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Shattered Minds: Smiles of the Dead
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It would be a few weeks until the news would feature another story of disappearances. It would be on the local news. Reports of a graveyard with strange happenings and the disappearance of several of its grave keepers. At first, this wasn't made public knowledge but the frequency of gravekeepers vanishing from the grounds became more and more frequent. It was with the disappearance of the 11th that the city took action. It was obvious that they needed to seek help from outside sources. And so a reward had been offered for anyone who could find the missing grave keepers. Of course, not everyone may be investigating for that reason. Perhaps some remember the words of a strange man. Regardless, the graveyard would stretch out in front of you. A large field with a old iron gate surroundings its perimeter. There wouldn't be too much of immediate note. A few graves looks slightly more rustled than normal. There was a small shed near the back of the cemetery as well. Finally, there was a stone structure in the middle of the graveyard. A mausoleum of sorts with an old door made from iron and wood.
"Another one..." A familiar high-schooler notes as she approaches the graveyard, watching the silver ring on her hand closely. Nothing changed, just like before. A fact that only really meant anything to her. There wasn't anyone to greet her this time, likely intended for credit to be taken after the fact. All the better for Nanaka. First, Nanaka walks over to investigate the shed. It didn't seem to have much, which meant she could likely check it quickly before moving on. The mausoleum was much more suspicious, but likely meant a larger dive during which the cause could move to trap her if her guess was wrong.
Himeno passes through the entrance to this graveyard without much hesitation, only pausing to take in the surroundings. She’s the second earliest person... or has someone else gone ahead of her? She took the first bus she could to get here but who knows how prompt any other takers could be. Onto the next thing, then. The monster that man created. The graveyard is an open field, leaving only a few hiding spots for a creature. She approaches the stone structure and attempts to open the door. What’s this for again? Perhaps I should have looked some things up before going.
(edited by Himeno_Akatsuki)
"Of course those two arrived. With my luck, those other strangers will too. Maybe then I'll remember their names." {Yurick enters the graveyard even though he didn't want to, as if something else willed him to go. Not even knowing there were news reports talking about it, the boy shifts around the place, being more tensed up than usual. Because of this, he waits near the entrance to see if any other people would come in as well.}
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The shed door would be slightly ajar. Not open enough to look inside fully but at very least a flickering light could be seen leaking from within. Other than that the plain wooden shed would have a window but it seemed that several pieces of black tape covered the surface from the inside. It seemed someone was paranoid about being watched. The mausoleum wasn't particularly detailed. It had a simple design to it that possibly suggested only the bare minimum had been done to structure it. The door was of course locked and didn't look like it'd be falling down anytime soon. It may have been old but it was reinforced with iron. There was almost a chance that it only remained standing because it was too heavy to even fall out of place. Yurick would notice nothing aside from a slight sway in the grass...At night...with no wind. If one were to observe it long enough it almost seemed to be waving to them.
After kicking the door a few times, Himeno gives up on this entrance and backs away. She walks around the perimeter for an alternative entrance and, if she doesn’t find one, decides to survey the graves instead. Sure, burning the door is an option, but committing arson this soon is risky.
So the Shed is still occupied, at the very least. Nanaka dreads having to speak to someone so eccentric they'd have to block out their windows. Still, it was time to put her special negotiation to use. Nanaka politely knocks on the door before asking "Is anyone here? Pardon the intrusion, I had a few questions about the graveyard."
{Yurick would squint at the grass swaying as he feels no wind in this graveyard. Another sign that arson should be committed, but it's too early for that. If it was just a few leaves of grass that move to the nonexistant breeze, no one would notice. But a better move would obviously be to silently lurk behind Himeno as she does the work for him until he's needed.}
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No entrance could be found on the building other than the main door. There was a keyhole on the door but it seemed as old as the door itself, requiring quite a large old fashioned key to open. The graves seemed unsettled with the grass above their plots of land seeming to be more loose than usual. It almost looked as if the dirt was so loose that it would collapse if any weight at all were placed on it. Three graves in particular would stand out. One on the right, one in the middle, and one to the left. Oddly, all three graves were also marked with the same name. Joshua. Nanaka would knock on the door but this would only cause to open further. Upon further inspection of the inside it was actually fairly dark with only a dying fireplace producing any light at all. There was a bed across from the fireplace with everything normally on top of it pulled off and placed on top of a table nearby that seemed to be more elevated off the ground. There was also a desk right below the covered window. A journal rested there but all but one page seemed to be torn out. The fireplace also had a lot of charred paper in it...
(edited by Roland)
Himeno only gives Yurick a small nod in greeting before going back to investigating. The loose dirt is forgettable on one grave, but on multiple graves? She examines each of them again, and- “What the hell?” She blinks to make sure her eyes are working. Are they all named Joshua? Is it just a last name? She shakes her head and approaches one of the gravestones. Holding onto it with one hand to keep herself steady, she stomps at the loose dirt. If her theory is right...
Akia would wander up to the place looking... Torn up a bit, not mentally but her clothes seem physically damaged and like she's obviously been in a fight not too long ago. No real harm done to her body, but the Inscribed has nevertheless seen better shape as she greets Himeno and Yurick with a wave. She takes note of the strangely named graves as well though, not long after looking at them for a moment herself and just sighs heavily. Could be a family name maybe, but the presence of three makes her go looking for more while speaking a bit. "Heh, this didn't have a schedule but I still feel late somehow. Also I'd wager that name matters..." She doesn't say much though, clearly lost in thought. And wondering a bit what the pyro might be planning with that move.
Seeing that the shed is empty, Nanaka goes ahead and invites herself in. Looking at the fireplace... Its still lit which means that whoever had lived here left it today, and likely in a hurry. The burning papers would obviously be illegible, so Nanaka starts by turning to the journal and opening it up to see if there are any clues as to the strange happenings. If the desk has drawers she would begin looking through them after reading the journal, just in case.
"Oh, hey." {The boy shrugs as the girl isn't surprised at all to see his presence. At least it doesn't mean screaming early in a graveyard by what isn't a ghost or something. As Himeno decides to stomp at the loose dirt, Yurick silently backs away to gain some distance in order for spell casting to be more efficient. Or in case something really does come out.}
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The closest grave would be the rightmost one. Himenko would find that despite being loose the gravestone did still seem to be planted in solid ground. As for the rest of the plot, she would even need to stomp hard at all. The moment she touched that ground it would crumble and break until her foot hit something made of wood below. The rest of the dirt would collapse as well until a wooden coffin was unburied. A strange symbol could be seen engraved on its surface. A circle woth a brain in the center and an L with a sharp point being stabbed into it. The page left in the journal wouldn't be very legible. Most of what was inside were scribbles of faces smiling but what was readable were the words "They watch from below" and "Key in the left". There'd be only one drawer and inside would be a small crowbar.
Himeno would have fallen over if it weren’t for her grip on the gravestone. Stepping back, she moves to get a better view of the coffin. “Either this was dug up recently, or they did a terrible job at burying it...” It’s probably the former. Messing with graves isn’t what she expected to do today, but she can’t just leave this clue alone. Time to open the coffin. As she grabs the lid, she takes note of the symbol on it. “Anyone recognize this?”
"That's not ominous at all..." Nanaka mutters to herself after reading the note. More interestingly is the note "Key in the left." There was only one drawer so its obviously referring to something else. Nanaka looks at the crowbar for a few seconds, before taking it with a sigh "I can always drop it if need be." Everything settled, Nanaka leaves the shed to return to the graveyard proper
{Yurick sighs out, being slightly relieved that nothing came out. Even though it never would have as of yet, it's better to be safe than sorry. Even so, he still has teammates to bail out on. While he felt slightly bad for Himeno almost falling into the recent grave, he took a step closer just to glance at the unfamiliar sign she's asking about.} "Not at all." {The boy looks away, taking his step back. He crossed his arms and continued to wait. Yurick was on the lookout in case someone decides to show up, good or bad.}
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The coffin would take some time to open. It could be ripped open quite easily but not as easily as if someone had a crowbar of some kind. Of course, being opened this way would most likely make anyone stagger a bit given how much force was needed to rip it open. For a moment once open nothing seemed to happen for Himeno, but anyone watching from a distance would notice the inside of the coffin was...just blackness...at least for a moment. Suddenly something that looked like a white mask would float up from the darkness. It had a simple face on it that could be seen as a frowning expression. The mask could only be observed for a second though as it lunged upward with the darkness trailing behind it. In a matter of seconds it would then strike toward towards Himeno. A large set of fangs would form just under the mask, full of sharp ridged teeth ready to try and bite her in half. Nanaka would obviously be able to notice this upon walking outside though she'd be a bit farther away than the others.
"It seems I'm not alone after all." Nanaka tells herself before running over to the others. They were a long distance away so for now we'll simply transform and cover the distance in a single round, shouting to the others "Get it off her, and then we'll be able to deal with the monster more effectively."
Akia just groans upon seeing the beast, a blast of pure grain alcohol would go rushing towards the thing though, aiming to stoke the flames her ally for the moment had created and high pressure enough to deliver serious blunt impact upon their victim. "Ah great, more weird monsters. Hopefully this one doesn't shrug off physcial attacks like that big flesh thing did!" That would be a pain in the ass, even if she can try some other things... For now though Akia isn't directly being threated and she simply watches for a chance to strike again after sending out that first attack.
{Yurick's tense figure was a ways behind everyone, but at the very least he was close enough to witness it clearly. Though this atmosphere terrified him, he can't let these strangers know he's scared. As much as he wants to stay like how he was at the school, his tone was a slight bit shakier than it was a few minutes ago.} "T-thanks for sharing the general consensus, lady." {The boy holds his dagger out in front of him as he levitates off the ground slightly. An aura of transparent magic emenates from him. Once the thing gets off the girl, he'd send a ball of fire straight at it, hoping to get a clear shot in. Whether it would hit or not, the ground would form a circular ring of fire from the impact of the fireball.}
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The creature's teeth would dig into Himeno's flesh. The wound itself wasn't very deep but she'd suddenly feel as if the teeth were sinking into her very being as well. They weren't just scraping against her flesh but her mind as well. Of course, the black mass would immediately back off as soon as fire came into the picture. It's body would burn away, releasing a rotten stench into the air. The fire would also reveal pieces of bones hidden inside the mass and what looked to be decaying flesh. The creature would seem trapped where it was...Until it quickly retreated into a small hole at the back of the coffin. The hole was small causing it to shed much of it's mass inside the coffin. Only the mask would be able to fit through leaving behind burning rotten flesh.
Nanaka, eager to see the creature gone, quickly covers its retreat by setting the coffin's lid back on top of it. Not a great solution since the coffin was no longer truly shut, but it was better than receiving no warning at all. After taking this swift action, the Magical Girl brings out the crowbar she got earlier before breathing out a sigh and turning to Himeno and the others "It appears we shall all be allies again. Will you be alright?" Nanaka asks Himeno, as the only person currently injured, their condition was the most important one to assess. After everyone is settled they can decide what to do next.
Himeno watches the creature retreat, only allowing herself to relax once it’s firmly in the coffin. She backs away from the pit and examines her arm. Despite the pain, not all of the damage is physical. Whatever that was, it had left part of her mind in disarray. She takes a few deep breaths then nods to Nanaka. “It’s not severe. I will be fine. More importantly, what is that creature, and are there more?” ...More than one grave had messed-up soil. She tries not to dwell on it. “Perhaps we should burn this coffin so it’s dead for sure?”
"That's good to hear, just be careful not to push yourself too far." Nanaka looks at Himeno's injury for a moment, before solemnly shaking her head "That would be pointless. Whatever it was escaped further underground."
"Hopefully, but try to calm down more if you need to. As for your questions, I don't know and I don't know." {While he would try to examine the injury further, that requires going closer. As a long ranged attacker, that's never going to happen.} "So are we supposed to follow it underground or can we do something else?"
The Inscribed would just smirk a bit, at least this thing wasn't impossible to harm so that's a good point from her view. Nanaka seems to be capable of dealing with that injury, ish. So Akia merely wobbles her hand a bit before nodding to the pink-haired girl's thoughts of burning the coffin. "Yeah I don't see burning that working, and I don't think I can really soak the ground in enough booze to burn everything below us... Nor that it would be a good idea for that matter, we could get killed by that much fire pretty easily." Hmm, what to do next though. Could check out some more of those graves, see if more beasts are waiting to burst forth from them... On the other hand doing soo too carelessly seems a bad idea, so the woman would conjure up a large floating 'pool' of liquor above them, not actively trying to draw attention, but preparing to strike if anything else comes out. "And I guess we'll see if these things wake up on their own or not..."
"I believe there is one thing worth checking." with everyone accounted for and Himeno seemingly safe, Nanaka calmly walks towards the leftmost... "Joshua"? Normally families have a first and last name, so its odd for them to only have one. Either way, if they were already going graverobbing, Nanaka tries to dig up this grave. "I found a note that said 'key in the left'. There was no left drawer on the desk I found it in, and there are no other unlocked buildings around, so this seems like the most likely option for now."
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Nanako would find another coffin buried here, only the symbol on its cover was different. The image of a snake biting into an apple, eight wings extending from its body. The grass would shift as if it somehow was aware of what had been uncovered. It seemed to wrap around the feet of those present...but it was still just grass and couldn't do much other than latch to them. OOC: Just need Nanaka's response before update.
"That's.... Ominous. Everyone stay on your guard." Nanaka notes as she brings the crowbar she found to the coffin's lid. The girl takes a deep breath before trying to pry the lid open. Admittedly she wasn't used to this kind of menial labor, but with a tool in hand it would hopefully be easy enough
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The coffin lid would come off a lot more easily with the crowbar. As the lid was removed the grass seemed to tremble. A terrible noise could suddenly be heard from down below. Something was moaning in pain, like a thousand voices all sharing one throat. The coffin lid would be removed... ... Inside was an empty coffin save for a large old looking key. The grass would stop moving and the noise would cease for the moment.
"There, that wasn't so hard." Nanaka lets out a sigh of relief, tossing her crowbar aside before picking up the key. It was larger than normal, but that's probably just the styling. If her suspicions are correct, the mausoleum would have a somewhat large lock as well. If that settles the matter, Nanaka would briefly turn to her companions with a gentle smile. "I believe that puts us near the end of our journey. Would anyone like to take this chance to back out before we go?"
Himeno tugs her feet away from the clinging grass. The coffin, too, sends a shiver down her spine with its noises. Whatever’s in there is - oh. Nevermind. She must be imagining things. At least, she hopes she is. She looks over at the old mausoleum standing tall nearby. “I’d hate to back out just when things are getting interesting. Everyone else ready?” She knows fire can hurt whatever they’re up against. That gives her the confidence she needs.
{Yurick would have loved to set fire to more of the grass by now, but that might as well be a waste of energy. He also was unnerved by the sounds from the coffin. Though scared, that was the only motivation he needed to bring it down.} "Ugh, simply disgusting. You know what, I would leave, but since whatever that thing gets hurt by fire, I might as well keep my fears out the way and go ahead and burn it to the ground with you all." {Because if they're wrong and the creature ends up nullifying fire damage then he's doomed to do nothing yet again.}
"Very well then." Nanaka lets out a faint sigh before heading to the mausoleum, key in hand. She'd look to see if this new key fit the mausoleum's lock, and if so open the entrance to where answers probably lurked
Akia isn't about to just go and quit now, that would be boring after all. Even if she isn't being paid to deal with this problem, answers are a form of payment... Ah who's she kidding, she just wants an excuse to do something right now. "I'm still in, whatever happens next I wanna find out more with my own two eyes. Besides, this time doesn't seem as annoying as that horrible monster from the school was." Withh that said she'd simply look towards the door, getting ready to go further in if the girl her younger ally has found actually works on this lock.
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The key predictably would fit into the lock of the mausoleum. Given how old the lock was it might take a minute to properly turn the key but eventually there'd be a click as the door began to slide open. Inside was a small space with a large portion of the stone floor seemingly broken apart. There seemed to be a makeshift set of stairs made from compressed dirt leading deeper down. The smell of decay was obvious...mixed with the smell of alcohol? Perhaps that was simply due to the influence of one of their allies. Of course, any who ventured down these stairs would quickly reach a crossroads of sorts. Two paths, one heavy with the smell of decay and the other with occasional inhumane noises echoing from the darkness. Of course, the paths weren't the strangest part of what they'd be seeing. Sitting at the split between the two paths was a man with green hair tied into a ponytail. He would be wearing clothing far to formal seeming for his appearance and was surrounded by dozens of empty beer cans while asleep. There also was a book at his side he was absently grasping. It would immediately seem familiar to the books the janitor from the school also possessed.
"Uh.. huh." Nanaka stares at the man who had obviously been drinking too much... And was apparently locked in a Mausoleum? At least he was still moving... Though after their last encounter that didn't really mean much. As the leader and the first in, Nanaka takes it upon herself to question the green-haired man. "Pardon me, are you awake? You seem to have gotten yourself locked in by accident."
Himeno approaches the split in the paths and is about to just walk around this man when she notices the book. It’s like the one she found back then. She’s not taking this one though. He’s probably using it, plus having one book is dangerous enough based on that “janitor’s” warning. “So he’s the same as that man... how’d he get in here, though?” She lets Nanaka question this drunkard and continues on her way. She won’t actually get deep into these passages without her allies, but she forms a small flame and attempts to see more of the passage where the noise is coming from.
{Yurick has to at least take a brief moment to stop and gather where they've gotten. And where they've gotten is in a fork in the road. Or rather, some split paths with an unconscious man? Either way, they're not blocking anything so now's the perfect chance to scout.} "Oh nice, a random man. Don't think he's my problem, but I'll try to see what's up ahead at least. If he ends up turning into some monster on a whim, someone else needs to take the aggro." {He would walk past the man and the people trying to question him, going to the path Himeno didn't go to in order to conjure up a light fire, like a flare gun but frozen in place and in his hand.}
The woman would just shrug a bit, she can talk to this weirdo. He looks like a drunk anyways so maybe she'll be able to relate better? She'd walk up along Nanaka with a smile on her face while greeting him. "Hi there. Yeah my friend looks to be right about ya getting locked in here, I was sorta hoping we could ask some questions about the place but... You feeling alright man? I only wake up in a mausoleum with cans laying around when it's been a real rough night." The words are said in an entirely too casual tone to be anything but actual experience, because of course she's done that. Questioning Akia's sanity is perhaps in order, but she is far more at home speaking to this one than Nanaka at least.
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The path Himeno and Yurick had taken interest in wouldn't yield much, even with light. There seemed to be a curve further up ahead that kept any light from showing the full way. However, they would see a humanoid shadow run out of view quickly after the path was lit up. The noises would soon stop following that. The green haired man would slowly open his eyes as he spoke. "Unfortunately, I'm awake now..." He'd yawn briefly before taking a heavy breath and sighing. "Locked in? Nah, that might be preferable though. I wouldn't have a job to do if I was locked in." His reaction to Akia was immediately different. He seemed to let out a chuckle before continuing in a more casual tone. "The first time in forever that I'm outside and it's a miserable place like this. I even ran out of beer a little while ago. The only good thing about this situation is that I don't have to worry about my work for a while."
Nanaka casts a disapproving glance between the two adults before letting out a sigh. There's a tinge of annoyance in her voice, despite how much Nanaka might try to hide it. "Yes of course, we wouldn't want any of you adults to actually do your jobs now would we? Let me guess, you're going to try shoving all the responsibility on us like the janitor did, aren't you?"
“What we’re looking for might be down there. But first...” She snaps and points at the sleepy drunkard. “What are you doing here? Do you know anything about what’s going on here, or perhaps something about a man with a book like that in a school with a similar monster problem?” Himeno’s glare demands a clear answer from this man. He’s got a carefree attitude that’s getting on her nerves. It reminds her of a fellow teleporting psychic if said psychic was fond of beer. Right, beer. That smell annoys her too.
{Yurick pays more attention to the fact that there was some figure in the shadows rather than the drunk man on the ground. However, investigating it alone would be a horrible move.} "Right, well is there an actual reason that you've stuck yourself here? I saw something in the halls and it ran away from the light we made." {The boy would go back to where everyone else is, which is where the drunkard was. Since the girls are badgering him with inquiries and disapproving of alcohol, Yurick only hoped his question was essential enough to know more about whatever it is that needs to die.}
The Inscribed would chuckle a bit, absently conjuring up... A simple bottle of beer and casually handing it to the man. If he wants to take it anyway, no need to be so hostile like they are. "Hah! I can kinda relate to that, though running outta beer isn't an issue for me at least. I'm a little curious about her questions too, but if ya don't know anything that's fine man." She'd just shrug a bit at that, if he doesn't know he doesn't. And there's no sense trying to question someone who won't answer even if he does know for that matter. That and... You do tend to catch more flies with honey than vinegar, just basic logic there. The cheery approach and offers of booze are as much an attempt at getting any useful info as the other's words, in her own way.
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The man was clearly agitated by people yelling at him. That agitation didn't seem to comes out as anger though. The man would just breath out deeply with a tired look. "People always nagging me about work that doesn't suite me no matter where I am. My job here however, is simply to make sure the thing that escaped has no more people to eat. If it stops eating for long enough then it'll stop being a threat. So, I'm here to tell people not to go any further. It hasn't worked so far though and they end up going regardless of my warnings. Man with a book? Oh, I guess he was sent first. He had work to do though so they had me come this time instead." With all that said he'd accept Akia's offer, almost seeming happy at one person's kindness. He'd take the beer and hurry and start drinking it quickly. "Anyway, the monster here should die on its own...In about 2 years time as long as nobody else comes down here... I'll deal with it then but one person can't really do anything to stop it right now anyway."
“So your plan is to starve it to death? That’s a bit slow for my taste.” This man’s the same kind of person as the janitor, huh? Maybe they both work at this “Library” she’s heard of. “Would we be sufficient to kill it? This creature, I assume, is vulnerable to fire. If you have no advice for us, we’ll be on our way.” Himeno crosses her arms and waits by the dark passages. She’s not going in alone. If it catches her by surprise again, she’s not sure if she can avoid a fatal bite this time. Leagues better than the nothing in the school though.
“There’s no point to getting angry, when conducting business it is important to maintain one’s composure.” Nanaka chastises Himeno and shakes her head in disapproval. Next she looks to Himeno and Yurrick “If you would like an assignment you can scout ahead to see what we’re dealing with and in what environment. Just be ready to run at the first hint of trouble. The last creature could devastate a body from the inside out at a single touch. So bring an appropriate level of caution.” Her orders given, Nanaka actually doesn’t have a problem with Akia here. At the very least they seemed to understand the basics of negotiation, even if their methods of currying favor were crude.
{The boy would glance at the man with his one eye before nodding, figuring he's better off with the drunk girl and the leader or whoever.} "Right, was planning to do so. Thanks. Have fun with the negotiations." {Yurick spoke his words quickly to get his approval of letting others do more work over with, proceeding to take the lead in scouting, having Himeno behind him as he flashed a light again to see anything out of the ordinary like last time.}
“Fine, then. Let’s go.” Himeno sighs and follows Yurick into the depths. She wishes she’d brought a flashlight, but Yurick’s fire would do for now. Using her Gift for mere light, especially with that monster’s abilities, would be a waste of sanity. That monster will make a nice torch once we find it. She periodically glances over her shoulder just in case of an ambush. She doesn’t know how elaborate the monster’s tunnels are.
With the other two off, Nanaka lets out a relieved sigh before briefly bowing to make her apologies “Pardon my associates’ rudeness. They mean well but aren’t really accustomed to such things.” Nanaka straightens herself back up, ensuring her robe falls properly across her waist before continuing “While letting it starve would be easier, I’m afraid that would require far better sealing measures than currently available. You see, it appears the creature has become able to burrow towards the surface, as the girl who was so rude to you ended up getting bitten by the same creature you speak of. No doubt this is the cause of her foul mood.”
Akia would nod along with Nanaka, that's a better tack to take here. No need to piss the guy off after all. It probably isn't his fault the thing can get out, and even if it is? Being a dick still doesn't gain anyone anything in this case. That's only useful in causing people to make mistakes. "Mmm, didn't exactly look fun or anything. But it only explains rather than excuses, that said yeah I do feel like something needs to be done... Too bad those tunnels look big, I might be able to just flood em and then light all the booze up to take it out if it were small enough." It doesn't seem immune to fire, but the simple fact is she probably can't produce that much with her Epithet. Maybe with a serious breakthrough in its use, but as she is now? Nah. "Could that work for a smaller area though? I can't get everything, but if we did it to more individual parts of the place..." That's an idea, maybe. He'd hopefully know more about this thing's possible responses than they do at least. If not well, that's fine.
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For a moment Netzach seemed zoned out but he'd eventually respond with something close to advice. "It doesn't like fire from what I remember. I never had to deal with it myself honestly. It usually would just be left up to one of the upper guys. Oh, never mind. You guys probably wouldn't understand that. Fire should work. Unnatural magic won't though probably. It already uses those types of attacks so typically it'd be more or less unaffected. Oh, one more thing. Don't die." He'd take another sip of beer before realizing where the others just went. "Oh, guess I should have stopped them..." Of course, it would be too late to understand the meaning behind the man's words. The dark tunnel would remain silent aside from the occasional footsteps. Of course, eventually after passing the curve more of the path would be opened up. In the distant the humanoid figure would become more clear. It actually did seem to be a person though... The seemed to be wearing some kind of hazmat suit over their whole body. Their face was something akin to a gas mask and the suit they wore was a solid black. Nothing could be heard from them but heavy breathing as they silently stared at the two.
Himeno stares back at it. It’s a... human? Maybe? It’s definitely not the monster. However, that just raises more questions. She stops walking, keeping her distance, prepared to retaliate if things go south. “Hello? Who are you?” She waits for an answer. If it turns out to just be nothing, that’s fine. But she has a bad feeling about this.
Nanaka nods along with Netzach, actually being helpful. Knowing the creature’s weaknesses would make this much easier, especially since our team is predisposed towards it. All Nanaka should have to do is weather it’s attacks and the fight should end quickly. Once Netzach realizes what’s happened, Nanaka waves away his worries in an attempt to reassure them. “There’s nothing to worry about. If either of them get into trouble they’ll report back to us.” Or more likely they’ll make more than enough noise to alert us, but for now it is best to pretend they’re a more organized group than they are. Both as a method of reassurance, and to give Netzach some expectation of what she’s about to ask “In fact, I believe we’re in excellent condition to solve your little problem. We’re still fairly well-off from our last job, so I’ll cut you some slack. All I ask is for you to remain here while we resolve the issue. Once the creature is dead, I want to know everything you can tell me about it. What it’s called, where it came from, why you were assigned to handle it, everything.” Nanaka casts a secretive glance at Akia. If they really were a mercenary there’s a good chance they would want some financial compensation, but she can’t afford for them to appear anything less than unified at the moment.
{Yurick tenses up in the dark atmosphere as he tries to make the flame bright enough, trying to extend his light toward whoever this is while still trying to keep as much distance as possible.} "...Can we help you?..." {He hides his dagger behind him and asks them a question in a slightly nervous tone, not entirely trusting it as of yet but still wanting to see if it won't get in their way.}
The merc would indeed like to get paid, but she understands that coming to the table and appearing to have conlifcting desires makes a party look absurdly weak from a negoitation standpoint. So Akia instead merely smiles and nods to Nanaka's request, she can work out how to pay rent next month some other time after all. "Indeed, I have faith in them. Especially if this thing dislikes fire." And as for the matter of reward that's brought up, she resists the urge to try and get a damn paycheck from this nonsense. Greater understanding of whatever bullshit they happen to be dealing with here would be good enough in its own right for her as well, after all. "And yeah, I think that seems a fair price if we manage to take care of this thing. Money isn't a big concern right now, but details on what exactly we've been handling lately have been... Annoying to find." She'd glance over towards the tunnels, absently pondering what attack she could toss in there that wouldn't result in damage to her... "Team", none come to mind for now though. So she merely watches curiously and listens.
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The figure would look back at the two. Looking closer they had some kind of canister on their back filled with a red liquid of sorts. They raised their hand only to reveal a scythe like blade. They'd begin speaking but their tone was coated in static like they were speaking through a radio. "5...9...2...7...4...?" It would seem to wait for a moment before suddenly shouting out more numbers. "5897 6293! 8873!" Something would be scuttling along the ceiling as another slimmer looking masked figure dropped down. Another curved blade weapon in both hands. It would aim for the source of light first and foremost, trying to bring back the cover of darkness. It would attempt to aim both blades for Yurick's shoulder respectively. Netzach would sigh. "Sure, if I'm still here I'll tell you everything but I can't exactly promise anything. That's just the way jobs like this go sometimes. Also, seriously, you should tell them to come back if it's not too late. That monster isn't the only thing feeding on the dead down here. Something else leaked in from our side and they're a lot smarter than some mindless creature. Not to mention, they hunt in packs."
One she thinks she can handle, but her plan of fighting it is disrupted by the arrival of a second monster. She doesn’t know if it’s only two in the darkness, but this ambush leaves no time for questions. “Burn! Let’s go back!” Himeno barks that order as fire surrounds the figure dropping down on Yurick. She backs away, although doesn’t break into a sprint just yet. She’s waiting to see if the fellow fire-user is able to run away first. She doesn’t know what these creatures are capable of, but she has a few methods to distract them... although she worries her best option would be horrible underground.
"Very well then, let it never be known that the Tokiwa family went back on a deal. First I must recall the others." Nanaka briefly bows to Netzach before nodding to Akia again, tilting her head towards the left before running down the leftward path herself. Nanaka only goes far enough to see the faint flickering of Himeno's light. Though they're likely too far to hear Himeno well, she can feel the urgency in the other girl's voice. "That's enough, it would be best to fall back for now." Naturally, Nanaka waits for her two subordinates to return before fleeing back towards the entrance herself. Better for her to take the rear-guard than any of her more vulnerable compatriots.
"I knew it." {The flame that was in Yurick's hand would start to flicker until a yellow aura would start to emenate around it. The flare would burn brighter until he threw it above him, pointing his dagger at the flame, which would now resonate with a weird purple energy. Afterwards, the flame would make a ring of fire that burns midair, getting in the way of the creature's path.} {If the creature were to be on the platform as it was midair, it'd feel the nerves malfunctioning, as if it was having trouble registering that they were supposed to leave the ring of fire. At the same time, a rune of unusual energy emitted a number that symbolled a countdown, starting at 3. It would only take 3 seconds before the countdown would hit 0.} "The others are gonna love to know about this..." {Yurick would mumble to himself with a bitter undertone. He started to book it back towards the main crew, pointing his dagger at the ring of fire once the countdown hit zero. The ring of fire would stop floating midair, falling down onto the dark floor. Once it made contact with the ground, it would change from fire to lava.}
Akia would nod to the green haired man with a smile, that's good enough for her. And as for waiting upon the others, that seems a fine enough move. A pool of liquor forming in front of the Inscribed and quickly seperating into the shape of several jets, meant to be set forth like wild blades aimed at cutting down whatever's inside the tunnel. She wouldn't fire them with the other two in the way though, but as soon as they're clear from the line whatever is inside would find itself beset upon by the fast moving liquids which are oddly sharp. "Hopefully they can get back in good time, without being too banged up... And hopefully this attack will do something when I get a chance, that would be nice too."
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The figure lunging at Yurick would seem mildly hindered by the fire but the strange effect Yurick applied didn't seem to quote be as potent as they had wanted. It's rubbery skin would now be melted, the liquid in its pack would be bubbling more viciously than before as well. One of it's arms seemed to begin freaking out but it would move away from Yurick's trap and continue it's assault towards them. Using it's free arm to swing a blade with the intent of digging straight into any part it could reach at this point. At best though, it would only get to attack once as it would be knocked away by a sudden flurry of blows a second later. It's body already melting the blades would leave the crazed thing motionless on the ground a few feet away from Yurick. However, a distant cry could be heard. The original figure standing much further away would have a cut across it's face as well. Perhaps from the attack Akia had launched but it barely seemed to matter now. Many more voices could be heard now, all spouting numbers at random as the sound of wild foot steps could be heard. They'd begin swarming through the halls in droves. A countless amount of the figures now rushing towards the location of their fallen. They'd begin...pulling off it's suit and eaten whatever was inside. There would be no way to tell how it even appeared under the suit with how rapidly the others were swarming them. A few out of the group would slowly begin registering the presence of the group, watching Yurick and Himeno with hungry gazes as they slowly sproached.
Five, ten, twenty... Himeno loses count and just runs. Staying in this tunnel will only give them the advantage. Once she's out by the other two girls, she turns around and watches the swarm's stragglers warily. Her Gift's range is limited, and she doesn't want to approach the few who had taken an interest in her, so she'll have to wait for them to come to her. She considers setting up a Molten Decoy but, again, an explosion might not be best. "Thanks for the assist." Himeno nods to Akia - it must have been her that used that liquid - then puts her full focus on the figures. If any get too close, they'll find one of their members engulfed in a fire that'll burst outwards to any others nearby.
"Glad we could be of assistance, now try to forget those things and retreat. We have to take advantage of their distraction." the thanks weren't really directed at Nanaka, but it was the best spot for her to insert her orders, so Nanaka acknowledges it anyways. Ordinarily, Nanaka would fight something like these by eliminating their master, but that doesn't seem entirely applicable here. So, after waiting to see if Yurick was ok, Nanaka runs back towards the entrance. The more space that can be put between them and these monsters the better.
{Yurick would try to continue running, narrowly avoiding the blade that was swung at him. However, it slightly clipped him due to his speed, only being able to run so fast on his own. The boy wouldn't even notice it at first, and would immediately get behind the others.} "And all I got for my efforts was a scratch..." {He puts his focus on the figures now that he's knows for a fact that there's more, pointing his dagger at the unknown, attempting to prepare another spell.}
Himeno nods and, after seeing that Yurick is alright, runs after Nanaka. She still has the backup plan of “set things on fire” if the stray creatures turn out to be faster than they look, but the first objective is getting out of here. She just hopes the swarm will be satisfied with their fallen member.
Akia nods to that, getting away seems a sound strategy and the magical girl seems to have a good head on her shoulders. The Inscribed doesn't spare more than a couple moments to send a flood of the putrid black liquor she had used in their last misadventure. Nightmare Brew, a liquid that drives those it touched insane with their greatest fears. She isn't counting on it slowing them down much though, it's just about covering a mere 40 feet in her rush to get away. Not enough to drown even if fully submerged, but it'll hopefully distract some as she flees toward the entrance alongside the rest. "Much obliged, that'll hopefully slow em down a bit but don't count on that too much. Might be able to try and freeze it, but they could end up breaking through ice." It's a gamble there, but she'll leave it as liquid. Hopefully cause some psychological damage to all rather than only a few. At the cost of probably slowing them less.
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The figures would drop their slow straddle towards the group and begin giving chase as they began to run away. Oddly, they'd never seem to rid themselves of their more or less neutral expressions. There was an odd insect like behavior to how they behaved yet somehow they would seem smarter than just hive members. It wasn't until the entrance was reached that they'd slow down, more of them beginning to pour forward as their fallen comrade was now nothing more than a piece of torn open cloth on the ground. Oddly, Himeno's fire didn't seem to even gauge a reaction out of the first to arrive. It's skin was melting and it was obviously being hurt but it didn't react. Even the one's near it would end up singed but would just keep staring. Specifically, they were staring at Netzach as he seemed to begin falling back asleep. The man's appearance for some reason forced them to stop. Finally though, Akia's nightmare brew would cause a reaction. The reaction wouldn't just be with a few of them but rather all of them. Each of the figures grabbed at their head spouting out numbers rapidly before some of the larger ones seemed to yell out a phrase. They'd all begin retreating back into the cavern depths, not too fond of whatever the nightmare brew had done to them. Yurick at first would feel nothing but slowly the scratch that had been made across their chest would start to flare up...although the injury itself seemed not to change. It was more as if they felt a certain decay in that part of their body, as if their very being had been scratched rather than just their body. The wound was still minor but they would still feel the lasting effects of it.
Himeno watches them leave, then sighs and folds her arms. Whatever that hivemind was, she’s glad it’s gone now. “That... was definitely the wrong way. What the hell were those things anyway?” She directs that question at Netzach. She’s relieved they got out of that with minor injuries at worst but she’s still annoyed they had to go through it at all... She shakes her head. No sense in getting mad at the guy now.
"That's... Strange." Nanaka remarks once she notices the Sweepers simply stopping. They likely had some kind of master, but no familiar would have given up the chase that easily. At least not unless their master had something to say about it... Netzach seemed unassuming, but for them to stop at the sight of him suggested a fair bit more. But learning that wasn't part of their contract, so it would be unwise to pry too far into his business. For now. So instead, Nanaka turns to Akia and bows "Thank you for handling those pests, it looks like mental attacks overwhelm them rather easily. Important to keep track of in case we find something similar in the future."
{Yurick would feel the effect slip in, and it kicked in at a suspicious time. He tried to hold his chest, seeing if there were some type of major blood loss he didn't take note of but there wasn't much other than a horrible feeling.} "Ugh, unbelievable. That's such an annoying after effect." {The boy would go ahead and glance at Netzach, listening to whatever answer he'd give Himeno before deciding to talk to her himself. And if he wasn't mistaken, this girl was the one that got bit when they were busy grave-digging.} "Your name was Himeno, right? Didn't you also feel something strange after you got hurt a bit ago?"
Akia would nod with a grin, the fact they ran off means they might be back later. But if mental damage hurting them so badly remains true, then she should be able to take advantage of it next time too. "Heh, I was honestly just trying to slow them down a little at first. That much effect was beyond my wildest dreams, but yeah. It's worth noting in the future. Though I'm now curious as to why mental trauma did so much..." With that she simply shrugs it off though, no sense in worrying about the exact details when things are trying to kill them. Just how to handle those issues and defeat the enemy. "Anyway, what's our next move? I'm fine with going on if you all are... Don't guess any of us thought to bring flashlights or something though did we, to a spooky graveyard in the middle of the night." Kind of an oversight there now that she thinks about it, how foolish of them all.
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Netzach would stir a bit as he started dozing off again. Yet somehow he still would answer the question albeit in a lazy tone. "Sweepers, the nightmarish pests of the backstreets. They leaked over to this side I guess..." That being said he'd quickly fall back asleep, seemingly uncaring about the presence of the sweepers. The tunnels would shake a bit as the smell of decay seemed to increase on the other path.
"Indeed, there is only one direction left to go now." Nanaka agrees with Akia, nodding to the other two before leading the way down the rightward path, where the smell is coming from. Though Nanaka much prefers flowers, she wasn't going to let a bad scent to stop her from fulfilling an obligation. Simply get rid of this beast, and we'll be one step closer to understanding and possibly more.
“Sweepers. I can see where they got their name.” They were like vultures, but much much deadlier. Himeno nods to the fellow fire mage. “Yes, that’s me. You’re Yurick, right? Did that attack feel like it was hurting your mind and body? Pain can rattle one’s sanity, but this was too intense to just be shock from a small wound.” There’s only one path left, so she follows Nanaka in. She considers creating a flame but decides it’s a waste of sanity. Yurick has the same ability anyway.
"Simply aggravating that this intelligent bunch of vermins just so happen to attack us." {Yurick would silently curse himself for being too slow to escape unscathed. He'd respond to Himeno since he started the conversation.} "You got everything there right, how rare. Yes, all of that is true, and yes I am Yurick. I guess the thing we have to take from this is to never get hit ever again. Funny how surviving all comes back to using common sense." {The boy would follow Nanaka and Himeno into the desired path, using his magic to create a flare that floats in his hand. Why bring a flashlight when you can flash a light yourself?}
The merc would come along as well, naturally. Not much to be done at the moment besides keep moving and keep her eyes out for any possible threats. Something tells her whatever caused those bodies to attack them isn't anywhere near finished off yet, after all. "Not getting hit, easier said than done oftentimes but yes it usually a good idea. Hopefully those sweepers don't decide to come back again, but I'm not holding my breath on good luck." She'd be at the back of the group by this point, looking all around her to keep watch for things not only in front of them. But above, below, and even trying to listen for whatever might be behind.
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The other path wouldn't hold nearly as much interest. The walls would seem to be made of plain rock for a good while as they walked. The only thing that increased as they went further was the smell of decay which seemed to transition from something normal to something more grimy. The air itself almost seemed to be slimy in nature. The walls themselves would begin to be interlaced with a strange black substance that seemed to be the source of the stench. Finally, after walking for a while the group would see a room up ahead that was completely circular. It seemed empty at the moment but the walls, floor, and ceiling seemed to be completely composed of the strange black substance covering the caves walls.
Nanaka takes a deep, calming breath as they proceed further in. The scent grew continually more disgusting, to the point where she started to wonder if they were even in our reality anymore. And the arena-like place at the end worsened those suspicions. Its the kind of place a labryinth's master would often hide in, were the monster obssessed with trash or something. Nanaka pauses just outside, it didn't seem like a great idea to go into the obvious boss arena right now. Instead, she asks Himeno and Yurick? "Could one of you see if this substance is flammable?" Nanaka gestures to the black slime coating the walls. Supposedly the monster was weak to fire, and the substance somewhat reminds her of a flammable tar. "We may be able to flush it out and avoid another ambush."
“On it. I don’t like the look of that stuff either. Burn.” Himeno points at the wall and attempts to ignite a small area. She’s not sure what this substance is but she doesn’t want to just walk into a room covered in it. Is it poisonous? Slimy residue from the monster? She’s not sure if she even wants to know. She keeps her eyes peeled for any movement once her little ignition is done.
"Oh, so that's what this horrid substance might be? Noted." {Using his dagger as a focal point, Yurick once again casts a fire in order to see where it takes him. Specifically, a simple fireball thrown onto another area of disgusting slime. No need to expend his flare right now just to try and hit something that isn't there yet. Hopefully like everyone else is doing, the boy would do his best to stay wary of anything lurking.}
Akia would wait to see how it goes, and then join in if the fires actually seemed to be doing any damage. She sees no real reason to go in there herself. The place would also find a couple of Molotov cocktails rushing straight at, the lit-up bottles not only serving to add more fire but also add extra fuel into the existing fires started by her two allies. "Honestly, I'm not usually one to burn first ask later. But in this case it seems entirely warranted all things considered. So here we go."
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The substance would seem to burn off the walls rather easily, however, a sharp stench of burning flesh would fill the air each time it caught fire. Eventually some of it seemed to be scraped away. The cave itself would shake slightly as the substance that had once been cleared away would seem to rapidly begin growing once more. In fact, it seemed as though the walls outside the room would experience a more rapid growth. Less of the cave walls could be seen as they were almost completely coated in the substance. The black substance almost seemed like it was growing to reach out for the group but after a short while it would stop growing and simply be part of the walls once again.
Himeno backs away from the creeping substance, only stopping when it becomes dormant again. It’s definitely alive. Is there any way around it though? She takes a hesitant step into the room. She’s not rushing in, but she’s watching for the substance’s reaction. It might be harmless if it’s not attacked. Might. “It doesn’t look like it can do much besides grow.”
"Its most likely part of our target's nest. It doubtlessly knows we're here by now, so take necessary precautions. I'll see about baiting it out of hiding" Nanaka takes slow, sure steps further into the room, making sure to get ahead of HImeno and the others and closer to the center of the room. Though she appears calm, her every sense is on high alert for an attack that seemed inevitable.
"Gee, the suspense is really killing me..." {The boy watches as he attempts to burn the substance that was around them, yet nothing happened other than it growing itself back and scaring them by growing around them. Thank goodness it stopped though, dealing with anymore foul odors along with the hidden enemy would be a pain. In order to play his part and not be a frontliner, Yurick willfully let Nanaka proceed with her plan.}
Akia just sighs while moving forward, she really doesn't want to go in there at all truth be told. But since everyone else is doing so... Well, if this horrible room seals itself off then she'd rather be there to help. Damn brats, messing up her plan of flood the entire room with booze to burn it in one spark. Ah well... She'd just settle into a fighting stance, ready to act at a moment's notice. "Welp, guess we're going in that hellhole. I was hoping to flood it and light the whole place up but, might be better to look in futher and see what happens."
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Without much warning the entrance to the room would suddenly be closed off by a large set of teeth slamming shut. Anyone still outside the room when this happened would find themselves unable to enter. Anyone within the room would find themselves now trapped within. Anyone who for some reason was lingering at the entrance would now find a giant set of teeth biting down on them with an immense amount of force. The room would seem to start moving as laughter could be heard echoing from every corner. The smell of decay seemed to swirl throughout the room as out from the darkness white circular masks began to peak out. They all had smiles carved out on their surface as if greeting those trapped within. A large mound of decay begins bubbling along the wall to Nanaka's right before a large jaw extends from the wall covered in smiling masks. It lunges forth, it's back still attached to the wall as it tries to take a bite out of Nanako's shoulder.
(edited by Roland)
Himeno’s only saved from being chomped in two by an instinctual leap forward. Had she hesitated a moment more... She glares around at this arena of flesh and prepares herself for a fight. “Stay away from me, got it? You’d get friendly fire in more ways than one.” While she assesses the size of this room, she points at the mouth-wall and brings a fireball to life. This flame bursts outwards and scorches the wall from ceiling to floor.
“Understood.” It seemed the creature did have some idea of what an ambush was, which gave it some degree of intelligence. But it wasn’t very good at it, this room was an obvious trap from the beginning, and Nanaka’s senses are refined appropriately. As soon as the mouth leaps towards her, Nanaka draws her narrow katana, intercepting the creature’s charge with her blade to deflect its assault before giving Himeno her orders “The walls seem to be made of the creature’s flesh, in which case it would take hours if we focused on whatever limbs it makes. Therefore, I would ask that you entrust our defense to me and focus on clearing as much of the area as possible.”
{Yurick scoffs at the trap that came from a mile away, quickly deciding to enter the room instead of away when avoiding the sudden crunch of teeth in the entrance. Who knows what might happen to anyone outside the room. It was either risk being bored out of your life or getting ganged up on.} "And now we have the reason for the noxious stench." {Like Himeno does, Yurick decides to bring a flare to light. With a glare of his eye, the fire would become prominent, and it dashes forward at the opposite side of the room that Himeno lit on fire. From there on, the flare spreads from floor to ceiling in order to burn every substance that it touches.}
Akia nods to their at least for the moment, leader and begins raising a hand towards one of the walls her allies haven't gone after. The highly flammible liquor that comes rushing out would quickly coat another of the walls with an entire layer of given a chance... And then be followed up by the woman tossing a Moltov towards it that should in theory cause the entire thing to burst up with flames, unless it got deflected or something which wouldn't shock her. Such is the pain of having to use actual objects to start your fires. "On it, pretty lucky for us that this bastard burns really. Nice change of pace from the one that we could only barely hurt before, though don't get comfy obviously, who knows how it might change..." She didn't forget that hollow nightmare shifting into even worse forms after all, this one might be similar. What a worrying thought.
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Moans of pain could be heard echoing from around the chamber as every corner of the room had begun to burn. The face that had tries to attack Nanaka would retreat back into the wall before it too got too badly damaged. The masks lining the walls would change from smiles to pained expressions of despair. Finally a bellow could be heard and all the faces would grow quiet. Another mouth formed out of the wall directly in front of the group. The flames seemed to cause it pain but it opened wide regardless. In a mere moment a stream of black liquid would violently pour out of its maw. Bits and pieces of half decayed organs and limbs would also float through the liquid along with pieces of bones. Merely being touched by the substance would seem to eat away at one's very being, almost similar to Akia's nightmare brew but seeming to damage the physical health and mental sanity of its targets. The liquid's true purpose seemed more to try and put out the fire though before it caused too much damage. One it's attack was done the mouth would remain on the wall hanging slightly ajar as if reacting in the same way as someone would after throwing up.
Himeno moves to the side, expecting another bite, but the spray of liquid catches her off guard. It only hits the left side of her body but its decay is still potent. That sensation of pain on her body and soul flares up stronger than before. She shakes her head and tries to regain her focus. “I got this, let’s hurry before it does that again. Firestorm!” Another burst of flames is created, but centered on Himeno herself rather than the creature. These flames roar with greater intensity and eat at anything within their range. She keeps her focused glare even after the attack but it’s slightly strained.
"Just stay behind me!" Nanaka lets out a sigh before aiming a slash downwards at the ground. A curtain of flower petals form where the girl's blade passes, leaving a faint protective barrier between the black substance and the group. Though its likely not strong enough to block the mess entirely, Nanaka hopes it works well enough to mitigate the damage. "Keep it up, they won't last much longer." Nanaka covers her face with her robes to avoid the worst of the liquid's backlash, but in terms of actually damaging the thing she'll still be forced to rely on her companions.
{His previously chrome gray dagger starts to lose it's reflective metal properties, instead changing to purple. As he sees the liquid starting to come at them, a magic circle would appear below his feet. He starts to levitate as he raises his hand to the air, a weird energy emenating from it.} {The magic circle from under him would soon rotate itself, making him appear upside down in the air as it pretends to act as a platform. While there was no danger of falling from the platform, being suddenly upside down can be both disadvantageous and not for the faint of heart.} "Sure hope you're right..." {Yurick would dispel the weird purple energy from his dagger, opting to put a rune onto the magic circle in order to have it's grasp on his perception loosen, letting him go right side up without any issues. As he leaves the platform, he uses his dagger to create another flame, aiming the fire at the magic circle. Doing this would make the magic circle explode, not dealing heavy fire damage in one area but making sure more fire spreads around the area. Whatever this mouth area is.}
Akia does indeed stay behind Nanaka, she could try and block it herself but that's not the best play right now from her guess. Instead the woman tries to back up Yurick's attack, a massive burst of pure alcohol blasting towards the area his flames had begun spreading across and if they managed to hit causing them to flare up wildly. "Aye aye Cap'n, since I don't wanna be mentally torn apart by that shit. At least I assume that's what it does by the look of it... I'm fine staying away from it best I can."
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Any flames would find themselves dying down with the torrent of black goop. The only signs of the fire spreading was whenever a stray body part would be caught within the torrent of decay. The fire would usually die out as well but that changed with Akia's inclusion of alcohol. Suddenly the group would find a sea of flames forming right above them as the torrent began to cease. Fire would essentially rain down on top of the group as the smell of burning corpses continued to spread. However, heavy breathing could also be heard as the mouth that had released the torrent hung open, unable to even close. Something seemed to stand out within its open mouth, something strangely glimmering. Two other mouth like extensions would form from the walls in front of the mouth stuck in the wall. One looked ready to bite anyone who got near while the other seemed to be quietly bellowing as if preparing for something.
Himeno can feel flames scorching her skin, an unintended side effect of their efforts, and her frantic search for cover just so happens to lead her eyes to the open mouth. She dashes forward and grabs at the glimmering object. Once it’s in her grip, she attempts to leap back and engulf the limp maw in flames. If the object doesn’t budge... well, she’ll just give up and burn the mouth anyway.
Right, fire raining down on them is... Bad, she's fucked up a bit with this plan but maybe it can be worked with. She does get several burn marks on her skin, but not every alochol she conjures has enough in it to act as a burning agent. A pool of very weak watered down booze would form above them, in fact it's so watered down the fire raining down would probably react about like water. That would hopefully have the effect of ending this bout of friendly fire, but if not then she's also trying her best to dodge and keep away from any other attacks that might come her way. "Okay so, just gonna say sorry for that little mix up. But uh... At least it hurt the thing some more I guess. right everyone?"
"...I'll try to waste less time then." {Having a natural resistance to fire was the best he could do to defend from the unexpected burning pieces of flesh. Other than dispiritly attempting to evade from the falling pieces, he tries to cover the other side. Yurick would use his dagger to conjure up another prominent flare. A flash of light would burst and explode into more flames aimed at the middle of both the mouth-like extensions in hopes to both hurt them and disrupt whatever it is the other planned to do.}
"This was within calculations." the whole raining firey flesh thing wasn't a surprise, but that didn't make it much better. With her curtain now gone, Nanaka dashes towards the mouth preparing to bite and aims to strike her sword deep into it, keeping the mouth from attempting to bite at anyone else while Himeno went for the orb "this is your chance."
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As soon as Himeno grabbed onto the object she'd find herself filled with an intense emotion. The urge to smile would be almost sickening in it's intensity. She would be able to not only hear her own heartbeat but many others bouncing off the walls of the room. Despite trying to back away she would find herself struggling to release the object as the black decay that made up the creature's body began to crawl up her skin. However, it almost seemed to not have any malicious attempt slowing itself almost immediately as it reached her wrist. There was another strange feeling, the feeling that if she wanted to she could get lost in something. All she'd have to do is close her eyes. Water puts out any fire around the group. You are now all wet and smell a bit like yeast. Yurick's attack would successfully stagger the mouth preparing to bite. Nanaka's sword would be enough to finish it from there. Pinning it to the wall as it squirms before finally going limp and falling apart into a pile of black colored dust. Himeno would also feel the heat from the blast on her back but somehow wouldn't feel any pain on. Just the urge to continue smiling. The mouth preparing something else would be burned but still somehow would endure the attack. All at once it would let out a horrible scream of pain. The sound itself would be ear shattering to all except Himeno who would hear the scream only as a distant afterthought. Those who suffered the screams effects would find their bodies being torn apart and their minds seeming to shatter. The effects wouldn't completely wipe them out but the damage that was inflicted would be more than just negligible.
Nanaka withdraws her blade, sheathing it as she glances back at Yurrick "Be more careful in the future, that could have..." but before she can get any further, she's interrupted by a horrid, soul-scratching scream. The girl takes a deep breath as her body starts to collapse around her. The girl struggles back to her feet, whispering to herself as she holds her flower hairclip in her hands, its bright magenta gem looking a fair bit blacker "Not now.. Just a little more, we're almost through. Just hold it..."
For a moment, nothing else exists except countless heartbeats and the smile on her face. If she just lets this feeling take over, it’ll do... it’ll... The similarities to a state she loathes brings her back to reality. She’s distantly aware of a more malicious assault against her mind but it must just be stress from that thing’s screams, right? She can’t stay immobile, not while the thing’s still alive. Himeno gathers her focus for another attack. “Firestorm. Keep it up.” Yet another storm of intense flames eats at the area around her, this one with slightly more power. A familiar throbbing pain shoots through her skull but she just grins and bears it. Literally. The smiling is almost painful now.
{Yurick normally would have replied to Nanaka's advice mid-battle but the screech is what gets to him. He feels his heart aching as he grips his dagger harder, the fire basically going away as he can't concentrate his magic into enchanting it anymore.} "Ugh...just shut up!..." {He lowers his head, having an urge to try and cover his ears in hopes that it would lessen the impact to some degree but the damage would already be done. The boy would decide to raise his hand as an intense flame swells up in his palm. Yurick releases the fiery sphere towards the mouth that screamed at them, hoping to work with Himeno and burn it all away.}
Akia just screams out in pain, pausing for several moments before she absent conjures a gleaming silver bottle, it takes her a few seconds to crack the drink open and begin chugging it down. But doing so would help her recover from the physical and mental damages. It's hardly the ideal move for supporting their team, but it'll work well enough for getting herself back into something that vaguely feels like fighting shape again. "Before anyone even asks, yes that healed me. No I can't do it much, kind of a once every few hours sorta trick really." Thereabouts anyway, and with herself somewhat back in the action she'd simply begin focusing on watching the results of this current offensive to hopefully be useful after their attack ends.
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The flames sent at the screaming mouth would begin eating away at its already partially charred body. It would attempt to let out one final scream but the sound would die out as quickly as it began. The mouth would fall to the floor as dust just as the other had before. Himeno would see that the flames had worked as well. Whatever she was grasping was beginning to come loose but the faces around her still lining the walls would begin to moan in pain. She as well would soon find that the smile she was once forced to wear was replaced with a feeling of dread looming within. There was almost a sense that whatever she was pulling at didn't want to simply be removed. Once more she could feel it trying to overwhelm her senses but it was much weaker than before. It seemed as though it would only be successful if she allowed it. Otherwise, it would only take a firm tug to rip the object out of the mouth.
(edited by Roland)
It’s a weak thing she could just tear away. It’s got no threatening hold on her mind. If anything, she’s done more mental damage to herself. Mental damage... Ah, so that’s what hurt her companions. That scream. If she’s hit by it without any... protection... ...Screw it. She closes her eyes and lets the feeling take over. It’s either this or going berserk.
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The feeling would be slow yet consistent as Himeno for a moment no longer felt as if she was in a room covered in decay. The space she was now in would actually be much more open, infinitely so. A tiled white floor that seemed to stretch infinitely in front of her and a plain white door attached to a wall behind her. All around her were the dead bodies both of people she knew and did not know. At first the area would be quiet but one by one the dead bodies would rise now wearing white masks with smiles carved where their faces would be. They'd all gather a few feet away from Himeno. Useless corpse after useless corpse, devoid of life as they all piled together. Their flesh would begin to twist and turn as it blended together in the mound before her. She would feel a sense of clarity that seemed to seep into her mind. The dead wanted this. For their lifeless bodies to be recreated as something else. It was only natural yo want to include other in this union of flesh as well. Nobody would die in vain, nobody would be alone, no body would go to waste. The reasons for their smiles was obvious now. It's hunger not for flesh but to include all people in the afterlife together. The faces would all turn to stare at Himeno, the mountain before her would open its massive jaw, inviting her inside. The door behind her began to open. What would your life amount to? To become part of something greater or to let it all go in vain?
(edited by Roland)
Himeno’s paralyzed as she watches the bodies move, combine, become reborn, unknown and those she’s familiar- no, it can’t be. It’s all an illusion. This must be its way of communicating. “So that’s why you exist, huh? You never wanted to be alone. I can get that. I’m not joining you though. I have someone I need to get back to. You guys wouldn’t understand what kind of person I am anyway.” The dead tell no tales, so she lets it all out. She turns her back on the mountain of smiling bodies and goes through the door. There may be peace in death, but she’s not ready yet.
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The faces would lose their smiles. Pained expressions would overcome them as the mound desperately crawled towards Himeno but it was incomplete, incapable of doing much without a everlasting union. The mountain of smiling bodies was no more as it would crumble and fall apart. Himeno would no longer feel it's presence but the endless hunger it had would remain. Himeno would suddenly find herself back within the cave. The object she had been grasping now had a shape. She could feel something akin to a black metal handle attached to what seemed to be a hammer head with a mouth on on side and three smaller masks similar to the ones that had covered the walls... Had being a key word... The group as a whole would notice that the minute Himeno was able to pull her hand away from the large mouth the faces would vanish and the decay that had made up the walls would begin cracking. The cave itself would begin shaking as small bits of debris would begin falling from the roof. It seemed that the creature was now falling apart and as a result the cave it had carved out would soon follow in a matter of moments.
The creature was nice enough to give up a weapon as a reward, but the dirt raining down is a hint that she shouldn’t be admiring it right now. Himeno creates a flurry of embers in her palm and uses this momentary light to guide her out of this room and on the path to where that green-haired guy was. The hammer doesn’t slow her down as much as she thought it would. It feels natural to wield.
{Yurick wouldn't try to inquire anything about what Himeno was experiencing. Nobody should really try to inquire anything when the ceiling seems to start crumbling onto them. If anything, he'd at least put his eyes on the weapon she carries. Just like his fellow fire starter, the boy decides to light a prominent flare in his own palm to use as a light source as he makes his way out of the cave.}
Nanaka, meanwhile, had a pretty good idea of what Himeno just went through, especially given the equipment that had appeared in her hand. Still, Nanaka doesn't comment on it, preferring to follow Himeno's lead. Of course, given that she's technically the leader, she'd still give a command "Our job seems to be finished. Now to withdraw." Back to the man who hopefully had some answers for them. Of course, the possibility of them vanishing crossed Nanaka's mind, but there was little for them to do at this point but check. Of course there was the problem of the teeth barring their exit. While Nanaka herself could probably survive, especially given the condition of her soul gem. The others wouldn't be so lucky. It was far smarter to. "Himeno, make use of that hammer and break through."
(edited by Nanaka_Tokiwa)
Right, those teeth are still in place. Should have expected that. She doesn’t waste time with words and swings the hammer at the barrier in her way. Himeno’s no Superman. She’s more firepower than muscle. If the hammer’s impact doesn’t work, she’ll need a backup plan... if there’s even time for such a thing.
Akia doesn't waste any more time, she'd try to support Himeno by... Tossing a golden bottle at the young woman, another skill she really can't throw around a bunch in a short time. A gleaming gold liqour that serves not to get those affected by it drunk in any meaningful way, but to greatly enhance all their physical capabilities. She would find herself able to swing the hammer far faster and stronger than before after it takes hold, hopefully allowing the weapon to break through. "Ah geez, really making me pull out every stop here... I normally use that one on myself, but in this case you seem a bit better placed to benefit Firestarter~!" Assuming their ally is able to actually clear a path, she would be following behind as quick as possible with a grin on her face. If they make it outta here alive, then job well frigging done by Akia's viewpoint.
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The teeth that blocked their escape would begin to crack and break. It doesn't seem intent on breaking quite yet but then the hammer would suddenly start moving on it's own. The jaw on it would open up widely and bite into the wall, breaking the teeth apart as it began to devour chunks of it at a time. However, by the time they were finally able to pass through the gate, all at once, the cave they were in would collapse. It would be impossible for anyone to survive with several meters of dirt and rock suddenly piling onto them... However, each member of the group would find themselves still breathing. There seemed to be something holding back the collapsing rock, something akin to a spectral field of red surrounding each of them. Most of the ground seemed to pass right over them until they reached the surface once more. The graveyard was now a mess. Most of the grass had turned brown and decayed and the ground itself was a crater compared to what it once was. Of course, there were zero dead bodies, most likely the result of the monster from before. Standing at the top of the crater, staring down at the group, was a man in white who would be familiar to some of the group. "Well done, all of you. That was just the performance I expected. It seems you all really are something special. Of course, if you failed that simple trial I'd have to assume you all as brain dead." The man would clap softly, holding a strange looking gun in one of his hands. "So, it's time for a gift from yours truly, for the future of out partnership. Since you all did so well I'll give you a choice. Should once of you receive a big gift or would you all like something? Evolution for one or should I test all of your potential?"
Nanaka closes her eyes, reaching into her robe for a certain orb of her own... But it proves unnecessary, as someone else interferes. Wanting to hold her own cards close, Nanaka instead closes her eyes and waits for the collapse to end. Finally looking up at a man in white. So he was the one putting them through all these hoops? He clearly seemed dangerous, and after that last fight Nanaka wasn't in great condition to pick another. So instead the girl calmly clears her throat "I take it you're the one who drew us here? I always knew something was off..." She can tell that, strictly speaking, he wasn't her enemy. But all that meant was that he didn't intend to ruin her own plans, which ultimately doesn't mean much. So it would be best for Nanaka to approach as an equal, looking at the man calmly "I have no interest in these games of yours. I simply wish to know what mess you've been putting us through. You seem to have ruined my chances of getting information from the man with green hair, so the least you can do is provide it yourself. To the best of your ability."
The teeth of the hammer had reacted to their plight, but it wasn’t enough-! But instead of crushing pain there’s a barrier holding back the tons of soil. Himeno doesn’t even have to look to know who made it. She finally allows herself to relax and uses the hammer as a cane of sorts while she gets her scrambled mind back together. She has no interest in the gun. She already has this hammer. Information, however... “It doesn’t matter to me who gets your prize. Still, the magical girl has a point. Are you going to just be cryptic, or would you be oh so kind as to give us more info on your game.” Tired and sarcastic. Two moods that are dripping from her words.
{The boy would look up expecting the rocks to fall on them all, but instead they get saved last second. Yurick would turn his gaze toward this person who he forgot about with a gaze that makes it obvious that he expects something.} "Don't know, and I almost don't care. I'll be here tomorrow so I can run that risk of dying again, but at least give me a motivation so I don't kill myself before your game does. And before you ask, I don't want to take that reward, I'm asking for answers." {The fire mage would check his dagger as he says what was on his mind, not even bothering to retract anything as either choice might mean death anyway, both from the enemy and the wonderous benefactor they've been stuck with.}
Akia sighs... Info sounds a lot more useful than a sketchy reward like this, but she's always liked to live on the edge anyways in truth. What the hell, get saved from certian death and then risk her life by stupidly accepting something that's probably dangerous. The Inscribed would just down a long gulp of a frosty whiskey bottle that's formed in her hands before speaking up. "Well... Since my compatriots have questions covered, and I wanna get something out of this otherwise frigging pro bono job here... Fuck it, guess I'm taking the reward." That's against her better judgement and sanity, but what's life without a little risk excitement? With her piece said she'd simply take another swig from the bottle while awaiting a reply.
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The man seemed to turn a dial on the back of the strange gun impatiently. "You want information? That's not how this all works unfortunately. You all could've bowed out way earlier if it was. Regardless of what you all do people will continue to die to these...'abnormalities'. If you want to know more then I'll need some insurance from you all. If you all were to take the reward then I'd be willing to give you the information you desire." The man would look at Akia with a smile. "Or you can let her take choice A. Of course she'll be the only one to gain understanding. In all honesty, if you did simply try to leave without taking a reward I was just going to kill you all anyway. Can't be too careful now that you've all seen as much as you have."
Himeno just gives the man a glare. Yep, her instincts were right. White hair is always a warning sign of an asshole. "We were asking for basic knowledge, not the forbidden mysteries of the universe. If you're going to be that mysterious about it at least tell us your name. I would give you one but it wouldn't be pleasant." That's her bit said. She leans forward on her improvised hammercane and shrugs at Akia. "Your call. I just want to get this over with."
Well that pretty much says everything. This "gift" of his had been suspicious before, but now knowing it was a way to ensure compliance makes it all the worse. Nanaka takes a deep breath, fully considering her options. It was still best to avoid a fight, so if Akia didn't see where this was going, Nanaka had no reason to stop her. "I appreciate the honesty, but I will respectfully decline. If it is miss Akia's wish, I won't do anything to interfere." Though Nanaka's hand remains near the sword by her side, she aims not to make it obvious she's fully prepared to fight. It wasn't a good idea, but if none of the others would go for A, and B definitely wasn't an option, then it would be a servicable plan C
The drunk would just sigh... Yeah it was mad suspect before, and just sounds worse by the moment. Taking it seems like a fucking awful idea but hey, somehow has to bite the bullet here. And something tells her picking a fight at this point isn't a great plan. "Eh whatever, against my better judgement I guess I'm in..." She sees exactly where this is going, but hey. With any luck she can maybe keep this from becoming a problem for everyone else, that would be cool she guesses. Stupid desire to take on danger for people.
{Yurick rolls his eyes when he sees the attempts at interrogation made by almost everyone did not end up going anywhere or making real progress. Instead of trying to voice the disagreements that were already obvious, he shrugs as he plays with his dagger more.} "Yeah, you go have fun with that thing Akia." {While also making no effort to try and intervene with his teammates wishes, encouraging them to take the reward with a dry undertone.}
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The man would jump down to where the rest of the group was. He seemed somewhat disappointed but also seemed almost excited at the same time. Suddenly, light seemed to gether in his hand, possessing a deep red hue. Without any warning his body would move forward inhumanly fast towards Akia. He'd plunge that light directly into her, passing through her skin. He'd take a step back suddenly forming a maddening smile across his face. "I am Adam, the father of the new world that's to come. Until next time we meet, my faithful follower." Without much warning the man would be gone disappearing from space as suddenly as he appeared. Meanwhile, Akia would find that something within her was starting to become... Overbearing. Her skin would suddenly feel like nothing more than a container holding something back that rested deep inside of her. Seed of Light Germination: -100% Something was coming, something that very well could pose more of a threat to the rest of the group then even the monster before. However, what that threat truly was would be based on Akia herself.
Akia goes blank eyed, muttering under breath as she starts to change... "... Go fuck yourself, Adam." Of course he's gone right after she's said those words of spite to him, and it doesn't take long for her entire body to just... Shift away into some kind of unearthly liquor by the look and smell of it, it's still somewhat similar to a woman in shape but made entirely of liquid in a dizzying array of colors that gleam and glitter, which would just smile toward the group while clapping a bit. "Well then, say what you will about this result but I do think I'm a bit better off than that idiot who hired us last time hmm? A helpless slug... Talk about a sad excuse for a Distortion!" With an absent opening of a bottle the group would find a large horned demon made of the same array of colors, though this example looks far more solid while it charges at them, massive fists aiming to slam into Nanaka. And a wave of magical alcohol rushes across the field far faster than the Inscribed could normally manage. Easily threating to send them all flying backward and if given chance try to drown the trio. "Honestly though, I was being kind of pitiful before. Trying to hide from losses of... Everyone really, just drowning myself in the manifestion of my power. There's really no point bothering trying to live in this world from where I'm standing, haven't got anything or anyone I care about so might as well try and drown it in my sorrows instead of drowning myself~!" The Distortion sounds entirely too cheerful for someone who's talking about mass slaughter at the moment, if she could manage it or not doesn't really matter much either. With the sudden rise in power and apparently numbers, what does matter is she presents a threat to this group here.
"If either of you doubt your ability to do this, then run now. And don't look back." Nanaka gives a quick order to these others as Akia's transformation finishes. Anyone who can make something like a Witch is clearly her enemy. So it was good for everyone's position to be clear. Nanaka takes a deep breath, and in the blink of an eye she almost seems to disappear, the demon's fist slamming harmlessly into a burst of flower petals while Nanaka dodges around to the side. Rather than focusing on the familiar, Nanaka makes a couple of quick slashes into the ground, spewing forth a blizzard of petals to part the waters around the group. At least saving the others from damage for now "If you choose not to run, then follow my orders to the letter. Starting with burning the Familiar to ash. Its likely made of alcohol so once you've struck stay clear until it burns out." With that Nanaka's finished with orders for now, effectively negating the first wave of attack and giving her companions a chance to run for it. If not then she'll have to observe carefully to get a sign of the creature's weakness.
Himeno can feel Adam laughing at them. That jerk just wanted to see the results of whatever experiment he's running. This thing that Akia turned into - a Distortion - would normally be alright to handle, but they're running out of one boss battle and into another. She's swept back by the initial rush of alcohol but manages to jab her hammer's teeth into the ground to keep herself from being blown away completely. Nanaka's gap in the substance gives Himeno the perfect opportunity to leap forward. "Blech. That was strong..." She spits out some of the liquor and points at the creature "Akia" had summoned. "Burn!" Igniting the beast is easy. Whether that'll make things better or worse is something she has yet to see. This is really the only fire-related thing she can do. Anything else would just incinerate everyone with all the alcohol swirling around.
"How idiotic." {Yurick would try to put his hand out in front of him, summong a magical circle with a rune inscribed in the middle. This magic circle would take the brunt of the alcohol that rushes through, however the magic circle rotates and vibrates heavily, and the mage would feel a pain rushing in his brain once again. Instead of dedicating himself to this defense, Yurick makes the circle disappear, storing the rune in his dagger as he uses fire magic to propel himself behind Nanaka's own defensive wall.} "Sorry, but I might as well stay. If I got through that and actually did something, there's a chance I'll be helpful here too." {The fire mage decides to use his dagger and slash the air behind him, making the rune form both behind him and behind Akia's distortion. From there, he'd send a quick blast of fire directly her way, hoping to get a back attack in with the ember.}
The demon that towers over them would indeed be lit up with flames... That does not seem to hurt it as much as Nanaka would hope though, and the group now finds a flaming multicolor demon aiming to slam its fists into them as its body slowly begins blazing away. "Pff, trying to just burn through my friend? Not a bad idea on paper, but solids take a bit of time to get through with fire you know kids~ He'll die evetually, but not before hurting you some more!" Nanaka does manage to deflect things though, and Yurick's attack strikes true even... Which causes the woman's body to sizzle away in a burst of mist that would rush towards the group and have the effect of partly intoxication whoever inhales it. Additionally, after a few seconds her body would reform back into a full humaniod shape again. "Ooooo, stabbing me in the back and bypassing my kiddie pool? That hurts good! Glad to see you care so little as to just go straight for the kill, sure as hell what I'm doing!" There's a slight pause between her next attack as those words are said however, perhaps making one doubt if there's nothing but monster left. And giving a bit more time to dodge or block the spears of frozen liquid that rush at each of them, just a single spear per fighter for now. If about as large as their bodies.
Himeno leaps back and gets burns for her trouble... burns that are fed by the alcohol on her body. She covers the flames with a hand and all that's left after is the hissing of steam. Lesson learned: stick to ice. Speak of the devil, because an icy spear barely misses impaling her thanks to a quick swing of the hammer. The once-rifted alcohol begins to rush around her legs and the scent filling the air makes her dizzy. Ice chunks swirl around her... Perhaps that gave her the realization, or perhaps it was inspiration from mild intoxication. They'll get nowhere assaulting Akia from afar. Akia's a ranged attacker like her. Himeno forces herself to move forward towards the Distortion. She has to drop the hammer in order to actually swim once the liquid's high enough but she's already got a backup weapon at her hip.
"Whatever it says don't listen. Even as a mist it'll be just as flammable." for now Nanaka will focus on the familiar. Much like before, the girl calms down and takes a deep breath. As the creature approaches, Nanaka swiftly dashes towards it, deftly wielding her two blades to slice its arms apart, keeping just enough distance to avoid being caught by the flames before dancing around it once more. This, naturally, leads Nanaka well away from Akia's ice spears, which the other two will have to handle on their own, but removing the Familiar's arms would also stop its strikes from connecting with the others, saving them that pain at least. "Right now the best we can do is end their misery."
{The boy would use the same technique that was featured with his first dodge. Using fire magic with his hand, he propels himself away from the large icicle spear, also unfortunately, away from his teammates. He mutters to himself as he tries to get in proper position.} "How sweet of you to think I'll be the one getting the killing blow." {Yurick would use the first rune and break it, letting out a small amount of the alcohol it stored back when it was acting as a defensive wall. Afterwards, as he sees Himeno up close he decides to go back to the basics of his magic. He levitates slightly, charging a fireball to hit the ground. This would cause a ring to appear in between both Yurick and Nanaka, but it is not touching them yet. Because of this, the fire mage uses his inversion magic in order to make the circle of fire change it's own properties. What was once something that damages over time is now a holy circular light that heals over time, expanding it's own reach and touching both Nanaka and Yurick.}
The demon roars in pain as its arms fall to the ground, something does seem to be bubbling at the stumps but whatever healing factor it may have isn't nearly as strong as the one its master seems to hold right now. That wouldn't stop it from trying to charge her head on and crush the girl under its weight though, which will no doubt get it stabbed and or cut for the effort, but that's fine with the beast. The healing magic thankfully works, as Akia's Distortion doesn't have any power for inverting the inversion. Sad! And finally the woman herself is actually stunned for a moment, just... Left in shock by the fact she's being rushed at a high speed by the psychic, she had expected them to stay far far away rather than risk themselves by getting nearer. This human actually went off her expectations? She wasn't planning for that, and with how long its left her staring in surprise all the creature can do is conjure up a bottle in her liquid hands that somehow is held despite being solid. Ready to try and block the psychic's next attack, or slam it into her face with inhuman strength and speed.
as predicted. When the monster next tries its charge, Nanaka once again dodges to its side, giving it a deep slice across its side for the trouble. It was tough, sure. But also far too slow and predictable to have a real chance of hurting her. It was a little strange, and perhaps something their opponent was counting on. Nanaka has no choice but to keep an eye on the main fight while she's dealing with the solid creature. Split attention usually doesn't go well, but its also necessary for a leader. Of course her motion puts her outside of Yurick's healing circle, but there wasn't much she could do about that. Her physical injuries were fairly minor, so there wasn't much healing needed. More concerning was her mental state, but as long as she can end this fight relatively quickly there shouldn't be any risk of an accident with her Soul Gem
Himeno was expecting some kind of retaliation, and so focuses his mind on her own ice. “Shiver.” Akia’s body begins to solidify as Himeno restricts the kinetic energy of its very molecules. Frost manages to form on the outer layer of the liquid body despite the alcohol. The psychic then attempts to flank Akia, but doesn’t get close enough for a strike just yet. She’s going to see the Distortion’s reaction first.
{Seeing as how he is now close to deal some actual damage instead of heal, Yurick twirls his dagger as it glows a faint purple.} "Fine by me." {The fire mage forms another magic circle and points his purple dagger in the middle, creating a rune that stops above Akia's figure. However, like Himeno chooseing not to attack, nothing comes out just yet. Essentially copying her teammate, they both wait to see how this "distortion" reacts.}
The Demon... Is easily cut down, which would cause it to burst into a liquid form. To be exact, a high pressure liquid bomb that rushes towards Nanaka with far more focus than an explosion should have, all of it aiming to rush at her in the form of tiny daggers that would leave cuts across her body and cause her to get a bit more intoxicated if they struck true. Not to mention the massive blastwave of force that would almost surely send the magical girl flying backways. As for 'Akia' herself, the creature is indeed quite slowed down and even begins freezing partly, her arms and legs going stiff as she glares towards Himeno in shock and slight outrage. "What the fuck!? Since when can you freeze things, I thought you were a frigging Pyrokinetic not the amazing fire and ice chick!" Akia isn't the most educated person, the thought that her foe controls molocules themselves hasn't really occurred to her Distortion thanks to that and she didn't really have any counter prepared for this move at the moment. All in all, it forces her onto the defenseive for a bit and roots her in place, strugging to try and break free for now. Perhaps if her mind were clear she'd use all that range to launch a counter, but for now she's too distracted.
Himeno simply goes in for a slash with her dagger. After striking, she darts back to let Yurick use that magic circle without risk of friendly fire. She needs to figure out what is and isn’t effective damage against Akia. She knows ice is helpful, but her use is limited. If she overdoes it, she might just hurt everyone. She tries to not let her worries show despite the pulsing in her head. “Yeah, I get that a lot. I don’t usually use it, but if you’re not going to pull yourself together, I’ll have to freeze you myself. You really think just drowning everyone with you will make anything better?”
"Don't worry Akia, I'll help you out there." {The magic circle would now rotate above her as Yurick himself starts to levitate off the ground, charging yet another spell. Unlike most of the times where it feels contained, the flares would be prominent to a level that's nearly absurd. Due to Akia getting frozen, there would be no distractions for the fire mage as he decides to let the magic circle expand itself before letting off a fireball that would almost feel like a sun shining down upon the distortion, attempting to scorch everything down to their very existence.}
With the liquid bursting as soon as Nanaka slices the beast, she wouldn't be able to avoid it completely. All the girl can do is swiftly put up another barrier of petals to minimize the impact before being knocked aside. As a Magical Girl she can't really become intoxicated, but the high pressure leaves Nanaka with several scars across her body, injuries that slowly heal even as anyone watches. But with the beast done for, Nanaka can take a quick rest, focusing her attention on Akie and seeing if their situation needs to be adjusted.
The Distortion would... Pause for a second, clearly at war with itself as it stares over at the psychic. She'd speak up in a conflicted voice while glaring slightly. "I... Yes? No? I don't know! I'm just sick of it all okay, I haven't got anything here and I don't know what to do! So I guess the answer to your question is not fucken really but what el-" Any more it might say would be cut off by Yurick's spell one inflicting quite a bit of damage, and two breaking her free of the psychic's freezing as well. The woman would melt down into the form of a boiled mist for a bit before reforming with a pained groan. "... Fuck I don't feel great anymore." Nanaka would find a pair of bottles flying at her, both poping open to reveal another of the 'familiars'. One just as large and strong as before, the other seeming to be a small flying creature which cackles at her slightly. The flying one would launch some sort of spiraling spell which if it struck true would leave her confused, the larger beast seeking merely to slam its fist into her as the Distortion prepares to defend itself from the other two. "Don't know what you were planning with getting me talking miss psychic, but you aren't gonna just catch me off guard again like that..." Words which are said in an unsteady voice as the creature's form shakes a bit, obviously not in perfect control. One might guess it's at war with the actual drunken fool underneath.
Himeno sets up by freezing the Distortion again with Shiver. Even with the Distortion’s alcoholic numbing effects, this fighting is starting to get dangerous for her mind. She’s not fighting alone though. And so, she adds a layer of ice and frost to the reformed Distortion’s body to restrain it again. “I didn’t try anything devious with my words. You’re the one who’s taking them personally. A Distortion is supposed to be a reflection of your desires, right? Like that golden slug of a principal? Actually, maybe you aren’t so different. Both of you gained forms that don’t even truly satisfy you.”
"If you lack guidance then seek it." Nanaka doesn't feel a need to add much. Letting those few words act as her only contribution. She wasn't sure where Himeno seemed to be going, but talking had at least managed to distract the creature. If that's what Himeno was going to do, then so be it. At least there was little reason to object at this point and Nanaka can't waste too much time focused on it either. Just like before the large familiar's charge is evaded fairly easily. However it wasn't the real threat here anyways. The smaller one seemed to have a more varied moveset, based on the energy it was sending at Nanaka. So it would be the top priority. Nanaka makes two quick slashes towards the familiar, each sending a wave of glowing petals. The first is aimed simply to pass through and disrupt its spell, while the second is hoping to slice through the creature. Its small size likely made it fragile, so a ranged attack like this might still be enough for it. Of course if her first slash doesn't manage to disrupt its spell Nanaka wouldn't have the time to evade it anymore.
"You're really bad at being this distortion that jackass turned you into, so do us a favor and keep doing that please." {Despite the sardonic comment delivered in a dry undertone, the last bit made his gaze change, as if it were really true. Of course, none of these girls are even friends but seeing them save him at his worst made them likeable at the very least. Instead of immediately aiming to melt the ice with some fire, Yurick enchants his dagger with another rune to make it glow purple once again. He aims it at the distortion's head, summoning a magical circle onto Akia. A clock motif would appear and start ticking, showing numbers going down starting at 60.} "It's what we all want instead of you prolonging this experience that's giving me flashbacks."
(edited by -Yurick-)
The Distortion would groan as it... Slows down even more, the liquid making up its body starting to falter slightly and show actual skin underneath in places oddly enough. It's next words come out with a confused look on the being's face as it seems to struggle coming up with a response. "I... Fuck, you might just have a point there firestarter, I can't exactly say this is really getting me any closer to what I actually want now is it... Not at all..." It seems lost in thought as Himeno's freezing begins taking place again, completely ignoring whatever countdown is happening. As for Nanaka's efforts, her slash would have been able to stop the spell... One could probably finish it off fairly easily at this point in fact, though the growing signs of an actual person becoming slightly more aware makes that a questionable choice. It's up to them in the end. If not for the larger beast getting in its way, blocking the slice and merely suffering a few wounds upon its arm before darting said arm downward to allow the magic to keep sailing straight at its foe. Almost surely hitting. She has left the larger creature distracted long enough it can't attack for now, but a small molotov cocktail would form in the flier's tiny hands and quickly begin rushing at her. Unless the girl had some resistance to its confusion magic that had landed she'd likely find evading quite tricky now.
Himeno keeps her knife at ready, but doesn't strike. She'll retaliate if attacked, yes, but she's willing to try and put her trust in Akia. She speaks to the Distortion as calmly as she can. "Then come back to your normal self. I don't know you any more than you know me, but I do know that you won't come any closer to that answer as an alcohol monster." ...That last part would be more amusing in hindsight if said alcohol monster hadn't attempted murder.
Nanaka hadn't thought the large creature fast enough to block her strikes. Especially given its tendency for aggression, but perhaps the smaller familiar was guiding it. Which seems more likely given their master's preoccupation. As a result, the spell strikes her, making her thoughts come out as a bit clouded and muddled. Nanaka clutches her head, or rather she reaches towards the gemstone that decorates it. She;d been holding it in for a while, but without her proper presence of mind, she wouldn't be able to hold it any longer. As the smaller creature tosses a bottle at Nanaka, a single woody vine laced with brambles lashes out to strike it. Though the plant catches alight, the limb is soon devoured, the fire absorbed with it as Nanaka's body goes limp. This is the last thing the other three would be able to see, as both Nanaka and the two minions seem to vanish into thin air. In reality, Nanaka's body goes limp as Duplicity takes shape, its thorns carelessly tearing through the girl's body as a field of flowers blooms out around her, surrounding both Nanaka and the familiars in a barrier of her own design. The brambles unite and condense in the air over Nanaka, unfurling into a curtain through which only vague glimpses can be seen. Now there was a beautiful world of Duplicity's making, sullied only by the disgusting creatures whose very foundation was poison. Seeking to remove this blemish, Duplicity acts as it always has, creating a thicket of thorns to choke out the area around the larger familiar, making any movement on its part difficult and painful. With the flying creature being met by a trio of vines, which try to work together in hopes of cornering and grappling the familiar to drain it of its very being.
{The magic circle that rests on top of the distorted alcoholic would glow purple, spinning slowly. The countdown grows nearer, putting itself at a 30 second mark. The mage sighs as he twirls his dagger a bit.} “It’s best for you to listen. If the distortion in you tries to attack I won’t hesitate to cause a Big Bang, but you’re smarter than that, right?” {Yurick says in a dry tone from the back, obviously not taking any priority in actually calming her down like Himeno. Instead enforcing the looming consequence that might come to fruition were she to not comply.}
The Distortion would... Stop entirely, the liquid that had made up its flesh vanishing in an instant as a woman holding a bottle of whiskey in her hands appears before them again. Growling under her breath slightly as she rubs at her head a bit and speaks up a bit. "... Fuck me, that wasn't a fun experience lemme tell ya. And I don't even know what the hell is going on either. Kind of expected to die from this one, in all honesty. Haven't got a clue what do wit this whole being alive thing." The woman is shockingly casual, just seems hungover and pissed off at their 'benefactor' rather actually being all that distressed. At least on the surface, the pause before she speaks again and the fact her voice sounds rather strained would betray she's a bit more shaken than she'd want people to think. "Anyway... Guess that's over at least, hopefully. I really wasn't much better than that idiot, though my desires sure hit a lot harder than our last 'employer' eh? Hope that miss fancy pants is okay over there." The monsters have stopped existing as well, wherever Nanaka might be at this point. And the Inscribed simply causes the bottle in her hands to vanish while sighing heavily as she begins walking away. Her voice is bitter and shaky at this point. "Anyways, thanks to both of you. Haven't the slightest clue where to go next or what I'll do, but I kinda like being alive anyways so I owe ya. The magical girl took me for dead, eh? Wonder what kinda life she's led to think like that." She would pause a bit before heading out from the place, pondering something and speaking up in a calmer voice. "And you're right about not knowing me Himeno, but hell. If we're gonna keep doing this crap together might as well get to know each a bit better, either of you hungry?" With hands in her pockets Akia would simply extend a small invitation. It does feel strange to be fighting and risking one's life alongside people they don't even know, and so she'd try to change that a bit while laughing slightly at the fact it's ended for now so suddenly.
Himeno closes her eyes and focuses on calming herself down. That was an adventure and a half, literally. Exhaustion is setting in on her mind and body. She’s reluctant to actually admit it, but she’s glad Akia came out alright. If she had to kill the girl, that would be... no, she shouldn’t get too attached. But does she want to stay stuck in her old self like Akia was, too? “No need to owe me anything, but... I could use something to eat.” Himeno smiles slightly and follows Akia after retrieving her hammer. She can forget about that bastard Adam and his plans for now.
{While the possibility of a last minute deception can still be in place, Yurick shakes his head as the magical circle that was previously on the distortion disappears completely. The countdown is gone, and he puts his dagger in its sheath. The boy starts to catch up to everyone else, sighing as he tries to pass by Duplicity popping off in the background.} "No idea, but I just want to leave. Or at least, make sure we leave knowing that Nanaka girl hasn't been replaced by an excessive vineyard." {Instead of getting hung up on it, Yurick decides to take this opportunity to glide past how they all were trying to kill each other mere moments before the inevitable reverting scene. Either way, he'd rather not let a teammate go to waste especially if they were going to go out by a last second boss battle right before the exit.}
As mentioned earlier, to the others it would seem like Nanaka had simply vanished, taking Akia's familiars with her. It wouldn't take long for Duplicity to dispose of the lesser distortions, after which, the creature takes a brief pause inside their barrier. It wouldn't do for the others to see her like this, so instead Duplicity simply flees into the night, not to be seen for a while.
Akia laughs a bit while starting to walk off, she's slightly worried about Nanaka but whatever. She's gotta have faith the girl is alright. She did seem to vanish under her own power after all, so maybe she just couldn't or didn't wanna come back. "I'm sure she'll be fine... Probably. And heh, well if I don't owe you anything I guess I'll just call it celebrating being alive!" She'd go quiet for a moment while scanning the area, still concerned by the area they're in and obviously preparing to defend herself. Assuming nothing came up though... Well that's the end of this adventure, and so begins the important adventure of deciding what to do about dinner. But for now, it's a close to this chapter most likely.
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