Nightmare In Tokyo: Finale


The Dreamstalker is stalked. And dawn comes.

Date: 2016-06-13
Pose Count: 38
Seishi Tamashige 2016-06-13 00:22:30 44772
The place that Seishi has asked everyone to meet her has turned out to be an abandoned dormitory building which doesn't look to have seen proper use since before the turn of the millennium. It's a spooky place to be doing this, even in daylight... but at least it's somewhere they can be sure, or nearly sure, that nobody else will end up dragged into a nightmare by mistake.

The building seems structurally sound enough, if dusty, and someone - presumably Seishi - took the time to sweep out the room they've gathered in enough that it's not completely appalling.

"It won't take long," Seishi says, quiet and steady. She's kneeling in the middle of the floor on a mat she brought from home, hands in her lap, looking very much as though she's holding onto composure with both hands to brace herself up against the exhaustion that's left her face so pinched and pale. She knew from the beginning that this wouldn't be easy, but she hadn't truly counted on how heavily the strain of missed sleep and constant running in her dreams would come down upon her. She can feel the dream pressing against the back of her mind now, straining to break loose even while she's awake. "The Nightmare is just waiting for me to fall asleep."

The plan as she's explained it is simple enough: when she falls asleep, the Nightmare will spill over into the waking world, as it did in the park and at the mall food court before. The dream-stalker will appear to chase her - their chance to end his hunts for good, and free the dreams he's stolen.

She looks around to each of the others who've come to help her end this, dark eyes solemnly studying each face in turn. She hasn't transformed, could almost pass for normal sitting there in her jeans and t-shirt, except for... well. "I can't promise that we'll all be in the same place once the dream takes over. If you don't see me or the hunter, follow the red. Look for a hilltop with a circle of red flowers. I've been dreaming a trap there to lead him into."

The creature curled up against her back, looking rather like an overstuffed plush animal with tiger-striped paws and a tapir's snout, makes a soft snorting sound and flicks a round little ear. If O-Yasu has any comments, however, he sees fit to keep them to himself, and Seishi only glances back at him before looking up toward the others once more. "Is everybody ready?"
Hokuto Minase 2016-06-13 00:30:52 44775
The roaring of a motorcycle engine announces Hokuto's arrival, a few minutes early. She's dressed for the bike, today, leather pants replacing her usual shorts, and a matching jacket over her light blouse. A small bag is slung over her shoulder, apparently containing something moderately heavy.

"Here's hoping this works, sempai. Half the boys in school are moping, seeing you so down the past week." She tries to put on a smile, and manages it - mostly.

Suzumebachi takes flight and zips down and around Seishi, then back up to perch on Hokuto's shoulder. "Don't worry. We've got your back."
Runealy Waldia 2016-06-13 00:34:50 44776
Having tested the drive to here earlier, Rune was confident their private driver could bring knight and princess to the location. The limo brought them here right on time, and she lead the way inside with a nod back to Hinote. "I'll keep an eye out for you too, not just her... she said you should be okay, but just in case..." Her voice trails off.

Once they're inside and meeting Seishi, she looks worried at the obvious lack of rest; it's a situation Rune knows all too well from a mere year ago, and even now it occasionally bothers the princess. Nonetheless, she's cooperative: "Go towards red flowers on a hill? Got it. If there's a chance someone might be too far out to see it, I can make some signals from there. There's just one thing I don't get... if it's a dream, your dream, how much influence over it do /we/ have? Or are we pretty much as we are in the real world?"

She gives quick glances to others here, like Hokuto. No immediate comments, but she is at least giving a polite smile to them and valuing their involvement.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-06-13 00:38:22 44778
There's someone else who should be here, blue eyes bright and attentive, ready with a flourish of a black cape. He can't. But his proxy stands in his place -- only minimally familiar to the others present, but he's fought beside them once before. Pale gray uniform, white cape with earth-brown lining, short white hair, steady gray eyes. Kunzite's nod to Seishi's instructions is short and sharp. Red flowers is something he can remember. The nod that answers Rune's polite smile is more deliberate, a shade deeper. It's a good question. A useful one for those of them who don't tread dreams as a matter of course.
Hinote Kagari 2016-06-13 00:39:25 44779
Hinote Kagari has arrived with the princess. He brushes his sleeves off a bit as he enters. It's dusty and old and wrecked in here. Like the princess, it reminds him of the convience store. If the convience store was a trash house, this place is a trash /mansion/. He wonders if that'd been MORE appropiate for a princess.

Wait, why is he even thinking about that!? Ugh, morbid thoughts, go away!

He nods. "Right, no worries, Runealy. I'll be fine. If I start acting odd, just klonk me over the head." he winks. Oh, then a reminder that Runealy talks everything at face value. "Not really- just. You know. Don't be afraid to knock the sense into me."

He gives a wave over to Hokuto, who's familar- and to Seishi as he listens.

"Red flowers. On a hill." he commits this to memory.

He hasn't transformed yet, lest the rush of a magical transformation set things off or tip a hand. Talking about it openly doesn't seem to matter at least. Right?

Runealy asks a good question- he waits for the response, he gives a polite wave over to Kunzite aswell.
Seishi Tamashige 2016-06-13 00:47:36 44781
A little breath of a laugh hitches out of Seishi at Hokuto's 'half the boys at school' comment, and she cracks the momentary half-smile of someone who clearly doesn't believe it's true, but appreciates the sentiment for what it is.

Then she's looking toward Runealy, and her face grows serious again. "You'll be as you normally are," she assures. "Abilities and all, just as in the waking world. Well--" here she catches herself, backtracks a little. "It's possible I might be able to give you a boost, but it's not something I've tried before, so we shouldn't count on it."

She looks around again to each face in turn, making sure that everyone is satisfied with this answer, that there are no other questions that need to be asked. Once she's confirmed that there are none, she lets out a long breath and bows her head. "I've said it before," Seishi says quietly, "but thank you. All of you."

Falling asleep won't be hard, even in this creepy place, even sitting in seiza as she is. She's been running on fumes for days.

All she has to do is let go.
Hokuto Minase 2016-06-13 00:53:49 44783
Hokuto takes her place in seiza, just across from Seish, a soft creak of leather accompanying the movement. She reaches down to draw an ofuda from her pouch, and offers it to Seishi - and then, after a moment, another to Runealy.

"These are charged with my ki," she explains. "Focus a bit of your own power on it, and it should send up a flare I'll be able to sense." She's not quite sure if anyone else will, although anyone who's practiced with any form of magical senses ought to be able to pick something up. Maybe.

"And it's a pleasure to help, sempai. You know you only have to ask."
Fiore 2016-06-13 01:29:41 44789
Let go.

Perhaps something changes when a person gives in to a Nightmare instead of being overtaken -- or perhaps Seishi is a special case all her own. Either way, the moment sleep overtakes her, reality dissolves into sand around the gathered warriors, tearing itself away to reveal naught but darkness. Darkness that seizes each of them, pulls them under and away from their allies. Drowning their consciousness in black.

...until they each abruptly come to, in a dream that's familiar but not, the rundown old dormitory nowhere in sight.

Kunzite and Runealy will no doubt see each other within moments of waking -- they fell only a few feet from each other, their bodies leaving imprints in a thin layer of snow that was not present in either of the previous Nightmares. Their heads are dusted with the stuff too, a deadly chill running up their spines. How long could they have possibly been there, when only a moment ago the walls of the real world stood around them?

A flurry of red petals mixes with snow in the wind, blowing towards the shadow of a hill in the distance. Follow.

Hokuto and Hinote find themselves similarly close together, though their situation is a touch less comfortable. Where Kunzite and Rune are surrounded by white, they find themselves tangled in black -- quite literally. In a thicket of trees, they are half-standing, half-crouched, bound up in thorny undergrowth that snakes along their legs and arms. Black draws red where the thorns pierce their skin, but this is not the red their friend spoke of.

That red is a scarf on a nearby bush, tatters of scarlet marking a path through the forest. Follow.

Seishi does not wake up anywhere. Seishi gets no reprieve, no rest. Seishi gets no path to follow.

She's been here before. She knows what's at stake. She knows what to do.

Run.
Runealy Waldia 2016-06-13 01:35:09 44791
"Alright. I can work with that." Rune is fine with Seishi's answer; it means no surprises on her own end. Talk of 'ki' is slightly new to Runealy, but she does nonetheless make a tiny nod and take the offered charm from Hokuto. "Thanks. If that will help you, I'll do that. I was just going to light up the sky real fast, but if this is better for you then I can do this too."

Finally, she takes her position to stand by Hinote. "Don't know about hitting you, but we'll see what happens."

Once everything shifts to the dream... she looks around, blinking several times in wonder while taking in the sights. "Sand? ...No, something else...?!" That last syllable is hissed out.

Things are shifting quickly, the chill and snow changing her tone mid-sentence. "Ch... I wonder what she was thinking of, designing this? There must be some idea..." She's talking both for her own benefit and to probe Kunzite's thoughts on the matter, "...but I just don't see it yet. Are you alright? If so," She begins walking to follow the red swirl, "We should get moving. Summoning Princess' Tiara..."

The jeweled headwear appears in hand, energy-hum throbbing from it even as she starts to march on. A glance is given over to Kunzite to check up on him as she goes. "The Line of Succession..." It's passed from one hand to the next, and the tiara is placed on her head in the same motion: "Transform!"

A flash of red light - not the red others are meant to follow - engulfs her, and when it fades Runealy is in full magical dress with wand in hand.
Hinote Kagari 2016-06-13 01:36:15 44792
Hinote Kagari shakes his head. "No thanks nessacry, Seishi-san." he says softly. "Not to me at least." a reminder- Seishi helped Waldia- in his head. They owe this to Seishi. They owe it a thousand times over and even then a thousand times probably wouldn't even be enough. He's happy to be here to help.

He goes to say something else when the dream comes along and they're all seperated--- and he finds himself suddenly tangled in black, a thicket of trees with throny undergrowth. He's glad he's wearing pants. That still tingles and hurts.

"To Protect Justice, I am Guardian Hino.".

There's a bust of orange light, Hinote transforms into the Guardian Knight--- he holds a hand out.

"Ignition."

A rush of fire burns out from his palm as he attempts to burn his way out of the curling trapping branches around him-- keeping it a low burn--- as he falls to the ground--- he jumps out of the thicket as he turns back to Hokuto. "Hey do you need help?" he asks as he turns back around. He frowns a bit-- eyes tracing to the red of a scarf.

When Hokuto is free, he'll begin following that.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-06-13 01:42:53 44793
Being subject to darkness that isn't his is distinctly unpleasant for Kunzite. It's what he gets for wisting after old habits a day or two ago, though. He fights the unconsciousness as hard as he can, but that's not something that he ultimately has control over, anymore. Black, then.

And white.

He shivers, and pushes himself to his feet as his stiffening muscles respond; the ground is deadlier than the air, right now. And there's -- ah. Pink hair. "Snow," he provides for Runealy. "Tiny flakes of ice. Do you have a way to keep yourself warm?"

He does, after a fashion. But to conserve heat, not to create it. And they're cold enough already that they could be in significant trouble if they're not careful.

"The place may not have been her own design. There's another influence, recall." He doesn't respond on all-right. But he does move, following the red, keeping up with Rune. Drawing his cape around him against the chill, which affects this body so much more than the one that thrived in the Arctic. Not watching her. But watching her back.
Hokuto Minase 2016-06-13 01:48:48 44794
Hokuto winces as she feels the bite of thorn. It's not an unfamiliar pain, but not one she was expecting under these circumstances. "Damnit," she mutters, as she tries to move one hand to get to her ofuda pouch. Annoyingly, the motorcycle leathers she was wearing seem to have disappeared, leaving her in her classic shorts.

Eventually, she works one hand down to the pouch and pulls out a pair of slips. She tosses them into the air, and the inked characters glow as they separate from the page. The kanji wash over her as they grow, burning away the thorns and leaving her clad in the familiar miko robes. "This is going to be fun," she mutters, then unfurls her bow from its wrappings.
Seishi Tamashige 2016-06-13 01:49:06 44795
Thump-THUMP

It reverberates through the forest, a deep and rhythmic pulse halfway between sound and vibration. Like a drumbeat - or like the steady beating of a heart.

Thump-THUMP

Seishi is already running. Brittle, leafless underbrush claws at her legs with each stride, snagging at the flapping sleeves of her crimson kimono as she charges headlong through it. It's nothing new; she ignores it. The snapping and crunching of dead vegetation and the scent of the blood drops that trickle from fresh scrapes and scratches will draw the hunter in behind her.

Thump-THUMP

There is no path, but she knows where she is going all the same - she has dreamed it every time she's slept, built it into her mental landscape out of sheer determined will.

The hill that she told them to look for is there, just as she promised. The scraps of red fabric snagged on branches, bits of red thread tied around leafless twigs, the occasional spider lily whose lacy petals make a splash of red against the white ground - or, in some places, a scattering of blood drops dark against the snow - all of it makes a trail leading to the same place, where the trees break and a small hill rises. Here the ground is red with thickly-growing spider lilies, save for a bare patch at the hilltop which is smooth and white with snow.

Thump-THUMP
Fiore 2016-06-13 02:14:24 44796
Seishi picked her location well. There is no one in the Nightmare but the five of them, no sound but the crunch of their footsteps in the snow and the vague thrum of a heartbeat just beyond hearing. They outnumber their enemy five to one -- this is not a wolf that hunts in a pack, not since one among them so handily turned him away.

But that does not mean the dream is pleasant.

The petals continue to beckon Kunzite and Runealy. They beckon first from a breeze, then from a gust of wind -- then from a blizzard, their specks of red swept away in the sea of white that buffets their faces. Snow drifts pile up around them, the path ahead a knee-deep slog of the stuff, saying nothing of the ice that may be under their feet. Possible to traverse, if one is truly determined, but would it not be easier to stay where they are?

It is so very cold, after all, and it is not their dream. What can they possibly do to help?

The black vines give way easily to Hinote and Hokuto's flames, freeing them of their binds with little trouble. Perhaps...*too* little trouble. There's a moment of quiet, saving the throbbing of the hearbeat on the wind -- and then the brambles shoot from nowhere at unguarded wrists and ankles, slashing at any exposed skin, threading themselves into a wall to block out the scraps of red that would be their guide. It's a dirty tactic, to peck at one's opponent so, to block off their path and fence them in where they cannot fight. But Hokuto has a hunter's instinct -- she must know what this means.

For the first time, the Dreamstalker is afraid.

Not that he'd let Seishi know that.

The pursuit towards the hill is relentless. Her path ahead remains clear, the better for her to entertain him with a chase. In her dreams before this, he has held back, not wanting to spoil the fun before its reached his peak, but there is no such mercy now. The wolf races along behind her, a shadow at her heels that she must push herself to escape, against the fatigue that's been building behind the dam of her will for the past week.

Thump-THUMP. Thump-THUMP.

And the chase draws ever closer to the white-crowned hill.
Runealy Waldia 2016-06-13 02:17:49 44797
"I know what snow is!" Rune snaps back, defensive. There are a great many things she doesn't know, but she's not /that/ lost on things as to not recognize basic weather. "And no, I don't. Other than just to keep moving and hope this works. It's cold out here...!" She does not like the snow one bit while unable to be properly bundled for it.

She trudges on with no special defense, not even a cape, but will this simply sap her of strength by the time they reach the hill ahead? The odd assortment - blood included - of 'red markers' to go by does draw a raised eye, but she's not sure what to outright say about them.

She /does/ have a more clear reaction to the weather getting worse, however. At first it just slows her movement, wincing as she shields her eyes with an arm. Then it all but stops her, and eventually compels her to move closer to Kunzite... to see if perhaps his cape-defended form can serve as even a slight shelter from this. "Kind of want to stop, but I'm pretty sure if I do that we'll just... die here, won't we?"
Kazuo Takeba 2016-06-13 02:28:05 44799
"Your pardon, Highness. My own prince told me that you were from elsewhere, but nothing of the nature of the place." Kunzite inclines his head to Rune again, and moves on with her, working their way through the snow. Building up a little heat from exertion.

Until the wind makes it worse.

Then much worse.

But Rune's moved closer to him, and he answers that, closing a little more of the distance. "Most likely," he says, matter-of-fact. "And likely a number of other people. Permit me to assist. It may be slower progress, but freezing is slower still. You'll have to watch closely for the markers, though; making our way through the snow will be harder, and take more of my concentration."

He lifts his hands, and calls a sphere of shadows around the two of them. It blocks the bite of the wind, silences the eerie sounds of it. Clings to the dwindling warmth of their bodies and reflects it back at them. Safer than they had. Much safer. But a wider path to force open, not so easy to move. His problem, not hers. It'll be a steady drain on his energy, given time.

It'll also make it more tempting to just stop and outwait the blizzard. But all he can do about that one is keep moving.
Hinote Kagari 2016-06-13 02:31:07 44801
Guardian Hino begins to follow the direct of the scarf... when it's clear Hokuto is okay to follow, turning around and then--- brambles shoot out. Short, hard pecking motions- grasping-- but not much else. He frowns, perhaps, at this. There's no Runealy near here. He hopes she's okay.

Guardian Hino does what comes naturally though and draws his blade in a swinging motion out of his seath and swings low--- trying to swipe incomoing brambles with the sharp longsword. It isn't a katana or an eastern weapon. More western, europeon.

He lets it light on fire--- using the flames to try to burn wood and bramble that pecks at his ankles and wrists---

He's glad he has armor in a situation such as this. It leaves little open.

"If you need help, call out." he says in a swing.

He frowns a bit. "Any ideas to get through this besides 'burn everything?'" he asks to Hokuto.
Hokuto Minase 2016-06-13 02:31:51 44802
Thorn-vines are not a new sight to Hokuto, it's true. She's encountered youkai who are fond of them before. Indeed, the sight brings a smile to her lips as she realizes what it means. "This is only a minor setback," she assures Hinote...

and then she nocks an ofuda to the string of her bow, drawing it back as it burns away into a fire-arrow. "Besides," she adds, "Burn everything works just fine." And then she lets the arrow fly into the mass of brambles.
Seishi Tamashige 2016-06-13 02:46:19 44804
Thump-THUMP

Seishi's breath pants harshly in and out as she runs, cold air searing her throat, trailing wisps of steam.

Thump-THUMP

Heartbeat hammering in her chest, thrumming through the dream-forest like a drumbeat signal to her allies. Wherever they are.

Thump-THUMP

Have they reached the ambush point? Did she manage to dream them clear paths, or is the enemy foiling their progress?

Thump-THUMP, thump-THUMP, the rhythm of that pulsing beat is growing faster, frantic. She can feel the hunter behind her, imagine the hot breath at the back of her neck.

Up ahead, the air seems to brighten as the trees thin.

This has to work--

Thump-THUMP, thump-THUMP, thump-THUMP

At a headlong run, Seishi bursts from between the trees and into the clearing.

thump-THUMP-thump-THUMP-thump-THUMP
Fiore 2016-06-13 03:11:17 44807
Despite the Nightmare's attempts to impede them, the warriors have found a way through. Kunzite with his shelter from the snow -- Hino and Hokuto with flames that eat through bramble and thorn. It's almost as though the elements converge upon them: water, earth, fire.

Wind.

Yes, the wind -- the real wind, not the icy one that bit at Kunzite and the Princess -- is at their back, ushering them forward to the hill. Carrying with it the sound of the heartbeat, louder now, racing just as the samurai in red races towards her destination. She is alive. The wolf has not yet gotten her. The dream, at its core, is still hers. Press on. Follow.

To the hill of red.

In dreams, time flows differently. Things do not line up quite as they should: minutes can span days, while hours pass in a single moment. This is something that all lucid dreamers know; it is a tool of theirs, in fact. So when the four warriors happen upon the hill at the very same instant, regardless of how long their journeys felt -- when Seishi crashes into the clearing, narrowly avoiding a swipe of the Dreamstalker's claws -- it is not so much fate that brings them together, but the will to fight that shapes the world around them. The will that calls to one's allies, and the loyalty and bravery that answers that call.

It won't be long now. The wolf pursues Seishi with heedless bloodlust, pride consuming his every sense and blinding him to what lies ahead and around him. It won't be long at all. Now, they need only wait.

Wait for it.

(--wait for it, wait for it, wait for it, wait for it, wait--)
Runealy Waldia 2016-06-13 03:21:11 44809
"...Sorry, I didn't realize," Rune quickly demures and apologizes to Kunzite, then raises her eyes as he engulfs them in blackness. "What is this!? It's... ...hey." She figures it out in fairly short order. "...That's something. Thank you," now she pushes on, nodding to his request. "I'll guide the way." And toward that end, she occasionally gestures and calls out when she spots red indicators of where to go. "And... what /is/ that noise?"

Apparently it's now synching up with a beneficial wind though, so her concerns become less severe as it helps move them along. "While we're at it, someone told you about me?" She's not accusational, her tone is lighter, curious about this as she speaks with Kunzite.

Then they're upon the hill, and Rune begins to scan around the area with her eyes. She does make a moment to mentally focus on Hokuto's charm from earlier, wondering what it will accomplish. Then her mind occupies itself with concerns of trying to spot the others, whether it's Hokuto or Hino or Seishi...
Hinote Kagari 2016-06-13 03:27:34 44811
Guardian Hino is good at lighting things on fire and burning everything---- so he lets that be his goal for now. Not unessacrily, mind him-- but he let's his sword spill fire as he slashes through over growth, through brambles that try to rake and scratch. It's unpleasent. It hurts. He trudges through.

He looks upahead. The hill. with red.

He begins to take a shorter jog upwards as he peeks behind, to make sure Hokuto is following. He reaches the top and lowers his blade finally as he looks around and---

There's Runealy! and hopefully Kunzite. Right?

He gives a very very relived wave. He looks knicked and scratched, but nothing endangering him. "Princess!" he calls out.

"We made it....." a pause.

Wait, Seishi isn't here yet. Well.

He raises his sword back up. Things are about to go down, obviously.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-06-13 03:33:21 44812
A better wind. Warmer, urging them on. When that one takes the dream back from the killing cold, Kunzite lets his shadows at first thin out, then disperse again. Better than risk being mistaken for an attack by the others. Rune never did get that explanation, alas, but then she didn't really need it, either; the only question in that first bout that got an answer was her asking what the noise is, and Kunzite saying, "I don't know."

Once the shield's gone, though, he has more attention to spare. Someone told him about her? "I'm here in Tuxedo Kamen's place," he says. "He couldn't help with this; he sent me as his hands, instead. And told me a little about those of you he knew."

-- that's a familiar sword. Very well. He leaves any checking of Hino's identity to Runealy; watches, instead, as events gather closer and closer to the crimson hilltop. Waits. Keeps the Waldians half in view. They know how to work together. Best if he takes cues from them, rather than getting in their way.
Hokuto Minase 2016-06-13 03:35:18 44813
The hill of red. Hokuto focuses on that as she walks along with Hino. She doesn't care that the Dreamstalker might be coming after them - she knows it's focusing on Seishi.

So she endures the brambles and the undergrowth and the darkness. She has fire, and she has the swordsman at her side. Such obstacles will not bar her from her path.

All her focus is on catching up to Seishi. Her intention firm and fixed, long-ago lessons in lucid dreaming dredged up over the past week as she prepared for this. She pauses, ever so briefly, as she spots Runealy and Kunzite. "We must be close," she murmurs, and then she spots the hill. "Yes... yes!"

She breaks into a run, towards the center of it, knowing that Seishi will be there when the time is right. Certain of it. "We're going to win this," she declares as the others approach.

"And - oh, hey, new guy. Good to meet you." She hasn't met Kunzite before, but if he says he's from Tuxedo Kamen, and Runealy trusts him, then that's okay!
Seishi Tamashige 2016-06-13 03:45:12 44815
They're not kept waiting long. That thrumming rhythm, fast and persistent now, all but vibrates in the ground under their feet: thump-THUMP-thump-THUMP-thump-THUMP. In moments a flash of scarlet bursts from amidst the trees ringing the base of the hill, a dark shape close behind it - sandals tearing through the lily stems and kicking up red petals in her wake, Seishi flings herself headlong into a last desperate sprint up the hill to that circle of untouched snow with the Dream-stalker all but on top of her.

thump-THUMP-thump-THUMP-thump-THUMP

Wait for it wait for it waitforitWAITFORITWAIT--

Her foot strikes the center of the circle at the very top of the hill and Seishi leaps, arms outflung as though to catch the air--

--just as the entire top of the hill explodes in a roaring column of detonating gunpowder and violently flung earth.

She did say she'd dreamed a trap.
Fiore 2016-06-13 04:10:22 44818
Woe to the hunter who has never been the hunted. He will not see danger until it is far too late.

Perhaps a part of him noticed the terrain of his Nightmare sloping upward, where it had always been flat before. Perhaps he saw that the black trees, carved with the silent contorted faces of his victims, were thinning and disappearing in the darkness. Perhaps some part of him screamed for him to pay attention to what was going on, that this girl was not like the others, that if he let his guard down--

But it was too late, and he was too blind. By the time he nearly reached the samurai at the top of the hill, she had detonated the trap laid out just for him, and suddenly he was not a creature of shadow, but a howling demon of flame, burning alive in his own hell.

The cry of pain that splits the air seems to shake reality itself -- the Nightmare is not collapsing, but the Dreamstalker's hold on it is. One by one, at the edge of the clearing, bark splits open and wood cracks as spirits escape their prisons. Snow melts, brambles untangle, at the furthest spot on the horizon, a red dawn bleeds into the night sky.

The danger has not yet passed, however. While the Dreamstalker lives, it will not pass.

Eyes wide with madness, frothing at the mouth, the flaming wolf lunges at the gathered fighters, tearing with claw and tooth that still crave blood, even now in humiliation and near-defeat. He cannot see the samurai -- he can barely see anything in his state -- but the fight is not over yet. As long as something living is before him, he will find it. He will give it chase.

Even if it leads him to ruin, he will not give up the hunt.
Runealy Waldia 2016-06-13 04:14:43 44820
Along the way up-hill, Rune has enough time to finish up the conversation with Kunzite. "Wait, him? Then you're...?" Actually, Runealy isn't quite sure /what/ exactly that makes Kunzite, but it's good enough that she opts for "probably a friend, then." It works.

Once up high, she spots her friend and calls back to him, "Hino!" Rune is quite pleased to see him, even if there isn't long to celebrate that. Seishi is here, making her way uphill and being pursued.

The princess aims her wand above Seishi, trying to shoot past her to fire at the dream-stalker. Mindful of 'friendly fire', Rune's attacks are not very powerful. She is going with a trio of thin red rays, fired one after another, at the monster in an attempt to get Seishi some more breathing room.

Or rather, she ends up firing two such beams. Just before the third one can go out, she realizes being here is a bad idea.

Boot wings light up, launching her into the air just before the trap goes off! She's still flung some distance away by the explosion, landing in a dazed heap. "By the Barrier... what /was/ that!?" That may have been partially her fault, perhaps she misunderstood the nature of the trap and where she needed to be. Rune is nonetheless alarmed by what just happened, and shakily picking herself up to look around for the Dream-stalker, for Hino, Kunzite, Hokuto... anyone and anything.

She finds it, as the beast is upon her! "Ah!?" Still somewhat dazed, the best she can do is put herself within a sparkling red energy-bubble, a forcefield against its blows... one rippling and cracking even as the dream-stalker rends against it.
Hinote Kagari 2016-06-13 04:25:03 44822
AND then comes Seishi into Hino's line of view. There's a trap here right? He wonders what that is and then---- BOOOOOOM!

"Holy F***!" he mutters in expletive. He throws his sword up as the monster seems bloodied and flung from the blast- lit up in flame.

He mutters a bit as he clenches his jaw a moment. The monster comes down and he moves to the right, cape fluttering behind him as he draws his sword back and then with a swing forward yells out: "FIRE BRAND!" he calls out as his sword lights on full fire, attempting to swing forth--- to add more flame to that fire that the beast seems to be caught up in.

"Princess!" he calls out. "Are you okay!? You were close when that thing went off." he mutters.
Hokuto Minase 2016-06-13 04:26:00 44824
Hokuto turns her head, offering Hino a nod. "Ready?" she asks him, as she prepares another ofuda-flamearrow. "Good to have some competant help on these things."

Then she turns, because Seishi is here, and she doesn't want to miss this. Her best chance to defeat this monster forever. To save her sempai. As Seishi crests the hill, she draws back her bow.

The flame-arrows were less than effective, the last time she fought this creature. So she's taken the time to craft new ones. The finest paper, the highest-quality ink with her own blood mixed into it, drawn with a classic brush and the best calligraphy she could manage... hopefully, this will be enough.

The slip bursts into flame as she draws back the bow, the flames expanding into an arrow, and she waits for just the right moment.... and the moment Seishi's foot touches the center, she lets fly.

She watches, frowning, as the beast leaps at Runealy. In moments, she's nocked another ofuda and let fly a second flame-arrow. "Hold its attention!" she calls to the Princess, as she turns back to the hill to look for Seishi. "Sempai!" she calls out, and then, legs pumping fiercely, she races up the hill to look for her...
Kazuo Takeba 2016-06-13 04:29:52 44825
There's the monster. There's Runealy, and Kunzite almost moves to shield her -- but the princess proves perfectly capable of shielding herself. He changes the gesture midway, lashing out at the creature with lightning the same warm color as his attack the last time had been: a pink utterly unsuited to both nightmares and dignity. They're a little busy to care about dignity. But it's a holding action, of sorts; the Nightmare is one thing, but where's its --

There. The girl with the fire-arrows is hunting for her. And likelier to find her first. Good.
Seishi Tamashige 2016-06-13 04:38:51 44826
The hilltop is less a hilltop now and more a circle of churned-up earth, pitted where the buried gunpowder exploded. It provides a useful vantage, however - enough of one to let Hokuto see the streak of broken stems and crushed spider lilies where Seishi, propelled by the shockwave of her own trap, hit the ground and slid halfway back down the slope.

Even as her kohai looks, the samurai girl flounders onto her feet amongst the red flowers - dirty and scorched, scraped and bleeding from her flight through the woods, yanking her tessen from her belt. The ofuda that Hokuto gave her in the waking world is scissored between the fingers of her other hands.

"Hit it all-out!" she calls to the others even as she's homing in on her enemy. "We're ending this here!"
Fiore 2016-06-13 05:09:12 44833
If he's going down, he'll take every single one of them with him.

It's hard to tell the exact moment the Dreamstalker realizes the futility of his attacks. When Hino's Fire Brand hits his flank, he yowls in pain -- met with the blasts from his princess and the Shitennou, entire patches of fur fall away in foul-smelling balls of fire. The arrow which did not find luck last time buries itself in his shoulder, the second one in his leg, severing a tendon that nearly topples the wolf.

For the first time in his life, he is unable to run. That is the deathblow, truly -- for what good is a predator who cannot hunt?

As good as his last prey.

Snarling at the gathered fighters, the Dreamstalker lets forth a bloodcurdling howl, of pain and encroaching insanity in equal measure. And with that howl comes a burst of flame, flung from his decaying body, catching on the remains of spider lillies and dead tree bark until all the trees around them are ablaze. Dreamers rise with the smoke, fleeing the prison of the dream world in the rising heat, but they do not matter. Nothing matters now.

Except taking them all down. Taking her down.

The Dreamstalker spreads wide his jaws, makes a final push off his crippled haunches, and leaps to swallow whole the samurai who would claim his life.
Runealy Waldia 2016-06-13 05:11:30 44834
"I'm-fine!" Rune's hurried reply almost blurs the two words together into a single, abrupt blurt-out... but it should be enough to relieve Hino's concerns. 'Keep its attention', Hokuto requests? Rune hopes she can do that.

Shield-bubble dropping, her tiara gems light up to unleash a rapid stream of tiny emerald sparkles at the dream-stalker! They're all incredibly weak blows, even if any of them manage to hit, but it's something she can quickly and easily do while her boot-wings light up again and hurl her on a long backwards jump away from her attacker. Something to get distance, something to pester. She hopes the two measures will be enough to keep it on her, without being immediately torn apart; she'll have enough trouble avoiding not landing in flames as it is.

Then Seishi calls for something more dramatic. An immediate finish. Is the time right for that?

...After that explosion, perhaps so. After the blows that followed having driven it to dire straits indeed, now it definitely is the time. "Right!" Runealy traces a circle in front of herself with her wand as soon as she lands. It becomes a dome of nearly-clear white energy as she chants: "Wardliiighhhtt..."

Then with a shout of "Epilogue!" It launches, expanding to be wide enough to hold the dream-stalker within. If it manages to strike and do so, the dome begins to fill with gold light; unambiguous 'anti-demon' energy. Once it gets completely full, the entire assembly will burst!

Notably, the trap is only one-way with intent to prevent the demon from leaving. Even if her attack strikes exactly as planned, the dome will allow others' attacks to go right through it to strike the beast within.
Hinote Kagari 2016-06-13 05:15:40 44835
Guardian Hino was hoping that the powerful fire swing would be enough, combined with the other assaults, to topple the beast and end it. But this thing is like one of those high end silver batteries-- it just keeps going and going and going, and this causes Hinote to continue to keep his jaw clenhed. His stance moves to follow the beast and it's current path-- his eyes go wide---

He throws the sword down into the ground a moment as he raises both his hands and summons up as much fire energy out into his palms and claps them together, raising his arms high.

Then he lights into flame, covered in a burning aura- though not on fire himself.

"Raging...."

He twirls the fire around himself, outstreches his arms.

"Fire...." it takes shape-- into some sort of beast of it's own-- a lizard-like profile-- with wings.

"DRAGON!" out comes the shape of a large firey dragon.. shooting out in a spiraling fashion--- firey jaws moving to engulf the nightmare-- put it into more of a firey hell as the dragon bursts into a large swath of flame and fire and burning. It should be suitable unpleasent for the former hunter.

He's used to Runealy's methods- he knows his attack will pass through. He has no worries about this.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-06-13 05:18:47 44836
Flame bursts out, and Kunzite takes the edge of his cape in his right hand, drawing it up to shield himself from the first wave of fire in a gesture identical to a certain formally-clad individual's. But he's watching, always. Making sure the angle is right. Making sure no-one's in range, at the moment he moves, to be tagged by friendly fire. Making sure that what he's about to do, less than precision as the attack often is, won't risk knocking the stalker clear of anyone else's magic.

It's no surprise that he and Hino move at almost the same moment, catching the creature between them. He's been watching the Waldians for cues all this while, and Hino's tell him that Rune's ward won't bar their powers. What better timing?

An impossibly simple gesture, for one of Kunzite's spells. He lifts his left hand and holds it out, arm straight, palm facing the hunter. And a glow builds in that gloved hand, fire-bright and golden like the light of Runealy's dome. Full of deep-held anger, bottled frustration, the endless surge of rage at what's been done to these people. To the ones chased through terror and pain. To the sleepers who've been trapped here, silent, in these twisted dreams. Maybe even to the mutilation of the dream itself.

Kunzite'd said that he was here as Kamen's hands. He just hadn't quite explained entirely how.

"TUXEDO LA SMOKING BOMBER!"
Hokuto Minase 2016-06-13 05:25:44 44838
Seishi is there. And she's alright. Well, as alright as alright can be, under these circumstances. Hokuto breathes a distinct sigh of relief. And, in the immediacy of the moment, restrains herself from jumping up to hug the girl.

There's still a monster to defeat, after all.

The Princess seems to be holding its attention at first, and Hokuto readies another arrow. Then flames wash over her, she stumbles back a step under the force of it. The ofuda in her hand is burnt to a crisp, before she can work the magic that converts it to flame of its own.

"Ban, Un, Taraku, Kiriku, Aku!" She casts the bow aside. Each word is accompanied by a different mudra, her fingers twisting into shapes designed to focus her energy upon the task.

As she chants, Suzumebachi appears, plucking ofuda from Hokuto's pouch and tossing them into the air. This is apparently something they've practiced.

The floating ofuda, five of them now, begin to flow, then zoom out towards the beast. Even as it charges at Seishi, they form a circle about it, lines spreading from each to the others, forming a pentagram.

"By the five elements and the imperial command, let the spirit be sundered!"

The seals glow even brighter, the paper strips bursting into ghostly blue flame, as a wall of power surrounds the Dreamstalker. The incoming attacks pass through it, taking some of its own energy into each of them, amfplifying their effect.

She draws her hands apart at last, the five fingers of one leaving a series of glowing slashes in the air, four fingers of the other matching them at right angles. As she pulls against thin air, so to do the lines of power running between each of the pentagram-focuses of her ofuda, to slice through the monster and burst it apart from within, if she can.

"DREAM GOD'S BLADE!"
Seishi Tamashige 2016-06-13 05:41:47 44839
As for Seishi... as those wide-open jaws bear down on her, she stands her ground as though planted there. In one smooth, deliberate movement she brings her hands together, pressing Hokuto's ofuda against the flat of the open fan. Another flick of her wrist snaps the tessen closed, folding the ofuda up between the metal slats.

Hokuto's seal and Runealy's dome of power encircle the Dream-stalker. Hino and Kunzite barrage the beast with fire and burning golden light. And as the dream-forest blazes, as the very air all around them is lit with the incandescence of their combined powers, Seishi raises the Shinken straight and high over her head, pointing towards the sky.

"RISE!"

As though at her command, the horizon behind her floods with red light - red and then gold, echoing the radiance of Hino's fire and the golden light from both Runealy and Kunzite as the sun breaks over the jagged teeth of the blackened trees. Higher and higher, turning the sky white and blue in reflection of the phantom flames of Hokuto's power, until the sun itself blazes directly behind the silhouette of Seishi's upraised tessen and outlines it and her in red and golden flame.

In one swift movement, she brings it down.

"BREAK!"
Fiore 2016-06-13 06:14:45 44840
Light drives back darkness. And the hunted slay the hunter.

Again, time in dreams is a funny thing. A single breath can last for hours, if need be; it's no wonder that the wolf's pounce hangs in midair as the guardians summon their powers and fire them away. Unable to move, already crumbling away, watching as his precious dreams escape in the light of impossible dawn, the Dreamstalker can offer no resistance.

For the dreams he made cold in this harsh forest of winter, Hinote purifies him in flame.

For serving a king among demons, Runealy exorcises the darkness inside him.

For treading on the holy ground of her mind, Hokuto binds and pierces him through.

For poaching on the citizens of his beloved Earth, in place of Prince Endymion, Kunzite lands the finishing blow.

And just like that, the Dreamstalker is no more. In the golden and scarlet hues of magic, his darkness stands no chance, ripped asunder and scattered like ash about the forest of stolen dreams. Not a whimper escapes him before he is gone -- not a single trace of life remains where he once stood, even his footsteps erased by their cleansing power. His darkness mingles with the cinders of singed spider lillies for a few moments more, and then, his only remnant is the darkened sky above and the flames that grow steadily toward it.

But not for long.

The wolf had forgotten whose dream this really is.

Heralded by the light of their battle, the sun crests on the horizon and streaks across the night sky, bathing the once frigid land in warmth, cutting through the haze of snow and ice. The fire cannot last much longer -- its purpose was never to burn for long, the Dreamstalker twisted it away from its master's wishes. Slowly, it too recedes into nothing, leaving the husks of trees that imprisoned so many dreamers for so, so long. In the light of morning, those happy spirits finally awaken, freed and released to the crisp summer air.

For all the nights poisoned by terror, Seishi brings the dawn.

For all the innocent dreamers of Tokyo, Seishi ends the Nightmare.