5877/One Year Passed-2

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One Year Passed-2
Date of Scene: 08 June 2018
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Synopsis: The walk down someone else's memory lane continues with post-depressing park scene.
Cast of Characters: 6388, Reiji Arisu, Rebecca Chambers, 707, Eryl Fairfax, 6384, 1084

Grave Matters (6388) has posed:
    When last we left off, assembled Paladins were in a coffee shop warded against intrusion by average civilians. They CAN come in, but they're less likely to, and if they do, it's much harder for them to notice anything weird happening. For Elites, and non-Elite magic users, the coffee shop is plain as day. However, it is also locked up for the night, so it's a non-issue either way. No one is going to notice the elaborate illusion magic that surrounds the Paladins from the outside.

    The illusion is presently on a bit of a 'pause', as people discuss what they saw, and potential new people can join in.

    The picture painted of wizards so far is not a flattering one, nor, really, is Matsuri's life before joining them. A homeless, starving girl on the streets of Japan, stealing to survive because she refused to let a cloud of 'ghostlings' that engulfs her do as it has to everyone around her and rob life force from unsuspecting victims to sustain her.

    She was surrounded and taken in by wizards known as 'Finders', who apparently track down and confront magic users in an intentionally threatening way to see how dangerous they are before doing something like bring them into a secure location with people not prepared to defend themselves.

    The logic is... Sound. At least from the perspective of the Wizard's Association. But this isn't about what the Association thinks. This isn't even about what Matsuri thinks necessarily, though she was questioned about that by some present. This is for the people that the group known as Grave Matters will be working with to learn and determine for themselves how they feel and what they think about their new members.

    For any new folks who join them, the Nerima ward in Tokyo, Japan, on this Earth is fairly typical of most versions of such, maybe with a bit more of a techy-feel to things, and a greater prevalence of magic (even if normal people are unaware of it). It is, as noted before, night, making all the lights even more vivid... And making the unnaturally deep darkness seem even deeper and colder.

    In addition to all of the more familiar Paladin faces, there's a gothic-looking spidery-witch with a parasol and a shoulder-cat, a red-head in a crown and diamond-pattern dress, and a pinkish-red haired girl with a scarf and a much more subdued outfit than her two companions, if no less magically enhanced.

    The coffee shop interior has been replaced with a swirling mass of lights and colors.

Reiji Arisu has posed:
Reiji wasn't here for the last trip down somebody else's memory lane. Regrettably, being a Paladin means that you're kind of expected to go out and do Paladins-y things once in a while, and the last time, Reiji's number was up. Today, though, the exorcist has arrived in something approximating casual attire. He doesn't have his armor on, at the very least, and his usual armory is hidden in what looks like a briefcase. But, at the push of a button, concealed explosives would shed that disguise to reveal the weapons ready to go whenever a threat presents itself!

He's also sipping at a cup of coffee. It's black, because long after Reiji started taking his coffee black to seem more grown up and mature, he's gotten used to the bitterness and acidity, and now can't have it any other way.

He's not yet quite sure what to make of the wizarding organization, based on what he's seen and heard so far. But Matsuri specifically seems to have... impressed him, in some way. Or at least, that's what the expression he's wearing seems to suggest, even as he glances somewhat warily at the other new faces in the crowd gathering amidst the swirling colors and shapes.

Who are they, exactly...?

Rebecca Chambers has posed:
Coffee. Can't live without it. At least that's what many 9-to-5'ers will tell you. And coffee shops are great places to sit and feel comfortable. Especially in a place like this where things are truly more mysterious than usual. It's like Japan, only it's a lot more different than one might expect, especially with the presence of magic and whatnot. It seems like something out of a movie or an anime. Gives the place a surreal and somewhat spooky feel.

Which is why Rebecca is glad to be inside the coffee shop instead of being outside where who knows what could happen. Sure, she's got her Beretta, her Magnum, and her MP5K, but what's to say they will work against something that might be waiting for her. She's not a user of magic, although she can sense it somehow, which seems kind of ironic in itself. For now, though, she's trying not to let her fear show.

Instead, Rebecca is sitting alone sipping her coffee and reading something on her mini-tablet. It looks like an electronic book of some kind, and it seems to have Rebecca's attention. That's not to say she hasn't noticed the other Paladins here, she's just trying to ease into things. Especially considering how those strange shapes and whatnot are giving her a rather eerie feeling. After a moment, Rebecca rolls her eyes and whispers to herself, "Stay calm, Becky, you've been in worse things than this!"

Xiaomu (707) has posed:
By stark contrast, Xiaomu is nursing a cup of hot chocolate, because a life without hot chocolate is a sad life indeed and who cares if it's actually summer? Besides, it's her contractual obligation to be a counterweight to her partner's studied gravitas.

That, and she wanted to taste this particular establishment's cocoa.

She's given Reiji a run-down on what the first jaunt into Matsuri's memories entailed, and has actually provided a reasonable amount of detail ... as opposed to her executive summary, which is basically 'This world's wizards are jerks.' The ghost-wrangling trio have impressed her somewhat, even if not always in good ways; the rest of the local Wizards' Organization has quite a ways to go before they break even at this rate.

And while she doesn't expect to *need* weapons, she's carrying her staff as usual, which means Suiren is on-hand, plus she's wearing her usual vest over her comparably usual qipao, so it may safely be presumed by those who know the sage fox that she's packing her accustomed firepower as well.

Eryl Fairfax has posed:
    Eryl has taken a seat, but still holds the crystal that powers this particular mutual flashback. In his other hand, he holds a warm croissant which he takes ravenous bites out of. In between mouthfuls of pastry however, he glances at Xiaomu, not commenting on her comment.

    Once his other hand is empty alongside his mouth, he speaks. "Isolation can drive any group or organization to strange ends. With no oversight, it enters a feedback loop of 'it's always been this way.' But with our mutual co-operation, we can help them handle things in a more prosocial way."

    He takes a napkin and scrunches it up in the hand that held the treat, and looks to Grave Matters. "Do we continue with Miss Noriyama's story from here? Or do we change tact to Miss Tsuguhara or Miss Shinozaki?"

Orchid (6384) has posed:
     Orchid has her eyes closed ad she sits in a chair. She's thinking on what she's seen... "Is there a policy for if the local baddies make a disturbance?" she asks the air, not really expecting an answer. .o(If this is their normal policy, how do they raise their children?) "Should we pitch in to contain the damage? Should we blame it on visitors from another world?"

Seras Victoria (1084) has posed:
    Seras is looking a little disturbed by everything she's seen so far. It's made her quiet and thoughtful. Her normally cheery gaze has turned a bit haunted and dire from old memories of her own that have resurfaced from this delve down another's memory lane...

    Now that she understands more of the nature of this memory dive, she's a bit jittery. "This feels like an invasion of privacy..." She murmurs in semi-protest to nobody in particular.

    "I guess when you're dealing with dangerous magic, playing nice is a luxury on either side of anything. But... but..."

    The draculina is displeased by what she's discovering. In seeral ways. But at the same time a thought reaches her.

    She's now a vampire. Didn't -quite- ask for it in any traditional sense... but she did have a choice. This girl though, was born some sort of... almost-monster, unwilling to accept what she was and afraid of her strange power.

    "So the little ghosts take lifeforce from people. But victims are alright as long as they don't take much...? Were they able to be brought under control? ... It's not the only thing that can get you by, right...?" Well. She can hope.

Grave Matters (6388) has posed:
    Matsuri shrugs in response to Eryl, then remembers he's in charge of her now and gives a more communicative answer. "I don't know. I hadn't met Ruri or Shiho back then, so if this is in chronological order, we'll have to finish mine before we move on to theirs. But this is something made by wizards and doing the expected isn't exactly what they're known for."

    She looks to her companions. Shiho just shakes her head. She doesn't know either.

    Ruri is stuffing her face with blueberry muffins.

    Matsuri looks back to Eryl. "We'll just have to see what order Lord Faust put the memories in."

    Shiho fields Orchid's question. "It is only revealing the existence of magic and teaching it to the masses that is restricted, as far as I know, though local threats are typically the rare renegade wizard, typically the ones who never received proper education and allowed their magic to alter them instead of the reverse, or else the encroachment of the dead upon the living world. Neither is public knowledge, though the latter is specifically what our squad was assembled to handle. If necessary, we have Cleansers who can purge memories and evidence of the supernatural, but the quieter we keep it, the fewer witnesses they have to deal with."

    The witch pets her cat, Salem, though she pronounces it kind of like 'Seiramu' and says, "People from other worlds are understood to be 'problems from other worlds'. The Association isn't trying to deny the existence of the Multiverse. Even they know that to be impossible. But teaching magic to non-Wizards can be highly destructive, and make them targets for supernatural beings rather than giving them protection from such. As long as monsters that feed on the non-wizardly think they are unaware of them, they are content to prey slowly, like parasites. But if their target can perceive them, or worse, is revealed to know magic... They treat them as a rival predator. And non-wizards from this world don't have the spiritual defenses that wizards do against beings like that."

    "Yeah, no prey easier than a human without wizardry!" Ruri pipes up helpfully. "A mundane human with magic going up against a ghost is like someone with a gun, standing in a blizzard, shooting at the snow, and wondering why they're cold! It's hilarious!"

    Shiho and Matsuri turn to look at her, and Ruri starts coughing theatrically. "Or so I heard from the ghosts in the Underworld."

    "Ruri's awful taste in gossip aside, we're ready to continue when you are. And thanks for joining us." Matsuri nods to Reiji and Rebecca.

Orchid (6384) has posed:
     Orchid leaves her eyes closed to wince at the idea of wiping memories. "I guess we could help with a general zombie uprising," she muses as her eyes open, standing up to join the others. "And I guess I'm ready to continue."

Grave Matters (6388) has posed:
    Matsuri answers Seras quickly. "You're about to find out about controlling them if this goes in order of events, Miss Victoria. And I can live normally on sunlight and water, like everyone else." She says this straightfacedly, in the same near-monotone, so it's hard to tell if she's joking. But she probably is. Maybe.

Rebecca Chambers has posed:
"I'm sorry I didn't join you sooner," Rebecca says as she finishes her coffee and puts her tablet away. "I had some issues to deal with at the time, but I'm glad I could be here." A pause. "I know I'm not exactly skilled with this kind of stuff, but I do the best I can and I feel it's my duty to help out as a Paladin." She pauses to check her weapons briefly before looking forwards again. "I'm presuming that you'd know a bit more than I do, so I'm hoping you can help me out if the need should arise."

There is a pause and Rebecca looks down for a moment. During that brief moment, she begins to feel like a child. Feeling almost useless as she's trying to figure out what exactly she's doing here when she doesn't quite exactly understand what's happening here. But then that feeling slips away as Rebecca reminds herself that she's here to learn about this.

Looking up again, Rebecca doesn't say anything but gives a look that says that she's definitely ready for this whole thing.

Reiji Arisu has posed:
Reiji enjoys his cocoa too, but not on a summer night in Tokyo! Coffee needs to be hot, which is the only reason why he's drinking it the way it is now. He can handle a bit of heat.

Fortunately, Xiaomu has caught him up sufficiently well enough that he can make... a modicum of sense of what's going on. "Sounds vaguely what we do back home," he remarks on the subject of keeping things under lock and key as best as possible. "We're going to probably have to reveal things sooner or later, but... As it stands, we'd like to have a plan for that going forward to avoid any potential social backlash against what's behind the veil. I can understand wanting to keep the presence of the supernatural a secret well enough, but I hope the Wizarding community understands that it's only a matter of time, now. Few plans, conspiracies and cover-ups ever survive the multiverse."

He takes another sip of his coffee, then. "Don't worry about it. I wanted to come," Reiji answers Matsuri with a nod, then looks back toward Shiho. "You said that people with magical ability are not necessarily Wizards? Does being a Wizard imply mastery over the magic one possesses, or is there a more specific definition? Are there specific spiritual defenses that are necessary for foreigners with magical potential to travel safely within this world?"

Eryl Fairfax has posed:
    Now that he's done eating, Eryl holds up the crystal again, extending his other hand out so that the illusion can be expanded to all. "This time, we seem to be in a magical library, with two people present. Sound off if anything you see conflicts with this."

    As the memories from the crystal swell to cover everyone, what Eryl sees becomes what everyone sees. It hits all the senses at the same time, the scent of mahogany filling the nose, the sound of silver baubles whistling through the air overhead. Full immersion, meaning the sudden jump from coffee shop to mystical archive might be a little vertigo-inducing.

    There are two individuals present. One is evidently a younger Matsuri. She certainly looks much neater than she did in the last vision. Hair no longer unkempt and tangled, now wearing a white uniform. But she still doesn't look as old as the present-day version. She's sitting before a mahogany desk, across from a man with long black hair and silver-rimmed spectacles.

Seras Victoria (1084) has posed:
    "..... Riiiiiiiight." Seras wasn't expecting a smart-assed answer to that, so it sours her mood a little. Well, she can still hope!

    The police girl's mood does improve when Ruri chimes in on the conversation! But... only for her to join the others in staring at her method of describing the problem.

    "It's quite a mess where I'm from. The Multiverse made concealing the supernatural completely impossible. Downright unnecessary. But I think there's more of it here than where I'm from! Hellsing is mostly about stopping vampires and the undead, but we'll deal with anything that needs to be dealt with. We're only deployed when it's time to search and destroy though! NOt... diplomacy and negotiations. Everyone treats the supernatural as one big problem that usually needs to be exterminated! ... not quite how we go about it now, though." The last bit's added quippily! Yeah, of course, they're not going to murder wizards just for being wizards. Sheesh.

Xiaomu (707) has posed:
Xiaomu finishes her hot chocolate as she sees Eryl readying the crystal. "Library, huh ... too bad we can't browse around for the manga section," she jokes. Not that a bunch of stuffy old wizards are likely to have even one shelf of manga in their official library, let alone a whole section.

Or maybe they will. Wizards get bored and need a break too, right?

... well, she can ask later, or something. The sensory tide of the memory dragging them all in is a good distraction from lesser concerns - and as before, Xiaomu is genuinely curious about what they'll see. Matsuri is pretty recognizable, as before, and other circumstances aside, the sage fox thinks the redhead seems healthier, if not happier. It's the bespectacled man who is the real focus of Xiaomu's attention to start with ...

Grave Matters (6388) has posed:
    "You're not from this world, so even if you don't know magic, you should be fine, both defending yourself and fighting back, Miss." Shiho replies to Rebecca.

    To Reiji's questions, she says, "Wizards are, according to some at least, a separate race from the rest of humanity. Though we are genetically compatible, there are differences on the spiritual level beyond being naturally attuned to magic, such that we develop powers with or without training. Some of those changes provide us a natural defense against spiritual attacks such as various monsters employ. Ghosts, Monster Cats, Vampires, and things like that. I do not know of any testing that has been done on those from other worlds, but at least as far as I can tell, everyone here has a strong spirit and is well-defended. The people you passed on the street to get here had no defense whatsoever."

    She holds up a finger in full teacher-mode, but Matsuri interrupts, earning an annoyed look. "The training part, the instruction in using magic, can technically be provided to any random person off the street. But a magic user from our world who isn't a wizard has far fewer defensive options. A wizard without a protection circle can not simply be slain outright by some otherworldly soul-collector. A non-wizard magic user needs that circle and probably wards against mental influence and a whole lot of other things, and any mistake can cost them their life. That's why demon summoning has such a reputation for being dangerous. For non-wizards, they're gambling their life and possibly more than that on the belief that they have the right knowledge AND used it in the exact right way, flawlessly."

    Ruri double-thumbsup to Seras, then directs one thumb each to Reiji and Rebecca. "Appreciated! And we'll help out as Paladins too!"

    Once everyone is synched up, the illusion resumes as-described by Eryl. Matsuri, Shiho, and Ruri all breathe in deeply when the transition occurs, almost simultaneously. The smell in the room just triggers that response, apparently, and they try to catch more of the scent without even thinking about it.

    The black-haired man across the desk from Matsuri asks, "Do you know why you're here, Noriyama?"

    Matsuri looks far more timid than her current self. She keeps her eyes down as she sits hunched over in her chair, hands in her lap. She is still rather gaunt-looking, especially around her eyes, but she's not on the brink of passing out anymore, so she has presumably been fed. She doesn't answer immediately, perhaps not sure if she's supposed to. After a period of time, she glances up, sees the man watching her expectantly, and then looks back down. She shakes her head minutely.

    "I am Metanoia Faust." the man is distinctly not-Japanese even in a Japan where people have Main Character Hair Colors to denote their importance. Maybe European. His name sure as heck isn't Japanese.

    "I am an overseer for an organization that takes in, provides for, and educates those with a certain gift. A gift that comes with a responsibility." the man says.

Grave Matters (6388) has posed:
    Matsuri is looking from side to side, and occasionally up at Faust, not really sure how to respond. Eventually she asks, "What responsibility?"

    Faust smiles gently. "You didn't need to ask what I meant by 'gift'. You realize already that you're different." He stands up slowly from his chair and asks, "Would you like some hot chocolate? Coffee perhaps?"

    Matsuri hesitates, and then answers, "Cocoa please."

    Faust inclines his head, still smiling, and then heads over to an elaborate silver contraption on a table near the wall-to-wall book shelves. He passes a hand in front of it, and a ceramic mug appears, and the device starts conjuring steaming hot chocolate into it, apparently from the aether.

    "What responsibility, Mister... F.. Faosuto?" Matsuri presses, aware she didn't get a reply.

    Faust returns with the mug, walks to Matsuri's side of the desk and says, "Ah. You don't let go of that which draws your curiosity when you latch onto it. Good, good." He hands over the mug, and waits until the younger Matsuri takes it before returning to his chair and sitting back down. He steeples his fingers in front of his face, his eye lids sinking a bit beneath his glasses. "Our responsibility, is to keep those with our gift from killing people, to keep those without our gift from killing us, and to keep anyone from endangering this world."

    Matsuri was in the middle of blowing on her hot chocolate to cool it, but at that mission statement, she freezes in the middle of doing so, lips pursed, eyes wide, looking rather comical.

    Faust starts to chuckle a little but puts a hand to her his mouth to conceal it as he turns his head away slightly and masks the laugh with a cough. "Maybe I should start a bit slower." When he looks back to Matsuri, he's the kind, smiling teacher-figure again. The headmaster who looks on fondly as his students learn. He radiates an aura of 'I'm watching over you.' It might be sorcerous in nature or genuine, but either way, Matsuri relaxes a little bit.

    "Tell me, Miss Noriyama: Do you believe in magic?"

Orchid (6384) has posed:
     Orchid slides over to Rebecca. "To be honest, I don't understand this magic stuff either," she says to the other woman. "That's why I came, to get some exposure to the ideas involved. Well, and the whole 'know your allies' business, which is making more sense now than it did before."

     Another wave of magical energy, and Orchid finds herself in another memory, this time with an apparent time-skip. She pulls out two of her spiders again, to get more cameras on the scene. She sends one into position to get a better look at the man in the memory, and the other goes to look at Matsuri's face.

     "My own world's messes are too big to just hide, and hope people don't notice. Or maybe just too noisy to hide," Orchid notes in response to Seras's comments.

     Aaand Orchid might be keeping an eye out for the Manga section. But at Shiho's explanation... "So robots do have souls," she says with something of a smug grin.

     Ah, the main story! It's interesting that Faust seems to put their mission in the context of protection, first and foremost. Would Dr. Light agree? Maybe, but Orchid thinks protection is the proper use of power.

Rebecca Chambers has posed:
Usually, Rebecca is pretty strict about how people address her. Usually she'll tell them, "The name is Rebecca Chambers, but that's Officer Chambers to you!" However, in a situation like this, Rebecca's not too strict about formality. "Just Rebecca is fine," She says to Shiho with a slight smile forming on her face as she starts to feel a little more confident about things.

When Orchid slides to Rebecca, the medic nods a little. "I can understand where you're coming from there."

Just then, Rebecca finds herself going from being in a coffee shop to something else all of a sudden. And indeed it does induce a little vertigo on the medic's part. She closes her eyes and places her thumbs atop her temples, gently rubbing. "Easy there, Rebecca, just take it easy." Apparently it's some kind of self-massage technique that helps reduce vertigo. It seems to work as after a moment, Rebecca opens her eyes again.

Based on what Rebecca is seeing, they're in the past, and Rebecca can't help but stifle a chuckle as she thinks about the times she's wanted to go back in time and change things, but her demeanor returns to serious again. She attempts to listen in closely on the conversation between Matsuri and Faust while pulling out her mini-tablet again, albeit to record the conversation.

Eryl Fairfax has posed:
    Eryl wordlessly catalogues Mister Faust into his internal memory, his implants racing with his grey matter to form the appropriate connections. He's quiet as he speaks with the past Matsuri, but seems to be nodding at the method of approach.

    "An important lesson," he says out loud, grabbing as much attention as he can. "Disparaging comments have been made thus far, but it is easy to forget that a forest is made of many trees. The organizations methods may clash with the Paladin's, but as long as individuals like Mister Faust here remain, there is hope."

Reiji Arisu has posed:
    "It may be worthwhile for us to send an official representative from Shinra over then," Reiji says after thinking for a moment. His gaze flickers over toward his partner at that. "It sounds like they could potentially use a hand with providing some of the wards and so on that they need. We specialize in that sort of thing, you see. The Shinra Organization has been protecting our version of Japan from similar issues for quite some time."

At least the girls seem eager. Reiji follows along with the mileu playing out in front of him, even as a ~robe and wizard hat~ settle over his usual, monochromatic attire. He nudges up a pair of glasses that weren't there a moment ago and nods at Eryl's observation. "Indeed. It seems to be a case of well-intentioned individuals in an organization too old and too large to prune its own bad habits. But..."

Well. They say that you can tell a lot about a man by looking at his bookshelf. Reiji steps away from the group for a moment to peek through what tomes might have been arrayed for use, looking every bit like some kind of overworked archivist.

Xiaomu (707) has posed:
Xiaomu tries not to inhale *too* deeply of the room's scent, but she breathes in enough to make a conscious effort at attempting to identify it, perhaps 'analyze' is a good word. More than just the smell, though, she's aware of the illusion wrapping around *her*, cloaking her in 'belonging' - a layer of camouflage, so to speak, so that she won't draw extra attention.

An exertion of her will and an application of her own spirit-fox powers, and that camouflage is tweaked - replacing the 'standard issue' robes with an outfit that's more familiar to Xiaomu, sorcerous robes of a more fantasy-oriented style settling around her. She still has her staff, though ... and as she keeps an ear perked at the memory's Metanoia and Matsuri, she starts looking over the shelves more closely, like somebody who's trying to find a particular book.

She's not trying to find manga hiding among the grimoires. Sure, she's tempted *to* look for them, but she's actively reading the shelves - trying to get a feel for what kinds of tomes the Association has, out where an apprentice *might* attempt to indulge her (or his) curiosity.

Seras Victoria (1084) has posed:
    Oh, lovely. Now it's one of THESE talks. Seras has vivid memories of being seated across a desk like that. And most of them aren't the greatest of moments! Old, old events from childhood that will plague her for a great long time.

    But, for now, at least, these memories seem like... a drastic improvement for poor Matsuri! Seras's stance straightens a little, expression brightening with a mix of curiosity and hope that she'll get a good answer to the questions bubbling up so far!

    "Well. He seems like a respectable sort." She comments in that hopeful tone!

Grave Matters (6388) has posed:
    The volumes on the shelf are surprisingly diverse. Moby Dick, the Bible, The Illiad & The Odyssey, The Socratic dialogues, Disjunctions And Permutations: Arcane Nullification Through Applied Causal Manipulation, a black book bound tight with chains and padlocks and sealing talismans, Encylopedia Demoniac, the collected chapters of the popular space opera magical girl manga Star Wards's fourth Volume, 'A New Hope Is Born'...

    You know. Wizard Headmaster stuff.

    Matsuri pauses in her cocoa-cooling, and looks down into the steaming brown beverage at Faust's question. Looking at the distorted reflection of her eye in her drink, she answers, "I believe... In curses."

    Faust doesn't react immediately, so Matsuri continues. "I believe that I've been cursed... Since the day I was born. Not a single good thing... Has ever happened to me. You say I have a 'gift'. But it's actually a curse, isn't it?"

    She looks up expectantly.

    Present-Matsuri looks like she's struggling with something. Like she wants to go to her past self or say something. But she's not supposed to interfere, or become emotionally involved. It could distort the illusion.

    Faust's features relax, one eyebrow rising, as he smiles. "Not a single thing? But you're here, warm, clean, and safe, having hot cocoa with me, aren't you?"

    Past-Matsuri looks up at Faust tiredly, and then back down to her cocoa. She smiles just a little bit. "I guess so, Mister Fausto." She blows on her cocoa again, and the steam seems to gain more whiteness, and separate into little balls. Quirky-looking tiny ghosts, like marshmallows with arms and faces, go wobbling up out of the chocolate and flying around the room.

    Matsuri looks scared suddenly, her eyes wide as she looks to Faust, but before she can do anything reckless with her drink, he puts his hands over hers. The ghostlings bounce off of him harmlessly.

    He looks calmly and pleasantly at her, and says, "You can't hurt anyone here by accident. And I want to teach you to control these spirits so that you can live among non-wizards too."

    Matsuri asks, "I'm a... wizard?"

    Faust nods as he lets go of Matsuri's hands and gestures around the room. In a wash of crackling eletricity, each of the Paladins becomes 'visible' to the Past-Matsuri as the overseer indicates all of them. "Yes. So am I. And so are these fine people, who will be your teachers. You are among your own kind now... Matsuri."

    Past-Matsuri looks around at everyone, SEEING all these Elites in wizard-illusion guise for the first time.

    Metanoia Faust says, "Welcome home."

    Past-Matsuri turns to look at him, her eyes welling with tears, and then she tries to hug the older wizard while crying in relief.

    Faust carefully extricates the mug swarming with ghostlings and sets it on his desk before it spills, and then returns the hug.

    Present Matsuri is red-faced and trying to avoid looking at the moment of defenselessness. "He really had to linger on this, huh?"

Orchid (6384) has posed:
     So Orchid looks human now. More so, like a specific human, but not one she's ever seen. But she's not paying much attention to that. The story in front of her, that's what matters more. She looks over at Matsuri, considering. "It seems," she says, pausing to look at the tiny marshmallow ghosts in the cocoa. "It seems he wants to show us you at your weakest, so we know how you will react." She pauses, and steps over to the Headmaster. "Excuse me sir, where can I find the file on our new student?" she asks politely.

Eryl Fairfax has posed:
    It's funny.

    As it gets to the bit where Past Matsuri begins to break down, something that is clearly getting to Present Matsuri... the illusion vanishes.

    The cause is immediately apparent. The crystal has tumbled from Eryl's grip, landing on the coffee table in reality. He looks around, a sheepish expression on his face.

    "My fingers slipped. Might need to get that calibrated," he says, pointedly not looking at Matsuri.