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Thread: Astronomika - Shooting Down Falling Stars (IC)

  1. #4821
    死徒(上級)Greater Dead Apostle Cheetose's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building - Infirmary
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast

    "Hmm..."

    I stared at the bloodstained sheets for a few more moments, then glanced around the infirmary one last time, before my attention turned towards the door.

    Though, even as I looked around, my mind was more occupied with thinking through what all those things could mean one more time, and also how to salvage the situation with Leena, who I ended up putting in a rather uncomfortable situation.

    "Yeah, let's go. It's unlikely that we'll find more here either way."

    As the others started leaving, I walked at the back with Leena, and gave her an encouraging smile.

    "Don't worry about it. I jumped to conclusions without realizing that you might not even remember these things too well. I mean...thinking about it, I'm not so sure if you should really know about any of these in the first place, with how long ago it was. But we can talk about it later."

  2. #4822
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Liana Skye & Elaine Winters
    Location: Pinefall High Dormitory - Zhou's & Yeong-Hui's Room
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast

    In the end, finding the room was not that hard.

    Given Scottie's knack for solving puzzles that came with the job, he was eventually able to sus out that there was really only one place where one could stuff an unseen room or two on the second floor. Thus, without hesitation, he had headed over there... and, at least for a moment, given Elaine and Liana the bizarre sight of a man walking through a perfectly normal wall. One headache later, however, the girls realized that there had been no wall in the first place - instead, merely a bit more of the corridor and two more doors waiting for them.

    Knocking on the first one produced a surprised yelp from the inside, along with: "Hawawa! Coming!"

    A fair of scurrying feet approached the door, and after unlocking it, the thing cracked ajar, revealing the eyes of young Yeong-Hui peeking from the crack. Those red orbs looked a bit nervous, as if she had been on the edge - though the sight of Scottie seemed to put her at ease.

    "O-oh, um, hello..." The young classmate greeted the trio. "Can I help...?"

    However, before anyone could answer, the door opened further, revealing from behind it a still somewhat bruised-looking Minato Coastrise. The taciturn boy shot an inquisitive glare towards Scottie, before eyeing up Liana and finally turning his attention towards Elaine. The blonde girl he, of course, recognized. The boy gave her a curt nod as a greeting.

    "... What is it?" He asked bluntly. "Did something else happen? Aside from... Subaru?"




    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast

    "I-I suppose..."

    As the two girls trailed behind the rest of the group, the bluehead let out a sheepish laughter that ended with slumped shoulders and a sigh.

    "I mean... to be honest, I don't remember a dang thing about my childhood. Or I do, but it's all so... muddled, right?" She continued. "What happened with Jo- m-my mom, when my dad left, not allowed to be who I really was... it's like there's this big shadow hanging over everything. A big blue shadow with red eyes. And it's sorta smothering everything under this suffocating blanket of forgetfulness. And whenever I think back to it, I start getting this headache..."

    She looked up at Hisa with a slightly lonely smile.

    "... But the way you spoke, you sounded pretty sure. And, uhm, well... I didn't wanna let you down, y'know? So I just kinda... blurted it out," Leena added. "But truth to be told, I don't know any Aleen. At least, I don't think I do. Maybe I did but..."

    She stared up ahead, stroking her chin.

    "Maybe... I should ask my m-mom. If anyone knows the truth about that, it's her."

    She had a point there. Josie McLampet, the current "head" of the once-esteemed McLampet family... she, if anyone, would know the truth about what exactly happened in Leena's childhood, and possibly how Aleen was connected to all this. No, it was quite likely that the mysterious woman would know even more. Knowing that she had married into the McLampet family, yet carried their trademark features of cerulean hair and red eyes... well, it wasn't hard for Hisa to guess what had happened there. She had read the case files regarding the Air Force's attempts at understanding the creature, the... thing they had captured.

    Even to this day, the shade of Patient Zero was firmly over this family. That much was clear from Josie, and that much was clear from Leena.

    ".... Hisa."

    Suddenly, Pyry's voice broke the black-haired girl from her thoughts. For some reason the tall boy had signaled the group to come to a halt. He stared up ahead, down the corridor, and at one door in particular. The door that would lead to the art class - one of the places that they had wanted to investigate. Pyry sniffed the air, his animalistic instincts clearly working overtime. As he did, those golden eyes narrowed, and a low growl emanated from within him.

    "I'm smelling blood," Pyry quietly said. "Lots of blood. Relatively fresh too."

    He glanced at his partner.

    "... Cover me when I open the door?"




    Prushka & Colt Davin
    Location: Forest Ranger's Cabin
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast

    "Pinkerton? As in, Jack Pinkerton?"

    Ranger Savage frowned upon hearing that.

    "Why would that exiled son of the Kincaids have one as well...?" She murmured, stroking her chin absentmindedly. "I don't think it's something they gave to him, since I know they're fiercely possessive of all the heirlooms they have at their forest compound. So it would be something that Jack found himself...?"

    Her eyes momentarily glanced over to Nevada, as if to ask the unspoken question: had Jack Pinkerton received his "shard" in a similar manner? Without even knowing its origin?

    Well, they did now know where these things had come from. That laughing darkness, Between-and-Betwixt.

    "U-um!"

    Suddenly, Alpa's voice cut into the conversation. All the eyes were on the fluffy girl, and she blushed a little, but soldiered on nevertheless.

    "I, um, don't know about purifying them or anything, or what the real function of these things is, but... with such a smell of death hanging about them, there would be one way to properly store them where they can't hurt people!" She said, sounding a bit proud of what she had figured out. "Um, that is, a funeral is a rite where things are basically laid to rest... made dormant, so that they cannot harm the living again. It's a matter of passage and rest, to leave behind attachments to the material world. And with such objects, I think it might be possible..."

    Ahti, upon hearing that, snorted.

    "What, you want to bury these things?" He asked, sounding a little amused. "I doubt it'd be that easy, no matter what rites you use. And where could we even find a 'grave' that fits something as accursed as these?"

    Alpa hummed in thought, before suddenly snapping her fingers in realization.

    "I... well, it might not be a matter of 'where' but 'who'. A grave can mean many things. As long as the conditions are the same, they could be made dormant," she explained. "So if we had a being that symbolized a grave... or a grave-guardian perhaps, maybe they could take upon themselves the burden for now, at least with the right rituals?"

    Ahti raised an eyebrow.

    "Grave-guardian?" He asked. "You mean like a draugr? A barrow-wight?"

    The fluffy gravedigger only nodded, causing the tall boy to fall silent in thought. He stared at the shard of mineralized wood, absent-mindedly scratching the top of Prushka's head as if she had been some sort of stress toy.

    "Shards of wood... sense of death... a barrow-wight... born from the darkness..." He murmured slowly. "Why does it... almost sound vaguely familiar...?"

  3. #4823
    Vlovle Bloble's Avatar
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    Prushka
    Location: Forest Ranger's Cabin
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast


    "The Devil's Dishes, Ahti."

    This is all beyond me. The metaphysical side of the Turnside in general is a mystery to those of us raised on science textbooks. But this much is obvious, isn't it?

    "We found evidence of a vampire there, remember? If it's a walking grave you need, what better place to plant this stake than an undead's heart?"

    Yep, this head of mine is still working! Even if it's being stifled by...

    Wait. Wait a minute. This sensation-!

    "Eep!"

    I raise a hand to block my head from wayward pats.

    "S-Scrooge! I'm not some kinda p-pet! You can't just... Geeze... shouldnt've left my helmet with Briggs... it's supposed to stop this kinda stuff..."
    Last edited by Bloble; December 13th, 2023 at 03:36 PM.

  4. #4824
    Are you for real? Katie's Avatar
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    Lucille Faraday
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building - Sae Min's Office
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast


    Ransacked. Finding Sae Min’s address was going to be much, much more difficult than she thought. And with every moment, every second, Hwan was doing who knows what, interrogating a nondescript teacher about their plans and getting himself in harm’s way. She shouldn’t feel frustrated about this. What did she recently learn?

    Not everything is her responsibility and that she should ask for help. Currently she is disregarding both pieces of advice, because old habits die hard and she knows it’s a bad idea but if there is someone who is stupid enough to look after someone as shady as Hwan it may as well be her. In her heart, she apologizes to the imaginary Sakura and Mercedes in her mind.

    Unfortunately, she is not sorry enough to change course, and so she takes the logical course of action and flips through the list of profiles, trying to deduce the missing student via process of elimination. And read her own profile. Then she’ll rummage through the desk herself and see if Sae Min left any personal identification here.

  5. #4825
    The Time-Governing Twelve Covenants Airen's Avatar
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    Liana Skye
    Location: Pinefall High Dormitory - Zhou's & Yeong-Hui's Room
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast


    There had never been a wall in the first place.

    Looking at it now, her cognitive systems assure her that there had never been a wall in this corridor; there had always been two more doors here, so why had she ever thought otherwise? It's a disquieting notion that has the raven-haired woman quiet in the face of it's insistence, at least at first, when one hand is clutching at her head, acting up in a sort of physical denial of the truth. It's a violent pulsation behind her eyes, brief in nature, but painful enough that her footsteps cease, the weight of each footfall more unwanted pressure on her eyes.

    It had lasted until the wall was gone, fading away with it.

    Seconds maybe, at the most.

    There was never a wall here, why had she ever thought otherwise?

    "...I see."

    That's quite an annoying ability.

    "A mental block?" She muses, half to herself and half to Elaine, who as expected seems to have shared in the delusion. "This was always here, but we just weren't allowed to notice... I suppose that's the mystery student's power at work. Some sort of presence erasure that breaks if you see a contradiction...? One that Scottie could just see through? Makes me wonder how it works..."

    A pause.

    "Could be worth making a habit of keeping all doors closed from now on..." She says quietly. "See if any of them open on their own... Might be able to catch them that way."

    There has to be a weak point in it.

    Is it necessary to directly observe the contradiction? If not, it might be possible to catch them with something as simple as flour, or just turning the sprinkler system on and looking for the outline in the falling water, but...

    Well, nothing in this town was ever easy.

    "...Or maybe double check the number of cups at a table? See if it accounts for all details. If this person can 'hide' themselves like they 'hid' this wall, they could very well be around us most of the time and we're just not seeing them."

    Which is more then a little creepy.

    Still, she ultimately shrugs and moves on when the others do to the first of the two doors and finds...

    Quote Originally Posted by Little one
    "O-oh, um, hello..." The young classmate greeted the trio. "Can I help...?"
    Another child, caught up in this mess.

    Where she just returns Minato's (or at least, who she assumed was Minato) inquisitive look with one of her own (he did look rather beat up) ultimately, with his attention moving directly to Elaine, she decides to wait to be introduced before saying anything (they were coming here to ask his help after all, so being polite was only fair) although...

    "..."

    As a sworn ally to children...

    She smiles gently at the younger girl, and gives her a small wave.

    Zee, still on her shoulder -and sensing his moment perhaps- chooses to meow instead.
    Last edited by Airen; December 6th, 2023 at 04:35 PM.
    Exodus (Complete)

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

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

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

    Because of you.

    Please, remember it warmly.

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




    Mugen No Sekai

    "The Illusion Incomplete Memories Produce Are,

    Fleeting, Disappearing into the Future,

    Until the Ruins of Yesterday Overflow,

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

  6. #4826
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    John Dove
    Location: Pinefall High Dormitory – Outside
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast

    "Ka ka."

    The laughter of the noble moonlight brushes against his back as John Dove turns away. His path is set now, for there are many things for him to do. Many things for him and those he knows. It might be a mire of conspiracy, of half-truths and lies, of hidden things that were never meant to be uncovered... but with this decision, he has taken the first step. After all, it's not quicksand that they are trapped in. It is darkness. And while it may seem endless and all-encompassing, as long as one is walking forward, they are sure to emerge into light one day.

    Behind him, watching as he marches forward to what he hopes is eventually tomorrow, the lunar princess folds her arms and watches on, a wry smile playing on her fanged mouth.

    "Truly, they grow up so fast. 'Tis what they, mayhaps, call the syndrome of an empty nest," she spoke quietly, mostly to herself, though loud enough for the boy to still catch those words. "I wonder..."

    The vampire gazed up at the sky, at something only she could see.

    "... Was this what you wanted, in the end? For myself to guide these moppets, lest they suffer the same fate as us?"

    There was something very forlorn in that voice.

    "Hey, you... am I doing this right?"

    Who did she speak to?

    Perhaps John Dove would not ever know. Indeed, there was a twinge of realization in his heart that whoever the nosferat addressed was not important to events that he and his classmates were trapped within. It was merely something else brushing against this mystery, this harrowing tale. Another time, another place - where the only remains was the vampire that had went on to change the course of his own life.

    But, in a way, whatever it had been, had brought Lenore, and thus him, to this point.

    And wasn't that how life worked?

    Still, now, he could feel the crimson eyes watch him go.

    "--- Carry on, my wayward son."

    Lenore's voice quietly spoke at his distant back.

    "There'll be peace when you are done."

    And in a growing gust carrying the scent of vanilla... she was gone.

    He didn't have to turn back to look to realize that.




    Elise-Marie Pelltier
    Location: Listening Station Sigma
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast

    The Benefactor let out a warbled, synthesized chuckle at the litany of questions that fell from Elise's lips. They held their cup of tea and saucer with their hands, never lifting to drink from it, almost as if merely enjoying the scent wafting towards their nose.

    "To take it from the top..."

    The eyes of the hooded figure, unseen by Elise, seemed to bore into her - and the brunette girl could sense some deep amusement from them.

    "Yes. I knew of you from 21 years ago. I must say, you do not look a day older," The Benefactor spoke. "But then again, I believe that is part of the idea. Your body is... quite special, from what I understand. Mind you, we never discussed the specifics of it. Considering our natures, ours was... a strained relationship, to put it mildly. But never did I dislike you. Not then, and not now."

    Elise could feel LBJ let out a snort within her mind.

    [That's putting it mildly. You realized it too, right?] Her other half asked the brunette. [This 'Benefactor'... I'm betting our dear halberd that what we're looking at is a vampire. Or something of that nature, at least. There's a smell of blood hanging about them heavily.]

    Afterwards, her split-self let out a sigh.

    [... But no. I'm fine for now. I've got a hunch, but at the same time, I'm pretty sure the reason they're hiding their identity is for a purpose. So I'm willing to wait until they play their cards.]

    What was that supposed to mean?

    "As to what comes to your other question..."

    The Benefactor's voice drew Elise back from her thoughts, just in time to see Nikolai give the hooded figure an odd look - though the Russian youth did not say anything.

    "... He referred to this place as a 'Dead Zone' because that is what it is. In a rather literal sense," The Benefactor continued, setting their cup to the table to gesture with their gloved hands. "Perhaps a 'black spot' would be an appropriate term too. For you see..."

    They extended their index fingers, putting them together before drawing them apart.

    "Road's End and their surrounding area, some 20 miles in all direction from the town center, forms a natural closed system. Information cannot pass in, and cannot pass out. Those inside are unable to confirm the status of the world at large beyond the borders of this town, while those outside cannot confirm what is actually happening within the town itself," The Benefactor explained. "From my own experimentations, it has become clear that even electromagnetic waves are prohibited from passing through this supposed 'barrier' between Road's End and the rest of the world."

    Nikolai nodded, munching on his sandwich.

    "From what I was briefed at Praque, those of... 'in the know' at US government have issued a gag order for now regarding this strange phenomena. FBU is on the move, and it's thanks to their involvement that our agents have been having hard time infiltrating this area. As far as I understand, I'm the first and only one who made it," the Russian mage explained. "The thing is, you can't approach the town as normal. Those who do merely... disappear, for the lack of a better word. Which is why I used the old WW2 era tunnels to reach this town, travelling underground."

    The Benefactor snorted.

    "Underground. In other words, unable to observe the boundary between Road's End and the world at large. That, if anything, seems important," they commented. "You see, Elise-Marie Pelltier... it is not merely that time seems to loop within the town of Road's End. It is my current belief that Road's End as a whole may as well be a separate world from the rest. A miniature cosmic egg, if you will. Or, if you'd like, akin to the powers of an esper. We have been secreted away, and shut inside a catbox for the purposes of trapping something many people are very keen on getting their hands on."

    An awkward, tense silence fell after those words. However, within her mind, Elise could practically feel LBJ frown.

    [... All those words, and they also side-stepped your question, didn't they?] Her split-half mused. [Wonder why?]

    Then, as if in answer to the hidden personality's question, The Benefactor pointed at its hidden eyes.

    "I, however, possess a certain... quality that makes it easier for me to see through this loop of time. Indeed, I am experiencing the same loop as you are, but through my eyes, it seems more of a... one long continuation, if that makes sense."

  7. #4827
    死徒(上級)Greater Dead Apostle Cheetose's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building - Infirmary
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast

    "You're not letting anyone down," I answered while smiling faintly, "There's nothing wrong with not knowing some things. And it's not the end of the world either. One way or another we'll figure things out in the end. What's important is that we can all be here to take care of each other."

    A wider, more encouraging smile followed my words, before a more neutral expression returned to my face as I started pondering over one another, perhaps important, detail.

    That is, the headache she could feel when she tried to remember...

    What exactly was behind that, I wonder?

    "Still, asking her could certainly help, if you are comfortable with it. But it's perfectly okay to take things slow too - or to never learn about your past in the first place. There's nothing wrong with just focusing on tackling the challenges the present and the future provides, is there?"

    Before more could be said, Pyry's words came like a cold shower that immediately changed the atmosphere, and made it hard to concentrate on anything else.

    Though, if it was just blood, and there were no sounds of conflict, then that likely meant...

    "Yeah." I nodded, without saying anything else, as I mentally prepared to deal with anything that could happen.

  8. #4828
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building - Infirmary
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast

    Getting a nod from Hisa, Pyry settled himself against the sturdy door leading into the classroom. To-Totesh readied her wristbow, taking cover behind the wall, while Mercedes quickly pulled Leena to the side, so that the two of them - who weren't exactly experts at Turnside dangers - were out of the harm's way. With everyone in position, the tall youth grabbed the handle of the door, readied himself, let out a quiet breath... and tried to bust the door open.

    Thunk!

    What he, instead, realized was that the door was firmly locked from the inside.

    "Huh...?" Pyry murmured, looking confused for a moment.

    Mercedes' eyes narrowed, however.

    "Like, let me. I think I could shimmy that lock op---"

    She was interrupted by the blonde boy taking a step back.

    "No time," Pyry grunted. "We'll just go in the old-fashioned way."

    And with that, he delivered a kick to the door that nearly took it off its hinges, causing the slice of hinged wood to violently erupt backwards and slam against the wall and it swung around, barely holding on.

    What was revealed behind was the arts classroom. A place where none of them had really spent that much time at. Most of the classes at Pinefall had happened in the other rooms of the main building, and thus none of them had had a reason to explore here - especially since none in the group were that artistically gifted or enthusiastic. Thus, gazing into the room lit up by the overcast sky outside, it was almost as if they were seeing it for the first time.

    First, the room was large and open. Clearly whoever had set it up had wanted to make sure there was a lot of empty space in the middle. Approaching from the north, on the opposite wall to the south there were large, tall windows that let natural light seep in. Just like all the windows on the facade of the main building, these weren't the types you could open to let breeze set in, but rather, purely for lighting purposes, as often was with old buildings. Underneath these windows were bunch of tables were aspiring artists could set their stuff down if needed.

    The eastern wall was dominated by shelves and cabinets, holding arts supplies. The group saw paints, they saw brushes, they saw miniature mannequins for posing, they saw model props, they saw things they didn't even have a name for. Palette knives, rags, jugs, canvases, rules, sketchbooks, pencils, erases... whatever it was, if it was related to arts, it could be probably found there. Meanwhile the western wall was dominated by one large blackboard, a bunch of stacked chairs in one corner and a large TV on a wheeled cart in the other. There were also a bunch of easels and larger canvases, along with creepy-looking model sculptures of humans, set against that wall - with some of them still covered by white sheets to prevent dust - making for a rather busy sight.

    But all of that...

    All of that...

    ... Was quite easily forgotten when their eyes fell upon the very center of the room.

    "Eeek!"

    Leena's shriek was audible as she hastily turned around, burying her face onto Mercedes' chest to shut away the sight. The starlet, meanwhile, had an expression of pale fury on her face - similar to that of To-Totesh, who looked as intense as a hawk. And there was a good reason for it. After all, as the center of the arts classroom had been kept wide and open - most likely if there was ever to be painting from live models - now it served a different purpose. A couple of easels had been set there at the center, each with their own, empty canvas. And before them...

    --- Lay the dead body of Caleb Montjoy, his back stained with seven dots of red and a singular, lethal wound that was all too familiar now.

    But that was not all.

    Not by a long shot.

    "... That bastard...!" Pyry growled, his fists clenched so tight his knuckles had turned white.

    There, right next to Caleb, drawn on the floor with either red paint or his blood, was a message.

    A message that was a shrill and gleeful as a murderer's laugh.

    Or perhaps...

    One-eyed Woman's Grin.
    UNFORTUNATELY, I'M VERY, VERY REAL

  9. #4829
    Time to burn some dread Daneel Rush's Avatar
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    Location: Pinefall High Dormitory – Outside
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast



    John Dove is alone.

    That is not precisely true, though; the eager Northwestern wind runs unrestrained, striking his well-dressed form and scrambling his hair. The trees at the edge of the campus rustle an endless threnody that denies John the comfort of real silence. And of course, he is constantly wreathed in the conceptual netherworld enforced by the artifact he wears on his left hand. Dead, reborn, yet constantly walking with and in death. Such is the boy’s liminal existence.

    The dove was one of Ishtar’s sacred animals, so he guesses it makes only sense he is carrying this thing, a symbol of the goddess as she who defied the netherworld and eventually was relieved from the fate of death.

    John then glances at both the school’s main building and the nearer dormitory. His intent is to go back to Mr. Oceandrop’s office, but…regardless of the circumstances, it was irresponsible of him to let Sakura go on her own. He is eager to retrace steps, reorganize his thoughts, and redirect his efforts, but the safety of his classmates should ever be paramount.

    His new life has just begun, and he already feels like he failed as a man. Such is John Dove.

    His footsteps on the grass make no sound all the way back to the dorms’ main entrance.

    “Sakura?” He calls out. “Anyone?”

    Some might even fail to recognize John’s loud voice, as it is not habitual of him to elevate it to such a volume. He does not wait for an answer before assessing his next move. While it is highly likely people have already moved around, he might still be able to find someone at Subaru’s crime scene. More importantly, John remains aware of the existence of a very immediate and dire threat, one that wears the guise of one of his classmates. In other words, if he finds a lone classmate on the way, he cannot assume they are the people they appear to be to the senses. Furthermore, they may be yet another actor that even defies sensory perception. For that challenge, unfortunately, he still lacks an answer.

    Records. He needs records. Anything on the town’s history, and that of Pinefall and the Oceandrop Project. There’s the school library, and whatever personal documents the faculty may possess, especially Mr. Oceandrop, Sae Min, and Ms. Leuzinger as well as the social studies teacher, Miss Costa. But first, he must reassess the status of his allies. It would be beyond alarming to find himself the lone one standing in the time he spent with the most cherished Miss Lenore. Thus, John sets off to the girls’ section of the dorms. First, to Subaru’s room. If he finds nobody there…well, he’ll come up with something.

  10. #4830
    Elise-Marie Pelltier
    Location: Listening Station Sigma
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast


    Quote Originally Posted by The Benefactor
    "Yes. I knew of you from 21 years ago. I must say, you do not look a day older, but then again, I believe that is part of the idea. Your body is... quite special, from what I understand. Mind you, we never discussed the specifics of it. Considering our natures, ours was... a strained relationship, to put it mildly. But never did I dislike you. Not then, and not now."
    Incorruptible. She was as she'd always been. Except for possibly a change in hair colour, she was virtually the same as she'd been when she was here twenty-one years ago. She was surprised no one had noted that she'd resembled someone who'd been there once before, but then again, it was almost two decades ago, and a dark part of the town's history most people would probably rather not remember.

    It really does explain why Devon would feel so awkward about meeting me though.

    She scratched the top of her head sheepishly.

    "Uh, yeah. I'm still trying to wrap my head around that. I just learned about that part of me during my little episode last night. That was also one of the things past-me decided to forget. I've got less than seventeen years worth of memories rattling around my brain now, and I'm really not sure how much of it, uh, actually happened the way I think it happened."

    [Uhg, we're going to have to comb through our memories later and figure out what's real and what's not, but that's something that'll have to wait. It's more of a quiet contemplation with a very, very large cup of tea sort of thing than we've got time for right now.]

    [Of all the books and TV shows we've watched and read, I wonder which I've actually read or watched, and which past-us read and retained the memory of? I feel like the best use of memory erasure would be being able to reread or rewatch something for the first time again, although I guess past-us had other priorities.]

    "Have you heard the song by The Tragically Hip, Locked in the Truck of a Car? The opening lyrics are about a story of a shark that they found that had an entire suit of 16th century conquistador armour in its stomach, but they weren't able to actually determine the age of it, but it has to at least be older than the armour it ate, right? They don't know how old I am, they found armour in my belly. That's about how I feel right now."

    The rest of the song is about a guilty man trying to cover up and forget his crime, which certainly feels relevant to me as well. Maybe it is better if I don't understand.

    Elise turned her thoughts about the song away from Pierre Laporte and thought about the beast who seemingly ate a conquistador five hundred years ago instead.

    [Given our elemental affinity, powers, and that we aren't affected by age, does that make us a shark too?]

    "What-what was the old me like anyway?" asked Elise.

    She paused and frowned to herself.

    "And did I really used to be blonde?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Elise
    [That's putting it mildly. You realized it too, right? This 'Benefactor'... I'm betting our dear halberd that what we're looking at is a vampire. Or something of that nature, at least. There's a smell of blood hanging about them heavily.]
    Elise mentally nodded to her other self. There was the smell of blood they'd sensed from The Benefactor, and all the things associated with them: Nikolai's Copper Bones Key, and their giant spider familiar who nested outside.

    [Not to mention Prushka reported finding a preserved corpse that had been converted into a feeding bag when she was exploring the Devil's Dishes. There's evidence that there's a vampire here, and I'm pretty sure we're looking at them,] agreed Elise, [Given their nature, and past-us' nature, I wonder what the context was that we met? Were they another student at Pinefall twenty-one years ago?]

    Elise took a moment to digest The Benefactor and Nikolai's description of the strange phenomenon that surrounded Road's End. A myriad of questions ran through Elise's mind as she contemplated it, but ultimately she found her thoughts focused on what Michael Lowgate had said when he'd revealed the nature of the cursed spear he'd been carrying when they confronted him by the Lighthouse.

    [A miniature world, a boxed garden, under a watchful eye of a god…] paraphrased Elise, [When Michael Lowgate was prattling on about that, I assumed that boxed garden was where he'd found Gram Hrami, but was he talking about the whole of Road's End and its environs? Are we somehow under Odin's eye, which is why Nikolai could enter through the old World War II tunnels, but others just vanished trying to enter over land?]

    "So it's like we're in some sort of singularity then? Like a black hole? No information can leave Road's End once it's crossed the event horizon?"

    Quote Originally Posted by The Benefactor
    "I, however, possess a certain... quality that makes it easier for me to see through this loop of time. Indeed, I am experiencing the same loop as you are, but through my eyes, it seems more of a... one long continuation, if that makes sense."
    "How… how long has this been going on for now from your perspective?" asked Elise, somewhat worriedly, "Have I made it out this way in any other loops?"

    She paused, and glanced over to Nikolai. The newest arrival to their s

    "For that matter, what about outside? What was the date when you entered Road's End through those old tunnels, Nikolai?"

  11. #4831
    地獄待ち Spinach's Avatar
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    Colt Davin
    Location: Forest Ranger's Cabin
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast


    Dragger? Borrow white?

    This new world had no end to its jargon. All he could pick up from the conversation going on around him was that, apparently, burying these black shards was a good idea. On top of that, they might do it funeral-like and even give the things a grave. Why or how they planned on doing that, Colt couldn’t begin to guess.

    Trying to wrap his head around so many new rules that made up his reality would stretch it so thin that the boy would tear apart, so he just gave up on it. Instead, his eyes fell on what was in front of him, what he could see.

    The black shard on the table.

    Not only could he see it.

    He casually reached out and plucked the metallic wood from the surface of the table. Everyone seemed so perturbed by it, almost afraid of it, but staring from afar was going nowhere.

    Colt would get nowhere listening to all the theorizing and postulating. Everyone else was in their own exclusive world of ideas, but right in front of him was a purely tangible object. He turned it around in his hand, inspecting it from every angle. Tracing the length of it with his finger, testing the weight of the black shard in his grip.

    He held it up closer, narrowing his eyes.

    Before he realized it, something slid into place, and a warm feeling began to bubble up under his retina.


  12. #4832
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Lucille Faraday
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building - Sae Min's Office
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast
    [BGM]

    It took a while to flip through the pages, but in the end... Lucille came to a sobering conclusion.

    --- Nobody was missing from the file.

    All 33 students she knew or had heard about... all recorded here without a fail. Starting with Bahkauv, Gabi and ending with West, Mercedes. And not just the regular faces. The strange girl that had been rumoured, Alpa Bāgha was here too - along with the Coastrise siblings. And underneath the file for Alex Terrot, there was a special mention - along with another picture - for Xeni Techne. For what it was worth, it seemed those two girls had been issued the same student number, #29. So, this naturally left a rather peculiar question...

    Whose page had been removed from the file?

    Student #17...

    Who were they?

    And who had removed that page to begin with? Judging by the ripped out edge of the page itself, it had been done in a hurry - so perhaps not Sae Min. One of the students, then? The person who had ransacked through this room? Questions upon questions, piling up the further they went... it was like that was all this town had to offer. Nothing but questions.

    Nevertheless, as Lucille's thumbed through the book once more, her eyes fell onto student #10. Herself.

    #10 - Faraday, Lucille.

    Name: Lucille Faraday Age: 16
    Country of Origin: USA Drop Distance: 96

    A textbook example of perfectionism. Due to the traumatic events of her past, suffers from PTSD that manifests in particular ways - most commonly holding herself to impossible standards, hyper-responsibility and catastrophic thinking. DDS may be possibly linked to her mind trying to cope under the strain of this heightened sense of culpability, believing herself to be capable of stopping, preventing or fixing situations she ultimately cannot. As such, her mind rationalises the blame she showers upon herself by thinking that under the internal logic it holds, she should have been able to prevent the tragedies around her.

    I'm keeping a personal eye on her. Living in this way is no way to go through life. Someone as young as her deserves to be as happy as everyone else. If T41 can ease her burdened mind, I won't hesitate to prescribe it to her if a situation arises. In other words, she serves as a good reminder of why we are doing what we are doing. It's to let these kids have some semblance of a normal life.


    Silence in the room reigned as heavy as ever after Lucille finished reading her own profile. It was short and succinct... but only the blonde girl herself knew how to feel about it. Still, afterwards, her eyes drifted to the one other thing she had found during her investigations. It was no personal identification of Sae Min, nor any hint for her address. However...

    --- It was a voucher for Avery's Diner.

    And not just the any kind. The big, bold letters mentioned that it was a discount voucher for a half-off deep dish pizza, given after every tenth purchase. And this wasn't the only voucher that Lucille had found in the drawer, along with some receipts for pizza deliveries. In other words...

    Sae Min seemed to be a regular at A.D.'s.




    John Dove
    Location: Pinefall High Dormitory – Outside
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast
    [BGM]

    "Over here, John."

    Before he manages to make it to the entrance of the dorms, John finds his call answered. Searching for the source, he eventually spots that the familiar voice came from the spot he had been only mere moments ago, before his little meeting with his past. There, underneath the large tree, squatted the form of Sakura Tsukioka. She was quietly gazing at the body of Gabi Bahkauv, a far-away look in her eyes.

    As John approached the brunette girl, she lifted her gaze to meet his, and offered him a slightly worn-down smile.

    "Sorry. I didn't make it too far, in the end," she admitted. "Once you and that... thing... were gone, I just had to come back. After all..."

    She glanced sideways towards what remained of their androgynous classmate.

    "... I feel like I owed it to him."

    The Northwestern wind picked up slightly, causing both of them to shiver. Sakura fell silent, though in that pregnant pause, one could easily feel the the trembling footsteps of more words that were about to follow. And which eventually did, falling from Sakura's lips with a tired, fatigued tone.

    "We saw him, you know?" Sakura started. "Back at the lighthouse. When we were fighting against Michael, he used his abilities to force the spirits trapped in that place to attack us... and Gabi was amongst them. In other words, even when he died, he wasn't released from this place. He remained here, trapped by that white eyesore atop that cliff."

    She put her thumb towards her mouth and bit into her nail, chewing on it with slight frustration.

    "... Why? What's the point of something like that? Why not let the dead rest, move onto where they're supposed to go? I..." She paused again. "... From what Hisa Momoi explained to me at the hospital, that lighthouse is something truly strange. It's not just made out of volcanic rock. No, the material is far more likely to be meteorite, one touched by lava and spread in a large area during an eruption. The pockets of chondrules along the surface have a surfacing of aether, which bounds the 'breath of life' like the aether traps the 'breath of the planet' inside the atmosphere. Throw in whatever terrible thing happened at that lighthouse in the past, which is like a wound in the metaphysical canvas that draws in souls and, well... you've got a beacon that will never let souls pass on out of Road's End. Heck... it might be why Michael's soul was here too, even though he died somewhere completely else."

    A darkened expression floated upon the older girl's face.

    "But why does something like that exist? Why did they build it in the 1800's? And why can't it just leave us alone?"

    She punched the ground, her eyes trained at Gabi's lifeless body.

    "... Why can't we leave this place even when we die?"




    Elise-Marie Pelltier
    Location: Listening Station Sigma
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast

    "A shark with an armor in its belly...?"

    For a moment, The Benefactor seemed to fall silent... but soon enough, they threw their head back and let out the strangest sound. It took Elise a moment to realize thanks to the mechanical distortion over their voice, but this hooded figure... they were laughing. A full-on out belly laughter, as if something she had said was incredibly funny. Both Travis and Augusta stared at them with confused expressions, while Nikolai merely shook his head in mild exasperation.

    "Oh, that's quite the apt metaphor. Both for yourself, and... for this situation at large, one could say. Though less I speculate the better, perhaps. Words not thought through have a bad habit of muddying the soup and contaminating the water," The Benefactor finally said, fixing their invisible eyes upon Elise once more. "But what comes to the Elise-Marie Pelltier that I knew... well, I do admit that as you are right now, you are much... well, 'softer' is not the right word. Perhaps 'agreeable'? Back then you weren't a cruel person, but there was a certain... sharpness, to you. Like steel. Cold steel."

    The hooded figure raised their cup of tea, clear amusement in their voice.

    "And for what it's worth, I do believe your blonde locks back then had been dyed. Never did I hear why you'd done so, of course."

    The mystery of her former hair only deepened, it seemed.

    "That being said, I'm interested too," Augusta suddenly jumped into the conversation, munching on a sandwich. "My chronometers haven't informed me of anything out of place with the current time and place. Or rather, according to them, it's business as usual."

    Nikolai rubbed his chin, nodding at the words of the green-haired girl.

    "Then it lines up with what I've observed so far. See, when I arrived here, it was 10th of September. It had taken a few days to cross the Atlantic and slip into the country unnoticed. It took me about a day to traverse the tunnels and reach Road's End, meaning I emerged on the night of the 11th. And now, about five days later, it is the 11th of September once more," he said with a thoughtful expression. "Though considering I did not observe anything out of the ordinary, I believe I must have just missed the 'reset', meaning that I actually emerged from the sewers on 6th, from your perspective."

    "This is so confusing..." Travis grumbled, rubbing his temples. "So, what about you, hoodie? How long have you been part of this whole thing?"

    His eyes snapped towards The Benefactor, who chuckled darkly in response - their modulated voice warping the sound even further.

    "Oh, that would be... If I have not made any mistakes, I count 52 'weeks' so far," they responded with a chillingly nonchalant tone. "Though do mind, I do not know if I entered this loop at the very start or not."

    Travis nearly dropped his cup.

    "F-fifty-two!? What the hell!?" He asked, balking at the number. "That's... that's just...!"

    "My estimation, yes," The Benefactor continued, not too bothered by his outburst. "And that does bring us to a certain favour I wanted to ask of you all. To make a plan going forward, we will need answers - answers I want you to acquire. Information from someone who knows far more than he's letting on..."

    Elise could practically see the nocturnal eyes beneath the hood narrow.

    "... James Halloway."




    Prushka & Colton Davin
    Location: Forest Ranger's Cabin
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast

    "Heh. Your defenseless noggin' is as good as mine," Ahti said with a smirk as he continued doing as he pleased. "Besides, it makes for a good stress ball. Dunno why but your head's kinda squishy, if you haven't noticed."

    Still, while he did seem to have plenty of fun at Prushka's expense, the tall young man didn't lose his focus either.

    "But... yeah. I guess that tracks. Sorta. I mean, I don't think that's exactly what I had in mind but..." He grunted a bit. "An undead creature like that would definitely fit the bill. A walking grave alright... guardian of chthonic artifacts."

    Alpa gave a hesitant nod, taking a step back from Ahti as if to make sure her head wasn't in the danger zone.

    "Y-yes... that lines up with my thoughts. Though, perhaps not a vampire exactly, but something of similar nature. As far as I understand, vampires aren't specifically known for guarding treasure..." she mused. "Hmm... a vampire who's not a vampire... similar yet different, with a different purpose..."

    While everyone's attention was focused on Ahti, Prushka and Alpa, Colt in the meanwhile palmed the shard from the table to take a closer look at it. The moment the jet-black thing touched his skin, he felt a certain shiver pass through his body. There was a sense of familiarity within it... a certain cackle and a certain grin that he could feel associated with the thing, though he instinctively pushed those thoughts out of his mind as if on a self-preservation instinct. That mental monster was something that was best kept out of mind, out of sight.

    No, all he needed to do was to focus on the object on his palm.

    And as he did, as he stared through it, as his vision unfocused and his eyes drifted enough to intermingle their viewpoints...

    --- He could feel a satisfying click at the back of his mind.

    Like cocking a hammer.

    And in that instant, it was like a limb that he had slept on was suddenly freed. Blood came flowing into the atrophied veins again, ones so rudely awakened by last night's desperation. The skin stretched around the dome of his head squirmed, awakening from a deep sleep as the base of the back of his neck felt itchy, to the point like a burning sensation was flaring up within. But once started, this natural instinct was impossible to stop. He had adjusted his eyes, he had awakened his vision, and in that moment, Colt Davin felt the pull once more... pull of his natural disposition, even before this power had awoken within him.

    His eyes sharpened.

    His vision dove further.

    His senses became a manner of expressing his will - and through it, he saw past the charred exterior of what he held in his hand.

    The concept behind craftmanship, a hypothesis upon the general structure, analysis regarding the composition materials, estimate based on the manufacturing and skills utilized, empathical resonance with the experience gained, simulating the effects of accumulated time, building a model of existence through information downloaded and stored, now running a simulation...!

    The world underneath his vision wavered.

    And then, it changed.

    And what he saw...

    --- Was a scene and place from another time.


    As Colt wrenched himself away from the scene before his eyes, back into the world of reality, he found himself panting heavily. Around him, Odic Particles - like fragmented glass - were spinning in the air, reflecting the moment he had experienced. All eyes were on him now after he had suddenly activated his ESP without any warning... but rather than danger, it had brought him answers.

    Colt couldn't quite make sense of what he had seen... but he had seen things. He had seen jealousy from a liar, who fashioned a weapon out of a plant most innocent. He had seen the death of a deity. He had seen how that weapon exchanged hands, into those of a mortal king who slew hundreds upon hundreds in his rampage across olden lands. He had seen a crypt, deep and piled full of treasure, where the weapon then waited. He had seen the famed warrior who wrought it from the hands of the undead king, bringing with his decision merely more pain.

    And he saw the horned creature, that satyr, caressing the blade of the weapon as if he had known all along what would happen.

    This shard in his hand...

    It wasn't metal.

    It wasn't stone.

    It was indeed wood.

    --- A weapon neither a sword nor an arrow. A blade to kill gods with.

  13. #4833
    Time to burn some dread Daneel Rush's Avatar
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    Location: Pinefall High Dormitory – Outside
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast



    John listens quietly, glancing at Bakhauv’s covered corpse with solemnity. The misery and disappointment that brought him to tears is gone, or perhaps smothered by the sadness that comes from saying goodbye to the most loved one. Whatever the case, he is done crying, at least for now.

    He wonders what he can do for his classmate. A comforting touch or embrace? A shoulder to lean on? Sakura is dating Colton Davin, so neither would be appropriate. Besides, there is always the possibility that this person is not really Sakura Tsukioka. John Dove will not live his days on the tip of his toes, but he would rather not make things easier for those after his life, either.

    In any case, he will have to do something with only his words. However, his mind is already working through the information Sakura has spilled out in her frustration. Setting aside the original builder’s intentions when choosing such a specific material, it was only the later ‘terrible thing’ that granted its current ‘’spirit-drawing’ properties. So…was the lighthouse becoming a soul trap just a sad coincidence? Or did someone arrange for it to happen, like so many other things going on within this cage of spacetime?

    “Perhaps…there’s somebody who must remain trapped in here, dead or alive. Well, considering how things are around here, there’s probably multiple factions trying to keep one or multiple targets trapped in here.”

    That in itself is the problem. John keeps letting himself feel paralyzed by the magnitude of the challenge, and the sheer number of actors involved. When he considers trapped in a web involving the likes of the US Air Force, Montauk, Gottlieb Pharma, the Church, and the FBI, he is rendered stock still and unable to figure out what strand to follow. Patient Zero, DDS, Dot F. Loonwaters, Student No. 17, the Disembodied Man—black box after black box after black box.

    And that in itself is the problem. Stop thinking about them. Put the murderer or murderers in our midst aside for a moment. Discard everything else but the core of the issue.

    “…Road’s End. Everything begins and ends with Road’s End. It’s the town itself, and its history, that all these actors are using for whatever purposes. The foundational problem is Road’s End.”

    He kneels next to Sakura, turning to present his stern gaze to her.

    “Even the killer seems to be projecting Pinefall’s earlier tragedies on us, forcing us to relive them, reenact them. Whether they’re a local driven by past trauma, or an outsider taking advantage of an existing story to adorn their villainy, the point is that it’s all about Road’s End and its secret history.”

    All these factions didn’t just happen to choose Road’s End for their separate plots—they were drawn to it, just like the lighthouse pulls the souls of the dead. Its history, its tragedies and circumstances, created a simmering cauldron of possibilities that beckoned witches to stir it.

    “That is what we have to resolve. It doesn’t matter how many factions are acting in the shadows, taking advantage of this town and dragging us into their plots; if we put this town’s skeletons to rest, or drag them out into the light, then we’ll take away their playground. It doesn’t matter if they’re government conspiracies or supernatural plans; they’re fueled and driven by secrecy and mystery. Remove the mystery, and we take away their power.”

    It is already a well-established fact that John Dove is not the person to look for when in need of succor. What this current John Dove can offer is direction, foggy and vague as it may be.

    “Unfortunately, we cannot contact the outside world and bring a spotlight to Road’s End like that. So, I plan to do what I should’ve done from the beginning: I’ll learn everything there is to learn about Road’s End. I’ll start from the books. When I’m done there, I’ll move on to the people. I’ll leave no stone unturned, no matter how long it takes.”

    The simplest plan from the simplest man. It holds no consideration for time, urgency, materials, or the very reality of a killer out to get him.

    “Make everything public, lay it all out for all to see, even if they don’t want to see it. Bring out this town’s dark past into the light; force this town to face its secrets. Set this magical playground ablaze with the fire of truth.”

    The Turnside grows from a fountainhead of secret history and tradition. Thus, erasing the ‘secret’ from the supernatural stage that is Road’s End will inevitably throw a wrench into the plans of anybody profiting from the town’s secrecy.

    “I’ll find out why this place became the way it is today, to the utmost detail. Removing the cobwebs of the past will also wipe the veil hiding the secrets of the present. Make the ones who’d rather keep Road’s End wrapped in secrets come out of their holes to try and stop me.”

    With that, he glances back down at the shape of Bakhauv’s corpse covered by the blanket.

    “And reclaim everyone’s future.”

    Carefully, he picks the body, naturally struggling a bit with its weight as he is no Pyry Leijonamieli.

    “It may seem a bit morbid, but let’s have Bakhauv rest in his bedroom. Better than leaving him here to the storm and the animals.”

    If a Monday follows this gloomy day, they can contact the proper authorities to arrange for the body’s disposal. Otherwise, leaving him in his room will not bother anybody. Some may claim a dead man cares not for respect, but this is about being better than his killer. This is John Dove’s affirmation that Gabi Bakhauv deserved, and still deserves better.

    Besides, it gives him a reason to take a look at the androgynous boy’s bedroom. Did Alexstrasza and Souma find anything there?

  14. #4834
    死徒(上級)Greater Dead Apostle Cheetose's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building - Infirmary
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast

    The sight that welcomed us was hardly a surprise at this point. With what I've seen earlier, and with Pyry catching the scent, it was quite evident. Yet...

    Wasn't I supposed to be more upset? Just like Pyry, or Mercedes, or the the others. But while the thought of it was quite upsetting, that something like this could happen, that it did happen...It felt like that anger was boiling deep under an ocean, from where only a muffled, distant harrumph would reach the surface.

    "It can't have been long ago, but we still missed it..." I said quietly as I eyed the center of the room.

    Still, perhaps that's why it was much harder to keep my calm regarding so many other things.

    Like the fact that we were still just being played around with like this...

    "I wonder...what was he trying to do here so early? I'd imagine it was him who set all those canvases up, but why..."

    I was certain that Caleb wasn't just an ordinary human either, so perhaps it had something to do with what he could do...but what?

    "And what's the point of that message?" I gestured towards the bloody words on the floor with my head, "If the claim was true, then it would just be rather excessive. Considering that it wouldn't occur to many on first glance of a murder to question the murderer's existence..."

    Certainly, it felt more desperate, rather than a message boasting with a plan that is finally complete.

    "Still, let's take a quick glance, then get out of here. I don't quite feel like spending more time here than necessary."

  15. #4835
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building - Arts Room
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast

    In the end, there was precious little to search in the places. None of the closed cabinets held anything other than more arts supplies, there was nothing written on the blacboard, and nothing had been left on the shelves themselves that stood out of place. What did become apparent was that someone - most likely Caleb - had gathered some equipment from the room before the events here had gone down. Tubes of oil paint had been gathered onto the nearest table next to the windows, along with couple of brushes. Some of them still had faint lingering paint on them, mostly various shades of blue and white. However, nowhere in the room was there anywhere such colours had been used.

    When it came to the gruesome sight in the middle of the room, however...

    "... It's paint," Pyry informed the rest after sniffing at the red liquid. "No idea where the tube is, but... this here's paint."

    He pointed at the strange message that even Hisa had questioned. Then the boy's eyes moved towards the three easels and canvases set around the body of Caleb - which Hisa was currently looking over herself.

    Something had dawned on the girl the moment she had taken a step closer to have a proper look.

    Namely, while the left and the right canvas were untouched, the middle canvas - one right in front of Caleb, was... tampered with. The canvases used were the type that acted almost like sketchbooks, with multiple thin ones collected together for sketching and rough drafts of whatever the artist wanted to paint. And the topmost one... had been ripped off. Decidedly removed. In other words, there had been a canvas here, but someone had removed it, leaving only the rest of the blank canvases left. As to where this missing canvas had gone...

    "... Over here," To-Totesh called out from the corner of the room. "Smells burnt."

    She lifted something from the small metal trashbin for the group to see. It was a crumbled up paper canvas that had been burnt to a black mess - as if to hide whatever had been painted upon its surface. In other words, the order of events started to become clear - or at least a hypothesis.

    Caleb had been in this room. He had probably set up these easels too. Then, he had drawn or painted something... and died. The culprit had removed the paper canvas, burnt it, and then... well, how they had escaped was anyone's guess. There weren't exactly many ways out of here, considering the door had been locked from the inside. But nevertheless, this all probably meant that the canvas had something in it that the killer found inconvenient. Hence why they had burned it. And thanks to that, whatever it was that Caleb had left them was gone.

    "Wait," Pyry's sudden voice drew the black-haired girl from her thoughts. "Look at this."

    He squatted next to Caleb's body and pointed at his right hand.

    "That's not a brush... that's a palette knife," he mused. "And that's not red paint on it... that's blood."

    He sniffed the air again, and nodded - having made sure of it. Then, the boy's eyes narrowed.

    "What the hell were you doing here, Caleb...?" Pyry muttered.

    An odd feeling started to churn in Hisa's stomach. There was one other thing about this scene that felt strange to her. In the air, just so faint that it was quite likely that none of her friends had noticed, were remnants of... something very familiar to her. Odic Particles. The fractal shards of shattered Inner World that espers displayed whenever they utilized their powers. And they were all, roughly, centered around Caleb. It must have been at least hour or two since the power was used, but nevertheless, it had been... and the rose-haired artist was the likely culprit.

    So, to reiterate...

    Caleb had arrived to this room. The murderer had heard him and followed. Caleb had set himself up in this room, arranged the easels and canvases so, and rather than to take paint, he had dipped his palette knife into blood. Whose? His own? But why? Then, for some reason, Caleb had used ESP... whatever his power was. Then, he had painted something... only for the murderer to strike. Caleb was killed, the murderer took the painting and burnt it, and then wrote that message - before somehow making their escape.

    What did this all mean? Why the ESP? And why the blood?

    As Hisa inspected Caleb's body closer, he saw that there was a clear, relatively fresh wound on his left palm. Meaning the source of the blood on his palette knife became abundantly clear as his own. Had he been in a hurry? So much hurry that the only choice he had was to utilize his own blood? That certainly gave Hisa an unique path of inspection to pursue, but it wasn't like Caleb would have known about it before-hand...

    Wait.

    --- Who was Caleb's partner during that horrible Test of Courage?

    Of course. Prushka. Another Esper. With some powers that had vaguely similar applications as Hisa's own, though their natures differed greatly. Meaning... had this been a message that Caleb believed Prushka would be able to receive? Or another esper, possibly, in general? Well, if that was the case...

    ... Hisa certainliy had her ways.




    John Dove
    Location: Pinefall High Dormitory – Gabi's Room
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast

    Gabi's room was silent as the two of them entered it, and John laid the androgynous boy to rest on his messed up bed.

    Looking around, it was certainly not the most usual room. All around the walls, various space-themed posters had been set, such as astronomical charts and NASA posters, along with depictions of various celestial phenomena. The nearby closet was open, showcasing a lot of clothes fitting for Gabi's unique... style, and with bunch of star-viewing equipment and cameras crammed into one corner. Then there was the matter of the bed, which looked like it had been clawed at nightly by someone very angry or frustrated.

    But the most striking thing about the room had to be the ceiling.

    And the collage of pictures that filled it up. Each one taped to the ceiling, creating columns and rows that fit roughly together. The grainy pictures showcased what must have been the night sky above Road's End, as viewed from somewhere high like the overlook. Not only that, but it seemed that each row had a number and each column had a letter, making it a grid of sorts. Gabi, for as quiet as he was, had been really meticulous about this... to the point that it felt almost a bit scary.

    "Just like I heard, the telescope's gone..." Sakura muttered, gazing into the closet. "Wonder why, in the end? Why was it destroyed?"

    However, John's attention had been caught by something else.

    There, on the table, somebody had carelessly left a page ripped out of some notebook. Perhaps a certain irresponsible vampire was the culprit here. Nevertheless, gazing at the page, John saw that it was filled to the brim with complex math equations about speeds and angles, but without proper context, it was hard to puzzle anything out further. There were, however, two sentences written on it that stood out more than most.

    Quote Originally Posted by Notebook
    The rotation of the celestial sphere is off - too slow.
    And...

    Quote Originally Posted by Notebook
    +3F anomaly, try to replicate.
    Naturally, John's eyes were drawn to the grid above his head. For a moment, his eyes scanned for the spot mentioned, 3F... and then, he saw it.

    A dark, very thin shadow that zoomed across that picture in particular - like the trail of an insect or a slight glitch in the camera lens during the time the photo was taken or something. A line of of something that had made Gabi Bahkauv curious...

  16. #4836
    地獄待ち Spinach's Avatar
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    Colton Davin
    Location: Forest Ranger's Cabin
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast


    “Haaah, haah… hah.”

    Deep, heavy breaths. Had his ability crushed his lungs? Or was it that he forgot to breathe while he was looking into the shard?

    All the same, Colt fought to catch his breath, eyes locked on the sharp, black sliver. At some point, everyone else had turned to him.

    “I think this thing’s kind of a big deal.” Finally, Colt looked up. “I don’t know much about this kinda stuff, but I saw it. Or at least, I saw enough. That thing’s been used for a lot of killing.”

    The boy put the sliver of darkness back atop the table.

    “It is a plant though. Or it was. Someone… turned it into a weapon and killed a god with it. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, this thing’s been a sword and killed hundreds.”

    Colt glanced back at the blade. It had no voice, but he heard it speak nonetheless. But were those final words -

    I have burned gods, kings and mighty men. And soon, I shall burn more.

    - An unfeeling prophecy?

    And when I have burned enough… I will return to my Horned Master once more.

    Or its own will?


  17. #4837
    Elise-Marie Pelltier
    Location: Listening Station Sigma
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast


    Like steel. Cold steel.

    The Benefactor's description of the person she used to be helped to ease some of her concerns about who she had been, while simultaneously confirming others.

    "Huh, I hadn't really considered the possibility that I might've dyed my hair. Wonder why?"

    She considered her own blonde-haired counterpart for a moment.

    [I wonder if there was a reason why we dyed our hair, if that was the case? Or maybe it wasn't anything particularly deep about it, we just liked it that colour better? If we don't get out of here any time soon, maybe we should try dying our hair for a loop and see how we feel?]

    The Benefactor revealed how long they'd been in Road's End from their perspective, as well as finally revealing what task they hoped Elise and her friends might look into for them. It was a considerable length of time to watch life on repeat, and Travis' shocked reaction to the revelation seemed well justified.

    They seem to be holding up well at least. Actually, scratch that. They probably aren't. They're wearing an identity concealing mask and turned an abandoned military installation into their lair like they're some sort of supervillain. This has 'coping mechanism' written all over it.

    "52 weeks, huh? Happy new year then, by the way. Did anything particularly noteworthy or weird happen over the course of those loops that caught your attention?" asked Elise, "I take it that us being able to transfer information between loops is a relatively new development?"

    Evidently, we've been at this for a while, but that makes sense if we haven't been able to retain our knowledge of the loops. It's hard to realize you're trapped in a time loop unless you experience the looping part.

    She frowned to herself. In Cause and Effect the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise remained firmly trapped within their time loop until they became aware of the time loops, and were able to relay a message to the loop.

    They only needed a short message to escape, while we retain the full knowledge of the previous week, but then again, their circumstances seem to be much less complicated than ours, so it's not really a fair comparison, is it? They only needed to avoid their own destruction in order to escape, but that's probably not going to be enough to escape Road's End.

    "James Halloway, eh? The owner of the local hotel, formerly Howard McLampet's best friend and fishing buddy, and the last person to see Howard alive. Also apparently quite the admirer of one Allene McLampet."

    His hotel is called the Owl's Nest, which sounds like he'd be flying the flag of Team Owl, but he seems like he was solidly a member of Team Raven. From what Samuel said, it sounds like the Owl's Nest is a much older building than it appears. Was it originally a Team Owl location before it was captured by Team Raven? If James Halloway is a raven squatting in an owl's nest, does that make him his own strange sort of cuckoo?

    Elise nodded in agreement with The Benefactor's suspicions.

    "Yeah, he's struck me as being pretty dang suspicious, and likely neck deep in whatever's been going on around here. It'd probably help satisfy some of my own curiosity too. What were you thinking?" asked Elise.

  18. #4838
    Vlovle Bloble's Avatar
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    Prushka
    Location: Forest Ranger's Cabin
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast

    Ahti's lucky that there's something here to distract me from giving him a taste of his own medicine.

    The light show around Colt Davin dies down, leaving behind a confused boy and rapidly fading Odic Particles. He blurts out something, trying to translate the sixth sense into plain language.

    "What you've got in your hands sounds like an Arc Relic, Colt. Or a piece of one, at least."

    Since no one else is gonna do it, I'll just have to give the lecture myself!

    "It's not really something I know too much about, but... think of well known relics from history. Like Excalibur, that sword King Arthur used. If it's famous enough and old enough, it soaks up the feelings - the numen around it and turns 'em into magic. Well, that's not exactly it, but it's close enough. There's power in those relics. People go looking for them. Sometimes-" A furtive glance up at the cat-eared man above me. "Sometimes they do horrible stuff for them."

    If Colt could 'read' this much from just a sliver, it must have been a powerful weapon indeed.

    "What you saw was probably the history of that weapon. Bits and pieces of its legend. I can do something similar, reading the 'emotions' within items, but it comes out as vague impressions, not a detailed record like what you've seen. Explains a bit more about your ESP, doesn't it?"

    It's convenient and useful, at a glance. But the circumstances are actually worrying. For Colt Davin especially. He's got a good head on his shoulders so he'll get used to it eventually, but...

    "There should be a feeling. Something like a tic, or a mental image that came before you activated your ESP. Hold onto it. Burn it into your head. Get a handle on it as soon as you can. Take it from someone who's been there: you don't want to lose control of your sixth sense. It might have you reading things that ought not to be read. Because some things stink, Colt, and that stink will drill right into your skull if you let it, and it won't leave for a long while."

  19. #4839
    S U P R E M E Mormarth's Avatar
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    Elaine Winters
    Location: Pinefall High Dormitory - Zhou's & Yeong-Hui's Room
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast

    She dipped her head in greeting, arms drifting lazily by her sides, rather than tucked away in a pocket.

    How does one start this? Hm.

    "Morning to you too."

    Always good.

    Then, a shrug, "Far as I know, it's just her. There's probably more, there's always more. But about poor Subaru in particular, we, that is, Liana Skye, who, uh, I could probably describe in a number of ways that I'm not sure are offensive or not, so I'll leave to her; the friendly neighborhood federal agent, and finally, my illustrious self, are sniffing around Subaru to see if we can get some more information on how she got, well, you know."

    I drummed my fingers on a leg.

    "The word 'kata', was found next to her body, and despite being gruesomely killed, there was, to me, not nearly enough blood. So, lacking in any other possibly Japanese swordspersons to ask for their input (barring one), and Subaru knowing you, at least by a title if nothing else, we decided to come wander over past the uh..."

    I paused.

    "Interesting set-up on the hallway here to come get your input."

    My feet shuffled, and a hand came up slowly, forming the universal symbol for 'chill out' in advance of any non-chillness.

    "No, I don't think you did it, just putting that out there now so there's no wacky misunderstandings."

  20. #4840
    死徒(上級)Greater Dead Apostle Cheetose's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building - Arts Room
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 11.09.1994 (SUN)
    Weather: Overcast

    "That's something I can look into..." I replied as I crouched down next to Pyry and took a closer look at Caleb's body.

    Quite convenient, that both him and Subaru had the time to shed their own blood and try to leave a last message. But what did they figure out, that we still couldn't? Didn't it mean that we were still completely oblivious to something right in front of our noses, that these two, and likely the others who have died before have already figured out?

    An exasperated sigh escaped my lips as I looked up at the canvas, then the burnt piece of paper.

    I didn't exactly have the methods to restore that in any way right now.

    There was only the fact that Caleb used blue and white paints...Which could have meant the girl in blue. Or one of the couple of people with blue hair they knew, although...whichever the case, he would have needed more colours too.

    "I'll handle this," I said as I gestured towards the blood on Caleb's palm, "Maybe you could start looking into how the killer could have escaped in the meantime? The door's locked, so there's clearly something more to it again. Though..."

    Though...

    If they weren't real, then...

    "If they aren't real, then what if we aren't looking for clues to find out how they commited the murder, but rather...They are trying to get us to give an explanation to things, to make it real that way?"

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