4648/Mission 1: The Nine Tails' Curse

From Multiverse Crisis MUSH
Jump to: navigation, search
Mission 1: The Nine Tails' Curse
Date of Scene: 08 October 2016
Location: Tokyo-52605 <NXC>
Synopsis: The Nasu region of Tochigi Prefecture is primarily known for two things. For most people, it's renowned for its natural sulfur hot springs, and that's what brings Reiji, Xiaomu, and some of their Union friends to the region - a hot-springs trip that's been long in the planning, and forestalled by many of the crises they've had to help deal with.

But Nasu is also where Tamamo-no-Mae was finally hunted down and killed ... and when her body became the Sessho-Seki, the Killing Stone, her curse lingered for many years, as the stone took the lives of those mortals who touched it. Eventually the Stone was destroyed and the curse lifted - but Ouma has discovered that there's still a piece of it there: the first piece they need if they're going to resurrect that ancient and deadly curse.

Cast of Characters: 707, 136, 691, Reina Kinney, Reiji Arisu, Sanary Rondel, 737, 941, 11, 1014, 127
Tinyplot: Restoration of the Killing Stone

Xiaomu (707) has posed:

For elite Shinra agents Reiji and Xiaomu, downtime is hard enough to come by normally - Ouma never seems to take much of a break, and Shinra's agents have to stay ready to react whenever they do. But they *do* earn vacation time, even if they hardly ever get to use it.

Today is an exception. They've managed to get a weekend's worth of vacation - and been approved to take the same weekend, yet - and they're going to make the most of it. Additionally, in a rare show of fiscal discipline, Xiaomu's saved up enough to help pay for their visit to a good hot-spring inn in the Nasu region of Tochigi Prefecture, north-ish of Tokyo; she can afford to pay for a couple of guests as well, but only a couple. Too many tagalongs, and they'll have to pay their own way - but the inn should have plenty of room.

It's not a quick or necessarily easy trip, though. Two trains out from Tokyo, followed by a bus ride, then another bus, and a walk uphill from the bus stop. Even Xiaomu's good cheer is flagging as they reach the traditional inn; there are lanterns alight so it's not *dark*, and while it's fairly cool, it's not chilly. "Hello there!" Xiaomu calls out as the group reaches the inn's front porch; the innkeeper should be showing up momentarily ...

Xiaomu (707) has posed:

Lord Sutoku's letter to the Confederacy stated that those who wished to help Ouma should go to the old location of the Sessho-Seki, the 'Killing Stone' which was supposedly the transmuted corpse of the ancient and legendary kitsune, Tamamo-no-Mae. It's kind of a tourist attraction, really - there's a spiffy little signpost put up to mark the spot, and a tablet which tells a little about the legend of Tamamo-no-Mae, the Killing Stone, and the samurai who were involved in ending both the fox spirit and the curse she left behind.

But with night falling, there are no tourists to be seen; anyone who *would* be here to gawk at the spot and mull over ancient legends and history has probably gone back to their hotel or whatever. The only figures to be seen ...

Well. One figure, really. A big one. Probably big enough to make three or four people, although some of that mass MIGHT be the armor he's wearing. And the ... weapon hanging at his waist; it's hard to tell whether that's a club, or just a sword with a *really* thick and heavy sheath.

He's just waiting at the moment. You probably don't want to meet the people he's waiting for - unless you're, y'know, one of those people.

Rarity (136) has posed:
A luxury weekend staying at the hot springs of a exotic location. There is no way everyone's favorite fashionista was missing out on this trip. It was perfect timing, really. Rarity could get in some R&R and exposure to another culture before she gets buried in the usually hectic holiday work schedual... And this world has things like demon hunting fox spirits and what not, no one is going to find a talking unicorn pony out of place, right? Right? Well okay maybe she can't wander out in bright daylight, but still.

That said, after several train and bus trips, and an uphill hike, even she's floundering a little when it comes to energy. "It's just... all the more reason... for a soaking in... those hot springs... make you work up... a sweat... getting here... Dastardly brilliant... business model."

Yari Takane (691) has posed:
The midnight-blue clad ninja seems to all but melt in from the shadows near the representative in his massive bulk. Really, Yari looks like she could be just another spa-goer with that kimono on. Her tail sways as she awaits her compatriots to join her, but she's already bowing to their contact!

She's also vaguely reading up on their prize through her wrist-reader.

Otherwise, she remains silent, mind mulling over the mission.

Reina Kinney has posed:
Put Reina through GUARDIANS training, considered by some to be the Gurhalian equivalent of USMC basic training? That's fine.

Make her fight several De Rol Le in succession (simulated or not?) Go for it.

Make her ride two trains, followed by two buses, and then a hell of a walk up to a traditional inn? That's another story.

Despite her usually sarcastic attitude and impatience within things, Reina's trying to keep the good mood going as best as she can. Although at times her sense of humor may seem sarcastic more than anything as she talks to the others. "Hey, these boots were made for more than just walking, you know," She comments. "If you want, I can try to order you guys a pair for next time we go out here!" There's a chuckle from her, but more than likely all she gets are glares and sneers as her sarcasm seems to mask the attempt at being funny. Eventually, Reina gets the message and shuts up, although it's not hard to notice the sideways glare on her face as she realizes that her humorous attempts have failed. Not to mention, even her feet are starting to hurt right now despite the claims about her boots. "Man, this is worse than that abandoned subway system I had to go through on my mission in Detroit-210 a few days ago," She comments to herself.

When they finally arrive, Reina breathes a sigh of relief and looks down at her boot-clad feet. "Maybe I should talk to Laia about creating an obstacle course like this?" She whispers to herself, but then shakes her head as she realizes that even Laia wouldn't like something like that. Although, it's easy to see she's having trouble not laughing at her own joke.

Reiji Arisu has posed:
    Reiji can scale skyscrapers in a single bound, a bit of a hike up a mountain doesn't do too much to slow him down! A short break from all the hustle and bustle of making sure Tokyo doesn't go up in a puff of supernaturally empowered smoke is just what the doctor ordered, and the exorcist actually seems a bit... eager, for once. Or at least, he's wearing an expression that's more than just ':|'.

    "Looks like we won't be spending the holiday alone," he says from atop the stairs, sitting on an old, leatherbound suitcase. "Hope the walk up wasn't too bad. Don't worry, though, you've all made it. No surprise second flight of stairs, or anything like that."

Sanary Rondel has posed:
"Mrm... Oh. That place looks good..." Sanary mutters to herself with a quiet yawn, poking at a small tablet and occasionally peering at it as her walking path takes her in the direction of the massive figure. She stops for a moment to glance around, at her surroundings, staring at seemingly random patches of trees and occasionally in the direction of the Killing Stone that the Confederates have been tasked with finding. Her eye doesn't settle on any one spot, though, instead glancing around and almost looking lost several times in between rounds of jabbing at that small tablet. Just what is she looking for, anyway?

     "That could work, too..." At least she looks like a late-night tourist rather than a soldier tonight, clad in a yellow t-shirt and shorts with not a speck of combat gear on her!

     It's only when the healer comes face to face with the armored figure that she holds the tablet at her side instead, staring at him for a while before offering him a brief two-finger salute and straightening up. "Evening, sir. You're..."

     ... Crap. Weren't they just supposed to find an item and not a guardian? Quick, Sanary, improvise! "... Really tall." Good job, Sanary.

Vivio Takamachi (737) has posed:
    50% off coupon to some hot springs! How can Vivio refuse? And then to run into so many fellow Unionites on the trip to the hot springs, such coincidence!

    By the time the slightly larger than expected group arrives at their destination, people seem to be rather tired as a result. As for Vivio, she's as energetic as ever, "Wooooow! This looks so cool!" She turns her head to look at Chris floating in the air beside her, "This is going to be great!" Chris looks a little less enthusiastic at the thought of soaking in hot water... Being a plush bunny and all.

    Vivio then looks at everyone else in the group, then tilts her head a little, "Why do you all look like that?"

    ? ? ?

    Oh well. Vivio bounces on her feet a little as she waits to see what the rest of the inn looks like.

Mel Brock (941) has posed:
    While Xiaomu's good cheer might be flagging, Mel Brock doesn't seem to be fussed at all. She's got a rare weekend off, and an invitation from sensei isn't something she's terribly hesitant to take. Sitting on a train or a bus? Those are relaxing. A walk up a hill? She's in pretty good shape, so that's not too big a bother. By the time they get up there, the psychic - dressed for once in more comfortable clothing, some slightly baggy jeans, a hawaiian-style shirt with a galaxy print, and a white undershirt (and, of course, the limiter on her right-side jawline) - is still in pretty geat spirits, even with all the luggage she has to carry.

    That particularly long 'bag' almost certainly holds a certain sword.

    "Look, I spend days or weeks at a time cooped up on my ship," she replies to Reiji. "If I can stretch my legs and take a walk with wind in my hair and clouds overhead, I'm pretty happy. I'd have no complaints with another set of stairs. /Maybe/ two. Maybe."

    Then there's Vivio, who earns a slight tilt of the head from the psychic. "Look like what?" She pauses, then turns to Reiji and mutters, "This, uh, this /is/ period-appropriate clothing, right?"

Metal Man (11) has posed:
So a hot spring? That was nice sure it was mostly a human thing but Metal was a social creature much like humans were. Beside uit might be fun to mess with some people too just by behaving. Also hey getting to oogle some of the others might just be fun in an odd way. So here he was arriving a bit after Sanary and he's glad in civilian gear heck he mostly passably human or at least clearly corners were not cut on his out of gear mode.

He follows up behind Sanary and looks to be pulling out a camera. Totally a tourist

Heaven's Armory (1014) has posed:
    There may be a sword in that case. There probably is. Certainly, there must be a sword somewhere nearby, because the woman in yellow can't travel without her true body being close at hand. And she is, still, wearing that high (fantasy) society dress, despite the occasion for others to get into something more shapeless. That the outfit is part of her materialization may be related, and that she spent at least part of the trip--perhaps the part that would require additional tickets--as, physically, luggage.
    But now, Hravn is walking. The walk doesn't seem to bother her much, despite the lack of remarkably superhuman physical proficiencies. Her movements are all quite normal, though she might be getting more energy from some unusual source. And she does have enough of it--enough to engage in some casual curiosity of the surroundings, to talk idly, and to spend a fair amount of time watching Vivio, the least familiar figure to her currently present.

Reiji Arisu has posed:
    Reiji just kind of shrugs at Mel's TERRIBLY LOUD INTERGALACTIC HAWAIIAN SHIRT. "Looks fine to me," says the man who spends all his time either doing paperwork or stabbing monsters in the face. "Not surprised you're not winded, though. If you can keep up with training, something like this shouldn't be much of anything."

What's a flight of stairs compared to ALL THE SWORD TRAINING EVER?!

    "Hmn," he says then. It looks like he's... Scanning through everyone. Does he think something's wrong? Is it something else? "Looks like I might have my side all to myself." Oh. Oh it's just... That. "Well, I'll make do."

Xiaomu (707) has posed:

Xiaomu grins wryly at Reina and Rarity. "I don't know about an obstacle course, but it's definitely good endurance training. But yeah, I can't wait --"

And the front door of the inn slides open. "Welcome, travellers!" a rather pretty woman in her late 20s greets them. "This is the reservation under 'Arisu,' I gather?" She looks around briefly, counting heads. The sight of a white unicorn pony brings her up short. "I'm sorry, we don't have a sta--"

"She's one of our party, she can hold a conversation, she's from off-world," Xiaomu hastily interrupts before the woman can finish sticking her foot in her mouth.

".... oh. In that case, you seem to have one or two too many ... ?" The innkeeper frowns in thought, pulling a smartphone out of her kimono. "- oh, right, the contest. Yes, everything should be in order for you, the rooms were cleaned and made up earlier." She gives Rarity a rueful smile, "I'm not sure if we have slippers that will fit your hooves, though, and the tatami ..."

There's a quiet slap of palm against face, again from Xiaomu's direction. "If the tatami get damaged, I will *personally* see to the replacement or repairs, I know a couple of families in these parts who're still in the business. If you keep Rarity out of your inn because she isn't human, we will *walk back down the mountain* until we find a place that'll let her stay."

"Oh, no, that won't be a problem," the innkeeper adds hastily. "We don't get many Multiversal customers .... I do apologize most deeply, miss," she says to Rarity, bowing deeply. "I suppose I can just help wipe your hooves off on your way in, if that would be suitable?" She pushes the doors further open and ushers the group inside, expertly sizing everyone's feet up (except Rarity's) and getting out guest slippers for every member of the party. "We've had some recent issues with the hot spring but I hope that won't be a problem for anyone ...."

Xiaomu looks up from taking off her sandals, and replies to the innkeeper with a single, flat, "What."

Kirikou (127) has posed:
    Kirikou's a biiiit on the dubious side over helping this pack of oppressed monsters with their fight. He approves in principle and wants to help 'stick it to the man', and he wants the Confederacy to gain the promised reward after. Yeah, but that's the easy part. The hard part is what sort of things are likely to happen along the way.

    And so he's here, coming in to join the group with a friendly sort-of smile. Here for business though. The Twins are here with him in their more martial form, as a pair of oversize metal gauntlets over his fists. He's not subtle, sadly. Oh well, at least he blends in with the dark somewhat, and with the armor-clad figure as well in a way.

    "So. Dressin' for the occasion?" Kilik asks neutrally. He could be talking to Yari, he could be talking to the big guy with all the armor. "What's the plan?"

Xiaomu (707) has posed:

The towering figure rumbles, "This is a bad time for you to venture here, mortals." His voice sounds like it was mined from the depths of the earth - deep, dark, and gravelly.

"I too was mortal once, and died on this spot centuries ago - my life torn away at the fangs and claws of the accursed Tamamo-no-Mae. My rage and my grief would not permit me rest, and I rose from the clutches of death - only to perish again by the power of the accursed Killing Stone. Again and again I struggled back, and became *THIS*!"

*CRUNCH* So much for the marker sign. As for what the sign was taken out *with* ...

Okay, that's clearly a club rather than a sword - mostly because the 'scabbard' didn't stay hanging from his belt when he drew. More tellingly, if it WERE a sword, it's the kind that gets forged from girders and I-beams, and if it were being statted for a tabletop game, the player who had it on his character would probably have to roll for two damage types with each swing.

"I am oni now, and your lives are forfeit should you challenge me. There is nowhere you can run where you will be safe, for we are the hunters!"

Somebody in that group should know the right answer to that. It's probably best if they're the first one to reply - before the oni swings at something with a pulse, unlike the historical marker sign which is now so much splinters and kindling.

Reina Kinney has posed:
Despite the fact that the joke was rather sarcastic, Reina grins back at Xiaomu, glad to see SOMEONE is appreciating her sense of humor. Then the innkeeper arrives, and Reina looks towards her, smiling pleasantly... until she mentions Rarity and the issue with not having a stable. Reina can only sigh and roll her eyes a little until Xiaomu speaks up for her. At that, Reina enters along with the other guests, quickly removing her boots and setting them off to the side.

The red-head then starts to take in the sights and surroundings of the inn, starting to feel reminded of one of the planets in the Gurhal system she was known to frequent when she was younger. A slight smile forms on her face, until the innkeeper mentions problems with the springs, and as soon as Xiaomu speaks to the innkeeper, Reina looks to her as well. The slight smile that was forming on her face is replaced with a stern frown and a slightly lowered left eye.

Rarity (136) has posed:
Rarity takes the woman's near faux pas rather gracefully... Considering it's hardly the first time the confusion has come up even with how long Equestria has been involved in the multiverse, probably not that much of a surprise. "Fear not for your lavish flooring miss, I had my hooves manicured just yesterday in preperation." Pauses as she holds a forehoof up partway to inspect. "Abiet, the walk up here was a wee bit rough on them, a quick clean up would be appreciated." She's not going to pass up a bit of pampering. And it doesn't hurt to let the staff feel they have made up for a possible mistake.

Once her hooves have been cleaned she watchs the girl handle slippers for everyone else. Then turns her head to open one of her bags with her magic, pull out a few spare materials a woman in her profession, regardless of species, always keeps at ready... and in a matter of moments has made four replica slippers for herself to accomidate her hooves. "Fortunately I came well prepared for possible... anatomical difficulties~ You shant have to worry about a--"

Then the innkeeper mentions problems with the hot springs.

Rarity, who would normally -be- the one giving that sort of response, wisely edges a bit -away- from Xiamou. "... This might get a tiny bit unpleasant." Depends on what the 'issues' are...

Mel Brock (941) has posed:
    Okay. She's not too terribly out-of-place. Good. "Hey, don't forget I'm SpecOps trained. I've always been pretty fit."


    "No hot spring?"

    Mel quietly turns to look at Xiaomu with an expression that says... well, things that are probably best left unsaid. There might be swearing involved. But she's not happy either. Then she turns to Hravn briefly, before adding for the inkeep's sake, "You won't need spare space for her. She's my sword." If this is someone who knows the Multiverse, no reason to stand on secrecy. "I'll cover an extra meal for her, though." Hravn might not actually NEED to eat, but it can be enjoyable for her, so on occasion Mel does like to treat her.

Vivio Takamachi (737) has posed:
    Vivio blinks and looks at Mel for a moment... Then rubs the back of her head, "Uhhhh, I wouldn't know actually!" She giggles quietly. She then notices Hravn watching her, giving the woman a friendly smile and wave. She was going to introduce herself, but that's when the innkeeper exits and greets them.

    Vivio clasps her hands in front of her and bows to the innkeeper, "Hello." She straightens again, "Thank you for allowing us to come and enjoy your hot springs tonight."

    As they are ushered inside, Vivio removes her shoes and steps into the comfy slippers. She takes off her little backpack and puts it aside as well. She grabs her Device out of the air, hugging the little plush bunny to her chest as she says, "Come on Chris, let's go check out the hot springs right away!"

    Vivio stumbles mid-stride as the innkeeper mentions the problems they've been having. She looks a bit dismayed, turning to the innkeeper and asking with concern "Oh no! What happened? Is there anything we can do to help?" To think, they're so close... And yet so far away~

Reiji Arisu has posed:
Ah, and there's the innkeeper. What a lady she seems! Right up until she starts worrying more about the Tatami than the state of her guests. And then there's the news that the hotsprings are, apparently, broken. Reiji's brow twitches slightly. They have two days to enjoy themselves. Two days away from the hustle and the bustle of the city, and now they discover that there's... something wrong with the onsen that they came all this way to visit.

"What," Reiji echoes his partner in saying.

    "What kind of problem?" He asks. Did someone die in it? Is there an upsurge in monkey bathers? IS THERE A GIANT GORILLA INVOLVED? "What do you mean there's a problem with the spring?" Because if this turns into another job, Reiji is going to have to do some really uncomfortable paperwork with human resources.

    He steps off his sutcase and gives his arms a good, solid cross. "If we can help, then please, let us know. We are quite qualified," Vivio is, of course, correct-- and has a leg up on him in answering first! Hmn. He's getting slow. Or maybe tired and jaded in his old age (read: twenties).

Heaven's Armory (1014) has posed:
    Hravn smiles back, lightly waving to Vivio--but then there's the matter with the innkeeper. Rarity is another unfamiliar person to her, though ponies in general are not. The quick-shodding technique was, yet again, outside her knowledge.
    Hravn looks at the innkeeper while she's talking, but doesn't seem to react to her otherwise. Might she be unfamiliar with Japanese custom? The lack of bowing probably won't be too upsetting when one remembers they're dealing with an (ambiguously East Asian-styled) foreigner, but certainly could be, otherwise. She'll accept a change into slippers, at least, her old shoes disappearing soon afterward. "I could eat," is literally true, "but won't require sleeping arrangements, no."
    The slippers look a bit silly, but this is an acceptable sacrifice for the experience of a hot spring--or, would be, if a hot spring were available. Hmm. That's not as visibly upsetting to Hravn as to some others here, but does evoke questions, as Vivio and others have already asked. "Why don't we just go and have a look?"

Kirikou (127) has posed:
    Kirikou peers up at the massive oni. He could fight the thing, he figures. If he really had to. It's big but ... well, that's only one aspect of fighting. But this isn't a pissing contest, and it's not something they should win with their fists. Besides, Yari did say something about this earlier. "We're the pursuers." he replies carefully. "And while challengin' you might be fun, we're here to help instead. Maybe once this is all done, you'll be free from your ... ah, current state."

    He holds out one fist, either in salute or in challenge. "Well, big bro? What's it gonna be? Is there a plan for today or are we just gonna smash stuff?"

Sanary Rondel has posed:
Would bringing armor have helped? Probably, but then Sanary would look too suspicious. Even bringing a shield could have drawn eyebrows! Alas, she'll just have to make do by relying entirely on Metal Man and Kirikou to handle the heavy lifting if anything does go down. Between the threatening figure shouting about his unfortunate fate and looking just about ready to smash the three of them to bits?

     Yeah, it's definitely a good thing Kilik was there to respond properly. The healer takes a moment to sigh quietly and nod at him and Metal Man, then turns back to the large one before crossing her arms over her chest.

     "Wouldn't mind seeing how the four of us compare, but... Yeah, we can save the tests of strength for later. Business first." Turning around to face the path they had come from, Sanary switches her magitech eye to the thermal imaging function with a faint cringe. Who knows if someone might be following them up there or even wandering by at the wrong time?

Metal Man (11) has posed:
Well the Feds are getting a good welcome he pauses at the spirit? He's not always up on Japanese Myth and legend which happens to be reality here. He smirks for a moment nodding to the Oni he doesn't seem to be looking for hte civilians and he follows up making reayd to back up the other feds and their ally.

"We got some business it seems Ma'me."

he ntoes to Sanary getting all business but he doesn't summon any weapons just yet he knows the oni is doing a good job of being a diversion for them so they got to make that count right?

Xiaomu (707) has posed:

There's an *almost* disappointed air about the oni as he returns his kanabou to his belt, chains clinking as they're wound about the handle to hold the weapon in place. "Well met, allies of Ouma," says the self-professed oni as - he's actually shrinking, it looks like; his height stabilizes at about two and a half meters, still probably looming over most people (and likely over the group of Confederates) but not the walking building he was before. "I am called Kibatsume. The fragment is in a cavern not far from here."

There's a rather distinct lack of caverns in the immediate area, though ... sure, they're currently on the side of a mountain, and there are plenty of other mountains in the region, but how far is 'not far'? Kibatsume doesn't linger to explain, though - he just turns and starts walking, clearly expecting the Confederates to keep up.

Sanary might take note of a bus passing on a distant road, but there are no other passers-by in the area. Certainly none on foot, and the bus driver is too distracted by the passengers he'd dropped off an hour ago to pay any attention to weirdoes he can't even see.

Xiaomu (707) has posed:

The innkeeper shakes her head, "The spring is still full, and we clean it regularly - I oversaw the cleaning earlier today, in fact, and everything *should* be in order. But some of our regular visitors have complained lately about the smell ... it still smells more or less as it should to me, though, and sulfur hot springs always have a certain scent to them ..."

Meanwhile, Xiaomu has changed into her slippers, putting her sandals in the appropriate cubbyhole, and seems to be whispering something to herself. It doesn't take terribly sharp ears to pick up on the subject, either: this is their VACATION, dammit, she doesn't want it to get turned into a busman's holiday.

But ... the hot springs aren't at their best, and 'complaints about the smell' mean something to the sage fox that ordinary humans might overlook. Not that anyone in the group is an 'ordinary human,' strictly speaking. "Fine, we'll ... we'll check and see if the smell bothers us," Xiaomu finally grumbles. "No guarantees if we can do anything about it. Which way?"

The innkeeper gives them directions to the area with the bath, then says, "If any of you would like a vegan meal for the evening, I can start preparing the additional dishes we'll need while you're investigating the bath." And once people have answered, Xiaomu leads the way to the bath area.

Along the way, Xiaomu explains, "This place has been around for generations, a lot of friendly youkai drop by. And it's located on a major ley line, fed straight out of the mountains - that makes it a better spot than usual for recovering from illness or injury, the positive energies saturate the waters and you soak those up while you're bathing." So that's why she picked this inn out of all the options that might be easier to get to.

Xiaomu leaves her slippers in the changing room, but she's still fully dressed when she steps out to the open-air bath itself, sniffing cautiously at the air, then inhaling more deeper. "Doesn't seem so-- GHK!!" She clamps a hand over her nose and mouth, her eyes watering; whatever she smelled must not have been evident right away.

And those who are supernaturally sensitive will notice it too: the stink of death, like a rotting carcass. Those without supernatural senses may just pick up on a 'wrongness' to the smell without being able to identify exactly what it is, other than the usual rotten-egg smell of sulfur.

Metal Man (11) has posed:
Metal Man ius keeping things calm for the moment hesmirks for a moment as they get the password right. "Good thnk we were able to settle this without an issue, right?" He ponders about the Killing Stone, he's going to have to do some homework on the mission. He should try to finf out what wlse he could find out. He notices the Bus for a moment but shrugs as he's far than able to keep up whistling as he goes.

"So far so good right,Sans?"

Mel Brock (941) has posed:
    Mel isn't quite supernaturally sensitive in the way others are - hell, even her telepathic abilities are rudimentary at best. But stepping one foot into the bath area, the PsiMarshal can feel something /off/. She can't tell what, but it immediately sets her on edge, and her body language shows it, especially in the way she's gripping the bag holding Hravn's true body harder. "...Okay, am I going insane, or does anyone else feel that?"

Rarity (136) has posed:
Rarity lets out a short sigh. Somehow she is not at all surprised that what is suppose to be a vacation is turning into a bit of work to earn it. This... seems to happen a lot. She could count all the times it has happened to just her and her friends alone, but she only has four hooves.

Speaking of hooves, she holds one up to motion to the innkeeper after the dinner query. "Please and thank you, dahling. Would be most appreciated." But first, there is a potential Friendship Problem to look into... this counts, right? Since it's bothering her friends' ability to relax and all.

She's quick to follow after the fox spirit all the same, bobbing her head a bit at the explaination. Until they get to the actual springs. She's two steps behind when she stops. While she doesn't have a specifically super sense, being a unicorn she does have a certain... resonance with magic and supernatural. And a sharpness for details when she's paying attention. That is enough to pick up on... well...

For sake of clarity we'll just go with calling it 'wrongness'.

The smell may not be entirely literal, but Rarity puts a hoof over the end of her muzzle all the same as she leers away from what should of been a soothing pool of naturally heated water instead. "How horrifying."

Reina Kinney has posed:
Usually you'd get a snippy reply from Reina or something about this whole thing, but in this case she's decided enough's enough for one night, so she simply goes along with the whole thing. She nods intently as she listens to Xiaomu, finding the bit of trivia rather interesting, although the term 'youkai' is something that goes over her head. Shrugging it off, Reina follows Xiaomu to the changing room, where she changes into something more suitable for using the hot springs, also leaving her slippers in the changing room as well.

Once she gets outside along with Xiaomu, she smiles a little as she takes a deep breath of the area, before coughing a little. "Ugh... forgot this place smells like sulfur. I must remember to brush up on my knowledge of..." She frowns and stops abruptly, and then sniffs the air again. "Wait a minute... this isn't..." A few more sniffs and she scowls a little. "OK, sulfur may not be the most pleasant thing to smell, but this smells worse than your usual sulfur." She covers her mouth while holding her nose and waving with her free hand. "I dunno what it is, but I don't think it's an overdose of sulfur!"

Vivio Takamachi (737) has posed:
    Vivio listens intently before nodding enthusiastically, "Don't worry Miss Innkeeper, we'll check it out! Come on, Chris!" Like the plush bunny in Vivio's arms has any choice as she turns and starts following Xiaomu towards the bath area.

    Once they arrive, Vivio starts smelling... She's familiar with hot springs to a degree, so knows of the usual smells. But supposedly there is something else here? Vivio hmmms thoughtfully... She can't reall pick up on anything. She looks down at her Device, "What do you think, Chris?"

    Vivio releases the plush bunny, who flies over to the hot springs. He ever so gently just sticks the tip of his pointed plush arm into the water, before pulling it out. After apparently studying for a moment, he turns back to Vivio and shrugs. Vivio scratches her head, "Not quite sure... There might be something?" She looks at the others questioningly.

Sanary Rondel has posed:
Sanary breathes a sigh of relief when the oni sounds significantly less hostile than before, turning back around and turning off the thermal vision matrix. Seeing everything in distorted heat-based colors hurts after a while! She raises an eyebrow as Kibatsume shrinks right in front of them, but doesn't pay it too much mind before following their still-taller-than-her guide.

     "Looks like we should be safe out here, at least. Didn't see anyone comin' up this way, and if anyone does..." Sanary glances back and forth at each of her companions. None of them look particularly suspicious, so that's a good sign! "... Well, we'll figure it out later. If we can just get the piece and go, we should be safe." She's content to let the oni take the lead for the time being, still glancing back occasionally just in case they really do get followed by someone!

Heaven's Armory (1014) has posed:
    Hravn's human form has no more sensitivity to smell than most any actual human. This, however, is something easily enough to penetrate the casing around her true body, and her full senses pick up on it.
    "Ahh..." She doesn't look quite so perturbed as some others, as her eyes still shine with that ever-present curiosity for the world. "...could any scent be more familiar?" She steps over to Mel's side, leaning in to add, "It's that which is left, past the end. The air carries the sensation of it, rather than truly the smell. 'Death.'"

Kirikou (127) has posed:
    Kirikou's easily enough able to keep up with the oni, after the being shrinks enough to have an approximately-human stride. He's still a lot larger than Kilik, but not enough to make the boy gripe over having to walk fast. Or, for that matter, to complain over distance. So long as Kirikou doesn't have to carry anyone, or at least not anyone else, things are fine with him. He has to idly wonder why it is this oni hasn't just claimed the fragment. It can't be easy right? Else why call in the Feds for this? Suits him fine though. The more they can personally claim, the more leverage they'll have over its final use.

Reiji Arisu has posed:
    'A strange smell?' 'Only some of the customers have picked it up?' That can mean many things. Maybe it's just a sulfur buildup? Maybe it's a volcano acting up? Or maybe, just maybe, it's something much, much worse. But as soon as they enter the springs, it becomes abundantly clear to both of the resident exorcists that it's definitely the latter.

    "Nngh," Reiji growls, his arm rising to cover his nose and mouth. "This miasma-- Everyone, careful! Don't breathe too deep. This isn't a natural stench." His supernatural senses are firing on all cylinders. Everything here just feels... Wrong. Terrible, awful, like something old and dead got chucked into the water and left to rot.

    The exorcist hauls his suitcase up from behind him and slams his heel on its lock. It pops open with a series of clicks, and Reiji drags a handful of paper talismans from one of the inside pockets. "You who stand at the northeastern threshhold, hear the words of your summoner," his words intone, suddenly rolling outwards like the distant rumble of thunder, "Great guardian deity, Bishamonten with your purifying light, I beseech you, purge this evil. Warrior at the gate, mightiest of the heavenly kings, with your guiding light, reveal to us the source of this evil!"

    The talismans twist and flit from Reiji's palm, sweeping through the air until they align in an esoteric array before him. Each one suddenly seems to ignite, as if burning with the light of the sun itself. "OM!" Reiji roars, a ray of pure sunlight blasting out from the assembled array, "BISHAMON-TEN SOWAKA!"

Onmyo-do can be pretty useful sometimes.

Xiaomu (707) has posed:

It's not often that 'breathes easier' is taken literally, but as soon as Reiji's onmyodo goes off, Xiaomu lowers her hands from her face, gasping a bit as her normal color starts to return to her cheeks. "And this is why I keep working with you," she says to Reiji with a wry grin; his invocation of Bishamonten may not have gotten at the source of the contamination, but it *DID* scour the taint away from the springs themselves and is filtering the incoming water and energy very effectively.

Of course the source of the taint is 'upstream' - up the waterways, up the leyline, somewhere in the mountains that feed the hot spring. It's going to be a bit of a trek to get there, but the inn's guests can at least bathe, relax, and get a good meal and a good night's sleep before they set out.

Or they can be total workaholics and set out NOW, but it's already evening, and Reiji's purification will hold until morning. It's not like it's monsters trying to invade the inn and befoul the bathwaters directly.


It's a pretty lengthy walk, but one devoid of interference; with Kibatsume leading them, the Confederates make their way into the mountains, following one river upstream, then another, uphill all the way until they reach a small cavern with a sacred rope stretched across the mouth. The rope has a deep gash in it and is missing some of the zig-zag paper streamers, but it's still intact ... and the opening behind is clearly *WAY* too small for someone of Kibatsume's stature to pass through, even if it weren't for the holy wards that are in place.

Cut the rope (or burn it), make your way into the passage, and the Stone is there - as black as obsidian, and darker still if you're sensing its supernatural nature. Just touching it feels dangerous to those of mortal origin, but in its fragmented and weakened state, the Killing Stone is not going to live up to its name ... at least, not unless you try eating it or something.

Assuming one of the Confederates can fit into the cavern, getting the Stone's fragment out is not going to be difficult. And if push comes to shove, just getting rid of the sacred barrier would be enough to make getting at the Stone much easier - but apparently, Kibatsume can't do THAT part on his own. Thus the need for more-or-less mortal assistance, it seems ... ?

Kirikou (127) has posed:
    Nothing wrong with these mountains... Kirikou seems just fine and seems to be enjoying the nature hike so far. Until the group reaches the cavern that is. Seeing the rope apparently, his expression goes grim. It's a bit of a rare look for the youth, and might attract attention from those who know him.

    Not that he gives much of a damn about the shinto sacred rope or anything. His world has similar-enough beliefs, but he's not much interested in magic or sacredness. He IS interested in his Weapons' sensitivity to the earth though. And this cavern, well, it's no doubt leaking some seriously bad mojo. Fire and Thunder are earth shamans, attuned to the natural order, and something within this cavern's decidedly unnatural and unpleasant.

    As a result he's a little kurt. "We'll get whatever it is out of there." he says quietly to no one in particular. "Then it'll all be better, right?" He then nods. Apparently he's talking to himself. Or for those who know him, talking to his Weapons. He eyes the opening. He's not as big as the oni, but he's still pretty big. Almost no body fat though, so he might be able to fit. "I guess I can get in there." he claims, sounding irritated. Someone else can cut the rope.

Rarity (136) has posed:
Rarity waits an extra moment or two before lowering her hoof from her nose. "... Excellent work dahling. Much easier on the senses." The unicorn trots up to the edge of the springs once it's not setting off multiple feelings of wrongness. Now they can enjoy what they came here for!

Or can they?

Despite it being clear Rarity just stands at the edge for a moment... and realizing so simply is never the way it goes. She knows her friends that well, and the group she's with is pretty much of same mind. An investigate deeper into the matter is unavoidable.

A soft sigh escapes her as she hangs her head a moment, lamenting the relaxing spring soak she's probably not going to get now. Then turns to walk back to the rest of the inn. "I shall get my hiking gear."

Vivio Takamachi (737) has posed:
    Vivio watches with interest as the talismans released, ritual performed and purification unleashed. It's always fun to watch other types of magic performed!

    As things settle, Vivio has to admit that things seem a little better now. And Xiaomu certainly seems to agree. However upon learning of the source of the infection, Vivio ehehehs, "That's a bit of a hike for this time of night..."

    Vivio does want to find out what was causing the weirdness, but she was also really looking forward to hot springs. And they're like, right here! So close! She looks at the others, "We can always go in the morning!"

Sanary Rondel has posed:
Further into the cave they go! Getting into the cramped space does look a lot more difficult than Sanary would like to admit, but luckily for her... She's not the one doing that tonight. Besides, the important thing is that the job is almost done! Kilik gets a direct link to the healer's energy reserves for his trouble in getting through that cramped space, augmenting his own energy reserves by letting Kilik draw from Sanary's and granting a boost to his natural healing should he need it. The stone does look rather ominous, if a little easy to grab, and Sanary's more than willing to let someone else carry it and take care of the rope so she can focus on her own specialty in healing magic!

Reiji Arisu has posed:
    'Workaholics' indeed. Reiji gives Xiaomu a quick nod and a... headpat. "You okay? I can sense something further upstream, but if you're not up for it, I could go check things out quick," he gives his suitcase another kick, and an entire rack of weapons just kind of falls out for Reiji to grab. "Just to get a look. If it's bad, I'll hold off, but..."

"Something about this doesn't sit right with me."

    He nods to Rarity as the TINY HORSE voices her desire to go check things out. "Alright. I'll be going off too. The rest of you guys can rest here if you like," with that, he slides a holster full of handgun around his hips and leaps up into the woods. Time to go take a look, once Rarity and the others are all good to go.

Reina Kinney has posed:
Reina isn't keen on rituals like this, but she doesn't mind the fact that they work. The horrible stench is gone and Reina can breathe easily again. "Well, that's better!" She says with genuine sincerity in her voice. "But still, there's really something wrong with this whole thing. I don't like it one bit." She looks to Xiaomu and bites her lip for a moment before speaking. "We should check it out, definitely, but tonight might not be the best time. We don't know what might be waiting, and given how dark it is, I don't want to take any chances."

Mel Brock (941) has posed:
    "Arisu, it's late," Mel says, setting down the bag containing Hravn. "And whatever's going on, it's potent enough to pollute this place so /I/ could feel it, despite being way upstream. We're gonna want rest and numbers on our side. Think it's a bad idea heading up until we're all ready."

Reiji Arisu has posed:
    Reiji gives Mel a look... Then a shrug. "Normally, I'd agree. But this is part of my job, too." He leaps onto a branch and secures the weapons on his mobile armory, "I'm sure you wouldn't wait if you saw a body in the street with a fresh bloodtrail leading from it, right?" He shakes his head. "I'm only going to take a look. If it's serious, I'll head back, but I can't just... leave this alone. I came here to relax, and this'd just set me on edge all weekend."

Mel Brock (941) has posed:

    Mel reaches down and picks up the bag containing Hravn. "Then I'm not leaving /you/ alone. Come on, let's get rolling. Sooner we look into it, the sooner we can get back here."

Rarity (136) has posed:
It's less desire and more knowing most of her friends present are not going to be able to actually relax and enjoy themselves with this looming over them, so it's best to just get the obstruction out of the way. But close enough. Rarity will do it now so they -all- can enjoy the break afterwards, or it just wouldn't be right. Element of Generosity includes giving one's time and effort for others too, and all that.

Vivio Takamachi (737) has posed:
    Vivio hmmmms quietly over it for a moment, before glancing at Chris, "What do you think?" The plush bunny waves his arms a bit, then jabs one towards Vivio as he narrows his eyes in what could be described as determination. Vivio watches him for a moment, then grins and nods, "You're right! This is no time to be sitting about when they could be bad things around maybe preying on innocent people."

    Vivio spins around to face the others and raises her hand into the air, "Vivio Takamachi will help find the bad things! And then we can stop them from doing their evil things. And then come back and enjoy the hot springs!" Vivio pumps a fist in excitement, a playful smile on her face, "They won't know what hit them."

Metal Man (11) has posed:
Metal Man doesn't look like much without his combat armour he looks like he's a german man with brownish black hair. However he seems to have a balde handy somehow h summons one seemingly from nowhere he's ready to deal with the blade right? he's not sure if he can link himself but he does have hia blade. "There's few things my blades can not cut." Just the stuff Metool helmets are made out, Nerp or nothing man when it comes to that. He will make to cut the rope unless someone stops him or calls him on not doing it.

Xiaomu (707) has posed:

The rope is cut, the Stone fragment is retrieved. Now it's all over but the return home - *with* the fragment. Kibatsume certainly doesn't have a way to deliver it to Ouma forces elsewhere, and letting the Confederacy hang onto it will be a sign of good faith.

Just be careful about who's allowed to handle it. Ouma disclaims all responsibility in connection with deaths resulting from improper contact with a supernatural object of latent death curse.


Xiaomu is extremely begrudging about going anywhere without a nice relaxing soak, a filling dinner, and a good night's sleep, but -

"Fiiiiiiiine," she groans. "Honestly, I can't take you *anywhere*, Reiji. We better get that vacation time back *double* for this. *And* a nice fat bonus."

- but Reiji's her *partner*, dammit, she's not going to let him go haring off to investigate MYSTERIOUS SUPERNATURAL POLLUTION without having his back, no matter who else is going to be there with him. At least, not when she's there to see what sets him on the case. Plus, well, this is kinda personal for her too: she's the one who picked this inn, precisely because she knew what made it so special. If something went wrong with *that*, she wants a piece of solving the puzzle ... and then making sure whoever's responsible pays the requisite hell in full, with interest.

But by the time they get to the point 'upstream' that the pollution was coming from ... there's nothing.

Well, that's not quite true. There's a cavern with the remains of a sacred rope barrier. There's a whole mess of footprints from one oni and a handful of unknown other people. And there's a lingering taint of the sort you'd expect from an ancient supernatural object of latent death curse that laid in that cavern for relatively untold centuries.

By the time the group returns to the inn for their belated dinner, more-belated bath, and a richly-deserved good night's sleep, Xiaomu looks like a foxgirl who actually needs (or at least really, really wants) to get drunk. "We're finishing our vacation while we can, Reiji. If that was what I *think* it was, it's gonna be a while before the next chance ..."

Vivio Takamachi (737) has posed:
    Vivio is a little disappointed they didn't get to fight anything after all that psyching up. But at least they've confirmed that the world isn't going to end tonight, so they can now get back to their irregularly scheduled relaxation.

    Once they're returned, Vivio grabs her Device by the arm, "Come on Chris, let's go get changed!" Vivio runs off towards the changing rooms, dragging the plush bunny behind her, still looking so cheerful despite the late hour and long trekking.

Rarity (136) has posed:
Rarity just collapses in the hot spring as she finally gets the chance to enjoy this vacation. What's left of it. Nope. Investigation done. NOT MOVING FOR THE REST OF THE NIGHT.