4730/PWTWM: The Wolf of Samhain

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PWTWM: The Wolf of Samhain
Date of Scene: 31 October 2016
Location: Alberichstadt <P:WTWM>
Synopsis: On the night of Halloween, Fear stalks through the Mirror Forest. Several heroes move to rescue a kid from the Pale Wolf, the embodiment of Fear, but find themselves fighting their own inner nightmares. With Special Guest Stars!
Cast of Characters: August Kohler, Janine Liberi, Sanary Rondel, Ainsley, Kotone Yamakawa, 1040, Toph Beifong, 1039
Tinyplot: Persona: Were the World Mine-1


August Kohler has posed:
OCTOBER 31st, 2016

ALBERICHSTADT, GERMANY

LATE EVENING

It's Halloween! Throughout Alberichstadt, people make merry. Children trick-or-treat, teenagers just trick, adults get super drunk. Die Reisende had a costume party, organized by Janine Liberi for some sort of nefarious reason that no one is quite sure of. August is here, but has been sitting most of the time, dressed as a ghost. Aka, he has a white sheet on with holes in it. Mouth hole, so he can drink his beer, too. The Shack is a pretty great place for a party: no crashers, seeing as it has wards. But, as he turns to glance at their massive hanging mirror for a moment...

It all goes dark. Human faces warp into it, as it changes colors. The exact pattern is familiar to those who fought the massive horde of Shadows: a human is lost or trapped in the Forest. Last time this happened, someone opened up mirrors to let people into the Forest. It may be happening once again. However, August is supposed to REST, so he can't lead this mission. "I'll hold backup. Janine, you're in charge." He moves his chair to watch the mirror, grabbing and holding his radio at the ready, as well as being there to open the Mirror for reinforcements.

When everyone arrives in the Forest, they'll notice it's /wrong/. It's darker than usual, no natural light. They'll need to provide light in some other way. There is absolutely no signs of Shadows; no yellow eyes, no weird clicking noises, no shuffling, no Pig, nothing. The Forest is still. Except for two things: the howling of a wolf in the distance...and the crying of a child not much farther into the trees. Human, certainly. Something's gone wrong.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine clearly had hidden cameras up to record everyone in their terrible costumes, yes. It's not like she actually enjoys Halloween and wanted an excuse to dress up and gorge on sweet things. Hell, she doesn't even need the excuse to pig out, she just had her arm reattached!

    But anyway, she is dressed as an Egyptian mummy, obviously so her sling doesn't clash with the costume of wrapped bandages. Some more are wrapped around her face, but in no way is her vision obscured. But once the mirrors began to writhe, she tossed a coat on and rushed off, grumbling all the while and scoffing butterscotch candies.

    "Oh, I'm in charge am I? Well don't get any goddamn ideas, I keep count of my candy you son of a bitch. If I see a single thing out of place, blowing up will seem like a moment of paradise compared to what I do to you!" And with that, she strides into the mirror at the shack, holding it open for any who follow.

    "Jesus Christ it's never been this dark. Can barely see past the length of my sword..." Janine checks her reflection in it, making sure that she can still call on Biancabella... when that howl rings out. Immediately, she freezes up, her breaths becoming shallow, more rapid.

    "Fuck fuck fuck fuck... okay, listen out for those howls and keep them well in the distance. We're moving /very cautiously/ towards the crying kid. Don't rush, believe me I know some of you want to, but we're no good to them if we die on the way." With that, her phone is placed into her coat pocket, the top sticking out and the flashlight turned on to illuminate the path ahead.

Sanary Rondel has posed:
The rumblings over the radio haven't escaped Sanary's ears. She's heard of weird shit happening at home before around this time of here, but this is her fast time necessarily looking into such oddities in the Multiverse proper. She's not taking any chances today as she hurries into the mirror, keeping her gunaxe and kite shield slung over her shoulder. She's actually put a good amount of effort into her costume, too, looking like a stereotypical bearded lumberjack complete with red plaid and overalls!

     Probably not the best costume in retrospect, considering the Forest being... Well, the Forest. Noticing the lack of light, the healer loiters near the side of the group at first. Creating lights through explosions is not a proper way to do things!

     "Is that a person out there...? Couldn't be. Er. Could it?" She looks ready to pick up the pace, at least, but she's waiting for Janine's go-ahead and the rest of the group to chime in first. Thankfully, she seems to have a decent enough sense to tell everyone /not/ to charge in, and Sanary actually grins a little at that.

     "Understood. I'll take point, then." And then she's indeed moving forward, keeping her shield raised for whatever may come their way.

Ainsley has posed:
Ainsley was seated at the shack, ready for such an event already. She has seen three previous Halloween seasons and the supernatural events tended to reach an all-time high. She brought food and a bag full of books so that the day wouldn't pass by slowly, but once people in their costumes showed up to the shack she found it was easy to entertain herself by watching the others. Unfortunately, she didn't bother to bring a costume, because her interest in the holiday was purely business. The dutiful reptile was waiting for something to go wrong.

The mirror changes. Her head turns to focus on the sight, and the horrible display makes her balk for a second. The reptile woman's feathers bristled and her mouth pulled into a tight frown. She gathered her sword and set her novel aside on the pile of books she brought along, preparing for the trip into the Forest. She stepped through the mirror with the others, choosing to be one of the last to go through due to being squishier than the majority of the group.

The darkness makes her hesitate immediately. The silence makes her heart thump in her chest. She hadn't realized how much she relied on the sounds and sights of the Forest to judge how dangerous it was. Now... there was only the distant howling. She clenches her jaw a couple of times and breathes a sigh through her nose, and then speaks aloud pretty clearly.

"I really hoped I wasn't right about this..."

She directs her focus away from her hang-ups with the ominous atmosphere and toward the sound of a child in distress. She glances aside to Janine and nods in confirmation of her words. And then she pulls her own cell phone out and does the same thing Janine is doing with the light. She frowns to herself, realizing she hadn't charged it... the possibility of getting stranded in the dark without her light occurs to her.

    Ainsley is probably the only Persona user here that never even saw the Wolf. It might explain why she seems more freaked out than she ever has been before. She knows all too well how dangerous a Shadow like this can be, and that apparently trumps her ability to maintain her supernatural calm.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone was going to be going out to party for Halloween she's even got a pirate costume done up she was fairly happy with. She should have known better than to expect a good time on this day given how the multiverse works. There would be no partying with friends well she would be with friends, but this wouldn't be for fun. Something was wrong in the forest and here she was arriving at the Shake still in hot pans, thigh high boots vest, shirt and and eye-patch which she's removing and adjusting her bandana before she head into the mirror and the forest itself. She did have time to grab some gear before she joined everyone else.

Kotone also turned on the flashlight mounted under the barrel of her SMG and she nods approvingly to Janine who also has a flashlight.

"No kidding I never seen it this dark, and understood."

She deploys a single hover drone beside her it's just ment for scouting but it's audio pickups are what Kotone really has it deployed for.

"We can't do anything if we just sit around here, right?"

She is young to the multiverse and had hoped the last two years were not the rule, but it seems that is is. Bad things happen at this time of the year seems to be the norm.

"I know that feeling Ainsley...I know it all too well, just keep together..."

Ran Itoh (1040) has posed:
    They were going to be someone from a Western cartoon, until Ran mentioned that she didn't know what a Mabel Pines was. It's more fun to dress as someone you're familiar with, so Ran ended up putting together a fairly accurate Sailor V costume (though she's not stupid enough to wear the low heels, so she's got flats on instead).

    At least she'd had the evening to socialize before the mirror proved Ainsley right!

    "...It's so dark," she murmurs as they enter the forest. The others have light sources, and Fox Sister is an even bigger help! "Thank you," she beams - at the Persona!! Because /she's trying to tell you something, Hikaru/. "I wonder if Usagi-chan could do something like that?" If she gets separated, Ran might end up having to test that out...

Toph Beifong has posed:
    With her own things going on the last half year, Toph hasn't been too active on the Union radio as she used to be. But when people ask for help and she has the time, she does assume that her students will be able to get by a Saturday evening.

    Which means that the blind teenager might look out of place, the only one without a costume at the party. Then again, her own Earth Kingdom clothes might look exotic enough. Her Halloween costume is back in Malibu, as she didn't think she would need it just yet as she wasn't going to a party. Not that she's visibly bothered by it as she steps inside the place that she given coordinates to.

    Once August has filled her in on the situation and she's led to the mirror, she heads inside.

    For the others it might be a darker place, but that isn't what Toph focuses on of course. For her it's dark all the time. Instead her eyes narrow as she feels the ground underneath her feet, as well as all the other things connected to the ground. What are the trees made of? Glass...? Okay, that's weird. The sounds are more disconcerting in her opinion. A child caught in a forest with a wolf isn't good at all. Immediately she begins to focus, trying to sense as far as she can with her seismic sense. Then again, considering this is a different place it might not work as well as it does in a place with real earth. The other people here seem... rather nervous, don't they? "Okay, let's go find that bad dog and get it back to its pen!" she suggests, clearly not knowing anything that the others know about the beast. Then again, Toph is usually a fearless and brave type, isn't she? Of course she is. It might be a dark forest, but the dark isn't scary!

Hikaru Kurosawa (1039) has posed:
    It's Halloween! Hikaru brought a bunch of full-sized chocolate bars because he loves you all that much. He's shown up in a /full tuxedo/, cape, tophat, and domino mask, looking rather different to his usual outrageous colours. The legal drinking age in Germany means that beer is just fine for the kids to drink, and Hikaru sips a beer of his own - not spirits, those would still be off-limits to the kids, even though he prefers them on his own time - as he chatters with the other residents.

    And then the mirror goes dark, and the faces warp in and out, and everything basically goes to shit.

    Hikaru steps through the mirror, and immediately stops, because it is /pitch black/. The distant howling sends chills down his spine, stops him as he reaches for his pocket to fumble for the lighter he'd used to light the jack-o-lanterns. He takes a deep, steadying breath, and repeats that several more times to try and calm down his sympathetic nervous system.

    When Janine and Kotone turn on their flashlights, Hikaru has enough light to lift his bracelet up and summon the Fox Sister into the world. She obligingly creates motes of fox-fire around the party which float with them as they walk, casting an eerie low light over the blackness, and walks with Hikaru as he approaches the sound of the child - slowly, as per Janine's instructions, even though he badly wants to run to them.

August Kohler has posed:
That is certainly a crying kid. There's also four small humanoid figures and a dog-sized figure in the direction of the crying, according to Toph's seismic senses! As the group approaches through the trees, it doesn't seem like anything will stop them, but that howling is still going on...in all different locations. It's basically warping around, echoing throughout the entire Forest.

Eventually, the group will reach a small grove, weird alien glass flowers positioned around a log. On top of the log sits a crying kid, surrounded by three other kids, and a dog. Each of them is in costume: the crying kid was wearing a homemade costume reminiscent of the popular anime character Jack Frost, while the others are dressed similarly, but their outfits are far more vivid. One of them is dressed like Jack Frost, but instead of his regular clothes, he's wearing a Japanese superhero costume, 'Frost Ace'. Another is dressed in strange sci-fi bodyarmor, with a smiling helmet; something underneath his mask is glowing and emanating heat. The third is dressed as a Japanese schoolboy, though his Jack Frost mask looks less vivid than Frost Ace's. He also keeps fiddling with a knife in his hands. Their dog is dark in color, hard to tell the hues in this light, and is dressed in a blonde wig and angelic wings. The crying kid has pulled up his mask, and is only about twelve years old. He doesn't notice the approaching group, but his friends and their dog do. The Frost Ace is the one to approach.

"Hey there, ho! It's really dangerous in here! You should get out while you still can, hee!" And as Frost Ace talks, the sound of the Wolf looms even closer. If they want to talk to the kid, they may only have a minute to do so.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    "Stay to the side, or we can't see shit ahead!" Janine barks at Sanary as the girl moves up to 'tank' as the nerds call it. And then Toph suggests something crazy, and Janine has to actively bite back a long string of curses. "Okay. I'm going to make this as clear as I can. And to prove to everyone how serious I am, not a single insulting word will be used in this explanation."

    Even in the dark, it's hard to miss how serious her expression is as she turns on the spot to glare at everyone. "Some of you haven't met the Wolf. Some might be thinking 'aw, we can take him.' No we can't. We couldn't even take the Woodsman, and the Wolf is much worse. We have nothing, absolutely nothing at all to be gained from fighting it, and we will die if we try. Let's just find the kid and get them out. If any of you want to rush off to your deaths, I am not coming with you, nor will I wait for you to come back. I will write you off as dead and carry on. Understood?"

    And with that, she pivots on her heels and keeps walking. Along to the crying boy and... four Shadows?

    Janine is not a HUGE NERD so she doesn't watch anime. As such, these costumes go right over her head. But what's important is that they found the kid. "Good idea," she remarks to the Shadow. "Kid, stop crying, we're here to get you out. Someone grab him and let's go."

    She is very clearly on edge here. Toph's senses would pick up her heart hammering like crazy, and her eyes flick here and there constantly, on the lookout for the ur-predator stalking them.

Ran Itoh (1040) has posed:
    Of course, she can hear the wolf. Even though she knows it's hopeless, because this is his forest, she can't help but send up a prayer to whatever's listening: please don't be /the/ Wolf.

    Because maybe, just maybe someday she'll be lucky enough for it to work.

    Janine's on edge, and Ran can't blame her. It... kind of makes her feel a little bit better, that someone else might be as afraid of the Wolf as she is. More like she isn't being unreasonable. They can't be caught out here, not with the forest acting strangely, not with children to protect. "Hi," she smiles at the boys, brown eyes warm behind her red domino mask. "We came to save you and take you back to the real world. It's going to be okay."

    They don't have much time, do they...? Please, please come with them! Behind Ran's facade of calm cheer, she wants to run back to the mirror and hide forever, until she forgets what howling sounds like...

Sanary Rondel has posed:
As the group draws ever closer to the source of the crying, Sanary jerks to a stop as Janine starts shouting and speaking. She narrows her eye for a moment before sighing, then shrugging and stepping to the side again. "Alright, alright... Geez. Freaking kids..."

     Isn't she a kid herself? Oh well. The healer doesn't sounds quite that convinced, of course, but with how serious the groups' injuries sounded last time, she's not going to take that chance herself. Toph may be able to hear that Sanary's still relatively relaxed about things for the time being, although there's a brief jump when the child and his comapnions come into view.

     "... Uh? Hey, kids. Don't worry, that's why we're here. We'll get you outta here, alright?" She offers them a reassuring smile alongside Ran while hooking the axe to her back, then offering her now free hand out to them. "Just come with us and we'll get you back home safe. We gotta move, though, because..."

     Sanary tilts back a bit when she hears the Wolf's howls growing louder. "... Yeah, we gotta go. I can carry some of you if you need me to."

Hikaru Kurosawa (1039) has posed:
    The howling has surrounded them. It is ominous, and terrifying. The Fox Sister's ear's flick, giving away Hikaru's desire to know where they're coming from, to know where to defend, the direction to run from - but he resists the urge. They're fine. They just have to stick together. They're fine...

    "Take deep breaths," Hikaru reminds the party, and himself. "Two seconds in, four seconds out, repeat ten times. Regulate your breathing, and you regulate your body's response to fear."

    When they reach the grove, Hikaru glances to his Persona, and she stays back by the trees, providing illumination from her position as he steps forward and gets down on one knee in front of the kids. "Hee-ho!" He smiles, his voice gentle. "Hey, Brothers, I love your costumes. It is dangerous here, but we can help, okay?" He reaches out a hand, hoping to take one of theirs as he stands. "Come with us, we'll get you out of here."

    Don't let them see your fear. You're on top of this, Hikaru Kurosawa. They need you to be on top of this.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa sees they are not along as others join them Toph was not expected but she was welcome and Ran seems to have got here pretty quick as well which is welcome. She has no magic or anything that could really be /said/ to be such. She also takes a look over at Hikaru whose Persona is used to make fox fire andhelp to light the way? Things get a bit better for that. She also pauses at Sanary's costume and mutters. "I'm a lumber jack and I'm okay..."

She'd normally be amused as heck about it and part of her still is but now isn't hte time for much humour. They needed to get ready and there is a crying child, okay they have found one, right? She sees there's nothing in the way, wait? Oh come on it can't be that easy, right? It's not there's something in the way here. Wait it seems to be more of the children but they are being warned they need to get out of here that it's dangerous? But what about the kids well being? Then she hears the howl. Oh hell it's the wolf and there's a brief moment fear in her mind she knows what the wolf can do.

She looks to Ran for a moment and she nods in agreement.

"We came here to get you home, don't worry we'll get you out of here. We have to hurry though there isn't that much time."

Toph Beifong has posed:
    "There are four kids in that direction," Toph informs the others and points ahead in the direction of the crying. "And I think that the wolf you're talking about is there too. Or a dog..." It's... kinda unsettling with how the howling isn't coming from one set direction though, but it can be heard in various directions for some reason. Is there more than one wolf...?

    When her suggestion to handle the wolf is shot down, and well... without a single curse from Janine, Toph turn her head a bit an arches an eyebrow. "So it's not a normal wolf. Is it because we're in this place, whatever it is...?" Persona stuff is something Toph hasn't had the chance to learn much about, but at least she's not going to ignore Janine's words. Because she's obviously being truthful about this. And she seems genuinely scared, that much she can tell.

    "I'll keep on watching, if it approaches like a normal wolf does then I should at least be able to 'see' it," the blind earthbender states. Perhaps she could even use her earthbending to slow it down. It's worth a shot anyway. And so she stands at the ready, clearly ready to defend to her best ability if it comes to that. It's better if somebody larger carries the crying kid if that's what it takes.

    There's a brief moment where Toph considers asking more about the wolves, but it seems like it would be a stupid to potentially upset the kids further and make them even scared. And it seems like many of the other elites are scared too... Toph looks calm herself, but there is a focus to her that suggests that she's not taking this as lightly as she did upon entering this forest.

Ainsley has posed:
Ainsley doesn't have a lot to say when Toph talks confidently about the Wolf. The reptile girl visibly cringes at the thought of trying to fight the Wolf when it is even briefly entertained by one of them, as if anticipating what Janine was about to say. No argument is offered from her when the explanation about how dangerous the Wolf is reaches their ears. She keeps her attention on the dark, her sharp ears seeking the exact direction of the howls... they seem to come from every direction, creating a bone-chilling effect of them being surrounded. This is about when Ainsley's feathers start to bristle and then don't settle back down, giving her an almost crazed 'i will squeak in terror at the slightest provocation' look.

She can hear her own heart in her skull better than she can hear the distant sounds of others talking. She keeps dimly aware of what the others are saying, even up to the point where they reach where these weird thematic kids are. She remembers what they're here for, and focuses her attention on the children. Her Arcane Sight activates, her eyes beginning to glow, as she scans each of the children and even their dog in search for the telltale magical concepts of a Shadow.

"Good idea," she parrots, though almost at a whisper, when she hears it from Janine. She deactivates her Sight right after that, and clenches her teeth. She doesn't want to bark out anything about what she saw, but it's clear she just made herself even more uneasy and she's trying not to show it. She visibly twitches when she realizes one of the howls is closer than before, her head turning in that direction and her expression going blank. If she wasn't scalie, one might imagine her face had gone pale.

She's having a hard time maintaining her composure. The effort she's taking to remain calm is just making it clear she's as tense as she can get. Even breathing exercises are failing to do much for her. Sorry Hikaru. "The only one I can confirm is human," she says, forgetting tact in her distraction, "Is the one that was crying. The others don't even look like Shadows. Not even the dog." How comforting.

August Kohler has posed:
As everyone starts approaching the crying boy, the other Jack Brothers quickly move to form a wall, as they all start speaking. "No, wait, hee!" "No, you'll scare him, ho!" "Don't get too close, hee-ho!" "Bark!". Though, once Hikaru does his own Hee-Ho, the others (except for the dog) hee-ho back and break the wall. Frost Ace looks up to him. "Oh, sorry there, hee! You know the super secret Jack Brother passcode, so you can pass, ho~. Be careful, Larsbuddy is skittish right now!"

The kid, 'Larsbuddy', or probably just 'Lars', looks up when the group approaches, and immediately begins to back away. The fact that they're saying nice, comforting things to him oddly only makes it worse. "No, no, you're like her, aren't you? You're gonna be nice to me and then you're gonna lure me somewhere scary! I don't trust you! I'll stay here with my friends!" A chorus of hee-hos begins, as an affirmative to Lars, before suddenly they die out. The Jack Brothers freeze up, as they hear something approaching. The group, too, can hear it, as the howls all become eerily loud, approaching from one single location: behind them.

The Wolf has cornered them. The only thing left to do is run.

August Kohler has posed:
And then, at that moment, every radio/mobile device on them will start freaking out. Phones will start flashing, radios will start beeping. Pictures will overlay on their phones of dreadful, horrible things, flickering in and out. They'll have maybe a minute to do /anything/ with them, before suddenly: all signals are cut. No radio connection. Nothing. They're in the dark.

Toph Beifong has posed:
    Ainsley's words makes the blind teenager blink once, canting her head. "... what?" This... means that the others are bad? For now Toph can't help but feel slightly tense. To her these strange things 'look' like kids and a dog. What's going on?

    Then the kid who was crying speaks, and things become even more confusing. What is this 'her' that Lars is scared of? Rather than saying anything Toph looks confused and alert...

    But obviously not alert enough as the wolf is suddenly there.

    Immediately Toph turns around, eyes wide, twisting her foot as she brings her right arm forward and up in a bending motion, doing whatever she does best. They might not be able to fight the wolf, but maybe she can slow it down so they can all run! And so she intends to send an large spike in the wolf's direction...!

Hikaru Kurosawa (1039) has posed:
    Hikaru smiles gratefully to the Jack Brothers, and turns to Lars. He realises, too late, what's happened to him. "Lars," he says, struggling to keep his voice even, "I'm so sorry something like that happened to you, but we really, really have to go. Please, /please,/--"

    The howling grows stronger, louder, focuses to a single point. The Fox Sister turns towards it, even as Hikaru stubbornly keeps his back turned, forcing himself to keep his body language open as he reaches out towards Lars, not able to keep the fear from his face now. Don't look at it, don't look at it -
    The Fox Sister's ears perk forwards -
    Don't listen to it--

Janine Liberi has posed:
    "Fuck you, don't dismiss what I say because I'm young," Janine snaps at Sanary. Then to Toph, she explains, "It just kind of manifests as a wolf. It's more like the collection of the fears of all humanity. Everything from the fear of nuclear holocaust to fear of public speaking. Humanity has a lot of fears, and that makes it all the stronger."

    Ainsley's words are concerning. These other things aren't Shadows? Then what they hell are they?! If it were a different time, she might want to know more, but fear for her life overrides all else. And this kid is being really fucking difficult. "Kid if you hang around here you will die without question, if you come with us you might live. So come with us, oka-"

    It's here.

    Every inch of her screams to start running right now, to drop her sword and get away. Just try and live, at the expense of everything else, just like last time. But at the same time, her fear has paralyzed her, her whole form trembling, her right hand clutching her sword tight enough for the bone to shine through the skin.

    Slowly, her head pivots, enough to look out the corner of her eye.

Ainsley has posed:
Ainsley is perfectly okay with not approaching them. Not only is she not in the mood to get near a bunch of potential threats -- after that damn mechanical bird, anything that seems this obfuscated might just be a Shadow's aspect or tool -- but she isn't about to approach Lars with her reptilian mug when he's obviously traumatized. What draws her attention, however, is their unusual behavior, and the words from Lars himself. She looks between the Jack Brothers with widened eyes, baffled by their protective attitude.

And her tension deflates just slightly at the thought that they may be here to protect the child.

Then there is a howl behind her. Her heart drops and her mouth cracks open, her vision practically blurring from the spike in terror that jolts through her body. She doesn't even bother reaching for her weapon, and when her own phone starts freaking out, she fumbles with it, and tries to use her magic to shield it-- and it zaps her and falls to the ground with a loud smash, her body full turning about to try to catch it in a fumbling panic.

And her eyes turn, by accident, toward the Wolf...

Sanary Rondel has posed:
Ah, crap. Is it the axe that's freaking him out? Sanary lets out a quiet sigh before straightening back up and peering at the group of masked children more. "Like who? Did... Someone lead you in here? That can't be... Er. Larsbud...? Hee?"

     Something about all this isn't adding up. Before she can figure out what it is that's bothering her about these weird kids and their chanting, though, her attention's instead grabbed by... Well, a combination of things. Not wanting to admit that Janine's actually right about trying to give the facts to the kids straight, the weird howling coming from somewhere...

     it's only natural that she'd turn to try and face whatever it is coming towards them.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa they seem to get near the children but they say something that shedoesn't expect. "Wait we'll scare whaqt?" She stares for a moment as she looks at LArs for a moment. She tilts her head at what they say. He speaks out at them that he doesn't trust them. The jacks seems to freze up after a moment she was about to say something but then she hears the howl. Was the wolf using them as bait? She's starting to think this was the case.

"Lars... wait? The wolf?!"

She wants to run she knows they will be ripped apart the child being left behind to it's mercy? Is the only reason she's not running, but damn she's afraid right now. She's fighting to keep it off her face. She must not focus on it,but how to get the child to trust them enough to get them out of here?

Ran Itoh (1040) has posed:
    No. Oh no. Oh god, oh no, oh no no no no.

    The smile on Ran's face takes on a strained quality as the boy recoils from their help. No, come on kid, they don't have /time/--!

    Time's up. A bead of cold sweat drips down her temple. Oh no. Oh please don't be. The howling's too close now, how did it get behind them so quickly?! Did it... just coalesce into one place? Why now--

    The radio in her wristwatch squeals suddenly, so harsh that she jumps and shrieks at the high-pitched buzz against her skin. Everything's going south, everything--! She's completely forgotten to control her breathing, panting in fright when she hasn't run a single step today. It's him. It. It's. It is It.

    She knows she shouldn't look. She knows. She should run. Run. Run! Move! MOVE!!

    Stiffly, like a tightly-strung puppet, Ran's face turns back...

August Kohler has posed:
As Ran turns, all the cries and noises of her friends vanish. All evidence that they were there is gone, as she lays her eyes on what she feared. A massive wolf, the size of a van, with pale fur and snarling teeth. Golden eyes flicker, as it raises its head to the sky to howl. And then, it approaches. Slowly, menacingly. If Ran turns around, everyone she knew is gone. It's just her, glass trees, and the Wolf. A single pathway of trees opens up, thick and narrow, the only route other than past the Wolf itself. The chase is on.

----

And as Hikaru's Persona glances upon the Wolf, all of his senses momentarily blank out. When they return, everything is different. The first thing he'll notice is that he's smaller, no longer an adult, but a kid again. He'd recognize the clothes he's wearing as his own, having once belonged to him, and he'd certainly recognize the house he is in. Shoddy and in need of repair, the floorboards creak under his footsteps. But as soon as he got his bearings, he'd realize he's not alone. The sink's on in the kitchen. And someone's in there. And then a voice calls out. A most familiar, female voice, her tone as frigid as the winter air. "Hikaru! Get in here right now, you ungrateful child!" And she doesn't sound like she wants to be left waiting.

August Kohler has posed:
Janine's senses also blank out. When they return, she's in an outdoor area, one that she'd remember. She's on one of her own properties, the sun shining from above upon her. She's no longer dressed as a mummy, but instead, clothes fitting a true, proper rich girl. But as the rays of the sun hit her, the sounds of footsteps approach from behind her. The first she'll see is her father, followed by her mother. And then siblings, cousins, uncles and aunts, and others, as the mob slowly grows. Her father marches up to her, looking down at her with a face of both disappointment and disgust as he speaks to her. "You didn't think we'd find out, did you? But they told us! The school, the students, they all told us!" He holds up a big piece of paper, as the crowd begins to grow. Every face is atleast vaguely recognizable; they're family members, if even Janine's only seen them in photos. And if Janine takes a look at that paper, she'll see just a few of the large list. A list of everything she's done to harm another person, verbally or otherwise. "What do you have to say for yourself?" It is not her father, but the entire mob, who says this. Their voices are one, piercing at Janine's very soul.

----

And as Sanary turns, everyone else begins to back away. They grab the kid, and the Jack Brothers, and run. And as they do, they bar the path, hoping to keep the beast at bay, even though it means abandoning Sanary. And once she fully gazes upon the beast, it is not a wolf. A sprawling dragon, as large as the tallest trees in the Forest, trees trampled underneath his very breath. His red skin is covered in brass-yellow scales, which are coiled around by slimy, throbbing tentacles, black as the night. Far too many eyes mass across the body, moving around and changing locations as they see fit. Two made of solid gold stand out among them, blinking through their bright yellow pupils as Sanary enters their sight. The beast has no wings, but is surely a dragon, by the mere sight of it. Each of his four feet carry massive claws, gnarled and caked with blood and flesh. The dragon smiles at Sanary, his teeth the bones of man, sharpened perfectly. There is more to him, but Sanary doesn't feel she can process it. Her mind refuses to, giving her only what she sees here. The dragon lumbers slowly towards her, stretching lazily, as it regards her. It's thinking. It's analyzing. And then, it decides what it thinks of her, and acts. A lazy tail swipe veers forward, moving to lumber straight into Sanary's chest!

Hikaru Kurosawa (1039) has posed:
    Hikaru knew he couldn't look upon the Wolf. But deeper, more instinctual, is the urge to look threats square in the face, to assess their threat potential, because ignorance is death - and it is those desires which his Persona follows. He has to know what to expect, and so...

    His senses blank.

    And then he's smaller, ganglier, his hair shorter on his head. His clothes don't fit right, half a size too large on his skinny frame - the tragic consequence of op-shop clothing. As the smell of rot washes over him, and he looks down at the plain grey t-shirt he's wearing, he pales. His heart, clenched in the vice-grip of fear, pumps feebly against walls which keep closing in tighter.

    that's her voice that's her voice that's her voice that's her voice

    "C--coming, okaasama!" Hikaru calls out - in Japanese, of course - as he trips over his feet to run to the kitchen, the floorboards creaking in an agonisingly familiar way. He can't refuse. He can't run. He just has to make her happy. If he just does everything right, this won't be so bad. Whatever's wrong, it's probably his fault, but he just has to fix it and -

Ran Itoh (1040) has posed:
    Her breath comes in shallow huffs, the only noise she can make a tiny half-heard squeak. Just air forcing itself past her frozen larynx, just her heart pounding like a war drum in her ears. It can't be. How can it be here? How?

    The back of her neck remembers the sensation of hot, moist breath, of a predator never quite out of reach. Her body remembers the ache of the next morning, the hollow warmth of Percocet in her veins along with her morning coffee.

    She's alone. Did they leave her? Does it matter?

    Move. Move. It's coming...!

    Ran turns, eyes recognizing nothing else but fear, and runs.

August Kohler has posed:
As the blast strikes upon the Wolf, it stops, briefly, before shaking it off. Tonight, it is too powerful for a single attack to stop it. Toph's senses, including her tremorsense, also blank out. When they return, she's standing on sand, moist and wet beneath her feet. The sounds of crashing waves echo not far from her position, and the rippling of water is omnipresent in that direction. And the waves are crashing closer, and closer. And louder, and stronger. and faster. Until they begin to strike at her feet. And then her legs. And they keep rising, and rising, the feel of frigid seawater pushing itself against her. If she doesn't move, if she doesn't run, it'll pull her under.

----

Ainsley's senses blank out. And they don't return. Everything is gone. No feeling of her friends. No feeling of the air, no sounds of the howls. Not even her own heartbeat or the touch of her skin resonates with her. But her mind is moving, thinking. And she can feel /one/ thing: something hostile, approaching, ever so slowly. From where? She can't be sure.

Sanary Rondel has posed:
So that's why they couldn't fight it. The Wolf wasn't a wolf at all! A stupidly large dragon with a mass of fiendish-looking tentacles and eyes. And... Claws. Claws that looked like they've been used recently.

     "A... Alright, everyone! Let's just keep.... Keep... Get...?" Try as she might, the healer can't quite get herself together enough to continue with her attempt at false bravado. Why's everyone afraid of this thing? She's fought dragons before! Or things resembling dragons. It's not like they needed to block the path, too, but leaving her behind is just... Just...!

     Drawing that shield up, it might as well be made of paper with how much force is in that tail swipe. Instead of just being knocked away, though, the healer gets carried right up with that massive tail and is practically wrapped around it. She cries out in pain before gritting her teeth, trying to use the pain to will herself out of her wide-eyed state. "Gghk... I-i got it's attention! Come on, everyone! You got a..."

     Where the hell is everyone? Why did they leave her here? She hasn't screwed up alrady, has she? It couldn't be that bad...

     -MEANWHILE- Outside of Sanary's head, she's just sort of wiggling her shield and blabbering to herself.

August Kohler has posed:
Kotone doesn't look upon the Wolf! Therefore, nothing happens! Instead, everyone else stops. They stop moving, staring blankly ahead. Their faces change with emotion every so often, fear, distress, disgust, sadness. Sometimes, they mumble, Hikaru talking to his mother, or the like. The Jack Brothers don't look upon the Wolf, but instead dive for the kid, tackling Lars under the log as the Wolf approaches. "He's coming, hee! We need to run for it!" And he is, indeed still coming. The sound of massive paw steps echo behind Kotone, as the Wolf avoids all who have already seen him. They're already in his trap. Now he just needs the others to look upon him.

Toph Beifong has posed:
    A collection of fears... those are the last words that pass through Toph's head as she attacks. But she's always been the type to /try/ despite being told to do otherwise, and it might just work! Though the moment the wolf shrugs off the earthen attack however, Toph halts in both surprise and uncertainty before taking a step back.

    That's when her bending is momentarily gone as everything, not just her sight, goes black.

    The moment she is able to 'see' again she gasps, disoriented. "... guys...?!" she calls out. Why is there sand here? And why can she hear water? They were in a forest, not on a beach! Most of all she looks confused as she listens, then decides to head away from the water. It's not like she hasn't gotten used to the beach considering she's living near one, but the more solid ground is away from the water. So she might get a better sense of where the others are if she goes there.

    As she's walking though, her feet digging into the sand, she can't help but feel uneasy. Why are the waves getting so loud all of a sudden? The moment the waves brush against her feet however she jumps, and she picks up the pace, half running. Okay, the beach probably ends in not too long.

    The next time the waves crash in and hit her below the knees, she yelps and stumbles slightly, going pale. No...!

    Immediately Toph begins running, a panicked look on her face before she focuses on the sand underneath her, kicking one foot into the sand as she runs. She will get off the beach quickly if she can sandbend herself off with a well placed pillar! This has to work! How high will the next wave be?! Up to her shoulders...?!

    "GUYS?!" It's not often that Toph sounds scared, but there's no hiding the terror in her voice.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Oh no. Oh no.

    Janine stands on the farm her family owns in Sicily. It was here, she distantly remembers, when she had her first fit of pain from her left arm. It was here that everything started to go wrong. And here it is happening again.

    Every nasty word, every bitter comment, listed down and flung back in her face by the people she cares most for in the world. Finally, she is experiencing consequence again. And she doesn't like it.

    Not a single tough word escapes her lips, not a single hint of a sneer appears on her face. Every facade crumbles, revealing the distressed girl she truly is as tears begin to well from her face. She sobs, and tries to run away, run from it all.

Ainsley has posed:
As if the world had been washed away by the flash of the screen of her phone, Ainsley watches it ripple away. It's not just dark. There's nothing to process. The information is just gone. At first she tries to feel her own body, but can't even feel her own scales, nor the sensation of her stomach twisting, though she is dimly aware that it should. She tries to claw her senses back from this, instinctively reaching out with her magic, trying to use small spells to tune into sounds, signals, anything.

Isolation.

And there's something there with her.

She can't even hear it, or feel it, she is only vacantly aware of it, of her scramble of trying to escape without direction or idea of what she's doing. She could end up hurting herself in her attempt to flee, but she has no context but the terror of something that wants to devour her. As the idea that she is completely helpless, that if it wanted it could just close its mouth around her neck and end her life and she wouldn't even realize it was happening and wouldn't be able to cry out...

Ainsley screams. She doesn't stop screaming. She doesn't realize she's even making a noise, but it's all she can do. Her screams are blood-curdling, interspersed with desperate sobs, all coherence having drained from her because she can't even process the idea of language.

--

Ainsley has curled up in place and she is screaming, in the real world, her hands on her head. She is very loud, and tears are streaming down her face. The screaming gurgles from the run-off from her weird nasal biology. She can scream for a long time because she barely needs to breathe to make that noise.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa sees the Jack Brothers are acting to protect the kid from teh wolf, she could run. She could get away maybe even get the kid but she's not going to leave her friends behind. No that would be stupid that would be selfish to do so. Then it sees the Jacks and Lars are getting ready to flee. She knows the others are trapped and it seems they have become the ones in need of saving. A few years ago? Kotone would have run, she'd have run away.

She pauses she hears Hikaru speaking, and she seems confused he's not sounding afraid, or even talking about the wolf? What's going on here? He doesn't sounds like he's being torn apart by the wolf? What gives?

She does something foolish now. She gives the Jacks and the kids the direction to flee to which would get them towards the Shack and some further measure of safety.

"I can't leave the..."

Janine is also crying this is not normal at all either, this is not normal in the slightest really. The Wolf has done something to everyone else and they seem trapped in something Kotone's not aware of. She can't get everyone away but she's strong enough she can get someone, right? Then Ainsley screams she turns now trying to do what she can she intends to try and get the nearest person and haul them with her, but this means damn well she's going to end up looking at the wolf. "DAMN IT SNAP OUT OF! ITS NOT REAL!"

August Kohler has posed:
Kotone's brave. Or, as others would say, foolish. She rushes forward, grabbing someone, but before she can drag them off, she peers into the abyss. And all her senses go null.

The first thing Kotone will notice, is that she's no longer mechanical. Her heart beats, as blood pumps throughout her. Her skin is real flesh, and there's no hud. No computers. No signals. She's human again. And then she'll look down. She's working. Delivery uniform. Courier bag slung under her chest. It's an important delivery, as she stands at the traffic stop. Everything feels familiar...perhaps, too familiar, as a man begins walking down the road, towards her. If you can even call him that. His body is a mixture of black metal and flesh, technology whirring through him. Tall. Strong. And hostile, as he starts coming at Kotone. And he raises a fist. Oh, no no no, she'll certainly remember this moment.

August Kohler has posed:
Ran runs. Her feet carry her along the path, glass sticks snapping beneath her as she moves to survive. But the predator is faster. Better. Stronger. It'll kill her. And eventually, she feels something brush against her, pushing her to the ground, as the Wolf snaps her up in its jaws. It begins to maul at he- no, Ran, it feels metal, you can feel kindnes- no, it's a terrifying beast, ignore that thought. No one's going to save you, they're all gone. You're all alone. You're going to die, Ran. Ignore everything but your fears. You're going to die.

Hikaru enters the kitchen, where a dreadfully familiar woman finishes washing the dishes. When Hikaru does it, he always does it wrong, wrong wrong wrong, after all. The thin, severe woman turns upon him, piercing brown eyes and straight auburn hair. She's dressed in an old blouse with a mismatching skirt, both used, bought a while back. Megumi Kurosawa, Hikaru's mother. A pair of shoes lie on the counter; shoes for a child, as Hikaru comes into the kitchen. And as she does, she turns to him, scowling, as she lifts them up and shoves them at him, without releasing her grip on them. "Do you see this? Scuffed! Another pair, scuffed, worse than how we got it. You can't even take care of the things I get you? You're just a drain!" She throws the shoes into the garbage bin in a burst of frustration, folding her arms and tapping her fingers repeatedly against the skin of her forearm. But she's not angry about the shoes. She's- wake up, hee, wake up, this isn't r- angry because of you. Because you don't do anything right, because you're a mistake. And so, Megumi steps into the young Hikaru's space, wagging her finger at him as she begins to shout. "Are you even paying attention? You brat! What do I even feed you for?!"

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
She's going to do it she's going to get someone out of here, well that's the plan. Sadly one eye strays where it should not. The void looks back and Kotone's mind just shorts out as all her senes go Null and to static for a moment.

Kotone feels odd for a moment? The warmth, the feel of the weight of her body, the constant heaving of her chest up and down. The lack of any sort of HUD from her body? Wait her body? This /is/ her body, her original one the flesh one she was born with.

She's confused for a moment as she feels her blood pumping her heart pumping her sense of touch at a normal human's level then she pauses at the delivery uniform she knows that uniform very well. She looks at the bag she knows he's got a major delivery as she waits at the traffic stop? Why was she feeling like she'd done this before?

She then sees him, the hulking man with outdated cyberware. Clearly some kind of vet from the third world war, but that's no all it's how big he is, his face a look of terror appears on her face. A faint memory ripples of what might happen, the sounds of bones not just breaking but being crushed comes back to her, nothing else a sense of fear and panic overwhelms Kotone and she now tries to flee, she doesn't say a thing as she attempts to get away from the hulking man.

"No... no KEEP AWAY FROM ME!"

She had to get away or he'd ... or he'd ... the memory of bones being crushed comes back a bit stronger now. She had to get away from this man. That's all she knew...she had to do but he was a cyborg? He'd be able to run her down easily. Even an old combat cyborg or civilian one is faster than a normal human. She has no clue this isn't real or that she'd managed to snap someone else out of their own nightmare.

August Kohler has posed:
Janine begins to cry. And she tries to run. But as she turns back, there's more. More distant relatives, forming into a mass. They huddle around her, all shouting at her. "Brat!" "Awful!" "Vile!" The sound outweighs everything else, as they begin to close in on her, crushing her. But there's another feeling, a shove. Someone's shaking her, briefly. But it must just be the crowd...as their eyes briefly flicker yellow. What? Did they all have yellow eyes? No, you're deluding yourself. Those are colors of brown, and blue, and green, you didn't see yellow, ignore the yellow. Give into your fear. You've been a bad child. They hate you. And you deserve it. Even your father says so, "you wicked, uncaring child"!

----

Everyone left Sanary behind, to face the dragon. As the tail rips her up, the beast begins slamming her up and down, into the ground, slicing her and bloodying her. It throws her back, into a tree, as it speaks, those teeth opening to reveal a tongue, no, it's a tendril, longer than it has any right to be, as the creature speaks. A menacing tone that hits every part of the brain, refusing to let itself go unheard. "Sanary Rondel. They've left you. They've given up on you. Now you're mine. Now you'll d" M-miss, you're not alone, they're your friends, t-they'd never abandon you! "Die." Ignore that interruption, Sanary. It's unimportant. The dragon is going to kill you, because they've all left you. The interruption is wrong. They're not your friends, they're cowards who have betrayed you. You're useless to them. Give in.

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone in the forest? Her body is frozen, locked up any real illusion of life she had was gone down to her eyes looking glassy and doll like as she seemingly stares at nothing.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine backs away from the other relatives, every name coming to mind as they huddle around her, shouting justifiable, deserved titles at her. She sobs, staring at their angry, hate-filled... yellow eyes? It's so surprising that she can't help but fixate on it, even as that silky voice tells her not to.

    Yellow eyes... she's seen eyes like that before. Recently, it feels like. But where? Certainly not in Sicily, she hasn't been here in... when did she get here again? No, something's wrong here, what was she doing before now? It was... Halloween, they were having a party and... the mirror.

    Shadows.

    The Forest.

    The Wolf.

    She raises her head again, looking her father in the eyes. She's still crying, face twisted with despair at his words... but there's a hint of that usual anger in her features again. She looks, beyond his expression, into his eyes... into her reflection within.

    "F-F-Fuck you...! PERSONA!"

    She cries out, feeling for the presence within her, hoping to all gods that might be listening that she's right, that she's not about to attack her family for real, or else...

August Kohler has posed:
The water keeps rushing. Crashing. Toph feels as the sand carries her up, carries her to safety. But then, as she feels through it, she'll notice she's in the only safe place. The water's everywhere. The ocean has over taken, and continues to rise, slamming against her pillar. Will she have enough sand? The water catches up, grabbing against her feet. It wants to pull her down. But there's fur. Fur? Brushing against her. The feeling of thick, shaggy fur against her skin, covered in leaves. Like a forest. No, no, you're not in a forest. You're on the beach. The water is rising. It's going to drag you under. Don't fight it. Give in. Let yourself succumb.

Nothing. Nothing is there with you, Ainsley, but your impending doom. It is all you can feel. And soon, it'll be all you acknowledge. Your mind slows. It's going to leave you too. You'll be isolated, even from yourself, even as you feel being lifted out of a ball and shaken from two ang- no, that's not right, you're alone. You're not feeling that. You're not feeling anything. Everything is gone. And at any moment, something could kill you, and you wouldn't see it coming. Give in to your fear.

Hikaru Kurosawa (1039) has posed:
    Hikaru scrambles into the kitchen, looking up, up, up at his mother. He notices the shoes - his shoes, she must have brought them out here for some reason - but his eyes barely dart to them, because he has to pay attention to her. It doesn't matter, because she shoves them at him a moment later. He looks down as she points out their disrepair, shame colouring his face. The vice around his heart tightens another notch as she throws them away, and he can't help but reach out for them as they sail into the trashcan. He /needs/ those, he can't go to school without them-- and then he realises, a moment later, what's he's done, and cold terror washes over him as he curls his offending hand at his chest. "I-I'm sorry," he stutters, stumbling over his words, "I-"

    - wake up, suggests some distant twinge, but it is so far away and so unlike the terror in front of him that he doesn't hear at all. She's right, he's not paying attention, he mustn't be paying attention if he feels something like that! His mother gets up in his face and shouts at him, and Hikaru flinches away, tears stinging the corners of his eyes. Apologies stumble out of his mouth, hurried, one after another, hoping desperately that his contrition will carry through. "I'm sorry, okaasama, I'm sorry, I'm really sorry, I-I don't know, it's b-because you're a good mother even though I'm awful, sorry I'm so awful, I'm sorry, I'll do better..."

    He is lost.

Ran Itoh (1040) has posed:
    No- no- no- n

    She feels its muzzle -- cold? Cold nose? Metal...? - brush against her back, and then--

    Ran slams into the ground, knocked down by a powerful paw the size of a tire. The breath whooshes out of her lungs and she lies there momentarily, dazed. It's all the time the Wolf needs. All he's going to give her.

    Snapped up in its jaws, shaken hard from side to side like a rat in a terrier's mouth. Blood seeps into her sailor fuku, red blooming in patches around the places where the Wolf's teeth pierce into her flesh. It drops her in a ragged heap, a paw slamming down on her knee to hold her there; she feels a snap and sobs. Claws rip into her, teeth dig in, and Ran screams.

Sanary Rondel has posed:
If it's any small comfort Sanary, at least this sort of pain isn't anything she hasn't felt before. It doesn't make it any less horrible and agonizing, of course, but... Well, sometimes being able to heal herself as she's getting hurt feels like it just prolongs the pain sometimes.

     Maybe it's just karma for all those people she's hurt. It's not like this is something she hasn't done to others before. Smash them, rip them apart, heal wounds together in the wrong places or onto the wrong things. Now it's just happening to her this time around, and there's nothing she can do. She deserves all this, doesn't she?

     It's no wonder they've all left her. It's not like they were even really friends to begin with. Hell, what Sanary's been doing here has been anything but friendly.

     As physically resilient as she is, it's not helping her at all against the mental assault, and she's even started crying while muttering incoherently. It'd be so easy to give in. Just so... So easy. All she has to do is just nod, push away that voice, accept that her friends have abandoned her...

     So she does.

August Kohler has posed:
Persona? What's a Persona? You're just here with you and your parents, aren't you? No...no. You're too str

Biancabella emerges, her mere presence starting to destroy the illusions, as they rupture into mist. It starts with the distant relatives, who begin to fade, and rapidly goes down, until all that is left is her immediate family. And then her mother and her father. And then just her father. "You vile, wicked child...you'd turn against me like that?" His eyes flash yellow. "You've been nothing but a brat! And now you attack your own kin?" And then he moves to strike her. Wait, this seems wrong. This is not your father. This Is Not Your Father.

August Kohler has posed:
It's him, Kotone. The man who left you in a bed. The man who took away your humanity. You can feel it, can't you? He's military spec. You're a human. You're powerless against him. And he ignores her calls. He charges at her, faster than any man, cybernetic limbs overclocking as he grabs the bag. He could run off with that bag. But he's not going to. He rips it from her hands, clutches it, and uses his other hand. And he grabs her arm. And he squeezes. Bones, breaking, crushing. He pulls, tendons tearing. His boot comes forward, splintering her knee. The pain. You can't stop it, Kotone. You're Powerless.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine looks about, spirits rising as the images of her family vanish like the morning mist. She guessed right... but it still hurts, seeing that leer on her father's face. No. It's not him. It's not him, it's not him, it's not HIM!

    "Fuck you!" she yells again, with much more steel in her words than before. She's still very afraid though, which is why her more creative insults aren't brought out. Instead, with a mental command, she commands Biancabella to attack! A strong blast of wind in conjured, spiralling to the image of her father and swirling with wilted rose petals. An attack and debuff combination!

    And then, once the illusion fades, she takes stock quickly. Everyone is just... standing around. This won't do. She scrabbles on the ground to pick up her sword and starts... striding up to everyone and slapping them in the face with the flat of it. The blade has quite a lot of whip to it and the edge is sharp enough to maybe open some cuts. Needless to say, it's a strike that's hard to ignore.

    "Snap out of it you dumb fucks!" she yells through the tears. "We gotta MOVE!"

Toph Beifong has posed:
    Up to safety! Toph's breathing quickly as the pillar rises, and she sinks down to her knees as she makes the pillar harden. Okay, why isn't there any land around her? She was in the forest! How did she get here? Did the wolf teleport her or something? This... it can't be real! But then why does it feel so real? Why does the water feel wet as it splashes up against the side of the pillar and partially on her?

    "No... no, this isn't... MAKE IT STOP!" Something has to be doing this to the water, because water doesn't rise this fast, does it?!

    Then Toph shrieks, lashing out as she feels something else brushing up against her. Was that fur?! Is it the wolf? Wait, do wolves swim...?! But why are there leaves...

    "I don't want to die...!" Toph half-chokes in a desperate plea, even as her eyes well up with tears, and she lets out another terrified cry as she clings to the pillar, her fingers digging into the hardened earth there.

August Kohler has posed:
Janine's not alone in her efforts. Four figures and a dog stayed behind. They were scared. They wanted to run. But someone self-sacrificed. Someone was brave. And they realized, they had to be brave too. Frost Ace prods at Hikaru, trying to snap him out. The schoolboy and the soldier shake on Ainsley. The dog is trying to brush against Toph, rubbing leaves against her to make it clear that /she's in the Forest/. And Lars...he shakes on Sanary. He's still crying, he's still scared, but these people didn't abandon each other. This is his first Halloween all by himself. He can't be a coward. He'll fight. In fact, his mask has been cut, wrapped around his eyes. Pieces of fabric remain on the school boy's knife, from cutting the mask. Now he can't see the Wolf. They're all working together.

Ainsley has posed:
    The screaming continues until she grows hoarse, or she believes she should. Without any of her senses, Ainsley has no way to articulate the horror that has become everything she can perceive. The emptiness swallows her, until she is almost sure she will die in this place with no color, no direction, no sound, no touch...

Something breaks the feeling. There is a gap in the illusion. In the absence of all else, it is like a glaring lighthouse beating down on her perception. Her sanity snaps back into place and she focuses on that sensation like it was everything. It was there. It was something else. It was something, someone reaching out to her. She realizes she has a body, she has senses, she just has them dulled by something else.

The Wolf.

It's preying on her fear. It wants her to give in to her terror. It's so strong.

So Ainsley cheats. She digs deep into herself. Her ability to connect to others is inherent in who she is. It's built deep into her soul. She reaches out and seeks out the people around her, the ones she knows are there--

And the connection is made in the form of a piece of metal slapping across her face and bloodying her nose. She is flattened on her back, and becomes keenly aware of how much her eyes and throat hurt from her own sobbing, and how the ground feels on her back, and the sounds of everyone around her. Shell shock rings through her.

"Thanfsh, Jameme," she slurs, clutching her face with both hands, snot, tears and blood dribbling down her muzzle.

Toph Beifong has posed:
    "No... no, this isn't... MAKE IT STOP!"

    The poor dog doesn't get much gratitude as it tries to help Toph, as she's too caught up in her fears. The blind teen shrieks at the top of her lungs and strikes out with one arm towards the creature, sobbing as she clings to the ground below her. She's all curled up, shaking in fear as she presses her face against the earth, partially muffling her pathetic sobs. "I don't want to die...!"

August Kohler has posed:
The wolf mauls, and rips, and tears. Bones break. Blood pours. Ran feels like she's dying, especially when that metal pokes into he- wait, the Wolf isn't metal. No, you're deluding yourself, there is no met- no, there was metal. You can feel it, Ran. And now, there's heat, as someone begins headbutting yo- it's just the warm muzzle of the wol- no, it isn't! This isn't real, Ran! Your friends are trying to help you! They're still here! WAKE UP! FIGHT BACK!

"You always say that, you ungrateful child!" Megumi's angry. Why do you exist, Hikaru? Why did you have to ruin ev- you don't ruin everything, hee! This isn't re- yes it is! You can feel this, can't you? Your mother striking you, in her anger, nails against your fac- no, that's metal, her nails weren't met- stop deluding yours- NO, HEE-HO! THIS ISN'T REAL! WAKE UP, HEE! YOU KNEW THE PASSCODE, SO YOU'RE ONE OF US! WAKE UP! BREAK FREE-HO!"

August Kohler has posed:
And Megumi begins to fracture. Her eyes turn yellow, as she gets even more angry. "YOU'RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION, ARE YOU? YOU BR-" And then she glitches. On and off. She cracks. Like a mirror. But she keeps going. "-AT! GIVE INTO YOUR FEAR!"

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Kotone Yamakawa tries to run, but there's no escape, she feels the vice like grip there is no escape. She's terrified her heart is pumping but every survival drive? Is futile there is no escape as he has he. He has the bag he could just run with it but now he grabs her. She swears she hears a comment about half breed comes up but Kotone doesn't really hear it. She feels her arm go bones breaking then crushing, she feels flesh tearing. The pain is overpowering she screams, a sound that shouldn't be coming out of human mouth.

She's hearing sounds no human should such as what is happening. She can't do anything she keeps trying to fight back but she keeps getting hurt more and more by the man. She doesnt understand why he has the package he could stop. He doesn't stop? She doesnt know why and she's going to die not knowing why this happened. Was it really because her or was it just someone looking for a full on power kick? She doesn't know, she doesn't care she just wants it to stop. She screams more trying to get away but it's not going so well.

Though did she hear someone screaming? It's just got to be herself right?

August Kohler has posed:
The water's rising, Toph. You're going to die. The last thing you'll ever feel is water, and metal, prodding against you, beloging to a sw- no, no metal- yes, you know what metal feels like, of course YOU do! And even when you hit back that Wolf, it comes back, and it licks you! The prodding of metal, the feeling of fur and dog tongue, leaves against your skin! This isn't the beach! There is no water! Face your fea- no no- fears!

Sanary's given up. The dragon just grins, approaching, as he strikes her with those gnarled nails. Bone, flesh, ...metal? Metal, like a sword. "Ignore it. You're mine. You've given in, don't fight back." The dragon says, but then the voice comes again, miss, you have to wake up! You have to fight back! This isn't real! What you're seeing isn't real! Fight it! "Are you going to listen to them...or me? Give into your fear. It's so much easier that way. They're not here, are they? You don't see them, do you? They've left you. Ignore the voic" And the entire area begins to crack, minus the dragon. "They're putting quite the strain on it. Come on, give in, Sanary." This isn't real, Sanary, don't LISTEN TO HIM!

Ran Itoh (1040) has posed:
    She's going to die. She's going to die so horribly, caught and mauled to death, going to die screaming and alone. It's not fair. It's not fair...!

    But even amidst the pain, the ohgodnomakeitstop agony, something... isn't right. Something doesn't fit. Ran takes a breath - how can she, her lungs must be ruined by now, she should be choking on blood - Ran knows this, because she knows the human body. She should be going into shock. She should be blacking out.

    Ran opens her eyes.

Toph Beifong has posed:
    The water is rising up to her face now...! And Toph lets out one final cry of utter terror, sobbing uncontrollably. At least until she feels metal against her...? And there it is again! And that wolf won't leave her alone... and... why does it smell like forest here?

    It happens suddenly, and Toph lets out a pained cry as she feels the metal strike her thigh. She falls over, and the only wetness she can feel are her own tears running down her face. And that dog that's licking at her cheeks.

    "What the CRUD?!" the earthbender exclaims, still shaking from fear. She's... back with the others. Still, she keeps one arm extended, as if threatening to bend the metal that... Janine? is hitting her with. Trust Toph to be tough enough to take several strikes to break free from her fear. But then again nobody has ever seen her this terrified before for sure.

    Whe--" she begins, though her voice cracks a bit. She swallows before she continues. "Where did the wolf go...?!"

Sanary Rondel has posed:
Everything hurts. That has to be part of her arm, right? Well, it's not like she needed that, anyway. Her friends left her. Her friends are gone. They're not coming back. What use is she to any of them in this state? Of course they wouldn't come back. They're all

"-YOU DUMB FUCKS"

    Why's Sanary's face hurting all of a sudden? Why's it taste like metal instead of dragony... Wait, what does this taste like, anyway? Is Janine /still/ yelling at her? "Nngh.. Gh.. Maybe if you'd stuck a... Around, you shitty..." The healer gurgles at first, her face stinging more than the multitude of tears, gashes, and slams had mere moments ago. Why'd it have to be the pushy girl, anyway? It's not like they're friends or anything...

     ... Wait. That's right. They're not friends. Sanary barely knows any of these people. What they like? What they eat? Hell, what they do for fun? She doesn't know any of those things! Her friends have never really been here, have they? Her real friends, though...

     "... 'course they're not here. Probably don't even know..." She continues murmuring to herself, her stance firming up just a bit. There's someone else calling out to her, too. Someone... Crying? That definitely isn't one of the Alberichstadt kids. That can't be one of those kids, could it?

     "Thought we told you to... Get out of here... Ach. Crap." Fighting back the urge to just give in to the dragon again, the healer lets out another grunt and shimmy of protest, then tries to get her arms working enough to grab something. Someone. Whoever's near her.

Hikaru Kurosawa (1039) has posed:
    Hikaru's mother is right. He always says that. He never has a better solution, never has /any/ solution, he just wants to get out of the trouble he so surely deserves. He really is ruining everything, just by being here, just by existing, he...

    She strikes him - surely, she must have, because her nails bite in, draw a thin line of blood. They feel wrong, somehow, but they must be hers, and he sobs as he staggers back, throws his hands up uselessly to defend himself.

    And that's when she breaks. A thin line across her face, spider-cracking until it covers her face. He's driven to distraction as he watches it, and she's right, she's right again, she's not paying attention, but - but what was that, beyond her? A feeling, a voice, a twinge of something else? He knew the passcode. The passcode to what? No, no, he's ignoring her, he can't ignore her, he can't -

    Give into your fear, she demands, in an unnatural roar, as she cracks like a mirror, eyes blazing yellow as sin. Hikaru takes another step back. Even in his nightmares, it was never like this. Even when he woke up screaming because of what he saw in the-
    - Mirror Forest -
    The term springs into his head, unbidden, as the hee-ho! plays over and over in his head. He looks at his mother's cracking face, and sees it, now, as the face of a shattered mirror. "This isn't real," he gasps, the words tearing from his throat. He takes another step back. "This isn't real! I escaped you. I am grown, and you have no power over me. This is all wrong!"

August Kohler has posed:
Your limbs, torn. Your bones, shattered. You can't move. You can barely breath. Kotone Yamakawa, you're not sure if you'll survive this time. Or maybe you will, but you'll be strapped to a hospital bed for the rest of your life. Wouldn't that be wonderful? And now, you feel the metal slapping against your cybernetic limb- wait, you don't have tho- yes you do, you already went through this. It feels familiar because it happened. Don't give in, Koton- give in Koto- don't listen to the voices! We're here for you, Kotone! Hee-ho! Hee-ho! Wake up!

Janine Liberi has posed:
    "Thank me when we make it out of this!" Janine yells at Ainsley as she continues her barrage of slaps on everyone still waking up. "We will literally die right here if you goddamn sons of bitches don't wake up RIGHT THE FUCK NOW!" In her panicked state, she doesn't really have time to reflect on how these words are probably adding to the list her father had in her head. Right now she just wants to get away... and maybe get everyone else out of here too. A bonus.

    She rains down blows on the prone form of Toph until she wakes up. "About fucking time. On your feet and run!" She moves on to Sanary, smacking her as well, until the girl reaches out and grabs her. Unfortunately, she grabs onto the shoulder that has recently undergone intensive surgery to reattach her arm. She screams in pain and lashes out on instinct, punching Sanary in the face with the handguard of her sabre!

August Kohler has posed:
Sanary starts to break out. The voices still cry out. We may not truly be friends, but we're more connected than you are with him! The dragon just droops, before grinning again at her, as the entire illusion shatters. "Well, it'd seem the emotions of that child and those interlopers were strong enough to break you out. It's a shame. I hope we'll meet aga"

And then everything vanishes, and the Forest is back.

Hikaru fights back against his mother. She's not real, Hikaru! She's a fake! You're right, you've escaped her! Megumi's illusion continues to lash forward, but she shatters, more and more, until she disappears into shards of mist, crying out, shrieking. It's still her voice, but now she's gone. And the Forest is what remains.

August Kohler has posed:
And as everyone snaps out, behind them, out of view, remains the Wolf. It howls, once. But the howl is different. It's a /cackle/, the laughter of a monster. And it steps forward, slamming its paw on the ground. But what happens isn't that the ground quakes, or that everyone is trapped back in the illusions.

A path opens in the trees. The Wolf is letting you leave. Or, more accurately, he's letting you /run/.

Janine Liberi has posed:
    Janine shudders at the mocking howl, remembering it well during her last encounter. The Wolf is not a fair player, he will taunt you at every chance. The trees part, opening a path... she doesn't entirely trust it, but it beats squeezing between roots and trunks to try and get away.

    "Time to go! Throw anything you can at him to slow him down!" She begins to sprint along the path, pulling up the rear while resummoning Biancabella to create strong gusts behind her! Against the Wolf, they probably won't amount to much... but it's something! She won't go down that easily!

Sanary Rondel has posed:
One last push. Sanary just needs one last push, and she'll be home free from this voice trying to get her to let it rip her apart! Maybe the child's voice is really the right one, though. She and the rest of the students might not necessarily have the closest connections to each other, but maybe-

     "Gwuh! What the hell, Ja..?!" Reeling back from that punch to the face, the healer shakes her head rapidly as she finally snaps out of that waking nightmare, holding her hand to her face and holding it there for a few moments before remembering that she can shove magic healy juice right into it. She takes a few slow breaths as she regains her composure, glancing at Janine and Lars first before offering the former a begrudging nod.

     "... F-fine, that worked. Where's everyone el-" Another cringe as a familiar howl echoes through the area, and Sanary fights the urge to face it again, instead reaching over to grab Lars and haul him onto her shoulder if he isn't already moving.

     "We need to go. C... Come on, people!" And then she's breaking into a run, turning only briefly to channel magical energy into her eye to fire a rapid series of heat lasers at the Wolf to try and ward it off as well. She won't stick around to see if she even hit it in her haste to leave, though!

Kotone Yamakawa has posed:
Someond totally screamed wake up you fucks a moment ago didn't they? She also hears faint voices over the sounds of her body bring broken. She's not sure if she'll live wait?Was that a Hee-Ho as well? That was she hears other people yelling out at them. She hears their voice she hears them all. Even someone dropping F bombs as well, Janine? Wait! Kotone struggles she pushes through the pan her ragged lips manage to utter a short pharse. "This...is...not...real."

Her senses start to null out again and the view changes the pain vanishes, the man is gone,but the voices? No they are still there as everyone else is around her she's there standiung in the wood as her body's systems boot back up fully her hud appears the pain has fade but the lingering bit os fear are there. Sure they are there but she can manage.

"I...owe all of you..."

The feeling of flesh fades away, and what has become expected returns the feel of her cyberentic body is there but she takes a deep breath. "We need to get everyone out of here. Lars? Hee-ho squad? We need to get the hell out of here and I at least owe you one."

WIth that she turns and moves to GTFO with everyone else. She is not going to tempt fate by trying to fight.

Hikaru Kurosawa (1039) has posed:
    Terror grips Hikaru's heart as he speaks, even to the cracked, deformed monstrosity his mother has become. She lashes forward, and he staggers back, fear in his eyes even as she shatters -- she might be wrong, he might have escaped, but she still inspires such incredible horror in him, even now.

    And then, he's there in the Forest, turning his blank stare over to the others as Janine yells at them. There is a howl, a terrifying howl, behind him, mocking and terrible. And, before them, a path.

    He takes a step forward, shakily.
    Another step.
    He just has to move, he just has to leave, he doesn't have to think. All he has to do is survive. Hikaru breaks out into a run, towards the gap in the woods. He's not thinking hard enough to throw anything at the wolf. All he's thinking of is survival.

Ainsley has posed:
Ainsley doesn't wait to be told twice. She pulls her armored tome out and holds it up to her face. "PERSONA!" she shouts, and a turtle-like man in modern fishing gear manifests in the darkness in a blast of blue light, like a ghost manifest from her psyche. It turns its gaze on the wolf just for a second, both eyes opening, just as the lizard woman prepares to fly down that path, not trusting her legs to keep steady along the way.

"Dark Introspect!"

Desperately, the Turtle Fisherman flashes a Red light out at the Wolf and tries to slow or shackle it with the burden of its own negative emotion, the spell flashing out through the clearing, and then the Persona would vanish in a shower of blue light.

Ran Itoh (1040) has posed:
    There's nothing but darkness, mirrors and a black night sky like velvet, her shirt in ruins and, and.... and it never happened, did it? Not really. Ran moves like someone who's afraid she might fall apart at any moment, gingerly touches her stomach and legs and face. Nothing. No blood. "What," she tries to say, but can't make a complete sentence. It wasn't real.

    This isn't real.

    I escaped you. I am grown-

    "Hi ka ru," she grits out through clenched teeth, and pushes herself up onto her feet. Not her.

    All around her, they're breaking out. They've broken out. And the Wolf...

    He breaks the forest, just for them. She grabs for the closest hand she can and turns, running.

    As befitting a Rabbit, Ran is very fast.

Toph Beifong has posed:
    They're back. The wolf did this to her, that's the most logical explanation considering what they said earlier. And now... they need to run. Running isn't the best way to solve things in Toph's opinion, but no... there is no way she wants to experience that nightmare again! Or something equally horrible. Like...

    Toph shakes her head as she forces herself up to the ground. Just as the howl sounds. As the wolf closes in behind them Toph isn't slow to follow the others. No, she doesn't need to be asked twice, not now! So the blind girl begins running, all while she uses her bending. But this time it's not focused on the wolf. Instead she throws up her arms, raising walls behind them. Walls that hopefully are tall and thick enough to slow the wolf down if it wants to chase them! "GET YOUR ASSES IN GEAR!"

August Kohler has posed:
Everyone's running, so determined, and the Wolf just laughs! Janine creates gusts of wind, which ruffle through his pale, misty fur, as he pushes against them. Sanary fires heat lasers, which he tears through, the tiny wounds gone in a second. And then Ainsley attempts to inflict negative emotion. But the Wolf /is/ negative emotion. And despite it not working, he stops, for a moment, and howls laughing once again. They've won themselves a few seconds with that one, before he continues the hunt down the path.

The path is actually leading /straight/ back to the clearing. As Toph throws up walls, the Wolf stops at the first one, claws at it, and then leaps high into the air, over it. If there was enough light, his shadow would engulf everything.

And eventually, they find themselves at the clearing, the exit pond in front of them. But as they approach it, they'll see a reflection. A wolf, massive and smiling. Tilting his head. Inching closer...and then he turns and leaps away. What if he kept coming? What if he could follow them through? It seems he cares more about the possibility of them thinking that, then catching them right now.

But everyone's alive. Those who were mauled in their illusions will notice their bodies are fine, unless they bit through their lip or something. They may still have phantom pains, too. Lars and the Jack Brothers collapse next to the pond, huffing. Lars tears off his mask, the kid breathing heavily, as he shakily turns towards them. "I-I'm sorry. You weren't like her at all. I-I'm sorry!" Frost Ace puts a hand on his shoulder to comfort him, before he, the schoolboy, the soldier, and their dog approach. "Thank you guys, hee-ho! We came out here to trick-or-treat, since our cousin lives around here, but it seems that was a bad idea, hee! We're heading home! Larsbuddy, maybe we'll see each other again someday!" Lars looks up to them, as Frost Ace heads towards the pond, before anyone else can use it. "Now, let's get out of these costumes, hee, they're making me sweat."

The dog removes his wig. Now he's just a really shaggy dark-haired dog. Wait, is that /blue/ in his fur? Oh, and the soldier removes his helmet...revealing a pumpkin head, with only glowing firey dots for eyes. The school-boy removes his Jack Frost mask, revealing a dried up, stitched mouth, and equally glowing, white eyes. He plays with his knife for a bit. And then, Frost ace removes his visor. The yellow eyes are gone, revealing...only black holes for eyes. Wait, he looks just like Jack Frost under that costume! And before anyone can really react, they head towards the pond, and Frost Ac-, no, Jack Frost, turns to the group. "Maybe we'll see you again some day, hee-ho! We're heading home! If you see our cousin, Spriggins, tell him we're sorry we missed him!" And then, he dips a foot in the portal, and it opens. But not to the Shack. But to a hellscape city, blasted and blown, with the sounds of screaming, fighting, and monters in the background. "See you all later, hee! Remember the Jack Bros!"

And then the three Jack Brothers and their dog disappear into the portal, which closes immediately after them. Well. That happened.

August Kohler has posed:
And so, everyone survived, if possibly scarred. This was a traumatizing night, but not one that can't be overcome. Though, little did they know, that wasn't the last of the horrors that would happen that night.