1351/Return to the Tomb

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Return to the Tomb
Date of Scene: 16 January 2015
Location: Earth - 11000 AD
Synopsis: Put on your Indiana Jones replica hats, boys! It's time for an ADVENTURE! D leads a party back to the Northern Frontier and Village Rosa. The nearby castle has been restored, but why, and by whom?
Cast of Characters: 151, 232, 236, 238, 255, 518, Zero Kiryu, 570, 655

D (232) has posed:
    The castle is no longer in ruins. Standing tall against a pale gray sky, it is like a behemoth awakened from slumber. Tall parapets form its mighty crown. Dark windows paned by colored glass create its multi-hued eyes. The gates are sealed, but it's easy to imagine them opening like a giant maw ready to swallow into darkness all who would dare to enter here.

    The mountain air is chill with foreboding.

    From a purely architectural sense, there is nothing unique about the castle. It is built in the medieval fashion, with towers and crennelations and a high wall to surround it. Look up 'castle' in any dictionary, and the example picture wouldn't be a far cry from what's been rebuilt atop the mountains overlooking Village Rosa. What's strange about it are the too-perfect angles, the occasional sweeping curve or flapping tapestry too artful for any human minds preceding the Renaissance era. That elements of Victorian architecture have sprouted up here look odd, too, such as the iron spikes mounted atop the castle's walls, and the delicate latticework providing a framework for nearly every window, narrow or wide. The stonework likes to form snarling gargoyle faces and wings, too. The gate is centered by an ornate half-sphere which forms a shape like a decorated moon whenever the gate is closed.

    Standing by himself on the half-wild road in silent contemplation of the restored castle is a man with a stoic face, a long sword strapped to his back, and a black cape which sometimes snaps in the wind. A wide-brimmed hat shades his dark gaze in shadows so deep his thoughts are rendered inscrutable.

    D awaits his companions there. As it is still some time until the sun is fully set, the way to him is mostly clear; nothing will bother any travelers he expects to find him, anyway. He strokes the shoulder of his horse, seemingly unconcerned about what awaits.

Setsuko Kaminagi (255) has posed:
    Were it any other type of enemy they could be facing, Setsuko might be worried about robbing her allies of the element of surprise. But against the vampire that lies within, or most any true vampire in D's world, she's fairly certain that their presence wouldn't go unnoticed regardless of whether or not she was among them. So she comes, her presence like a beacon for not just miles, but /dozens/ of miles around, with nothing but her ever-present blade, Zanjintou. And, of course, her usual conveyance, one of the Union's many spare hoverbikes available for little more than a sign-out to anyone with any sort of authority whatsoever.

    She doesn't bother to swoop low and dismount these days, however; not when she can drop right off the bike and simply float down for a landing. Her boots touch ground just a few feet to D's side, her eyes on the castle. "...Someone's been busy."

Kimiko Shinobu (570) has posed:
    Kimiko arrives in a dress remarkably suitable for the castle they're visiting. That is, seemingly era-appropriate, yet anachronistic by the second glance. The castle's oddities can hardly escape her notice, as much as time as she's spent studying medieval warfare. Much can be explained by /this/ castle not being built to withstand a siege, but that begs the question of why there should be a /castle/, here. She can only guess that the general appearance was the more important of its functions.

    Her own appearance is rendered starkly less appropriate by the fact that she's riding an offroad sports motorbike. The engine can hardly be heard as far as Setsuko can be sensed, but it nevertheless has that characteristic volume of high-performance 20th century engines.

    She's just more used to this than some of the more convenient technology she could have pulled from Njorun.

    "D." She nods, setting the bike aside. "Setsuko." Grateful for her presence, in her own, quiet way.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    A creature of yellow feathers comes to a stop, ruffling its feathers up in unease at the display of the castle. It makes a soft 'wrrrrk wrk wrk' noise like a chicken might, and the crest on its head raises briefly to show off the strange bird-like emotion on it, when its reins are tugged to slow it down. It scratches at the dirt, pecking at the foreign plants, while its rider stares up at the castle with faintly-glowing blue eyes through the shade of a hood.

    Ainsley is here because of the later events surrounding D and his exploits, and the effort already invested in helping him made it impossible to ignore the chance to do it again. Her expression is subtle, her eyes narrowing slightly as she took in the details in the architecture, taking note of the details that would be very difficult for traditional construction methods in a similar castle. She makes no comments to it one way or another, instead turning her head to look to D.

    "I may not be able to help as much as some of your combat-focused allies, so I will try to provide tactical information if this investigation turns into a fight," she says to him, "At the very least, a differing perspective."

    She hops off the chocobo, finding a place to tie a lasso to so the chocobo doesn't run off.

    To Setsuko and Kimiko, she gives a gentle "Hello" and leaves it at that.

Beli Klum (238) has posed:
    Subtlety is not Beli's forte, considering her appearance. In the darkening sky, her skin glows a clear white, and the six wide, black-feathered wings that carry her through the air aren't hard to miss either. Fortunately, it seems that's not too much of an issue tonight as the rephaite glides into the Frontier, a place she's become quite familiar with over the years.

    She stares at the castle as she approaches. Or perhaps leers would be a better term. The last time she was here, it was a crumbling, ruined mess, degraded through time and neglect. To see it so freshly renewed after - what is it now? - a year is baffling, to say the least. Troubling at worst.

    It's easy enough to spot the others. Beli brings her wings in to swoop down toward the rest of the group, spreading her wings and banking up again once she comes near so that she can gently alight on the ground near D. Her mismatched eyes are still fixed on the castle, but for a moment, she offers everyone around her a nod of greeting despite her lingering frown. "I feel at least a little responsible for this," she mutters, arms folding over her chest. "Who could have built this back up so quickly?"

Dominic Masoch (655) has posed:
"...overall. The underlying principles of which will change if the blade were to be modified even so much as an inch, resulting in an overall nine percent loss in move efficacy. It is therefore to be presumed that in most cases, the optimal blade construction is as previously detailed in the opening statement," Dominic drolls into an earpiece as he walks along the road. He's not being loud, it's just a calm and even-volumed statement as he finishes up some homework via the dictation software on his mPad, which is currently glowing slightly in the other pocket of a heavy leather bookbag he carries.

"End dictation. Please proofcheck and then send to proper Professor via Mognet, then switch to Cartographer," He notes, the pad beeping twice and then going black as it goes through its processing. The bag across his shoulder is adjusted, a few potions and ethers rattling inside of it. Nothing too major, just enough to tide him over in case of an emergency.

His other hand falls to the sword at his side and Dominic looks around at the chill and forboding surroundings. Without the mindless homework he was using to actually distract himself, he can't help but feel trepidation at his current surroundings. There's a scowl on the Fencer's face and his hand tightly grips the hilt of his sheathed rapier, making sure to keep a careful eye out.

He comes to a stop near D, looking towards the man and saying simply, "Greetings. We were together on the mission the other night. Are you D? I am, as introduced, Dominic Masoch of Ramuha. You gave me leave to accompany you on this operation and I have arrived. I will help however I am able.

He then looks around carefully and gives the others gathered around a nod of greeting.

Auron (236) has posed:
    Ainsley's is not the only yellow-feathered creature that approaches. Auron too has decided to arrive at this location upon the back of one of the feathered beasts of bird-en. However, his countenance is not so happy as that narrative pun might indicate. In fact he has an impassive look upon his face as the bird (which looks rather unnecessarily happy, thanks to the budgie-shaped beak) takes him to the location.

    He arrives at where the others are gathering, and then dismounts his chocobo. Though he remains silent for now. He's not quite sure what's going on, and will look to the others for direction here. Particularly D, whom seems to dislike small talk. All the same to him, honestly... Auron's not good at small talk anyway.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    A car rumbles up the road. It is glaringly out of place, having the appearance of a car designed to function like something relatively modern, but LOOK like something out of the twenties. It's a black four-seater with an emblem indicating that it is from the Union's motor pool on it. The driver is an aggravated-looking young man, while his passenger is essentially the opposite. Zero steers the car up the road, quietly reflecting on what a godawful idea it would be to bring an automobile from his world out on these roads. The automobile slows to a halt a few yards away from D.

    To him, this is business as usual. Vampires in ominous places in the mountains? That's literally the story of Yuuki's house, which Zero has every intention of pointing out once he has the opportunity to do so. For now, he has other things to do. He puts the car in park, slips the brake into place, and gets out of the car. He's not enough of a gentleman to go over and open the door for his passenger. She can do that herself.

    "Are we approaching on foot from here, or are you simply waiting for everyone to assemble?" The question is directed at D, who appears to be more-or-less the only person that Zero is paying attention to. He approaches his fellow hunter and the mechanical horse rather carefully, and doesn't approach too closely. Zero is fairly visibly tense, for more than one reason. This place feels like a den of vipers, which it probably pretty much is. He supposes that Yuuki's home would feel about the same to D.

    "... Also, is there any preferred level of response to encounters with hostile entities?" This is Zero's way of asking whether or not he needs to avoid killing whatever they run into. The question is asked very reluctantly, as if he's unsure that it even needed to be voiced.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
    The car trip is long, and boring, and annoying. For Yuuki, it's a good chance to catch up on a nice daytime nap. Or listen to really upbeat music! Unfortunately, Zero is a huge grumpus, and there is a mild spat over the radio before Yuuki gets flustered and crosses her arms, now grumpy herself.

    Hmph. Zero-Jerk doesn't like her upbeat girly music about boys and rabu-rabu and jpop. This is because he is, in fact, a normal guy, and even if he wasn't a Bishounen Protagonist filled with Angst and Gloom, he still probably wouldn't cotton to Yuuki's - a high school girl - taste in music.

    But, as they approach the shaded castle, she perks right back up, pulling off the sunglasses she had been wearing and pocketing them, hopping out of the old-style car with great alacrity when Zero pulls to a stop. She didn't even wait for him to open the door! He was like an angsty brother to her! ... Why would she expect him to be all nice now?

    "Hello everyone!" Yuuki calls cheerily, shoving the door closed with her foot as she hurries on over to everyone else. "Wow... Huh, big, broody castle."

    Sniff sniff. "Smells dangerous. Well, I mean, it looks dangerous too! But I'm sure with everyone here, it'll be a snap!" She beams. Beam beam. Such smile. Many radiance. Watch out, D, you may wither in such a SUNNY disposition.

D (232) has posed:
    D affirms Dominic's guess. "Yes; I am D. I remember you from the gathering at Oinari's. I hope you were able to prepare yourself for coming here; it may become difficult to explain anything as we continue inside." The Hunter tips his hat in a slight but respectful form of greeting; standoffish as he may be, he's not one to turn away offered help, especially whenever it is needed.

    "We'll move in on foot. Noble safehouses tend to have strange defenses, and given how quickly the castle was restored, I imagine the resources available to the Nobility within must be considerable." In other words, D doesn't suspect that anyone they're about to encounter could be considered a 'little fish'. Reinforcing any suspicions anyone may have along those lines is the atypical tension lurking in his voice, and the equally atypical request for accompaniment: D has a history of operating alone. For him to bring along so many...

    His gaze slides away from the castle to meet Zero's. "There is no need for restraint. We are here to investigate what we can of our enemy, and should anything or anyone stand in our way, remove the obstacle."

    D's attention returns to the castle. In the shadows cast by his hat, his eyes narrow. "If any of you are made uncomfortable by this task, please leave at once. If you stay, I cannot promise to keep you safe, though I will endeavor."

    In the distance, Village Rosa's perimeter lights begin to flicker to life. It isn't yet nightfall, but it's late enough for the lights to be a good idea. Those with sharp senses can hear the region's beasts begin to stir. Nightbirds begin to call to one another, and insects begin a quiet but dissonant melody of chirps, buzzes, and clicks.

    D takes a few steps closer to the gate and pauses. "As I said, the defenses will be strange. Keep close to me, and keep your weapons at the ready."

    He continues to walk toward the gate at a calm, steady pace, not even flinching as his skin tingles in reaction to a subtle electronic field. The moment he or anyone else breaches the field, the castle's defenses begin to manifest. Several biological-looking eyes open within the stone and iron forming the gate's barbican, round pupils expanding and contracting as each eye fixes on a different person in turn. Their inspection lasts only a few seconds before they close their pupils and melt back into the stone; then, a sudden flurry of laser-fired metal needles fills the air.

    It's almost as if D is walking toward an army of thousands of archers, and each bow has let loose at the exact same time. The 'arrows' appear to be shot from small hole in the castle's stone no more than a quarter-inch in diameter. Each hole opens, releases its ammunition, and closes again. There is no pattern to discern or seemingly any way of stopping the projectiles from firing, yet that's not even the most insidious feature.

    Even a grazing hit delivers a potent, stinging poison. Having no immunity to the poison results in wracking agony, and eventual paralysis, at least in someone weak of constitution. Those of a vampiric nature may have reason to be wary of any piercing shots to their hearts, too, suggesting this defense is meant not only for human intruders, but as a ward against other Nobles, too.


    D of course draws his sword to slap away the needles spraying toward him. He lunges through their midst without fear, though as he comes to a stop at the closed gate, it's clear he's been hit once or twice. Laying his hand against the moon sigil, he brings his other to his shoulder, from which he pulls one of the needles embedded into his flesh. At his chest, his strange pendant is blazing a bright blue.

    "The gate will not open to me." He doesn't sound like he likes that.

Setsuko Kaminagi (255) has posed:
    The rain of needles is of no small concern. But Setsuko looks on passively, only turning once to look at Kimiko and ensure that the Puella is fairly close. She has a very simple solution to this puzzle, and it comes in the form of her sword. The blade is drawn held to one side, and then with a snap-FWOOMP, the grip lengthens, the crossguard spreads, and the broad full-sized blade flares into existence. This, she simply holds over her head, turning sideways and keeping it close to her body so that its broad surface will shield her entirely.

    With its size, it can in fact shield two or three more just as easily.

    After ferrying people to safety through the power of a sword which is a shield, the demigod allows her weapon to return to its ordinary katana state, and then looks up at the gate before them. D has requested her aid in getting it open; where someone comes to her in specific for such a thing, there's only one method they may be asking for. Divine power ripples along the blade briefly, the silver-haired woman sizing up the barrier... and then whipping her weapon in two lightning-quick slashes each of which unleashes an arc of blue light sharp enough to cleave steel, in a tall X shape intended to simply carve the bottom and top quarters of the door clean off.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley just watches D with a neutral gaze as he provides information to the group as a whole. She doesn't seem to be deterred by the idea of being in danger, nor does she have any outward signs of fear that could be seen. Only subtle things, like the more tense and robotic nature she takes and the way her neutrality almost seems forced compared to her usual mellow demeanor, would indicate this place frightens her.

    She makes no objections. She does not, however, go first, turning her head to watch D instead. When he passes through the electrical field, she comments over the tactical band about what she sensed, and confirms her fears about this place: That it is being run by someone with a great deal of resources, enough to invest in traps that could kill all but the most skilled of intruders.

    Ainsley smiles, happy that this group does, in fact, have such skilled people when Setsuko advances. She follows closely behind and emits something of an electrical field, herself, though mostly she's trying to use it to repel the needles and slow them to a crawl so that even if they are ejected, they'd be negligibly dangerous. Also she floats, not wanting to touch them. She's read enough books to know that needles can be poisoned and she doesn't even want to risk skin contact.

Kimiko Shinobu (570) has posed:
    Kimiko nods to a few others as they gather in slight acknowledgement, and then again to D as he advises caution. Like quicksilver, her weapon forms in her hand, a simply designed yet ornately decorated longsword, which she keeps low for the moment. She walks forward, close enough to the dhampir's side, to better be ready to deal with whatever appears. Her talents are more useful in immediate response to an attack, than otherwise.

    There are many forms of attack for which heavy, conductive armor is a poor defense. Layered plates of steel have vulnerabilities in the face of fire or lightning, and the padding beneath is only somewhat effective versus ice. Magic of various types might pierce through in any case, though a Puella Magi's armor is ever magical, itself.

    Tiny darts, filled with lethal poison, are not within her weaknesses. If anything, this is the least likely method by which to take her down. Though she appears unarmored in one moment, in the next the padding, chain and plate provides her a complete covering, even her visor giving no direct line toward the castle's defenses, if she avoids looking directly at them. The darts are fired with some force, but piercing Kimiko's armor needs concerted effort, when she's really paying attention.

    The result is that she can simply continue to walk forward, though she must take care in looking to the side, to see how others fare. Her eyes are still a point of vulnerability, against attacks this narrow.

D (232) has posed:
    The iron bars put up a shrieking resistance to Setsuko's sword. In the wake of her divine blade's passage, the bars appear twisted and broken, and orange heat glows where the bars have been shattered. The gate is irrevocably ruined, of course. It swings back on its hinges to admit entry into the wide, empty courtyard. The courtyard is pave with a stone mosaic depicting two full moons surrounded by stars. One moon is red with blood. The other shines pure white. Where the courtyard is darkest, the stars seem to shine brighter.

Dominic Masoch (655) has posed:
"I attempted to read as many files as were still in the current rotation of information. I am not, however, so headstrong as to believe I understand the full situation. Thus I will defer to you where necessary on courses of action," Dominic notes with a nod, adjusting the pack that he wears on his shoulder and fixing a strap.

The nice thing about his leather satchel is that it's very tough, has incredible durability, and is a great anti-trap mechanism in some ways. This is owing to the fact that the Fencer is incredibly reflex-trained to respond to threats from all angles.

Thus, as the air fills itself with needles all aimed towards him, Dominic steps back and then grabs his bag. Holding it by the handle, he moves his body with an uncanny speed, dodging through waves and under volleys. Only rarely does the bag come up when he finds himself in a position where he can't avoid an assault of needles.

When he comes through to the other side of the gate, he's managed to avoid needles hitting his actual body. His leather bag, on the other hand, looks like a staticly-charged porcupine with needles jutting out of it in all directions. A gloved hand starts trying to dislodge them with brushing motions.

"Goodness, that could have been very bad for me," He says in a bit of a surprised tone, dusting himself off. A couple of the needles are saved and put into an outside pouch. Kyra might like them. He bets she can alchemy something out of them.

As the gate swings inward, ruined from Setsuko's attack, he gives her a nod, "Impressive sword technique." He notes politely, drawing his own rapier from his side and readying it for whatever threat may await them in the courtyard.

Beli Klum (238) has posed:
    More people arrive, and Beli gives each a brief smile of greeting in turn, though she's pretty distracted with the matter of the castle. Dominic, at least, gets a response, since she knows she hasn't met him yet: "Good to meet you, Dominic. I am Beli Klum, guardian of Purgatorio. I am pleased to have you with us today." All in the duty of a captain.

    The situation is about to proceed, however, and her attention shifts right back to D. His suggestions are met with a brief nod of her own; she says nothing, trusting him to understand the severity of this particular situation much more than she. All she does before proceeding is shift to her angelic presence, casting a light blue sheen over her wings and lighting flames of a similar color in each of the three black halos behind her head. With that done, she steps forward-

    And, fortunately, Setsuko prevents her from being repeatedly impaled and poisoned. She's not really sure if she could have reacted in time to bring out Compassion for that to protect herself, and protecting everyone /else/ is questionable there as well. At least she didn't have to find out, only suffering the lingering effects of that surprise instead of poisoning. Setsuko is offered a grateful nod, and Beli proceeds more carefully.

    The gate is handled quickly, and Beli continues, keeping just behind the front of the group. That mosaic gets her curious attention: the contrast is impossible to miss, after all, and it seems like the stars in the paving are strangely lighter. While the others may move forward, Beli stops near some of the stars that they pass, where she crouches down to take a look at them and see if she can feel any sort of presence that might match or contrast with her own nature.

Auron (236) has posed:
    Auron is indeed set ill at ease by this place. But he's not about to leave after promising to help. A man is as good as his word, and Auron is not known for breaking his. Besides, it wouldn't be the first time he'd gone with a group into a place that made him uncomfortable. Usually if a place makes him uncomfortable there's something that needs to be kicked out of it.

    However, D's warning to keep weapons at the ready gets a nod from Auron, and he draws his Katana. And it turns out to be more than a valid concern as... suddenly /needles/! Auron may have a bit of an advantage in blocking the needles with that wide blade of his.

    Thankfully Setsuko's expanding sword will provide a barrier if others need it. It's true, Auron is willing to act as a meatshield for anyone who requires it, but he's not likely to be able to shield too many others. He keeps his as much of his body behind the blade as possible, but it's very likely that he's going to get hit at least once. He's made for /taking/ damage, not avoiding it. At least his boots should protect his feet.

    The result, however, is that he's going to stumble to a knee when he gets to where the others are. Poison is a horrible thing, especially in a human body. Which is exactly what he is. He didn't come unprepared, though. Once the group is out of danger, he reaches into his coat and retrieves a clear vial, opening it and quickly downing the contents. Thank the Fayth for antidotes. Then he pulls out what needles have struck him, so the antidote doesn't have to fight against continuing poison as well. Ow!

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    When D begins to move, Zero is moving close behind him. The reason for this is that he is more confident of D's ability to deal with whatever defenses might sprout up here than in his own. Survivability and familiarity are both higher, and he's fairly certain that anything which would kill D quick enough to make him an ineffective meatshield would kill them both simultaneously anyway. In summary, he charges through it all by using D as a form of mobile cover, and as a result manages not to take a single scratch. Once they reach the gate he draws Bloody Rose, which promptly begins its usual pattern of beginning to wind metallic, thorned vines around its wielder's body as a form of armor... and arguably, ammunition.

    The brute force required to enter the gate is brought to bear before he has the opportunity to reach an activation level of Bloody Rose sufficient to tear it down. That's fine, and saves them some time besides. The Vampire Hunter casts a wary gaze into the courtyard beyond, careful attention going to the stone mosaics. Too clear considering the external defenses, he decides.

    Zero wills Bloody Rose to act, and a single, thin vine creeps experimentally into the courtyard, probing for traps or other gotchas. The hunter himself remains firmly in place at the gate, unwilling to commit to entry just yet.

    "The owner takes its privacy seriously." Zero remarks to D, glancing back to check and see what Yuuki is up to. It wouldn't surprise him in the slightest if she just walked right through that mess.

Kimiko Shinobu (570) has posed:
    Kimiko raises her visor once they're through, now getting a better look at the place--and checking over her armor for damage. While nothing pierced her plate, and she presented none of her joints openly, the barrage was thorough enough to even get past one rondel, striking at a shallow angle into the chain of her armpit. Too shallow to get through, but still needing careful removal, before she can safely continue.

    She looks over at Auron with some concern, but away again as he speaks to his readiness. D, similarly, doesn't seem to put out. She trusts that anyone who /is/ in grave need will say something to that effect.

    "Have we a direction?" Kimiko glances between Beli and Zero as they investigate. She has little to add, in that regard. Her own sense of divination would likely be either too vague or too overloaded in this area to provide much help. Witches and Demons are her prey, not vampires.

Setsuko Kaminagi (255) has posed:
    For the moment, now that the hazard of the needles has been bypassed and the gate is open, Setsuko simply stands and waits. Her senses are superhumanly sharp, but there are others here far better-suited to trap finding than she is.

D (232) has posed:
    D murmurs his appreciation for Setsuko's work before he spares a thought for his party's health; what kind of priorities does this guy have, anyway? Their survival assured, he prepares to enter the courtyard. Notably, he keeps his sword bare, rather than return it to its scabbard too soon. Is he paranoid, or just prepared? Carrying it in his right hand leaves his left side open for Kimiko's close presence. He looks once to make certain she remains nearby as he takes his first step.

    He thrusts his arm out across Kimiko's path and recoils as a blinding flash shoots upward from the courtyard's surface in a slender burning beam. Part of Bloody Rose's vine is crisped by the laser's close passage. Beli -- her hand outstretched to admire the stars -- may be in for a painful surprise. Already, he calls to her: "Beli!"

    Every single star Bloody Rose creeps past sends the same white-hot flash to the sky above. Thousands of beautifully-rendered stars stand between the party and the castle's interior entrance.

    Several dozen more lifelike eyes open across the castle's surface. The eyes are not bestial; rather, all are all too human in appearance, and all shine in twisted glee before closing once more, one by one.

    The doors into the castle were closed whenever D and the others stepped through the ruined gate; now, the doors swing open all their own in mocking invitation. "Arrogance," D mutters, disgust in his voice. "We are already to be treated as playthings." With as much danger as there is between the intruders and the door, there is no need for it to be locked! He asides to Dominic, "At least you will learn a great deal on your first foray into my world."

    D considers the courtyard.

    "This safehouse has more wards than I anticipated. When we were last here, we encountered a different series of obstacles. I thought perhaps we might find another animate golem, or perhaps more gas traps. Whoever rebuilt the castle is indeed well-off."

    The thought puts a hard frown onto his face where previously little emotion showed itself. He is troubled.

Setsuko Kaminagi (255) has posed:
    Dominic receives a simple nod in reply, and an equally simple, "Thank you."

    Then D speaks, observing aloud the differences in warding. "And smart," Setsuko adds, already starting to memorize the position of the stars and the number of them they'll have to avoid or disable. "The defenses in use before, were breached. So rather than resetting or upgrading them, they've been changed entirely so that we can't rely on previous knowledge. More work, but more secure."

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley stares into the courtyard, silently terrified by how absolutely thorough and lethal the trap was. She spends some time appreciating the sheer scale difference between this and the minor excursions she's had in other worlds, and swallows down some of that fear when she witnesses another trap go off, of similar absurd lethality and sudden danger. She lets out a shaky sigh, and turns her attention to the eyes, which seem to have watched it happen. She frowns at it, showing some uncertainty toward it.

    "Some way to obscure the lasers. Perhaps something that will block them before them emerge. Some manner of... ice spell?" She makes an exaggerated shrug. "I am not certain."

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
    The way being cleared rather firmly is good! Becuase Yuuki was totally going to just wander in through all of that and get completely face-eviscerated. But she doesn't! Because it gets cleared.

    Zero knows her too well. But... There's a hard, skidding stop as they approach the entrance, and enter. Eyes. Humanoid eyes. Piles of them. Being creepy. She doesn't even fret about the laserbeams. It's just...

    Yuuki looks all around, confused and creeped out. It's like that sensation of being watched from where you can't see it, but you can, and it's all around you, and it's even MORE creepy.

    "I don't like this place. Who puts /eyeballs/ in their walls???" She complains, setting her shoulders and trying to not look like she was totally grossed out and completely useless.

    Becuase she was totally grossed out and completely useless.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Upon hearing an idea over the tactical band as people discuss how to bypass this, Ainsley draws out a notebook from her robes -- she never, ever goes anywhere without one of these -- and tears a page off of it. She hums a cute little song to herself, probably a memory game while she folds the piece of paper into... a paper airplane.

    Then, she holds it in her palm, and gives it an expert push of wind magic to send it sailing through the courtyard gracefully, testing whether the lasers respond to proximity or not.

Beli Klum (238) has posed:
    A painful surprise indeed. Fortunately, Beli wasn't /too/ close to the stars, but her hand was lingering over one. A blazing laser cuts through her palm, and with a sharp yelp, she falls back from the offending blast, grasping the wound in her other hand. Oh, it certainly hurts, but Beli at least has ways to handle such things, and it could have been worse. All she needs to handle it is the seraphic flame she manifests around her hand, a blue fire that flows into the wound and steadily closes it up. Soon enough, she's fine again, though with a lingering ache she shakes out of her hand as she stands up.

    The stars are regarded with a frown, but she has something she can propose. "I can lay down a barrier over them that we can walk over. It should hold; it has taken worse, at least. But..." Her arms fold over her chest, drawing out a slow sigh. "Whether it comes from proximity or touch would probably help me prepare for how much energy to put into it..."

    Oh, Ainsley is putting through a test. Beli steps back and watches, waiting to see the results of the paper airplane's flight.

D (232) has posed:
    Contact seems to be required; only a few of the stars react to the airplane's presence, and only when the airplane dips below one foot above the ground.

Dominic Masoch (655) has posed:
"The more I am able to learn, the more I will be able to help you in the future," Dominic replies to D in a very matter-of-fact manner, "As it should be."

Of course, the massive mosaic of lasers erupting from the ground causes him to start back a bit in surprise, "Wh... the traps here are so elaborate." He says in amazement. He takes out his mPad, making sure none of the needles from the volley outside destroyed it, and then turns the screen on. Carefully, he starts trying to get pictures of the trap as the laser fires off. He's holding the mPad in one hand and his sword in the other. It is, after all, important to document new things.

"Your plan sounds ideal," He notes to Beli, putting his tablet away after he's done getting pictures, "If you are sure the strain will not harm you in some way."

Kimiko Shinobu (570) has posed:
    Kimiko stops at D's gesture, her blade coming up behind her in a whirl, ready to strike or block--but the reflex is unneeded, as the trap instead takes the form of a burning beam. She considers it tensely, but as it does not move to follow her, she takes no further motion. Letting Zero or one of the others here set these traps off, before they advance, seems prudent. That assumes, however, that they can be depleted--and this is uncertain.

    Her concern on another matter is voiced, and Ainsley performs the necessary experiment. She waits to see the result, then glances in Beli's direction. A barrier a fair bit over the ground--that should hold, shouldn't it?

    "Everything here is more elaborate than necessary." She responds to Dominic without turning her gaze from the courtyard.

    When Beli's ready, she'll again take the fore, keeping to D's left and prepared for the next assault, as well as she's able.

Beli Klum (238) has posed:
    Well, that should be easy to handle. Beli's arms lift once the range of the stars is noted, and a semicircle of golden light forms over them from where the group stands to the door. It's broad enough for two people to walk side by side, and as sturdy as stone despite its appearance, so it should be easy to pass over. She's adjusted its radius to make sure it stays at a safe height, too, but just in case, it'll be strong enough to resist a few blasts from within.

    "It will be fine," Beli replies to Dominic with a light smile. "Go ahead, all of you. I will maintain this, then pass over last once you are all safely across. It will be sturdy enough for all of you, do not worry."

Auron (236) has posed:
    Playthings? Auron emits a quiet 'hmf' as he gets to his feet and resumes his journey with the group. "Whoever this is will find that I 'play' rougher than may be expected." For a human, probably. He's nowhere near the physical abilities of most of the people here. Hence why he keeps back for now. This courtyard is far too big for him to affect, even with something like Dragon Fang!

    He waits as Ainsley and Beli coordinate to determine the best course of action. Though he does feel it prudent to mention to Beli as he heads quickly across the bridge, "You'll need to do that again on our way out, if we come this way again."

Setsuko Kaminagi (255) has posed:
    And the way is open. A simple bridge of light, one that renders the trapped stars completely inert. As soon as they're cleared to go, Setsuko is on the bridge of Compassion and dashing across, intending to put herself on the front line of their advance. She can regenerate, after all.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley doesn't bother taking up space, in that case. She floats up off the ground, and up to the height she witnessed being the safe distance, and simply floats across, maintaining the safe height all the way through. She is careful not to progress if one of the lasers activates unexpectedly, despite her testing; she's not foolhardy, she just doesn't want to overburden Beli or slow the group down unnecessarily. She is very, very precise with her movements.

Dominic Masoch (655) has posed:
When the bridge of light is created, Dominic quickly reshoulders his bag and gets moving across it as fast as he can.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    "Ask your family and friends." Zero responds to Yuuki, flatly. After the tendril gets burned up by a laser, he doesn't bother checking the courtyard any further. He hasn't got a real solution to this that doesn't involve simply destroying the surroundings, and he has a feeling that that isn't exactly viable. -He- could get across if he had to, but the rest wouldn't be able to follow him with his method. So he hangs back and waits, as Ainsley reveals the limitations on the lasers, and Beli offers up a way around them. He allows the others to advance ahead of him on the bridge, waiting for Yuuki to be ready to cross before proceeding himself.

    By this time, Bloody Rose's mass of vines have grown rather extensive. They form a fairly thick protective layer of armor over his heart in particular, though they're still working on other parts of his body. Externally, he has a fairly extensive amount of reach, though it trails behind him at the moment. He's waiting for an opportunity to try to jab one of those surveillance devices that keep opening up on the walls. Really, he could just shoot them, but he wants to see how "alive" they are.

    Maybe he can drain whoever is on the other end a little bit.

    Once they reach the open door and everyone is across the bridge Beli made, Zero makes a separate decision. The tendrils from Bloody Rose rise up and slither around the open doors of the castle and begin to PULL. Looks like he's attempting to pull the damn thing off the building, a feat that -- if successful -- he'll repeat with the other side, attempting to discard the doors backwards across the courtyard and the stars beneath it. He's hoping to create a protective covering... or failing that, see if the stars react to inanimate matter falling on them.

    Either way, he doesn't trust the doors not to try to lock behind them, so if he can, he's going to get rid of them.

D (232) has posed:
    D steps up onto the barrier bridge. His long, smooth strides make a swift journey across the barrier's rigid surface, though he is cautious not to outpace Kimiko, lest she require any assistance. On the other side, his pale skin bright against the backdrop of the castle's black interior, he awaits the others, attentive to their health and safety while he can spare the time for the task. Later, the situation may grow too dire; for now, he is a decent enough escort.

    Zero's efforts pay off to some extent. The doors are built from ironwood -- a dense and powerful variety of wood comparable to true iron -- and Bloody Rose can't reduce the doors to splinters; however, enough insistence will see the doors torn from their hinges and cast out into the courtyard. If there's one thing we know for sure, it's that Zero's stubborn enough to finish the job he starts as soon as he senses any kind of caving in the doorway's structure. Ripping the hinges out of the wall results in scattered dust and stone fragments. A few sharp wooden fragments pepper the immediate vicinity, too. These irritants are a small price to pay for what's gained --

    Smoke lends the air an acrid stink as a few lasers do fire off, but the doors prove resistent to even these high-powered blasts, and the lasers do not penetrate all the way through. The result is an imperfect yet safe route across the courtyard. A few leaps can clear the open gaps without difficulty.

    D almost sounds impressed. "Good thinking, Zero; we may need the safe escape."

    The Hunter turns to step into the waiting darkness.

    He vanishes from sight as if the shadows inside the castle are a thick opaque fog.

    Crossing the threshold is a strange experience. It feels like space twists; like your stomach drops out beneath you, only for the rest of your body to abruptly catch up. Anyone inexperienced with dimensional shifts may feel the urge to catch their balance on the other side of the doorway, but those more familiar with such things will probably make it through without any other disruption or disorientation.

    Opulence awaits.

    Marble halls and velvet carpets stretch ahead in a luxurious path leading to a vast chamber. Gilded sconces line the walls, and the air is thick and heavy with a somnolent heat. Perfume caresses the senses, smoldering from the tips of lit incense sticks, and every candle's light seems magnified to the welcoming brilliance of a bonfire. Glittering jewels line the rims of each goblet and plate set on the series of tables populating the waiting hall. There is no food to be seen, but the memory of it exists in each person's mind, so the sight of it may manifest on the tables like hazy dreams, as do any other temptation one's mind could conjure or crave. Wealth? It heaps there in spades. Power? Take up the weaponry lining the walls. Immortality? Drink from the goblets and taste its magnificence.

    Silken curtains drape the windows, but to glimpse through the curtains shows nothing but a black void. At the hall's end, a short flight of steps leads to an empty throne. Above it hangs a portrait, but its contents are not clear from this distance.

    D stands up rigid and tall in the doorway. He is struck by shock, the overwhelming stench of fresh blood, and the predatory feelings such a scent stirs inside him. He clenches his jaw, and grips his sword tightly.

Setsuko Kaminagi (255) has posed:
    The life of Setsuko Kaminagi has ever been one of simplicity. She is of the spartan school, needing few possessions and being seldom lured in by food or drink; even the moreso, now that she can go without either for days at a time. The only things that this place can show her are things which the demigod finds in decidedly poor taste. The warm camraderie of a mead hall after battle, the distant sound of steel meeting steel on the wind, the sight of a head on a pike - a head she's only previously seen in illustrations, in books or flyers - all of it only serves to reinforce the unreality.

    Which probably explains why the swordswoman simply turns to look towards the ceiling, the upper walls, anywhere an observer might be watching, and speaks in a loud voice to a host she's certain is listening. "I find the display here to be in utterly poor taste. There are those among us for whom being shown that which they most desire is a grave mistake. If you have any wisdom at all, end this illusion before a matter of duty becomes one of insult repaid."

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley frowned into the dark expanse that D stepped through, unhappy with the sight. She didn't want to follow D into there, not until she was sure it was safe... without any sort of indication toward what might have caused his discomfort, she steps into the place, and what she finds is equally tempting and horrifying.

    What she sees is a library lining either side of the room, with bookcases full of tomes. She floats into the room just slightly, and pauses to grimace at a sight she spots. A basin of blood sits in one side of the room, aglow with an overabundance of life, as if asking to be taken, absorbed and used to destroy whoever owns this castle. Although she understands its significance, that part of her makes her hesitate harshly... the other being something that makes her stare fix on a point in the room.

    On a stand made of gold is a perfectly ordinary looking tome. Gilded on the cover is a single word, as if it held all the answers about this topi<span style="color:.


    Ainsley could only stare, swallowing again, the precedence of the previous traps making her quite wary to approach anything that seemed... 'too good to be true.'

    "What an utterly disgusting castle," she remarks, almost at a whisper.

Kimiko Shinobu (570) has posed:
    Kimiko is expecting a third, even more lethal attack--the vector from which it arrives, if it has arrived, is as unexpected as any trap could hope to be. The feeling is familiar in its strangeness. She's aware, only because she's so often doing the same, that she's walked into some other space. This is not, necessarily, literally the other side of the doorway that had opened to admit to them. She questions whether it could be a Barrier as she knows it, but ultimately, that is unimportant.

    An armory beckons, as if she were meant to take its strength. To be sure, she is drawn to power. It is a necessity of her existence. She is uncertain as to how she knows that the feast promises immortality, but the message is there, and tempts all the same. If she could but trust either...

    Ah, but if such an offer were genuine, and she did take it? Even in utter sincerity, it would destroy her. She is not a girl who could survive, as a person, if given such a gift. She is well aware of the weakness of her own single-mindedness, and how it will end all else she values.

    Her steps are heavy, her armor clanking perhaps more than it needs. Her arms feel heavier than they should be, but still she focuses on that vision of a table, and all it holds, and all it promises, and she grabs at its edge with her left hand to fling it against the wall.

Auron (236) has posed:
    Auron has little experience with dimensional shifts. Thus he stumbles as he enters the space, needing to catch himself by planting his sword on the ground. Though the smell of something good catches his attention, and once he has his bearings, he looks up. This place... looks almost familiar. Bevelle? The design is similar to what he'd see in Bevelle. Or at least, it seems to be.

    Wealth has never appealed to him. Nor immortality; he's tasted it before and it's hollow and cold. But he does see the food on the tables. And he does look to the weapons upon the walls -- likely he's seeing something much like the Masamune of Spira, legendary sword that he once wielded, that gave him so much power.

    Power. If only he'd had the power to save Braska or Jecht... if only he'd had the power to allow Tidus to continue to exist in Spira. So many tragedies, so much death, that he could have prevented if he'd had the power and knowledge when he first needed it, instead of working backwards from hindsight. Could he change time with those weapons? Might any of them hold the power to return to Braska's Pilgrimage with the knowledge he had now...?

    Logic wars with surprise, and he takes note of the radio conversation, as well as the individual reactions of his allies around him. They look at places that, to him anyway, seem to contain nothing of interest. They seem to look at the things of interest from different angles, different heights. And what could Bevelle contain that would cause such a reaction in D? Logic wins -- this time -- as he notes all these reactions.

    They're all seeing something else. This isn't Bevelle. It's not really what he's seeing, what he's experiencing. It's something else. But his senses are being tricked. Kimiko's reaction to it all is enough to snap him out of it, and he shakes his head, as if clearing it.

    This is when he catches Ainsley's comment. "Someone's making it personal," he half-growls. Nobody likes being taunted by the unobtainable...

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    When he follows after, it takes Zero a moment to regain his composure. It's not the surrounding environment that gets to him, but rather, the dimensional shift. He hasn't experienced it yet, so it does throw him off a little on the way in. But... that's all. The instant that he's managed to make himself less wobbly, the vampire hunter straightens up and regards the surroundings critically. The fact that this is not the true shape of his surroundings doesn't escape him, whatever he sees, but what there is on the other side is less certain. Unlike Setsuko however, he doesn't offer the faintest hint of a diplomatic answer. The vines sprouting from him surge outwards and begin to tear the room apart without hesitation or courtesy of warning.

    In one hand he holds the vine-sprouting gun. With the other, Zero tables one-handed, skipping ahead of Kimiko as she has already dealt with the foremost table deftly. This seems trivially easy to him, despite his outward human appearance. The vines lash out violently, striking the silken curtains with their sharp edges like vast poleaxes delivering mighty strokes. As he passes towards the head of the vast hall, Zero raises Bloody Rose and fires towards the throne and portrait at the end of the hall.

    If it seems at first that he is sparing the less obvious elements of the environment his wrath, this proves wrong when he simply does not stop firing Bloody Rose. It is brought to a relaxed hip-firing position where it is used with all the casual gravity of a water pistol.

    The great cross-shaped bursts of light that issue from it come to illuminate the hall with a strobing regularity, perhaps providing more lighting than the surrounding sconces and candles, which are NOT spared the Vampire Hunter's aggressive response.

Beli Klum (238) has posed:
    The bridge formed by Compassion flickers away once everyone has passed. Fortunately, Zero's efforts create another bridge across in case they have to rush: that should make things easier, at least. Beli offers him a smile of thanks, though whether he'll actually care is doubtful.

    The passage through the threshold strikes Beli with a feeling that she's all too familiar with. Something not unlike the displacement experienced when teleporting to Purgatorio comes over her, and her practice with that reflexibly settles her when she comes out the other end. What's more disturbing and baffling to her is that she felt something like that at all; it's another sign that something here is very wrong.

    And even more so, once she focuses on what the interior is like. Or, at least, what it seems like to her. There's no warmth, save for that produced by isolated candles. An omnipresent chill feels as though it lingers here, instead; the sort that tempts creatures to settle down, to lie still, to find peace in the cold's silent tranquility. Books line shelves and pile on tables, patiently waiting to be opened and browsed, to have their contents of imagination and wonder delved into at whatever pace the reader chooses. Nothing will bother the casual peruser, after all: nothing stirs, nothing moves, nothing breathes. Nothing to fear, nothing to fret over, nothing to hide from. Perfect.

    Beli shivers, but not from the chill.

    "...we should find the tomb," the rephaite mutters, before abruptly jumping at Kimiko's and Zero's sudden aggressions. Books and flecks of frost go flying in her view, but she says nothing about it. Perhaps she might do the same, judging by the way her fingers curl at her sides; but for now, she doesn't. "I believe it was this way last time," she continues, starting to move to the left side of the room and pointedly refusing to acknowledge anything about the room.

Dominic Masoch (655) has posed:
Dominic clicks his teeth together in a nervous gesture as he comes through the door, looking around the halls and the room carefully. Blue eyes narrow and the blonde young man stands up seriously. He steps forward and looks around carefully.

For one of the Ramuhan Princes, there are things which are simply not tempting. The finest of foods and wines do not phase him. Piles of riches are simply baubles and trinkets. But there is also that which tempts to a great deal. Immortality: Untold lifetimes to perfect his craft. Power: A blade with which to carve his own destiny, accountable to no bureaucracy. A silhouette, someone only Dominic would recognize, ducks down a hallway and out of sight. These temptations are the ones that resonate with him.

He walks his path carefully, rapier in hand as he goes. His free hand reaches out several times, almost touching something but then electing not to. Others are resisting their temptations, and Dominic will not fail where others have so easily broken through and succeeded. He scowls a bit, "The trappings of Chaos, of any temptation, are in the weaknesses of the heart. Like a blade, one most forge and temper the imperfections out to create a razor's edge that slices through deception."

Dominic's blade flicks and his eyes light up as he channels his Magic Particles. The entire blade seems to glow with an energy and then invert, becoming a vacuum of anti-magic. A powerful Rasp effect meant to drain and disrupt magic. With an authoritative swish, he slams the tip of his mithril rapier into the ground at his feet, filling the entire room with a powerful pulse of anti-magic directed solely at the room itself.

"I will not be tempted," He says, mostly to reaffirm his personal faith system after its shaky almost-compromise by his temptation to take a weapon off the wall.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
    Yuuki toddles along behind Zero like a lost kitten or perhaps a tiny duckling, seemingly un-phased by the efficasy and brutality of his methods. Beli's light-bridge gains a light step, before she hurries across it, both eager to not get WTFPWNED by laserbeams as much as she does not want to burden the half-and-half. She's so useless! And, as they pass the threshold, the shift in dimensions hits her like a truck. She falls to her hands and knees, her balance lost trivially by such a new sensation. But the sights, and the sounds that assault her mind...

    The banquet table, the promises, the... the blood.

    The table is a feast fit for a vampire king, and shadowy figures fill the seats. Horrible, hungry vampires tear in to a feast of vitae and crimson, and at the head of the table is Zero...

    No, it's Kaname. Or... Uncle Rido? But Zero wouldn't... And Kaname isn't... And Uncle Rido is /dead/...

    As Zero - the real Zero - destroys the room, the painting above becomes Uncle Rido, laughing at her. All the faces, Rido. Rido Rido Rido. Being thrown into the air, being torn apart, laughing and smiling and looking at her hungrily. Or perhaps it was her hunger? No, she hadn't felt... Since that time, in the dark forest...

    She staggers to her feet, her hands clenched againt her face. "S-stop it!" She cries, trying to block out the sounds...

    Dominic's magical pulse washes over the thrashed room, and the images before the Kuran Princess flicker and lose their tangibility. The sense of overpowering /fakeness/ that assaults her redoubles her will to resist. They weren't her. This was some LESSER vampire, trying to /trick/ her. Some fool, some INGRATE, some SERF WHICH DIDN'T KNOW ITS MASTER! SOME--

    Yuuki lets her hands drop, before patting Dominic on the shoulder. "Thank you." She whispers, before striding forward. Her eyes are a glowing red wash, though she doesn't notice. Hate fills her.

    How dare this 'lord' impose upon her so. She did not need his bounties... Eternity was hers!

    Then, her eyes dim, as she comes fully back to her senses. "L-let's press on." She offers, her eyes returning to a dull red-brown.

D (232) has posed:
    The tables turn over like real tables. Bloody Rose doesn't meet the same resistance encountered at the castle doors; everything it touches is easily smashed, torn, battered, and broken. Zero's destruction spreads across the other dream-like images seen by Ainsley, Beli, Setsuko, and the rest. Books erupt like popped blisters into a scattering of torn pages. Fountains and goblets containing either rich blood or sweet wines spill their contents; the strangely viscous fluid either pools into the carpets to form damp dark puddles, or vanishes mid-spill like dust in the wind.

    In the wake of Dominic's anti-magic burst -- the room shaking as if struck by silent thunder -- more holes are ripped into reality's fabric. Threads unravel, sconces melt, and gemstones blacken. Reality fluctuates like a storm-tossed wave. Yuuki's voice is the lightning bolt flickering across it, her anguish taking visible shape as a shadow -- no, a flash of steel? Candles flicker and die, or soften at once into oozing, liquefied wax that runs down the walls.

    The room is left in tatters. The portrait hangs crooked off the wall. All the luxury, all the opulence has been tarnished, and as the last of the silken curtains begin to fall, those blackened windows take on a new shape.


    Each one leading into a separate tomb.

    Each one framed by weeping angels, roaring lions, carved stone ribbons, and snarling gargoyles -- familiar motifs in any mausoleum.

    The dark puddles of spilled something collected in the lavish carpets begin to move. Shapeless, shifting masses rush toward the end of the hall, where the crooked portrait is crumbling into dessicated ruin. As D suddenly springs forward in pursuit of the dark, wet patches, his sword's edge limned by its own frail moonlight, the sticky substance bubbles up and twists together into the silhouette of a humanoid wrought in blood.

    His face and body are gaunt -- corpse-like. His outstretched arms and spread fingers are twig-like and sharp-boned. His eyes are sunken, his figure fragile, and yet he still strikes D back with an unseen wave of energy loosed from a flick of his fingers. D skids several feet until he comes to a halt at nearly the same spot he'd started at, a pained grimace on his face.

    Behind this gaunt figure stands the empty tomb Beli unsealed in her last visit.

    In every doorway left and right, from every tomb, hungry, red eyes shine from the shadows.

    These are healthier than the Noble who'd appeared, less gaunt, and clothed in more than simple robes, but they are vampires, and they strike at their living prey as one. There are plenty to go around.

Setsuko Kaminagi (255) has posed:
    Ordinarily, Setsuko's sense for battle would provide a warning. Her nature calls to its like, tells her of battles long past or yet to come. But when something interferes; when it steals her attention or a great deal of interference and confusing metaphysical feedback obscures her battlesense; it is in those times that even she can be surprised. Thus it is that those present have only the briefest warning.

    "Defend yourselves."

    Curiously, Setsuko is not looking at her allies when she says this.

    As in the courtyard, there is a snap, the sound of a sword rapidly expanding in a burst of power, and then the demigod holds that colossal blade of hers in both arms, low and to one side. She waits only the barest instant before turning and sweeping Zanjintou around, a wide and swift slash that makes anywhere within its twelve-foot reach a dangerous place to be. But despite the blade's massive size, she doesn't swing it slowly, nor does its momentum hinder her. One slice after another, aimed at carving apart several vampires with any one attack, and all of them swung just so - not one of her allies will find themselves in danger from the ridiculous weapon's broad attacks.

Dominic Masoch (655) has posed:
"It was naught but a trifling matter," Dominic says to Yuuki, flicking his sword up after his maneuver and sheathing it a moment later. A gloved hand comes up to adjust the beret atop his head, "You owe me no thanks, Milady." Dominic attempts to remain as humble as ever in the face of her praise, bowing to her politely, as a Noble would to another member of the Nobility.

"Vampires," He snarls a bit. Few in Galianda don't have an inherent dislike and fear of the creatures. Dominic has a special dislike of the violent creatures, owing to the fact that they claimed the life of a close friend's sister. He adjusts his stance and draws his sword, "So be it, you foul creatures."


[Oil Blade]

Fencers who specialize into Spellblades almost inevitably become swift frontline units, meant to dart in and inflict numerous status effects onto a foe before withdrawing and allowing longer range units to enhance their own abilities via the effects they inflict.

Dominic's blade comes up and his eyes flash. He brings his hand across the sword in an elegant motion, foot planting on the ground. As his hand passes over it, the surface begins to boil as if covered in a hot liquid. Moments later, Dominic is whipping his blade around with lightning speed, sending arcs and sprays of an almost aqueous magical energy around him and towards the vampires waiting in the wings. It will do no damage, because its purpose is not to damage.


Kimiko Shinobu (570) has posed:
    Kimiko's act is more for her own sake than anything else. She does not truly believe that there is even anything here to destroy, but she knows no better way to reject it than through attempting its destruction. If she hadn't, and if she'd stayed in this room, lingering on her own--she's not certain what she'd do, then.

    "Poor taste." She agrees with Setsuko. To Dominic, she silently nods. 'Tempering' is mild way of putting it. Were she to cease clenching her jaw, she might instead say, 'Better to cut off one's own fingers, than to grasp such a promise.'

    Zero continues where she stops, and all is laid to waste, within her mind's eye. She does not know what he's seen, here, but his rejection serves just as well to reinforce her own. She leaves him to that, walking in the direction of the throne. Yuuki's cry causes her to turn--but only for a moment, before seeing that she recovers. Mostly. The glowing eyes don't even strike her as abnormal. It's probably nothing.

    Then the illusion is shattered yet further, and some /thing/ hiding within that finery is revealed, striking at D. Kimiko steps forward, not nearly quickly enough, but gaining momentum. She might be thrown back as well, but her armored charge does not lack for inertia.

    Nor, unfortunately in this case, does she lack for opponents. She does not reach that Noble before a former-window discharges its pack of vampires, several of whom seem intent to leap upon her. Her sword rises in a quick, warding flourish as her magic flows. She merely defends, but with parries sharp enough to slice off the hands that reach for her as easily as she can slap down an opponent's blade. Faster, then yet faster, her feet move in single, unhurried steps, but her posture changes little more slowly than flashes of lightning, and the tip of her blade is quicker yet.

    Longer, as well. What had begun as a longsword expands in each dimension as she places her left hand on the pommel. As her range increases, so too does she reach, striking for hearts, spines, necks, and heads.

    Whether her opponents fall or not, she steps forward in inexorable advance, pressing and striking whatever does not flee entirely. She may be injured in the process; her armor may dent or crumple, be pierced or bypassed, if her opponents have such means, but she has no intention to cease.

Beli Klum (238) has posed:
    Beli does her best not to let her gnawing resentment show when the illusion fades. Yes, she had endured and was leaving it behind, but a demon is a selfish creature by nature; some part of her still hoped, deep inside, that it could actually be true. Still, there's not much time to waste worrying about that.

    There's not just one door, but several. And far more than just one vampire, as Beli learns when they manifest from the pools of viscous fluid and one - the Noble, undoubtedly - flies straight for D. The angelic demon clenches her teeth and casts herself higher in the air with a powerful beat of her wings, sparing her the worst of the vampires' direct assaults. That's not going to last for long, though, and she knows it.

    Fortunately, Dominic's quick action gives her an advantage. Against those untainted by the demonic, seraphic flames do little, and in fact tend to heal. Against the unholy, however, like these vampires, it blazes as furiously as any flame, and that oil should help boost the effects. Beli doesn't have much time to thank the Fencer: her arms lift, palms aimed down to where the vampires are.

    From her hands blast thin streams of condensed light and blue flame that strike the ground, not aiming right for the vampires, but below them. The moment those streams land, they violently explode upward in a blazing eruption of light and seraphic fire. Harmless to most of her allies, and she tries to keep the blasts away from D and Zero, but the holy power of each burst should be enough to whittle down the numbers of her opponents, hopefully before they manage to reach her in her elevated flight.

    A glance is given to the Noble who struggles with D. If Beli weren't at risk of harming D just as much as the Noble himself, she would be assaulting the gaunt figure, but right now it's simply too much of a risk. She'll have to wait if she wants to help. Fortunately, she can focus her efforts on the vampires that get too close to her other allies, as the explosions harmlessly wash over the Union members themselves.

Auron (236) has posed:
    This is much the kind of ambush Auron expected. He's been relying mostly on his allies' reactions to know when things were wrong. He doesn't like relying on others like this... but without any real supernatural senses, he really has no choice. Thankfully it doesn't take a lot of supernatural sense to realize that when dark liquid starts taking human shape and shooting energy, that something REALLY BAD is about to go down.

    In short order he's raised his sword to fight. And not a moment too soon either... vampires leap from the shadows and attack. Auron isn't quick, and may not be able to dodge. But for every good hit the vampires score on him, he gives the same to another. He may not be fast, but his strength is extremely high for a human. And his 'never say die' attitude is not going to make him an easy oppoent to take down, 'mere human' or not.

    Adding to all that, the weight of that blade, paired with the weapon's single sharp edge. It's a weapon made especially to crack through heavily-armored foes. Something will quickly become clear to anyone attacking him.

    Getting close to him with intent to harm him invites painful retaliation.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Once the illusion is destroyed, Ainsley finds comfort in the newfound grim display around them. She sees the place for what it is: The den of monsters that they came here to investigate. She turns her head when D advances seemingly knowing of a threat that she can't perceive-- and it emerges from blood that strikes out at him, repelling him immediately. That alone sets her on edge, the lizard woman drawing out a longsword with a silent slide of metal against scabbard.

    Just in time for vampires by the barrelful to leap at them, promising lots of pain and a lot less blood at the end of the night. The lizard woman doesn't pause, picking an opening in her allies that won't put her in harm's way of their attacks...

    She retreats away from the fray entirely. The sword being entirely for her own defense, instead she gazes around the room at the doors, and with a gust of wind to flick into them, she tries to slam them shut, and then that same gust of wind tugs /toward/ her and downward, trying to trip up the creatures by throwing off their perceived point of landing, and make it easier for her allies to hit them, or at the very least some of them.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    "Pack animal behavior only works when your numerical advantage is adequate to overcome an otherwise superior foe. Shouldn't you have attacked us before we had a clear bead on you?" Zero demands of the surrounding vampires, Bloody Rose's tendrils drawing themselves in tightly around him, forming a wreath of what can only be described as murder. Against the environment itself -- structures and emplacements -- it had been effective but not overwhelming. Against a crowd of vampires? Coming near him in numbers at all was a mistake, unless there's somebody special in these crowds of bloodsuckers.

    The vampire hunter trains Bloody Rose on an approaching vampire almost lazily, firing casually. It's not this action that is a danger to the oncoming swarm, though. The tendrils that Zero has been sending out around him are still very much there, and they're far more effective against other vampires than they are against the building itself. They suck blood just as surely as any, and though the swarm without a doubt manages to get close enough to strike Zero -- perhaps even draw quite a bit of blood -- now and again, it is only a question of whether or not it was worth the danger of those vines.

    They whip about aggressively, the primary mass of them snaking out into the most immediately adjacent Nobles in tiny but numerous collections of vines compared to the monstrous things that pulled down the doors of the castle. To an ordinary person it would be gruesome enough, but Bloody Rose seems to be making a particular effort to envelop individual vampires and drain them comprehensively as individuals rather than merely 'attacking' and 'defending'.

    Being rapidly starved to death isn't a pretty way to go for anybody. Like some vicious leader of men leaving heads on pikes and men hanging in steel cages, Zero urges his vampiric weapon to give the Nobles something to be AFRAID of.

D (232) has posed:
    Setsuko's sword is a mighty weapon to be sure. It cleaves through the first ranks of lesser Nobles, splitting their bodies in two. Two of the vampires Setsuko strikes at burst apart into foggy clouds -- a rare gift among the Nobility, but not unheard of -- yet they aren't safe from the weapon's holy properties, even if their transformations save them from its cutting edge. Scorched by the holy power, the fog-transformed Nobles let out echoing shrieks, their pain almost palpable as they reform, smoking and bent over.

    Yet more strike at Setsuko on either side. Two Nobles not threatened by Zanjintou's reach attempt to pull her down and disarm her of her weapon. Her Divinity is a powerful antithesis to the creatures of Darkness, but cannot protect her forever against a dedicated assault.

    Dominic enjoys quite a bit of success in drenching his opponents in oil. Almost every Noble he targets except a few lucky ones are coated in the slippery substance head to toe. This makes them prime candidates for receiving Beli's blessing of holy fire; all Nobles touched by oil go up like torches. Soon, their shrieks and their burning stench overwhelms the last hints of blood and perfume on the air, though so much smoke may prove blinding or choking to those with less keen senses. There's nowhere for the smoke to filter away, after all.

    D is more troubled by the flashes of holy light than he is the smoke, but like any good Hunter, he knows how to compensate for momentary blindness. Like Kimiko, he seems to live through the extension of his sword. His curving weapon flickers at the chaos in moonlit flashes, cutting through flesh and bone with ease. A great number of the apparent throng presses him back from the blood-soaked figure still standing near the ornate tomb, but he fights to get through them no matter the cost. Even when fangs bite into him or hands hold him back, he fights forward with desperation. At last, he breaks clear of their mass, and leaps above them with cape spread to level the tip of his sword at the gaunt Noble.

    Kimiko is soon separated from D's side simply because her efforts and his own end up moving in different directions. Her sword twists, cuts, and pierces its way through a dozen undead hearts, leaving slain vampires in her wake. Ash and blood and shriveled flesh line the path she forges through her enemies, when behind her, a vampire manifests from shadow to strike unexpectedly.

    Several others appear in this fashion -- coalescing from the darkness so prevalent in the tomb. One of these is instantly struck down by Auron's blade, but another strikes at Auron's side, and tries to take him in a sudden, fierce bite. Auron is human; his mind may be more susceptible to a Noble's commands...

    More interesting than the human blood being spilled in the room, however, is a potent lure emanating from Yuuki Kuran. Her blood is a sweet temptation to any Noble's senses, and the Nobles here are starving for any sustenance. The effect Yuuki's presence inspires unsurprisingly turns more than a few heads, and soon, even more are drawn to her. Like an uncontrolled wave of fangs and malice, the vampires alerted to her unique qualities come for her.

D (232) has posed:
    It's then that something interesting may be realized -- many of these Nobles are wearing simple clothing. Frontier clothing. These are women and men accustomed to a hard lifestyle and dressed for harsh environments. Several may look familiar...

    Ainsley's wind does succeed in briefly barring the tomb doors, but any vampires yet to emerge have only to claw through the barriers. Still, the other aspect of the spell succeeds in leaving many other vampires vulnerable to Auron's sword, or to Setsuko's, or to Kimiko's, or to Beli's fire -- a clever and effective action, all in all. Ainsley, as something distinctly not human, will not attract a vampire's hunger, but though their ranks are swiftly dwindling, she does come under attack.

    Much of the ensuing chaos is shot through by Bloody Rose. The thorny vines are everywhere one looks, it seems, either ripping vampires apart or draining them of their vitae. Deep instinctual cravings may draw vampires toward Yuuki Kuran, but Bloody Rose is as repellent as the girl is attractive, and more than a few fall back in immediate, obvious fear. The weapon's tendrils stretch toward the gaunt figure, too, just as D's leap descends.

    The figure begins to melt and shift back into a viscous state.

    He is stopped by a prison of thorns.

    D's sword pierces the gaunt Noble's chest. An ear-splitting howl shakes the mausoleum to its roots.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley's only concern was to briefly stifle the flow of vampires, staggering the numbers so the party isn't constantly chopping through them and being left vulnerable by the sheer volume of awful monstrous bloodsuckers coming at them at once. This concern is replaced with saving her own skin as a few try to come at HER as well, and she slices UPWARD with her sword at one that is leaping at her--

    And rises up into her air, pivoting as she does to snap her off hand downward and send an erratic spray of lightning into the fray that tried to approach her and missed. She comes away only with a few bleeding scratches from their grabbing hands, because the crowd is being thinned expertly by her allies and giving her very little actual melee combat to worry about!

Setsuko Kaminagi (255) has posed:
    It is here that the Nobles make their mistake. Believing themselves safe by drawing in close. Believing that getting within the minimum reach of that nearly-four-meter sword makes them free of risk from it, free to assault Setsuko. They can't be blamed. After all, they don't know that she is anything other than a warrior suffused with divine might. How could they know that her divine right is not 'sacred power' but 'the power to kill'? How could they know war itself is her divinity?

    And for that matter, how could they know she can shift her sword at will?

    The moment the nobles lunge in, there's a snap and a breath of sound, and they find themselves lunging toward a katana swung one-handed. She lashes out towards the nearer with a simple slice at waist height, following through with her right arm so as to bring her left around and simply seize the Noble by the throat with her own superhuman might. In the next instant, she drives Zanjintou through the vampire's heart, and then snaps it back out. Eyes pass over the horde pressing its attack on them all, and resolution takes shape. In one movement, she brings her sword high behind herself, the weapon snapping open again to reconfigure... but not to its full size.


    It takes a more curved shape, broad but tapered oddly, flaring out and then back in, with its mass unevenly distributed. It looks almost like a wing, or perhaps...


    The demigod lunges forward, slinging it around as if to make a wild slash... and then keeps her momentum going, turning it into a spin that gains momentum.


    And almost impossibly fast, she finally releases the weapon with a roar.


    It flies like a boomerang, a whirling, razor-sharp projectile of impossible momentum that hurtles around the decrepit hall as if its course were perfectly charted. It's a wide bank that will take it through the bulk of the townspeople-turned-Nobles, before finally returning it to the hand of the demigod who threw it, where it is caught as if it weighed next to nothing.

Auron (236) has posed:
    Auron emits a surprised, pained cry as the strike of the Noble hits his side. Having been at the end of a swing, he had no way to move his arm back in time to prevent it. And a leather breastplate is surely no barrier to a Noble's natural weaponry, whether fang or claw. And suddenly he's dizzy, and fights to keep his footing. He just... wants to stop fighting. To put his weapon down and rest.

    Thankfully he doesn't. No, his goal is too clear. He shakes his head to clear it, and then brings the hilt of the sword down with force, hopefully slamming the pommel of the weapon into the skull of the vampire that bit him. With all the weight behind it, that should be enough to shatter the vampire's skull.

    He's not leaving it at that, though. If a whole town has been changed into vampires, then it's likely there's a /bunch/ of these things. "Watch the floor!" he calls out as he gathers energy. It surrounds him in a few bolts of crackling golden lightning, converging on his location. And then he turns the blade pointing downward in his hand, raising it and running the palm of his free hand down the blunt side. As he does, an unnatural silvery gleam slides down the blade.

    And then he leaps into the air, the blade pointed downwards, both hands on the hilt. He seems to hang in the air longer than he should, almost as if he's hovering there, and again that gleam slides down the blade. Suddenly he's falling at full speed, blade cracking the ground with a small burst of energy as it penetrates the floor.

    And immediately following that, a huge chi-explosion should trigger underneath the feet of a group of the vampires.

Beli Klum (238) has posed:
    The smoke of roiling Nobles is starting to cause a problem, but Beli has methods for such things. It may not be the perfect solution, but her broad, powerful wings are capable of making some particularly strong winds when she puts effort into it. A few powerful beats send the smoke billowing and rolling back, hopefully dispersing it enough for Beli's allies to do what they need to.

    The nature of the Nobles they face doesn't go unnoticed to Beli. As far as she knew, there was only one vampire here last time. All these others had to have come from somewhere, and the pieces are put together in her head without much difficulty. Still...Beli isn't one to get locked up by her own sympathies, even as gentle as she may wish to be. The realization only brings a hardening of her expression, and she continues to fight, trying to at least defeat these vampires as swiftly and efficiently as she can.

    Which she'll need: two have leaped up to her, clutching at her leg in sharp, squeezing grips that send her flight off-balance. She yelps in surprise, then pain as their claws dig into her leg and draw thick, viscous black blood like sludge. A few more bound up for her, still alight with holy flame, and she knows she has to act.

    And act she does...but perhaps not in the way others might expect. She falls, landing on the floor with her wings blanketing her like a shield. As the Nobles ravenously pile on her, raking at black feathers and trying to get to her less-durable body, she lingers, bracing against the pain, letting them group up more and more in their frustration.

    And in the next moment, the entire mass is consumed in a veritable bonfire of holy flame, whose blue, flickering light dances against the shadows of the room and blazes with all-consuming power. All while Beli remains unharmed in the center of it, acting as the fuel for that same angelic inferno.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    "Hey, useless. Why aren't you using Artemis?"

    Zero is looking at Yuuki particularly critically just now. This is the perfect situation to use a scythe in, with all these dumb vampires rushing in at close range. He's so confident she could scythe them all down that he's only exerting minimal effort to help keep them away from her, which is still apparently more than enough to make them mightily wary. A bunch of conversation and planning goes in one ear through an earpiece, explaining a few things about the situation. D's command is complied with more-or-less immediately -- the elder noble that was seized in the chaos is given special attention by Bloody Rose. Where it's latched on, it starts trying to draw out what little blood remains in him... food or otherwise.

    But Zero has no great final attack to offer. He has been bringing his fiercest from the very start. Blood seeps from his upper body and legs where the vampires managed to get in close, but the blood that he's drawn in turn by far outweighs the damage to his body. One who looks closely would find that the injuries themselves have started healing already, though not to the point where there isn't any bleeding yet. Unlike Yuuki, he can't regenerate with a snap of the fingers under most circumstances. He'd need a hell of a feast to manage that.

    There's plenty around for that, but truth be told, the Vampire Hunter doesn't feel a need to lower himself to eating other vampires for accelerated healing among so many acquaintances. Better to suffer the inconvenience than be more like the beasts around him, after all.

Dominic Masoch (655) has posed:
Dominic stands back and away after his sprays of oil. He is slightly exhausted from the use of Magical Particles to such a heavy degree. Fencers don't have mage-like reserves. He takes a few moments to hold up his rapier and look around the room. Mostly, he wants to back off and give himself some room to catch his breath.

But then his gaze falls upon Setsuko once more and her use of that massive sword. Deep inside his mind, something processes. A wheel turns. A synapse fires. The final piece falls into place.

[???: 100%]

>[Sword Saint]

~Enter The Mindscape~

Dominic once more detaches from the moment and zones out, going deep into the core of his own mind. Once again, he is in that dark place he has been told is his untapped potential. And once again he comes face to face with an inner reflection. He looks across from himself and sees a man in leather armor carrying a massive sword on his back. The man grins at Dominic.

"Yooooooooo. You just blew your own fraying mind, man," The Sword Saint says, looking over at Dominic with a huge grin, "You're gonna love this latest one."

The man tosses Dominic his massive sword. Dominic catches it and then instinctively shifts, moving his body and holding the sword out in a new stance than he's ever held a sword before. Instead of his traditional stance, the sword is held low and behind him, meant for huge and overpowering momentum-based swings.

Dominic swings the sword in a huge uppercut, bringing it up and over his body and then behind himself. A moment later, as the tip touches the ground, he throws his body up and backwards, back-flipping and using the huge momentum of the sword to easily swing another blow. Every move he makes is instinctual, meant to carry him into or out of a fight using the momentum of the oversized blade in his hands. Flips become overhead strikes, pivots and dodges become powerful horizontal cleaves. A fluidity of motion that allows the graceful use of the sword with far more agility than it was ever intended.

As he lands, he says firmly, "I understand."

Name: Behemoth Slaying Stance
Class: Stance - Extraversal Derivative
Compatible Weapons: Two-Handed Swords Only
Locks Fencer Moves. Locks Light Blades. Enhances Greatswords. Cannot be Used in Armor.
Fundamental Mechanic: Utilizes a heavy sword style to create acrobatic moves to naturally blend offense and defense into momentum-based combat. Requires persistent movement for effective use by its nature.
Mana Cost: --
Range: --
Original User: Kaminagi Setsuko

~Exit The Mindscape~

You would all get an AMAZING demonstration of this new move and all its power, but Dominic is still holding a rapier. Which means that he can't use any of the thing he just learned, which would have been totally awesome, I assure you.

Instead, the Fencer stumbles back a couple steps in a daze, as if winded. He brings a hand to his face and rubs at his eyes a bit, trying to regain his balance.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
    Yuuki stands behind Zero, in his shadow, a light frown touching the corner of her lips, as the vampires come, and then are rebuffed. She levels a few swift shoving kicks at one that gets too close - or too hungry - before just giving Zero a smile. Their allies deftly and spectacularly handle dealing with the lion's share of the Vampires, and Zero is no slouch either, but for Yuuki... She mostly just sort of jams her hands in her uniform's pockets and favors Zero with a little smile. "Today is for you. We went to the fox-lady's place, had tea, and talked about helping people yesterday, and that's fun for me. You were there to support me. Make sure I was OK."

    She shrugs, before giving another straight-kick to some other vampire that gets too close before he gets wasted.

    "Today we're here to do what you like doing. Road trips. The open country. Shoot bad vampires. You know, hunt. So I'm here to support you. Even if I normally don't want to do these sorts of things, I'm here for you." She offers.

    "And that's why I'm not using Artemis. I don't need it for enemies like this, anyway, as long as you're around." She reasons.

D (232) has posed:
    How many villagers had been taken to fill these tombs?

    How much preparation had been done to receive D and his associates?

    D seemingly hangs suspended above the gaunt figure. His cape billows around him like flaring wings, and a savage wind bearing the Noble's agonized howls sends his hair streaming back like a banner. Half-congealed blood spurts from the Noble's chest in gouts; none of its spatter dares diminish the beauty and rage to be found in D's icy countenance.

    The Noble's shriveled skin and twig-like fingers begin to blister into fresh red welts of blood. The blood runs down his body in rivers, and erodes his shape as it flows, so that he seems to almost be melting into an oozing ruin. Still wreathing him in a thirsty tangle, Bloody Rose drinks of his diminishing form, increasing the rate at which the dying Noble steadily decays. "You were not...what we expected..." the voice rasps and gargles. "...you were not...the one..."

    Zero's weapon silences the Noble before anything else can be gasped out.

    Setsuko's cleaving boomerang whips throughout the tomb like a sharp-edged tempest. Divine power and sharp steel combine to destroy the remaining Nobles in reach of her weapon, and there are many. Male, female, young, old, each turned villager collapses or crumbles, limbs and flesh torn in all directions. A gory bloodbath spatters the tombs after Zanjintou completes its circuit. The floor is strewn with viscera and bone. The stink of decay is unreal, and overwhelming.

    If that is not enough, crashing lightning bolts follow Setsuko's devastating assault with flickering waves of electricity. More than just the scorching tempest called down by Ainsley -- which flash-fries any vampires it strikes -- fingers of lightning crawl over every surface in reaction to Auron's release of power. Though harmless, this secondary electric effect nevertheless drives the vampires back into vulnerable positions. Then, Auron crashes down into the ground after rising up from it, and chi erupts from the point of impact to pulverize his aggressors beyond any recognition.

    At the same instant, Beli Klum unleashes her own massive explosion. The entire tomb is briefly awash in the cyan hues identifying her holy power, and while several here sensitive to such forces may feel a distinct discomfort, the purifying effect is far greater to the lesser vampires her energy is concentrated upon. Those closest to the explosion are simply vaporized; the rest become as burned-out and husk-like as those who could not withstand Auron's lightning.

    Dominic falls back in confusion; fortunately, his allies have contained the swarm. He is in no danger, except of being stunned by the knowledge he just acquired.

    Yuuki stands apart from the gore, her sweet smile and schoolgirl's shoes both untouched by all the horrible things happening close by. It's crazy how she manages to stay so shoujo sweet while everything else around is so grumpy and serious. Then again, this is Yuuki we're talking about. She has a gift. One of these days, though...

D (232) has posed:
    Kimiko, no doubt, has continued to execute her own brand of ass-kicking. Her sword does not rest until the last vampire falls.

    Silence descends on the tomb. D's feet once more touch the ground. Around him, the vestiges of luxury fade away to reveal the true nature of the pocket dimension: all the ruined glory seen a year ago, still as it was. Nearby, the tomb belonging to an unknown evil still stands open, its doors wide, its contents empty but for a lone unlidded coffin.

    D flicks a viscous string of fluid from his sword before he returns it to his scabbard. "Our way out will shortly close. Let us be on our way home."

    Possessing an instinctive sense for these things, D leads the party back through the pocket dimension's invisible entryway. They'll find themselves deposited just outside the castle doors, with the improvised bridge forming a safe path across the deadly courtyard. On the other side, there is no sign of those watchful eyeballs, or of the poisoned needles, except for those which still litter the ground, of course.

    The road ahead looks clear.

    D regards it with real trepidation.