3650/Shadows Cast By Midnight Light

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Shadows Cast By Midnight Light
Date of Scene: 11 January 2016
Location: Alberichstadt <P:WTWM>
Synopsis: One cold night in Alberichstadt, the Shadows within the Mirror Forest seem agitated. A party of Elites go to investigate, and learn of tragic consequences.
Cast of Characters: Kotone Yamakawa, Staren, 151, 715, 828, August Kohler, 901, Janine Liberi
Tinyplot: Persona: Were the World Mine-1

Janine Liberi has posed:
    It's a pitch-black night in Alberichstadt, the world a stark, monochromatic contrast between moonless skies and snowy earth. The kind of night where chill rips the breath from your lungs in pained, fogging gasps. And at the late hour, every snow drift looks like a comforting pillow to just lie upon, forever.

    But, a gathering of Elites is occurring at Die Reisenden's little cabin in the woods, and they're far too strong-willed to be lulled to slumber eternal by something so simple as cold. Emerging from a portal, a pinprick golden light guides the visitors to the door, cast by an electric lantern.

    Within is Janine, bundled up as best she can manage with her hired help asleep and only one good arm. The bags under her eyes seem especially pronounced, stayed away only by the cup of coffee she acquired at some 24 hour store. A mirror hangs on the wall, reflecting the room. Only, it also shows strange colours, like the film of a bubble spreading across the inside surface, abstract shapes resolving into gnarled hands, vicious knives and all manner of threatening things, if only for brief moments.

Kenji Kawasaki (715) has posed:
     "It's fucking cold."

     Kenji Kawasaki has a way with words, expressing his thoughts as he enters the tiny, shitty little cabin. He is not dressed for the weather, instead wearing his standard leather pants, leather jacket, and white tanktop as if it was the same as any other day. This may or may not explain just why he thinks it's fucking cold, but in fairness, he's not wrong, objectively speaking.

     Kenji bangs snow off his shoes on the side of the cabin before closing the door. "You know, I wouldn't be so cold if you'd just fuse with me," he says to no one and nothing. A moment later, a look crosses his face. "Yeah, well, fuck you too, asshole god."

     Kenji pauses awkwardly as he notices Janine. He holds up a hand. "...hi."

Hoshi Amakasu (901) has posed:
    Once the plan had been decided, Hoshi had gotten into hard level work to prepare. Her special hairtie, her armor under a blue parka, leggings under her hakama. It's a cold type of night. Once she was ready, she rushed from her house as quietly as she could and made her way into the dark, snow-covered black forest.

    There, she waited to meet everyone that was emerging from the warpgate. "Hello everyone. Thank you for coming so quickly. Please follow me and stay close."

    Leading them through the trees, she brought them to the shack and went inside quickly, shivering. "Gaah, and I thought Osaka was cold... Hi, Ms. Liberi." She tugs off her coat and tosses it on the floor near the mirror, scowling into it's writhing, ugly depths. "This is so uncomfortable," she mutters.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley never saw comfort or sleep in the snow. For her, the snow drifts looked like coffins. The chills were daggers. It was all she could do to stay conscious on those few winter nights she had visited Europe in any capacity. She has a proto-Abstractum tied to the end of her tail, and she has a self-heating hooded coat around her middle with a mask over her face, but even with all these precautions she'll still seem sluggish and show the signs of discomfort that sting through her body.

    So when she's led to the cabin, she is quick to find her way inside. The heavily-clothed creature is hard to distinguish as the anthropomorphic reptile she really is, until she lets her tail uncoil and her tail feathers fan out. She does not shiver or comment to the others. Instead, she turns her attention the the issue of importance this evening.

    The Mirror.

    Ainsley stares into the mirror without blinking. She shifts in place, the soft click of her longsword's scabbard heard under all of that clothing. The mask, hood and elsewise cover up her face, but her bright blue eyes intensely gaze at it.

    Not with fear or courage, though. Something else. Curiosity?

Geralt of Rivia (828) has posed:
     It's definitely cold.

     To Geralt, this isn't so bad. After all, he's wearing a thick armor set of leather and chain with a heavy gambeson on underneath. It's the sort of gear that keeps you warm. Unfortunately for Geralt, this doesn't cover his face and, so, it feels like the snot is freezing in his nose.

     The Witcher, tall and broad shouldered, steps towards the cavern, his golden cats-eyes piercing the gloom. Despite the snow, he seems rather light-footed. Both of his swords are kept across his back.

     He steps inside, nodding to Ainsley as he does. Hoshi, too, although he doesn't say anything to either of them.

     The mirror draws his attention. Geralt cants his head to indicate it, arms folded over his chest. "This y'problem?"

Staren has posed:
    A pitch-black night? Even if that's true, Staren's suit has infrared optics. The chill doesn't get through the suit's climate controls. And it's late, but possibly due to spending a couple of days as a robot recently, his sleep schedule is messed up anyway. A pinprick of electric light guides the visitors. And so in every way, the might of SCIENCE pushes back the cold and opressive night.

    "Hey, Amakasu! Hey, Ainsley!" Staren waves cheerfully. His other allies get friendly nods. "...Is it really that cold? I guess it is. Would you like something to help with that?"

    Inside they go! "Hm." A grunt of barest acknowledgement is all Staren has for Janine in greeting. "Oh, that's interesting." He walks right up to the mirror, looking at it curiously. "How does it work? Do we just, like, step through, and enter the same mirrorverse as any unfortunate souls who try the same thing without knowing what they're in for?"

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa had to get off the land of Steel. It was a dead lans, deader than really her unliving body. Yet even as the twisted forest? It left her far less uneasy than the land of Steel. She shivered still thinking about that cold dead husk of a world but it wouldn't dominte her thoughts for long as she entered into the cabin itself looking rather worn already.


August Kohler has posed:
A bit after everyone else arrives, August Kohler will show up at the cabin. The redhead is dressed in a thick hoodie with a pair of blue jeans, gloves over his hands and a scarf to keep him warm. He has a bag over his shoulder, and is carrying a sledgehammer in both hands. "Sorry that I'm late. Had to get some stuff. First aid supplies, emergency rations in case we end up getting stranded in there for whatever reason, a blanket that we could all attempt to share." He pokerfaces through all this, so it's hard to tell if he's serious or not.

Approaching the mirror, August waves a hand through it to make sure it's still working properly, before turning to Staren. "We'll walk in and you'll quickly follow, since we don't know exactly how long us making an entrance lasts. It'll take us to a clearing not far from an exit. From there, we find out exactly what the hell is going on, and deal with it. Probably violently, Shadows aren't social. Also, I'll explain more in-depth over the radio, but people don't just...walk in and get lost. It's a bit of a different story."

Finally, the redheaded stepchild turns to Amakasu. "If you overspray me with that extinguisher, you'll regret it!" And then, he moves to peek his head into the mirror, before moving in full body. Guess he's not going to wait!

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine looks up from her burnt Americano as Kenji walks in. The sour look on her face might be because of the terrible beverage, but... well, maybe not. It's Janine after all. "Brilliant, we have a loony tagging along. If you run off screaming about the Martians stealing your underwear, I'm not coming after you."

    Amakasu gets a nod that is somehow chillier than the weather. As she comments on the Mirror, the Italian nods. "Looks different from before. Uglier? Not so good with adjectives." As Ainsley arrives, Janine actually flinches a little. First time she's seen something totally not-human. Closest until then was Berserker and Caster. But after a moment, her face shifts to the same tired look of moody disdain she shares with everyone. The mirror though, that seems to stare back, a leering face appearing for just a moment.

    And then the so-called 'Witcher' arrives. Hoshi had called him by name, so Janine gives him a measured look before glancing at the Japanese girl. "Didn't know you were into the silver foxes." In response to his question, she answers with, "It's always a problem, but tonight it looks like a different problem."

    Staren! His grunt seems downright polite in contrast to what Janine offers, which is literally nothing. Even Kotone with her tired greeting gets a "'sup." August gets an actual wave. "What? Why should we share a blanket with you? You seem perfectly content with setting yourself on fire."

"Okay so this cabin is getting too cozy, and I mean that in the uncomfortable way. So let's get going." And with that, her sheathed sabre with a fancy scarf serving as a belt is taken up and slung across her chest. Without another word, she just marches towards the mirror and passes through the glass after August, making it ripple like a quicksilver lake.

    Should everyone follow... well, the problem immediately presents itself across several modalities. Off in the distance is the sound of explosions, followed by the sound of trees falling with the sound of crashing glass. A chemical stink wafts through the trees. "Well. This way I suppose." A sabre is drawn, and Janine marches in between the trees without a fear-or is that care?-in the world.

Hoshi Amakasu (901) has posed:
    Janine's irritation with Hoshi notwithstanding--she had to ask about that Christmas present--Hoshi's too focused on the mirror to really mind much. She does look sharply over at her when Janine insults Kenji. "He's not crazy. I've actually spoken with the deity he has. He's... funny." Or something. She's trying.

    Noting both Geralt and Ainsley's curiousity, Hoshi goes over to them. They probably know more about these things than she did. "So... Do you guys have any ideas? It's okay if you don't, but I'm a little worried about what we're going to run into here. Be ready with your weapons." Quietly under her breath, she mutters. "I hope we don't see the stupid Wolf."

    Staren and his curiosity gets a wave and a nod. "You'll have to follow us, but we'll fit. Don't worry."

    August's entrance gets a wave.. And as he's passing through, he gets so angry! And people said she couldn't take a joke. "I'll do my best," she says wryly, before bowing and motioning towards the mirror.

    Then, once August and Janine has hopped in, Hoshi goes up after. "So... it'll feel kind of weird, but don't worry. Just push on through." With that, she's in. Once she's on the other side, she immediately pulls out her hair tie and morphs it into it's sword form, drawing it and tucking the sheathe away. The destruction they're witnessing is concerning. "That sounds big. And angry."

Kenji Kawasaki (715) has posed:
     "I'm not fucking crazy," Kenji replies angrily, "Don't you people shoot magic out of your brain ghosts or some shit, anyway?" He gives Hoshi a look that might be thanks and might be a shrug, like 'I deal with this all the time, but thanks for trying.'

     Kenji passes through the mirror and pauses, staring up at the glass forest. His eyebrows rise slowly into his hair. Then he nods.

     "Yup," he says to nothing at all, "Definitely, uh. A thing. Fuck, that smells awful. Be glad you can't smell it."

     There's some more silence. Kenji sighs. "Yeah, yeah. Look, at least this is a healthy way to deal with it, right? Just hurry up."

     A puff of flame appears in Kenji's hand. Kenji holds it forward. "KOJINSHINTAI!"

     Kenji shoves the fire into his chest and promptly ignites. His jacket and pants burn from black to white. His hair turns to fire as fire pours out of his eyes. The only bit of dark color on him, in fact, is a little symbol on his tanktop that looks like it's drawn in ashes.

     By the end of it Kenji is hovering freely in the air, unrestrained by gravity or whatever other weird shit might be in the Mirror Forest. He flies forward under his own power towards the sound of the explosions.

     He has some aggression to work out tonight.

Geralt of Rivia (828) has posed:
     "Another portal," Geralt quietly laments and, silently, regrets not asking for any payment up front. The comment about silver foxes goes right past him - he's heard worse and, really, it wouldn't be the first time he'd been accused of being a intimate plaything. Janine's attitude means nothing to Geralt. When you deal with noble families, you expect a certain level of... personality.

     He follows into the portal, although those watching him can see a bit of apprehension in his step. He clears it, however, and certainly quickens his stride once he's on the other side. Damned things. Yen used to use them when he'd angered her.

     And that happened often.

     "Ideas?" Geralt says, once they're on the other side. "Not really. Heard of haunted mirrors, but never one that was also a portal. A Sorceress would be better." Like Yen. Or Triss.

     Following the group, Geralt audibly sniffs at the air, like some kind of animal. His Witcher senses might give him an edge here, if there's anything interesting about the scent.

     "That smell... Hmm..."

     He breaks off, glancing at Kenji. "What's with him?"

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    "Hmm." The first sound from Ainsley, when she sees a face leering back at her. It doesn't even come close to budging her.

    Ainsley didn't notice the flinch. Even if she had, she would not have acknowledged it. That response was as common as an ordinary hello. She doesn't notice because she's more curious about the mirror, really. She's been quiet to everyone the whole time, as well, besides a nod here and there where needed. When everyone would begin stepping through the mirror, she followed, slipping through the portal with a certain grace and then landing on the other side without much more than a soft ruffle of cloth, floating as if she's almost weightless.

    Seeing Janine draw a weapon prompts Ainsley to do the same. She draws a longsword from its scabbard and holds it to one side with her left hand while she follows Janine. "I made a magic mirror once, with some help," she mentions aloud while they begin their travels toward the apparent violence, "They're almost universally unpleasant, in my experience."

    She reaches up to pull down the cloth mask and flicks her tongue at the air. More of an instinct than needed. The strange smell is distracting her. "Maybe it will utilize chemical explosives... flasks? Or this is something else..."

    Kenji's fiery manifestation gets her to turn her head. "Fire may be inadvisable here," she hypothesizes to those that haven't run off ahead. "Chemical fires are extremely lethal."

Staren has posed:
    "He's not crazy, he's merged with a god." "Ideas? I thought the idea was we shoot the bad monsters and rescue the people in trouble."

    Staren climbs through the mirror... And now they're in the Mirror Forest! And Kenji's on fire. "See? Not crazy. Magic mirrors, I dunno, they could be used for transport I guess? Or for scrying?" he replies to Ainsley.

    :...Do I hear /explosions/? And you guys complain /I/ bring the heavy weapons. I wonder which fairy tale used bombs and artillery, exactly?" Staren switches to internal air to deal with the stink for now. He quirks an eyebrow at /Janine/ leading the way -- she didn't seem like the leader type -- and follows after.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa is armed, yet seems a but on edge she looks to Hoshi and tries to smile though.

"Right and keep frosty, keep together."

She's looking over at Kenji and peers at him.

"...Okay that was a thing."

She looks to Geralt and humms, she's worked with him before.

"Good to have someone as reliable as your self here Geralt and a god? Really?"
E She gives Staren a glance but gets ready to move out.

August Kohler has posed:
"Persona." With a flash of a spoon and blue energy, the Tin Soldier appears above August, as he hefts the sledgehammer. He quickly moves to the front of the party, using the Tin Soldier as a shield to soak any possible damage. Tank!

Commenting on the radio, August turns back to Staren, sighing. "These guys don't go down in a few hits, usually. They're pretty damn crafty and dangerous. Be careful." He ignores Staren's comments about the heavy artillery, as he dashes in the direction of the monster. Bait! Bait! Bait!

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine half-shrugs as everyone steps in to defend Kenji. "Sure. But Biancabella doesn't speak to me," is all she says in reply. As her fellow female Persona user turns to Geralt and Ainsley for advice, the Italian rolls her eyes. "It's our problem. Shouldn't they be asking us?"

    As they march towards the source, Janine glances back at Kenji as he lights up. "Jesus preserve us, we're teamed with the Pyromaniac Brothers," she says with a pointed look at August. So, to recover, she engages in her favourite pastime. "Yeah, I bet looking into a mirror would be an unpleasant experience for you," she says to Ainsley.

    "It's frosty enough outside," Janine retorts to Kotone, a scarf lifted around her nose and mouth to block the stink of chemicals. Staren just gets a long look. "Show-off." She only rolls her eyes as August charges ahead, not even trying to stop him. No cure for stupidity.

    The stench of chemicals gets stronger, eye-watering. The booms and crashes get louder, and soon, they find their mark, hovering along a path between the trees. A wizardly figure with a coin dispenser around its waist and a ruby ring upon its finger. It contently juggles flasks and vials, the contents mixing as they dance through the air. As they arrive, it fumbles one, generating a powerful explosion and licks of flame. One that potentially blasts August, should he get too close! Either way, this incites a low, despairing moan from the Shadow.

    But as the party arrives, its eyes hidden under the brim of its wizard cap falls upon them. And then, as if trying to make up for its mistake, it starts flinging those flasks deliberately. Right at them.


Kenji Kawasaki (715) has posed:
     Kenji Kawasaki is used to weird shit. He works for Shinra, after all - you don't work for Shinra without seeing some truly bizarre creatures. Whirlwind weasels and oni and all kinds of things that aren't supposed to exist in the real world. But here, in this weird-ass mirror forest, this giant juggling wizard-thing is probably one of the weirdest things he's ever seen in his life. It almost stops him in his tracks to just stare, but then it starts flinging explosive flasks at people who aren't August (who made his own dumbass decision anyway).

     Kenji blinks out of existence. He reappears in front of Janine mere seconds before the first bomb hits. "Move!" He shouts just as the bomb crashes into his chest.


     Fire and heat and pressure and chemical burst in his face. Black marks score across his body as the force and pressure of it flings him backwards, and only by remembering to phase his body does he avoid crashing into Janine. Instead, there's a moment where Janine gets to see Kenji pass right through her, which is probably all sorts of awkward, and then he crashes into a tree behind them. It doesn't stop him, either, because the bomb meant for *him* lands a moment later, sending shards of glass and mirror spiralling through the air as Kenji is knocked even further backwards into the tall trees.

     Finally, he comes to a stop. Covered in glass and bruises and burns, Kenji is mercifully spared further flight, stopped underneath a heavy glass tree. Blood spills down his face and arms from the glass shards, and had he not had the wherewithal to close his eyes, he'd probably have some pretty nasty injuries on that count.

     That just pisses him off.

     Kenji reappears with the group a few moments later in a burst of smoke. He doesn't even hit the ground, just shooting forward in mid-air. Kenji draws his hand back as the Shadow goes for its next throw, a roar building his throat.


     Kenji swings.

     A pillar of fire follows his motion, appearing out of the air behind him and streaming down the path of his fist like a corridor of flame. He doesn't even connect with the Shadow - no, Kenji goes right for the bomb, to blow it up in the Shadow's hand before it can do any more damage, and maybe even stun the weird thing for a few seconds.

     He's pissed.

Staren has posed:
    "Really?" Staren asides to Janine. "You're insulting people in the middle of this and the best you can come up with is 'you're ugly'? Geeze, /that/ well ran dry fast. And it's not showing off, that's like saying 'I have shoes that protect my feet when I walk, and clothes that protect me from the environment!' ...Okay I guess that would be pretty weird though... Shut up."

    August charges in, "Oh geeze /wait/!" Staren runs after him. Up to... a wizard?

    Who is... /throwing/ things. O... kay? Staren tries to dodge, summoning his wings for brief bursts of speed, firing his arm's beam cannons at the smelly wizard(?). It doesn't occur to him that anyone might /not/ try to dodge the explosives. "What fairy tale is /this/?!"

Hoshi Amakasu (901) has posed:
    Using the back of her hand to press up against her nose, Hoshi scowls off at the distance as everyone makes their way over. Kenji's transformation actually brings an amazed expression to Hoshi's face. That's pretty cool, actually, but... "Aw, c'mon, be careful and don't go in by yourself...!"

    Poor Geralt. "Hate to tell you, Mr. Geralt, but I think you're going to have to get used to portals. That said... Thanks for coming anyway. We can talk about how much you'd like after this is done."

    Magic mirrors are universally unplesasant. "Yeah, that sounds about right," she mutters. Hearing Janine's quip towards her, Hoshi scowls slightly. "Getting outside perspective is important, too. There's enough similarities that we might be able to learn more."

    Sending a hasty look over to Staren, Hoshi coughs. "To be fair, we didn't ask it to blow up the Forest. It'll probably be something stupid, though." Kotone's smile gets responded to by a weak one of her own. "Somehow I get the feeling we'll actually want to be frosty after this one."

    The strange appearance of the Shadow isn't very surprising anymore. As soon as Hoshi catches sight of the beast, she digs into her shirt and pulls out her locket. "Uh... So, guys, maybe we should--Oh crap! Split up!" THe kendo girl takes flight, pumping her arms to bring herself out of the range of the explosions. She manages to grab ahold of Ainsley as she was passing, but a bottle comes towards them. "Ahh--Persona!" The blue mist springs around them and impacts the glass, erupting into a bloom of flame where the two had been standing. A screaming yelp comes from it.

    As the flame fades, Rosamond stands in front of the two ladies protectively. Hoshi shudders with Ainsley behind her. "Nngh... Gaaah. Run, Ms. Ainsley. I... need a moment." She buckles to her knees as she fights to keep Rosamond's form in front of her.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa says "Yes it is."

She's daring ahead the chemicals don't seem to be bothering het too hard, the fumes are not enough to effect Kotone right now but as they get closer? Something else seems to be happying as she scopes out he one ahead. Then comes the flasks she moves with fairly inhuman speed to avoid the flask. The Puppet Woman does not know what tale this is she doe snot know at all, she avoids her flask, and moves to have her body get between the shadow and Hoshi.

She levels her weapon and just opens fire with the SMG sending a burst of rounds at the thing, it should hopefully keep it distracted from Hoshi.

"I got you Hoshi!"

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley glances aside at Janine, her features still fairly neutral, maybe even somber. "It was," comes a the reptile woman's cryptic reply, leaving the unsolicited barb alone aside from that. She begins to float off the ground as they grow nearer to the source of the explosions... until they find the Shadow, and discover what, exactly, it is doing. She watches the flask drop out of the air from her safe distance and grimaces at the explosion and the fumes that accompany it.

    She recoils when the Shadow begins attacking them, but she's grabbed before she can properly evade... and she never would've been able to move fast enough. When Hoshi's state is noticed, Ainsley rests her free hand on her shoulder. "Thank you," she says, firmly, and then she takes to the air, going straight up until she's a safe distance above the ground, and she makes some distance from the wizard. When she has a decent vantage, she begins to work.

    She tries to scan it with her Arcane Sight. She digs into its Name to grab Communication from it, to 'read' its body language or other tells, and try to determine general ideas like emotions or whether it's got some power over communication itself.

    "You aren't the only wizard here tonight," she murmurs, defiant against the Shadow.

Geralt of Rivia (828) has posed:
     "Watch out!" Geralt barks as the /thing/, whatever it is, begins to hurl flasks.

     His silver sword is in his hand, without thinking, and Geralt swings. He's quick enough to knock arrows away, so, a flask shouldn't be that much more difficult. There's the sharp sound of a blade on glass as Geralt simultaniously swings and takes a knee, so the contents go over his head. He has no idea what they are and isn't so keen on relying on his Witcher physiology to protect him. It's better to just not get hit.

     Geralt isn't sure what he's facing. It makes him think of a wraith but they've never demonstrated anything like that. Of course, this is an entirely different world, but Geralt is a simple man in his own way. With Kenji slinging fire, Staren firing beams, Ainsley emplying spells, Geralt doesn't seem to do anything except make a series of movements with his fingers.

     In response to the sign, however, a series of symbols should flash into being around the Shadow. It's the Yrden sign, a tool to trap monsters. For a ghost, it even forces them to become corporeal. Vulnerable. It might not do the same thing here, but it might keep the being from moving for a few seconds.

August Kohler has posed:
As August dashes forward, he is quickly skidding back on his feet as he spots the Apprentice. Sadly, it's not fast enough to avoid the explosion, which knocks him backwards. He clutches his head briefly as he looks up at it, and waits for everyone else to go forth. Trying to keep a pattern of what chemicals produce what, he moves to dodge those that would set him on fire, having the Tin Soldier take those that are just pure explosive force, which causes him to grunt and slow down each time. And then, once he has an opening, he sends the Tin Soldier forward.

Leaping upwards, the Tin Soldier mimes a battle cry, as it attempts to grapple onto the Disappointing Apprentice. Its internal fires begin to burn, as its arms suddenly immolate! ...But the fire doesn't spread, being kept carefully quarantined to its arms. August immediately drops his hammer and is very lucky to not get hit in the toe, as he concentrates.

Moving past its pain, the Tin Soldier proceeds to punch the Disappointing Apprentice in the face, over and over, with its flaming strikes. Its gun leg points down onto its lower half, but does nothing.

It is important to note, however, that the Tin Soldier's position leaves it open to friendly fire. A mislaid hit could easily attack it, especially since it's far too preoccupied with arson boxing to dodge!

Janine Liberi has posed:
    The battle begins! Geralt's manoeuvre serves him well, his slashing of the vial preventing an explosion from going off. Janine can only stare as Kenji tanks the attack aimed at her, the god-possessed passing through her on his way to slam into a tree. She snaps out of it though, staring deep into her sword as she runs towards a tree. "Take cover! Persona!"

    Biancabella joins the fray, seemingly accenting the Apprentice's juggling with her own dance, gems scattering from her hair and flower petals flowing from her bloody stumps. The sickly stink of rot mixes with the harsh chemical scents, making a truly nauseating smell. As debuff after debuff hits the Apprentice, it's juggling slows, a vial resting in its hand just long enough for Kenji to detonate it, adding force to his corridor of flame.

    Shards of glass rip up its arm. No blood spills, but instead, seeds scatter upon the glassy soil. A keening cry filled with fear rips from its throat, only for concentrated fire from Staren and Kotone to make it shift to pain. The blasts from the former seem to cauterize whatever passes for wounds on this thing, but some seeds still scatter, even more from the bullet wounds created by the latter.

    As Ainsley examines the Apprentice, it's like suddenly being subjected to the ravings of a madman. A torrent of fearful gibberish washes from the Shadow constantly, untempered by any rational mind. Closer examination would reveal what exactly it is fear of, however.


    Fear of disappointing others, of others doing the disappointing. Fear of being surrounded by disappointing circumstances, living a disappointing life... the very concept seems to define this creature. Also, just for a brief moment, the name 'Alfonso' swims out from the sea of nonsense.

    But now the Shadow is back on the offensive! Lacking flasks, it now takes up that coin dispenser, thumbs blurring as it blasts coins all over, ricocheting off every surface! However, Geralt's runic attack suddenly makes those thumbs lock up, the Apprentice letting out another disappointed moan.

    And then the Tin Soldier is engaging in close-range combat! It actually doesn't seem to have much recourse for this, taking each hit to the face without retaliation! However, those spilled seeds? They bear fruit, in the form of shadowy foxes that scatter, lunging for the party, aiming especially for necks and heads with teeth that, while whispy, look no less lethal.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa had made a good call for Hoshi, but prehaps not for herself. The coins are flying at speeds like a bullet and a number of them are impacting into Kotone's body. One even ens up going through the good news is she's kept Hoshi from taking the brunt of this.

"Hoshi, I have this!"

For her? Not so much sparks fly and there's somethign leaking from the wound. She can take a fair amount of abuse but something vial has been hit which is cartuins the cyborg problems. She actually crumples to the ground like a puppet with her strings cut laying there, she's not dead but she's going to need help to get out of here. She didn't even really get time to scream either.

Kenji Kawasaki (715) has posed:
     Kenji smashes his foot on one of the foxes as he lands, not even giving it the time of day. August has basically cut off his ability to get in close, something Kenji's face says he is not, at all, happy about. Rather than blocking or dodging the coins, his fists just smash into them, sending them flying off into the air and away from the party. Sure, that bloodies his knuckles, but whatever. He's had worse.

     God dammit, Kohler.

Staren has posed:
    Coins! Everywhere! A multilayered sphere of amber force appears around Staren, covered in pockmarks and spiderwebbing cracks from the coins! "Is this what Samurai use?!" (???)

    Also, foxes! Staren decides Ainsley's got the right idea and just flies. He's got an idea to deal with them, but better to deal with them all at once, once their maker has been destroyed, or at least blasted into foxes.

    The crumbling forcefield shuts off for a moment, coins pinging off Staren's armor and leaving dents, as six missiles the size of magic markers launch from the forearms, trying to wave their way around his allies and ram into the Shadow, ideally penetrating inside before they explode like 25th-century grenades! Coins might knock some of them off-course, though.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley's face twists, visibly sickened by the raw negativity that pours off the creature. She feels the concept of Disappointment dig into her mind, leaving a permanent scar that she will never be able to remove. But that's fine with her. It is not Her. Instead, she draws on what she's picked up. She pulls on the Name that she dredged up from it, and weaves her longsword through the air. The sword's inscription -- MERCY -- lights up along the flat of the blade, and then the inscription distorts.

    She places two fingers onto the flat of the blade and draws the magic around her body. Familiar moans, distorted as if behind radio static, roll off of her. Then she shoves her sword toward the Disappointed Apprentice and the sword FLASHES a bright gold.

    Ainsley casts pure SATISFACTION at the Shadow, hoping that experiencing something so antithetical to its being will soothe or hinder it.

Geralt of Rivia (828) has posed:
     The shadowy foxes spring from the Shadow's blood, and the White Wolf leaps to meet them.

     Silver sword in hand, Geralt leaves the Shadow to the attentions of his companions. They, it seems, are better suited to handle it than he is. This leaves him to take on the fox-wraiths. His blade sings and whirls in glittering arcs. He brings his blade down from above, right on the neck of one of the foxes. Whirling on his heel, Geralt thrusts out with his blade, aiming for the throat, finding it by way of the leaping fox's mouth.

     That's two.

     A coin nicks Geralt's brow, drawing blood, and the Witcher stumbles, ears ringing. A fox comes at him, sensing weakness, and Geralt raises his hand, fingers dancing in another intricate pattern.

     A wave of force blasts the third fox away, straight into a tree trunk.

Hoshi Amakasu (901) has posed:
    Holding onto Rosamond makes Hoshi squirm where she's laying on the ground. Her brain /and/ body feel like they're still on fire. Eventually, the kendo girl lets the Persona fade away so she can try to get herself back together. This helps her somewhat, and she's able to start moving, albiet slowly. She's really in no shape to defend herself or dodge, so Ko is probably the only reason Hoshi is still moving. "Agh... Crap. I'm sorry, Ms. Yamakawa..."

    Watching the cyborg go down makes her wince. She looks up towards the giant Shadow and slowly grits her teeth as she comes back to her feet. Shadow wolves dance around the battlefield, and Geralt struggles against them. "Rggh--C'mon!" She'll leave Rosamond out for now. Instead, she charges forward to help Geralt.

    She hadn't shown the Witcher her skill with her sword before. She's admittedly very traditional Japanese, though. Two foxes come to interrupt her, but Hoshi runs through them while kicking one of them behind the Witcher, her sword rushing to catch the other one and separate the thing's shadowy head from it's shoulders. Before the second one gets up, she runs forward and jumped, putting her blade through it as her back goes to Geralt. "S-sorry! I swear I'll pay for this!"

August Kohler has posed:
August doesn't seem to know that Kenji's mad at him. He probably wouldn't really care, he's doing what he can! However, this new technique is /very/ draining on his energy, due to the fact he's being harmed by it. The Tin Soldier tosses one last punch at the Apprentice's face, before using the Apprentice as leverage to leap up and backwards. And then, its gunleg points straight at the Shadow's face.

And a torrent of fire rips out to engulf its head, before the Persona disappears, August falling onto his knees. He needs a minute before he'll be able to run, not being a very fit guy, so he's wide open for coins. Hopefully the Shadow is defeated by the others!

Janine Liberi has posed:
    The forest path comes alive with the pings of coin against glass. As Kotone takes several hits and goes down, the sound of her body against broken glass almost sounds like a cash register. Kenji plays it safe, coins melting as he swats them away, foxes becoming translucent near him due to the light of his flames.

    However, Staren apparently lacks the same idea, because he assails the Shadow with explosives while the Tin Solider is grappling it! The missiles dig in... but August makes it disengage just before they go off, blasts from the Persona's gunleg contributing to the massive damage!

    It hangs there for a moment, reeling as Geralt starts cutting the pack down to size, the White Wolf making short work of the Black Foxes. With each blow, they dissipate without a noise, and the sheer ease he demonstrates makes the remainder focus on him... only for Hoshi to come to the rescue!

    And now does Ainsley make her move, contesting disappointment against satisfaction. The antithetical emotion washes over the wounded Shadow, making it pause. A single, pitch-black tear rolls down its face as it slowly descents to its knees.

    And begins to scream.

    Waves of DISAPPOINTMENT flow from it, crashing against the assembled, squeezing their stomachs with fear. Will they DISAPPOINT their friends? Or will their friends DISAPPOINT them? The very idea-the very fear-tries to worm into their minds, their hearts, their bones, their souls.

    But, the DISAPPOINTING Apprentice has no more defences. It kneels there, hands over ears and letting out a piercing wail, simply awaiting its end.

Kenji Kawasaki (715) has posed:
     The Shadow starts crying. Kenji is jolted out of his burning rage as the Shadow starts wailing, kneeling on the ground and waiting for the end.

     That's fucked up. That's fucked-up and sad as shit.

     Kenji's knuckles go white under the fire. It's crying, waiting to die. It's scared and sad and it's able to feel, isn't it? It's able to feel pain and fear and all the other things a person can feel. It didn't ask for this. It didn't want to kill them. It was doing what it was supposed to do and that's all it could understand.

     Kenji disappears, reappearing in front of it. He raises his fist, his hand trembling.

     This was somebody. This had been somebody once. This was something that might happen to other people. This was...it was...

     It was what he could've been. Alone and angry and fucked-up because he made a single mistake.

     "Hold the fuck on," Kenji says, turning around, "I'm suddenly not okay with this. It's fucking sad, ain't it? Doesn't that mean it can choose, or feel, or some shit?"

     "Hey, hey Shadow thing! Diongi or Alfonso or whatever the hell your name is! You don't wanna die, do you?"

     "Hey! Hey, you! Can you understand me?! Come on, man, say something! I need to know that there's something in there!"

August Kohler has posed:
August is ready to kill it. It's not a person anymore. Alfonso died in the Forest, and this is all that's left. So, it should just be a matter of striking him down, right?

But Kenji's fighting to save it. And August knows this is a mess. This isn't a good thing, and this Shadow is incredibly pitiable. If they can possibly save it...it's worth the shot. He's not expecting it to work, but he's willing to let the others try. So, sitting back, and tanking the debuff, he waits to see what happens. But he picks back up his sledgehammer, just in case.

Hoshi Amakasu (901) has posed:
    Shadowy monsters part from Witcher blades, and whenever Hoshi gets a view of it she can't help but be somewhat in awe. As the little creatures go down, she starts directing her attention towards the larger creature. The Disappointed Apprentice, huh? It did some damage, didn't it? Some poor bastard faltered in his Gauntlet, and this thing was left here. It's sad, but...

    Gripping her sword, Hoshi calls out clearly. "Persona!" Rosamond appears again and shoots towards the creature as it goes down--but comes to a dead stop when Kenji comes to interrupt her. "Rgh--Kawakami! This is a /monster/. If we leave it here it'll just hurt someone else. Or us later!" GRitting her teeth, she looks at the pitable thing. "I get that it's sad, but whatever this thing might have been, Alfonso is gone now. Probably eaten by the Wolf. This is a /flawed copy/."

    Rosamond raises her sword, ready to drive the tip of the broadsword into the Shadow's head. "Please step aside, Mr. Kawakami."

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley flinches when a wave of Disappointment hits her... and rolls around her like she were a stone in a river. She closes her eyes as the wails hit her ears, her Sight deactivating. Her mouth droops into a gentle frown, and she sheathes her named longsword. She knows this battle is almost over, so she concentrates on repeling this force from her mind. Because she knows who she is. She knows that she will always try her hardest, and that disappointment is simply a part of life.

    She opens her eyes, now inert of the magic from before, and stares sadly down at the Shadow.

    "You never disappointed us, Alfonso, and so there is still hope," she tells the Apprentice by using a spell to move the words to the pained creature. "Whatever they decide, at least realize that much."

    Ainsley takes the neutral role here. She watches everyone BUT the Shadow, soaking in how people respond to such a dark moment in their lives.

Geralt of Rivia (828) has posed:
     They say Witchers don't feel. Not fear, not disappointment, not love, not anything. That they're nothing more than killers who care for naught but coin.

     Geralt knows this to be false.

     So, after nodding to Hoshi and fighting back to back with the younger woman, he's hit full force by the flood of /disappointment/ that crashes against his mind. It's a feeling he's familiar with. Hell, he'd disappointed Triss, didn't he? He hadn't meant to. He hadn't even known about his past when they had become close. But that was why they couldn't talk now, not with the spectre of Yennefer hanging over them both.

     And Dandelion, the bard. Always getting Geralt into trouble, always unable to handle himself. A good friend, but what kind of friend draws you into so much trouble, usually in the service of finding a woman to bed. Sure, he's your friend, but isn't that just so disappoint-

     And Cirilla. Ciri. She's out there alone, somewhere. It's a recurring nightmare. Ciri, atop the ramparts of Kaer Morhen and too far from Geralt. Eredin Breacc Glas, gloating, in a voice as dark and terrible as the grave: "I'VE LONG AWAITED THIS, AND YOU, WHITE WOLF."

     His dark blade falls and-

     It's over in a moment. Geralt is already moving towards the keening shade, his silver blade gripped in both hands. His face is set and hard. A monster is a monster, and once they hurt people they have to be put down. Geralt stands next to the Shadow, and, with a firm grip on his blade, he raises the silver sword above his head-!

Staren has posed:
    Staren's /got/ this. Once they blow that damn apprentice up (Hmm, gonna need more firepower, that's alright, he's got plenty...) he'll just blow up the foxes with wide-area plasma detonations after his allies get out of the way! Easy peasy! There's absolutely no way he could feel


    That mind of Staren's is, basically, constantly plotting out the future. Planning, predicting how things will go -- taking the boat that is his life wildly careening down the Multiversal rapids and trying to guess where the rocks are so he can take control and steer away from them.

    He's had... mixed success.

    But now, other visions come, unbidden.

    This monster is not a problem, to /slay/. They'll do that. But then...

    "Missiles? What were you /thinking/? If you blew Tin Soldier up, I'd be /dead/!" shouts August, looking haggard. "That's how it works?! I didn't--" Staren starts but August holds up a hand and shakes his head. "You're right. We should have told you. I'm just... disappointed you didn't think to ask."

    "I thought you were supposed to be some kind of /miracle/ worker!" Amakasu puts her hands on her hips. "You've been out there in the Multiverse for years, figuring stuff out! Didn't you have any way to /save/ him? I... I'm sorry. I guess he was doomed anyway. I'm just... disappointed. It's not your... You didn't do anything wrong."

    "Dude what the hell" Kotone Yamakawa glares at him with shock and disgust "we just found out that guy was a student here and you tried to blow him up without a second thought! I'm disappointed in you."

    Twilight Sparkle says, "I can't believe my very special somepony is letting a /high school girl/ get to him. It's natural to get angry when HK-47 threatens to kill me and..." she shivers, "...or when someone tries to take over the world or threatens your friends or traps thousands of innocent people in a death game, but all she does is insult people! They're not even very /clever/ insults!" She stamps a forehoof for emphasis. "I..." Staren starts to say, then slumps. "I'm sorry." Twilight steps forward and hugs him. "It's alright. I'll always love you. I'm just... disappointed."


    Staren drops out of the sky, crashing and landing on his back. "I... wh..." He clumsily tries to fend off foxes, and probably still hits some with his beam cannons and the beam sword that he draws... but, he's kind of lashing out wildly, scrambling to get to his feat and distracted as his mind is distracted, compelled to defend and justify himself in an endless series of expected future arguments.

Kenji Kawasaki (715) has posed:
     "So the fuck what?" Kenji snaps, "You think it's only good if it's the original? So it's born from a fuck-up and it made a mistake, and that's it, too bad, so sad, fuck your shot but you're a freak?"

     "Who cares if it's Alfonso or Diongi or whatever? If it can choose then it gets a shot and you can /go the fuck through me/."

     And then Geralt goes ahead and tries, and there's no arguing, because Kenji just throws himself into the Witcher's blade by the swhoulder.

     It is probably going to hurt. A lot.

     And all of that assumes that Kenji's right. If he's wrong about the Shadow...well...

     He's probably going to hurt a lot more.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    The DISAPPOINTING Apprentice kneels, sobbing. Such a DISAPPOINTMENT and these people are so DISAPPOINTING.

    Why won't they kill it?








    And then, Kenji and Ainsley call to it, trying to get it to speak and answer and stop crying and August is laying down his arms. Trembling hands reach inside wizard robes and a card is extracted, offered towards the two fellows who gave this whole situation the title of 'fucked up.' Upon closer examination, it's a Drachenblatt student ID. The thing is covered in dried blood, but the name 'Alfonso' is still legible.

    But now, Geralt and Hoshi approach with naked blades and words filled with the intent to kill. Kenji, the brave fool, throws himself between it and Geralt. But that leaves Hoshi open.

    The Shadow charges, running past the frantic Staren, making defences against imaginary accusations, running towards the Japanese girl with great strides. But Ainley may note... there is no malice to it. No intent to harm in the action. The Shadow is just trying to be as big and as threatening as it can be.

    So Rosamond will cut it down.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley stares down at the creature as it moves. She does not panic, sensing no violence in its intent. She half-lids her eyes and simply mouths three words.

    'Rest peacefully, Alfonso.'

    Then she closes her eyes to wait out the final moments, because she knows what's about to happen.

Geralt of Rivia (828) has posed:
     Geralt's silver blade falls-!

     -right into Kenji's shoulder. Luckily, it's not enough to sever the arm because Geralt is quick enough to alter the path of the blade, letting the sword bury itself in the ground instead. The Witcher blinks his golden cats-eyes and lets out, "The hell?!"

     He sounds surprised more than angry. This monster is a threat, or at least appears to be. While Geralt understands that not ever monster needs to die, this one...

     He's not so sure about it either, now that the moment has passed.

Hoshi Amakasu (901) has posed:
    Why wasn't he listening?! Hoshi's hand is so tightly gripping her sword her knuckles are turning white. "Come /on/! Besides, what sort of life do you see something like this living, anyway!? It's screwing with your head!" What happens next only makes her wonder more if that's the case. Kawasaki teleports and takes the blade from Geralt, protecting the Shadow. Staren was lost in whatever dark dreams this thing had caused. "Are you insane?!" He must be! It's the only reason--

    her head turns immediately as Rosamond watches the creature start to move. The Persona flies back immediately to protect her User. As the creature comes forward, Rosamond charges forward with blade presented out before her...

    THe sound that fills the air when the giant broadsword plunges through flesh is disturbing, and incredibly deep. The very tip just manages to pass through the other side. Slowly, the Persona withdraws her sword.

    Behind her, Hoshi glances down at the ground sadly. "Rest well, Alphonso." She turns away, and Rosamond slowly begins to fade, her golden eyes staring at the Disappointed until she finally fades away.

Kenji Kawasaki (715) has posed:
     Geralt of Rivia's sword nearly lodges itself directly in Kenji's shoulder. There is a nasty sound as the sword penetrates flesh and spirit, carving into the teen's arm. Geralt's quick thinking spares him a severing. Kenji lets out a scream of pain and agony, and a furious roar of NO as the Shadow goes bailing into Rosamund.

     He was right.

     He was right.

     He was right.

     The thought burns in his heart as he roars. Geralt gets to see the area he carved into *ignite* as Kenji proves that, in fact, he is *really good* at fire, cauterizing his own wounds. The wound burns black and sears itself shut as Kenji goes racing after the Shadow, trying to muster up the power and will to teleport before-



     Snicker-snack, and down Diongi - down Alfonso - goes.

     In mid-motion, in mid-stride, Kenji collapses to his knees, his eyes wide.

     He screams.

     Fire explodes around him. He's a pillar of flame, roaring up into the sky, a burning, furious pillar screaming a death-pyre for Alfosno, or Diongi, or the sad, pitiful creature. Perhaps he is also screaming for himself. It's hard to say.

     The fire burns for a full thirty seconds before Kenji is forcibly unfused from Kojin, probably by the will of the god. The puff of flame splits out of his chest, Kenji's hair turns back to normal, his clothes turn black, and the ash emblem vanishes as the flame disperses.

     And then he's just sitting there, slumped forward, unable to do anything.


Staren has posed:
    Staren's not /entirely/ lost, as he's still reacting to the foxes attacking him, but he's too distracted to plan how to take this thing down...

    Suddenly, the shadows are gone, and, while his concerns aren't /gone/, he remembers that he's /in the middle of fighting a monster/ that maybe he should find a way to save and...


    Staren looks around. Then he plays back his suit's cameras. Oh. It's dead.

    and it /was/ a person...

    Ainsley tries to comfort them over the radio, but... so what if he wanted to die? So might someone in incredible pain, if they didn't know about a medical treatment that could help them...

    Although, trapped here, what kind of life could whatsisname live while waiting for someone to device a way to save them?

    Maybe... maybe it's not disappointing. Maybe it's just sad.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley floats down from her spot in the air, with the danger having passed. She opens her eyes, after providing her input on all of this tragedy, trying to soothe the scars these people will carry. She shrugs off the sorrow that clings to her back and walks forward, but detours briefly to approach Kenji, and crouch down to speak to him for a moment.

    "You are stronger than you know," she tells him, with that strange confidence she always has, but magnified.

    And then she approaches Hoshi to help with carrying Kotone out of this horrific hell. The lizard woman isn't terribly strong, but she tries her best.

August Kohler has posed:
Everything happens in an instant. August has no time to react, and even if he did, he's not sure what he'd do. But he's scared. Scared of what will happen to other people who play the game, scared of what could have happened to him and his friends, had they failed in the Gauntlet. It's not just death anymore. It's worse. And he can never let this happen again.

Muttering to himself, "I'm sorry.", August slowly walks over to Kenji after he burns himself up, and cautiously offers a hand. If Kenji can't walk on his own, he'll go to lift him up and hobble him against his shoulder until they get back to the cabin. And then, when no one can see it, he'll cry.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    The Dis-. No. The last remains of Alfonso halts, a great blade buried in it. That wizard cap slips, offering a look at a patchwork face.

    He's smiling.

    In a sudden burst of black motes, the Shadow dissipates, leaving behind only that ruby ring that clatters to the ground. There is nothing left but everyone's regrets. The echo of Ainsley's pitiful words. Geralt's sword, stained with unintended blood. The echoing screams of Kenji, the heat of his furious, tragic flames. Rosamond's sorrowful eyes fading away.August's platitudes. Staren's silenced rebuttals. Kotone's limp form.

    Wait. Where's Janine? Biancabella is gone too.

    It might have to wait until the god-possessed stops screaming, but there's a low moaning from behind a tree. Investigations would reveal a slumped Janine, sporting a bandaged arm that doesn't bend like arms probably should. The coins lying next to her paint the story. Her eyes are distant, delirious.

Geralt of Rivia (828) has posed:
     Geralt slips the silver sword back into the scabbard on his back. There's nothing to do now, at least, nothing he knows how to handle well. He could try- No, Geralt could use a drink more than anything. A drink and a hand of gwent, something to take his mind off all of this.

     If he had to choose between one evil and another, Geralt would rather not choose at all - or, would like to think he wouldn't. Ever since Blaviken, however, life had never been that simple.

     This, unfortunately, appears to be another one of those times. He trudges along the way out with the rest of the group. The coins will help.

Staren has posed:
    Staren can count, so when there's a missing person, he follows the moans. ALmost robotically, he applies bandages with topical anesthetics and healing nanomachines, examines the wound, bends the limb back into place, and splints it.

    He's halfway to the exit before he realizes this is a perfect chance to just leave her.

    ...But he's not gonna do that. She's just a high school bully. People don't deserve to die just for being jerks.

    Staren makes it back to the cabin. "So, does she go to a hospital here, or what? I know a place." He passes Janine off to someone and examines Kotone. "Aww geeze. She's still alive, but that sucks. Hope she's not conscious in there. I'll, uh... I'll get this fixed, alright? I got better tools back at my place..." He picks up the cyborg and heads back towards the gate. Now's not the time for jury-rigging.