ghost in the Machine," I grunted, "He's just thinking he'll finally get on that calendar."

    I shuffled my hands in the pocket of my overly-large sweatshirt, grumbling both through my throat and my innards as my body demanded sustenance before I'd have to take a sharp stick and go find something.

    A lazy eye settled over the form of John Dove.

    Looks about the same as usual, vaguely tormented and cerebral.

    I hummed, rubbing at my ribs reflectively, "It's where I was off to anyway, so let's have a good old pow-wow, Breakfast 'n BS, my favorite."

  5. #4205
    死徒(上級)Greater Dead Apostle Cheetose's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Canseliet Clinic
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "I don't think we have any particularly pressing matters that need undivided and immediate attention," I answered the fae as my eyes followed hers, "On the other hand, countless smaller issues that would require a solution sooner than later. Issues where your input could be helpful, considering your supernatural viewpoint. And especially so if you know what is going to happen tomorrow."

    Though, more than just being part of the supernatural, she was a fae - which meant that she could not lie. A particularly useful trait to have when the goal was to gather reliable information...At least if she was willing to cooperate. Otherwise she'd likely twist her words so much that even with my insight I'd be even more confused than if she was just straight out lying instead.

    I guess we'd find out soon enough anyways.

    More importantly, as I turned my head to look back over my shoulder, I couldn't help but notice Allene trying her best to stay out of view. It was one thing that she likely wasn't particularly fond of the doctor, but still...did she really have a reason to be that afraid?

    "Her case, for one," I said as I stepped slightly aside, putting the girl hiding behind me in the spotlight, "I heard you've already met, and since you proposed her a treatment, I'd reckon you have an idea about your problem. Something that I found rather intriguing, as someone quite interested in medicine."

    I conveniently left out the fact that, in the end, she didn't treat her - if only because they could not come to an agreement regarding the price. As a fae, she likely held very little value in things such as money, and when it came to asking for payment in other material goods, or perhaps more personal things...Depending on how greedy she was, I could have imagined it being quite some outrageous things.

    Which is also why I doubted that we could get any actual help from her - but then, coming with no expectations, I would leave with no disappointments.

    "Of course, just some tea already sounds rather pleasant as well. Refreshments from a fae are hardly something anyone could refuse."

    To get the tea, however, we would have had to enter the house itself, which meant...

    "Shouldn't you be more subtle about the elf circle, by the way? I'd imagine it would raise quite some suspicion, both from those who are oblivious and aware of its nature."

  6. #4206
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Vier Wolff
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club - Garage
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994
    Weather: Overcast

    "You'll need this if you wanna make a headway with that."

    Before Vier could make her way out of the garage, a sudden voice called out to her, setting her instincts momentarily into overdrive. The person who had talked had appeared almost like out of nowhere, moving so silently that even her senses had failed to pick up any sign of him. Though as Vier raised her eyes to meet those of the intruder, the reason for this became abundantly clear. Indeed, there, standing in the shadows... was Hawthorn. The gunslinger in black, practically melting soundlessly into the shadows with the sort of perfection that could only be supernatural.

    It must have been because of his nocturnal nature and heritage.

    "Go at it the wrong way and you'll launch the alarms," Hawthorn said with a dry smirk as he brandished something in his hand. "Well, lucky for you, I'm here to make your life easier."

    There was something in his right hand, held between his fingers. No, not just something. That thing... it was a keycard. A pitch-black keycard with nothing written on it, aside from what looked to be a white bar code pattern on the other side. Considering this situation, and the slight aura of smugness that emanated from the man... there was only one thing that this card could be. And Vier's suspicions were confirmed as Hawthorn glanced towards the safe, and more specifically, its lock.

    ... Had this been why he headed to the second floor earlier today? To get that card from Pinkerton's office?

    "Still, suppose I should have just risked waking Lia up. Looks like you god a head-start on me," the older man chuckled and walked into the garage proper. "Well, no matter. You look paranoid enough that you want to know what's inside, just because. And unlike Liana, you're not afraid to get your hands dirty. Or keep secrets."

    Without missing a beat, he made his way to the safe and with a flick of his wrist, threw the card over to Vier to catch. Then he leaned onto the wall, folded his arms, and levelled a smirk towards the girl, narrowing his eyes.

    "--- Let's get to it, then, shall we? We don't have much time."

    That smirk showed his fangs.

    "By my guess, Lia will be here in under ten minutes."




    Liana Skye & Colt Davin
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994
    Weather: Overcast

    "Y-yeah, this is totes embarrassing but..."

    Aleen answered with a strange sort of voice, sounding almost like she was stifling something. At the same time she wriggled uncomfortably in Liana's arms, freeing up one of her hands so that she could use it... use it to touch her own forehead, which seemed to be sweating even more heavily than before. At the same time, an odd sort of coloration began to overtake the bluehead's face, and a rather self-derisive smile rose to her dry lips.

    "But, you know... swinging me around like that..." Aleen continued, her voice slightly stammering. "... I'm not in any condition to be embarrassed right now. If anything, that thing you j-just did threw my head around enough that..."

    Suddenly her eyes widened and Aleen slapped her free hand over her mouth.

    "------ RuntothetoiletsnowLianagoooooo!"

    A hurried, muffled voice cried out from underneath that hand, Aleen sounding like she was holding back something dangerous.

    Meanwhile, away from the fast-brewing disaster, Colt had made his way over to the Omkara siblings who had been sharing one of the couches to sleep together - the younger sister nestled up against her big brother in a way that told much of just how worried she had been, despite Kajal not actually showing it. Luckily enough, it seemed that a good night's sleep had done wonders to Jayesh's condition, and some of his more obvious wounds and bruises had started to heal already, revealing that just like most of the people here, he truly was a member of the supernatural side of the world.

    However, as Colt prepared to enact his reve--- to wake the siblings up in a completely normal way that was not a single bit petty or vengeful, he suddenly heard a tiny crack as he put his foot forward, bringing him to the side of the couch.

    As he looked back, he saw what looked to be a tiny piece of glass, something he had stepped on and now cracked - but for some reason, that glass seemed to be painted with some sort symbols.

    Immediately, warning bells started ringing in the boy's head.

    But it was all too late, for at that moment - as if awakened from her dream by some sort of mental sign - Kajal's eyes snapped open behind her glasses, and they immediately trained their robotic stare at Colt.

    The silence was deafening.

    At least, until...

    "............ Ah. My prince."

    Kajal let out words of greeting that were even more confusing than the situation so far.

    "--- Have you come to wake me? From my slumber? How daring..." Kajal spoke without an ounce of emotion in her monotone voice. "... Sneaking into lady's bedroom like that."

    Was she making fun of him? She must have been making fun of him.

    But as if things weren't bad enough as they were...!

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

    In that very moment, Jayesh's eyes snapped open as well, revealing their full bloodshot nature.

    "Your what, dearest sister?"

    For some reason, Colt felt like he should run. Like, right now.




    Alexstrasza Lockhart
    Location: Pinefall High Dormitory
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "Break into his room...?"

    Souma cocked an eyebrow at Alexstrasza upon hearing those words. At the same time he gestured for her to walk with him, slowly starting to make his way towards the aforementioned room of Gabi Bahkauv.

    "... That's rather illegal thing to suggest. The teachers would have our hides," the one-eyed boy joked with a soft, silky voice. "Then again, I suppose you are not afraid of these teachers..."

    A chuckle.

    "Are you?

    For some reason, that golden eye snapped towards Alexstrasza, studying her face and her reaction. But why? Was there something that Souma wanted to find out? Or was he just playing idle mind-games with her? Both possibilities were equally possible, of course, and with this guy you never really knew the truth... not unless he came out and said it clearly. And even then, it was hard to say if that was the truth.

    Souma Nubatama truly was a mystery wrapped in enigma - purposefully.

    "Well, if you aren't... then here."

    After a short walk, the duo came to a halt before the door of the boy who had disappeared so mysteriously. Compared to the doors of others, Gabi Bahkauv's didn't seem in any way different, but for some reason there was this sense of... foreboding in the air. Maybe it was all in their heads, or maybe the reality of the situation - the possible death of the effeminate boy - had started to sink in. Especially since, as the blonde girl had noted before, this death wasn't like the ones she had previously grown so accustomed to. This was a premeditated crime, carried out in a way that almost spoke of enjoying such pointless violence and cruelty.

    A death for death's sake.

    "... Want me to do it?" Souma asked, lifting his eyebrow again. "Or, are you confident in your own abilities when it comes to this, too?"

    The boy chuckled again.

    "... You do appear more confident than the girl I saw last Tuesday, after all."




    Prushka?
    Location: Pinefall High Pool Building
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    Ahti snorted and rolled his eyes, but for some reason a smile kept to his lips as he watched Prushka's antics. And it wasn't a mocking smile either - instead there was something warm in there that perhaps the boy himself didn't even realize.

    "Yeah yeah, Imp," the one-eyed boy snarked. "Was practically quaking in my boots over here. And then, of course, I was almost swooning - that's how cool you were. Keep it up, Columbo."

    ... There was definitely sarcasm there, Prushka could sense it.

    Jake, on the other hand, was much more open with his amusement. While he had been far more serious during his retelling of the things from before, now a smile had spread to his face and he chuckled freely, the strain of the topic from before gone from his shoulder. Still amused, he turned around in his swivel chair and opened the mini-fridge he had hid nearby, digging out another red cola can from there. However, after thinking for a moment, he repeated the move two more times, emerging with a total of three cans. The two extras he then threw over to the duo on the other side of the desk - one to Prushka and one to Ahti.

    Just how many cans had the janitor stored away, anyways? It was like he would never run out.

    "Well dudette, if it's not alligators, then it's probably Rodents of Unusual Size. That or NIMH is up to their secret experimentations underneath the school - gotta watch out when the rats finally have their rebellion, or we'll get abducted into a whimsical and goddamn terrifying Don Bluth adventure," Jake joked, wiping his mouth after taking a sip. "What I'm getting at is that there's some weird goddamn noises coming from there at times, and I'm not brave enough to go looking for trouble - and neither should you. I might be the cool and lax janitor to you dudes, but I don't want you to get hurt on my watch. As long as it's not with beer or something."

    He made a joking gesture of downing a bottle in one smooth move.

    "As for the clock tower... I mean yeah - we did try to get in, back in the day. With the old group. But we couldn't get through the damn lock. Whoever set that up knew what they were doing, since not even Devon's little tricks could get it to open up. And since we couldn't find the key, well..." Jake sighed a little and shrugged his shoulders. "What can you do? It's not like we were running out of places to poke our noses into, dude."

    Having said that, Jake too another sip - only for his expression to grow a bit more serious then. Most likely it was due to the other question that Prushka had asked, a question regarding things that the janitor was clear much more tight-lipped about. And indeed, when he finally broke the silence that had lasted for almost uncomfortably long, he did it with a quieter, yet firm, voice.

    "As for the other two cards, dudette... I think I'll leave them on the table. Either deal again or stick with this one," he said, clearly intending on brushing aside those topics completely. "That's not really something I wanna talk about."

    He frowned.

    "Or rather, I won't."




    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Canseliet Clinic
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "I like to think it as good advertisement."

    Dorothy Canseliet replied that with a mischievous smile that was a bit too wide to be completely human.

    "Those who don't understand it just see it as an oddity - often it will even lead them to avoid me, giving me some much-needed peace," she explained while making vague gestured in the air. "As for those who do know... well, they will immediately understand what I have to offer. And if they need it, they will know where to find me. Ways of the old world are, after all, foreign to this land and thus, I've rarely a need to hide myself from fools trying to hunt me."

    In a way, it did make sense. While Europe and lands east of it were full of old tales about the fair folk, the fae and their brethren, America was very different. In a way, it might have had to do with the ban on magic that its founders had set, or maybe it was simply because the old myths of this land were incompatible with those from across the oceans. Whatever the reason, fae were much, much more rare here than they were - for example - back in Britain. Conversely, of course, this meant that there were few of those who would have sought to hunt or harm the fae.

    Still, it did seem a little brazen for the woman to advertise her little clinic in such a way, with what many would have seen as a bad omen or a magical trap.

    "In any case, let's see now..." The good doctor then said, stepping out of the ring's perimeter and walking over to where Allene was. "A patient I've met before, you say? Then, that would probably mean... Aaah~"

    Leaning closer, Dorothy peeked over Hisa's shoulder at the shy girl. Allene let out a little meep and carefully met the inquisitive case of the doctor, and for a moment, the two of them stayed silent. It wasn't until Dr. Canseliet let out a small sigh that the spell was broken, and she reached out to touch Allene's cheek in a gentle way. It was very clear that the fae really did recognize the girl, even after all these years.

    "Ahh, yes, you...I do remember you, child. It is good to see you again, though I'm not happy to know that you're still suffering. I told that woman what my price was, and what the price of failing to address the issue would be, but... well, I guess I cannot blame her either," Dorothy said, before throwing a slightly somber glance towards Hisa. "I did indeed diagnose this child a long time ago - and I even found a way with which to help her. Unfortunately, the woman who brought her here was... unwilling to pay the price."

    Letting go of Allene, Dorothy leaned back and shrugged, her over-sized sleeves flapping in the air.

    "--- Unfortunately, I cannot change my powers, even though I sometimes wish I could. A trade must happen, one way or another. That is the only way for me to help anyone," she explained. "And as tradition is, I must ask for something that is precious to the other party. Some humans see money as important, which makes things easy, but every now and then..."

    She left the words hanging. After all, there was no need to finish them. Hisa knew enough about the fae to know what the doctor meant. Unlike mages or mystics, the magic that these creatures was as symbolic and entrenched in folklore as they themselves were. If you wished for the power or blessings of the fae, there was always a price, no matter the story. They were no djinn of the deserts, able to grant wishes with a snap of their fingers - rather, they took something from you in exchange for giving something back. Whether it was your firstborn, a promise, a wedding proposal... the specifics changed, but something was always required in exchange - and it was always something important to the person.

    ... So that was probably the reason. The price for Allene's healing had been too steep for Josie McLampet to pay. And considering what Hisa knew of the woman... it didn't sound like she he that many important things left. Or rather, she had very little to begin with.

    Well, it was hard to say. People's thoughts were usually their own, as were their decisions.

    "S-so, um... you can heal me, then?" Allene asked, looking up at Dorothy hopefully. "You can make the sun stop hurting me?"

    A twinge of sadness appeared on the doctor's face.

    "Yes. I can. And I want to. But only if someone pays the price..."

    It was at that moment that an odd realization came upon Hisa as she watched how the doctor acted. Fae were notorious for how distanced they were from humanity as a whole, and how alien they often felt. One could say that the fae folk rarely cared at all what happened to the humans they interacted with, and saw them as nothing more than yet another animal of the forests they could have fun with, one way or another.

    But this Dorothy Canseliet... she meant it when she said that she wanted to heal Allene. As rare as it was, this woman seemed to genuinely feel sad for the plights of the people that came to her. Only, even if she did, she was as much a prisoner of her own powers as others were.

    ... What on earth could change a fae so much that they'd feel genuine empathy for humans?

    "... Come. Let us sit while we talk," Dorothy suddenly said, catching everybody's attention. "Better than to stand around the driveway like this. Oh, and don't worry..."

    She grinned slightly and pointedly looked at Hisa.

    "--- I promise my circle won't enchant or harm any of you, even if you enter it."

    With that, Dorothy Canseliet started walking towards the garage door that still open. At some point, a small table and a bunch of antique-looking chair shad appeared there, making for what looked to be a small tea party at the foot of the house. The open garage door that had been drawn up even served as an awning of sorts to shield from the weather. And now that they all looked more clearly, wasn't there a brass kettle on the table, along with plenty of porcelain cups? At what point had all this appeared? And did that bunch of ferrets that skittered away back into the house have something to do with it?

    "Take a seat wherever you like," Dorothy said while starting to pour tea into cups. "Sugar can be found in this cup. And while some might favour it, I do not recommend milk or cream with this tea. The taste of apricot may get... muddled."

    Apricot tea? Another strange choice for a strange fae.

    "Now, as I said before - I did come with a way to treat the child here," the doctor continued talking while serving the tea. "However, there are some... complications with that. If you are as interested in medicine as you say, I think you will understand. The problem with her is not here..."

    Dorothy gestured towards her body.

    "But rather, here," she said and pointed her sleeved hand to her head.

    Then, a slightly sardonic smile spread to her face.

    "And while I am good at dealing with the problems of here..." Again, Dorothy gestured towards her body, before pointing at her head once more. "When it comes to here, there is only so much I can do - after all, I'm not a human."




    Elise Pelltier & Lucille Faraday
    Location: Avery's Diner
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    Samuel nodded and took a sip from his drink. He set aside his eating utensils and leaned back in his chair, collecting his thoughts for a moment, gazing back into whatever memories he had of that day - of the most tragic day of his life, and indeed the lives of many people from back then.

    Slowly but surely, a frown started to settle on his face.

    "I'm... not sure about the tragedies that happened later or after, or if there's a pattern. In all honesty, it's still a bit hard to remember everything, or center myself," he said. "Then again. I suppose that makes sense. Spend seven years dreaming, and even the real world starts to feel like a dream..."

    Finally the young man seemed to have found a good place to start as he leaned forward once more, looking at both the girls.

    "... Alright, then. This story... it starts after we realized that Nevada was gone. He didn't show up to our usual meeting place, and after we drilled him a bit about, Tommy revealed that he had gotten into an argument with him. They both wanted to show off to Remmie. To find the 'Devil's Dishes', a semi-famous local bit of folklore," Samuel explained. "However, the way there was... treacherous. Dangerous. And we all knew it. And since he had been missing the whole night, we... eventually decided to go after him."

    An unhappy smile passed by Samuel's face.

    "We thought we could catch up with him before he got into trouble."

    And then Samuel began his tale...


    Samuel Lowgate
    Location: Ghostwood National Forest
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 22.11.1987 (SUN)
    Weather: Rain

    "The rain isn't letting up..."

    The first words that anyone in the group had spoken in a long while came from Rachel.

    One by one, each pair of eyes in the group of nine youngsters of varying ages turned to look at the one who had spoken - the redhead with a penchant for tropically coloured clothing that she had, this time, topped off with a rain poncho that reached all the way to her ankles. Rachel Halloway, the so-called 'teenage heiress' of the local hotel, Owl's Nest, had never been the most vocal fan of the group's little trips to the various hard-to-access places around Road's End, but this time, her words were not meant as a complaint. Instead, they were more of an observation and acknowledgement that this would make the task ahead of them even harder.




    "... My aunt's gonna throttle me," Rachel whimpered quietly, before shaking her head. "Well... I'll gladly take that if it means we'll turn this around. Has everybody got their stuff? I brought the MREs."

    She turned to look around the group that surrounded her, each one of the other eight members of their little group.

    The first one to nod was a slightly older youth with a long, silver hair and a confident smile... well, he usually had. This time there was something else to it, a sort of grim determination that he tried not to display - an acknowledgment that the reason for this mess was not the usual curiosity and wanderlust that they all shared. This young man, of course, was the unofficial second-in-command for the group, and the big brother they all looked up to, more or less.


    "Yeah. I've got my tools and such, plus a compass and other things," Jake Briggs replied. "What about the rest of you dudes and dudettes? Anyone forget anything?"

    The one to immediately shake his head was the boy next to Jake, with a raven-black hair held on a braid and a rather stylish look when compared to the others. It was the sign of his teenage rebellion against his father, with whom he shared much more than his first name. Perhaps that was why the son of the local mechanic refused to acknowledge his heritage in any way, instead looking like an up-and-coming yuppie from New York.


    "I've got my tools as well, in case we need to craft anything on the spot," Tommy Horse said and patted his backpack. "Plus extra batteries if our flashlights run out.

    "Good," another male voice answered him. "That'll be helpful if this drags out long and if the weather keeps up."

    The one to speak was the tallest boy of the group, dressed in neat but practical clothing. He also carried what looked to be the heaviest backpack of the group, but the reason for it was also clear. They had all seen him meticulously fill it to the brim with medical supplies and other assorted items that would help in case any one of them hurt during the search. Which made sense, considering that such work was the passion of the boy in question.


    "I made a list and checked it twice," Albert Roslin said with a nod and a tip of his cap. "We're all good on my end."

    After the boy had said that, naturally everyone turned to look at the remaining members of the group. Most of them didn't have as specialized items they were bringing with them, but each one was holding either a flashlight or an electric torch, and carrying some sort of hiking equipment. Aside from those necessities there was also the collapsible poles that one of the boys was carrying - an emergency stretcher if need for one became apparent. The boy holding onto it was dressed much lighter than the rest of them, but the cold didn't seem to bother him - and neither did the rain. If anything, it made his crimson stare even more focused and intense - one enhanced by the red raincoat he pulled over his shoulders.


    "... No need to worry. I remembered this," Devon Rustfield spoke and pointed to what he was carrying, his voice quiet yet determined. "And then... I've also got this."

    He patted the combat knife hanging from his belt - an action which made Jake frown.

    "Well, let's hope we won't need that, dude - except for cutting down branches or something," the older boy said, before his frown deepened and he glanced over to the girl near Devon. "... And let's hope we won't need that either."

    The girl in question snorted and adjusted the rifle she had slung over her shoulder from its strap. it was a slightly older yet well-maintained weapon, a hunting rifle from the looks of it and clearly had seen its fair share of use. And the way the short girl was handling the thing, she seemed to be as used to it as the clothes she wore - mostly various shades of grey and black. Her green eyes stared unflinchingly back at Jake.


    "Pays to bring it with. You do know there are bears and cougars in the area, right J? Not to mention even an elk can gore you if you play your cards right," the girl said while chewing on some pitch gum. "Besides, the sound of a rifle will carry much farther than any of us can yell, dummy. So yeah, stop it with that frown already. You know I'm right. Hmph."

    Jake's expression faltered a little bit, and eventually he relented with a sigh. There really wasn't arguing with this girl... the girl their group called just "Max". Mostly because her real name "Maxine Savage" irked her something fierce. Thus, the nickname had stuck just as well as that gum she liked stuck to whatever she spat it at when she was done with it.


    "... What about Remmie?"

    The question that broke the slightly awkward atmosphere was asked with a soft voice. Near the rear of the group, a boy in baggy clothing and with a fluffy mop of hair on his head looked at the rest of his friend with question in his eyes. While he didn't look like he was exactly dressed for a nature hike in drizzling rain, he was still moving through the undergrowth like a pro, having not even stumbled once. This was, of course, Samuel Lowgate - the usual "eyes in the rear" whenever their group went out to adventuring.

    Even now, when it wasn't really an "adventure" anymore, this was the case.

    "------ Remmie said she'd catch up later," Jake answered, his face hardening into an expression of someone who didn't agree with this decision made by their fearless leader. "In other words... we'll just press on. So, let's go, dudes and dudettes. We've got a proper hike ahead of us."

    Together, the group nodded their heads and their expressions settled into focused, determined looks. Each one of them knew that this was a far cry from their usual outings which were mostly for fun and out of curiosity. This time things were deadly serious... and this time, the consequences of screwing up would be harsh.

    Even the youngest of the group knew this - the two travelling in the middle of the nine-person team.

    "Umm..."

    One of the kids, the one with blonde hair and bright blue eyes raised her voice. She was dressed cutesy clothing that she personally didn't much care for, but which her mother apparently adored. Her eyes scanned her older friend as if searching for someone, but when they didn't find her, she settled to look at Jake who had taken the lead, as usual when Remmie wasn't around.


    "What... what about Angelica?" Patricia Griffith asked, sounding worried. "Ain't she coming with us...?"

    The girl next to her, the one with pale, pink hair and very simple clothing, said nothing. Instead, her eyes bore into Jake, as if emphasizing the question that had been asked by the blonde next to her. Indeed, the girl practically never said anything. Instead her liquid eyes were the only things that could convey any emotions. Every now and then she would pipe in with an odd sound, but this wasn't one of those times.


    "..........."

    Instead, Eliya used her silence as a question in itself - one that echoed Patricia's.

    "Angelica... she went on ahead. Meaning, she's already tracking him down," Jake finally replied, having half-forced those words out of his mouth. "I heard Remmie and her arguing about what to do, and apparently, she thinks it's too dangerous for us others to come so... well, so she stole a headstart. We're chasing after her as much as we're chasing after Nevada."

    Others, upon hearing this, fell silent.

    Well, everyone else but Max. Upon hearing this piece of news, her eyebrows shot towards her hairline.

    "Angie did...? Wait. That doesn't make sense. Out of all of us, I thought Angie was the only one who actually knew where the Devil's Dishes are - only she wasn't telling us 'cause Remmie would have gone and done something stupid. Including getting the military on our asses," the tomboy spoke up and drilled Jake with her stare. "So why the hell is Angie now 'tracking' him? She should already know how to get there, and we have no way of catching up in time."

    The silence that followed was as quiet as a cemetery. One by one, those stares turned to look at their second-in-command who was leading them through the undergrowth and deeper into the forest, up the slopes of Ghostwood and further and further towards the people they were chasing after. Jake's mouth had become a thin white line, and it was almost like he was struggling underneath unseen pressure from the attention of his friends...

    ... But it wasn't Jake who broke. Or broke the silence.

    "T-that's... that's because Nevada isn't headed for the Dishes! Not at first!"

    --- It was Tommy.

    "I-I mean... when we talked last night, we knew that Angie wouldn't slip up or reveal anything about where they were... so if someone actually wanted to find them, we'd have to search for another w-way," Tommy spoke, hesitantly, clearly crushed by the guilt he was feeling. "... Then... then I brought up that thing we heard from Ms. Boulders last year when she was d-drunk... the only proper h-hint we've gotten how to get there, and I think... Nevada thinks that he can use it to find the Dishes, by... by going to that place first, and then heading south..."

    Even in the rain, it was hard to not realize that Tommy was holding back some pitiful tears. His friends all averted their gazes, some more than others, realizing that though he did have responsibility when it came to all this, it was useless to blame him now.

    "Listen dudes... what's done is done. You all know how heated Nevada can get. He always feels he has something to prove, especially when it comes to Remmie and... well Tommy went too far. But we can cry over spilt milk later," Jake stepped back into the conversation. "What's important is that while Nevada ain't heading straight to the Devil's Dishes, he's headed somewhere else just as troublesome first. And... even more than the Devil's Dishes, we want to catch him before he makes his way there. Everyone got that?"

    Throwing a meaningful look over his shoulder, Jake waited until everyone acknowledged his words with a nod. Max, however, stared back somewhat defiantly even after she nodded, facing Jake's stare with her own glare.

    "And that place, the one Boulders told us about... you're meaning that place, right?" She asked. "'Head up the slope of White Pine Mountain, straight from the end of the crevice and off the beaten path.'? That one? Are you actually serious, guys?"

    Patricia, looking alarmed at the hostility in her friend's voice, let out a tiny squeak.

    "U-um... what's this place y'all keep talking about?" She asked, her voice wavering a bit. "Is it even worse than Devil's Dishes...?"

    Max kept her mouth shut, angrily chewing on her pitch gum. Instead, it was Rachel who opened her mouth to answer.

    "--- Yeah. It is."

    She clicked her tongue as she pushed aside a grand branch of a pine tree reaching down to the eye-level.

    "He's first headed to the Ol' Hangman Tree," the heiress spoke quietly, as if talking about something sinister and disgusting. "The Worrywell Grove, in other words."

    That word caused everyone in the group to shiver, even though they could barely feel the rain trickling through the thick canopy of trees spreading above them.

    While Patricia may have been still slightly confused, all the locals knew about the Worrywell Grove. Or rather, they knew that they knew precious little about it, and for a reason - it was a local folktale that every adult was mum about, and refused to even acknowledge. And if someone accidentally brought it up, all they got as an answer was a stone-dead silence. It was as if the whole town was trying to erase the existence and the memory of that place once and for all, and even acknowledging that its existence was too much. For all intents and purposes, to the populatioon of Road's End, the Worrywell Grove did not exist.

    Except, of course, it did. There was no denying that. And the more the adults did, the more the local kids got curious about it, until they all - one way or another - came to learn something about it that made them end their investigation right then and there. In fact, for most of the people in the group, it had been investigation into the Worrywell Grove that had brought them together in the first place... and the realization of what that place really was that had made them decide to leave that place alone.

    Long time ago, in the 60's, the town of Road's End had used the large sycamore tree that lay at the center of that clearing to... hang someone. To lynch them.

    That's the only way it could be described.

    Lynching.

    Since then, the area had changed, as if stained by the horrible act that the townspeople had performed. Grass, bushes, trees... everything withered and died in the area of the clearing, turning to nothing but ashen ground and blackened husks of their former selves. The dirt itself hardened and cracked, dead leaves covered it and did not decompose properly and the tree at the center of it all... it changed as well. The bark became deep, sickly black and the stems sprouting from it twisted and turned, as if writhing in agony. The leaves that grew were practically dead and a sense of wrongness hung about it like a thick, choking fog.

    That tree would thus became known as the Old Hangman. For even to this day, the rope used to perform that miserable deed still swung silently in the wind, attached to one of the overhanging branches.

    --- Everyone in Road's End knew the truth. There was something wrong with that place.

    And thus nobody spoke of it. For if even the memory of the place and what had happened there was erased, then perhaps the place, too, would simply... disappear.

    Out of sight, out of mind.

    "... Is that also why you're in such a hurry?"

    The sudden question that pierced the silence caught everyone unawares. Eyes turned to look at the source, and found that Devon Rustfield, his intense stare now a proper glare, had thrown it at the back of Jake. The older boy narrowed his eyes a little bit, masking a pained expression that was about to break through.

    "What... do you mean, Devon?" Jake asked. "Dude, the only reason I want to get there fast is because Nevada---"

    "Yes. Because of Nevada. But... is that the only reason?" Devon pushed forth, catching up to the boy in lead. "Are you sure it's not also because of what you always talk about? How Remmie and Angie are leaving us behind? How they're always moving few steps ahead of us, never for us to catch up? Are you sure... are you sure this isn't also just a chance for you to catch up to both of them, a good excuse to go to those places they warn us away from? Because you want to stand side-by-side with them, not always be led by them?"

    The words were harsh, but not without merit. Just about everyone in the group had heard Jake talk about it once or twice. How he felt that both Remington and Angelica moved in a realm of their own, and thus, how the rest were never properly equal with them. Unlike Tommy or Nevada, it was unsure if it was because he harbored feelings for either of the girls, but nevertheless... he had said it. So the idea of having an excuse, even if it was as macabre as this, to invade into that world they kept the group out of... it almost seemed like what the boy might use to his advantage.

    Of course, it hadn't started at that, no. But when the chance came... yes. 'A chance makes a thief', so to speak.

    Jake Briggs had just as much to prove as everyone else, even if he hid it.

    "... No."

    His response, however, was firm and slightly cold. The older boy turned his back to Devon and kept on marching forward, further up the slope of the forested mountain.

    "It's not. I wouldn't... I wouldn't do that. I'm here because Nevada is my friend, and I want to help him. And if Angie's there, I want to help her too, dude," Jake continued to talk without looking back. "The reason why we're going... why I'm going... is because even though they say no, Nevada is just as important to me as he is to them. And I want to help. Any way I can. Even if they think us as useless in this situation... I wanna help, dude. Somehow."

    Surprisingly enough, a somewhat bitter chuckle emerged from Jake's lips.

    "It's like that thing Angie always talks about. You know? That thing?" The older boy said. "How there's someone waiting for her she has to help. A sister 'up ahead' she has to save, no matter the cost. And that's why she's doing all of this, to prepare herself for that day, because she has the conviction. Because she's preparing herself for the hardships to come. Even if it'll hurt."

    Jake nodded to himself.

    "I'm also preparing to get hurt. Because my conviction is to also save someone important to me."

    With those words, the group fell silent once more.

    It was hard to say how many of the eight youngsters believed what Jake had said. Some might, some might have not. But they did understand that he was prepared for whatever was up ahead, and he was willing to put himself in risk because of it - because of Nevada. And that was something they all could agree to. If they hadn't they wouldn't have come here, and instead, they would have obeyed Remington's orders and waited for her at the A.D.'s. As they walked forward, they all weighed on the risks in their mind, thought about what might be up ahead and what it might cost them... but eventually they all understood that they would have never forgiven themselves had they headed back now.

    Thus, each in their own way, they agreed with Jake - even if they might not have believed him.

    And so they put one foot after another. They continued to climb and they continued to invade deeper and deeper into the Ghostwood.

    Of course, what they did not know at the time was... had they known what truly would happen, and the extent of what would happen, more than one of them might have stopped in their tracks and turned back home.

    --- Yet they did not.

    So they trudged forward.

    Above them, the canopy of trees slowly swayed in the winds streaming down the slopes of the White Pine Mountain. Dreary, gunship-grey clouds hung low and sailed towards parts unknown, unloading their cargo of slowly drizzling, chilling rain over the town of Road's End and its vicinity. For anyone outside in this weather, if they were not dressed properly, that cold would seep into their very bones and burrow so deep that it would take hours to get out, even with the warmest of fireplaces. And out here, in the wild, that effect was even more pronounced.

    Despite the day having started not too long ago, it was as if shadows were already growing, becoming longer and growing dogs' fangs that distorted their edges - made them appear far more malevolent than they probably were. The old, ancient trees creaked as if they were crying, and the rustling of leaves sounded akin to slowly creeping hands gently rubbing against old bolt of silk.

    The sounds of the town were far away now - so far that they could not even be heard. Gone was even the sight of Road's End and its buildings nestled at the bay. Even the cliffside where the white giant of the town, that odd lighthouse they all knew, had disappeared into the rain. From this far up, looking back (if one could see through the trees at all) it was as if a massive patch of fog had just swallowed everything up. There was nothing more in the world. Nothing more than them, the woods and the ever-present slope that just climbed higher and higher. And the only sound to really accompany the group and their footfalls was the cawing of a crow somewhere far away. Rest of the forest... was silent. Silent like a cemetery.

    It wasn't only until hours later than Jake finally spoke up.

    "--------- We're here."

    Words that sent shivers down everyone's spines - shivers that did not come from the cold or the rain.

    No, they came from the sight that lay before them.


    A massive sycamore tree, standing in the middle of a dead clearing. Blackened grass, blackened leaves, dry and cracked soil. A frozen, stagnated slice of something dark that refused to disappear from the memories of this town. No, it was wrong to even call it dead. After all, whatever is dead will eventually turn to ash proper and fade away. Nothing here had faded away. It was like whatever had died refused to decompose - instead becoming some sort of macabre display case of something horrible that had happened a long time ago. A testament to what sort of secrets could be hiding in a place you thought you knew.

    And at the center of it, was the sycamore tree.

    Leaves like puddles of crude oil.

    Twisted trunk of ashen bark.

    A frayed noose slowly rocking in the dead wind.

    An over it all, like a thick, suffocating blanket... a feeling of wrongness that burrowed into one's very bone marrow.

    And the only bit of colour in that whole blackened world was---

    "-------- Angie!"

    Letting out a surprised, horrified scream, Rachel sprinted forward, having been the first to realize the white shape that had collapsed onto the forest floor near the middle of the clearing. Indeed, there, down in the ground, was the shape of a certain older girl they all recognized. Silver hair, light blue eyes, light frame... she was definitely one of the two people they had been after. And upon that recognition, everyone else started to move as well. The group hurried forward, like in a bad dream, the time having slowed down to a crawl. They all reached out for the one person they thought they'd never see like that - her powers spent and down for the count.

    But as Rachel reached her first, as the girl knelt besides her... something else happened.

    A noise.

    A strange sort of beeping, crackling noise that was the stuff of nightmares.

    And it came from the backpack of Albert Roslin, whose eyes widened in horror and surprise.

    "Radiation...?" The boy muttered, looking at the clearing with disbelief. "In here? But... why? I thought---"

    --- That was as far as he got.

    The others who were sprinting towards Angelica as well?

    --- That was as far as they got.

    And as for Rachel Halloway, right next to the girl?

    --- That was as far as she got.

    Because on that very moment...



    ... Something massive slammed into Rachel, sending her flying and crashing into the trees outside the clearing.

    The sound of the redhead hitting a tree and dropping to the ground with a thud was like a gong in the ears of those present. They saw how her unconscious rolled around once, blood trickling down from her scalp. Her chest rose, slightly, indicating that she was still alive... but no longer responsive. A scream echoed somewhere from within Patricia's throat, but they were barely able to hear it - and even that sound was stiffled as one-by-one, the eyes of the group fell upon the dark, looming silhouette that had attacked them out of nowhere. A giant shape, a blot of pure darkness in the center of the dead clearing. A massive form whose every breath let out a cloud of steam through which a single red eye, like an ominous star, shone with malevolent fury.





    "-------------"

    It was a giant.

    There was no other word for it. A giant. A monster. A nightmare.

    And they could all feel existencial fury that radiated from it like a scorching hot aura.

    It was uncontrollable rage.

    Like a deep, searing wound that screamed out in pain.

    Whatever that thing was, it was in massive amounts of pain - and the only way it could try to ease it was to destroy everything around it.

    Three seconds stretched into eternity as the group gazed with fear upon the giant.

    Until...

    "Run--------!"

    Jake's order resonated loud and clear in the air, acting like a starting pistol of a race.

    From there, everything was chaos.




    Tommy turned tail in the face of the monster, yet one of the tentacles lashed out, drawing a deep cut into his back that painted the forest floor red. Yet still the braid-headed boy sprinted back towards the edge - but not to get away from it all. No, instead, his eyes were dead-set on the two smallest figures of the group. With one desperate dash, he made it all the way to Eliya and Patricia and grabbed them both into his arms, before continuing his dash towards the treeline.

    Behind him, the beast let out an ear-piercing screech, a roar of agony.



    "You bastaaaaaaarrrdd---!"

    Crimson shadow was upon it.

    Coming down from the heavens with a furious lunge, Devon Rustfield buried his Der Nagel deep into the creature's flesh, anger making his crimson eyes vibrant and burning.

    Yet though he drew acidic blood that scorched the clothes of those near him, one of the tree-trunk like arms rose. It rose, and it fell, swinging down and crushing him underneath its massive weight.




    "Devon!"

    Albert screamed, seeing his friend get buried into the soil with a single strike. He did not understand what the boy had done or how he could have moved so fast, but even with that mysterious power, he had been defeated with a single strike.

    Meanwhile, the taller boy had managed to make it all the way to Rachel to check up on her. Luckily, it did not seem she was grievously wounded - but it would definitely hurt when she would wake up.

    But at that moment, as Albert turned his eyes back towards the ensuing chaos, he saw it.

    One of the tentacles of the monster opened up and set forth a burst of high-pressure liquid, like a shot from a cannon.




    Desperately, he threw himself over Rachel, to guard the unconscious girl with her body.

    "Ghhh--! This monster---!"

    Seeing her friends get pummeled by the kinetic shots of the liquid cannon that the monster wielded, Max hoisted her rifle upwards and aimed it squarely at the monster's face. She didn't have to understand what it was to know that there must have been some way to hurt it - and right now, the only immediate thing that popped out to her was that single eye at the center of its head.

    "Stay still you bastard...!" Max muttered as her finger quivered on the trigger. "Come on come on come on...!"

    Unlike before, the monster was now on the move. And not because it had started chasing after them all, now.

    Instead of running after the escaping teens, it had found something that could stop its wrathful charge.

    The most unexpected opponent.

    --- The soft-spoken and calm Samuel Lowgate.





    Wielding an armor and weapons Max had never seen before, Samuel bopped and weaved through the monsters strikes, managing to counter and riposte at almost every turn. Though no matter how me times he struck, it didn't seem to affect the creature at all. It bled acid, eating through the forest floor and the blackened grass, yet it did not slow down. It came back even twice the fury, even twice the ferocity, and then---!

    It struck, faster than before, and almost managed to catch Samuel unawares. With a desperate move, he managed to block the attack by expanding the Arma Christi he had been carrying into a much larger wooden pole.

    During that time, as their bodies collided, Samuel suddenly felt it.

    The same thing that the others must have felt, too.

    The familiar sensation in that aura of anguish.

    The voice in that screaming cacophony was all too known to him, as it was to others.

    His weapons and hands faltered, just for a moment, because in that split of a second, he understood.

    The identity of that giant, it was---!



    --- Yet that standstill was something Max had been waiting for.

    "Die you freak---!"



    Shouting that curse, Max pulled a trigger and sent a bullet flying. It whistled through the air as if in a slowed down movie. Cutting down the distance in mere fraction of a second that was, to their eyes, like the slowest of crawls, and yet---!

    Blood.

    This time, it was actual blood.

    Not this acid-like substance.

    Actual blood.

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

    And the monster screamed, howled in agony.



    Strengthened by its pain, it crushed Samuel's defense and rammed him against the ground with its massive fist. Then it reached around, caught a hold of the first thing it got into its hands, and swung it towards Max, intending to throw the item.

    Only, it was no item at all. What the monster caught was Jake Briggs, who had tried to sneak up behind the creature to find a weak spot. And what it had taken hold of was his hair.

    There was a disgusting ripping sound as the silver mane that Jake had been so proud of was ripped unceremoniously, leaving him with only the torn remains.




    And then the boy, thrown like out of a cannon, collided with Max and the two teens were sent flying into different directions.

    "N-no..."

    Desperately struggling to his feet even though that singular strike had rattled his bones as if they were broken, Samuel gazed up at the beast before him. He saw how its tentacles formed two more cannons - one which kept shooting at Albert who desperately endured the pain to protect Rachel, while the other opened a barrage towards Tommy who threw himself in front of Patricia and Eliya to protect them. He saw how it raised its left hand and practically swatted away Devon who had gotten back up, looking like he was suffering from a major concussion. The boy was thrown so hard against a nearby pine tree that he went through it, causing the thing to topple. He saw how its ominous red eye, bleeding crimson, hatefully focused on Max who had most likely broken her foot during the collision with Jake - and Jake who couldn't even get up thanks to the searing pain coursing through his body and his head.

    Samuel, try as he might, found it hard to even lift his weapons.

    What a riot.

    What an utter failure.

    He was supposed to be an inquisitor and yet... and yet...!

    --- Right now, he was a mere shadow of his brother, who would have surely found a way out of this nightmare...!

    Yet, as the soft-spoken boy prepared himself to charge at the monster again, to buy even a little more time before it reached Max...!





    "-------- I told you guys not to come."

    At the edge of the clearing stood a single girl.

    In her hands was a gun.

    A twisting, spiraling weapon that radiated energy that overwhelmed even the aura of the monster ahead.

    The girl was plain. She was dressed plain. She did not seem all that special.

    Yet the fierce look in her eyes was enough to give the giant a pause.

    "But... I guess you wouldn't be you, my friends, if you hadn't."

    With sadness, the girl with the gun looked at the carnage that had been wrought. How beatend and battered her friends were, how much they were hurting. Lastly, her eyes set to the downed form of the silver-haired older girl. That made her brow knit together into an even more furious look, as if something in the sight itself had caused anger to well within her.

    "... Goddammit Angelica. This isn't where you're supposed to fall. You've got a sister to save, remember?" The plain girl spoke quietly, between her gritted teeth. "You talk all big about killing your heart to ensure the future, yet look where you are right now..."

    Then, as if a decision had been made, the plain girl turned her eyes towards the monster.

    "Hey. You."

    She called out to it.






    "This is between you and me, isn't it? So leave the others out of it," the girl said, lifting the gun she was holding. "If you don't... I won't hesitate to use this."

    Silence was her answer.

    In that bleeding crimson eye, the girl could see it. The monster ahead would not stop. Anguish was bleeding out of it like a wildfire, and it would continue to hurt everything around it to ease that suffering even just a little bit. It was like multiple voices were shrieking silently within it, trying to claw at their own throat just to be able to breathe - yet finding no reprieve. This beast would not stop unless it was stopped, for the madness and howling ■■■■ within it could not be quenched.

    Thus, the girl came to a decision - just as the monster did.

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

    The nightmare roared.

    And the girl...!

    "---- Fine! I'm sorry, but you're leaving me no choice!"

    The giant ran.

    Like a whirlwind, like a freight-train out of bounds.

    But it was not fast enough.

    The gun had already been trained at it.

    And with a squeeze of the trigger...




    "----------- I'm sorry!"

    Remington Hartley sent a bullet flying through the air.

    It was like a jackhammer or a wrecking bell had hit the giant. It flew backwards, having been hit by a metaphysical cannon instead of a revolver. The massive form stumbled, nearly fell, yet it struggled and stayed upright - despite the gaping hole in its armor made out of living tissue.



    So Remington bulled the trigger again.



    And again.




    And again.




    And again.

    Finally, the giant's back hit the blackened, dead sycamore tree at the center of the clearing. The monster heaved heavily, gurgled its own blood, yet it refused to die. Even the terrible powers of the gun the girl was wielding were unable to bring it down. Each bullet hit, without a fail - and each strike was fatal. But the biological armor that the monster was building took that death and discarded it. The form was alive only by sacrificing more and more of itself each time it was struck.

    And now even that way of escape had been cut of.

    It had ran out of power, and Remington knew it.

    Thus, with tears streaming down her face, she took a look at the anguished monster once more and...

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

    Uttered those words before she pulled the trigger a sixth time.




    A massive ripping sound echoed through the clearing. The form of the giant burst through the Old Hangman and cut the tree in half with sheer kinetic force. That final, sixth shot had thrown the creature backwards with such much force that it had gone through the dreaded tree and beyond it, and with a groaning that sounded almost like moans of the dead, the tree began to fall, toppling over and crashing into the surrounding forest with a massive sound, leaving behind only a pitiful stump where the symbol of fear had once stood.

    Everything... was silent.

    The forest.

    The clearing.

    The monster.

    And the teens who had bore witness to it all.

    Until...

    "---- Guys!"

    With a horrified cry, Remington dashed forward, running towards the wounded. She arrived where Max, Jake, Samuel and others had gathered more or less, and knelt besides the tomboy in black. At the same time, she threw aside the gun she had been holding and it bounced off the dead forest floor, flying away from everybody's reach. With tears in her eyes, Remington started sobbing apologies of not making it sooner and promising that everything would be alright, that no matter what happened she would be there to protect them. Just from her voice it was clear that whatever facade of determination and anger she had shown before was already crumbling and what was revealed from beneath it was the girl they all knew.

    A worrywart that constantly fussed over the safety of her friends.

    A person with boundless empathy who would cry tears for anyone's sake.

    A trusted ally who would defend those she knew till her last breath.

    That was Remington Hartley, after all. Even in a situation like this, she was her normal self.

    But... it was not her that Samuel's eyes were glued to.

    No, kneeling there, his strength spent, the boys eyes idly, as if it had been a draw, watched with curiosity at the discarded revolver that now lay on the ground. No, not just the revolver. There was something else there too, wasn't there?

    A hand.

    A humanoid hand, shrouded in darkness.

    One that had emerged from the smoldering corpse of the giant, covered in blood.

    A hand that reached out for the gun, caught a hold of it, and with agonizingly slow movement, slowly raised it, and aimed it...

    Aimed it...

    Straight towards...



    "DON'T KILL HER, NEVADAAAAAAAAA!!!!"


    Patricia's scream pierced the veil of dream for them all. It was a haunting sound that would stay with everyone present for as long as they lived. Yet, at the same time, it was the only thing that snapped Samuel out of his stupor and allowed him to rush on his feet.

    Rush on his feet.

    Dive forward.

    Reach out with his body.

    And protect---!




    Everything was shrouded in static, like a broken TV screen.

    Something in Samuel's head hurt, pulsated and felt painfully raw. He could feel the cold mountain air within his skull. The ground was dyed red below him. His vision was equally crimson. Again, it was hazy. But not like a dream. This felt like he had been sitting alone in a completely dark room, trying to make out the vague shapes moving on a TV screen he sat far too close to.





    He saw something.


    He saw the others, those who could still stand, stare in horror at the corpse of the giant.

    He saw how a humanoid form --- no, a mockery of humanoid form, rose from the ashes and debris of the destroyed tree and the destroyed monster.

    A creature far more vile than the giant had ever been.

    A one-eyed shape of disaster.

    Like a hole of pure hatred in the reality.



    It rose up.

    It stood up.

    It breathed in air.

    Crows laughed at the edge of his hearing.

    Like a Thought made Real.

    Then, that silhouette of hate took in a deep breath...



    ... And locked its eye to Remington.



    It happened too fast.

    It swung something.



    A weapon?

    The girl, look of surprise still on her face, dropped down on her knees.

    A deep cut ran through her body.

    Others, those still conscious, were desperately trying to claw their way towards her.

    Screaming her name.

    Samuel wondered if he should have screamed too - yet for some reason, his body did not respond to any of his thoughts or commands.

    Instead, he watched.

    He watched as the Sneering Silhouette lifted its weapon.

    Over its head.

    How it screamed out something incomprehensible, yet enough to freeze the hearts of those who heard it...



    --- And brought down the sword.



    ... What?

    Something... had parried the strike.

    Someone... had parried the strike.

    Somebody... had parried the strike.

    Who?

    Oh.

    Him.

    For some reason, Samuel knew he should have been shocked, yet he could not feel thus.

    So he could only watch.

    As the humanoid mass of hatred screeched again, taking hold of its weapon and measuring its opponent.

    It's opponent, holding a weapon Samuel had never seen before, did the same.

    The two stared at each other for just a moment.

    And then...

    ... They clashed.

    That Sneering Silhouette and Jake Briggs.





    Jake.

    How was this possible?

    Samuel thought he had known his friend. The older brother who always looked after them. He, who was the most normal of them all. Yet... he had this side hidden within, all this time?

    This protector?

    The one who, at the very last second, had arrived to save the day?



    The silhouette raged.

    It could not defeat the opponent before it.

    With a hateful screech, it lunged forward, intending on bisecting the opposition in two.



    But instead, it found only empty air.

    And a brilliant weapon that cut through it mere fraction of a second later, piercing all the way to its darkest core.



    A shining beacon of brilliance in the most heinous of darkness.

    Like a falling star, bulleting through the dark of space.

    That was what it was.

    A Falling Star.

    Here to illuminate and banish the shadows...!



    And so... the silhouette fell to its knees. It breathed heavily, raggedly, unable to grasp enough air.

    The one who had opposed it, the youth with the torn silver hair and a weapon of light, did the same... but instead of falling to his knees, he collapsed on the ground completely - as if drained of whatever strength he had left.

    That left just two of them.

    Remington Hartley.

    And the Sneering Silhouette.

    Samuel's vision started to waver. It was swallowed up by the darkness of the unconscious. He could feel an endless abyss overtaking him.

    Yet, as his vision faded and as the world around him disappeared... for just a moment, he could hear footfalls more clearly than anything before.

    Footfalls against dead grass.

    Someone, either close or far away, made their way to Remington, who was still kneeling.

    He could hear the girl gasp - but not out of surprise.

    Out of sorrow.

    "So... i-in the end, it was... you...?"

    Remington softly murmured.

    What answered her was another sound.

    The sound of someone pulling back the hammer of a gun.

    "But................... Why?"

    Remington asked.

    Her answer was the only sound she would never get to hear.



    That of a gunshot, so mundane compared to what had happened on the clearing, ringing through the forest.

    And as the boy sunk deeper and deeper into oblivion...

    As he tried to claw his way back to light in vain...

    As he attempted to make sense of what he had just witnessed...

    He saw something else in that darkness.

    A shapeless figure, a human figured, covered from head to toe by a hooded cloak.

    A figure whose face he could not even see.

    But... he heard the figure's voice.

    A calming voice.

    One that said...

    "------ No more."

    Softly, yet firmly.

    "I won't let this place harm anyone... ever again."

    As if it had made a decision.

    "Not if I preside over it instead."

    And for some reason, Samuel...

    ... He felt like he could leave that in the hands of the hooded figure.

    Thus, he sunk deeper into the abyss of the unconscious, into the darkness where he thought he'd never wake from at all...

    At the end of his story, Samuel simply reached out for his drink, brought it to his lips...

    ... and took a long, silent sip.

  7. #4207
    el bolb Bloble's Avatar
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    Prushka?
    Location: Pinefall High Pool Building
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "Hehe... I was cool, huh? Well I think I will keep it up, thank you very much!"

    Trading barbs with Ahti like this... it's fun. Even if everything else seems less solid by the second, having him here is like a shot of reality to the heart.

    With a sharp crack and a hiss, the bottle Jake tossed me - "Thanks Briggs!" - cracks open. And I throw it back. Gulp, gulp, gulp.

    Clank. It rests on the table. I look down at the liquid, at its snap, crackle, hiss, and the sounds of popping as carbon dioxide escapes the drink. Like secrets, they come to the surface once it has been cracked open. Whether we like them or not, there's no way to put them back.

    That's how it has to be, huh.

    I glance back up at this big one-eyed doofus that has something become more important to me than I'd ever thought.

    "Hey, Ahti?" I ask quietly. "Could you watch the outside for a sec? This place is easy to eavesdrop on."

    This matter is between me and the human that my brother must have once called 'friend'.

  8. #4208
    The Time-Governing Twelve Covenants Airen's Avatar
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    Liana Skye/Sora Hikari
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994
    Weather: Overcast


    "...Ah, geez."

    The princely smile quickly turns into a motherly grimace; a gaze flickers from the face of the blue-head in her arms to the bathrooms in the distance, and a snap judgement is made in the heart of many conflicting desires.

    Of all the detours...!

    It's her own fault of course, showing off her physical strength in a scenario that didn't really call for such, but...

    "Sierra stay with Scottie, this isn't what you want to see before breakfast-!"

    ...The dash into the bathroom is karmic in nature, hurried, because a disaster is literally brewing right in her arms; it's not exactly what she wants to be doing right now, in terms of efficiency it's the absolute worst, but...

    "Hold it, hold it, hold it-!"

    Sparkling clean floors, massive mirrors, a room that would be a shame to devastate in basically any scenario-!

    "Here we are, go on, I'll hold your hair-!"

    No time to admire the scenery, or at least...

    It's not until she's placed the girl over the toilet, hands automatically pulling hair from her face like the two of them were drunk at some sort of high school party...

    That her gaze drifts away from the toilet.

    After all, it's not like she wants to see it either, and...

    Across the room, a line of mirrors.

    Her own reflection looking back at her; hair that had been hastily thrown together, bloodshot eyes that only proper sleep would fix, and...

    "..."

    Geez... I look so uncool right now...

    ...A simple truth, admitted to oneself in the hall of the porcelain king; here she is, holding someone's hair back as they lose to a chemical cocktail, after a horrible nightmarish night, where her own hesitation to just use force on others had led to a far worse outcome for all involved...

    Just like Xylia said, huh...

    Obsession with being squeaky clean? Gotta prove how good she is, all the time?

    It's...

    "..."

    She sighs.

    Then, softly...

    Sis?

    She locks eyes with the woman in the mirror.

    You awake?

    And directs a few thoughts towards a certain twin sister of hers.

    Just checking in to make sure you're alright, last night was rough on you too.
    Last edited by Airen; November 7th, 2021 at 03:55 AM.
    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--"

  9. #4209
    地獄待ち Spinach's Avatar
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    Colt Davin
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994
    Weather: Overcast


    The sound of glass cracking beneath shoes. A terribly unpleasant noise, one which only the deranged could ever express joy at hearing. Colt lifted his shoe and glanced down at whatever it was he had stepped on, a shard of glass painted with… something.

    Something which, somehow, he knew, or rather felt, was bad news.

    Because those paintings were weird, and he’d learned that weird meant bad around these parts.

    The boy glanced up from the ground, just in time to see Kajal’s eyes pop open like a flash of lightning.

    “…”

    Colt had already met the girl’s eyes head on. For some reason, he fell into silence with her. It wasn’t like he even felt guilty. He really was just going to wake her up. Sure, he was going to enjoy it, but that’s not crime.

    But before he could process why he let himself be absorbed into the girl’s silence…

    "............ Ah. My prince." She broke the silence herself. "--- Have you come to wake me? From my slumber? How daring... Sneaking into lady's bedroom like that."

    As always the boy couldn’t detect any emotion in the girl’s voice, but somehow he felt teased. Made fun of. Or perhaps, like he was being set up.

    Regardless, he knew in his gut that he needed to defend himself.

    “Prince? I fancy myself a vic-“

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

    The defense came too late. Bloodshot eyes popped open, and though such a thing makes no noise at all, Colt found himself silenced by the emergence of Jayesh Omkara.

    "Your what, dearest sister?"

    Oh god, they’re those kinds of siblings.

    Somehow, the image of Jayesh and Kajal was replaced by that of a mother bear and her cub. Or maybe a wolf and its pup. Or even just a weirdly overprotective brother, and an equally weird, obsessive sister.

    What is a man to do when put in front of these kinds of beasts? Everyone knew that with a bear you could stand your ground, spread your arms out, deter it from killing you by looking too scary to risk fighting…

    But he had never seen a guide to dealing with this kind of beast.

    “Guess you’re both awake then. Morning.” Without a proper plan, the only choice left for Colt was to retreat. Retreat from the subject, don’t play into her game! Don’t let the brother get any ideas. Act cool, act natural. Do what you came to do and disengage! “Breakfast is ready. Freshen up and come eat, it’d be rude to leave the meal waiting.”

    There’s no way they can drag me into it now!

    Colt patted himself on the back, mentally.

    Quick wit surely prevailed on this morning, as it does every morning.


  10. #4210
    死徒(上級)Greater Dead Apostle Cheetose's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Canseliet Clinic
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast


    It sounded like it was exactly how Allene already said - so the fae's side of the story didn't exactly come as a surprise. Though, now I could only wonder what exactly it was that they chose to be the price in this particular case. What could it have been that Josie found so important, and was absolutely reluctant to give away? Certainly, no ordinary belongings could have been more important than her daughter's well being, but considering their family's ties to more mysterious and shady things, perhaps...

    Not that there really was any point to put too much thought into it.

    Probably only Josie knew what it was, and it was unlikely that we'd ever get around to asking about it.

    Still, the mention of the fairy circle brought my attention back from my thoughts to the fae, and the nature of the situation inevitably elicited an awkward laugh from me as I scratched the back of my head.

    "Sorry, it's not that I'm suspicious of you or not trust you. I'm just slightly hesitant when it comes to walking into the territory of others...considering how with some charms, that's almost like suicide."

    Not that anything of that sort was going to happen here - and thus, being as polite as I should have been in the first place, I stepped over the circle of mushrooms and followed the doctor along with the others into the garage that, somehow, turned into a dining room of sorts in the meantime.

    A smirk spread on my face as I caught a glimpse of some small figures skittering back into the house itself out of the corner of my eye. In a sense, that too would only remind me of home...Even though it was much more rare of an occurance for the small folk there to be so helpful. Quite the opposite. Perhaps they just got too spoiled...

    "Quite the lively place."

    After taking seat next to the wooden table now sitting in the middle of the room, I pulled one of the cups filled with tea close to myself. An interesting choice for a blend, if somewhat even exotic around here, considering where apricots were usually grown and how it was mostly overshadowed by the much simpler peach, but...Certainly also rather down to earth, for a fae at least. Regardless, the taste was quite pleasant, and my cup was already half empty by the time the doctor finished her rather short explanation, something that made me raise my eyebrow slightly.

    "That's not telling too much," I said as I put my cup back down on the table, "Though I did figure that to be a possibility. After all, from what I heard, she was being told that the sun was bad for her ever since she was born..."

    I sneaked a peek at Allene as my words trailed off for the moment, as if looking for confirmation;

    "Which means that her mind could inevitably perceive the sun as something that harms her, and her body reacts accordingly. In a sense, that's what fuels the supernatural as well - a strong enough belief that, depending on the scale of the environment we observe it in, can determine what is real. And even just for an ordinary human, their mindset can affect their health quite a lot...Whether that's just how things are, or if that's an effect bordering the supernatural itself. Though, I do wonder if Allene really is just an ordinary human."

    My eyes wandered onto the girl once more, giving her an apologetic look. Dissing her like this in front of her was likely somewhat disrespectful...

    But more than that, it also made a thought pop into my mind, one that made worried that we'd be discussing this with her present, even if I couldn't quite grasp why yet.

    "It might be irrelevant for the case, but regardless, to reach a conclusion, it's important to know most details. Which is to say...Allene has some involuntary ties to a being that ended up living by the same name as her. Frankly, I have little idea what that being exactly is, but supposedly, it's something that came from the abyss between the realms...Or the "Space-in-Between", like how it described. Based on what I know, it has the power to completely and permanently alter reality around itself based on its own beliefs, and what it perceives to be "real". The being came into contact with Allene's family as well, through her grandfather, Howard...and while I'm uncertain about the circumstances, he took it into his family, and gave it their name. Because of that, it believed the McLampets were its actual family - and by all the meanings being family entailed, she altered their looks, and probably their whole being. Hence the blue hair and the red eyes that Allene herself has as well."

    A short pause, as I took another long sip of my tea. The explanation was somewhat lengthy, even though I tried to give the shortest possible summary that still missed smaller details.

    "At any rate, if Allene inherited more than just the physical traits, then it could be that she was unknowingly exerting her latent powers...in this case, to make the sun affect her like that, or even to just directly harm her own body. There is also the fact that, supposedly, the being's power and sphere of influence grows with UV-A radiation, and so...with the exposure to sun, it could be that Allene's power was growing as well, making the effects it had on her body more apparent."

    Saying all of it out loud, it made weirdly too much sense...but at the same time, without actual evidence, it was still just guessing that could have very well been wrong.

    "Of course, it could also just be the much simpler alternative. Unfortunately, I couldn't exactly find out since I didn't want to go digging around in her mind...But, I can assure you that I feel a lot more at home when it comes to such matters. I just need to know what exactly it is that needs to be fixed."

  11. #4211
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Prushka?
    Location: Pinefall High Pool Building
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    Momentarily, Ahti raised an eyebrow at such a request, but after glancing through the room and the janitor, he finally relented with a sigh.

    "... Alright. I'll go keep watch."

    Lifting himself from his chair, the boy chugged down half of his new soda before setting the can to wait on the floor. He walked past Jake's desk, past where Prushka was sitting and headed for the door. As he did, he reached out with his hand, and almost nonchalantly ruffled the girl's hair. Not in an attempt to tease her further, but rather, as if to say that she should watch herself - make sure to have eyes in the back of her head now that he was going to be away.

    The metal door to the staircase opened and closed, and with that, the tall young man was gone.

    This left only Prushka and Jake, the latter which had a quiet smile on his face as he sipped on his drink.

    "You dudes seem to get along well," he commented, this time sounding genuine instead of mischievous. "That's good. That's real good. Can't make it through high school without some proper friends."

    Having said that, however, the young man's expression turned more serious. Perhaps he had realized what the girl was about to do, or perhaps he just had a good instinct when it came to the changing mood of the room. He levelled a stare at Prushka, set his drink aside and folded his arms across his chest. Then, after letting the pressure build up for a moment, he opened his mouth.

    "... Well then. What'cha got your mind? Something your friend shouldn't hear?" Jake asked. "You weren't exactly being subtle, you know."

    Well, he had a point there.




    Liana Skye/Sora Hikari
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club - Fancy Bathroom
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994
    Weather: Overcast

    As a response to Liana's mental questioning, a certain familiar sound could be heard - a sort of whirring sound of something awakening. The reflection the girl saw in the mirror blinked once, almost as if it had just woken up and was now looking at its surroundings with some sort of confusion. But at the same time, it was merely her own reflection. Nothing more, nothing less.

    And yet, Liana could feel it.

    That warming presence that seemed to reassure her that it was fine and that there was nothing to worry about - that it was just tired.

    Well, that much was understandable. As she had said, it had been a right night on them all.

    Speaking of which...

    "Uuuuuuurghhhh..."

    Aleen had started to get to the point where she was merely dry-heaving, with nothing much coming out. Not that there was much there to begin with, the girl must not have eaten since yesterday's early dinner. And when the bluehead lifted her face from the porcelain bowl, she was quite the sight, with snot running down from her nose and her eyes bleary and watery.

    "... I hade dis..." Aleen sniffled. "Dis is de wordz... I loog so badhedic..."

    At least she was starting to feel alright enough to complain again.

    Still, while Aleen's one hand reached out for the toilet paper to wipe her face, her eyes looked at Liana who had been holding her hair through this ordeal - and if she wasn't mistaken, Liana was pretty sure she could see a hint of a smile appear on the girl's face.

    "Umm... dankz..." The bluehead then said, a chuckle breaking through misery. "You dnow, you're breddy alrighd, Biana. Derioudly."

    Well, there were worse ways to start friendships.

    Maybe?




    Colt Davin
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994
    Weather: Overcast

    "--------- Ah. My prince is running away."

    Her shock (or lack thereof) displayed by one owlish blink, Kajal watched as Colt tried to flee from the landmine he had stepped on. The girl rose to a sitting position on the couch and reached out languidly, almost robotically, after the retreating boy - only to lose her balance and end up flopping on the floor like some sort of big stuffed toy. In fact, it was somewhat surprising that she didn't let out a loud squeak like one of those rubber chickens, considering that she even bounced a bit on the floor.

    What a weird girl.

    "Noooo, waaaait, come baaaaack."

    While her words might have been meant as a desperate shout after the boy, they came out so monotone and emotionless that they sounded more like sarcasm than anything else. But at the same time she was shooting a pleading (maybe?) gaze after the boy, so perhaps she was being serious...? It was just impossible to say. It was like trying to understand if a piece of rock was stonewalling you or just playing coy. An impossible task and, at the end of it, pretty much doomed attempt from the start.

    Though speaking of doomed.

    "You...!"

    The sound of danger intensified as Jayesh Omkara lifted himself up from the couch as well, eyes locked onto Colt like those of a hawk. He peered over the back of the furniture, almost like studying his every move - and at the same time, his expression grew more and more strained, an indication of the dark and dire thoughts that must have been running through his head.

    "What sort of 'prince' just leaves a lady lying on the ground...?" Jayesh growled, glaring daggers at Colt. "Just what sort of vile creature maanged to confuse my little sister so?"

    Colt could practically hear the other boy grind his teeth together.

    It sounded like two buzzsaws colliding.

    "My absolutely adorable sister is demanding your attention, so how dare you ignore her...!?"

    --- Wait, he was angry about that!?




    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Canseliet Clinic
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "Have you ever heard of the term 'apotheosis'?"

    Dorothy Canseliet question came after a small bout of silence, the doctor having taken in the questions, theories and musings that Hisa had to offer. While Allene had looked somewhat uncomfortable at the talk of the various possibilities of what her illness could be, when the girl had heard that her friend didn't just want to go rummaging through her mind, she had flashed a grateful smile towards Hisa. It wasn't an easy matter to discuss delicately, but at the very least, it had been made clear that Hisa's aims were benign and that she genuinely wanted to help.

    Something that, probably, had influenced the smile on the doctor's face as well - it was rather clear she was finding her new company agreeable.

    "In short, it is the act of glorying a subject, more often than not a human, so that it reaches a status of a higher being. A divinity, deity, or something else...ancient hero cults were a good example of that. Presenting and treating someone as a being grander than themselves, whether through actions, performance, symbols or mere worship... you could say it's the ultimate example of the old proverb of putting yourself in someone else's shoes. In that way, empathy and sympathy also play a massive part in it, because without those, you cannot take on this 'role' of another being. Well... perhaps we could just call it 'Casting' to make it easier to understand. That you, or someone else, Casts you in the role of another being," the good doctor explained while Pyry, Mercedes, Tris and Allene all listened with wide eyes. "Through that Casting, one could then - theoretically - display the powers of the being that they have been Cast as, or the higher being they now appear as. But, since it's just fakery and relies solely on how many observers accept it as the truth, their 'Sphere of Power and Influence' is only as grand as the amount of their believers. The only ones they can affect are those who believe that lie to be truth. And if the only one who believes it is you yourself..."

    Dorothy Canseliet turned to look at Allene, and for a moment, a strange form of pity could be seen in her eyes.

    "... Then the only powers you have are over your own self and body."

    In other words, even if you believed yourself to be some grand being with powers to make what you believe reality, if nobody else believes it, all you are left is what affects just you and no one else. For example, an aversion to sunlight under the impression that moonlight made you stronger. An easy enough misunderstanding to have, firmly rooted in beliefs cultivated as a child who did not know any better - now grown into a fully-grown truth just for yourself.

    Almost like hypochondria.

    "What I'm trying to say, human, is that at the end of the day, it matters very little whether or not Allene here has been changed by this creature. What matters truly is that she believes she has been changed by this creature... or rather, that she either is her, or is directly descendent from her," Dorothy continued, gesturing with her tea cup. "As long as the root cause of that, what caused such belief to root itself inside her so strongly, is not brought to light and exposed, the only way I can truly treat her is to dull that belief and make it disappear from her mind... but that is no cure, is it? That simply treating her symptoms. As someone who knows medicine, I believe you probably understand the difference there."

    While her mouth may have been twisted into that fae-like grin, the eyes of the doctor were most serious. She was talking about her trade to another person she clearly recognized as well-versed in the subject as well, and thus, the pretenses and the mischievous twistings of the truth had been set aside.

    "... And it is not as simple as just telling her that isn't true. Human mind, human belief, may be fragile at times, but it is also the most resilient and tenacious thing I know. The roots run deep and no matter how many times we cut the stem, as long as they remain, the problem persists," Dr. Canseliet added, before looking at Allene again. "Aren't I right, dear?"

    Looking slightly downcast, staring at her own reflection in her cup... Allene nodded.

    "Mm. I... gosh. What you say does make sense. I know it does. But - I can't just..."

    It almost looked like she was wracking her brains trying to put into words how she was feeling, but in that moment, the doctor laid her sleeved hand on Allene's shoulder to calm her down.

    "It's alright. No need to say more," Dorothy reassured her, before glancing momentarily towards Tris. "Human mind... it's a complex and complicated thing."

    Tris, not quite realizing what the inhuman woman meant, simply tilted her head in confusion.

    "... Of course, I cannot completely discount the possibility of her having something truly bizarre in her genetic heritage either, thanks to this creature. I do not know it, but I know... of it. That thing that came from the dark between observed planes. Or, in many ways, the utter darkness that spans between what we understand as worlds," the doctor continued, now looking straight at Hisa. "But if that was the case, the answer would still remain the same. We would have to disconnect her 'truth' from Allene to cure her body of this ailment - to dive deep enough to find the false reality that has overwritten what should have been. It cannot be mended in a similar way as a wound or a bruise, or even a broken bone. No, it is too powerful for that. That much is clear from the mere fact of how powerful that creature was, despite being here..."

    She gestured at the town and the forest that surrounded them.

    "You see this, don't you, Ashiga? This is a realm unto its own, far removed from what people from the Old World - like you and me - understand. The laws of this nature are different from our own, governed by spirits alien to us. The spirits of a coyote, the raven and its tales, the thunderbird and the whale, the twin heroes... they are myths, legends and lore far removed from us and our archetypes. Indeed, that is the difference - our archetypes, and their primordial origins. The difference in those is what makes us - even me - so incompatible with this land," Dorothy explained. "So, under that light, you can probably understand just how great a threat that being was, for it to exert such authority in a land where its archetypes - if there were any - did not exist."

    With a bit of a dry chuckle - tinged with slight homesickness - the fae doctor lifted her cup to her lips and took a sip.

    "We are a long way from Álfheimr..."

  12. #4212
    The Time-Governing Twelve Covenants Airen's Avatar
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    Liana Skye/Sora Hikari
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club - Fancy Bathroom
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994
    Weather: Overcast


    Good to hear.

    ---A simple, instinctual understanding of that warm presence.

    It's just a flicker of consciousness, a simple reassurance from a reflection that suddenly seemed remarkably cute, in spite of possessing the same messy hair and obviously tired eyes, but it was enough for the raven-haired girl to push that specific fear from her mind, the worry that things that could go wrong would begin to do so this close to the supposed 'end of the line.'

    Sorry for bothering you then, go ahead and go back to sleep, I'll be fine on my own for awhile yet.

    She blinks slowly in return to the reflection, a hint of cat-like affection in the gesture; it wasn't the preferred method of contact of course, she preferred to hear a voice whenever possible, but the warmth of that person's existence is of a special sort, like that of a family member, the only family member that was a consistent presence in her life.

    "..."

    Yes.

    A blink becomes a tired wink, to the reflection that is always there when she calls out...

    Tonight is probably gonna be about as bad as last night, so sleep as much as you need, okay?

    Might not have many more chances to do so, Sunday's the deadline.


    ---She feels a bit better.

    She always did after interactions with that person, in spite of (or perhaps because of) the bizarreness of their relationship, still...

    Where anxieties are blunted, mother-like instincts remain; a teary-eyed face is looking up at her from down below, she's a bit of a mess, more of a mess than herself, and...



    "We all have our bad days Aleen."

    ...That motherly presence comes through in spite of herself, in spite of all the claims that she was too young for this sort of thing, that she was a big-sister type by nature, in reality, when it comes down to it...

    She's sort of a mom.

    ---Someone who had to grow up in some ways a bit too fast.

    "You see my hair? When I have a bad day, like last night, the whole world knows it."

    She smiles down at the girl, eyes shining with warmth as she helps her rise to her feet.

    "It's not your fault, there's nothing to feel pathetic over, you took a hit last night and you gotta recover from it... And it was a sucker-punch from an idiot slinking around in the shadows, so I think you're taking that hit pretty well, all things considered~"

    She brushes some of the girl's hair from her face without really thinking too hard about it, a natural comforting gesture, emerging from the depths of past experience as she examines the girl's face one more time, the tear marks and pained eyes, all marks of someone who was during their best to endure suffering, before...

    "Zane shouldn't have left you alone last night anyway... And I should have been faster to protect you..."

    ...That smile turns to a frown, as she remembers the exact moment in which the shadow had struck out from the bushes. Supernatural speed and zero hesitation, a horrific blur of motion that could have easily turned to something far worse if the attacker had been determined to kill her outright, and one that even if she hadn't been...

    Had been dangerous, in spite of the culprit's claims to the otherwise.

    Humans die easily, exposure can easily be fatal to humans, hypothermia isn't something to take lightly.

    Honestly, even Turnside Members could drown in the rain after being knocked out, all it takes is landing badly somewhere, face-down in a single inch of water and none of your abilities would mean anything; death isn't always flashy, sometimes it's simple and quiet, a creeping horrific phenomena that finds pleasure in claiming those that get a bit too careless or simply unlucky... Still, frowning at the bad decisions of a certain red-haired youth, it's only when she realizes her face has turned from soothing to annoyed at the thought of what she had seen last night, that she chuckles, shakes her head, and...

    "I'll help you get cleaned up real quick, there's nothing to worry about, you'll look just fine when we're done."

    ...Gives the girl one last wink.

    "Then once you're put back together... I'll do the princess carry properly this time, get you to breakfast without further incident."

    Then I'll track down Mr. Vampire...

    "I feel a little bad about the last one, it's no fun if the person you're carrying doesn't enjoy it... So I'd like to try again for my honor's sake, unless you'd rather walk, of course."

    She still didn't seem quite steady on her feet...
    Last edited by Airen; November 9th, 2021 at 09:16 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--"

  13. #4213
    el bolb Bloble's Avatar
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    Prushka?
    Location: Pinefall High Pool Building
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "...thanks, Scrooge."

    Leaving my hair even messier than usual, a concerned Ahti vanishes behind the door. Now it's just me and the janitor.

    Said janitor levels a knowing stare at me while sipping on his cola.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jake
    "You dudes seem to get along well. That's good. That's real good. Can't make it through high school without some proper friends."
    "Mmhm. I don't think you can really make it through anything without friends. Or family. Maybe for a little bit, but that's all. If you're alone for too long, things stop working right." For both Ahti, and myself. For Xylia too, perhaps, and maybe even Mr. Currumpaw and Vivi.

    Jake Briggs is a strange guy. Angelica told us to accost him. He reads a whole heaping of mystery novels while pretending (badly) to be just a dumb janitor. He can hang out with kids and adults alike. He's a goofball one minute and a grown-up the next. He's mischievous enough to bend the rules and set up pranks for us, while talking about responsibility and keeping us safe. In short... he's strange. For an adult, especially so. That's why being alone with him like this is strange as well. He himself is a mystery. One we've yet to properly dig into. I'm in the same room as an enigma, one that might serve a far more important purpose than I'd ever thought. Nervous energy fills my chest, butterflies beginning to flutter, because I don't know what will happen next here.

    I only know what must happen here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jake
    "... Well then. What'cha got your mind? Something your friend shouldn't hear? You weren't exactly being subtle, you know."
    "Hehe. Subtlety is overrated. Best to just be honest with your feelings. Keeping it in only leads to misunderstandings."

    I lean back in the chair while the open can of soda fizzes and pops between us, and stare at Jake. Not with a caricature of an interrogator or the silly bravado from earlier, but with my own two eyes.

    "It's fine if Ahti listens. He's got good ears and the door's leaky. We overheard you and Inacio on the way down, without even meaning to. I just think it'd be easier if it's only us in here."

    Easier for you, that is. Now let's get started.

    "I wanted you to pick the third card the most," I admit to him. "But I guess there are reasons you don't wanna talk about that."

    Perhaps something to do with the incident of seven years ago. The one that carved a hatred so powerful it could be called a curse into Samuel's body and left him on the edge of death.

    "So instead I'll ask... when did you figure out he and I were connected? You can answer that much, right? I mean, you said it, I'm not really subtle. Wasn't trying to be. But you... I only found out yesterday. That he was here seven years ago. That he went to school here, with you and a whole bunch of others. That he was involved in something bad here. That he's still here, to this day. It was a lot to take in, y'know."

    The air seems to have gotten heavier. In truth, even if I were to abandon all my morals out of desperation and use my powers to their fullest, it's doubtful that I'd be able to get Jake Briggs to talk about something he doesn't wanna talk about. That's just not within Memoire's abilities. I almost regret, now, refusing to develop an application for interrogation. Almost. So I'll do it the human way.



    "I probably won't be able to keep you here. Or make you say anything. Or stop you from kicking me out of your crib. But... I can't keep myself from needing to know either. Get it, Briggs?"

    One way or another, there's no world where I don't desperately search for Snow until the end.

    I take the cool can in my hands, feeling the sizzling secrets rising to the surface, and take a small sip.
    Last edited by Bloble; November 7th, 2021 at 10:53 AM.

  14. #4214
    死徒(上級)Greater Dead Apostle Cheetose's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Canseliet Clinic
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "For the result itself, it might not particularly matter, but there is still a lot of importance to how exactly we get to that result," I answered after some contemplation as I poured myself another cup of tea, "A deeper understanding of the logic and the method helps you understand the results as well - rather than just knowing what it is. It's also the only way to be able to trace the issue back all the way to its cause, and be able to know how to deal with it. It's quite possible that sooner than later, we might have to deal with a similar being, so knowing what it is capable of, and if it can alter someone's being past just their outerior appearance could be crucial."

    Not that I would want to face something like that, if I had the chance.

    "Though, you're also right. Just treating the symptomps is only enough to temporarily hide the effects, unless something is done against what causes the symptomps in the first place as well..."

    My gaze was resting on Allene's cup as well, staring at the reflection of the girl's downcast expression as I was lost in my thoughts for the moment again.

    "I'd definitely need to take a peek, before knowing what to do," I spoke up finally as I watched Allene closely, "Otherwise, it would be like trying to stab something in the dark while holding the knife backwards to begin with."

    Of course, even if I looked, it could be difficult to find what exactly was off. In that sense, it's much easier to find the cause when the effects were wreaking havoc in the body, rather than lying dormant.

    "But then, it's not even all that bad, is it? It's been a while since we left, and you're still quite fine. Almost as if some faith does take you quite far."

    Before my attention turned back to the fae, I gave Allene a warm smile - almost as if telling her that one way or another, we'd get to the end of things.

    "Still, while the native american folklore is definitely more prominent here, you'd be surprised by just how often nordic terms and names seem to come up. Like a quarantine site called Wuotan - or Odin. A mysterious medicine called Mjolnir. An organization called Einherjar. The Hanged Man, which depicts Odin hanging from the Yggdrasil to gain knowledge. The Mímisbrunnr, where Odin sacrificed an eye to drink the water that granted wisdom. And for some reason, so many people around here seem to be missing an eye...Regardless, that seems to be connected to another one of the local myths, the Petroglyph Cave, where the runes in the stones grant wisdom in exchange for sight. There's also the lighthouse and its light...A missing eye filled with memories to attract the spirits that are trapped within there."

    Thinking about it, such references came up almost way too often, and somehow, most seemed to be centered around Odin, and some way to acquire knowledge of something.

    "I'm not too well versed in norse mythology, however, unlike you or a certain other person here," I said as I gestured towards Pyry with a nod, "However, I'm also not too sure how just knowledge of the myths would be relevant in this context, and if they could really shed light to anything. But...the point still stands. That somehow, it does not feel quite as alien as you'd assume, but rather, that the myths of a culture so distant from here seems to mix in a lot with the tales of the natives.

  15. #4215
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Prushka?
    Location: Pinefall High Pool Building
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "..."

    A long silence.

    Then...

    "--- Probably from the start."

    Jake answered the first question that had been asked from him with a dry sigh, as if he had given up in some way. At the same time, he took one last sip of his cola and set it on the table in front of him, no longer seeming interested in the drink. Instead he folded his arms again and gazed at Prushka with a strange look, almost as if looking past the years and the days and seeing someone else sitting there, in his office.

    He didn't look like he knew whether to be happy or sad about it, however.

    "You guys have the same aura about you. Same way you go about things, wearing your hearts on your sleeves. Same eyes too... though his were always frowning," the janitor continued. "And I guess you both have a similar way of gluing yourself to the side of one special person that's around you. He used to do that too, with Remmie. That is, Remington Hartley. The girl who died seven years ago."

    Jake's lips wavered slightly.

    "... She was my best friend, too."

    It was like Prushka had scooped up a handful of raw, unprotected nerves and exposed them to the cold, harsh light of truth - causing pain to sear through the mind of Jake Briggs. He didn't show it, but those occasional shivers he got while talking, those little twitches here and there... it was clear that he was keeping himself together, almost desperately. And his fingers dug into his skin without him even noticing, knuckles white.

    Then, after another heavy silence, the young man continued.

    "In all honesty, dude... I think it would've been better if you hadn't found out. Nevada was a good guy, but he had his demons... more than most. And they eventually got to him. We were all there. Many of us got hurt. Some worse than others, but each of us in some way. And at the end of it..." He paused. "... Remmie was gone. It was hardly what could be called a triumph. And I think Nevada knew it too."

    Yet again, another pause. But this time, it was because Jake was clearly hesitating - hesitating to the point of biting his lip so hard it drew blood.

    And still, he forced out those words.

    Words he clearly didn't want to say, but had to, nonetheless.

    "... Because he eventually couldn't take it anymore. I was there. I tried talking him out of it. But he..." Dark shadows covered Jake's face. "... He practically knocked me out to keep me from stopping him. The last thing I saw was him disappearing over the cliffs at End's Beach. And then, about a week later... at the funeral."

    Ashamed, guilty and full of anguish, Jake turned his head aside, hiding it from Prushka.

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




    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Canseliet Clinic
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    Dorothy Canseliet nodded, smiling an enigmatic smile - as if somewhat impressed by how much the girl had noticed.

    "You're right. The myths of a land foreign to this have definitely made a home here... but as said, the archetypes are wildly different. I presume you've read about the dangers of introducing a foreign species into an ecosystem not prepared for it, no? Well, the case is somewhat similar here. Though mostly in the sense that the land and the foreign myths are... hostile to each other, for the lack of a better word. A being like me cannot make full use of who they are in a place such as this, because I was not meant to appear here," the doctor explained. "But, they've definitely made a home here - as if part of that mythology, symbolically very strong one, had been transplanted here. That is what drew me into this town in the first place, too. Out of all the places in this foreign land, this was the one place where I felt closest to home."

    Taking a moment to fill her own cup from the kettle that seemed to not exhaust its supply of tea at all, the mysterious fae smiled at the stream of the warm, dark liquid.

    "--- The scent here does remind me of the All-Father."

    Yet another name for Odin, a god known for his many names and deeds.

    Having filled her cup, those sharp eyes of the inhuman creature then turned to look at Hisa, clear and focused.

    "But make no mistake - it is no mere coincidence. At least, I do not think so. Something in this land calls to its own and paints over the natural folkloric base of this area with itself. These names and things you find, they are symbols. And symbols all hold a meaning. Pay attention to the meaning, and you may know more than you were meant to - and knowledge, even to the All-Father, was the greatest of weapons. After all, a name itself can lead you to the purpose," the good doctor continued. "Of course, knowledge sometimes comes with a price, a sacrifice... and not all knowledge makes one happy. Sometimes, it may drive you mad. Knowledge like that... it often leaves a scar, or so I theorize."

    As if to make a point, she slowly dragged her finger over her left eye.

    The eye that had been lost to many of the residents of Road's End.

    But if her theory was correct, then... what sort of information had scarred them? Almost immediately, a certain mental image popped into Hisa's mind... a laughing, sneering, one-eyed shadow hiding in the darkness surrounding a certain clearing with a hooded figure - a clearing inside the forest of the unconscious.

    "... Still, if you run into more symbols and names of my homeland, you may come here if needed - free of charge. I can help you understand what they mean, and perhaps theorize what it could mean. After all, human, I am just as interested at finding why I was called here as you are for finding the truth. Why has my homeland tried to root itself here, and what is the true cause of it all... I'd like to know that. People giving sacrifices to gain knowledge, a medicine named after the weapon that thunders and blesses, an organization named after the soldiers afterlife... It cannot be a coincidence. Besides..." For just a moment, the doctor's smile turned into a smug smirk that Hisa knew all-too well with fae. "If you'd seek advice on Norse myths and legends from your friend here, I think you'll find him woefully ignorant of them. We may both come from the north, but his is a race of strangers amidst the rest of us."

    Dr. Canseliet cackled and wiggled her eyebrows at Pyry.

    "Isn't that right, metsäläinen?"

    Pyry on the other hand returned the expression with a strained grin and twitching eyebrow.

    "Yeah yeah, whatever you say, svedupelle."

    --- For some reason, the two were now glaring daggers at each other!

    While these two were seemingly dredging up some nationalistic rivalries out of nowhere, Hisa suddenly heard an unexpected sound from beside her. It was a somewhat quiet sound - yet unmistakeable. Indeed, glancing to her direction, the scarred girl could see that Allene... was giggling. Not loud enough to catch any attention, but genuinely and heartily giggling at the sight of the doctor and Pyry throwing foreign, thinly-veiled insults at each other.

    As if surprised by herself at the sound, Allene put a hand to her mouth, blushed a little, and then looked at Hisa sheepishly.

    "Gosh... I-I'm sorry, I didn't mean to just burst out laughing like that, but..." She pondered for a moment. "I... I think you're right. At least, now that I'm with you all, now that I'm here with everyone, my thoughts... sometimes I don't even think about it. It just slips out of my mind. And on those moments, it's like the problem doesn't even exist. Yet..."

    A shadow passed over her face.

    "... Those thoughts always come back, they do. And when they do, it starts to feel painful and itchy again, and then I start thinking about it more, and... oh, golly..." Allene sighed and scratched her head. "It just makes me wish I weren't so paranoid, so fearful whenever I start thinking about it. Yet, even if I try to convince myself it's not the case, I can't help my thoughts."

    The pale girl stared into her cup of tea once more, looking deep into it, as if searching for answers. Eventually, she had to have found something, because her eyes then turned to look at Hisa once more - and when they did, Hisa saw both a question and determination in them.

    "Do... do you think it'll help? If you take a look inside my mind? Would you be able to find the source of it all. A-and if you do..." Allene fidgeted a bit, looking embarrassed to even ask the next part. "Does it, umm... hurt? When you do that?"

  16. #4216
    地獄待ち Spinach's Avatar
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    Colt Davin
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994
    Weather: Overcast


    "--------- Ah. My prince is running away."

    The monotone voice called out for the fleeing boy. But with his iron will Colt stayed the course, that of the path of least resistance. This girl and her brother, they were definitely trouble. Putting aside the overprotective-big-brother vibes and obsessive-little-sister vibes, these two were dangerous in the very real sense.

    “I’m not a prince,” best to keep his distance from those Turnside folks whenever possible. Besides, now that her brother was around, she probably wouldn’t need Colt’s services anymore. “I was just Repla-“

    "Noooo, waaaait, come baaaaack."

    But then, the inexpressive girl reached out for him, and Colt, fool that he was, made the mistake of looking back. His neck turned just in time to watch the girl lose her balance and fall off the couch, hitting the floor with a plop.

    A light plop, but a plop nonetheless. The plop of a girl falling over. The sight of it set off that part of Colt that nudged him to rush into things without thinking. That impetus that he couldn’t resist to do some vague idea of the ‘right thing.’

    "You...!"

    But wait, wasn’t that floor covered in those glass? What if she fell on one?

    "What sort of 'prince' just leaves a lady lying on the ground...? Just what sort of vile creature managed to confuse my little sister so?"

    The angry brother called out to Colt, chastising his lack of chivalry. Yet, the boy’s thoughts were consumed with the girl on the floor, muffling Jayesh’ voice.

    Before Colt knew it…

    "My absolutely adorable sister is demanding your attention, so how dare you ignore her...!?"

    “Are you okay?”

    He was at Kajal’s side, down on one knee, reaching for her.

    “Kajal, if your legs are still out, I can lend a hand again. Are you hurt? You didn’t fall on any glass or anything, right?”

    Then, the boy looked up to the scathing mad brother, whose teeth were grinding together so loud that Colt almost thought he was in a lumber mill.

    “Hey! Your sister is hurt and fell over! What are you doing snapping at me while she’s still on the ground? What's a brother for, yelling at guys he doesn't know, or taking care of his sister?” Words he hadn’t quite expected came out one after another. What did he even know of being a brother, of having a sister? “Shouldn’t your priority be taking care of her?”

    Colt paused and frowned. He didn’t know the first thing about brothers and sisters, truthfully. But the more he spared to think about that, the more he thought about the two of them, and relaxed.

    “Jayesh, right? … I guess after everything last night you’re probably still hurt too. Alright.” Colt exhaled, realizing that, without noticing or understanding why, he’d gotten more upset than he would have ever expected himself to. “For now, Kajal, I guess until your brother is up for it I’ll stick to being Replacement Legs.”

    So saying, he picked the girl up the same way he had last night. Something he wouldn’t normally do, something he couldn’t normally do, not with a normal girl on a normal day. But she was light, unnaturally so, and nothing here was normal.

    “… Don’t go calling me your prince though. People will get weird ideas.” With one hand supporting her back, and another holding her legs, Colt stood up, glancing at the brother once more. “How about you, big brother? Can you walk?”


  17. #4217
    死徒(上級)Greater Dead Apostle Cheetose's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Canseliet Clinic
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    I had a vague guess about what Einherjar could have meant, at the very least. After all, considering the circumstances...It could have been those people, "warriors", who have died here in this place, and after deemed worthy by someone, "Odin", were brought to the afterlife by who we refer to as Muse, a "valkyrie"...and have since returned because of the loop of time. At least it would make some sense - but how much, I would not know. Still, perhaps it was best not to mention the loops just yet.

    "I..."

    However, my trail of thought was interrupted, and whatever I wanted to say I forgot about moments later, very much to my chagrin. Instead, I just stood quietly as my eyes jumped from one to the other, before a small grin sat out on my face as I spoke up regarding a completely different matter.

    "You two seem to be quite fond of each other."

    Of course, the situation seemed to be the exact opposite, but there was just something amusing about it, and the fact that they managed to recognize each other so quickly. Not that it made any sense at all to me - just like norse mythology, my knowledge regarding the nordic language and culture was quite pitiful.

    "I'll let you two enjoy each other for the moment, though do riddle me this. What do you reckon the Yggdrasil, the Well of Mímir, or a place named after Odin could be in this context? That, or if the phrase "it's always raining on some other day" means anything to you."

    With that, my attention turned towards Allene, as the smirk on my face remained, if for a slightly different reason.

    After all, there was just something precious about how she was acting - especially her last question, asking whether or not it was going to hurt.

    "It wouldn't. Hurting you is not my intention, after all," I answered softly, "It might be unpleasant later, if I have a hard time finding anything at all. But that's because I might have to ask you to go down that negative spiral, so that it becomes obvious where such thoughts strem from, but...the process itself is harmless, and I'd only do it, and only as much as you'd allow me to."

  18. #4218
    Overly devoted enthusiasm... fufufu~ Ayakashi's Avatar
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    Seeking of knowledge that is not meant for you, you are beholden once more to something of greater than you are. Lead around by the nose, a puppy dragged by the leash, a donkey lured ceaselessly by the carrot, where is it that you are going, child?

    The shadows whisper the answers in your ear, and rip apart your hearing. Blood flows, like a raging torrent gushing into the empty. Hear it once more, the words between the lines, the warning behind the lies, the warped meaning of life. Spin, spin spin, the web of deceit, the labyrinth of deception, the gateway to disappointment.

    Who do you think that you are, what do you think that you were? Where do you think, that you will be?

    Does it even matter in the end?

    All of this.

    Does it even matter?



    Vivienne Bianchi
    Location:
    Owl's Nest, Dining Area
    Phase:
    Morning Phase
    Date:
    10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather:
    Overcast

    While there were a lot of interesting things going on, including a conversation between someone she didn't know and Mr. Halloway, Vivienne indeed deemed that this was no time for her to go eavesdropping. It would be a bit hard for her to do anyways, in bright daylight and even if she used some trick, it was already a foregone conclusion that somebody or something would... probably figure out what she was doing. Road's End was not a 'normal' place after all, and Owl's Nest definitely was not a 'normal' hotel.

    Yet there definitely was someone normal here, and it was Vivienne's 'friend from last week', Rachel Halloway. Perhaps Vivienne should have at least have the decency of wishing her hello, and asking her wherever she had a bad evening... or if something else was the cause of her looking so dead inside.

    A bit ironic, considering that question would be coming from someone who... looked like she was quite dead inside. All the time.

    "Hello... how are you...?" she asked Rachel as she approached her table, not really sitting down, but hovering close to a chair, as if suggesting that she could sit down, if further discussion was to happen. "Did you... not sleep well? Bad dreams?"
    Last edited by Ayakashi; November 8th, 2021 at 03:37 AM.

  19. #4219
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Canseliet Clinic
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "W-we're not enjoying this!"

    Ironically enough, that yell came from both Pyry and Dorothy at the same time, both of them grinding their teeth at the mere suggestion. Indeed, it looked like whatever beef the Scandinavian countries had with each other lived strong through these two. Perhaps it was even the ancient blood of a fae clashing with the shadow of a Finnish mythological hero... or perhaps they were just more dorky about such things than they let on.

    Nevertheless, they were just as quickly back to bickering, much to the amusement of the rest of the people at the table.

    --- Including Allene.

    "I-I see... well, gosh, I mean... if you're saying that you can control on whether it hurts or not, then I don't think there'll be a problem, right? After all, I couldn't really imagine you hurting anyone, Ashiga!" Allene giggled, smile back to her lips. "Well... aside from The Eyes. But it's a good thing that I'm not a shadowy monster man with crystal bugs in my head, right! Gosh, that would be awful thing to turn out to be huh..."

    Taking a sip of her tea and reaching out for a marmalade cookie, it seemed that the girl was feeling much more cheerful now that she had gotten a better understanding of the process and what it would entail.

    Still, she did laugh a little awkwardly as she munched on the cookie.

    "And what comes to negative thoughts, w-well... gosh, I don't think that'll be a problem," she said slightly sardonically. "I'm not too proud of it, but I'm pretty good at thinking up negative things. Or rather, making myself feel sad. A-and I don't actually mean to brag about it, but I just know that when I start thinking of them, it's hard to put a stop to them - if you know what I mean?"

    She swallowed the rest of her cookie and licked the marmalade off her finger, when suddenly an idea of some sort seemed to pop into her head. Allene raised a questioning eyebrow at Hisa, leaning a bit closer.

    "Actually, speaking of which... that thing you said? 'It's always raining on some other day'? That's a pretty sad proverb, isn't it?" She asked. "I mean, at least to me, it sounds like something someone would say when they're hoping for rain... but there's no such thing in sight. In other words, you're only wishing or hoping for something when it's not happening. O-or did I misunderstand what it actually means?"

    Dr. Canseliet smacked her lips upon hearing this (having shut Pyry up for the moment by opening another tin of cookies) and turned to face the two girls once more.

    "Perhaps, perhaps not. It could definitely mean what you said. Or, there could be some other meaning to it - or multiple meanings. But personally, hmm..." she pondered for a moment, finger on the tip of her chin. "The way it's phrased almost makes it sound like an answer. Like, if you were to meet a man out on the street, carrying an umbrella even though it's a clear blue sky, they would answer: 'Because it's always raining on some other day.' So even if it is not now, some day that rain will come and then, they are ready. Or, perhaps it's as you said, child, and whoever speaks it really is waiting for that one rainy day, wishing and hoping for it - and is saying that to convince themselves that it will come, no matter what."

    The fae doctor shook her head, as if to imply that even she knew she had began to ramble a bit there.

    "... Well, I have to say, I'm not sure. It could be an anagram for all I know. But as for the other things you asked, welll..." Her eyes locked with Hisa's. "A place named after Odin could be, considering the other things mentioned here, a place of knowledge. A place where information, answers and truths are stored. However, it would not be the origin of all that knowledge, no - it would have come from the Well of Mímir. The sacred well where All-Father lost his eye. The place at the edge of Ginnungagap, the primordial void and the Yawning Abyss that once existed... emptiness between spaces, at the edge of the World Tree's roots. And the World Tree itself..."

    She paused for a moment.

    "--- The interpretations could be numerous. But one has to remember that it has always been the frame within which worlds fit, and its branches and roots are the pathways between them. Like doors and corridors leading to other places."




    Vivienne Bianchi
    Location: Owl's Nest - Dining Area
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "Aah, it's you..."

    Looking a bit out of it, it took few moments for Rachel to even register Vivienne's presence or her question. But eventually she did, and after blinking owlishly a few times, the older girl replied as such. Then she turned back to the coffee she was nursing and too a big, long gulp, slurping it down with enough noice to turn some heads. Once the redhead was done, she slammed the cup back to the table and sighed heavily.

    "Mm, no - didn't sleep well at all. Had nightmares the whole damn night. Something weird about armored monster roaming the hall and pillars of light slicing through the floor. It was... it was honestly so weird I can't even begin to describe it," Rachel explained. "Then, I'm pretty sure I heard Jake yelling something from the rubble and things got really weird. I started everything in two, like my eyes were unfocused, and then this marshmallow thing ran through the burning ruins and.... eugh..."

    Letting out a hearty yawn, the older girl smacked her lips and grimaced, not even trying to hide the massive bags under her eyes.

    "Then I get a call at first light, and it turns out my friend disappeared from the hospital. And not just that they were there overnight and skipped the pleasantries, but someone who's been stuck there for years... and I have no damn clue how that's even possible. It's not like coma patients just get up and walk away in the middle of the night..." Rachel continued, before slamming her fist down to the table, scaring a nearby waitress. "Dammit Sammie... where the H-E-Double-Hockeysticks are you...?"

    It did indeed seem like Rachel Halloway was having a hard day. And Vivienne wasn't the only one who had noticed. The staff so far seemed to be avoiding her, as if fearing that they would get their heads bitten off. At the same time, the quiet girl could see that the owner - who was still in the middle of his discussion in the lobby - shot an occasional look towards his niece.

    A raspy sigh echoed from Rachel's lips.

    "... But don't let that bother you, I shouldn't be complaining to you about it anyways," the older girl said. "Anyways, what do you need? Something I can help you with? Or are you here for more work?"

    She looked at Vivienne with a raised eyebrow, waiting for her answer. However, before the silent girl could respond, she felt a sudden tug of her instincts - almost like a faint warning. The reason turned out to be that for just a moment, someone had been at her blind spot - naturally a dangerous place that the more sneaky individuals of the Turnside took advantage of. Luckily, however, it didn't turn out to be a would-be-assassin. Instead, it was that ashen-haired guy from earlier. The young man had just finished his talk with the owner, and had made his way into the cafeteria as well, making a beeline for the coffee, from the looks of it.

    ... Why did it suddenly smell like wild animal in here, though?

  20. #4220
    Elise Pelltier
    Location: Avery's Diner
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast


    Elise remained silent as she took a moment to digest the story Samuel had relayed to them. The tale of that tragic last day of Pinefall's Last Class.

    A cursed grove where something terrible happened that no one in town wants to talk about? I can't help but imagine that's connected to the Girl in Blue. Was she the one who was lynched, or did she lead the lynching?

    "I'm so sorry, Samuel."

    Elise fell silent again as she thought about the cloaked figure with the calming voice Samuel saw near the end of his story. The resemblance to another entity she'd encountered seemed uncanny.

    "On-on my first night here, at Pinefall, I had a dream," she glanced at Lucille as she continued, "Several of us did, actually."

    "I was in a grove, somewhere deep in the woods, and encountered a cloaked figure there, who called herself Muse. She warned us about impending danger, of the oncoming storm, and seems to act as our tether in this time loop. Although, she seemed to be somewhat uncertain as to how this all works. I-I wonder if she's not the same cloaked figure you saw? Or, at the very least, if they're not related entities."

    Samuel was, after all, drifting off into the unconscious where Muse dwelt at the time, wasn't he?

    "What about that... thing that Jake fought? Where did it come from? Was it trapped in the tree and released when it was destroyed, or did it come from the remains of the giant and had been manipulating Nevada somehow? Last Sunday it felt like there were forces trying to turn us against each other, I-I thought it might've been Michael's doing, but I'm wondering if there wasn't more at work there..."

    I still don't understand why Nevada turned on his friends like that. Was he being manipulated by some hateful force? Was that biological armour itself a curse here? A poisoned promise of power that only cause him pain and drove him to lash out at the world? Tommy or Jake might have a better idea of what was driving Nevada, but I'm not sure I want to ask them... Remmie seemed to recognize that Nevada was the pilot before she opened fire with that cursed revolver, but who knows where she is now?

    She considered Pinefall's Last Class. Albert, Angie, Jake, Rachel, Remmie, Tommy, Samuel, Nevada, Max, Devon, Patricia, and Eliyah, and the tragic fate that befell them. She realized that nearly all of them were familiar to her now.

    "Last week, I talked to Jake this morning and asked him if anyone else from the Last Class was still in Road's End, and he just listed himself, Rachel, Tommy, and sort of you and Remmie. That's not true though, is it? Nearly the whole class is back in town again. Albert, that's Dr. Roslin at End's Mercy, isn't it? Maxine, she's Ranger Savage now-"

    Ranger Max Savage. What a name.

    "-at Ghostwood National Forest. Eliyah and Tris are still here. Devon Rustfield's here too, actually-"

    Elise paused.

    "... actually, uh, Devon Rustfield was supposed to be my contact here. He was sent ahead to get the lay of the land, and then he seemed to have vanished a few weeks ago. I, uh, he's around too, but... Well, Hisa and Sakura met him at the Hospital last night. He's apparently apprehensive about meeting me-"

    -and I thought I was the one who was apprehensive about meeting him.

    "-although I'm not entirely sure why. He's apparently met me before, but I don't ever remember meeting him. I didn't even have any idea that he'd been a student here. He's-he's an Accentus now, by the way. I'm not sure if that's because of what happened that day or-"

    -because of something that was my fault.

    "-or something else though..."

    Elise sighed.

    "Still, other than Angie, it seems like the whole class has come back to Road's End. Although, speaking of Angie, do you know what happened to her? Was she okay?" asked Elise.

    She was down and out of the fight, well before the others got there. While Nevada seemed to have no qualms about hurting his friends, he only seemed to be out for Remmie's blood... That doesn't mean he hadn't taken the opportunity to finish her off before the others arrived though...

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