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Thread: Spirit Pulse : Mugen No Sekai [IC]

  1. #1181
    The Time-Governing Twelve Covenants Airen's Avatar
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    Ludwig Karlfeldt
    Rothschild - Halls
    11/16/2026
    Monday - Early Morning


    ---The Virtual Shift fades as quickly as it had appeared, the distant glimmer of a butterfly's wings the last thing to disappear of the artificial space; it was a bit of a risky move, a gamble on being able to drag any hypothetical opponent into the artificial world due to their proximity to you, in essence, it was a brute force method of locating someone, cutting the rope rather than solving the knot so to speak, however...

    Nothing appears.

    ---Does that mean no one else is truly around? Or simply that whoever was around was doing so at a distance? Studying you to see how you would behave before closing in to do something more drastic?

    There are a number of theories a paranoid mind can conjure, but in the end, nothing particularly strange shows on your face.

    No.

    Same as always, stoic in the face of whatever problem life throws at you, in comparison...

    "...heh..."

    Blinking in the face of those lights, and perhaps understanding the significance of the imagery, the silver-haired girl's mask of professionalism does crack for a moment as she lets out a sound that could be a chuckle... Considering how brief it was it was hard to say, indeed, her expression returns to the calm of a soldier soon enough, but...

    Well, in comparison...

    Perhaps its the more obviously human of the responses?

    Either way...

    The journey to the distant shop starts smoothly, pace that of a determined walk rather than a run, even if only for the sake of being able to respond to outside stimuli quicker, rather than sprinting into a danger that surpasses your senses, and...

    The ship truly does seem to be empty.

    You are able to confirm that much a dozen times over; while the SLEIPNIR is never the loudest of places -barring the cafeteria- there was always a sort of ambient noise in the background, the sounds of life, of the non-tamer personnel chatting as they clean or perform basic maintenance, but this...

    Nothing.

    Nothing but the ambient hum of lights, the distant rumble of the engine, and...

    Your own footsteps.

    ---Still, as time goes on, it begins to feel like you might be jumping at shadows; of course such a thought is nonsense, there is clearly something going on here, the mounting tension of all of this is proof enough of that, and indeed, while the continued nothing is both a calming and an agonizing thing, the glow of the aura around Astra never fades, the girl's sharp eyes taking in everything around her, searching for whatever threat is buzzing at the back of her mind, but, eventually-

    "...So, this thing you're looking for in Brewed Awakenings, what is it...?"

    -she speaks, as you round the corner to the entertainment wing of the ship, and-

    "...Figured you'd come this way eventually."

    -as if drawn forth by those words, by her voluntary shatter of the silence, comes a new voice. It's not one that you've heard before, nor is it possible to place it as being male or female, it has the properties of both, a calm, emotionless voice that sounds like it's being produced through some sort of synthesizer rather than anyone's vocal chords, and...

    The owner of it...

    There is a person... Or what seems vaguely like a person, leaning against the door to the coffee shop. Their arms are crossed, black clothing covering a form that only seems truly humanoid at a glance, yes...

    Because the person's head, their exposed skin...

    It's like whirling black flames, flames in the shape of a skull...

    It does not belong on this ship.

    It is not someone you know, it doesn't fit this area at all, it's something that your brain says is 'off,' a thing that simply doesn't mesh well with the scenery, a hazy form that was almost like a hazy shadow, yes...

    It does little to hide itself.

    Had it been waiting here this whole time? Or...

    "Well what do we have then? Someone telling stories outside of class? Another one keeping all the stories to themselves?"

    Either way, it chuckles...

    ---There is no humor in that laugh, no...

    Even you feel a bit of a chill run down your spine...

    "Xanadu kids always make things difficult, the script makes life easier for us all, you know?"

    It's head raises.

    The eye sockets are empty, burning only with flames.



    "Ah well, don't get to do Tamers normally... So this should be pretty fun."

    Encountered: LUCID - Reaper of Cognition

    An unreasonable existence.

    Even without your ESP, you could tell...

    An unreasonable malice.
    Spoiler:
    Death is nothing but a disease.
    But it is one that often comes from all sides.
    An end like that is coming, and yet here you are.

    Tell me.

    Could you kill someone you love for the sake of everyone else?


    What a cynical worldview, Messiah.
    Real heroes would find a different answer.


    Right, right.
    The power to break through a sad reality—
    I wonder—

    Will they be able to show it to me?



  2. #1182
    Konkon Kitsune~ Kuroyuki's Avatar
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    Hiyori
    SLEIPNIR - Bottom Level, Genesis's Lab/Engine Room
    11/16/2026
    Monday - Morning


    After leaving Rossweisse’s eyesight, our motley party suddenly got reduced! The shady doc was suddenly called to some emergency that was occuring around the command deck area. Something about some idiot getting hurt or something. Knowing this place, it was probably because someone decided to overtrain or use some experimental uncompleted spell! Everyone here was too into the pursuit of power. Heck, if Rossweisse could she would’ve requested the Cartridge System, Aura Lock, and a full digital suite on top of what she already has. Personally, I think she already has enough as it… However, that doesn’t mean I’ll turn down any free upgrades! A multi-form where I could turn from Katana to a Zweihander to a Gunblade to even a Drill would be great!

    After a few moments of me just flying around Lucia doing things like hammerhead maneuvers, split s turns, and snap rolls, Lucia’s COMP decided to appear in her standby form as well. If my theme was a cute, adorable Japanese kitsunemimi girl, Lucia’s COMP was a fluffy, little black-white European witch.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucia's COMP
    "Haha! Shoulder ride! Come ride too!"
    You know I thought about doing it earlier, but no one likes that one guy who forcibly joins your party without asking you or mandatory equipment that you have to use in a game. Besides I liked flying, something about the ability to leave the ground even if it was a few meters was liberating.

    ‘Sure! I can’t ignore an invitation from my fellow COMP now can I!’

    I flew over to Lucia’s other shoulder and made myself comfortable. Hmm… It’s kind of like Rossweisse’s shoulder in the sense, it wasn’t too bony or muscular. It was just right for tamers! While I would like it softer, if a tamer felt really soft that’s worrying! Being soft as a Tamer meant that for some reason, you weren’t burning off enough fat despite magic usage! I rate this shoulder a 9/10! Rossweisse still has the best shoulder for my relaxing!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucia
    "..."
    At Lucia’s sigh, I temporarily scooch closer and whisper to her.

    ‘I promise I won’t tell Rossweisse about this. Besides it beats having a tantrum right next to your ear right?’

    So my entry into the Mad Scientist Lair… Or was it the Junkyard… was interesting to say the least since I was a normal COMP acting independently of my tamer riding on another tamer’s shoulder while her own COMP was on the other side. On top of that, we (the COMPs) were talking excitedly despite only meeting each other today. I thought nothing would top our weirdness but then I saw Genesis talking to a furnace. That’s right! A furnace!

    Quote Originally Posted by Genesis
    "No. No more feeding scraps into you, you are an unclassified phenomena, yes? Show me something new, and perhaps this decision will change. No no, I do not care if devouring others is how you grow in strength, that is not an appealing factor to me in this instance... To be frank, that is actually what I'm wary of, yes? The others say they cannot understand your speech, but I can understand you quite well, flames of the furnace that has seemingly installed itself in my room. Are you attempting to hypnotize me into feeding you now? I do not succumb to mental interference, you will bounce off of me, I'm afraid!"
    I got closer to Lucia and her COMP before whispering.

    ‘Do you think he needs a quick reboot? Maybe his mad scientist subroutines are starting to bug out a little? Also I can’t be the only one who finds it weird that like Rothchild’s most normal members are you and Rossweisse right?’

    Quote Originally Posted by Genesis
    "Ah! It is Lucia and the little ones! Welcome, welcome! You are just in time! The furnace is attempting to convince me I am malfunctioning, you see? But you can hear it too, no? I am not crazy, yes?"
    I look at the weird furnace that I don’t remember being part of the ship’s schematics or on any previous visits then I look at Genesis and his kind of crazy swirling eyes. Then again, I rarely come here and mysterious things appear here all the time. I scooched even closer to Lucia’s ear.

    ‘Correction… they’ve already bugged out. How exactly do you restart Anti-Spirit Suppression Weapons again? It can’t be as easy as turning off and turning on a PS7 right?’

    While I was waiting for Lucia and her COMP’s response… I ended up hearing some very light whispering. No no no no. I wasn’t going crazy too right? Something about the furnace being hungry like Genesis said and how I should throw myself into it. I don’t know about throwing myself into it, but if metal scraps won’t feed it then…

    ‘Jeez I get it you’re hungry. Aura Shield!’

    A decent sized D rank Aura shield appeared in front of the furnace floating briefly before gravity naturally asserted itself! That should be good enough… Maybe. It’s not like I have some random magical item that I can throw in there that isn’t me. Wait… Maybe I shouldn’t have done that...

    ‘Oh… Ummm right! Actually I hear it too Genesis but maybe what I just did will make it less hungry? Well aside from it wanting me to throw myself into it as well. But that’s fine I think. I mean who would actually throw themselves in other than some stupid mob character? So uh… Anyways! Lucia and I got some kind of mysterious app that forcibly opened itself on us. So could you check it out for us? Pretty please!’

  3. #1183
    The Time-Governing Twelve Covenants Airen's Avatar
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    DTG
    Avalon ~ Camelot, Tintagel Gardens
    11/16/2026
    Monday - Early Morning


    "...That's a fair enough assessment."

    ---While Zerah Meir is certainly known for his sense of chivalric purity, of being an existence close to what one would expect from a knight in the old mythological tales, there are times when the Knight gets a strange look in his eyes...

    Indeed, it's a strange look, one that's almost blank, or perhaps empty, no...

    Not empty.

    Empty is a bit too strong of a word, but rather...

    Half-filled?

    Like there are times when some part of him reaches for something inside of himself and fails to find it, indeed, it's an expression that only lasts for an instant, and it's certainly a sentiment that the Knight himself agrees with, but...

    It's strange.

    Yes.

    That when you see it...

    Something is missing in there... Yeah...

    It's that sort of feeling, nevertheless...

    It shoots by so quickly that even you think you might have simply imagined it, indeed, the white-haired knight ultimately just shakes his head and accepts your words without too much of a struggle, after all...

    This was an area he was weak in, regardless of the reasons.

    As for a certain enigmatic princess, well...

    "...I see."

    She giggles to herself at the end of your words, and that giggle...

    Becomes the genuine laughter of a noble soon enough-!

    "You! You I like! I see why she took a shine to you!"

    Sometimes what is unspoken is just as important as what is spoken, indeed...

    The girl recognizes that which you chose not to directly accuse her of, the fact that she, quite simply, knows exactly where her body is and is just being coy about it, dancing around her words in a way that would have been impossible for Burroughs, yes...

    This one has far more potential to be dangerous than Burroughs, simply because the naivety just isn't there inside of her-!

    "Yes, one could say that the vampire and her students came from somewhere far away; it's probably possible that such a thing was an unintended side-effect of a prototype device, yes, it might even be possible that my body was sent away from this world on purpose, because a certain man couldn't get the voice of the divine out of his head and his mind shattered beneath it's will! All quite possible!"

    She explains this all with a certain sort of energy, as if delighted that you were keeping up, but...

    The smile returns to being enigmatic soon enough...

    "Of course, if that were the case, I certainly wouldn't be able to reach it by myself. Both the man and the sword need to be returned to this place before something bad happens... It's really quite important... Although you will simply have to trust me on that one for now."

    The smile remains mysterious.

    Her eyes remain locked on your own, and then...

    She waits.
    Spoiler:
    Death is nothing but a disease.
    But it is one that often comes from all sides.
    An end like that is coming, and yet here you are.

    Tell me.

    Could you kill someone you love for the sake of everyone else?


    What a cynical worldview, Messiah.
    Real heroes would find a different answer.


    Right, right.
    The power to break through a sad reality—
    I wonder—

    Will they be able to show it to me?



  4. #1184
    Ludwig Karlfeldt
    Rothschild - Halls - Eyes Beyond the Veil
    11/16/2026
    Monday - Early Morning

    Lydia Karlfeldt
    Unit 1A Process #52657665726965
    Log Start.

    -Publicly accessible file: "Eyes Granted".
    --Recording started: 11/16/2026
    ---Status of Recording: Live.

    Impressive...

    The changing sea of stars quickly fades away, a measure taken for the sake of removing certain possibilities.

    However, even if it is but for a second, Astra had reacted to seeing that visage and had seemingly understood it's meaning.

    A feat not many Tamers would be able to in one go... and a reaction that is more telling of the girl than she might have thought it to be.

    Nevertheless, understanding why it's relevant should aid her judgement of the Wielder of this Data World.

    Quote Originally Posted by Astra
    "...So, this thing you're looking for in Brewed Awakenings, what is it...?"
    "Verification of where we are, and ---"

    Final words are cut off as a new voice cuts in.

    And---

    ---There is that word again.

    Xanadu?

    Just like before in that fleeting memory, the word barely holds enough meaning to make sense of it.

    But even amidst the myriad of mysteries and questions left unanswered, there are possibilities.

    Answers crafted from a string of theories, uncertainties stacked atop each other to form a workable hypothesis.

    The boy regards the silver haired girl by his side, who seemingly realized the importance of the Virtual Shift's visage. Eyes looking on in a mix of confusion, wonder and appraisal in the face of the unreasonable existence before the pair.

    Until eventually, a glint of greater insight shines through.

    …Ah, so that's why she's kept her memories.

    Sometimes, it's not important if your deduction is wrong. If forming an answer allows you to respond and adapt to the essence of the matter, then be brave enough to risk an attempt to gauge at the Truth.

    It doesn't matter if you were wrong, or if you lacked the key knowledge, the Truth beyond the Veil of Observation will reveal itself eventually.

    What you do with that knowledge, whether you let it consume you, defeat you or you defy it with all your might...

    …Is up to you entirely.

    The silent voice within one's heart whispers the most profound wisdom.

    "Mhm... Is that how it is...?"

    The Heir of Unity faces the Reaper of Cognition, and steps forward without hesitation.

    "Rejected by the world, you follow the script of another. And the conceited, foolish few that observe the errors must be dealt with?"

    An air of defiance radiates from the boy. Like a fish swimming against an overbearing current, or a fire that refuses to extinguish after being doused in water and wind.

    To stand against this enemy is the right of only the most foolish, those that even in the face of dire consequences don't back down. If a Hollowed God had been enough of a hurdle to overcome, surely this enemy too is beyond the foolish Karlfeldt.

    However, something as simple as that... never stopped the boy before.

    Not against Fenrir, not during the Karlfeldt training, and certainly not now.

    After all...

    ---This sequence of events too, hidden away from the eyes of observers, is one filled with meaning.

    Both the foolish and the wise man are willing, in great crises, to fight against the inevitable - for they know that under certain conditions it is not worthwhile to live.

    Actions have always spoken louder than words.

    To accept this, script, without questioning it? Without knowledge of the mysteries beyond?

    It is simply and utterly laughable for the existence that is Ludwig Karlfeldt.

    The ideal clashes with the script.

    And thus, the script holds no place in the eyes of the Inheritor.

    "Sorry hothead, but that script won't do. You're gonna have to write me out, or whoever wrote that needs to write a happier ending."

    Even if it's futile to resist, without doubt Ludwig Karlfeldt will do so relentlessly.

    Even if he would be hopelessly unprepared for what lies ahead... a side must always be taken.

    ---Even if it's the wrong side.

    "I'm not going to let you have your fun without seeing you struggle."

    The curtain has been raised, may those chosen to view beyond the veil now carve meaning in this empty void.

    The opening call brings forth the
    gradient
    colorless
    light of the mighty.



    An enemy of this assumed caliber… deserves at least this much recognition.

    And will surely retaliate accordingly.
    Wise Up!

    Heat COMP: 6
    Spells Prepared: Megido line, Magara line, Aura Blast, Makarakarn, Flash Truth, Peace of Mind, Unity's Embrace

    Spells used:
    Megidolaon

    Auto Skill: Restoration Field
    Rank: E
    Adds a small amount of regeneration to the User as well as other allies in the field’s radius. A very straightforward auto effect that may well reverse the tide of battle, combined with Ludwig’s ESPer regenerative ability, the effect is reinforced for him as long as this field is active.

    Harmony Value: 5 -> 4
    SP: 20
    Last edited by Zurvan; October 11th, 2020 at 02:45 PM.

  5. #1185
    Taiga's knight Tobias's Avatar
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    DTG
    Avalon ~ Camelot, Tintagel Gardens
    11/16/2026
    Monday - Early Morning


    There was a lot to unpack. The young princess seemed to enjoy wordplay...

    ...No, that wasn’t it.

    She enjoyed playing, didn’t she. It was clear that the relationship between her name and Burroughs was no coincidence. The mild reference she had made slotted itself as evidence that could be used to develop the theory.

    However, as it was already a deduction that the DTG was working off of, it did not change to much.

    But there were more parts to the story then that.

    The old COMP pulled his fedora low over his eyes, a few whisper of smoke coming from beneath the wide brim. “Diety...? A part of the whole? No, there isn’t yet evidence to go that far. She herself represents a satisfactory explanation. I see. Evidence is not sufficient. Therefor...”

    “Dejah, it’s time for the deduction doll face .”

    ...For a detective, there was a lot behind these words. A knight commanded the battlefield with bravery and martial fortitude, rode forward with steel and horse, but a detective was a different sort of creature. Brave yes, but the weapons of a dick were “clues” which could be forged into evidence, and finally an unbroken chain that led one out of the brambles of mystery and misdirection to the truth. Not every deduction was correct. Far from it. In a good mystery, one must be wrong before one can be right.

    In games of the mind, the wise and canny knew that failure was mother and father to success. That was where bravery was required. One could not travel the path of the mystery solved without the willingness to fail, have to backtrack.

    ”Toots, you are thinking of yourself pretty highly eh? That’s my deduction.” There was a moment of silence as the DTG snuggly puffed away on his old cigarette.

    ...Was that it?

    ...

    No...

    ”I mean, to call yourself a diety, you gotta have some cojunes iff’n you plan to use that description yourself. Know a few Gods that would take that kinda talk as intent to match ruscoes. Then again if you have as much juice as your counterpart mayhap that kinda talk isn’t far fetched, aye? Anyway I have been flipp’n my bean trying to figure out who ‘refined voice’ might have been trying to put ink on. Turns out the answer was right under my nose. Literally.”

    The meaning to that was simple, as the white haired man looked down his nose and cigarette at the brightly grinning young princess.

    ”Refined voice. Come to think of it, I already know a certain bird who that describes. That there code you were working on before I started trying to break the lock. You weren’t brute forcing it after all eh? You knew what it said because you were on the ride along the whole time. Motive? Well, let’s see, don’t right match if your real body was just dropped off where our gal whom the rookie is trying to go sideways and sheets on. Then you woulda been looking before it disappeared in the first place. Reminds me of what you said back when we first met though. A dead end, was it? A place that’s gone and can’t be reached? So I reckon you been trying to get to where your proper self is little by little. Cutting through where the fabric is thin, reaching along and getting the right sort to help you.”

    The old man had a stern gleam in his eye as he beheld the small blond girl. “See, now I would probably get a nice round of hands if I put you up for bracelets right here toots. Logic dictates that since you aren’t coming clean, you are dirty. Got a mess of knights and squires around. I am sure your ruscoe is pretty heavy but you gotta think with this many folk I would have to like my chances. And that’s why...”

    And that’s when the DTG did something unexpected of a man threatening a powerful foe with incarceration.

    ...As he placed a bony hand right on top of a puffy white hat, lifting it once and twice and settling it down.

    ”Thats why I’m having to remind myself that the one thing all kids have in common is an altogether overwhelming level of git up and go. Don’t take it the wrong way poppet, I ain’t happy, but I ain’t mad either. But no matter how much juice you got up here,” the detective COMP patted her head again “or how big your ruscoe is, people ain’t gonna be able to lend a hand if you can’t trust em to keep a tight grip when they reach out, savvy? You say you gotta get back what with that man in the dead end. You say it will be bad if you don’t. All right then. Can’t help but notice you hitched your wagon up to the gumshoe just as quick as light so I can only assume you are hoping someone here in Avalon can help you take the next step. Also I assume that person ain’t the gumshoe, because he is an idiot crooner, and ain’t me either, since I’m just a dick what can’t say no to a pretty face. So I’ll help you get where your going toots, but I can’t do much for you if I have to keep guessing. Any chance you might lay your cards on the table any time soon?”
    Quote Originally Posted by Bird of Hermes View Post
    The moment the opportunity arises for a pun, the one known as 'Taiga's Knight' will be there to deliver whether you like it or not.

  6. #1186
    The Time-Governing Twelve Covenants Airen's Avatar
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    Avalon ~ Camelot, Tintagel Gardens
    11/16/2026
    Monday - Early Morning


    "..."

    She listens quietly, but not without interest.

    Indeed, in this sense, she actually is quite like Burroughs; while this one seems a bit more experienced when it comes to the darker aspects of life, there's a sort of feeling here that she's not quite used to speaking to people, just like her silver-haired counterpart, however...

    Even when you threaten her, the girl maintains her same inquisitive expression, the one that had waited to see what you would say, what conclusions you might draw about her words, both here and in the past, and...

    "Oh."

    ...Somehow, her initial response isn't too satisfying, in fact it's rather short, a word that comes with the blinking of her eyes, eyes that blink when a hand falls upon her head...

    "...Well, I suppose I do look sort of like the culprit from that angle! Although I do appreciate the swing in your opinion at the end!"

    ...Unlike Burroughs, she doesn't do the wide-eyed puppy esque stare, but...

    ...Her body does stop moving when the hand touches her, it doesn't do anything else, indeed, the freeze in place is remarkably casual, but...

    "But I'm no God I'm afraid, if anything... I'm more like... The World... I think...?"

    She frowns.

    This is an absurd statement, she doesn't seem to register it as such-!

    "No, that's not quite right either, I'm nothing that extreme... I'm like... A pillar... It's complicated..."

    She shakes her head.

    "Of course you are free to arrest me if you'd like, I'm aware that this looks quite bad in retrospect, and I don't think I'd be able to successfully resist! But I can say that I did not drive anyone insane, I did try talking to the man at some point I think, his notes said he had my body... But he couldn't hear me anymore after coming across the other thing... Of course, that is what a culprit would also say in an attempt to shift blame from themselves, claiming amnesia is also a bit of a classic lie I think, so treat my words with as much distrust as you feel! It's good to not blindly trust me!"

    At that, she seems to nod with approval at your words, almost as if she had been more wary if there wasn't a healthy amount of skepticism about her existence, but...

    "As for laying the cards on the table, well..."

    Stuck with your hand on her head, the blonde girl's eyes shift to the side for a moment...

    "...There are some things you can't talk about in the open, this is too open."

    A pause, as she gestures to the world around her.

    "...You never know who's listening in places like this..."
    Last edited by Airen; October 9th, 2020 at 06:04 AM.
    Spoiler:
    Death is nothing but a disease.
    But it is one that often comes from all sides.
    An end like that is coming, and yet here you are.

    Tell me.

    Could you kill someone you love for the sake of everyone else?


    What a cynical worldview, Messiah.
    Real heroes would find a different answer.


    Right, right.
    The power to break through a sad reality—
    I wonder—

    Will they be able to show it to me?



  7. #1187
    The Time-Governing Twelve Covenants Airen's Avatar
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    Logan Starbright
    Simulator
    11/16/2026
    Monday - Morning


    "...You can call me Verity, if you must have a name. A certain two fools once called me Rice, but I never agreed to such a moniker."

    ---The strange girl smiles at you. It's a smile that holds no obvious emotion in it, in that regard, the smile is exactly the same as her voice... It's difficult to tell what this person is thinking or feeling, a consequence perhaps of the area that you find yourselves in, but nevertheless...

    Danger also doesn't exist inside of those eyes.

    At least, you can't feel a direct sense of hostility with your sixth sense, but considering the stance she seems to have taken here, well...

    It's easy to come to the conclusion that she's at least vaguely malevolent, even in only the sense of pulling a bad prank, but...

    "...I am the one that locked you in this room yes," admitting to that with the same smile, the girl continues, "I'm sure that's quite upsetting for you, unfortunately, I don't really care if people like me or not, I have a job to do, and my other coworkers are done for the count it seems."

    She blinks.

    "Not much time to do it in either, so I thought I'd do a lot of things at once. It was a bit of a pain, getting you this isolated, but I'm sure it will work out in the long run. If it makes you feel better, I'm pretty sure you will forget this ever happened eventually, that's something else I need to test..."

    So saying...

    She frowns...

    "Interference in the sync ratio...? No, it's never 100% for most human-COMP pairs... Is that fixable...?"


    And starts muttering things under her breath...

    ...Needless to say.

    This isn't the most informative of answers.
    Spoiler:
    Death is nothing but a disease.
    But it is one that often comes from all sides.
    An end like that is coming, and yet here you are.

    Tell me.

    Could you kill someone you love for the sake of everyone else?


    What a cynical worldview, Messiah.
    Real heroes would find a different answer.


    Right, right.
    The power to break through a sad reality—
    I wonder—

    Will they be able to show it to me?



  8. #1188
    The Time-Governing Twelve Covenants Airen's Avatar
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    Mokujima Chris
    Simulator
    11/16/2026
    Monday - Morning


    ---A refusal to accept it.

    ---A desperate wish to escape what one perceives as a cage, to throw off the shackles that bind one to the world and escape out into somewhere else, anywhere else, or simply the world that is real?

    It matters.

    It doesn't matter.

    It matters.

    A method of escape that utilizes a loophole in the rules, as cessation of consciousness is typically the point where someone 'disappears' within a data simulation, there is no reason you cannot invoke that on yourself in a more natural way, a way that is not violent, and thus will not offend the sensibilities of the android that had convinced you to do otherwise to begin with, yes...

    It's a desperate plan of escape alright, one with quite a few holes in it, one that, even in the best case, may simply leave your mind stranded in 'limbo' until the others exit the simulation as well, an infinite void where time does not seem to pass, but...

    But...

    Rejecting this World, the World goes dark around you.

    ---Ordinarily, this would simply be the end of things, you would disappear from the simulation yes, but you would not be able to return to the real world until the others leave as well, one of many delightful safety precautions installed within the technology, but...

    But...

    But...

    As everything falls away...

    ---

    Mokujima Chris
    Brewed Awakenings, Boundary
    To Those That Wish to Escape
    ???


    (BGM On)

    ...You step through an old fashioned door, into the confines of a familiar looking establishment.



    Brewed Awakenings, a popular brand of Coffee Shop/Bar that exists all around the world, the start of the current -more turbulent- part of your life had been around the time you had come to the one in Aoyama, when the letter from Sakurako had arrived, but this one didn't really seem to have the exact same layout as the one you knew from back home, nevertheless...

    The signs are the same style.

    You can see the neon lights hanging over the bar that indicate the name of the establishment, the sound of rain permeating through the entirety of the location, louder than the patrons themselves, who all seem rather depressed...

    Of course, before you can really focus on them, there are a few things about your own situation that do not quite make sense... To put it bluntly, the act of arriving here does not have a solid cause, you had been trying to fall asleep to escape from... Something...

    A simulator right?

    Yeah.

    It was starting to get a bit hazy, but that sounded right, but if that was the case...

    Then you were simply asleep, meaning...

    This was a dream? So you were asleep right now? This had always been a possibility of course, that the act of going to sleep would -as sleep often does- drive you into the realm of dreams, it's not quite the escape you had wished for of course, after all, in the eyes of someone like yourself dreams are often just dreams, they do not matter because they are not real, of course...

    Such things are quite debatable.

    This dream for instance feels remarkably vivid in a way that you can't quite describe...

    The energy of the bar was somewhat lacking, looking around at all the patrons, there seems to be a sort of invisible cloud hanging over their head... Call it the intuition of someone who is experienced with dealing with those who have been damaged by the world, but you can just tell...

    There's something wrong with almost everyone here, they all have similar body postures, shoulders slumped a bit, staring a bit down at the table or the bar, wherever they happen to be, eyes blank, almost as if they aren't really capable of seeing anything around themselves, and they were all scattered around the place in a purposeful way, as if they were all going out of their way to be nowhere near each other... To be a bit more analytical about it, near you right now, close to the door that you had -somehow- walked through...



    "..."

    There's someone garbed in the clothes of a member of the Rose Cross, a Knight of the Church in other words. She's someone who you can tell is normally smiling, indeed, the first glance at her makes it seem like she should be smiling, to the point where that's actually what you see at first, but...

    She's doing no such thing, rather, there are a number of shot glasses and whisky bottles close at hand, the lingering residue on the glasses a clear sign that they've been in rather constant use, and...

    "...I didn't mean to... It wasn't... Supposed to end up like that..."

    She's just muttering that to herself, over and over, a frown etched onto a face that almost seems like it might burst into tears any second now.

    But she holds herself together, somehow, or perhaps...

    The alcohol is doing that for her?

    Further away, in another corner of the room, sitting off by himself near a single arcade cabinet (one from the early 80s by the looks of it) marked "Polybius," was a stylishly dressed young man with black hair and glasses, and he, much like the church knight...

    Has his head buried in his hands, hands that are clenching so hard that you're sure his fingernails must be cutting into his skin, but he doesn't seem to care very much, he's just...

    Fuming silently to himself, although...

    You think you can hear the words 'failure,' being repeated over and over under his breath...

    Closer to the center of the bar, however, is where your eyes stop drifting, the analytical search coming to a sudden, screeching halt, because...

    Right there in the center was someone you recognized, or rather...

    Someone who you had finally managed to associate a face with the name, that person being...



    "...What am I... Doing...? I ran away... Again...?"

    ...Sakurako, or rather, a Sakurako that has her back turned towards you.

    One that's staring straight ahead with blank eyes, a mug of coffee loosely held in her grip, and close to her, standing nearby as bartenders tend to do, was...



    "Hey there! Here to get out of the rain? Come on in, sit down if you want."

    Encountered: Vincent Brooks


    Someone you don't recognize, but someone who was also clearly the owner of this establishment...

    Dressed in casual clothing, and holding an air of positivity and life to him that everyone else here seems to lack, the feeling you get from him...

    Seems like he's trying to cheer everyone else up...

    That's the sort of vibe he's giving off, nevertheless...

    ...This is simply a dream after all, at least, you think it is, and the door behind you...

    Unlike the simulator, it's not a door that will move, you know that instinctively.

    If you wish to leave, you will be allowed to do so, to return to the darkness to wait.

    But...
    Last edited by Airen; October 10th, 2020 at 01:23 PM.
    Spoiler:
    Death is nothing but a disease.
    But it is one that often comes from all sides.
    An end like that is coming, and yet here you are.

    Tell me.

    Could you kill someone you love for the sake of everyone else?


    What a cynical worldview, Messiah.
    Real heroes would find a different answer.


    Right, right.
    The power to break through a sad reality—
    I wonder—

    Will they be able to show it to me?



  9. #1189
    el bolb Bloble's Avatar
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    Mokujima Chris
    Brewed Awakenings, Boundary
    To Those That Wish to Escape
    ???

    As Chris reaches for the 'nothing' that will save her, reaches and reaches and stretches out her mind into a singular line with only one purpose, the sound of fireworks finally fades...

    Only for the sound of rain to replace it.

    When she next opens her eyes, she is in a different place. A different time as well, from the looks of it. This isn't the same as... that city, where... where what?

    For a moment, Chris cannot remember where she came from, or where she is going.

    That feeling of 'unknown' drips down her back like a drop of freezing rain, jolting her sleeping mind into action better than an energy drink ever could. Her eyes open wide. Panic sends adrenaline rushing through her body. She reflexively digs her fingers into her palm, a familiar motion with a familiar pain accompanying it. Yes, she'd done the same just moments ago, before closing her eyes, to block out the fireworks, because it wouldn't do to be jolted awake by the throng of people gathering in the strange city... and just like that, for a moment, the haziness recedes and she remembers.

    But for how long will that remembrance last? This place is warm and sleepy. Fuzzy. Even less real than the simulator. It only vaguely resembles that coffee shop she'd visited two weeks ago, but in reality... yes, it is certainly a dream. And dreams are nothing but a refuge for those who are looking for something. Or, sometimes, they are a prison of cognition that draw out negative feelings. Regardless... a dream is just a dream in the end.

    Yes, this doesn't matter.

    She has something to do, something that does matter, something that can't be given up on so easily, so she can't waste her time in a place like this.

    Even if it might lead to darkness, even if it's not possible to wake up, she still has to try. To do otherwise would be to leave those three trapped, and to abandon the girl she had resolved to protect.

    Thus, Mokujima Chris wordlessly turns away from the bar full of fools, pulls open the door...

    And steps into the darkness once more, searching for the waking world.

  10. #1190
    The Time-Governing Twelve Covenants Airen's Avatar
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    Amelia
    Strange City, Simulator
    11/16/2026
    Monday - Morning


    ---At first, she continues to simply observe the people around her with a fascinated eye. While it's clear she is listening to you talk to her through your data link, she just seems oddly enthralled with the idea of this many humans being in one place, to the point where she doesn't really say much up until the end, although she does give a more pertinent glance towards the Clock Tower when you mention finding the 'perpetrator' of all of this, of course...

    She herself had been running away from the Tamers mere minutes before, so the idea of getting her to help you deal with the rather smug brat on top of the Tower could perhaps be called a foolish one, and indeed, she seems rather hesitant to expose the body on her back to any danger -in spite of how unhelpful the glasses wearing girl had been- but...

    But...

    But...

    "...Ah."

    She makes a childish, surprised sound when the girl's body seems to simply crumble out of existence, turning into stardust and scattering into the wind... It was a common enough sight inside of a simulator, one could perhaps say that's what 'dying' normally looked like inside of here, a transitional effect for de-spawning in order to save computational space, a swift removal from the digital world, to be held in stasis until the 'session' was over with, so that everyone came in and out of the room at the same time, and no one could act on any funny ideas...

    It's a rather peaceful transition, not as messy as real life... Simulators could simulate blood and wounds of course, and often did, but for these sorts of training sessions, losers were most often simply swept from the battlefield without recourse...

    She must have done something...

    Knocked herself out in a less violent way perhaps?

    Regardless, it's a disappearance that seems to shock the android for a moment, as the weight on her back disappears, and the girl's digital body crumbles away like stardust, but...

    "..."

    ...She doesn't break into a panic either.

    On some level, she seems to understand what this is, and on that same level...

    "...Okay. I'll go help your Administrator."

    She has kind eyes, for as strange of a person as she seems to be, and...

    "...!"

    Body tensing up, the android bends her knees, spirit power pouring out of her body -enough that the ground around her would have become a crater in reality- before...

    Launching herself towards the Clock Tower like a shooting star...
    Spoiler:
    Death is nothing but a disease.
    But it is one that often comes from all sides.
    An end like that is coming, and yet here you are.

    Tell me.

    Could you kill someone you love for the sake of everyone else?


    What a cynical worldview, Messiah.
    Real heroes would find a different answer.


    Right, right.
    The power to break through a sad reality—
    I wonder—

    Will they be able to show it to me?



  11. #1191
    Taiga's knight Tobias's Avatar
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    DTG
    Avalon ~ Camelot, Tintagel Gardens
    11/16/2026
    Monday - Early Morning


    I don’t know how I get myself into these kinda things...man, I gotta keep her away from Raz.

    Raz was bad enough on his own, but the more he got to know the princess A.I the more the DTG was beginning to realize that she and Raz might have been cut from the same cloth. Put together the two might become a formidable pair.

    Both were gifted with entirely to much power for old A.I.s to sleep soundly considering their roguish outlook on life.

    You didn’t have to be evil to be scary. Powerful good people shook the world with their whims. Raz was an existence who did such, but the DTG was beginning to process that Dejah was even worse. Empirical evidence from the Burroughs system suggested Dejah was much more powerful then one half trained bard.

    Still, knights don’t judge people for crimes they hadn’t actually committed.

    “Well, that’s something at any rate kid. It’s a bit of a knock on me to think someone might be listening that I can’t catch myself. I’m a microphone, someone who could hear me that I couldn’t hear would just be insulting. But you ain’t just whistling Dixie little’un. Can’t deny that there is always someone with a bigger Ruscoe. But that makes it hard for me to do much my own self.”

    Right about then the detective COMP realized that while he was musing aloud he had neglected to pull his hand off a certain white hat, he somewhat guiltily pulled it back, sending a few whispers of blond hair stirring.

    “Ahem.” He coughed awkwardly, shuffling his old leather overshoes. “At any rate, how bout you gumshoe? I’m a sucker for a dame, so I’m probably gonna mosey about and see if I can find out whose gonna be working the next leg of toots’ here trip, but you used to have her in your holster right? What have you got mucking around your craw?”
    Quote Originally Posted by Bird of Hermes View Post
    The moment the opportunity arises for a pun, the one known as 'Taiga's Knight' will be there to deliver whether you like it or not.

  12. #1192
    The Time-Governing Twelve Covenants Airen's Avatar
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    Eva Ellet
    Vatican City ~ Obelisk Square
    11/16/2026
    Morning, Sunny


    Quote Originally Posted by Eva
    “How about you? I’m, well, fairly sturdy despite how I look, so that can’t have been a soft landing just now…”
    As you get up, so too does the other girl in a bit of a frantic rush...

    Her hands automatically go up to wipe the dirt off of her pants -the practiced unconscious motions of someone who has to do this all the time- and while her cheeks are bright red (and she's making a visible effort to not look at anyone else) she does a frantic, polite bow soon afterwards, another automatic response, from an automatic apology that has definitely been done countless times in the past-!

    "It was perfectly fine! Like a table with a really soft cloth on it!"

    ...Is that a line you should get mad about?

    It's hard to say, because the girl who said it just seems to be...

    Really earnest...

    Although it was quite the strange comparison to make, still-!

    "Good to hear you're okay though! Last time I tripped like that, a bunch of us went rolling down the side of a mountain-!"

    It's also hard to tell if she feels shame or not, or at least, whether she feels complete embarrassment, but...

    As Catherine coughs, and the others thankfully look away in their silence, as if agreeing that what sounded like an avalanche of Tamers was something that simply wasn't worth talking about, the girl smiles at you (face still crimson) and...

    "As an apology, let me give you something!"

    ...Starts digging through a shoulder bag...

    "Do you want any candy? Donuts? Cookies? I don't know what they have on the SLEIPNIR, so I went ahead and got a little of everything from home for everyone!"

    ...Quite excitable this one, or perhaps...

    This was her attempt at befriending you?

    ...If so, it's quite aggressive.
    Spoiler:
    Death is nothing but a disease.
    But it is one that often comes from all sides.
    An end like that is coming, and yet here you are.

    Tell me.

    Could you kill someone you love for the sake of everyone else?


    What a cynical worldview, Messiah.
    Real heroes would find a different answer.


    Right, right.
    The power to break through a sad reality—
    I wonder—

    Will they be able to show it to me?



  13. #1193
    el bolb Bloble's Avatar
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    ...

    ...

    ...

    "Tch."

    Her feet refuse to take her through the door. She can't walk into that darkness.

    Is it fear? Of course she's afraid of the dark, always has been, but that sort of fear had never gotten in her way. If anything the darkness is like a close friend. A scary friend, but still a friend. So it can't be that.

    Worry that she will merely fall asleep, then, without being able to wake up and free the others from the simulator? She had accepted that possibility from the start, so there is no reason to back away from it now. Mokujima Chris is not the sort of Tamer who would balk at a plan with a low probability of success. If it doesn't work it doesn't work, simple as that.

    Mental weariness, perhaps? This place is inviting, sure. A dream of a cozy bar for those who are tormented by their own failures. It's not as if Chris has never felt like that. A year ago she would have stayed here without hesitation, drowning in regret and counting her many inadequacies along with anyone else. But she tossed self-pity aside the moment she left her room and became a Tamer. There is no way she would be discouraged enough to seek refuge in dreams again.

    In the end, what keeps her there is...

    Quote Originally Posted by Sakurako?
    "...What am I... Doing...? I ran away... Again...?"
    The bar stool next to the moping girl creaks as a much larger woman sits down next to her.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bartender
    "Hey there! Here to get out of the rain? Come on in, sit down if you want."
    "One small coffee. Espresso, eight shots. No sugar, no cream."

    Mokujima Chris rattles off the ridiculous order like she'd set up the simulation earlier, her words clipped and to the point.

    It's just a dream, but dreams have some connection to reality. At the very least, it's been proven that being scared in your sleep leads to sweating and shaking in real life, and similar stimuli can also be transmitted. By that logic, even if it's just a memory or a feeling and the coffee isn't real, a potent caffeine cocktail might be harnessed to provide energy for the body to wake up. That is why Chris stays. The saddened girl next to her has absolutely nothing to do with it. There's no way she'd be swayed by such illusions. And of course, she sat here because it was closest to the bartender, and for no other reason.

    "And one cup of water. To wash it down. And a paper and a pen, please."

    She pauses, rummaging around in her pockets, and withdraws from it two phones, several nuts and bolts, a packet of gum, and a wallet. Well, it's a dream, so paying might be difficult, but that's a problem to be solved later. The items clatter onto the bar as Chris powers on both the phones.

    What had Sakurako liked again...?

    Chris scrolls through the various apps on the phone and finds it. A morbid mobile game by the creator of many prized console RPGs whose tearjerking stories had brought him massive acclaim. The main gimmick of this particular game was a corruption of traditional fairy tales into darker ones, starring Alice alongside several princesses as gothic versions of themselves. While the actual gacha requires an internet connection, as expected, the main story and challenge missions could be played offline. Chris had kept it installed as a memento of her friend.

    Now, that phone clatters onto the bar and, casually...

    Is slid over and to the right, and into view of the moping girl, its screen flashing brightly.

    It's just sentimentality is all. This is a dream, so it doesn't matter in the slightest.

    But then, humans are foolish creatures.

    Chris looks up at the bartender, sees his friendly expression, meets his eyes, and then averts hers.

    "...just passing through."

    Those last words are a quiet mutter.
    Last edited by Bloble; October 10th, 2020 at 06:35 PM.

  14. #1194
    The Time-Governing Twelve Covenants Airen's Avatar
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    Aster
    The Boundary ~ Azure Horizon


    Quote Originally Posted by Aster
    “Considering you’re the second AI I’ve ever had a proper conversation with, I’d love to see you again.” Aster’s words are wistful and sincere, her voice carefully hiding that note of loneliness. “I think it’d tip my user off if our meetings were too frequent, but I’d gladly spare time for you.”
    "...Only the second?"

    In the end, this seems to be the thing that the girl is most drawn too... It's a fact about yourself that you're careful not to admit for a number of reasons, the price of loyalty to someone who felt pain from seeing your appearance, and a surprising conclusion for the young A.I that saw all of her fellow plumes as something akin to "seniors," big brothers and sisters in that family called life...

    Her eyes are a little wide at first, then they look down slightly in thought, and then...

    "I see..."

    She nods her head once, as if coming to some sort of conclusion...

    "That must be lonely right? I know I get lonely up here by myself sometimes..."

    ...Of course, that's only natural... In some ways, being able to look out at the world and not express oneself in it might be more painful than being unable to see it, being able to see it is a constant reminder of something you seemingly cannot experience, all because someone asked you to hide yourself away, and you were too loyal to say no to that rather selfish request, in that regard...

    This girl might understand your pain quite well...

    She frowns, as if this sudden information bothers her a little bit...

    "Who is the first? Do you see her often? Should I bring her here too for you sometime?"

    And suddenly...

    And quite casually...

    That small girl... Takes on the airs of someone a bit older than her appearance...

    Like a worried parent...

    Although the childish mannerisms -like the way she sorta flails her arms in her sudden bout of worry about you- declare the reality of the situation...
    Spoiler:
    Death is nothing but a disease.
    But it is one that often comes from all sides.
    An end like that is coming, and yet here you are.

    Tell me.

    Could you kill someone you love for the sake of everyone else?


    What a cynical worldview, Messiah.
    Real heroes would find a different answer.


    Right, right.
    The power to break through a sad reality—
    I wonder—

    Will they be able to show it to me?



  15. #1195
    The Time-Governing Twelve Covenants Airen's Avatar
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    Mokujima Chris
    Brewed Awakenings, Boundary
    To Those That Wish to Escape
    ???


    Quote Originally Posted by Chris
    "...just passing through."
    The man smiles.

    "That's true for most."

    While it's naturally difficult for someone like you to hold your gaze with someone else -and in fact avert your eyes from his own- there is a certain inherent warmth inside of them that cannot be denied, not a fatherly presence, but something more akin to an...

    Older brother?

    Something like that...

    Of course, much as the bar seems like any other Brewed Awakenings, a place that is neither high nor low class, where people of all ages and types can come and go as they please; naturally, as the bartender for such a casual establishment, the man lacks the more refined nature you might see in a more high-class bar or coffee shop... He's clearly not perfect, a bit rugged even, someone you might be able to find anywhere, just another guy in other words, yet...

    Somehow, he feels unique in spite of that, eyes lit up with the faintest of stars, and an amused smile crossing his face as he moves automatically to fulfill your order; the motions are practiced and without hesitation, while you're not quite sure how you're going to pay for all of this (considering this is a dream) the man himself doesn't seem to think of such things as an issue, a devil-may-care attitude that screams 'we'll figure it out later,' much like your own...

    "Sometimes you just need a place to get away, stop and take a breath," the man explains calmly, talking just as much to himself as to you, a non-committal conversation that you have no need to respond to if you don't wish to do so, "I like to think of this shop as that sort of place, so people swing through here a lot."

    ---The scent of the coffee is frankly magnificent.

    Of course, it's not like you have any particular attachment to coffee, for Mokujima Chris, 'whatever works' is your unofficial motto when it comes to stimulants, energy drinks, tea, whatever, so long as it kept your head from hitting the desk it was fine by you, but this...

    He's going out of his way to make the initial coffee as a pour-over; considering that particular method of brew is the sort that's far more easy to notice if you screw up, so he must have some actual confidence in his skills, of course...

    ---Those are the thoughts of someone who doesn't know too much about coffee when it comes down to it.

    Whatever works, works, after all...

    He slides it to you.

    ---It's not too acidic or bitter, there's no off notes in it, the entire flavor is smooth, in spite of the espresso you had clearly seen being poured into the drink itself at the end, it was, honestly...

    Quite fantastical for coffee.

    Of course, by this time, your little meaningless action is finally noticed by another; with her gaze initially straightforward, gazing blankly at a television screen that seemed to be playing some sort of anime film (Paprika, 2006, you were pretty sure) the girl was not very receptive to outside stimuli immediately... Of course, this seems to be true for most of the patrons, they all seem to have their own issues, and are somewhat absorbed in those issues to the exclusion of the things going on around them, but...

    They are still here, even if it is but a dream.

    Wounded people draw other wounded people, as they say, and...

    "...?"

    ...The sound of the title screen, rather than the flashing lights, is what seems to finally draw the attention of the girl in black to the phone in front of her. It's much like watching someone come out of a stupor, or at least begin to come out of a stupor, a flash of recognition that forces the brain to think about something else for an instant, the same sort of feeling one might get from looking at a photo from their childhood, yes...

    Blinking, and turning her gaze down towards the phone, the girl looks at it blankly for a moment before...

    Slowly...

    Reaching over to grasp it with a single unshaking hand...

    Of course, it's quite the morbid game, but Sakurako had always had an appreciated for dark things, and...

    "..."

    ...While the hand itself had been hesitant, the fingers that scroll through the menus are anything but... It's rapid fire tapping, practiced motions, born from countless days of thankless dailies and log ins, but...

    Eventually, she lands on the friend code screen, and from there, after glancing at the owner of the account...

    Slowly...

    Those half-lucid eyes raise to meet your own, the pale-skinned girl with the perpetually tired gaze, one who is looking at something other than the distance for once (a sight that makes a nearby Vincent smile, even if he says nothing) and who, after seeing you...

    Or at least seeming to see you, says...

    "...Boo?"

    ...About as awkward as ever then, eh Blackrose...

    Your brain playing tricks perhaps, a sort of echo of your initial meeting two weeks ago, or...?

    --Behind you, the sound of a door jingles.

    Much like Vincent said, it seems that people come and go here often, the flow of a bar that's perpetually in flux, and this time...



    "..."

    Seems like some sort of heiress...

    One who wanders, in the same sort of daze as the others, towards the leftmost side of the bar, where she sits down, seems to fumble unconsciously for the remote control -which Vincent pushes to her- before turning the television from the anime movie to the news...?

    Must be more of a regular...

    Although her face is streaked with tears...
    Spoiler:
    Death is nothing but a disease.
    But it is one that often comes from all sides.
    An end like that is coming, and yet here you are.

    Tell me.

    Could you kill someone you love for the sake of everyone else?


    What a cynical worldview, Messiah.
    Real heroes would find a different answer.


    Right, right.
    The power to break through a sad reality—
    I wonder—

    Will they be able to show it to me?



  16. #1196
    The Time-Governing Twelve Covenants Airen's Avatar
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    Cosmos Fairchild
    LOVELESS, Vatican City
    12/22/2026
    Evening, Thunder Storm


    Quote Originally Posted by Cosmos
    "Seeing as both Mister Daniel and myself are stuck, we went to LOVELESS in hope of discovering a new clue. The fountain would hopefully be one of them." She concludes. "And in case you're wondering which fountain it was, it was the one which is huge enough to fill an entire room, with its water having some sort of spell or charm that normally allow anyone to stand on the water."
    "...Madness."

    Having listened to your explanation from start to finish with eyes that are both hardened and inquisitive, the blonde-haired heiress ultimately sighs to herself after a moment's more thought, declaring the absurdity of the situation aloud, and then returning to a nearby chair, settling into it in a dignified way that nevertheless betrays the depths of her apparent exhaustion...

    "But I don't see any lies in your eyes."

    Of course, the situation is absolute lunacy; even in the Magic Age, the alternate world theory remained but a theory. The Demonic Server was more akin to the 'reverse side' of this World rather than an entirely separate dimension, and Data Worlds themselves were more like pocket worlds, things that the people of this world made themselves, rather than something else that had naturally occurred elsewhere, a 'sub-world' instead of a 'World,' and thus an inferior concept.

    Of course, it was probably that such things existed, it was more likely that other universes did exist then did not exist in the eyes of modern mages, but that did not mean the ability to do so was so casual as to be installed into a single fountain in a World-Wide chain of shopping malls, yes...

    Rather than the idea itself being madness perhaps, it's everything else?

    It'd be as insane as finding a random fountain that throws one backwards in time, even so...

    "...And considering Sir Proctor here, he wouldn't have come to see me if he didn't believe your story."

    She laughs, a tired forced laugh...

    "Well well, invincible star-ships carrying a war's worth of Tamers disappearing without a trace, apparent travel through dimensions, perfect spiritual clones, selective memory loss, secret KoTR assignments that result in massive Reiki spikes in the Pulse Network, what's next? Functional Tipler Cylinder Engines?"

    ---An understandable complaint, although some of that was clearly not something you had told her, simply something she was complaining about aloud on her own...

    "Very well, the World is Strange, I suppose I should stop clinging so heavily to my common sense. I'll work with this madness."

    One hand going up to her forehead, as if to ease a building headache, the woman extends her other hand to the side, and...

    "...!"

    ...There's a blur of motion, as someone or something flickers to her side, but faster than even your mind can process it (although the flicker does seem vaguely person shaped)...

    The woman is simply holding a cup of some substance... Coffee, by the fragrance of it...

    "Greetings, Fairchild Girl, you may refer to me as Sofia. As I'm sure Sir Proctor here explained, this mall is my estate, my legacy, my castle."

    She takes a sip of the drink.

    Her mannerisms are impeccable, the moment she had grasped the cup, the twitching of her hands had simply ceased to be, as if she was suppressing them all via pure brute force, willpower, in other words...

    "The fountain you speak of... Well, disregarding the charms to keep people from swimming in them, it was one of the first items constructed within this place, a memorial to the family benefactor I believe, the one who got our little operation off the ground seventy years ago. In all my years, I can't say I've ever seen it do anything particularly memorable. As for the name of the benefactor themselves... That was kept off of the memorial in question... Considering the originally dubious nature of my family's line of work, that was probably done for the sake of the benefactor's reputation, a sudden annoying fact, but a fact nonetheless."

    Another sigh, then-

    "LOVELESS, begin closing procedures, once everyone is out, I want a complete lock-down of the premises."

    -she makes a command aloud -seemingly to the air- and...

    Behind you, the door opens and shuts, as if someone had just walked through it.

    Daniel doesn't flinch at it.

    Sofia seems satisfied by it, and you...

    Can hear the distant sound of the 'announcement' jingle blaring through the less hidden parts of the building...

    "...So, out with it then, Ms. Fairchild."

    Turning her gaze to you again, the girl rests her head on her wrist...

    "What made you jump into the fountain? I assume you had some reason for it?"

    She directs that question at you, asking for details that she assumed you had skipped, before turning her head towards Daniel, who seems used to the sudden surge of 'princess-esque' authority that's being directed his way...

    "...Same to you. Coming to me rather than the NWAB means you either can't, or won't. Which is it, Proctor?"

    "Let's go with 'won't' for now."

    She sighs again...

    "Great. You think someone up top is monitoring the flow of information on all of this then? Wonderful. Excellent."

    ...In spite of being a clear princess type...

    Her sarcasm is pretty damn blatant...

    Seems these two are pretty clued into each other too...

    "...No proof. Just a bit of a paranoid feeling..."

    Daniel doesn't exactly deny the assertion either.
    Last edited by Airen; October 11th, 2020 at 07:23 PM.
    Spoiler:
    Death is nothing but a disease.
    But it is one that often comes from all sides.
    An end like that is coming, and yet here you are.

    Tell me.

    Could you kill someone you love for the sake of everyone else?


    What a cynical worldview, Messiah.
    Real heroes would find a different answer.


    Right, right.
    The power to break through a sad reality—
    I wonder—

    Will they be able to show it to me?



  17. #1197
    el bolb Bloble's Avatar
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    Mokujima Chris
    Brewed Awakenings, Boundary
    To Those That Wish to Escape
    ???

    The tall girl wordlessly watches as the bartender prepares the coffee she'd ordered, in a manner as casual as his clothing and demeanor. He's pretty good. While she wouldn't call herself an expert, she's seen her mother prepare drinks for the regulars often enough to get some of the nuances. He's got the demeanor down perfectly, and even her ridiculous order isn't tripping him up. In fact, he seems to be showing off. What a regular cool guy.

    The final product placed before her is warm and steaming, reminding Chris of the coffee she hadn't had this morning, because Daisuke needed to leave to accompany Shuichi. She picks up the cup, lets it warm her chilly fingers, and takes a small sip, followed by a longer one, before placing it back down.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bartender
    "Sometimes you just need a place to get away, stop and take a breath. I like to think of this shop as that sort of place, so people swing through here a lot."
    Her eyes rise from the coffee and meet his own, this time staying there, and Mokujima nods once.

    "...thanks."

    Chris doesn't make it known whether her response is referring to the coffee, the bartender's light and friendly words, or the utensils he'd provided for her. Perhaps it is all three. It is a dream, yes, but that's no reason to be impolite. As she puts pencil to paper, she finds the other words she'd been looking for.

    "Can't stay long," she whispers, half to him, half to herself. "Need to... do something important. No time. But... it's good."

    Yes, the shop, the coffee, and the atmosphere he's cultivating... they're good. Admirable even. One of Chris' ultimate goals is to be someone capable of supporting those around her, cheering up those who are losing their way or need someone to lean on. In that sense, this bartender might be the platonic ideal of that wish: an infinitely approachable, non-threatening regular person, who exudes a calming aura with an ounce of pretension... and can make some damn good coffee.

    Well, obviously her unconscious mind would generate such an image... though she expected the ideal bartender to look a bit more like Raz Stone. Maybe she really does need a break; these past few weeks have been nothing but stress and anxiety. Normally Chris would be able to step back, recognize inefficiencies appearing and treat herself accordingly... but sometimes, even if you need to get away, to find a place to take a breath, there's just no time for it. Even now as she dreams, time is surely passing.

    That's fine. Some things can't be put off or rushed. Like the work taking shape before her.





    She hadn't requested writing utensils to take notes. Straight lines come together at odd angles as pencil smoothly glides across paper, and a sketch of a clock tower seen from crowded city streets takes shape. Buildings are drawn in first, with anachronistic and clashing styles reminiscent of an Ernst or Dali work. But the lines themselves are clean and firm, like an architect or engineer's blueprints, even if the subject matter is surreal. Roughly scribbled fireworks explode in the sky above, while the stick figure crowd watches below and, inexplicably, a single tiny shape stands perpendicular on the face of the tower itself. But the main focus of the painting is the white-haired girl standing out among the crowd, watching the sky wistfully as she carries a figure on her back.

    ...seems it'll need a few more minutes to proceed beyond a simple sketch. Is that the 'timer' ticking down the seconds before she has to leave? Or is this to remind herself of what is waiting, and ensure memory doesn't slip away when she wakes up as dreams are known to do? Certainly an image is easier to hold onto than words, but for now its purpose remains unknown.

    Just as Chris is putting down the pencil and taking another sip of coffee...

    Quote Originally Posted by Sakurako?
    "...Boo?"
    The cup clicks as it is left on the counter.

    Slowly, stiffly, like a rusty robot, Mokujima Chris turns her head to the right.

    Yep, that's her alright. A nice image. Well, it's a dream, so running into the person you most want to see is to be expected.

    A stony gaze meets a tired gaze, and...

    "Kyaaa."

    A quiet response in the usual monotone. The corner of Chris' mouth, usually a straight line, twitches upwards just a bit.

    The phone in front of the dream Sakurako chirps. A local message from another player has come through: a request to play together, whether it be a PvP exhibition match or one of the many post-game co-op only challenges. Being two-player only, and with Daisuke's lack of approval of such hobbies, the highest level ones are yet to be cleared. Even if one were to find a partner online, the level of difficulty is so high that clearing one is considered nigh-impossible even with the latest power-crept units from the rare banner. The other player is, of course, the backup account on the phone in front of Chris herself.

    "Been a while, huh?"

    Isn't it fine, in a dream, to indulge a bit?

    At the very least, while Chris herself has little to reflect on in this dream that is more than a dream, perhaps Sakurako might find some solace at her side.

    Though... the others don't seem as fortunate. Not the woman drowning her sorrows in alcohol, or the boy burying his head in a game that doesn't exist, or the tearful girl changing the channels, looking for news that will never come. Are these images her mind conjured up to populate the area, or the dreams of others that were also drawn in? It's not unheard of for certain creatures, like incubi and succubi, to operate in the realm of unconsciousness, turning the sleeping and waking worlds topsy turvy. Gods too, enjoy sending visions to sleeping disciples, or so she has heard. In fact, one can even weave dream magic, summoning Demons into others' minds to wreak havoc. But this place seems different. Safe, somehow.

    Well, it's just a dream, but then, life is but a dream, isn't it?

    Chris glances back to the bartender as she gives her friend a moment to formulate a response.

    "You're good, but... can only do so much. They're alone," she posits, indicating the other patrons. Some things, a stranger can't fix, no matter how good he is. "No bringing friends?"

    Perhaps it's a singles-only establishment...

  18. #1198
    Chasing Daybreak palad1n's Avatar
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    Cosmos Fairchild
    LOVELESS, Vatican City
    12/22/2026
    Evening, Thunder Storm


    Silently, Cosmos listened intently to what Sofia had to say.

    One of the first thing constructed here, a memorial to a benefactor of LOVELESS 70 years ago. The name of the benefactor kept off the fountain. The possibility that there might be someone complicit to this tragedy as high up as the NWAB.

    Cosmos felt like she would have laughed at the absurdity of it all if she were alone.

    It was as Sofia said; absolute madness. Yet it was also, without a doubt, the reality of the situation. Once again the words of the Man of Light came back to her, that The World is Strange...

    Cosmos took a deep breath to clear her mind, and then prepared herself to answer the question that Sofia had asked: the reason why she jumped into the fountain on that fateful day. The memory came back vividly to her, as if it just happened yesterday, and Cosmos adjusted her hat; there's nothing to hide. She would tell the reason why in full.

    "I saw something." She truthfully answered with a frown. "When Alyx and I arrived here, before dawn, I saw a shadow entering the building through the rooftop. I gave chase, and whatever it is disappeared at the fountain room. I scanned the room and found nothing, but I managed to see something like a shadow on the bottom of the fountain; it might be dangerous, so I jumped in, and when I next resurfaced I was already in another world."

    Saying that out loud, Cosmos realized that she had been reckless. Stupid, even. No doubt Miss Sofia and Mister Daniel will see her as a liability, a tamer without the necessary experience, or a fool. And yet, her senses had never failed her before; if it screamed at her that there was something, then it is likely that there was something. She could have acted better, like waiting for Alyx, but if there was one thing that Cosmos could believe in herself, then it was in her finely-attuned senses. She had to believe that the shadow was not just a fragment of her imagination.

    Still, she let out a dry, humorless chuckle at her own story and situation, her tone and expression clearly conveying some amount of self-hatred and depreciation.

    "Sounds like a fool, aren't I?"

    Looking at Daniel and Sofia - who are clearly familiar with each other - Cosmos couldn't help but to feel her heart ache, feeling like she doesn't belong here with them. How fitting it is that she is destined to disappear when she has so few people that she could feel at ease with.
    Last edited by palad1n; October 12th, 2020 at 05:07 AM.
    Random Regalia Hijinks

    <Mellon> But yeah. Don't play the waiting game too much guys. Just do what you want to do and let God (me) sort it out.

    <Erlkonig|Phone> Why get a gf, when Airen is your waifu?

    <Airen|Phone> I'll save everyone, it's fine

    <Snaxies> Airen is totally Jesus again

    <frantic> I actually hate reading your post because you're so fucking anime

    <Reiu> Regalia is a scary place desu...

    <Mellon> He who lives by the oneshot, dies by the oneshot

    <Airen> No character in ga rei is 100% serious


    Personal Compliments

    <@RacingeR> Pally would be a perfect shoujo lead

    <Erlkonig> I would fall for Pally if he was a qt shoujo manga lead girl

    Quote Originally Posted by Airen View Post
    Only pala is pure, the rest of ya are twisted


  19. #1199
    men are men; the best sometimes forget Katie's Avatar
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    Aster
    The Boundary ~ Azure Horizon


    "That must be lonely right? I know I get lonely up here by myself sometimes..."
    Obviously.

    Aster gives a wry smile, unwilling to say anything at all. Though it is probably obvious to everyone but Ayra herself, Aster refuses to put it into words. Admitting it would be a sign of defeat. She may dislike her current circumstances, but she is respecting the wishes of both her owner and her likeness. When they’re the reason for her existence, what right does she have to refuse?

    It was never her decision to make.

    "Who is the first? Do you see her often? Should I bring her here too for you sometime?"
    Aster supposes it’s obvious, from looking at her, that Burroughs can already assume who the other AI is. Still, no matter how well-meaning Burroughs is, she can’t help but find this to be incredibly invasive. No, not invasive. Meddlesome.

    “How do I put this,” Aster says, trying to maintain neutrality. “She and I haven’t spoken for a while now, but you don’t need to do anything about it.”

    “I trust her a lot. She can take care of herself. She’s not as frail as I imagine her to be, after all.”

    If anything, I’m the one pretending to be tough.

    “So please, don’t bother her. I’d hate to burden her with unnecessary worries. If she knew the kinds of things I was up to now, her circuits would burn out from the stress.” Aster laughs, her somber tone interrupted by her off-color joke. Her gaze is wistful as she admires the stars once again, in an effort to seem relaxed, nonchalant. “I appreciate the sentiment, but you don’t have to do anything for little old me. Trust me.”

    “Just gotta roll with the hand fate deals you, you know?”

  20. #1200
    The Time-Governing Twelve Covenants Airen's Avatar
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    Cosmos Fairchild
    LOVELESS, Vatican City
    12/22/2026
    Evening, Thunder Storm


    "...A fool wouldn't be the word I use."

    Ultimately, the princess speaks with the same regal voice as always, showing no outward signs of thought or emotions towards your sudden burst of self deprecation...

    At least until she closes her eyes.

    "Your intentions were noble enough, certainly reckless perhaps, but do not forget you are a victim in this too, Fairchild Girl."

    She spins her chair around to face the numerous computer screens nearby, fingers dancing along the keyboard as she continues to speak, the screen filling up with numerous black boxes even as line after line of code is inputted with the sort of speed one might expect from some form of digital life, rather than the clearly human girl sitting there in front of you.

    "A victim of manipulation can only blame themselves so much, when it comes down to it, the manipulator is truly the one at fault. That is how I see things anyway."

    She shakes her head, but does not turn back to look at you or Daniel again, continuing her rapid-fire typing into the console...

    "Regardless, it's a simple enough matter to check your story. I have unrestricted access to all visual and audio logs recorded inside of these establishments... The creation date is a bit strange, but I do believe I've found it nonetheless; you can prove to yourself whether or not you were hallucinating right now."

    ---So saying, the girl types a final command into the system, and it begins to show a scene that is hauntingly familiar, but also strange due to the altered point of view associated with it, yes...

    This is the recording of the initial incident with the fountain...

    The camera easily catches you sprinting through the halls, in clear pursuit of a something, but...

    The something... Almost seems like a nothing...

    Like a sentient shadow crawling along the ground at high-speeds, the area it moves through is more noticeable by the hazy mirage-like effect it invokes in other things, something that would certainly be difficult for your average person to perceive while running at high speeds in the dark, but one that both Daniel and Sofia seem to pick up on by themselves as 'something,' a fact that comes with a tangible amount of relief, like something that had been pressing on one of the cracks in your psyche had let up a bit, a tiny change in internal pressure, but a change nonetheless...

    Of course, it's still painful to watch yourself jump into the fountain...

    The 'shadow' does seem to disappear for real as it enters the fountain room, flickering away in a manner that you can only describe as reminiscent of television static taking physical form in reality, and, after looking around for it a bit...

    The fountain draws your attention and you jump, and when you do, and Alyx comes flying into the room after you mere moments later, swearing aloud to herself before diving into the fountain after a you that has not reemerged...

    ---The thing reappears and laughs to itself, flickering back into existence almost as casually as it had left, although this time...

    It's form is more concrete... Rather than a shadow...

    It reminds you of a court jester?

    Yes.

    It's like someone wearing a vaguely creepy costume, a cackling clown that bends over as it clutches it's stomach, laughing aloud to itself like what it had just seen was the funniest thing in the world, wiping away non-existent tears from eyes that are painted onto a thick ceramic mask, and then, after about a minute or so of this, it turns it's head slowly, beady black eyes piercing the darkness of the mall, and...

    It flickers again, this time...

    Right into the viewpoint of the camera lens, like it had known exactly where it was the whole time, and was now-

    "Hello up there! Now, who do we have watching the monitors this time...? Ah, the midget with a glass heart, the thirsty bitch princess, and Mr. 'The Fedora is still in style, I can make it work even though it was awful in the 80s!' Wonderful! Quite a crowd, quite a crowd! Did you have a fun trip, kiddo?"

    -talking into it.

    ...Ordinarily, this would certainly be odd, but if one really thinks about it...

    It's even more bizarre than a glance would assume, after all...

    ...This was a recording, wasn't it?

    Sofia's eyes narrow at this, and Daniel, well...

    For once, his eyes open up all the way...
    Last edited by Airen; October 12th, 2020 at 07:09 PM.
    Spoiler:
    Death is nothing but a disease.
    But it is one that often comes from all sides.
    An end like that is coming, and yet here you are.

    Tell me.

    Could you kill someone you love for the sake of everyone else?


    What a cynical worldview, Messiah.
    Real heroes would find a different answer.


    Right, right.
    The power to break through a sad reality—
    I wonder—

    Will they be able to show it to me?



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