Answers You May Not Like

There are questions. Ariel's mother answers them. Not all answers are good ones.

Date: 2016-09-24
Pose Count: 27
Ariel Theodore 2016-09-24 19:58:08 55776
    Once again back into Ariel's dream. Though perhaps this is a misnomer, it is the dream Ariel was born from. Nevertheless, once gathered, and through the dark foreboding of the shadowy woods, and into the small un-blighted patch of seaside dream. It is dark though; a sunset purple hue upon the skies, but there are still plenty of stars to shine through the beachside seascape at night. Beyond the reaches of the white sands, the darkened forest looms like a menacing wall of bleak barren blackness, encroaching on the starlit shores and its slow lapping murky blue waters.
    The sea witch, Ariel's motherm is here of course; the lone reason this patch of dreamscape has yet to fall to the corrupting blackness just waiting for her to further weaken, but she's held it off well over the week, still sitting on the same rock. Ariel is here, too of course, with her head already on the woman's lap, more than enjoying the slow rifle of dusky fingers through silver hair.
    There were questions before. Now would be a good time to ask them without interruption.
Seishi Tamashige 2016-09-24 20:13:23 55778
Questions - well, yes, there were some. More than that, though, whatever's wrong with Ariel's dreams wasn't so much solved as, at best, temporarily pushed back.

That's not good enough for Seishi.

So they're back, venturing into the shadowed dreamscape again. This time, Akashimaru stayed on horseback until the path gave way to the shoreline. Nothing's loomed out of the darkness at them, though, and now she dismounts, automatically moving through the unnecessary practical steps to not leave reins or stirrups dangling before she moves forward to face Ariel's mother.

"It seemed like we made things more difficult for you," is the first thing that she says. "If we did, apologies don't count for much, but you have mine. We want to help."
Yuzuki Amemori 2016-09-24 20:28:43 55781
Hakuomaru has of course, followed Akashimaru into the dream once more, she figures it's a moral obligation! And she likes the unicorn. And she'd probably never hear the end of it from her past self if she decided to sleep through it. It didn't take much rationalization is what she's figuring at least, while wandering about behind her.

"Are you sure it's worse? I mean because of our ,what, meddling?" She rests her hands on her hips as she watches behind them before asking after some thought, "I mean it's clearly not better, but I meant it more... was this kind of like pulling a bandage" she doesn't add the part about it being more akin to a severe burn or infection which is usually painful to treat. That's her own thoughts wandering again.
Kunzite 2016-09-24 20:33:36 55782
"Most surgery starts with a stab wound," Kunzite says quietly aside to Hakuomaru, apparently following her thoughts. In, as usual, a manner clearly designed to win friends and influence people. As long as the friends are rocks and the people are influenced into leaving.

He glances toward the sea witch, but doesn't speak directly to her. "The question is whether the infection can be treated."
Kyouko Sakura 2016-09-24 20:35:44 55783
    Apatite is here as well, having tagged along with Kunzite in leiu of Mamoru being present, although this whole 'find out more about the situation before acting' thing has never been her strong suit.

    That being the case, she's sitting on a rock on the beach, a little removed from the others. Close enough to overhear the conversation, but keeping her eyes glued to the forest. She knows that armored monster that knocked her aside so easily is out there somewhere, and she's determined to be ready if it shows itself again.

    She does glance over her shoulder as Kunzite speaks, showing that she is following the conversation, though she soon looks back to the edge of the woods, saying nothing.
Ariel Theodore 2016-09-24 20:39:59 55785
    At least in this part of the dream things are peaceful. For now. But the woman glances up from the idle act of calmly brushing the small unicorn's hair. "No." Her reply to Akashimaru is fairly firm and without much thought put to it. "If anything you bought me some more time. And, amusingly, reminded me that perhaps there is hope." Apparently she finds that amusing. Still, it's better than the situation worsening, for now. "If anyting I welcome your 'meddling'. It allowed me to see Ariel again, at the very least."
    She does chuckle, though, indigo eyes glancing from Akashimaru and Hakuomaru, to the two knights present. "An apt analogy." She says to Kunzite. "I believe that with work, yes it can be treated. It is not too late for that much. The original issue was my lack of... The precise skillset to do just that."
    There is a pause here, just long enough for her to play with a floppy ear. "It will not be easy. And there will undoubtedly be more pain ahead on the road to recovery."
Seishi Tamashige 2016-09-24 20:47:49 55787
"'Worse' and 'harder' aren't always the same thing," Akashimaru murmurs, glancing sidelong towards the others for a moment. "But I guess that's splitting hairs. I'm glad you're all right," she adds, returning her attention to the woman. With a calm and deliberate motion, she bows politely. "I'm called Akashimaru. Ariel told me her mother knew of me... but I don't think that was you, was it?"

As she straightens, she tucks each hand into the opposite sleeve. "Can you tell us anything about what's wrong here?"
Yuzuki Amemori 2016-09-24 20:52:47 55788
Hakuomaru looks over her shoulder and says, "No, but sometimes you pay a price to get ahead, whether that be through monetary means or pain is the real question." She shrugs and says, "I'm not saying we have to hurt or something like that, but it's the thought."

She takes the time to fidget at the moment, adjusting armor, making sure straps are secure and in general just occupyign her thoughts so they don't go all over the place. Kunzite's comment gets a shrug, "Not anymore, now it's a precise burn in some cases. Some really neat stuff there."
Kunzite 2016-09-24 20:58:06 55791
"Most," Kunzite repeats in agreement with Hakuomaru. He's standing so that Apatite is at the edge of his vision; her turning their way for a moment is enough movement to draw his eye. Other than that word, he falls silent. Akashimaru has more natural a sense of etiquette than he does, Hakuomaru more fire. Better they do the talking. He listens, and pieces shreds together, and considers worst possibilities; it's what he's best at.
Ariel Theodore 2016-09-24 21:13:05 55793
    The woman's eyes half-lid for a beat, but even still it's clear her gaze is turning towards the dark forest. Even from outside the trees just looking at it makes it evident the woods are sucking away all light. "That forest was once green." She says at first, rather solemnly. "I can tell you what I know of how this came to be, but..." She pauses on hearing that introduction, earning a nod of the woman's head.
    "Ah, Akashimaru. Then that would make you the samurai in red from the stories. But no, I'm not the one who told them. And I'd much prefer she not be the one to pay any price for this. Still."
    Ariel peeks up now, blinking a little owlishly when she gets tapped on the nose and told to "Go play." There's a bit of a pout, but she relents, rising and trotting off down the sands and into the water.
    Adults are talking serious business after all. "And now that she is out of earshot, I can be much more forthright." NOW she's looking back at the knights. "I had the sense your prince might not have fully trusted me. I had and still have my reasons for that. But in this case I think the pain will be inevitable. Though my unicorn always did say I had a very pessimistic streak." Added with a slight quirk of lips.
    "What happened here is simple. The dream is twisting into a true Nightmare. I don't know the source. But as long as that black knight remains, it will not be reversible."
Seishi Tamashige 2016-09-24 21:28:33 55798
Akashimaru glances alongside to Hakuomaru, and this time she smiles, just a little. "Sure," she agrees. "And when we have to hurt in order to heal, we can at least apologize for it."

After this, all of her attention is for the woman again, and she watches with keen eyes as Ariel is sent off out of earshot. Silent, not interrupting, she listens to what is said.

She's quiet for a breath or so after.

"Ariel didn't want us to fight that person," she says presently. "Afterward, O-Yasu didn't want to say anything, and he went off somewhere. Does Ariel know the black knight?" A beat. Seishi's face is smooth and taut. "Do you?"
Yuzuki Amemori 2016-09-24 21:38:47 55799
Hakuomaru is quietly contemplating the forest around them, the corruption present and what it might represent. Looking over her shoulder, she asks, "So a true nightmare is what we normally deal with? Or is it similar, but different." A phrase she's quickly coming to recognize as a constant in the area. "Can we lure it out and blindside it? I mean, I don't have a problem in particular to wander into the forest there to act as bait."

As Ariel's sent away, she glances back once more, turning to face them properly for the first time of the night. "Pessimism isn't a bad thing in doses. What's the real story though? Why were we stopped last time?"
Kunzite 2016-09-24 21:43:30 55800
"Once a defender," Kunzite says quietly, repeating the sea witch's words from before. "Now twisted. Some of us have a little experience with such things." He doesn't look down; he doesn't look back toward Apatite. He never lets his attention stray entirely from her, either, no matter where his primary focus is.
Kyouko Sakura 2016-09-24 21:47:25 55801
    Apatite shifts on her rock at the words of Ariel's mother, and Kunzite's contemplative words in response to them. She doesn't look at him either, keeping her eyes on the woods, though she's leaning back on one arm on the rock at this point. A very faint grimace crosses her features, though just for a moment. She does not seem overly tense, however- the sentry, for the moment, not sensing any danger.
Ariel Theodore 2016-09-24 22:12:34 55804
    "Ariel dislikes fighting, on principle." The sea witch responds. It seems to be something else that makes her lips tug into that slight twitch of a grin. "But there was a deeper reason than that, yes." She replies on the topic of the black knight. Of course she probably assumed that was going to be one of the burning questions on the collective mind, her lips purse. Especially when Kunzite repeats her very words. Of course now she reveals why she had sent Ariel off to play.
    "She recognized the armor." Is her initial reply, at first, before she elaborates. "Unconsciously, at least. If she understands any better than that, I haven't tried to dig at her. Before she gives a much more direct: "Of course I know who it is. And eventually she will come back on her own. She always did." This is where she lingers for a moment, expression tightening almost imperceptibly for a fraction of a beat. The kind of expression that could easily be missed ina blink.
    "That knight was another unicorn."
Seishi Tamashige 2016-09-24 22:25:51 55806
From there, it's not hard for Seishi to follow the thread the rest of the way to what the woman hasn't - quite - said. The corruption of this place. The voice in Ariel's dreams. O-Yasu's uncomfortable silence.

Akashimaru closes her eyes as understanding comes down heavily and far too close to home.

"The one who worked with Renge-dono, and told Ariel bedtime stories about us," she says, voice heavy and flat. "Her other mother."

The breath hisses out of her quietly, through her teeth. "Damn it."
Yuzuki Amemori 2016-09-24 22:43:05 55808
Hakuomaru looks to Akashimaru, then runs her fingers through her hair. "Fun times." is about all she can say to the implications stated by her. She rolls her shoulders, looking a touch uncomfortable. "So... what do we do about that?" She eventually asks, in the kind of tone that implies she's feeling out of her element again. Being new to all of this, she doesn't really have a good mental idea of how to fix that kind of problem. Short of the Ol' Yeller approach at least.
Kyouko Sakura 2016-09-24 22:45:34 55809
    Apatite does glance back over her shoulder again at the revelation that the black knight is Ariel's 'other mother'. A faint frown crosses her features. She is, of course, no stranger to losing family- and the sort of devestation that can wreck upon a person. She still says nothing though- perhaps she feels like it isn't her place, not knowing most of these people very well. Or perhaps she simply.. has no pertinent advice to offer. 'Do what you have to, she'll get over it eventually, probably' isn't the sort of advice that's going to be particularly well-received.
Kunzite 2016-09-24 22:50:05 55810
There's no flicker of expression on Kunzite's face; perhaps Apatite's is serving for both of them. His voice is that near-permanent neutral tone. "You said you didn't know the source of the dream's corruption, and didn't know what caused the -- other unicorn -- to be twisted. But that you believed at least some aspect of the problem could be treated." Gray eyes study the sea witch evenly. The deeps he understands. It's the shallows that give him trouble, and the surface. And she's playing all surface now, wave upon wave, the patient persistence that in the smallest of steps wears mountains away. "Do you have some hint, then, as to what happened to her or to this place, or what came before the change? Something that might permit us to find any difference between the darkness and its victims?"
Ariel Theodore 2016-09-24 23:10:48 55811
    Akashimaru hits it on the nose. If the way the witch's eyes slide closed completely. Thankful at least she sent Ariel away before that revelation was made. "Do you understand now why I said I could not fight, when asked by the prince?" She says at first. "If in my hands, the best solution I could give would be to end her misery. I don't know any other way Which is why I'm not involving myself more directly and thought I could finally look to all of you for another way- something which is very hard on my own pride, but..." Now she looks away, eyes cast down. "Better in the long run for myself, and more importantly Ariel."
    Her pride cast aside now, she worries on her lip. "I've told you what I know. This sort of corruption and battling that Nightmares that brought it on was what she had been keenly skilled in. But for her to become twisted, herself, she must have faced something abominably powerful. Too much for even her to handle. She did seem troubled before this began. If anyone would know more than I, it would be that dark beast in the forest."
    "Maybe if you're particularly clever you could find some way to ask her that yourself."
Seishi Tamashige 2016-09-24 23:17:36 55812
"That's fine." Akashimaru's eyes open as she says it, and they're bright and intensely focused. She understands now - oh, not completely, but enough. "We'll figure out a way." She flicks a glance toward Hakuomaru, just for a moment, then back again. "This is what we do."

She bows to the sea witch again, polite and formal. When she stands at her full height again her hands are out of her sleeves and at her sides; she stands like one ready to move forward. "O-Yasu might know something he's not telling. I'll sit on him until he talks. Thank you for telling us what you know."
Yuzuki Amemori 2016-09-24 23:28:17 55813
Hakuomaru shrugs at the look and says, "Either way." before busying herself fiddling with armor again. One gets the feeling she's doing it as both an idle tic and as a way to make sure that if worse comes to worst, she's good to go. She's not about to give up, but she's not about to pretend that it's guaranteed.

Rolling her shoulders back, glancing over her shoulders she asks, "So- Out of curiosity, what did she look like before?" Gesturing towards the woods, "Because maybe there's some kind of clues in the armor design or something as to what she faced. Or should I be disregarding the appearances for the dream thing?"
Kunzite 2016-09-24 23:32:29 55814
Do they understand? Yes. And the prince understood in spirit, if not in detail, then.

Kunzite nods to Akashimaru's simple statements. Bows silently toward the sea witch, quiet and grave. And stays to listen to Hakuomaru's question, and to its answer; it's a good one.
Kyouko Sakura 2016-09-24 23:42:32 55816
    Apatite, sensing the discussion is drawing to an end, rises to her feet and backs up to stand near Kunzite, still facing the woods. Uncharacteristically, she still says nothing. Perhaps, if she had been going to add something, the advent of this being a matter of family has removed the urge. So she holds her tongue- glad, perhaps, that she only needs to go with what the others decide is right and she doesn't need to try and make this decision herself. Another benefit of no longer being on her own.
Ariel Theodore 2016-09-24 23:43:12 55817
    That's fine then. Or at least so Akashimaru says. Still, the witch dips her head ina nod. She will accept this. The determination of all as a group just may well enough be what it takes to come about with an ending for this nightmare that would be far better than her own suggestion. It's better that way.
    "Well. She never for the helmet, that much I always remember." She answers Hakuomaru "She looked as Ariel does, but older. Much moreso. And that is her armor. Even if it's warped as much as she is, now."
    That said, she dips her head again. before looking toward the edge of the water as Ariel splashes back up to the surface. "I'll keep this part of the dream as it is for as long as I can. I can only wish you all luck for the rest."
Seishi Tamashige 2016-09-24 23:55:28 55818
Akashimaru inclines her head, understanding an acknowledgement. "That's plenty."

With these things said, she starts to turn away... then pauses, looking off towards the water and Ariel. She stands like that for a short while, a troubled expression casting a shadow across her face.

"...You should tell her," she says gravely, looking back towards the sea witch again. "It'll be tough for her to deal with, I know. But it's just as hard not knowing."
Kunzite 2016-09-25 00:10:23 55820
"Putting it off," Kunzite says, "makes it more likely that she'll find out in combat, instead. But you may have your reasons." He falls silent for a moment; then inclines his head to the sea witch again, and paces back a step or two to join Apatite. Not touching. But closer than they were.