4324/PWTWM-An Acknowledged Threat-2

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PWTWM-An Acknowledged Threat-2
Date of Scene: 15 July 2016
Location: Alberichstadt <P:WTWM>
Synopsis: Die Reisende has entered the Mirror Forest with no preparation and an abducted...person? With a sprawling dungeon in front of them, surely they'll find answers...or a trap.
Cast of Characters: August Kohler, Staren, 513, 999, Kotone Yamakawa, 385, Janine Liberi, Sanary Rondel, 908, 151
Tinyplot: Persona: Were the World Mine-1

August Kohler has posed:
EARLIER THIS AFTERNOON: Members of Die Reisenden investigated a missing student after it turned out that: someone was missing, the Pig's nose wasn't good enough, he needed evidence, and the Black Queen is actively opposing the Persona users. So, they trekked through the school to go over some possible names, and learned that the missing kid is Klaus Bruckheim, a member of the 'Scholar's List', a set of online school'd super rich super smart kids at Drachenblatt Academy. Klaus has been stealing test questions to answer and sell to other Scholar's List kids, and was abducted last week.

And then, as they investigated, his Shadow appeared, Emily tried to subdue it, the Shadow screamed for help, and they had to kidnap it and flee through the bathroom mirror. Now the group finds themselves face to face with a massive physics-defying castle, and the fact that the missing kid is still alive...if barely.


After trekking around to learn there are no aggressive Shadows in their immediate vicinity, August beelines away from the castle to find an access point. Finding an odd, large bush made of glass, he pushes his hand to it...and it rumbles, showing a viewpoint of the other world inside. Specifically, the second floor male restroom at Drachenblatt Academy. "Well, this should be decent enough...shack's too far. I'll call the others." Luckily, everyone on the second floor is busy near the CRIME SCENE, and the boy's bathroom is pretty much empty.

Once everyone who is coming in is in, August moves back to regroup with the others, before approaching the castle. "So, everyone not even remotely ready? We have maybe...two hours, tops. We need to get through, find the kid, and get him out of here ASAP. Failure is not an option, guys."

August Kohler has posed:
Shadow!Klaus is still with them, being carried by Emily. He's unconscious and mostly sweating, and most definitely 100% a Shadow. He looks pretty human for a Shadow, and doesn't even have yellow eyes, though they do almost look like they're made of glass.

Staren has posed:
    Staren-kitty bails on Die Reisenden and flees the campus. Look, if there's going to be any shadow fighting, he is just /not/ equipped for it.

    Staren's gone home, suited up, and returned to the shack, waiting for word from August about an access point. In the school, huh? He reconnects to the recon drones he was using earlier, gets a fix on the location, and teleports into the bathroom, climbing into the mirror. "Sorry about that. But I'm not much good in a fight without my armor." He simply nods at August's briefing. "Ready as I'll ever be."

Finna (513) has posed:
Finna's taking no chances with this Shadow. After taking some time to think about it, she darts over in fox form and leaps up with her vulpine claws sharp and ready. She leaves a thin cut on the Shadow's leg, just enough to draw blood. That, of course, is the point.

    Blood is a very unmistakable scent.

    She is NOT fond of the idea of the Shadow waking up, flailing free and running off at hyperspeed with no way to track him.

    "That school and its silly rules about weapons. Don't carry armor on me, but I've a few weapons if anyone needs them. Sword, knife, hunting bow, and hand axe. And I'll want then back."

    No she's not going to let people wander off with her favored belongings.

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    Well, the Shadow has gone out like a light. Emily doesn't seem to have any particular issues carrying him over her shoulders, but it does result in her giving more than one worried look Janine's way, surprisingly enough; with them in the forest entirely unprepared and her arms both being occupied, there's nothing she can do if they should fall under attack. So in the end, as they stop in front of the castle, she turns and lightly drops the creature to the ground, before... shrugging out of her coat? Yes, she's taking off her coat. And handing it over to Liberi. "Here, Janine, put this on. Keep it tight about you, it should help."

    If Janine takes it? It's a bit heavier than one would expect, even of a long-tailed coat like that. And when she puts it on, she might notice that it feels a bit stiff. It would seem to be lined with Kevlar. Meanwhile, Emily herself takes a step back, stomps her foot and twists in a peculiar sort of way, then kicks upward - and a smallish, sheathed knife drops out of her pants leg, onto her shoe, only to be kicked up into the air, where she can snatch it in a practiced movement. This, too, she holds out to Janine. "And here, ma'am, use this one. It's iron, rather than steel, but the blade is silvered. It might be enough for your Persona."

    With her bullet-resistant jacket and holdout knife handed over, she turns around and walks over to crouch above the unconscious Shadow again. "Can we afford to let this thing go? I'd just as soon not drag it through the castle, it's too out-cold to walk on its own, and unless we have to I'd rather not waste time killing it when we could be saving the boy.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa has been having an interesting day of it so far. From the shadow, the condtion of life for Klaus, and so many other things? There really was some sort of rot here in germna city. Though one thing at a time. Such as now she's in the forest with no time to supply, no firearms, no stealth gear, not even her scout drones. she's thankful she had the sense to pack her shock gloves but that's all she's got and she's busy putting them on the moment she's got her footing. She's also thankful she had the sense to not wear heels, oh so very thankful.

"So all I have is a pir of shock gloves, I hope this will do."

the idea of interal weapons was a nice one, hell she'd wished she'd had the sense to bring her matter maniplator along, maybe she should have it internally installed? That might be an idea after this.

"Earth tends to be far more orderly in many area than creation Finna. A large portion of the world's poptation has no idea how to handle a weapon. Still she'll not deny others spare weapons.

"I'll take the sword if no one else wants it I can make use of it with my strength at least, other wise I'll have to stick to the shock gloves."

Yuna Kagurazaka (385) has posed:
The nice thing about being as close to a magical girl as she is, in Yuna's opinion, is that most places she goes, she isn't going to be entirely helpless if something happens. Sure, it's possible for her to be cut off from Elner and thereby prevented from transforming, but there's a limited number of forces which can do that - and ever since the Fraulein D incident, Elner has erred on the side of paranoia about sticking close to Yuna when there's likely to be trouble. Even if it's only a *little* bit likely.

Investigating Drachenblatt Academy was one scenario where Elner didn't have to sneak along - Yuna wanted the robo-faerie there. Her three partners - Erina, Jiina, and Marina - were too far away from the group to come through with them, and Yuna kind of wanted them stationed around the campus.

By now, though, Yuna has transformed into her Light Suit, and she waves to Staren (and Gudako) as the latecomers arrive. "Hope we'll be able to do this without flight or heavy firepower ... or swimming," the blonde muses, looking back at the castle for a moment. "I can offer a sword if anyone's desperate for a melee weapon, but I doubt it'll do much good if you're too far away from me in the heat of battle." She pauses. "Assuming we're going to have to fight our way in ... I don't suppose they'd let us visit the Queen if we just knocked on the door and asked to speak with her?"

Elner bobs slightly in the air, in a manner suspiciously suggestive of eye-rolling. Its optics don't move around that visibly, though, so the robo-faerie just makes the best of it.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine has somehow managed to look even more pissed than usual.

    Stuck in the Forest with no preparation because her weirdo butler jumped the gun, stuck with mobile phone because her sabre is at home, a kid's death possibly mere minutes away... yeah, she's annoyed, and it shows on every inch of her face. Mostly, she stays quiet, trudging along with her hand in her pocket. The other is, obviously, too enslinged to complete the look.

    As for Emily, that butler has to bear the brunt of Janine's cold shoulder, with the occasional evil eye thrown in her direction. And Janine is from an old Italian family, so her evil eye is hereditary and refined by her ancestors.

    As they wait around for reinforcements to come out from the bush, she mutters a comment about Staren 'not being much good in general' as he arrives. "I'll take the knife I guess, if it's polished," she grumps at Finna, hand outstretched to take it before the Exalted can even respond.

    And then, when Emily steps in with an offer of her coat, Janine immediately pushes it away, another evil eye directed at the butler. "I have enough wraps. A fencer needs to be light on their feet," she says curtly. The knife offer though... she sighs, shakes her head to Finna, and accepts the blade for its better reflective quality. "This changes nothing. I only need this because you flipped out. It doesn't make up for that."

    And then she strides away to practice with it. It's much shorter than her usual blade, after all.

Sanary Rondel has posed:
A men's bathroom? That's... Actually not going to be too hard for Sanary to get inside, if she just plays her cards right. It's not like it's unheard of for the military to investigate crime scenes, and there's plenty of clues to be found in the strangest places. Alas, the need for stealth does mean she's a little less equipped than she'd rather be, but she's not about to bail on Gudako just because of a little personal danger!

     Besides, carrying a large black box probably won't look too much like a weapon, and she's wanted an excuse to visit Drachenblatt Academy for a while. What better way to do that than by helping out with a missing student case? That's why she's making a beeline for the stairs and the second floor bathroom, holding up her Confederate ID every now and then to ask around for directions to the men's bathroom and reiterating that she's on official business.

     Surely that's not going to raise any eyebrows. Either way, she arrives looking not too bothered by that little round of academy-based exploration!

     "Hey there. Uh. Friend of Gudako's. You needed an extra hand out here?" She taps her fingers to her head in an informal salute, taking note of the familiar faces there already. while focusing mostly on the people she doesn't recognize "Sanary Rondel, Confederate healer and shield... Haver. Nice to meetcha."

Gudako Ordria (908) has posed:
    Gudako arrives, probably with Sanary; she is not on-foot, rather, she's on the shoulders of Berserker, holding her cellphone with one hand and pointing forward with the other. "C'mon, it's ahead! I'm gonna level up if I catch up!" Priorities are very important.

    The pink-haired catfoxgirl might normally be concerned she's chasing imaginary creatures, but Gudako occasionally dangles a bag of cat treats in front of the Servant, and that seems to be working fine enough.

    The two pause, mostly for Gudako to give people the BASIC social grace of a greeting, before turning to August and saying: "Hey! There's no stop here, this isn't a real landmark at all. Your forest is behind on times, or my GPS is broken again." 8D

Finna (513) has posed:
The White Fox pauses in her trotting to nose through her fur as if hunting for something.... but then in steps Emily. No knife needed, huh?

    "Weak and unprepared, you mean. Mentally, physically. If the cars stopped rolling and faucets stopped spewing water, if armies invaded through warp gates, the streets would be soaked in no time with blood. Envy that luxury I do... but I also see why the Elders warn against TOO MUCH luxury."

    The fox bounds over to Kotone and makes like a cat, rubbing against her legs... then again dives her nose into her fut and closes her jaws around...


    .... Where. In heavens name. Was she hiding that sword? Foxes aren't kangaroos, they have no pouches to hide things in! But she now holds what appears very much like a viking sword in her jaws. It's incredibly plain but obviously crafted with the utmost care. Solid metal and tight fittings and wrappings, a simple pommel.

    "Careful with that strength of yours. Feathersteel's tough, but it's made for fighting PEOPLE... not monsters."

August Kohler has posed:
The Shadow bleeds easy. His blood is red like a human's, and it smells human, but it also smells like Shadow. It's a very confusing mixture of scents. Shadow Klaus also flops onto the ground rather easy, where he groans in pain. When his eyes finally open, he stares up at Emily...and cowers, terrified of the woman. "P-please don't hurt me! I didn't do anything wrong! Well, I've been cheating, yes I've been cheating, but I don't deserve to die! I just want to see Adelle again, please let me see her before you kill meeeee!" He's a terrified mess, and doesn't look remotely threatening, despite his superhuman reflexes. He's acting...human, almost, but at the same time wrong. Luckily, he's probably pretty servile at the moment, in fear of his life.

As they pass through, people just stare at Sanary oddly. They don't start anything, but as she passes by, there's whispers. Sanary can't make them out, so OBVIOUSLY they're talking about how cool that government official is. (Meanwhile, the Servants' supernatural senses hear people talking about this weird pervert woman heading straight for the male bathroom and talking about some nonsense 'Confederacy'). Getting through the bathroom is easy, August is holding the entrance open when they get in there.

Once everyone's together, August nods at Sanary, before frowning at Gudako. "You know there's no signal here. Play your games outside when we're done." He then turns to Yuna. "If this is even where the Queen is. There's like a billion castles in the fairy tales. This was probably generated by that kid's Shadow." A poke with the foot to the freaking-out-Shadow Klaus. And then August sets off for the castle, waiting for everyone else. If anyone forces SKlaus to come, he does, nervously. He has no plans to escape.


The Architect's Castle is huge. Atleast four floors, not counting basement levels, and...no sign of an entrance. A familiar flute melody plays, almost somber, as the Pied Piper stands on a tree in the distance.

"Once there was an architect who built great castles
No matter any hassles
But he was angered at the lack of respect
That people gave to his intellect
So he fled through the trees to another place
Where respect for him would be commonplace
Now his doppelganger lies inside
So pale that if you just looked at him, you'd think he had died
Can you brave his castle's horrible traps?
Or will you perish while the villain claps?!"

As he finishes the song, the Piper vanishes into the woods, his song echoing in the distance. At that time, a clockwork bird flies down from a perch on the castle, heading straight towards the group. He seems like a small, metal dove, and while he smells like Shadow, he doesn't seem hostile.

"Oh, oh, finally someone came! You're here to save the boy, aren't you? You're like I used to be, aren't you?"

"The heroes of the Forest! Persona users!"

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    "The Queen is not here," Ainsley confirms after a moment to assess their surroundings before they trudge onward after August. She glances at the others that have come along, and frowns about the fact that the party is starting to contain people that she cannot trust by default. "If she was, I would send her a rude message," she adds.

    The clockwork bird's arrival marks a look of surprise from Ainsley. His nature confuses her for a second-- and then she raises her brows when she realizes he is a Persona user. She cocks her head in a baffled way and activates her Arcane Sight to see if this thing looks like a Persona or a Shadow, or where on the spectrum it would be.

    "Some of us are not Persona users," she corrects, raising her hand to indicate that she falls within the 'not a Persona user' umbrella. "As useful as that would be."

Finna (513) has posed:
"Oh, nobody'll hurt you... if you BEHAVE. Get ME chasing you though, and I'll /make a mess of those legs/." Finna asides to 'Klaus' with a grin. "Want to get in our good graces? Guide us. You know who t--"

    Oh hello, a Piper! Finna's ears snap to full attention and she puts her focus on the melody... "... Well yeah... giant castle, obvious as it gets!" But her nose twitches a few times, recognition shows on her face. "... The musician lured him, maybe....?"

    But then down comes a bird! The fox cants her head and edges a few steps closer. "Mostly! And you are, little bird? What do you mean 'used to be?'"

Staren has posed:
    Oh fun, an exposition song! Staren listens curiously, then looks at the bird. "Like you used to be? What do you mean? Did you used to go to the school outside? How'd you become a bird?"

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    "No, ma'am, you're right. It doesn't. This is just my due diligence in keeping you safe." Emily quickly pulls the jacket back on, but as she does so, there's a side glance for a moment or two. "...I owe you an explanation later, at the very least, Janine, and I've earned every bit of ire you have right now." Her tone has gotten a bit softer. "But for the moment, please try to keep focused. I want to make sure you, the boy, and everyone else gets out of here alive, first and foremost."

    To the Shadow, she is more firm. "On your feet. We know you're a Shadow. Start walking, and start talking. Information on this castle, the boy you're copying, what you were doing out there. Anything to convince us you're not a danger. And if you lunge for anyone, you'll sorely regret it." And once everyone has started walking, the butler falls into a position where she can both watch over Janine, and quite /keenly/ watch over the faux Klaus.

    While she walks, Janine (and anyone else watching) will get a rather curious sight. The butler smoothly pulls off the white glove on her right hand and pockets it, only produce instead a similar one that's midnight black. This, she makes something of a show of pulling on - and the sharpest of eyes might catch a very faint hint of burn scarring on the inside of her wrist, just before it's covered.

    With her black glove on, Emily turns her eyes up to the Piper and the Bird, regarding the former with a frown, and the latter one that gets even deeper. "Is there a way in somewhere around here, little bird? A door, a window we can open without breaking it?"

Gudako Ordria (908) has posed:
    "There's no signal because the people who run this place can't appreciate good gaming!" Gudako replies, still smiling at August. It's a matter-of-fact statement, she's not even mad. The first thing she'll do when she meets the Queen is tell her about Wi-Fi.

    People decide to get right to the part where they threaten this guy who may or may not be a Shadow to get what they want. Gudako can appreciate the direct route, it saves everyone some time.

    She glances back towards Sanary, idly chatting while Berserker, with mad eyes, stares at the bird. She might be getting ready to pounce. Gudako doesn't seem to care, despite being piggybacking on the Servant.

    "This place is weird, you'll totally get used to it though. Just kill stuff and follow my lead! There might be dumb riddles and puzzles to solve too."

Yuna Kagurazaka (385) has posed:
Make that three people - well, four, and probably five. Yuna certainly doesn't have a reason to exclude Sanary from friendly greetings; Gudako may be the sticking point, but Yuna waves to her anyway. "I don't think your game's network extends into the Forest, Gudako," she points out with something resembling her usual smile.

Anyway, gaming is beside the point. August leads the group to the Architect's Castle - and then the Piper turns up, and Yuna listens as best she can to his song. She's trying to pick out some kind of meaning to it when the clockwork dove arrives and asks if they're the 'heroes of the forest'.

"Uh ... well, I'm certainly here to help the full-fledged Persona users as well as I can," Yuna admits. She's not a Persona-user herself, after all, and it's not like her to claim otherwise. She's going to let August and the others do the talking for now, on that basis.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine actually looks a little surprised at Emily owning up to her mistake. She looks aside and to the glassy soil, chewing on her lip before nodding. "Fine. Let's just live through this first."

    Most people would feel a hint of sympathy for the humanlike Shadow. He's so pathetic, weeping and pleading in Emily's arms. But Janine ran out of sympathy a while ago, and it's not come back yet. "Shut up," she spits at Shadow Klaus. "You and your Queen Adelle are pissing me off enough by existing." Even in spite of her anger, she's still pretty sharp. They don't know an Adelle, but for this guy to be grovelling for the chance to see her... who else can she be but the Queen? That's her reasoning anyway.

    She strides behind August into the castle, only to be blocked by the gates. "Fucking hell, they really are acting smart now. Holing up to try and wait out the clock," she mutters. When the Piper shows his face to sing a song, she spins on her heels and yells, "PISS OFF!" at his already retreating form. Looks like he got the last laugh this time.

    And now a bird. Janine wordlessly points that knife at it and says, "Well, if you're like we used to be, you can fly in and open the gates. If you're just a Shadow trying to trick us, just attack now and get it over with. We got shit to do."

Sanary Rondel has posed:
Sanary's not a pervert! Well... Not blatantly. But hey, she's got other things on her mind right now! Like how Finna just pulled a freaking SWORD out of herself. She eyes that sword curiously even as she finishes unfolding the riot shield into it's proper shape, then approaches Shadow Klaus with a raised eyebrow. "Hey, Hey. Easy. We're not gonna hurt you. Just relax, okay?"

     She's taken on an oddly gentle tone as she speaks to the Shadow. She's even holding her free hand out in case he needs it to get a bit of a walking start! Truly playing the good cop here to contrast Emily's and Janine's bad cops.

     She's totally done this before.

     The healer's still feeling pretty good about herself after hearing those unintelligible whispers, and that's persisting through the small talk with Gudako when the group reaches the Architect's Castle. Her gaze shifts from the Piper dramatically narrating their... What she can only assume is their reason for being here to focus on the bird instead, giving it a questioning look next.

     "'Used to be'? So you're not human any more? Well... Alright. Come with us, then. Maybe we can figure out something on the way with you, too." That's helpful, right? Or is she just trying to use the bird? Who knows.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa stares at Finna, but she does take the blade, she'll heed the warning to be certain, she's clealry trying to get a feel for the blade as she takes a few quick sqwings with it, she'll listen to Finna's addtional advice Finna. She's doing a few moe sing as she attempts to check some of the tips Finna has given her. Kotone also now understand she needs actual close combat training, she needs to learn how to use a blade more formally as well. That will have to wait but she can can do is thank Finna

"Thank you Finna, I'll keep what you said in mind."

Thent higns start to get strange for amoment. the shadow is terrifed but she knows he could be a threat, the shadow is a supernatural thing after all. She will however not hurt him but she will keep eye on shadow.

"Well then let's get moving."

She's moving with eveyrone else as they near the castle and she's shocked to see the piper but in an odd way she's glad it is them raher than snarling masses of shadows. She listens to the song for a moment as it could be key in figuring out the nature of what's going on.

The doll who no longer needs to truely breaths mimics her life of felsh for a moment to settle her nerves. She nods to Ainsley for a second at her statement.

"It's true I don't have a spec of magical abilitiy or evne the chance to have it."

August Kohler has posed:
As he's called for, Shadow Klaus rushes to Emily's side, but he seems very confused. He's terrified of Finna. He's terrified of Emily. He's terrified of Janine. Everyone else is pretty much fine. He movest o hide behind Sanary, as he responds to Emily, continuing to march. "I-I don't know what you're talking about. I've never been here! And I'm n-not copying, they copy off me. All the answers are mine, too, I didn't steal those, just the questions. Please, let me go home, I want to see Adelle, I was going to teach her about probabilities!" And then, he turns to Janine. But there's a mad gleam in his eyes. "Yes, oh yes she is my queen! So fair, so beautiful. I want to build things for her. When I go to Cambridge, I'll dedicate all my theories to her! Oh, Adelle, my Adelle..."

There is one thing they might be able to gleam from Shadow Klaus, if they're looking to see if he's honest: he has no idea where he is or what a Shadow is. He's obsessed with a woman named Adelle, and talks as if she's from the /other world/, not this one.

The bird flutters around, in a sort of greeting dance way. He nods his beak to Ainsley, as he looks over the group, replying to their obvious question. "Ah, yes. I was not always a bird. I was a human, like you, blessed with the power of Persona to kill these unsightly Shadows. But that man, that Engineer, down there in the basement...he captured me, and ripped out...something. I'm not whole. He stole part of me, whatever allows me to summon my Persona, and put my consciousness in this bird of his. I believe it's some sort of Shadow. He's a large man, like an ox, with a blowtorch and a hammer. As we speak, he's pounding on that boy, killing him, trying to make /something/ out of him."

And then the bird looks at Shadow Klaus, and frowns as best as a bird can. "That's...his Shadow, isn't it? How can it be out of here while the boy's alive? No matter. I'm Roosevelt. Sadly, while I could fly in, through the entrance to the cellar on the east of the castle," He points to it with a wing, "I didn't see a switch, and I have no hands to pull one anyways. But there is a way you guys can get in over there!"

Flying over to the east side, Roosevelt attempts to lead the others. At the top wall of the eastern side, at the very top, is a small hatch big enough for a person to fit through. It likely leads to the cellar. The bad news, is that the only way in is through what seems to be a dozen thin spires of differing size and shape. They'll need to be acrobatically scaled to get to the top.

"See you inside!" Roosevelt flies upwards, and into the hatch. Now, it's time for the others to figure out a way up the spire. Can they make it?

Staren has posed:
    Staren whistles at the bird's explanation. Mostly ignoring Shadow Klaus for now.


    Staren looks up at the hatch. And then he manifests his energy wings and flies to the hatch, or the top of the spire closest to it. He can use his grappling gun to reel people up one at a time, or he can lower down some rope! Of course he carries rope, doesn't every adventurer?

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    "You're not human," Emily says in simple, stern reply. "We watched you drink a glass of something so long-spoiled you should have immediately tossed it right back up, and then needed a visit to the hospital for good measure. And the boy whose face you're wearing has been missing for weeks. We're watching you closely, so /behave/ yourself and you /might/ just come out of this alive."

    That's all the time she has for his nonsense. More importantly, the bird insists the real Klaus is still down there, being worked on by The Engineer. She gives Roosevelt a wary frown, but it seems more trustworthy than the self-unaware Shadow tagging along. And it's led them to a way inside that shows every sign of being dangerous to use. Emily sizes it up briefly, looks at Janine, considers her options; finally, she steps over to her master and asks, "Can you hold on to my back? You won't need to worry about hurting me." Assuming she doesn't wrap her arm around Emily's neck, anyway.

Yuna Kagurazaka (385) has posed:
Yuna takes a long look at the 'hatch' and the spires. "Elner, could you -"

"Not safely," Elner replies before Yuna can finish asking the question, and the blonde deflates, abandoning the query.

"All right," Yuna starts again. "I'm probably one of the smallest people here ... somebody give me a boost up, I'll see if I can pick my way through. Hopefully my shoulders don't get in the -"

"*That* I can do something about," Elner interrupts *again*. Yuna's big poofy sleeves shimmer briefly, and then shrink and reshape, assuming a more pauldron-like form. The whole battlesuit seems to get a bit sleeker, although it's only really noticeable in the shoulders.

"Huh," Yuna muses, looking herself over. "Back to the original model ... okay. Sanary, can you give me a lift into there, maybe?"

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Shadow Klaus' rants creeps Janine the hell out, and not just because she's been on the receiving end of that kind of thing (she totally has, honest). There's something... off about it. This isn't some teenage boy's crush, this is true mania. To be expected of a Shadow, but is this really a reflection of the real Klaus's feelings? Or something else?

    If they save him, she'll have to ask.

    Around to the eastern side they go, Janine still not totally trusting this bird. "If Shadows only originate when someone is dragged inside, how can this bird be a former Persona user? Can't be another student either, because if Klaus is still alive after this long, the time doesn't add up..." she says once the bird has flown into the hatch.

    She looks to the spires that will have to be their path, and lets out an angry sigh. "... dammit, I can't believe I'm asking this... Emily. You'll have to carry me. I can't climb with one arm." Should the butler agree, Janine will cling to Emily's back tightly with one arm!

Sanary Rondel has posed:
That got weird fast. Weirder, anyway. Just what's this kid made of to be able to drink that sort of thing? Sanary's still going to try and be at least somewhat reassuring to Shadow Klaus, at least, although she's definitely keeping her eye on him. After a few moments, however... "Hey, kid. Up you go!" She gives him a light tap on the shoulder before ducking down to try and just hoist him right over her unoccupied shoulder like a sack of potatoes!

     Better than trying to split her attention between him and the way forward, at least.

     The bird's story draws a pained grimace from her, though, and she picks up her pace to keep up with Roosevelt and the others. As she does, she channels magical energy into her limbs to make it less of a hassle to keep up with the others with the Shadow in tow. Once the talk of flying is brought up, she starts channeling magic around her shield as a gray matter starts to form around it. "Eh? Uh... Sure, Yuna."

     Helping Yuna? That's not something she was expecting to do so directly. Sanary blinks in surprise slowly as she takes note of her de-bulking, then raises the shield to give the idol space to hang off her from just about anywhere. "Hold on if you don't want to fall."

     Once the shield is sufficiently coated and Yuna's grabbed on, she makes sure her grip on the riot shield and Shadow Klaus is firm, then starts dangling from the shield as it rises towards the spire slowly! "I've never done this before, so...!"

     That would probably have been better to mention earlier.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley listens carefully to the bird's explanation. Her face is revealed since she took that mask she was wearing back in the dorm off so that she could breathe and see properly. She spares an earnestly suspicious glance to the mechanical bird after it flits off to demonstrate the way into the building. She spares a glance back at Emily, and to Klaus, and tells him, in a soft and placating voice (reinforced with a bit of empathic magic), "You are a Shadow. I'm sorry that you have to endure all of this scary talk and these weird people, but we need to get to the other 'you' before he dies. The one you came from. Do you want to save yourself?"

    "Do you want to show Adelle that you can be a hero? If you can bring yourself back to your true self, maybe you will gain the courage to do that."

    She shines a genuine smile over at Shadow Klaus.

    And then she floats up to the hatch, since she has the ability to fly and no one asked for her assistance up.

Gudako Ordria (908) has posed:
    It's possible Gudako is wrong about Shadows. She's confident, and behind the 8D it might be easy to believe she has some deep knowledge on things. She really doesn't, at least, outside her own universe, and it's really just that she observes and leaps to conclusion quickly, as part of her habit to do everything quickly to begin with.

    She doesn't care if people bully or nurse the Shadow; truth told she doesn't care about the Shadow at all, beyond the fact he's their tour guide and might be a good test subject for Caster, for a number of reasons. The bird should probably worry about Berserker, whose cat instincts are yelling at her to assault it, but Gudako eventually headpats her catfox and points forward again. "C'mon, we can chase birds when we're home! Up, up we go!"

    With a "wheeeee!" from Gudako, Berserker leaps, straight for the hatch. Predictably, the Servant can make it in one bound, even with a passenger, but being acrobatic wouldn't be a problem either if she couldn't. Her landing will be kind of loud as a result, though.

Finna (513) has posed:
"..." The fox stops in her tracks, as her nose picks up a scent of true terror. Not faked terror. True terror. The boy's all but wetting himself. "......" So the creature stops and gives him a long stare through his goings-on... but shifts her attention to the Bird and listens. Unfortunately the bird flies off! So she'll have to catch up and talk with this Roosevelt more and say what she wanted to say.

    That maybe they can force this Engineer to undo whatever he did... maybe.

    And so they come to the Climb. Finna's undaunted by this. But... others need to get up there, too.

    "Hmmm. Maybe you're not lying. But threat stays, Klaus. Lives are on the line, no time for bullshit! ... Grow a spine, or... have some new underwear ready." The White Fox exclaims mysteriously.

    Because, well... the White Fox shifts, her shape enlarging and rising up to her hind legs. It's a familiar shape to some, but the way the muscles ripple into greater definition and she goes from being a foot tall to a SEVEN FOOT TALL HULKING MONSTROSITY OF (WERE?)SHE-FOX would have anyone of weak constitutions soiling their pants. There's no other way to describe the Warform of a Lunar than Everything About This Beast Screams That All Faces Must Be Ripped Apart.

    But Finna just reaches up to the stone and CRUNCHES HER CLAWS in.

    "Anyone need a lift? Climb on. And HOLD on. It's gona be bumpy."

    And she's not kidding about bumpy. For she kind of LOPES up the masonry, claws catching on every imperfection and crack and digging in. It's a herky jerky ascension. Any potential riders need to more than just hold on. They'd better be able to hold their lunch down!

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    "Up you go, then," Emily says, careful to adjust her passenger's weight. Carrying someone, even as light as Janine is, makes things more difficult, but the butler is in very good shape. She'll be able to get Janine up and through unless it requires outright acrobatics.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
the Group moves onwards the castl she seems a bit uneasy she looks at the shadow for a moment tilting he rhead for a moment. The shadow seems really focus on building, and on Adelle as well. This leads her wondering abotu several things and just what's going on but it's clear that Klaus? Desires to build and seems to have not been treated well, at the school. Roosevelt does get her attention and she listens for a brief moment. Still with the shadow's behaviour? It's bringin up memories of what happend to Miho, but for no she's got to climb. She'll move to secure her borrowd weapon and she'll be doing her best to climb, she's not going to trust anything she touches though it's very likely to be a hard trip for he unlike others who are floating, or flying.

She's going to be far more showing as she leaps, climbs an flips her way up. To some it mgiht be normal fair to see something like that? To others here it's more the domain of fictionwith Kotone's acrobatics and hte Doll contiunes with the rest of the group into the depths of the castle.

August Kohler has posed:
Klaus pauses as Emily explains what he did. "But...it was my drink...I was thirsty...was it really that bad? It tasted good...was it really that old?" He seems mainly confused. "Am I...some sort of monster? How can I not be human? I'm Klaus Bruckheim, 15, high school student in the Scholar's List at Drachenblatt. Parents are John and Henrietta. I have a brother, Jakob, 23. I-I'm me, right? I'm not missing...I'm not wearing someone's face." He's almost in the state of a breakdown, until Ainsley approaches him. And then he stops panicking for a moment as he listens to her.

"I...don't know what's going on. But I'll try. I'm smart enough to do that, atleast. I don't know what's in here, or where we were, or who you are, but if there's another me in here and I need to help him...I will." It seems that Shadow Klaus got RESOLVE. One point to Team Die Reisenden. He lets Sanary take him, only protesting a fair amount as she suddenly grabs him and leaps away with him.

Those who climb or fly make it up easily. August grabs onto Finna as she turns into a monster, blinking at her horrible appearance. Klaus turns to see it briefly, and then Sanary feels something wet against her side. He peed himself. Meanwhile, August screams as Finna ascends like a madperson, holding on as tight as he can. Maybe he /should/ have climbed with his Persona.

Through the hatch is a large cellar. Right in front of them on the floor is a panel that seems to lead to the lower floors, with the bird sitting on it. Across from them is a wall at the middle end of the room, passable by two small gaps on either side the size of a small corridor.

Chained to the wall are two Shadows in armor. Next to each is a lever. The lever on the left is numbered '1', while the lever on the right is numbered '2'. In between them lies a sign.

"'There are two guards. One is truthful, one lies. You may ask them any yes or no question. They cannot see you, only hear you. You can only ask them a specific question once each. Find the correct lever to proceed. The wrong lever is doom.'"

August is battling vertigo from the climb. Otherwise, the Shadows wait. They aren't aggressive, and don't move. They both wear blindfolds, and are both rather massive, completely covered in armor and helmets. Inside their helmets is a glowing yellow light.

Roosevelt flies around to see that the others all made it, before perching on one of the bird's heads. "Hey! So, there's this test here. I didn't try it because one, I couldn't confront the Engineer by myself. And two, if I got it wrong or used up the wrong questions, I couldn't survive whatever this doom is. You guys have any ideas?"

Gudako Ordria (908) has posed:
    "I know the answer!" Gudako says, helpfully.

    "The answer is we make them pull the levers themselves under threat of a lot of pain!" 8D

    Does Gudako know the real answer? Entirely possible. Does she find it entertaining to reveal it right away? Absolutely not. There is no prize to win here-- no motivation to be efficient and ruthlessly game this place's puzzles. No, she wants some fun. 'Experimenting' with how much leeway the puzzles will give them is one way to do that.

    "Berserker! Crack your knuckles menacingly at the guards!"

    Berserker does so. Sadly, she immediatly nyas~ afterwards.

August Kohler has posed:
The guards ignore the cracking of the knuckles entirely. They don't even move to it or acknowledge it. Looks like threats won't work.

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    It's a lot of work and walking until they're down in the cellar, but at least this one here is an age-old logic problem that she remembers well... with a slight twist on the wording. "Now now," she says to Gudako. "There's no need for that much." She takes a step up to the left-hand lever, points at it, and asks the left-hand guard, "This lever here, the one closest to you. Would the other guard tell me this is the correct lever to proceed?"

August Kohler has posed:
Guard 1 takes a moment, before speaking up. His voice is loud and monotonous. "Yes." And then he goes silent again, waiting for the next question. The other guard does not react.

August Kohler has posed:
Roosevelt thinks for a minute, before remembering something. "Oh yeah! We're trying to get to the throne room on the first floor. That's where I last saw the Engineer!"

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    "Then the right-hand lever is the correct lever to proceed," Emily declares simply. "But I'd be on your guard for some kind of catch."

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa comes in for a three point landing as she reaches the summar she now looks to see that Klaus may very well think he is the orginal and her look does soften a bit.

"We're trying to figure out what's going on Klaus...that's why we're here. Whatever happens you still are yourself."

You may just have to deal with there being more than one you, she thinks but she is trying to have some compassion, and if it's a lie on the shadows part? Well she might get some information or get a better understanding or things. However they have come to a trap or a puzzel and the cyborg grimaces as she looks it over. She looks at the shadows for a moment and listens as they got a heck of a trap an she starts to think on quesiton and speak on the personal comm on the subject of what to ask.

Finna (513) has posed:
And once the group hoists themselves into the castle... Finna lets August down. The redhead will find himself swiftly CHEEK-LICKED though. It's pretty obvious the white fox favors him!

    Maybe that was an apology for the rough ride.

    "Can you NOT scream in my ears?" She whines a moment later.

    But she's still a giant foxperson as the group wanders their way through the castle.

    "Ooooh great. Climb up to go down.

    She reads the sign VERY carefully and has to battle an urge to act impulsively here. The hulking creature impatiently licks her chops...

    "NOBODY ask anything without thinking about it a lot--" And there goes Emily.

    "....Cleeeeeever." Finna chimes her approval of Emily's wits! "... But ask the other too. You only used half a question. Sign says you can ask one each."

Janine Liberi has posed:
    It's really embarrassing to get a piggy-back ride at her age, Janine decides. Especially from someone who is not family, even if she is her butler. At the very least, she's a pretty steady climber, but clinging on with one arm does strain it a little. Once they're safe inside, she shakes it a little to get the feeling back.

    "Oh, I already hate this," she decides as she reads the sign. "We're supposed to believe a sign in a castle that, according to the Piper, was built by a real prick. Great." Emily seems to have things under control though, so Janine turns her attention to the bird. She still doesn't entirely trust it...

    "Hey, so," she begins, sidling up to it. "If you're a Persona user, did you meet Igor? You wouldn't expect a crummy shack to have a name like 'the Velvet Room' huh?" Janine is obviously bluffing. The Velvet Room is a carriage. But does Roosevelt know that?

Yuna Kagurazaka (385) has posed:
At least Sanary only gets *one* shoulder wet from somebody having a personalized containment failure. Yuna's been through worse - and she can at least *try* to do some of the climbing under her own power; that *was* the original plan.

One way or another, they reach the room with the levers, and Yuna takes a moment to think through the details of the puzzle. The guards can't see, so this is a purely audial puzzle - which is probably just as well in some ways. The blonde continues thinking; it should be easy enough to figure this out. Emily seems to be onto something ... maybe ...

Yuna lets out a quiet breath, rubbing the sides of her forehead. This is just a little too convoluted for her. "I wonder what kind of doom gets unleashed if we do get it wrong."

Finna (513) has posed:
"Birdyvelt!" The fox quips, turning her head the bird's way. "... How long has it been since it happened? How long were you in here? Does time mean anything when we're not here? ... Not sure if you could answer that one right if it doesn't..."

August Kohler has posed:
Rooseveltfrowns at Janine, shaking his birdy head. "No, I haven't heard of him or this 'Velvet Room', I'm sorry. I got caught by the Woodsman, won my challenge, and then went to investigate these Shadows. That's when the Engineer caught me."

"My fault for not looking for others for help in the first place, huh? Though you guys seem pretty nice. Hopefully we can find where my body is." Roosevelt then turns to Finna. "I'm not...sure? A while. Days, atleast. Maybe weeks? It's all too confusing without my body. Things feel...weird."

Sanary Rondel has posed:
... Dammit, Shadow Klaus. Sanary lets out a loooong sigh when she feels it, but it's not like she's not used to having disgusting things on her. She works in Confederate Medical, after all! She'll just need a long shower later. And if nothing else? She can at least be reassured that she's not Finna with the screaming (and possible ejector of similar bodily fluids) August on her!

     Plus, having Yuna that close wasn't too bad. Not that she'll admit it or anything, of course!

     Once they're finally up into the lever room, Sanary wastes little time in setting (or dropping) Shadow Klaus off her before shaking his side of her coat off. Eurgh. She does give him a little pat on the had, though, although it's clear she's not all that found of the conpiscuous damp spot on her shoulder. And when the puzzle gets explained...

     "... Uh? Er. O... Okay." Sanary looks thoroughly confused as everything goes right over her head, and she steps over towards the guard on the right. She takes a moment to recall what the other were mentioning, then... It's time for a shot in the dark!

     "Hey. You. Would the other guard say that either of you know the right answer to this thing?" She's trying to be clever! Maybe. Sanary even looks towards Finna to see if she asked that right.

Staren has posed:
    Staren tries to remember what the trick is. He recalls a snarky and violent answer to the riddle, and Gudako seems to have something similar in mind, but no, he needs to remember the proper answer... Emily's got it, though. So for the moment, he waits to see where this goes. And how Roosevelt answers the questions his allies pose.

August Kohler has posed:
Guard 2 speaks up in the same loud monotonous voice, directed at Sanary. "Yes." And then he quiets again. The other guard does not respond.

August Kohler has posed:
Roosevelt then looks at them, and thinks for a minute. He then flies over on top of the first lever. "I think this is it. Call it a gut feeling. Yeah?"

Yuna Kagurazaka (385) has posed:
Yuna perks up a little at Sanary's question, then walks over to the guard on the left. "Am I asking you a question?"

... okay, it's dumb and simple and straightforward. It's also guaranteed to confirm which is the truth-teller and which one isn't.

August Kohler has posed:
Guard 1 responds to Yuna, same voice. "Yes." And then it silences again. Guard 2 does not respond.

Finna (513) has posed:
The Great Fox bounds off through the room, sniffing around the walls. For air currents maybe. Secret passages or hollows. Also heading for that wall if she finds nothing...

    She's started to question EVERYTHING about the puzzle.

Sanary Rondel has posed:
Sanary... Actually deflates a bit when Yuna asks that question. So simple, yet so effective! And... W-well, it's not like she couldn't have thought of it if she tried! She just wasn't trying is all.

     Whatevever helps her sleep at night.

     Looking for extra levers will be useful, though, and Sanary's off to check the room in the opposite direction of Finna to try and cover more ground in less time!

August Kohler has posed:
Once Finna actually goes behind the wall, she'll see a hole in the wall. The hole smells like Shadow.

Once Finna actually enters, she'll see three things: a Shadow identical to the other two. A lever marked 3 next to it. And a sign above it.

"'There is also a third guard. He is unreliable. He can be any of the three guards. There is also a third lever. Find the correct lever to proceed. the wrong lever is doom.'"

Finna (513) has posed:
After SWEARING up a storm and relaying her findings to the others, Finna crawls back out of the hole in the wall and continues to scour the room for any other more surprises, using her nose and ears and even her whiskers to feel any possible air currents from more passagesways...

    ... If she can't find anything on the floor, she'll WALK UP A WALL AND START SEARCHING THE CEILING.... by walking on it. Upside-down. Somehow.

August Kohler has posed:
Finna finds nothing that even hints towards a fourth Shadow. There are no holes. No secret walls. No scents of another Shadow. No exits or entrances besides those already shown.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine sighs. So much for cleverness. Had he agreed, she would have busted him here and now. But that kind of answer is nothing to do anything drastic over. So the bird lives. For now.

    "Satisfied?" she asks everyone. "We pull-" And then the rug is just pulled out from under everything. A third guard. A third lever. And one of the three is unreliable, which probably means they lie only sometimes. "Fucking hell." Janine spits. Conversation happens over radio, and she comes to a decision. "Okay. Let's start asking obvious questions, and if one of them waffles, we have the unreliable one."

    To that end, she asks the two that Yuna didn't ask, "Am I asking a question?" And then she starts wandering around all three, throwing out more obvious questions.

    "Are you a Shadow?"

    "Are you chained to the wall?"

    "Am I talking to you?"

    Eventually, one of them is going to slip, and they'll know.

August Kohler has posed:
'Am I asking you a question?' 1 says yes. 2 says no. 3 says no.
'Are you a Shadow?' 1 says yes. 2 says yes. 3 says no.
'Are you chained to the wall?' 1 says yes. 2 says no. 3 says no.
'Am I talking to you?' 1 says yes. 2 says no. 3 says no.

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    Well, that's all solved, then. Guard number two is the only one with changing answers. Emily is practically beaming with pride at this point. With that sorted out, however, she sidles up to Guard #1 and asks, "Is lever #1 the correct lever to proceed?"

August Kohler has posed:
Guard 1 does not reply. He does not seem to have the answer to this question.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    "It's number 2 that's unreliable. Also, 1 tells the truth, so lets ask him for the right lever." Janine announces. And because Emily forgot about their blindfolds, Janine decides to ask in terms of what they do know. To Shadow no. 1, she asks;

    "Will pulling the lever you guard lead to doom?"

    "Will pulling the lever of the guard next to you lead to doom?"

    "Will pulling the lever of the guard behind you lead to doom?"

    She's being careful here. They're Shadows, they might WANT them dead. Their definition of 'correct lever' might differ.

August Kohler has posed:
The guard answers each question in turn, slowly, and loudly. "Yes." "Yes." "No." And then he silences again. No other guard responds.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    With that answered, Janine strides behind the wall and pulls lever 3! "One-armed girl pulls the one-armed bandit," she says, like a joke through gritted teeth.

August Kohler has posed:
The lever falls, and after a long silence, the panel on the floor opens, revealing a ladder. It's safe.

At the bottom of the ladder is a long corridor leading to a staircase. The group is now on the third floor. In the middle of the corridor, on the wall, is a sign. Next to the sign seems to be a panelling in the wall. Nothing else is suspicious.


As they arrive down the corridor, Roosevelt looks at the sign and flutter arounds the lever. "We should take a look! Maybe there's weapons or armor we can use in there...or maybe my body? Or even just loot in general, which doesn't belong in this castle! What do you guys think?"

Sanary Rondel has posed:
Sanary breathes a heavy sigh of relief when the way forward is revealed, and it's time to get Treasure vault? That's.... That seems way too obvious to be a trap. Even I'm not that dumb!"

     She sounds too proud of herself at that. "But... Wait. What if it's not a trap, but the key to the next area? And if they know we're expecting traps or puzzles, then..."

     She's gone and confused herself again. DAmmit.

Staren has posed:
    Someone solves the new, enhanced riddle, and on they go.

    "I think it's a trap." Staren responds. "If not, and the area beyond is impassible, we can always come back here if there's a needed treasure. If your body is inside, we can come back and get it after defeating the Architect."

August Kohler has posed:
ADDENUM: It is not a lever. It is a pull switch.

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    "I concur with him," Emily says, nodding to Staren. "We're not here for treasure, we're here for a young man's life. Moreover, for all we know, that lever might quite literally release the treasure vault itself, not its contents." She pauses for a second, then glances over her shoulder. "...I wonder if the truth-teller would know anything about this puzzle."

Yuna Kagurazaka (385) has posed:
Yuna hurries on down the ladder, with Elner flitting along next to her. The blonde girl takes just one look at the 'treasure vault release' sign and starts shaking her head. "Best-case scenario is probably that we get dumped into the vault with no feasible escape ..."

She does start giving the sign a closer look, though. Examining the lettering and the surface, as if she thinks there might be a hidden switch or something; she doesn't *touch* the sign, though.

"Elner," she asks while scrutinizing the sign, "I don't suppose you can scan for mechanisms or secret panels or something along the walls here?"

August Kohler has posed:
Elner's scanning works. The only noticable mechanism is that the pull switch opens the indent in the wall. It's only the size of a door, so it's likely not too dangerous if anything spills out of there, since they could just duck for cover. The sign itself is just a sign, nothing more.

Finna (513) has posed:
"Questioning now. WHAT is considered treasure? Might be horde of monsters in there. Champion monsters. ... Would be silly...." Is Finna's question of the sign. She sniffs at the air several times...

    "No Shadow smell... but birdy right..."

    As she's still a giant fox, she crouches down by the sealed passage, sniffs at the closed door... for anything odd at all. Even the smell of Human.

August Kohler has posed:
Finna smells nothing around but the faint scent of gold. The wall seems pretty thick, though, so who knows how far back the gold is, or if that's all there is?

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa for all her agumenation this problemhas Kotone thinking a lot and she's feeling far more comfotable with her friends and allies handling the qwuestions. She'll hopefully be of more use later but for now she sits back watches and thinks. She watches the lever get pulled and she sees the ladder it seem to be safge and she'll head forward to see where it leads.

"That was some pretty serious thinking."

She lats at Yuna's words and dials up her senses abit as she attempts to find if there might be anythign fishy or dangerous about the tunnel and the way ahead.

Sanary Rondel has posed:
Sanary moves forward with her shield ready, eyeing that suspicious sign and lever combo warily. "If anything dangerous pops out? Just... Shoot around me or something." The healer waits until her allies have backed off a safe-ish distance away, steels herself, braces her shield sort of below and in front of her, and pulls the lever!

August Kohler has posed:
As the group all huddles at the far side of the corridor facing the vault, they might hear something squeaking, but it's hard to really make out. Sanary pulls the lever.

The next thing they might realize is that the floor is kind of weak...but the lever doesn't affect that.

Instead, in a rapid motion, the wall opens. Behind it is only a sign. '"Greed will not get you through this castle."'

A second later, a panel /right above/ the group, in the ceiling, opens. 4x4. Finna will smell gold, as a huge wave of gold coins begins to spill through the 4x4 hole, right into the group.

And shows zero signs of stopping anytime soon. Eventually, it might even be enough to break the floor, or block them off entirely!

Gudako Ordria (908) has posed:
    One puzzle solved, much entertainment gained.

    Gudako hops off Berserker, finally, following after the group with her red-robed pink-haired Servant, whistling idly to herself. The sign on the wall in the hallway down catches her attention, and Sanary basically does what she'd have done, which is 'pull the lever and deal with what happens after'.

    A rain of gold coins!

    ... how boring.

    Still smiling, Gudako simply continues on ahead, because the fact of the matter is that if she wanted gold or money she'd rob a federal reserve or a bank or something. No, money has never been one of her concerns in life, due to her blatant disregard for human lives.

    Once everyone is through and past the waterfall of gold coins, Gudako points at the ceiling and nudges Berserker. "Hey, you wanna smash something? Cave the tunnel in behind us, I don't feel like running." 8D

    With a NYAAAA~! Berserker, once everyone has gone through, leaps for the ceiling and swipes with her large claws, with enough force to cleanly slice rock and steel. She's pretty much trying to collapse a chunk of the castle and block the hallway. The gold coins are going to do that anyway, but if it's bricks and stone at least it'll stop the flow.

Staren has posed:
    Well, so much for that!

    Staren runs for downstairs! Obviously! TEN WORDS IS SUPPOSED TO BE ENOUGH, SCENESYS!

Sanary Rondel has posed:
Curse her terrible luck. Sanary's also cursing in general as she runs for the hole in the ceiling, jamming her shield against it and tilting it away from where everyone's running. She'll try to divert the flow of gold for at least a little while, then hurries after the others!

     She does snag some coins for herself just in case, though. If nothing else? Maybe Gudako can use it on one of those games of hers or show her how to get those on her computer.

     That poor, poor computer.

     Berserker, of course, actually gets cheered on by the healer. "Good thinking... Better than getting flooded in by coins before we even find the kid! Or Shadow Piper... Whoever." She pauses, then glances around once more.

     "... Where are we now?"

August Kohler has posed:
Berserker's claws are wicked sharp. The tunnel caves in downwards, causing the weak floor to collapse. The coins all fall straight down the hole...and keep falling. There's no sound of a 'crash' for quite a while, atleast basement level.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    "A ladder. Great." Janine doesn't need to piggy-back down a ladder, but she does go last because it takes her longer to do it than anyone else. Eventually, she too stands in the corridor, and regards the sign. "I think," she begins. "This is the most obvious trap I've ever seen. But at the same time, nothing in this place makes sense."

    Conversation occurs. The general consensus seems to be, 'we can't risk needing to backtrack, that'll waste time. If this is a trap, we can just run down the stairs.'

    And so the lever is pulled. And it was actually a trap.

    As gold begins to rain down, Janine winces. Gold is a very dense metal, and the coins really hurt. That knife is raised, as is her voice. "PERSONA!" Out comes Biancabella, winds swirling violently before unleashing a heavy blast down the corridor. Janine sprints forward, firing off more to try and keep a path clear for everyone to reach the end safely!

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    Greed turns out to have been the wrong answer, and Emily will probably be smug about this later. For now, though, she is very concerned with getting people to safety; or at the very least, with getting Janine to safety. If Shadow Klaus trips and falls, she won't lose sleep. "Go! Go!" She's quick to rush people along, and if her mistress loses footing or balance along the way, just as quick to haul her to her feet.

Yuna Kagurazaka (385) has posed:
Yuna doesn't even HAVE pockets; her 'inventory' when Light Suited is a matter of a subdimensional pocket, or something. Just the panel *opening* is enough to make her dodge out of the way, and then the gold coins start pouring through.

The fact that the floor felt like it almost bounced underfoot is also less than reassuring. Yuna picks her way towards the stairs and hurries down behind Staren and the others.

August Kohler has posed:
The group enters a massive room. It's finely decorated, and the first thing those with Shadow sense will detect is /thirteen Shadows/. Though, there's no reason to put up a fight. Once they get down, they'll notice a large star shape on the floor, and twelve shadows in the middle of the room circling it, all facing each other. Each has a hand extended, closed as if it's holding something.

The thirteenth lies in the corner, seeming to be sobbing. It's missing an eye.

Having been useless until now, only barely dashing through the hall to safety. Shadow Klaus notices a sign hanging on the ceiling, points it out, and begins to read it outloud for the group.

"Twelve knights picked on a thirteenth. They stole his eye, and passed it around in a circle around the star, starting with the first. Find the knight with the eye and take it from his hands to open the passage. Understand their viewpoint of this, or you will never succeed. Their pattern follows."

"Right, right, forward, left, forward, right, forward, right, right, forward, left, left, forward, right, left, left."

August Kohler has posed:
Each knight is also marked, with a number from 1 to 12. The thirteenth is not marked.

August Kohler has posed:
Roosevelt flies around, reading the sign as he thinks. He begins going from knight to knight in what seems to be the order. "It's 4, isn't it?"

Finna (513) has posed:
Finna doesn't need to think twice. The moment a coin plinks on her head she's OFF like lightning, ZOOM! And snarling at the sign. "Tricks! There was NO HINTS THERE!" BAD CASTLE! Bad!

    She gets pelted but eventually gets through the rain of gold due to extreme agility, her biggest advantage... Which is good, because what Berserker does leaves her snarling even MORE angrily.

    Oh. Damn. Well.

    "... grrrargh... just wanted to help the bird... .,.. who makes coins of GOLD?! GOLD coins? Not silver?!"R
    To be from Creation, where almost nobody uses Gold as a CURRENCY.

    Into the massive room instead...

    ... This time, it's Shadow Klaus who gets licked on the cheek right after he's done reading.

    But Finna seats herself with arms folded near the circle of knights, a grumpy look on her face...

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    Emily frowns, seemingly thinking it over in her head, starting from behind one Shadow, and moving from one to the next...

    "Eight," Emily confirms. "The young lady with the shield has it correct."

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    One way or another, Ainsley ended up with a couple of bruises that she thanks her lucky stars are very hard to see thanks to having a bunch of scales all over her body. She also feels lucky that the welts are not as they could be because she is more durable than the typical squishy human. But when she got rained on by a bunch of gold coins, she was not happy with her day. She's even a little bloodied on her nose from one of them whacking her in the snout.

    "Definitely Eight," Ainsley confirms, after incorrectly guessing Six a moment before thanks to her pained disorientation. She's rubbing a spot on her head and her eyes are watering a little.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa keeps moving now that she's aware that things seem to be safe, she pauses for a moment at the sign Greed? Humm greed she looks at the thing ahead she sees the materials for a moment as the gold starts to pour in. She stares at the money the riches and it's all worthless really to her. Gold is something that has spurred so much suffering an death it kinda trashies it's value to her really. In the end it's a pretty rock good for a few high tech things and acting as coins, and she move to follow Yuna and the others. She now arrives at the next puzzel and she starts to observer it.

Sanary Rondel has posed:
Sanary mutters as she looks from knight to knight, shaking the shield in her hand a bit before bracing it once more. She takes up a defensive position with the knights in front of her, then glances over at the others in the group. "Alright. If it goes bad, I'll be ready. Er. Again. Someone faster'll have to do it, though."

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley decides to approach the Eighth one in the group and try to check to see if that one has the eye. She doesn't wait or ask, because she's that confident in the answer.

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    Emily, on the other hand, is cautious enough that she readies herself to pull Ainsley out of the way, just in case.

August Kohler has posed:
Inside 8's hand is the eye. The thirteenth knight stands up, and looks towards Ainsley. It looks like he's waiting for it to be put back in.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine descends, breathing hard from that little stunt. Thankfully, there seems to be a straightforward puzzle in their path, one which Janine starts to solve by standing in the middle and walking in accordance with the directions.

    "I'm with shield girl too. Look," she says. "Don't think in terms of your right and left, think in terms of theirs." She walks across from 11 to 3, facing inwards to show how her enslinged arm points in different directions in doing so.

    "Also, only the ones on the corners face another through the star in the middle." Now, she uses her knife to draw a line from 2 to 8 in the air. "The ones on the sides look at the ones directly opposite from them." Here, she indicates 11 and 3 again. "So forward would be from him to him."

    "So yeah, eight. Someone gonna open his hand or do I have to do i-atta girl," she says to Ainsley.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley approaches the Thirteenth Knight and gives him the eye. She even sweetly pats him on the arm and says, "Here you go," despite knowing it's probably some kind of weird construct and not even a fragment of a person like most Shadows seem to be.

Staren has posed:
    Staren reads the sign. He stands behind Knight 1 as he talks, then points to each knight in turn... but others solve it faster. "On to the next one, then."

Sanary Rondel has posed:
Sanary breathes a sigh of relief once Ainsley gets the eye, but doesn't loosen her grip just yet! Not while the knights are still... Knighty. They might start puking gold or eyeballs everywhere if they're not careful! "Easy. Eaaaasy."

August Kohler has posed:
The Thirteenth Knight smiles as the eye is plugged in, and nods his head. And then he returns to his corner and sits down.

The other twelve knights seperate from the circle, as the the star circle in the middle slides open, revealing a spiral staircase. It leads down to a small box with a door.

The room beyond the door is made of glass. On the other side of it is a clear door, and the throne room can be seen beyond it.

Inside the room is clutter. In one corner there's a glass treasure chest, but it's not see-through. There's glass lamps, glass chairs, glass statues, all throughout the room. They don't look like they have rough edges.

At the floor are tiny slits, only barely enough for liquid to pass through. Who knows what they do?

Meanwhile, Klaus is with the rest of the group. His leg is still bleeding, and has left a decent trail down the stairs. He's trying to figure out if he can be helpful here. He probably can't.

Roosevelt flies over the room, thinking. "Alright, we should probably move stuff out of the way as carefully as possible. Maybe investigate the chest if we can? If we try and acrobatics through it, it might break and injure us."

Staren has posed:
    Glass furniture room! "Well, this is suspicious..." Staren examines the walls and ceiling for anything odd.

August Kohler has posed:
The walls and ceilings are made of glass, but otherwise nondescript. Nothing there.

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    Emily, meanwhile, saunters over to one of the slits in the floor, and crouches down to examine it - but is /very careful/ not to put her head directly over it.

    Or look away from Klaus for more than a few seconds at a time. I'm watching you, buddy.

Sanary Rondel has posed:
"... The hell is this? Uh. This looks way too much like a trap to just break the whole room down." Sanary murmurs, stopping at the entrance to the room and trying to get a better look at things from a distance. That can only go so far with the throne room right there, though, and she steps inside with as careful footsteps as she can manage with a riot shield! If things don't start exploding on her, she'll even move further in to check THE DOOR itself.

August Kohler has posed:
As she steps in, Ainsley feels sharpness from the floor cutting into her feet. It's razorsharp, but likely not enough to cut her foot off.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa is keeping an eye Klaus as well given well something could happenand givne too many cooks ruin a meal? Well that same can be said with Puzsel so she's going to go to the shadow and look at him for a moment, she'll move slowly and pull out a nano bandage and pauses.

"Here let me treat that, I'm not sure how well this will wor but it should stop the bleeding."

If he lets her she'll do her best to apply the nanobandage and hopefully stop the bleeding. She does give some thought to the glass house they are now in.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley seems surprised the Shadow smiled at her. It was a positive surprise, her eyes brightening. She offers a little wave to him before they leave, even if he probably doesn't see it from where he's sitting, giving her a whimsical air despite the misery she was displaying a moment before thanks to having been clocked by a bunch of gold coins.

    The glass room gets Ainsley fascinated... she steps out into it, and then she makes a face and instantly floats up, soreness tingling in her footsies. She ends up hovering in the air and holding one of her feet up to get a look at the damage, holding it in both hands.

    A droplet of blood drips off her other foot and onto the floor, having been cut into enough.

    Her eyes widen and she darts away from where she was floating, realizing that the slots are for letting liquid pass through them!

August Kohler has posed:
Kotone's bandages work, and Klaus's bleeding stops. No blood drips off his leg anymore.

However, blood drips off Ainsley's foot. And slides straight to the floor, and down the slot. Suddenly, a whirring of gears starts...and a high pitched noise starts to be made. It's slowly getting higher every second, and the glass starts to vibrate.

In a few seconds, it might even explode!

Yuna Kagurazaka (385) has posed:
Fortunately, the rest of the group is able to figure out the 'clock' room, and Yuna continues downwards with the others ... down to the room where everything is glas and a lot of it is sharp. Yuna winces a bit at the sight of it ... and then she hears the vibrating, and Yuna's eyes go wide.

"Ainsley, I'll carry you. Anyone who's not wearing boots or steady shoes, get someone who *is* to carry you, one way or another!"

Staren has posed:
    Staren assumed the slots were for liquid, which is why he checked the walls and ceiling for holes to let in, I dunno, water or acid or something.

    Once the clock starts ticking, though... He figures anything he trips can't make it worse! He'll use his power armor's strength to carry someone across!

Sanary Rondel has posed:
Sanary perks up at the sound of WHIRRING, and she looks away from the throne room door towards the others, then back to the door with a determined grunt.

     This will suck.

     The healer braces herself, holds the shield in front of her, then CHARGES right into the door! She's not going to risk wasting time finding out it's locked when brute force is more reliable.

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    Emily is carefully examining the floor when things start to vibrate. She looks up at Ainsley, looks down at the glass again, and a few things click into place. That high-pitched whine that's vibrating the floor - if this is fiberglass, then either that's a shattering waiting to happen, or a saw designed to cut through fiberglass. Either way-


    This is the first time anyone has heard Emily truly raise her voice.

    Emily herself moves to Janine's side, prepared to carry her if need be, but waiting for her charge to do whatever she has planned.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine walks down the stairs, into a literal glass house. "Don't go throwing any stones," she cautions as she steps down, looking among the clutter for... something. At least, until the whole place starts shaking. Oh dear.

    Janine starts to weave through the clutter, bringing the knife to her eyes again. "Biancabella!" The maimed woman arises again, and begins generating winds all throughout the room. No doubt making an awful whistling as it passes over those slits. But Janine has a plan. If she can counteract this frequency by whipping up winds, just long enough that everyone can make it to the other end...!

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley follows the others, moving as fast as she can while she goes. She looks around the room with the freedom of an astronaut floating in zero gravity but maintaining control of her ability to pitch and accelerate and frowns heavily at the tingly, cutting sensation in her feet that lingers long after the initial wound. She pauses a moment to crack the chest open, because she is doomed to a lifetime of curiosity. It couldn't possibly be the same trap twice--!

    She closes the chest right after and hurries after the others.

Finna (513) has posed:
VIBRATING GLASS. Finna gets a VERY bad feeling about this, very quickly. The BIGFOX grabs Klaus, ready to sprout wings or do something else ridiculous to ensure they get their guy intact to the end of this mess...

    "So who's this Adelle?" She idly asks, hiding her worry. "Might wanna HOLD ON. THIS GOT WEIRD FAST! GET THAT CHEST!"

Yuna Kagurazaka (385) has posed:
Okay, so Ainsley doesn't need to be carried. Good enough for Yuna; she hurries out along with the others. If the door to the throne room isn't going to open easily, then she'll warn her allies to clear the way, and force it open.

With a high-powered blast from the Matrix Divider.

She's not going to try to be subtle when the room they're in is ACTIVELY TRYING TO KILL PEOPLE.

(Yuna does not bother with the treasure chest, nor does she show any signs of even trying to do so.)

August Kohler has posed:
Janine's winds are able to distract the frequency long enough for the group to get past. The door was not locked, so Sanary just barrels it down and sends it across.

Ainsley retrieves the chest. It contains a roll of fiberglass, and a pamphlet. "'FIBERGLASS EMPORIUM: YOUR ONE-STOP SHOP FOR LOW-COST FIBERGLASS'"

And then, once they're all across, the frequency starts back up...and the glass explodes. Luckily, none of it hits the party due to Janine's assistance. But if it had...someone would be skewered.

Klaus grins brightly at Finna. "The love of the life, the most magnificent person in the world. Beautiful red hair, a pale complexion like none other. I want to remove her from her life and give her greatness! If she went to school, I'd give her all the test answers, just for free! She's that perfect!" Someone's lovesick.

The throne room is a stereotypical throne room. It seems that there are two passages out: the throne, which seems pretty normal but there's /something/ about it, or a door in the floor.

On top of the ceiling are several small glass spires. If you look in the reflections, there seems to be a switch hidden among them? But something feels odd about them too.

The Engineer is nowhere to be seen. Roosevelt frowns as best as he can. "The Engineer must be in the basement, working. Alright, guys, there's only one way out, and that's through the door in the floor. Find the switch in the spires. Do /not/ investigate the throne, it's worthless and not worth our time, I promise. The /only/ way out is through the floor, okay?"

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa Says "Come on it's time to go!"

She doesn';t assume she's not in danger from this and even if she's not? Everyne else /is/. She's going to get out and willbe one of the last obne outs she's the easiert to heal after all. She does listen to Klause and he's totally love sick as they rech the Throne room she looks about taking in the place. She looks e to Rosevelt for a moment and tilts her head for a moment.

"You know there's something odd about you Roosevelt. You knwo you been acting odd and I'll come out and just say it. Are you the Engineer because you not really been trying to help us...and with that in mind. I think he's right here int his room and that you are him."

August Kohler has posed:
Roosevelt flies away from Kotone when she interrogates him. "I'm not! I'm a Persona user! The Engineer stole my body! Look, if I was him, why would I do this? Why wouldn't I just /kill/ you? Why would I use a useless body like this? Please, trust me, just avoid the throne and go for the spires! It's the only way!"

Finna (513) has posed:
"...You don't know anything." Finna BARKS at Roosevelt, frowning after a few moments of silence. "You act like you know the way, this way... but didn't know about the treasury. How do you know about the throne?" She fixes Roosevelt with a suddenly critical eye...

    Hearing such passion from the Shadow does get her grinning despite herself in the next few moments though. Even so, she's staring hard at Roosevelt.

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    "You've given us every wrong answer at every turn," Emily replies to Roosevelt. "I can't tell if it's because you're trying to lead us astray, or very obliquely trying to show us which answers are the wrong ones." She pushes up her glasses with the black-gloved hand, then adds, "Or I suppose you could have done that this entire time just so you could give us the right answer this time and we wouldn't believe you. Which would be clever, I suppose. But it's also possible Miss Yamakawa here is on to something. You could be luring us here so you have more test subjects. We really don't know, and that's a rather weak rebuttal."

August Kohler has posed:
Roosevelt barks back, nervous. "I swear! You can trust me! Just go through the spires! You'll be taken straight to the Engineer and the boy! We'll find my body! Everything will go /right/! Please, have I deceived you before?"

Staren has posed:
    Staren's not sure what to make of Roosevelt now. While Emily and Finna sort that out, though, he tries to use sensors, image enhancement software, and the like to more quickly analyze the spires.

August Kohler has posed:
The spires are made of glass. There's a mechanical button inside them. But it doesn't seem to be the only mechanical switch in the room. There also seems to be one in the direction of the throne, too, all on the same track.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    "It would be too obvious if they just tried to crush us again. You were sent to mislead us, if I were to guess. No deception, but you have not once given us fruitful advice."

    Ainsley speaks up, from where she's floating, her eyes shining with those blue magical circles as she gives a piercing glare to the bird.

    "You were never human. What are you, really?"

Yuna Kagurazaka (385) has posed:
Yuna sighs, shouldering the Matrix Divider. "Okay, Elner? Anything of interest in, on, or around the throne as best your sensors can determine?"

She still won't be surprised if something blocks the robo-faerie's scans, but given that the sensors have worked thus far, she's inclined to trust thme. If this is the part where Elner's sensors completely fail, she'll just be glad for the help that was obtained from them thus far, and continue with investigating things the old-fashioned way.

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    "I don't know if you've deceived me," Emily replies, "But you've given us the wrong answers, without fail." She starts to walk forward, towards the throne itself, taking a moment to re-tighten her black glove as she does so. "Ma'am, I'm going to investigate the throne. Do keep an eye on the Shadow boy, we don't want him running off." Unless stopped, she'll go examine the throne.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine once again stops to catch her breath in the throne room before looking around. Spires, a throne... that they shouldn't look at eh? Janine smirks at Kotone and Finna start backing up her suspicions. But those are good questions... why? He's a machine... and machines can work together.

    "Because you have no choice," she declares, smirking and pointing that knife at the Shadow. "We've only seen strong Shadows this whole time. But you're not like them, are you? On your own, you're a little bitch, but you have this whole castle to screw us over with. Or maybe..." She glances at Shadow Klaus. "Him existing makes you weaker. You're both Shadows of the same person."

    She steps closer, closer, eyes glinting. "Now, be straight with us. If you are, I'll kill you quick. If not, we'll give you to Gudako. And you don't want that, she's a freak."

Finna (513) has posed:
"Deceived... noooooo, but... clever Emily's right. Every time, WRONG. Maybe you're just BIRDBRAINED as well as bodynapped.. we'll find out the truth." Finna growls irritably. She's not about to accuse him of anything xcept being a dunderhead, it seems.

Sanary Rondel has posed:
After picking herself back up off the floor from crashing through the freaking door, Sanary pats her face down a bit to make sure she's not bleeding anywhere before looking around in the throne room. "Huh... Shiny. That...."

     Could it be? Could that bird thing be the mastermind behind all this? But then what about Klaus? No... That shadow kid had plenty of opportunities to screw them over already, but nothing's come of that.

     "... This place is confusing." Too much thinking. It's all making the healer's poor brain hurt after being on overdrive for so long! Instead, she'll just keep an eye on Shadow Klaus for now and even ruffle his hair a bit.

August Kohler has posed:
Roosevelt panics. He flutters around Ainsley, trying to show he's nonthreatening. "I'm a Persona User! I promise! I'm not him! I couldn't be him, a person can only have one Shadow! If you have two, that means something's very wrong with their mind! Please, trust me, take the spires!"

Elner finds that there's a mechanical device attached to the throne. Emily doesn't exactly see anything, but if she feels around the back, she'll find a hidden switch. Only question is, will she press it?

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    Emily finds the switch at the back of the throne, but does not press it yet. Instead, she stands up straight, and calls back across the room, "Janine, I've found a switch. Shall I press it?" The question is as much to see the bird's reaction, as it is to get any actual orders.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley watches the Shadow as it reaches a state of panic. She can read that much, though she has a hard time reading body language on a mechanical dove. It's impossible to tell whether he is fearful because he's honest or that he feels his deception is starting to unravel. The reptile calmly asks, "What makes you so sure it's one of the spires? Do you see the Engineer use them? Why not the throne?"

August Kohler has posed:
The bird shakes. He doesn't really have an answer. "I...I just know, okay, damn it! TRUST ME!"

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    "That's the problem," Emily replies to the bird. "Whether you're doing it on purpose, or just really bad at giving advice, we can't."

    She reaches back and presses the switch.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine is loving this. When Emily finds the switch and calls out its existence? She looks the bird right in the eye and says, "Do it." And then cracks the biggest shit-eating grin she can manage.

August Kohler has posed:
The throne slides open. A staircase is underneath it. It leads to a long corridor. Those with strong scents can smell two things: pure human, and a very faint scent of Shadow that has been here.

August Kohler has posed:
The pure human is bleeding. He also has half an hour at most to live.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley gives Roosevelt a look that is very appropriate on a reptilian visage. By now, there's a clear bump visible on her brow from where a piece of gold hit her. She does not take pleasure in the bird's despair.

    "Sorry, we couldn't trust you, you never gave us a reason to," she calmly states and reaches out to try to grab the bird right out of the air as he flutters around her and use her magic on him to try to lock him down with some emotional tethers, since she's seen a healthy chunk of his personality weaknesses. Nothing to ruin the poor being in case. There'd be an impressive flash of blue light if she manages it.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
The Puppet Woman does not make any hostile moves on Rosevelt she's eying him listeing him to him for a moment. It seems she's not the only one who has ideas like this Finna does Janine then drops the omega bomb she doesn't ... want to wish that fate on anyone. Still she debates do they stay here and check things out or do they all go on? Well the others with the means to act have and she only watches now to see how things... end up here. She brought this into the open and has to live with it now...

August Kohler has posed:
As soon as the throne opens, and he realizes everyone's against him, Roosevelt flees in the only open direction that isn't: enemies, or traps. Down the stairs.

And Ainsley's spell fails outright. To her readings...he doesn't even /have/ emotions. Not even Shadow emotions.

The path is still open.

Finna (513) has posed:
Finna.. CRINGES. She's not sure whether to believe the bird's really on their side and just dumb or being manipulated... or out to get them yet. But she nods at Ainsley's efforts... and trots over to the Throne. Kind of manhandling Klaus over to it if he isn't willing. Because she's got a few words for him.

    "Better man up and prepare for some shockers, lover-boy. Your destiny waits. I just don't know what it is yet. Down there might just be your path out of this madness..."

Sanary Rondel has posed:
Shadow Klaus gets a pat on the back, and then Sanary nudges him to try and get him moving again once the staircase is revealed. "Come on, kid. It's time to go meet your double... Half... Whatever."

     No sense freaking him out more, right? Right. It's time to descend and try to find the rescue target! She's picking up the pace, too, keeping her shield ready in case of terrible surprises.

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    One thing Emily doesn't miss - the fact that Roosevelt is now flying towards what Finna's nose has told them is where the real Klaus can be found. Without skipping a beat, she calls it out. "Quickly, now!" She herself plunges right down, running down the corridor at a sprinter's clip.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine did ask for someone to restrain Rooseveldt, but someone had to go and be fancy instead of just grabbing him. And now he's flying away. "Don't let him escape!" she yells, sprinting down the steps to who knows where.

    Once she has him in his sights, and has the room to summon, out comes Biancabella, to fire concentrated gusts of wind at the Shadow to try and bring him crashing down!

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley lets out a loud sigh as Roosevelt flees down to where Klaus is, and bolts down to the basement where the true conflict awaits. Her tail waves behind as she darts down there head-first like the aforementioned astronaut maneuver, using her hands to brush and press at the walls!

Yuna Kagurazaka (385) has posed:
Yuna hurries down the stairs as well, Matrix Divider vanishing in case quarters are too tight for a big weapon to be carried easily. She's pretty sure that Ainsley's suspicions were right - but Finna has indicated that this is the direction in which to find a living human, presumably the real Klaus.

She just hopes 'Roosevelt' isn't too far ahead of them for the party to stop whatever might happen next ...

Staren has posed:
    The bird was wrong again. Hmm...

    Well, only one way to go, right? Staren gathers with the party and ventures forth!

August Kohler has posed:
Once everyone is down the corridor...it shuts. Tight. Several thick walls rise up to block off a way out.

At the end of the corridor is a room. The room has a long balcony on one side. Directly across from the corridor is a metal chair, with a battered, bloodied Klaus strapped to it. He could die any minute, but there's still a chance to save him.

It'll probably be too late once everyone's out there, though. There seems to be small lines in a box frame on the floor...and once Roosevelt flies outside those lines, clear walls rapidly rise up, a ceiling joining them, as Roosevelt flies not for Klaus, but the balcony.

And the Shadow that comes out, flanked by two massive, snarling Shadow dogs.

A man in an overcoat. Blood splattered on him, rounds of ammunition strapped to him, and a duck call. A long rifle in one hand. A hunting knife in the other. A strangely shaped hat on his head. Gleaming golden eyes. His body is shaped oddly, too. Cat's legs, built for speed. Sharp fangs in his mouth. A strong upper body, built for crushing prey. Clawed fingers.

This isn't an Engineer. This is a Huntsman. And the party just fell into his trap.

Climbing onto the top of the balcony's railing, the Huntsman looks over the party, flashing a fangy grin. He loads his rifle, pointing it from person to person, as he laughs, catching Roosevelt and stuffing the bird in his pocket. "Who would have thought, that blatantly lying would cause you to do /exactly/ what I wanted you to? I knew humans were strange...but this, this is /fantastic/! You're without a doubt the most interesting prey I've ever had a chance of killing."

And then sits on the railing, playing with his gun. He makes a slight frown as he spots Shadow Klaus. "Oh, that blasted Majordomo! I told him /specifically/ not to release the boy's Changeling until you lot arrived. Doesn't he know by now that when the Changeling is released, the original starts degrading. Shame, shame, I'll have to give him an earful for this."

Unlike Roosevelt and Shadow Klaus, the Huntsman and his dogs are reading all /kinds/ of dangerous. This is a man who has killed before, and those dogs have tasted flesh. The Huntsman yawns, before looking back over the lot. "Now, before you die, I assume you all have a /lot/ of questions. Well, don't say I'm not a fair hunter. Get them over with, will you?"

Finna (513) has posed:
WHUMPF. Down they go into a cage and... that guy... does NOT look like an Engineer. Not that Finna's sure what they look like, but they probably don't look like that. That's a predator.

    She snarls with seemingly impotent indignation at this humiliation, but her eyes stay focused on the rifle... though they also flick up and down and all around, taking in the cage they've been stuck in.

    It doesn't take long for some of the signs that Finna had wondered about - ones that seemed just like the Forest being the Forest - start making a little bit more sense. The traps, in particular... ".... "

    Eventually she does settle on a question, and sidles up against the cage to say it. "One comes to mind... what's the POINT of all this?"

August Kohler has posed:
The Huntsman just laughs at Finna's question. "Ah, a fellow predator, right? The shapeshifter. 'Finna'. The point of this? Oh, it's just...I don't /enjoy/ a hunt unless I get to play with my prey. I could have just killed you."

"But what fun would that be?"

Finna (513) has posed:
The fox shakes her head, snorting. "Oh THAT much I know. No, I mean... this forest. The Shadows. Dragging people in here. Your kind want something... what, and why?" Finna grins a bit eerily. She's not yet given up chances of escape yet... but this one's grinding on her head to think a way out. Fast.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    They all slam right into a trap, and Ainsley sucks in a breath the moment this happens. The bird flies right back to his master, and the Lizard Wizard can only start coldly up through the cage the Huntsman has lured them all into. Her eyes flick this way and that as she thinks. Then she flexes her hands into fists, and her feet rest on the floor, smearing some blood on the floor. She looks up to the Huntsman and asks him:

    "It's clear you are probably not responsible for the power of the Persona. I don't have a question for you," she says as she points up to him in a dramatic way.

    And then she steps up to the wall and she shouts, using magic as hard as she can to try to wake Klaus up, without blowing out everyone else's ears in the process. "KLAAAAAAUS!!!"

    "Wake up! Wake up, and accept your feelings! We're here for you! Remember Adelle! Remember what motivates you to excel! Remember what makes you, you!"

    Then she waves Shadow Klaus over and indicates toward the real Klaus, trying to weave some magic so they can communicate with each other. That's what the shout was for-- trying to penetrate the cage she's in and get just enough of a thread through for the both of them to talk.

Yuna Kagurazaka (385) has posed:
The Matrix Divider reappears in Yuna's hands as she looks at the Huntsman - or rather, levels a steady and unflinching glower at him. Or it. "I suppose," Yuna says quietly, "that a congratulatory 'well played' is in order. But really, even after baiting us so efficiently, leading us right into the trap you had waiting for us ... is this really how you want to end us? To kill the boy we came to save and then to kill *us* while we're helpless?"

Now she smiles, just a little: a thin, none-too-cheerful smile, the smile of somebody who's not remotely happy about anything except the potential chance to kick the butt of someone she *intensely* dislikes.

"I mean, if you pride yourself on your skill in hunting, if you delight so much in playing with your prey ... surely you'd enjoy it more if we were able to put up a stand-up fight, with the hope of rescuing Klaus if we manage to defeat you. Besides, the way things are set up now, your 'win' is pretty much guaranteed. Wouldn't you enjoy this final stage more when the threat of defeat still lingers, when there's that teeny tiny chance that you could still lose?"

Her smile softens, looking somewhat more innocent - although not entirely so. "I mean, you're huge, you're powerful, any one of your dogs would probably be more than a match for any single one of *us* ... you can't really lose if you give us one last, arguably-fair fight. Wouldn't it be worth it - that chance to really, truly prove your superiority to your prey? To personally grind us under your heel while we're still scrambling for that one last flicker of our own hope?"

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    Well, hell. They've been played. Emily skids to a stop once she notices the box, but by then it's too late. They're all caged in. "Well, now I feel /particularly/ foolish," she muses, with a faint frown. She's looking the Huntsman over with a critical eye, though; more than that, a /clinical/ eye, growing more and more detached with each passing moment. That placid expression is replaced with a completely different sort of cool - it's an expression not all that different from the look in the Huntsman's eyes, save perhaps for the fact there's less mirth and emotion to it. "I've only one, really."

    She reaches up, pulls off her glasses, shrugs out of her coat, and calmly walks over to Shadow Klaus, holding them out. "Would you be so kind as to hold these?" She doesn't really give him an option.

    But then Emily Branford turns, and her black-gloved right hand comes around, a flowing motion, almost swirling-


    It sounds like a gunshot going off. It's followed by another one. KRAK. KRAK. Emily's arm moves, and something blurs through the air, and KRAK! Another shockingly-loud report. Only when her hand pauses a moment, to inspect her handiwork, does it become obvious. She's gripping some kind of whip, with a long cord and a small cross down at the bottom of the handgrip. The whipcracks are strong enough to tear a person apart, and she's focusing on the same spot with each and every swing.

    She only stops long enough to get a feel for how much damage she's causing. And then she starts up again. Faster.


Sanary Rondel has posed:
The door shuts, and Sanary keeps moving. The target's almost in reach, after all, and once she sees the bloodied Klaus in the distance along with the hunter and his hunting dogs...

     It's time to get the magic flowing again. Through her limbs, into the air, and even trying to fling a green light cloud of regenerative magic towards Klaus from aaaall the way over there. Sure, it might be too far to actually reach the kid, but it's worth a shot!

     "So you're the brains behind all of this... Very impressive." She grins and taps two finger to her head in a semi-salute, then adjusts her hold on the shield while keeping her eye on those dogs. "I... Actually, I got nothing. Unless you're willing to make it easier on yourself and everyone else by just letting us take the kid. Otherwise..."

     She glances over at her companions, then gestures at them with her head. "... Everyone else? They'll rip you apart, then I'll put you back together, then they'll rip you apart again for me to fix you again until we get bored." Her grin widens as she takes on a more menacing tone, trying to look more unhinged than before. "Or you can work for us instead of that Majordomo. You'd be more useful to me alive than dead, anyway, so it's your call~"

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
She knew tehre was a rat but it doesn't seem to be just in the way they though she's been keeping with Shadow Klaus as they moved on but it seems something else is coming a man who looks like hunter but they are twisted, wrong and then she understand whom it is as they speak.


She listens some more and she makes ready with her balde as best she's abole to. She looks to make her self. Plans are being made, people know what tey have to do with both Klauses and she intends to help give them that time. Her stance lowers, she looks a bit odd given she's in a staff uniform fromt he school but she does not care right now about that. She knows Klaus is running out of time and she's got to act.

"Your getting a chance to run, take it."

She waits to see how he'll respond but then a question strikes her.

"Why are you and your fellows doing this, besides your desire for the hunt. What is the movie for all of this madness."

BGM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCuOjfyUHnA Shin Megami Tensei Digital Devil Saga 2 OST - Battle For Survival

Staren has posed:
    They're trapped. And the puzzles and traps were a trick the whole time. See? Playing games when you're supposed to be rescuing people is NEVER A GOOD IDEA. Staren may take action next time this happens, and in the Multiverse, you know it will...

    For right this second, though? He watches the huntsman, and waits. The missile racks on his shoulders pop into the firing position in case he gets a chance to use them. The others know more about shadows and personas. They can handle this plan about Klaus. He will wait for an opening, and then attack the Huntsman with everything he has...

Janine Liberi has posed:
    The final trap, and they walked right into it.

    Janine looks around the room as the Huntsman emerges, her face falling. Holy shit, how could they have been so stupid? For Rooseveldt to fall apart at the very end there, when he had been playing it cool all along... it was so suspicious, but she was so convinced he was up to no good. Which he was, but not in the way she had thought.

    But, her face twists into a leering grin, to try and marshall herself. Bring on that bluster Janine, it's gotten you this far. "Hey, so you are real. Good. I promise myself I would tear you a new asshole, and I don't like going back on my word." She twirls that knife, but is pretty short on ideas. Not much she can do about a gunshot. But...

    Biancabella lingers, so Janine drives her into action. The winds whip up, a veritable cyclone that encases the party! For a skilled marksman, it might not deter him much. But at the very least, it might force him to take more time in lining up his shots.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley doesn't feel a stir. She calls toward Klaus again!

    "Think of the Scholar's List! Think of the career you wanted! Think of the expectations you could've conquered! Wake up, Klaus! We need you to wake up!"

August Kohler has posed:
The Huntsman shifts himself on the railing. "What do we want? Listen clearly." He glances at Gudako, briefly, knowingly. "Our Queen wants humans to live in fear. She wants them to /suffer/. And as her Grand Huntsman, I will make this a reality. But you...you've posed a problem. Saving them, killing their Shadow. The lizard, Ainsley, tried to track us. And she needs to die for this."

"Smart girl." Is all the Huntsman says to Ainsley. MEanwhile, she tries to call out to Klaus, using Adelle. Adelle makes him, him, right?

Wrong. Klaus doesn't stir at the name whatsoever. Looking through his emotions...that name doesn't register to him /at all/.

Shadow Klaus holds the glasses. He seems conflicted about something, staring at his /own/ battered body. He's dying, isn't he? The Huntsman said it's /his/ fault that /he's/ dying, didn't he? He just waits there, for everyone else to move.

The Huntsman just laughs at Yuna. "Girl, don't taunt me. You think you know my ego? You think you know what controls me? I control /all paths/. Your bait is useless. I prefer my prey begging for their lives, not fighting for them. I prefer them being /interesting/, not tough." He smirks.

Emily's crazy whip speed is strong. It begins to crack through the glass after the first hundred strikes. It'll take roughly 500, atleast, if she can keep going.

Ainsley's second attempt at waking Klaus actually gets a bit of a reaction. But it doesn't seem enough. There's still something missing. The truth of his self hasn't been discovered. What could it be?

And eventually, the glass shatters. The Huntsman frowns. He readies his rifle, and points it. And then, it turns out his rifle's special. It's automatic. /Unrealistically automatic/. Bullets rain incredibly accurately...to take down Staren's missiles that come for him and his dogs, as the Huntsman slides across the balcony. And fires a single shot for Klaus's head.

Pause. A rain of speed. Someone's running.

August Kohler has posed:
The bullet impacts. Blood spills out, as it slams into Shadow Klaus's chest, causing him to fall into the actual Klaus. He's not dead, but he's suddenly breathing very raggedly, as a massive cavity opens in his chest.

Sanary's healing works. Klaus isn't going to die, atleast not from waiting for the fight to end. He's still not awake, though.

Shadow Klaus looks up to his true self, sighing. "I'm dying, aren't I? But you're me. And if you live...then I live, right? Klaus...find Adelle, give her what she deserves. Love her...me." His eyes close. He's not dead. Yet.

The Huntsman frowns. Everyone is free. He's not sure he can kill the boy without getting hit himself. As he thinks, he pulls himself back down onto the balcony. "Tsk. The Majordomo just had to go and complicate things, didn't he? Even then, I won't join you. I have my hunt. I have my Queen. That's all I need. I won't fight you tonight. After all, when my coat is bloody...I don't like to mix it." He grins, before retreating to the door on the balcony. "RHODES! CUR! TURN THEM INTO MINCEMEAT!"

=============================STRENGTH REVERSED=============================

------------------------MANIFESTATION OF REFLECTION------------------------

                              RHODES AND CUR                              
                       THE HUNTSMAN'S HOUNDS OF WAR                        

----------------------------PREPARE FOR BATTLE-----------------------------


The hounds rage through the balcony, tearing it down to the ground as they slam into the floor, causing a shockwave. They split up on their targets: Rhodes charges for Emily, trying to pin the arms with the whip, and Cur moves to barrel down Finna, and try to prevent her from shapeshifting. Their fangs are razorsharp, and they're stronger than tornadoes. It seems they're not going to be an easy fight.

Staren has posed:
    Staren glares as the Huntsman admits that they just want humans to live in fear, and decrees that Ainsley must die.

    Wait for it... Wait for iiiiiit....


    Staren's missiles don't /go off/, fortunately, but they are destroyed. "Tch..." He follows up with the beam cannons on his arm, but for now tries to keep Emily or a persona or /something/ between him and the huntsman. That rifle could make short work of his defenses.

    Everything with the Klauses happens too fast. Hopefully that goes well, but right now he has to fight for his own life.

    And there are hounds. Well, as long as he can keep a hound between himself and the huntsman, he can't be shot, right?

    While the hound is focused on Emily, he pulls a thin cylinder from his belt, which is suddenly duplicated in his opposite hand.

    The blades of energy don't appear until just before he tries to stab both plasma sabers /into/ the hound!

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    After the first twenty whips, the glass doesn't seem to be giving. So Emily starts whipping faster. When she hits fifty, and it only seems to have done just a little? The butler's expression turns into a subtle frown.

    And then she starts whipping faster.

    And faster.

    And faster.

    She's not even bothering to disguise it now. That's superhuman speed. Impossibly fast. So fast her arm is a blur, so fast the sound of the whipcracks blends together, becoming a machine gun volley of strikes. Over and over, faster and faster, her arm coming out of that blur for just the briefest flicker at a time, before returning to that inhuman velocity. KRAKKRAKKRAKKRAKKRAKKRAKKRAKKRAKKRAK-

    And finally, the glass shatters. She sees the Huntsman lifting his rifle. Pointing it at their target. She brings the whip in her hand around, the cord growing longer, longer, curled around for a strike- and it passes through the air behind the shot. Too fast. That bullet just moved too fast for even her to stop. It's rare for Emily Branford to show shock, but it's there in her eyes, right now.

    It lasts only a heartbeat before she rounds on the oncoming beasts. If her face was cool before, it's ice-cold now, despite the beads of sweat rolling down her brow and cheeks. And when Rhodes lunges, she's just... not there.

    All around the dog, at the same time Staren lunges, the air /explodes/ with whipcracks. A full dozen delivered near simultaneously, each capable of rending apart flesh and bone.

Yuna Kagurazaka (385) has posed:
The glass trapping the party shatters - and Yuna didn't get around to joining the efforts to smash it. Her Light Suit flares some from shards of glass passing too close for safety, but the damage is superficial - the defensive field was strained more by the glass-edged floor just before the throne room, very actively hostile terrain in a very literal sense.

More important are those hounds. Yuna drops to one knee, bracing the Matrix Divider for firing, and the weapon lets out a loud, shrill noise beneath the abrupt crackle of energy, arcs of light and power crawling along the blade/barrel assembly. Cur is charging too quickly to get a precision shot, but Yuna leads the hound as best she can -

And tries to launch her blast straight down the hound's throat, preferably *before* it sinks its teeth into Finna. Given the amount of raw Light/Holy elemental force Yuna's gathered up into that shot, if it isn't a one-hit kill then it's at least going to make Cur suffer dreadfully, possibly slowing the hound enough for someone else to deliver a more fatal blow.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    The sharp crack of a gun can be heard even over the howling winds. Janine winces, and looks around for whoever is hit... only to see Shadow Klaus bleeding out, whispering up to his true self, pleading. "... aw shit," she mutters. How awful. And she can't even vent on the Huntsman, because he's running away. "Come back here you fucking bitch!" she yells after him, only to stumble from the shockwave generated by those hounds.

    "Time for that plan..." she grunts, slowly getting back to her feet and assessing what the hounds are doing. Emily and Finna can handle themselves for now. "Kohler. Time to do that plan for real. I need flames, and a lot of them," she says to the German. "Don't worry about control, I'll try and handle that part.

    Janine's forehead is beaded with sweat. She's been overdoing it with Biancabella throughout this castle. But goddamnit, she's not dying to a pair of mutts.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley is holding her hand out to both versions of Klaus and she witnesses the Shadow take a bullet for himself. The reptile woman's feathers puff up and her eyes turn to look up toward the Huntsman. She commits the sight of him to memory. She shines her bright blue magic circles to try to snag as much of his Name that she can as he departs and leaves them all to his hounds. And when he does, she floats up into the air and focuses on the hounds and begins to weave a spell, trying to reference the concepts of the nervous system and sight.

    The air sparkles and glows in front of her as she tries to splice the visual input of both hounds together and make it harder for them to target the party! Essentially, it would create overlapping, melded visual information that could disorient both of them. The spell spreads out into the air as she tries to get it to work and crackles in the air around her, a rough magic circle sparking to life in front of her. She doesn't have much experience doing anything like this!

Finna (513) has posed:
"... you... think that whimpering and begging is being interesting..." Finna barks, mere moments after the aims of this Queen are made clear.


    That's straightforward.

    And enough to piss off something DEEP within her. Feelings that aren't just hers, but ones that belong to every hero she ever was, all the way back to the first.

    For one brief moment something shines in her slitted irises. A heated, focused hatred that's collected and simmered for millenia. A deep Rage and bestial fury stoked to Protect.

    The Lunar Essence that roils in Finna's soul cannot let this stand.

    Moonfire soon sizzles from her skin and fur, filling the cage with a ghostly glow that smells like a damp, slightly chilly night breeze. With a crescent moon burning and glittering on her forehead the moon-Beast readies her muscles for action. They ripple and shiver as she gathers all of her strength... then...

    Then she DIVES at the glass, a vaguely humanoid mass of silvery fire, completely subsumed and obfuscated within the aura. Claws that draw silver contrails slam into the failing glass - not that it was when Finna took aim - and she goes barreling THROUGH the cage.

    "Hunt /one of Luna's Chosen/', will you. One last question. Ready to be prey?!"

    Shapeshift, though? She does not NEED to Shapeshift right now. She's already in her optimal form for tearing through anything alive, dead, or never-was-either. A dazzling, coruscading display of silver-blue and deep violet-black swirl across her body so thickly that the only features that remain distinct are pure silver, almost metallic claws and fangs and glowing beastly irises

    This is definitely why she gave her sword to Kotone.

    Why the hell does a creature this savage need the weapons of man?

    She leaps straight for Cur and answers his plunge with a lightning-swift raking of her claws to clash with his own. Whatever the outcome... one HELL of a furball's about to start, and it WON'T be pretty.

August Kohler has posed:
August's been pretty useless. But when the Huntsman shoots Klaus, and hits Shadow Klaus, he's pretty frustrated. He flips out his spoon, and summons the Tin Soldier.

And sends a gout of fire for the Huntsman.

The Huntsman mostly dodges it, but it gashes across his cheek, burning it. He screams in pain as he flees. There's no use in chasing him; his speed is crazy, and the dogs are a risk to Klaus anyways.

Sanary Rondel has posed:
The gunshot aimed at Klaus of all people gets Sanary's attention, and her feigned crazed expression breaks. Not that it seems to have quite gone as well as the healing, but hey! Healing's never a bad thing, especially if it means losing the time limit.

     That just makes it easier to handle the remaining obstacles. "That's a shame... Well, not like anyone's coats are clean today."

     /Shadow Klaus/. Or just Klaus now, rather.

     With so many allies around, though, Sanary's in her element. She takes up a defensive position with her shield while channeling her energy once more, glancing from side to side to get a better bead on who to target.

     Janine's been pretty active with that Persona of hers today. A green light link is sent her way! She's seen Finna's magical prowess before, and with that dog going after her... Finna gets a green light link, too! And with Ainsley casting magic from the air? Another green light beam goes her way as well!

     "Go for it. I got your backs." Although Sanary's not joining the offensive herself, the three she's directed her links to would find themselves able to draw magical power directly from her instead of having to rely on their own reserves. Also, a big boost to their natural healing abilities!

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa gets her answer and she says nothing in reply, she grips theblade a bitmore but keeps noing she's far stronger than she once was and she now knows they have to fight and then the shadow gets shot. There's a cringe on her part she's not even sure what to think on this. Shes' got to fight she got to keep from being ripped to bits. She sees the hound coming and the shocvk wave Kotone leaps up and goes to aid Finna she'll move to try and strike it with the blade, she's not that skilled it's clear, but she did listen to what Finna told her from how she'sholding itand there's a lot os strength behind the strikes.

August Kohler has posed:
Staren's blades slam into Rhodes, tearing through its flesh. It doesn't stop fighting, moving to kick Staren with its rear legs. These legs pack a /punch/, trying to knock them off it.

Emily's strike was only a second off the mark. Her and the Huntsman seem almost /matched/, with a similar accuracy and speed to them. Rhodes attempts to slam into her, but misses, as whips crack into its bones, beating it and snapping it. Despite that, it keeps moving. It ignores the pain, willing only to serve its Master. It moves in an attempt to grab Staren and /throw/ him into Emily.

The Light damage, however, is severely effective on Cur. It's not a one shot kill, but he begins limping, screaming in pain.

As Janine calls, August sighs. He does not like using all his firepower anymore. Tapping into the Tin Soldier...he begins spraying fire. Everywhere. Massive gouts, whirling around him, whirling around everyone, aimlessly. If someone's not careful, a burst of fire will slam into them, trying to melt them alive. August himself is trying to avoid the fire, not remotely immune.

As Finna transforms, the room grows cold. And then begins to get heated by her moonfire, as Finna transforms into her Beast form. Claws slam into Cur, over and over. The dog doesn't have the reaction time to survive. What's left is a bloody mess of fur, organs, and black blood, which begins to dissolve into nothingness.

And as this happens, Rhodes screams. He begins to change, as his body grows twice its size, his teeth grow sharper, and he gains two extra eyes. There also seems to be a different intelligence about him.

Ainsley's spell fails because of Cur's death...but she learns something different. The two dogs /already/ were connected, and when Cur died...his mind joined into Rhodes' body, mutating him.

Sanary's boost works, amping everyone up.

Kotone's strike slams into the new Hellhound, causing it to bleed, but it slams back, stronger and faster than before. And then it leaps back, attempting to get the group in front of its mouth.

Where the Hellhound unleashes a nasty burst of Dark Energy, attempting to /corrode/ everyone into nothingness.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    It starts getting very hot as the Tin Soldier starts spraying fire all over, exactly has Janine had hoped. Sanary linking up with her to pool their powers brings a confident smirk on her face. For an instant, she's the undefeated teenaged fencing champion of Europe again. "Here we go."

    Biancabella seems to dance as the winds whip up again. Swirling around the fire, fanning them to even greater heats, while also guiding and directing them, encasing each in a whirlwind sheath to keep them under control and get them burning hotter. Hotter. HOTTER!

    And then, with a flourish of that knife, Janine strikes.

    The winds suddenly direct the flames powerfully, turning them into pluming spears of fire, aimed at Rhodes to try and break through that corroding energy! Each one would actually open wounds with the force of the winds, only to sear closed again from the flames. She makes them writhe like snakes, coiling around the Hellhound for maximum contact, to get that fur and flesh burning!

=============================HANGED MAN/DEATH==============================

-------------------------------ARCANA TRICK--------------------------------

                             TWO PERSONA TRUMP                            
                            DEATH BY CREMATION                            


Staren has posed:
    "Oof!" Staren goes flying. When he hits the cage wall, though, his forcefield takes the hit and he bounces before manifesting his wings to stabilize himself. He fires one of his forearm HEAT micromissiles at the dog, using flight to keep away from the dog's jaws now that he doesn't have to fear the huntsman's rifle.

    Somehow, the dogs becoming one isn't as surprising as it should be. He's been through so many crazy boss battles in his life -- he just kind of takes it in stride, firing his beam cannons down at fido.

    Staren's forcefield comes up again as the dark energy washes over him. The field cracks, and small pieces start to break off and get swept away in the darkness. Magic's not as effective as a hail of bullets, but seems to be /more/ effective than energy weapons. Hopefully the flow of dark energy will stop soon... if not, Staren needs a few seconds to think of a way to deal with it anyway!

Emily Branford (999) has posed:
    Once again, when Rhodes turns to try and attack Emily, the woman is simply... gone. A white-and-black blur, already somewhere else. By now, every time she stops moving she's panting, and even despite that she's keeping it up. Pushing herself. The transformation on Rhodes' part after Cur's death causes her a moment of wariness, but-

    Then comes the Dark Energy. And one last time, Emily blurs into motion.

    Her whip coils itself around the monster's arm, and that ridiculous speed swings her around behind it, up into the air, above and behind... with a perfect angle towards the back of the colossal beast's neck.


Yuna Kagurazaka (385) has posed:
Cur dies. Rhodes gets a power-up, and the surviving hound pounces to where everyone's in front of it ...

"SHUGOSEIHEKI!!!" Yuna practically screams, aiming to put *herself* between her allies and Thodes. The kite shield flares into existence and Yuna plants it in front of her, the bottom corner digging into the ground just enough to help brace it, and she focuses all her power into not her weapon, but her *shield* ... just in time.

The Wall of the Guardian Star lives up to its name pretty consistently, and Yuna's come to depend on that shield in many a fight, not just for her own sake, but for the sake of her allies and innocents alike - those who need protecting, those whom *she* needs to protect. And the corrosive power of Curhodes' unleashing of dark energy ...

Well, if it weren't for Shugoseiheki, Yuna would have tanked it with nothing but her Light Suit and been left incapacitated. Even *with* the shield, the Light Suit's protective aura is rapidly depleted - that energy is what reinforces Shugoseiheki, after all, and her reserves are far from bottomless.

Yuna is left kneeling behind her shield, Light Suit crackling fitfully ... and indeed, it's also *cracking*, bit by bit, as if the mere motion of Yuna panting for breath is straining its ability to remain intact. She's not out of action quite yet, but Yuna can't do anything to add to the offense right now; defense took everything she had.

Sanary Rondel has posed:
Sanary pumps herself up! She stomps once, gets her shield ready, then starts redirecting her links. Or... Rather, she's just sending out more. Sure, it'll take a lot out of her, and the existing ones are already putting quite a toll on the healer with just Finna's beast form, Janine's Persona, and Ainsley's magic already, but...

     Hell, if this thing's going to cheat by getting huge? She can cheat by trying to give other people a shot at using their biggest attacks more than once! Yuna gets a link, August gets a link (As he long as he's not setting her on fire), and Emily gets a link! So many links. So many green light beams.

     She's going to end up passing out within the next minute or so, isn't she?

Finna (513) has posed:
Finna almost doesn't notice when the energy lines tether to her and fill her with a seemingly ceaseless flow of POWER and STRENGTH. It's hard to notice when your fangs and claws are digging into the wounded EVERYTHING of a massive hunting dog. Finna rips and tears through the beast the instant it shows a weakness, though its claws score against her several times and rip open NASTY-looking wounds on her glowing flesh. Within the completely opaque cloak of moonfire light and shadow it looks pretty odd, seeing briefly exposed flesh... but the wounds she's suffering from the creature are visibly healing.

    And Sanary might just feel like an IMMENSE of her spare energy's being greedily gulped down to fuel such rapid regeneration. In a matter of moments The only sign there een WAS a wound there... is the blood shimmering within the aura.
    Finna's response to the creature DISSOLVING instead of toppling into a pile of hot meat is ROARING IN FRUSTRATIon and turning a gaze of bestial fury to the OTHER...

    She does not WAIT for his transformation to complete. She's already bounding for the Hellhound as he forms, leaping at rhodes with lightning-like speeds.

    Doesn't matter how big it is or how much stronger it is. In what seems a berserk fury, Finna singlemindedly charges and leaps for the thing's neck in anattempt to RIP IT OPEN! Claws flash through the air, howl, and whistle.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone is fast but not fast enough she's a bit off balnce in clothing she's not used to fighitng nad and this does not go as well as she could have hoped. While she'd landed a hit she's not quick enough to get clear the strange blakc gas? Goo? It catch her off hand side and just east though her clothing and it's eaing through her synth skin and staring to get into her internals if it's left there for too long. The puppet woman with her nature exposed lets out a cry of pain and anger and then she charges in again with her blade trying to drive the blade into the beast, no she's not happy,she's not happy at all.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley doesn't manage to do much! She hesitates when this happens, not because of doubt, but because botching a spell HURTS, and she's botched several in a short span of time. Her magic backfires spectacularly, the circle shattering and her feathers momentarily discoloring, a weird 'grk' noise coming from her throat, and she can barely keep herself afloat enough with Sanary's support. She manages to avoid getting turned into a puddle of go by the Dark power the monster emits from its mouth, but only just, and pretty soon she's just sprawled flat on the floor. The stress has completely knocked her out of the fight. She could probably force herself to move, but the mana shock would make that a dangerous proposition right now.

August Kohler has posed:
Curhodes the Hellhound unleashes its burst, straight into Yuna. She's able to take the brunt of it, and eventually the Hellhound stops, charging back forward.

Straight into Beam Cannons and Emily's whipcracks, which slam into either side. The body's bones are crushed...but it keeps moving, just like before. It seems the only way to stop it is to /kill it/, which should hopefully happen.

As Finna slams forward, she smashes into Curhodes, knocking it backwards. It's throat rips open, but it still lives, if wounded. Kotone's blade slams into its chest, causing it to yelp.

And then a unified attack from two Persona Users slides forward. As soon as the Hellhound sees it...it realizes it's gonna die. But either way, it rushes forward into the storm, attempting to fulfill its Master's last wish. Attempting to tear Janine down. It's defiant.

And it's turned to ash. All that is left behind are two red collars, with the names 'Rhodes' and 'Cur' inscribed onto them. They're Shadow Parts, and should be pretty valuable if they can figure out what to do with them.

Klaus lies in the chair, alive but unconscious. Shadow Klaus is dead...but he doesn't look unhappy. His arms cradle around the regular Klaus's legs, as he begins to disappear, turning into nothing. One may even notice that part of him seems to fly into Klaus as he dies.

The battle is over. While they can't return through the Throne Room, if they take a look, the balcony leaves back to the Forest, allowing them to find an access point and leave.

But before that happens, a sudden ringing will occur in the ears of August and Janine. August falls to his knees from the shock, as he sees something. Words echo in their ears.

"Thou art I...and I am thou...."
"Thou has established a new bond..."
"With it, it brings thee the courage to battle thy fears..."
"Thou friendship grows stronger, and with it, thou shalt be able to combine your powers."

August sees a tarot card with a skull on it. Janine sees a tarot card with a man hanging upside down. Enscribed on both, clearly, are their names.



After a brief swell of energy, the ringing stops, as if nothing had happened. But something did. Something united August and Janine, if even a little.

They saved Klaus, but they discovered new things. The Black Queen's goal. The fact that she has powerful Servants. How Changelings work. That Adelle is someone odd and to be looked into.

And that as they fight, they are brought closer together.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine looks defiantly at Rhodes as he barrels through the wind and flames at her, watching as he roasts to ash before her, his collar rolling to her feet. She picks it up with the blade of the knife, not trusting it to be safe to touch. "Good work Kohler," she says, picking up the other collar with the knife too.

    And then a ringing in her mind cases her to drop it all, the knife clanging at her feet.

    "... the fuck was that?" she whispers to herself, before quickly picking up the knife-collar combo and thrusting them at Emily. "Here's the knife back. Let's get out of here, and dump Klaus at a hospital."

    This was quite a day. She wants nothing more than to go home, pig out on chocolate, shower, and sleep. Not necessarily in that order.