The Last Dream Defender


The only rope that could hold her, would be the cord with which the old gods bound the Fenris-wolf. That one was made of fish's breath, bird spittle, a woman's beard, the miaowing of a cat, the sinews of a bear, and one thing more. I remember - mountain roots. Having none of these elements, nor the dwarfs to weave them, the new generation of dream saviors will have to make do with what they have... To save a unicorn.

Date: 2017-06-04
Pose Count: 65
Dream Defender Ariel 2017-06-04 19:17:59 77852
    This time. This time there is no chaos. In fact, the seaside beach that most find themselves arriving on might be familiar to some. Not so much to others. The sun is setting in the distance to reveal the beginnings of a sky full of stars and unfamiliar constellations.
    Aside from the ominously dark, almost pitch black forest on the edge of the beach, this seems like a small sanctury of sorts amid a dream that has clearly fallen to nightmare corruption. Water laps at the sands with the soothing hiss of waves and the tide. And Ariel is already here, of course, sans armor, and settled on a large rock, knees hugged to her chest. The sea witch is also here; the dusky skinned young-looking woman taking the quiet time before arrivals to braid ocean flowers into Ariel's silvery hair.
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-04 19:23:31 77853
    After their meeting on Saturday, Kokoro finds herself fairly unsurprised to end up on a beach after falling asleep. This has almost become routine, a fact which in and of itself is rather worrying. But, untransformed, wearing a casual pair of shorts and blouse, the tall girl stands, looking around the beach. And... spotting Ariel. And someone behind her.

    As she strides over in that direction, Kokoro makes no effort to disguise the fact she's staring. Sizing this new person up. Trying to figure out who, and what, she is.
A Siberian cat 2017-06-04 19:30:01 77854
Another familiar person sort of materializes in the distance, just walking forwards and towards the water proper and being tailed by what looks like an echo made from silver-blue lines. The lines have blurred bad enough that both Koji and Tyrfing can appear here and now, the larger male form walking behind the young man as he squats down just where the water cools against his toes.

Wearing just a pair of pajama pants and a Gundam T-shirt, he tilts his head and says almost to no one, "The water's clear."

<<Isn't water supposed to be that way?>> Tyrfing replies in a curious echo of a voice.

"Not really." Koji replies before he stands up, cupping a bit in both hands, "There's always stuff in it. But this is perfectly clear... like bathwater."

<<Well, this IS a dream.>>

Koji just sighs once, and nods, letting the water fall back into the ocean, "Right." And as he looks up and around, he spots Ariel and her mystery friend, which causes the pair to walk up slowly along-side Kokoro, Tyrfing's echo-form leaving the barest hint of footprints on the sand.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-04 19:35:06 77855
Some people are more comfortable in darkness than others. The tall, pale shadow of a man stationed almost on the boundary between forest and beach, nearly on the edge of the nightmare, is certainly on the 'more comfortable' side. Kunzite's uniform is not, granted, as easily recognizable as usual, but only because of the burden he carries.

He lifts one piece of it -- the cracked-in-half helmet belonging to the murderous enemy in a certain castle. The lingering evidence of the power that Kokoro and Tyrfing can muster between them.

His voice carries to the large rock, to the edge of the sea. There is, as usual with him, no greeting nor preamble. "You said that this changed when its owner did. Is that a connection that we can take advantage of? Something that might run both ways?"

He pauses for just an instant. Tips his head back to indicate the nightmare forest he's permitted to be at his back, his hair tinted by the sunset toward the color of arterial blood. "Is it worth the risk of having it here?"
Lacrima 2017-06-04 19:37:15 77856
Lacrima steps into the dreamscape she understands as being Ariel's 'home' dream. The beach- with that creepy forest on the edge where they met Memoria for the first time. She frowns a bit to herself at this as she arrives- however.

Nothing seems to be happening.

She assumes this is a good thing, considering. But. Why summoned then? Or. Did she just wander to a familiar place?

She begins to walk over to Ariel and her seaside mother. "Hello." she says quietly. "Again. And hello. Ariel-chan." she says as she turns to regard Kunzite. She head tilts at the helmet. Oh. The armor. Right...

Maybe THATS why they're here. She regards others with a passing glance, for the moment.
Seishi Tamashige 2017-06-04 19:39:17 77857
The dull, shushing thud of hooves on sand accompanies Akashimaru's arrival. She, at least, is fully transformed, albeit leading her horse instead of riding it... largely because the saddle is taken up by several more pieces of broken black armor held down with cross-crossing red ribbons.

One hand holds the reins; the other is occupied by a worn and tattered leather-bound book, tucked carefully under her arm.

"I'm glad to see that you're holding out all right," she tells the sea witch with a respectful little inclination of her head. "Things seem to have escalated quite a bit since we last spoke."
Hokuto Minase 2017-06-04 19:40:52 77858
There is a brief ripple in the air, as of words spoken in the distance and not quite heard, as a slender figure makes her way over a hill and down to the beach, peachwood bow and bokken slung over her shoulder as always. She slips her shoes off, walking barefoot in the sand, down to the water's edge to look out over the rippling surface, before turning to face the others and make a brief bow.

Quiet is a good thing, as far as she is concerned. There's much more interesting things in the world than the struggle against evil, important as that is, after all. Are they perhaps here merely to ... enjoy the beach? Or is there more?

And then Akashimaru rides up, and she starts to turn to greet her schoolmate - but pauses as the samurai speaks. With little enough evidence of her own to offer, she simply remains silent, letting those who know what is happening speak. She offers Akashimaru a brief nod, and another to Ariel as hostess, and composes herself to listen.
Dream Defender Ariel 2017-06-04 20:05:38 77859
    "The waters here are clear, but don't go out into the deeps." For a moment. For a long, moment, the woman maintains her focus, finishing one last thread and twist that will keep a small red flower in place, before she glances up. Though it seems they had been expecting visitors tonight; Ariel flshing a small smile at familiar faces arriving. But no, tonight is not a simple trip to enjoy the beach.
    "More of you." The sea-witch says cooly. "Not that this is a bad thing to have many allies, but it is still an ill sign of what is happening." Murmured as she pauses for a beat of thought. "To a degree." She notes directly to Akashimaru.
    The area of uncorrupted beach looks smaller than the last time.
    "Escalated. Yes. I'm well aware." Escalated, in fact, puts it lightly. "The barriers between dreams are fraying terribly. Soon the barrier between dreams and the waking world will suffer next. I don't think I need to inform you of the disaster that can cause."
    Nevertheless, she pauses, running fingers through the unicorn's silvery hair as Kunzite approaches with the armor. And that makes her go still, as if seeing an old ghost of the past finally returned to her. "You separated her from her armor." She whispers, reaching out as though to touch the split helm before pulling her hand away scant millimeters from contact. "There is... Something I can do with that, in fact. If you leave it with me."
    On to true business though, seemingly spurred on by the sight of the many pieces of platemail. "She's been coming and going much more. Into other dreams. At least until recently. I'm guessing because she lacks her armor." A slow breath and she lets this sink in.
    "Then tonight is the night. Ariel can lead you to her and can finish this chapter of the story."
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-04 20:22:09 77861
    Lacrima. Koji and Tyrfing. Kunzite. Akashimaru and... that other girl. She recognizes these people. They get only brief looks before her attention is on the woman. She doesn't know as much of this as the others do, so she can just listen and learn, quietly picking up on the things they say. But 'tonight is the night', apparently, and it doesn't take much for the middle schooler to figure out what that means. "...so that's how we're gonna play it, then?" is all she can ask. One hand dips into her pocket, coming out with the tiny hammer trinket that is her weapon and transformation tool both.
A Siberian cat 2017-06-04 20:29:48 77862
Tyrfing speaks up first, "Hold up there, thunderchild. Not every problem's a nail. If it wasn't for the others..." But the beastman's voice trails off there, and the echo looks away.

On the other hand, Koji just looks back out at the ocean for a moment, and then closes his eyes as if for a moment wishing for it all to just go away. But after that, he sniffs once, and then turns back around to face the others, but more specifically Ariel, "But she's not the Nightmare Prince, is she. She's just his queen..." Looking at the others, with Tyrfing as an echo here, he's not got his glasses on, "I... if you think about it, each thing we've seen has been like a chess board. It's kinda like the anime Code Geass. Everyone here's a piece on the board. We've all got a part we play."

He looks up at Akashimaru, "Knight..."

Next to Lacrima, "Queen."

Over to Kunzite, "Bishop."

Back along his line of vision to Kokoro, "Rook."

And finally to Hokuto who he barely recognizes, but then seems to sigh as if acknowledging their own role, "Pawns."
Seishi Tamashige 2017-06-04 20:32:03 77863
The sea witch's words are all the prompting that Akashimaru needs to begin untethering the pieces of armor from her horse's saddle, gathering them up to lay at the woman's feet. "We'll gladly leave it with you, if there's any chance it can help."

Tonight is the night. Shifting her weight absently on her feet, Akashimaru looks around at the faces of those assembled, eyes lingering on Ariel before looking back to the sea witch again. "If you have any last-minute advice on purifying corrupted dreams," she says quietly, "now would certainly be the time."
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-04 20:33:15 77864
    "The hell are you calling me 'rook' for?" Kokoro demands, turning her head lazily to Koji. "Just 'cause I ain't been doing this very long..."
Lacrima 2017-06-04 20:35:54 77865
Lacrima looks from Kunzite back to the sea witch. "....I tried to separate her from whatever is controlling her. Mainly by eating it. I wasn't successful. I apologize." she says quietly. She sighs a bit and purses her lips. "If you believe that we can accomplish that with the help of that armor. Then we should try then. Yes." she says.

Her eyes look up to Kokoro. "Something tells me we'll need to do that." she offers. "These things are never clean. "It'd be nice if it were. But..." she sighs and shakes her head.

"Purifying isn't my specialty. Just let me know if any of you are doing such a thing. As for me to get out of the way. I do not like being 'purified'." she insists.

Then a pause at Kokoro. ".....a Rook is a chess piece. It's the 'castle' piece. She wasn't using a shortend form of 'Rookie'." she says which as much non-sass as she can muster.

A pause. "I feel flattered I am apparently the queen." she says in her usual deadpan humor voice. "Considering I suppose I am more of a countess." she asides.

Her eyes graze back to the others. "I'm ready when everyone else is."
Hokuto Minase 2017-06-04 20:36:01 77866
Hokuto's brow arches at the mention of 'pawns', especially given her role in the last battle she joined this group in. "Try to sell me to some bald guy in Vegas, and I'll introduce you to my favorite set of steel-toed boots, buddy." She grins, wide and a little wild, and just stares for a long moment.

Then she shrugs and walks over to stand by Akashimaru and her horse. "Guess this isn't that 'better time' we were waiting for, sempai, is it?" She hmms softly to herself, then adds, "Purification is a thing I do... always happy to learn more."
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-04 20:37:57 77867
    "...oh." Pause. "...I never had the patience to learn chess," Kokoro admits, very pointedly turning her gaze out over the ocean and away from everyone else.

    She's not embarrassed. Not at all. Shut up YOU'RE embarrassed.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-04 20:39:11 77868
At the mention of the barrier between dreams and the waking world, Kunzite glances toward Lacrima, then Akashimaru, focusing for a moment on the book she carries ... but he says nothing aloud. He only takes his place beside Akashimaru, and lays down the armor he carries beside what she did.

He turns to regard Koji for a moment, solemn. "I would thank you," he says, "neither to demote nor to exalt me beyond my station; and here you do both at once. Those who think in terms of chess run the risk of letting their opponents define their rules and roles. Often enough it is better to surrender those straight lines and perfect angles, the limitations and predictability of the board.

"You call yourself a pawn, but you and the young lady," he bows toward Kokoro, "were the ones to separate the broken one from her armor. That may be the best advantage we have, or the second-best, at least. And you may yet do more."

He turns to the sea witch again. "We've seen cracks in her behavior. Watching without engaging, though she might have the advantage. Fleeing rather than fighting. I don't know her behavior before; can't judge whether that was her habit, whether it might be pragmatism alone. But it suggests that there may be something of her that survives, that could be restored."
Dream Defender Ariel 2017-06-04 21:00:13 77871
    There is something of a slight smirk on the woman's face when Koji tries to delineate roles into chess equivalents. Though if she has any opinion the matter, she says nothing when Kunzite speaks in reply. He says all that's really needed there. But she does moue her lips in a moment of thought, indigo eyes focusing distantly before she sighs.
    "You must make her remember. Who she is, and who she was. Beyond that the rest is in your hands." And she nods to Kunzite. "She is weakened now. This would be the best chance to test that theory. ... And I hope it proves correct. Now go."
    With that said she motions for the armor to be left at her side, gently nudging Ariel off the rock. Ariel looks a little shaky, clenching and unclenching her fingers and trying to steel herself. Before she starts into the darkness of the forest.
    It's nearly pitch black, the light of the stars barely illuminating the paths and cutting through the gloom, but the faint glow of her horn provides glimmering light enough to lead and not let anyone get lost in the chill mist and clawing darkness. Though there is no sign of that silent watching blue eye in the darkness... Yet.
    There are several points at which she falters, pausing to check her bearings in the blackness and make sure she didn't take a wrong turn, or halting to once again work up her nerve at points before the dark trees give way
    It's brighter in this new part of the woods, only to a degree. A glimmering faint sense that not all in the hidden grove is tainted; emanating from the small bed of flowers in the center of the clearing.
    And there she is. On knees in the midst of the flower field, sagging and staring off into space with that lone blue eye; a few broken armor plates belted and lashed onto padding and a layer of tattered chain, unmoving like a statue.
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-04 21:17:49 77874
    "Look," Kokoro finally says, turning her attention briefly to the others. "There's only one thing I'm good at. I'm not real good at 'power of love' and I got a bad track record with 'friendship'. There's only one way this plays out where I'm useful. Be nice if this were all smiles and happy endings, but however this goes down, we're probably gonna need to knock her around some." And get knocked around some, for that matter.

    If they're starting into the forest, though, she's taking the moment to transform. By the time she steps in alongside the group, her hair has stood up and uncovered her face, her hammer is on her shoulder, and she's walking as if she feels a little more... alive. But after all that dour doom-and-gloom, she follows Ariel without complaint, staying quiet and letting the little unicorn girl lead the way at her own pace. Right up intil they step into a clearing. Into a once-beautiful glade that now holds only the faintest fragment of its former glory... to see a unicorn woman that is the same.

    Without a word, Kokoro steps around, interposing herself protectively between Ariel and the black knight.
A Siberian cat 2017-06-04 21:22:13 77875
Feeling along chastised by Kunzite's words... a curious thing happens. Koji becomes the opaque one, fading until he's nothing more than a silver-white lined echo, as if being drawn into the dream by a light-pen. In opposition, Tyrfing becomes solid, gaining form and purpose, until the Shutran beastman is as physical a thing as anyone else. Once this change in composition fully resolves itself, the pair turn and begin walking after Ariel towards where-ever it is they were going. As they follow, Tyrfing looks back at his other self, and then tries to put an arm over Koji's shoulder... but it passes through.

There's an uncomfortable moment between the pair, neither looking at the other before they move along, "You're just trying to make sense of it, Koji... can't be right all the time. I know I wasn't."

To that, Koji sighs deeply and then looks back towards the others, <<Maybe we'd be better if I just let you take over. I'll be safe inside of us.>>

Tyrfing just shakes his head, "No... we can't run from this. Without you I can only follow the rules of my being. Don't sell yourself short. You're the one who made an army of me, and helped fight off the big one, remember? I was just channeling your dreams, Koji."

The outline of Koji still doesn't seem to really believe those words, but eventually, just before the clearing, he says to Kokoro, <<You're wrong, you know. I know it's not my place to say... but that's just another kind of love. You care enough about someone or something to be tough with them because it's what they need.>>

And then she's already in place to protect Ariel, and Koji's near-spectral self moves up next to Ariel, while Tyrfing moves forwards in a position where he can do the most good, besides Kokoro.
Lacrima 2017-06-04 21:27:20 77877
Lacrima turns to follows with the others. She remembers this forest. And how creepy it makes her feel. Why is there such a place in Ariel's home dream? Was this Ariel's 'Unicorn Mom's' area? Is that it? She frowns a little. She'll walk along, follow Ariel's horn light. She listens to Kokoro's words and she knows that's a bad idea to say such a thing--- for Kokoro. Herself? She'd thrive off that kind of feeling. Other magical girls? Noooot so much.

It isn't her place though. Someone else can do such a thing. She instead looks at the situation in front of her into the glade they've arrived in. Not completely untained- but better than the rest of the place.

Then there is Ariel's mother.

She looks to the others and steps forward.

Kunzite talked to her before. But she also talks. "Like. My friend said. Before. It isn't too late to come back." she says quietly. Because it's all she can do that isn't glowering in horrible dark energy wash while crackling with power. Which there isn't a need for quite yet.
Seishi Tamashige 2017-06-04 21:36:20 77878
Somewhere along the way, Akashimaru's horse has been left behind, or perhaps simply vanished for lack of any need for it. She's on foot like the others, following Ariel's lead until they reach the clearing and their goal.

Like the others, she moves forward to take up a guard position flanking Ariel, and draws the tessen from her belt to hold ready at her side - just in case. Kokoro certainly isn't wrong that some tough love will probably be required in this, for all that there's only one end result the samurai girl is willing to consider.

"We're here to help," she states, eyes fixed on the unicorn ahead of them. "To bring you home."
Hokuto Minase 2017-06-04 21:41:55 77880
Hokuto has set herself on Akashimaru's side, putting the samurai between her and Ariel. Somewhere along the way, she's taken out her bow and strung it, just to be ready in case of trouble. As usual, there's no sign of arrows for it, as she rarely seems to need them.

Not fully understanding the situation, though she's working it out as quickly as she can, she remains silent, letting her sempai's words speak for her. A curt nod in the older girl's direction is sufficient to show her agreement.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-04 21:44:14 77881
"Sounds good," Kunzite says to Kokoro, inclining his head toward her bad track record claim. "It would never have worked on me if it hadn't led with a spear and an axe."

It's Koji, though, that he keeps pace with. Silent echo of the faded image. And when they move into the glade, he hangs back as well -- not flanking Ariel like Koji and Akashimaru, but taking up a place behind her. Interposing himself between the tiny unicorn and the nightmare forest.

"Your family misses you," he says quietly. "Your daughter misses you. You've seen us looking, before. You know you are not forgotten."
Twilight 2017-06-04 22:02:32 77883
    "Really now?" asks a smooth and cool toned voice from the edge of the glade somewhere. She steps from the darkness somwhere behind the unicron woman and she fixes her long silver hair, red eyes opening to survery the group.
    "Oh. How quaint. So you're the one's messing with The Prince?" she asks sweetly. "Allow me to introduce myself."
    "I am Princess Twilight, Princess of Despair and Heir to DysDark." she says. "I have been called to deal with you. I see that this little bait trick worked to bring you all here." she says smoothly.
    She raises her arms to either side and then bright violet fire erupts around the clearing, forming a wall. The fire feels awful with heat but also that feeling of darkness and despair so associated with dark powers.
    She does pointedly look at Lacrima curiously. "I am confused by this ones prescene. Your pedigree demands you ally yourself with me. I can feel it. Yet here you are. Helping them."
    She then points toward's Kokoro. "Do you think standing in the way will help? Same for you." she says pointing to Koji. Then to Kunzite. "You talk to a tool like it's a person. That's silly. You're silly." she says with ice. Then to Akashimaru. "Do you have a lord? Or are you just another ronin?" she asks with just as much ice as to Kunzite.
    "You." she says to the Unicorn Woman. "Move to attack before they get the chance. Start with the hammer user and then that one." she commands also pointing to Koji.
    She channels more energy into those flames. They rise up into the air. Making the flame wall higher- her intent being to form a hard to escape from arena for the heroes, it seems for the moment.
Dream Defender Ariel 2017-06-04 22:28:30 77885
    Something in what Kokoro says earns a quiet look from Ariel. Though the expression may be hard to read, the girl stres long and hard before they arrive and people begin to take their places. Entry to the grove yields... No response at all. As though the the Nightmare unicorn were lost in her own personal universe, eye unfocused and staring through the ground.
    With Kokoro in front of her, Ariel tucks closer, a small hand sliding to gently grasp at the older girl's, with no warning, nor word. In spite of the moment, she's not locked up in fear as she had been in the dark castle.
    It is when people begin to speak directly to her, that the unicorn jerks her head up. That blue eye comes into focus almost instantly, wild and confused. Like a cornered animal unsure of whether to attack or flee into the darkness of the forest. Gaze jerks from Lacrima. To Kunzite and Seishi. And her initial response is a shuddering breath; a long exhale somewhere between half-hiss and half-groan. Their words strike now, piercingly without that armor to shroud her. But then...
    Then enters the Princess of Despair.
    The elder unicorn stills, like a statue for a long momet, before rising to her feet slowly with the clink of chain and creaking battered plate. She picks up the old sword and dented shield at her side, and stares through the gathered warriors of love and light. And perhaps the most frightening thing of all happens. She is given an order... And she responds.
    Head snapping, silver hair flowing behind her with the jerking motion, her gaze is on Kokoro, stone cold with intent as the flames encircle the glade, she charges with a snarl.
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-04 22:37:25 77887
    Around Kokoro sweeps. That voice sets her on edge the moment she hears it, a few tiny, stray arcs of electricity dancing around her right hand where it grips the hammer. The left... quietly squeezes Ariel's. Just this once. "Help? No. It'll keep Ariel from getting stomped. The helping part is where this thing comes in," she adds, hefting the hammer slightly. "Maybe I'll show you-" Whatever hotheaded tirade she might have gone on, it's brought to a halt by an order. An order that targets her specifically.

    Kokoro shows the presence of mind, or perhaps just the sheer instinct, to spin herself around with her hammer leading the way, coming up into a guard. It's the only thing that saves her from going over - and probably worse.

    Her boots divot the ground. Her entire body jars with the impact. Electricity crackles around her briefly, the fullness of that inhuman strength brought to bear just to stop that charge. It's aimed at her, but if it goes past her... no. No, it's not going past her. So, with arms trembling, teeth gritted, Kokoro plants herself and takes the entire force of a charging unicorn with her body.

    "Hey... 'princess'," the tall girl growls through those gritted teeth. "...those flames... you ain't gonna need 'em. I ain't... I ain't goin' nowhere... 'til either me or her stops swinging!" Her voice rises, and she puts every fiber of her being into one, hard shove, intended to open up distance.
Seishi Tamashige 2017-06-04 22:48:13 77888
Akashimaru meets Twilight's icy regard with her chin lifted defiantly, not in the least bit chagrined. "Indeed I am a ronin," she replies, as a flick of her wrist snaps her tessen open to its full spread. "I acknowledge no lord, and no orders but my own - and I say we will save Ariel's mother, no matter what you or the Prince of Nightmares does about it."

As the unicorn begins her charge, and Kokoro braces to meet it, Akashimaru draws back her tessen, the lacquered metal glinting red even in the cold purple light of Twilight's flames. "Come, the wind that drives back the darkness," she intones. "San-kyo-sen!"

With those last three syllables she sweeps the fan forward, calling up a rush of wind that drives head-on into the charging unicorn, pushing back against her and battering at the wall of flames beyond.
Lacrima 2017-06-04 22:49:55 77889
Lacrima is watching with a bated breath. For a long moment she thinks they're gonna get through. That maybe this won't end in complete mayhem. That this can end with minimal altercation. One of these others can ... purify tag her or whatever and there will maybe be ice cream. Yes she's that hopeful about she's imagining a mostly happy end.

Then.. then this Princess shows up. And she starts mouthing off to everyone. But the things she says...

'Her pedigree demands she help her side.'

'Why are you helping these people.'

'These Humans.'. Something about what this Princesses says starts to disturb her on a deep level as her brain translates these words and fills in blanks that weren't said. Enough that her eyebrow twitches. A very visible response. A change of expression on her usual neutral deadpan face. Anger. And confusion.

"Y..you!" she says. "YOU DON'T KNOW ANYTHING." she says. "WHY WOULD I HELP A WORTHLESS RABBLE LIKE YOURSELF? EVEN IF I WAS LIKE //YOU// YOU WOULDN'T BE WORTH MY TIME!" she yells in a tenor of anger and projection she doesn't normally use. "HAVING TO STEAL PEOPLE TO CONSOLIDATE YOUR POWER." she says. Like it's shameful.

"IF YOU COMMAND DESPAIR PRINCESS. THEN WALLOW IT IN FOREVER AND ENJOY YOUR MUCK PUDDLE." she seethes.

She's too busy being disturbed to act this moment. This may be a mistake in the moments to come.
Hokuto Minase 2017-06-04 22:59:57 77890
"Cute name, 'Princess Twilight'," Hokuto remarks as she flicks an ofuda free from her belt-pouch. "You call us silly? Foolish? Very well. We will consider you the fool you call us, and be done with it." Mocking the villains does seem to be something she frequently feels obliged to do.

Nocking the paper slip to her bowstring, she pauses while the characters on it blaze to light, then draws back the bow and lets fly. The arrow goes nowhere near the self-proclaimed princess, however, arcing over her to slam into the ground on the western side of the clearing in a burst of light.

As the light fades, a bestial roar can be heard, like that of a great cat. Finally it can be seen, a white tiger with steel claws, glaring in towards the fiend in the center.

Hokuto does not hesitate to nock a second ofuda to her bow, preparing it with a brief mantra.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-04 23:06:51 77892
Kunzite's tone comes close to matching Twilight for chill; but there's a flatness behind it that gives her cool malice the edge. "She has a name," is all he says. And he lifts his hands, and behind him a second circle is drawn -- a smooth arc of darkness rises, a little ways from the flames. Not challenging them directly; only reflecting their heat outward again, and some part of that sense of despair with it. Protecting Ariel; protecting Koji; protecting Akashimaru and Hokuto, though the latter two seem not to need it ...

He says nothing else, does nothing else, only watching. Until Lacrima's shouting comes to a pause. And then he says, "And she has a choice. Are you not so fortunate, Princess?"
A Siberian cat 2017-06-04 23:20:19 77893
As Tyrfing stands ready to back up Akashimaru and Kokoro, the alien beastman warrior unarmed but still just as dangerous as he does not interfere or merge this time... he allows Kokoro to fight this fight, even with Akashimaru's backup. The ofuda-arrow does cause him to look up and wince, but he stays back as the second wave.

Inside the protections, the echo of Koji, so barely real and fragile, but somehow just as present 'rests' a hand on Ariel's shoulder, <<I... I have an idea.>>

He looks up towards Twilight and then the wild-eyed and snarling unicorn woman, and then goes on, <<I... I want to give you my dream. It's small, and it's silly, but it's mine. And it's my light in the darkness.>>

Closing his eyes now, Koji's presence fills with some white mist... and inside is the picture of a little corner no-name eatery. The kind of place you find on any corner close by the rail stations or in just a block or so up and down from any apartment building in the city. Inside isn't more than a dozen or so people, all sitting at tables... all chatting happily. The image resolves some more, and the people change from just generic people to those here, and others... Mamoru, Nephrite, Kyouko, and Zoicite sitting at a table with beers and grilling small bits of marinated steak over a tabletop grill. Akashimaru, Kokoro, Rashmi, and a young girl who couldn't be more than twelve all sharing from ice creams. There's a table with Norie and Kunzite sitting there with a plate of takoyaki between them. And off to one side is a last spot with two older people sitting there as they watch Koji come out and bring food and drinks for everyone. There's a sense of peace and pleasure in the place, as it inside those doors, everything will be allright, even if it's only just for the time that you're sitting down for a meal.

<<Please use my hope to save your mother.>>
Twilight 2017-06-04 23:28:23 77895
    Twilight watches as the woman does as she is told. Good. It means they didn't get to her very well yet. Good. When she's done reinforcing the flame wall- she lowers her hands back down to her side. She listens to the various retorts. How quaint, she thinks. She appears to have gotten to the vampire. That's good, she thinks. The others are acting more cool. They will be harder to crack.
    "I have been raised from birth into my station, dear snowman." she says cooly to Kunzite. "To be a princess. Unlike the fakes I encounter." she says.
    She turns her attetion to Lacrima. "Ohhh darkling. As I said, I've been raised since birth to use it to perfection. I would hardly call that wallowing." she says in a smooth singsong tone. "Just look deep into yourself little darkling." she says. "I know you have the power to do it. I can sense it. All these 'friends' of yours can be at your beck and call. All you need to do is impress yourself onto them. Are you getting so upset because you're ashamed of your abilities?" she asks.
    She looks to Akashimaru. "How disgraceful." she says. Then she looks to Kokoro.
    "Oh. I KNOW your type, girl." she says quietly. "You are the type. To push everyone away. To then die alone. There were countless of you in the Hope Kingdom. Now there isn't anyone." she says smoothly still. "Except the quiet of the foolish." she says looking to Hokuto. Who then launches some sort of silver beast. She can feel it's light.
    It does not concern her. It'll take more than sealing ofuda to bother her a little. Fire and flame lance out from behind her as she curtseys, threating to engulf Kunzite, Lacrima and Hokuto. It is violet and burning but feels and burns as something more than fire. As if it was just burning despair. She lets the unicorn woman lean into the thunder hammer girl and the others as they come. She doesn't need more direction right now.
    "None of you walk away from this as you are." she says in a tone of a fact rather than a threat.
Dream Defender Ariel 2017-06-04 23:56:13 77899
    Hammer and blade meet in a lock, and for the briesfest of instants, Kokoro is face to face with that eye. Wide and wild with pain and insanity. Nearly nose to nose, that wrod buckles just as equally as this time the nightmare unicorn does not seem able to muster the same level of strength as she had before. The two are locked in a stalemate- or at least they would be, were it not for the red samurai's tessen; the gust blown forth, pushing her backwards. Footing slips, and the weapon lock is over, two long furrows formed in the ground from where boots trail in the dirt. The unicorn snorts... But then halts. Her eye goes distant again, but only briefly after the gust dies down, as vague flutter of expression crosses her face. But it doesn't last long.
    In the event of the young countess' outburst, Ariel is forced to slip her hand out of Kokoro's- though she does not miss the squeeze, it is better for the smaller unicorn to let her focus on things such as... Protecting herself. Worried as she looks, though, she rushes to Lacrima. Ariel's level of calm may perhaps be surprising as she sets a gentle hand on the other girl.
    "Norie..." She whispers. "Norie, peace... Don't let her get to you..." She leaves her own protection in the hands of others for now; taking solace in the darkness that by this point she can recognize as Kunzite's, and focusing upon something else entirely.
    Her attention falls upon Koji, topaz eyes staring up as soon as his hand is upon her shoulder. He says it is silly. But in truth he presents Ariel with something important. Something that makes her find a silent zen within the heard of the clearing suddenly engulfed in battle. Even as the elder unicorn is back on her feet with a half-hearted snarl.
    The Princess' orders were clear, and thay vicious eye snaps to focus on Koji. The shield is dropped as she favors two hands upon the hilt of her blade now, raising it high with a bellow, to strike.
    Ariel shoves him away, hard.
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-05 00:04:55 77900
    "The hell do you know?" Kokoro growls, eyes darting to one side - to Twilight. "You... you sitting there with your fancy upbringing and your evil powers and your... your confident attiude, the hell do you know about me?!" Lightning crackles, dances across her arms. "And who gives a crap how I die? Who cares if I got sick and tired of being let d- why the hell am I spilling my guts to you?! My life's my own to live, and if you got a problem with that I'm taking this thing upside your nose next! AND DON'T YOU TAKE YOUR EYES OFF ME, YOUR DANCE PARTNER'S RIGHT HERE!"

    It's Kokoro's turn to charge. Straight at the wild unicorn, hammer lighting up with a dancing patina of thunder. She's not even going to let that strike happen. She swings that tremendous weapon of hers upward, aiming for... she's not sure. Face, shoulders, forearms. Break her concentration, break her arms if she has to, stop that hit from happening. "You ain't gettin' out of this, you got a daughter to answer to for the crap you pulled!" ...what?
Hokuto Minase 2017-06-05 00:09:50 77901
Hokuto turns slightly and draws back her bow as another ofuda turns into an arrow, and lets fly. This time the arrow strikes the north end of the clearing, a flash of darkness fading to reveal a gleaming scaled serpent.

"Arrogance will be your downfall, 'Princess'. You will not prevail, be assured of it. If nothing else, I'll bite your nose off myself."

She pulls out a third ofuda, creating another arrow and launching it towards the east. If nothing else, she's gotten quick with that bow. "And don't you dare insult my sempai!" The arrow's glare is blue-white, this time, fading to reveal a great blue serpentine shape twining at the edge of the clearing. Not a serpent, however - the short arms and long whispers show it for the dragon it is.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-05 00:10:01 77902
Koji is touching Ariel. That'll help sustain both of them. Hokuto and Akashimaru are handling themselves. Of those closest to the wall of flame, that only leaves Kunzite and Lacrima --

Kunzite sweeps his lifted hands together, and the shield of darkness contracts, sweeping harmlessly over most of the people he'd been protecting from the ambient heat and despair. It darkens further as he does, from shadow to something like a transparent black: strong enough to hold up under Twilight's lance, to let that violet flame spatter over it, rebound off of it, be deflected to either side.

The sacrifice for this is that it does not protect so many. One. No, two: Ariel's close enough to be within its bounds.

Lacrima and Ariel will be safe from Twilight's attack, at least. Necessary. She can absorb most darkness safely. But her weakness is identity, and he has to try to keep despair from becoming a part of that, even a temporary one.

Himself? That motion of his hands caught the edge of his cape with it, swept it up to deflect the attack. In the physical world, it would have worked far better. In dreams ... his uniform is part of himself, here, and shares his own vulnerabilities. The pale fabric catches and lights, violet flame curling along its drape, licking at the darker underlayer, sending thin tendrils into his hair.

The more-than-physical impact drops him to one knee, but he pushes himself half-upright from there, scanning for Lacrima, for Ariel beside her, for Koji with Ariel --

Koji being pushed away from Ariel.

There was something he was holding to. Trying to gauge the right time for. But Twilight's flame pushes him to react without thinking, without calculation.

"AMALTHEA!"
Seishi Tamashige 2017-06-05 00:12:08 77904
Akashimaru has no more attention for Twilight, not right now. Her focus is on Ariel's mother, and even as the unicorn is tossing away her shield and making to charge, the samurai girl is leaping into motion herself. "Oh no you don't," she growls under her breath, snapping her tessen closed as she darts into her path ahead of Ariel and the faint apparition of Koji.

The blade comes down - and strikes the side of Akashimaru's tessen, with a bright flash of white light and the ringing of a hammer striking a bell.

(In the midst of that sound, voices, as though echoing from a long way off:

"I gave you the Shinken for a reason, Akashimaru. You should think on what that might be." A woman's voice, calm and melodic.

"I'm grateful to have a weapon," This voice is a man's, deeper and rougher, with the same kind of cadence that the Akashimaru of the present sometimes slips into. "I'd rather have a sword, though."

"Then," says the woman's voice, "answer this for me. What is the purpose of a sword?"

"What kind of riddle is this?" The rough voice sounds baffled. "The purpose of a sword is to cut. Nothing more."

"He won't get it, Renge-sama," a different man's voice, smooth and scornful. "No matter how you ask."

"There is still time," the woman's voice says. "Think on it.")

It's good that Kokoro makes her charge when she does, taking up the assault. Akashimaru can only stumble back from the impact, shaking her head as though to clear a ringing from her ears, looking at the weapon in her hand in confusion.
A Siberian cat 2017-06-05 00:12:21 77905
For anyone else here, their hand would pass through Koji, since he's not entirely there. He's the echo of himself, allowing for his Unison Device's linked intelligence to be prominent... so that his experience and his skill which would be of more use to the group could be brought to the foreground. But because it's Ariel, and because she is the defender of this very thing, her hands make contact, and the insubstantial lines that make up Koji Silvia are connected with and he finds himself forced out of the way of the incoming blow. He doesn't even have time to wince, or bring up his hands to ward it off, shock written on his expression as he was hoping on the protections Kunzite laid down would be enough to keep them safe. Instead, he rolls outside of the protection and can only look up in a rush of fear as now Ariel is left in danger...

<<TYRFING!>>

But the beastman form is moving even as the words leave his breath.

Arms go wide, eyes close, and the voice of the big beast-form take on an electronic-sounding echo as he intones "Gastmodus aktiviert!"

As before, the physical form of the feline beast turns to energy and flows back and around... Ariel! And in a moment she goes from being just herself to being encased in Belkan Knight Armor, shining and reflective, almost as if it brings a light of it's own to the clearing, and intensifies the power coming off of Ariel's horn. In place of any weapon, a mirror-polished shield appears over her dominant hand, the reflection only marred by the seal for the planet of Tyrfing's Origin.

However... this time Koji doesn't vanish. He's not pulled into subspace like the times before... because he came into the dream too. Inside of Ariel's head, there's a small moment of panic, but then a breath can be heard from the protector, <<When I came to this world, I lost the most important person to me. She sacrificed herself, and asked me to stay behind, to find and stop the thing we'd come here to stop. So I know how it feels... to look at the situation and feel powerless. But you're not. Koji's right. We've got to do this together. You can do this. You can bring her back.>>

A few moments later, Koji fully solidifies, and there's some real fear there, because he looks up towards Twilight, and then gulps once...
Lacrima 2017-06-05 00:28:12 77908
Lacrima is partly off her rocker right now. Her candor. Her voice is someone else's right now. It isn't like her at all. It's emotional- filled with anger. Not a shred of deadpan in her voice like there usually is.

"Oh. You want me to control these people." she seethes. "Maybe I should start with you and have you /lick/ the floors of my manor clean with your filthy tongue and bring me my evening tea. A princess of waiting on me hand and foot- and nothing more. she says with a malice she just doesn't usually display. She's too caught up in this state to really even notice the attack. Like everything else besides Twilight is blurred out from the world. Like she's forgotten why she's even here right now.

That's ALL she manages to get out before the figure of Kunzite gets in the way and it gives her an opportunity to shake herself out of the weird, crazy mental tunnel vision she's experiencing. This helps a lot to start to break her out of her state, but it's Ariel who finishes the job. 'Norie'. Not Lacrima. 'Norie'. She starts to fall back into coherency as he stance becomes a little more relaxed, though still guarded. More like when she came in- than the twitchy mess she was. Vision starts to return.

"I'm.... I'm okay." she says suddenly shakily. "Don't worry about me. Concentrate on Ariel's mother and.. that. That other woman." she says.

She's back to calm it seems, but she still needs a moment. Probably not a good idea to be wielding dark energy for the moment. At least she should be able to guard herself right now.
Twilight 2017-06-05 00:37:41 77911
    Twlight takes in all responses, and the fight, and she just begins to laugh. Not a maniacal laugh. It reeks of the typical oujo laugh. Only she isn't putting the hand by the side of her mouth, but her head does lift up in the process. "If I knew this was so entertaining I would had made a move much sooner than now." she insists. She doesn't give a specific reply back to anyone. Not to Kokoro or Lacrima or Hokuto.
    She does look to Kunzite. "Oh. Is that the tool's name? I had no idea. I much prefer to not get too attached to my pets." she does reply to him.
    "You. Kill them all." she says. "Don't worry about order." she commands.
    She gently leaps up into the tree line as she does give Koji a slight smirk to his look of fear. Oh she liked that. Be afraid. BE VERY afraid.
    "Oh..." she asides to the elder unicorn.
    "Failure means death." she asides. Wether she means it or not is left up to debate. Perhaps she's just trying to get a rise from the heroes by showing how much she just doesn't care for this pet of her ally.
Dream Defender Ariel 2017-06-05 01:00:26 77916
    In such a brief span of time, so much happens that it all seems to slow. An infinitesimally minuscule epoch drawn into an eternity amid the roaring flames and stretched tense by the terrible threat of how many ways these scant few seconds could go terribly wrong.
    Kokoro chases, and as that dark blade comes down, so many drop everything in the moment to forget about the fight, and turn their attention from offense to a resounding and hastened charge to come to one another's aid.
    Tessen deflects that initial blow, but an order is an order, and in her rush to follow through, the dark unicorn is staggered. Though she makes to rally, intending to regain balance and retry, that it all comes to a halt the very instant that name is called.
    That deadly blade freezes, just a hair's breadth away from the newly armored and smaller unicorn. It is something that Tyrfing says, in her mind, that makes golden eyes calmly slide shut.
    . o O (I understand.)
    There is no fear in her eyes when they open again. She gently pushes the blade aside. A small hand is held out. That wild eye widens, as the dark knight jerks backwards as if stricken by a horror of her own.
    Twilight's order seems to go unheard in that instant.
Hokuto Minase 2017-06-05 01:10:47 77918
Haruka turns once more - her back now to the Nightmare Princess, or whoever the bleep she is - and looses a fourth ofuda-arrow. This one strikes the southern edge of the clearing, exploding into crimson flames that roar higher until they form the shape of a great bird - and never do quite fade away. Its beak opens to let loose a great cry, like that of a hawk diving on its prey.

Then she turns once more, returning her attention to the clearing's center, and sends a final arrow arching directly into the sky, there to explode into a hundred (or is it a hundred and eight?) shooting stars, lighting up the clearing and setting the shadows to dancing as they fall.

"Byakko!" The white tiger roars as it paws at the earth, and charges forth, towards the center of the clearing!

"Genbu!" The black serpent hisses and coils, then darts forward as well!

"Seiryuu!" The azure dragon lets out its mighty roar, taking flight, soaring in towards the princess and the Unicorn Mother.

"Suzaku!" The crimson phoenix lets out its eagle-cry once more as it too soars, flames roaring as it charges in.

The four beasts are unhesitating, unable to feel fear or pain, charging forth at their foe without remorse. The tiger, serpent, and dragon focus on the Nightmare Princess, leaping at her with claws and teeth, fangs and poison, and flaming breath.

"You like fire? Try mine!" Hokuto grins as she watches it, Suzaku the Phoenix the only one diverted from the Princess - this one turning to the Unicorn Mother, the roaring flames of its form giving off incredible heat...
A Siberian cat 2017-06-05 01:16:32 77920
On the edge of the group, in the darklight of the fires, the fearful Koji pushes himself up to standing. His legs shake, there's tears on his face... but he stands there and looks up NOT at Ariel's mother, but at 'Princess Twilight.'

The first thing he manages out in a ragged tone is, "You. Are not. Welcome here."

After that he falters, another ragged breath making him take a half-step back to brace himself before he turns to look at Ariel combined with his partner, and then the girl's mother before he goes on, "We all came together to protect your daughter. To be there for her because..." It's a moment to gather his thoughts, "Because at first it was because the dreams were dangerous... but then it was because in a way... it connected us. All of us. She had friends... people she could talk to. Rely on. But she needs more than us... more than her f-friends. Something that no darkness can take away from you. That this... Princess... WANNABE... can't take from you. And she's right there. She's your daughter. And she loves you. She just wants you to come home with her. Please."
Seishi Tamashige 2017-06-05 01:24:07 77922
'Failure means death,' Twilight says. It doesn't seem as though its intended subject even heard it, but Akashimaru certainly does - it brings an immediate reaction across her face, a tightening of her jaw and a fierce light sparking in her dark eyes.

What is the purpose of a sword?

'None of you will walk away as you are,' Twilight said, and she is probably right about that, but still Akashimaru has no attention to spare for her. Hokuto seems to have that more than handled; the samurai girl, steady on her feet again, moves up alongside Ariel and for a brief moment she presses her hand to the little unicorn girl's Tyrfing-armored shoulder. "We didn't come here for anyone to die," she says. "We're here to save you, and that's what we're going to do. On this Shinken, I swear it."

'Shinken' means "serious," but it also means "real sword."

What is the purpose of a sword?

Akashimaru's hand lifts from Ariel's shoulder, and with deliberate, almost formal motions, she raises the closed bar of her tessen horizontally before her, pressing the top of it against the palm of her hand.

"Come," she says, "the blade that severs the bonds of karma."

Light flares against her palm, around her fingers where she grips the tessen. As she draws it away from her hand, where there was only empty air now forms the gentle curve of a scintillating blade, bright as though reflecting and collecting all of the radiance that Ariel's horn sheds.

What is the purpose of a sword?

--to save people.

"Katsujinken!"

Gripping the hilt of the shining katana with both hands, Akashimaru readies her stance - and charges Amalthea head-on.
Lacrima 2017-06-05 01:24:39 77923
Lacrima has managed to come back to her deadpan tone. There's worry there in her tone but there's no malic or anger. She's back to her 'normal' self right now. She can feel purifying might starting to be thrown around though, so she steps backwards a bit as not to allow herself to be a liability.

"Amalthea." she calls out. "Fight whatever is controlling you. It isn't you. It is dark and horrible. But you can fight it. I know you can. Please focus. On your daughter. And these people around." she says. "No one hates you here." she says.

Then she snaps back up to Twilight. She's not gonna risk throwing things at her.

"Go away. You're losing. You serve no more purpose other than to make us more extremely upset at you." she says.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-05 01:44:20 77927
Kunzite sees Amalthea hesitate, and lets out a breath; lets his head drop. This isn't something he can do. Isn't something he can help with. The fire weighs him down too far to pursue Twilight -- his ranged capabilities are weakened these days, insufficient to oppose her -- and he's no dreamwalker, and unskilled with words. Koji's transparency a few moments ago speaks to that. Better if he stays out of it. Better if he --

There is someone else who, while not being here, has fought Ariel's mother for her daugher's sake. And not here does not mean not aware. And does not mean unable to act.

Kunzite draws a sudden breath, and the lingering violet flames flicker sharply, then begin ... not to fade away, precisely, but to lose their color. He pushes himself up to his feet, one at a time. Takes a step. Then another.

By the time he reaches the others, the glow flickering around him is not violet, but gold. He takes care not to step too close to Lacrima; the energy would not hurt her, he thinks, but tempting her right now is less than the wisest of plans.

Akashimaru's blade is bright as though reflecting and collecting Ariel's light. Kunzite can't heal with this energy, the way its master can; can't use it to forge connections between people, to link heart to heart. But he can offer it up to Akashimaru, offer light to support light. Perhaps, in some small way, it might help to sever the right bonds. And make the rest sing.
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-05 01:45:52 77928
    Kunzite calls something out. It sounds like nonsense at first, but the nature of it quickly becomes apparent as the unicorn... as Amalthea briefly struggles with coming to her senses. Kokoro sees it. She sees an opportunity. And much like the others, she doesn't let it go to waste. But she doesn't have any kind of purifying or sealing powers. So her choice is... a little different.

    The thunder girl drops her hammer and lunges. A full-body, full-force tackle, more like being hit by a car than by a linebacker. It's a chance to get the one-eyed unicorn to the ground, where the middle schooler can apply her apparently-now-superior strength. She intends to do that - straddling Amalthea's torso, with one knee on either shoulder, where she can apply her weight to keep her opponent pinned.

    "Yeah, you're starting to remember, aren't you?! You got some nerve just leaving behind a daughter like that! You got any idea what that's like?! Just getting by all alone in the world after your parents up and disappear, huh?! Just where do you get off getting yourself caught like this?!"
Twilight 2017-06-05 01:48:17 77929
    Twilight watches as Hokuto sends various beasts at her. She doesn't seem particularly impressed. She's shrugged off multiperson purification on countless occasions. What does this one person hope to achieve? Making her upset?
    She draws up flame butterfly wings in front of her as she holds her hands out. Those beasts all collide on her at once. The resulting strike is hard and powerful as it connects. Flame and Power fight one another--- and when it's all over, well she's still alight in flame and she wasted was energy keeping the attack off her- having used the power to make some sort of feedback loop to stop it from penentrating.
    She's REALLLLY good at taking the big hits. Smaller ones are problems.
    Of course the goal was to perhaps just keep her occupied.
    She watches all that goes on. The pet is starting to cast it's leash. This is dissapointing. It lowers her odds, too.
    "Tsk. Do you think I actually care wether this thing lives or dies?" she asks. "You can deal with the Prince's anger personally over it if he feels fit to feel such a way." she asides.
    A keyhole shapped portal, filled with dusk and dark forms behind her and engulfs her as it then closes- taking her with it.
    When this happens, the fire around the clearing begins to die out.
Dream Defender Ariel 2017-06-05 02:07:24 77933
    That moment. That brief beat of hesitation... Proves to be all they need.
    Hokuto had been carefully preparing that from the start, hadn't she? Calling upon the four heavenly guardians. Tiger, serpent, dragon, and phoenix descend; the sealing magics of the four ofuda that had been consumed in their calling, striking first like four bestial trucks. In comparison to just scant seconds before, this all happens so fast.
    A small, gauntlet clad, hand slides into Koji's, and Ariel's other hand reaches up to lay atop Akashimaru's on her shoulder in that moment.
    The unicorn staggers, righting herself after the four divine blows only to be beset further. She has no armor. Her sword lifts into a feeble, automatic and reflexive defense. Akashimaru comes for her with a blade she was not in possession of before. A blade that does more than cut, but a blade that severs the ties of darkness and rather than slaying its victims...
    It spares them.
    The dreamsteel sword is batted aside, her strength gone now as Katsujinken severs not flesh and blood, but a single dark thread within the old knight's heart. One that had tangled and knotted all the rest, now able to unfurl and flourish with the golden elysian light...
    She's down. Down and toppled in a heap od armor and a massive teen tackling her to the flowers, that old blue eye distant once more.
    No one hates you here.
    She just wants you to come home with her. Please.
    We didn't come here for anyone to die.
    Though the auspicious Princess of Despair takes this moment to make her exit, the unicorn is left grounded, words and voices ringing in her ear, starting to remember, starting to breathe once more, starting to...
    To stare, bleary and bewildered at the massive teen holding her to the ground. Her response comes a slow moment after, waiting for the shouting to die down.
    "... I am here, now."
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-05 02:10:37 77934
    Pant. Pant. Pant.

    Kokoro hadn't realized how worked up she was. It doesn't hit her until she's suddenly staring into an eye that's aware of her, and spoken to, calmly. Then, the look on her face is one of quiet surprise and, perhaps, just a little bit of shame at her own sudden outburst. Quietly, she rolls herself off, flopping onto the ground next to Amalthea for the moment.
A Siberian cat 2017-06-05 02:18:58 77936
While separated from Tyrfing like he is, Koji lacks some of the power to enable his dream abilities. No context to manipulate like the backtub, and this is his first time seriously involved with things.

But there are some things a young man like him CAN do. So as the Unison Device begins to uncouple from Ariel and reform into his usual representative self, Koji comes over to the stricken women.

Kneeling down next to Amalthea, he brings, out of nowhere, a cup of tea on a saucer. He sets it down by her before saying, "Here... you've been through a lot."
Lacrima 2017-06-05 02:20:30 77937
Lacrima wraps her arms around herself when the Princess of Despair leaves , and the flame dies down and Ari's mom says something that a normal person with their faculties might say.

Then she falls down to her butt and sort of hunkers down into her knees for a moment. She doesn't start crying or rocking but she does just stay like that for the moment.

Things are kind of just hitting her suddenly and she needs the moment.

At least it's safe now to breakdown a little if she needs to.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-05 02:27:37 77938
Amalthea... focused. Kokoro? Not bleeding. Koji? Apparently intact. Tyrfing? ... hard to tell, but probably all right. Ariel? Best not to interfere with, given that that's her mother, there. Hokuto? Splendid. Akashimaru? ... possessed of a heartbreakingly amazing blade, in several respects.

Lacrima?

Kunzite stays where he is, not risking coming closer. But he regards her for a moment. And, apparently, decides that Koji has an excellent idea. He crouches down, settling on Lacrima's level. Remains a moment in silence, giving her a little time to collect herself. And finally inquires, calm and even, "Would it help you at all if I dropped off donuts when we wake?"
Hokuto Minase 2017-06-05 02:32:45 77939
Hokuto's tiger, dragon, and serpent shikigami were all banished quickly enough in their brief engagement with the Nightmare Princess. Unsurprising, really. It's Suzaku the Phoenix that was really important out of all of them, the rest were just distraction and symbolism, burning itself out to infuse the purifying flame it had borne into Amalthea.

Bow at her side, the onmyouji steps up towards the woman, hoping that her plan had worked... and quite happy to see that it apparently had. "I'll just leave you to it," she says, calmly, quietly. Hovering some small distance away to give mother and daughter room.

"I'll take you up on that," she offers to Kunzite. "Breakfast meet at the Midori-ya?"
Seishi Tamashige 2017-06-05 02:40:20 77940
In the aftermath of that last, climactic clash... Akashimaru stands, panting, and takes a moment to regain herself. The bright blade of the Katsujinken is already dissolving into fading sparks, still tinted gold with the extra radiance that Kunzite lent to it. In moments, she's holding only a tessen again where the swordhilt was.

She still looks a bit baffled.

But the important thing is, Ariel's mother - Amalthea - has returned to herself. No one has died. Ariel need never live with the question of 'why?' or 'what if.'

Drawing in a slightly shaky breath, Akashimaru takes a slow look around at each of the ones who were part of this battle. "...Well done," she says, and that's all, but the words are filled with sincerity.
Dream Defender Ariel 2017-06-05 02:52:45 77942
    When Kokoro climbs off, Amalthea remains where she lays for several breaths longer. To sit up seems to be an effort in exhaustion and pain, but she manages with a grimace that stretches into an almost perpetual scowl, silver hair shrouding scarred face in shadow. She draws a slow breath through her teeth, drinking it down like it was the first after a particularly long time held under water, and lets it out in a slow shudder.
    "What has been done to me?" She asks, at first. Before she asks what even she knows to be the more important question: "What have I done?"
    That blue eye turns up towards Koji on his approach; and a gauntlet clad hand fumbles with the teacup. She opts to just grip it around the middle instead of even try to deal with the finesse of using the handle and drinks deeply.
    With Tyrfing disengaging, Ariel whispers a soft 'Thank you', before she has a moment of her own pause. Bare feet scuff at the grass as she's torn. But she decides just where to go first. It is to Lacrima's side, a gentle hand resting on shoulder to check if her friend is alright.
    She's waited long for this moment. But she can wait just a moment longer for another's sake.
    Amalthea, however, claps Kokoro on the shoulder, grip firm as she takes hold there. "Thank you. Really. I needed that. I did. It helped me remember." She says, staring deeply at the girl. "I don't have any idea. But I think you and Ariel might have that in common. And for that I'm sorry."
    Once Ariel has some form of response fomr Lacrima, be it in any form, she detaches. Though a glance is spared worriedly for the vampire when she does, she approaches slowly. Then faster.
    And then she's pulled down with a bleat upon armored lap, Amalthea grasping, holding, and refusing to let go as though it were the last chance she would ever have.
    "So... You finally figured out the purpose of a sword. I'm glad, you red bastard. It's good to see you again."
    That. That was to Akashimaru.
Lacrima 2017-06-05 02:57:34 77944
Lacrima is sort of hunkered down still when Kunzite asks that question. There's no reply for a few moments. Which Kunzite probably expects. She finally does look up. She's a little sullen in the expression but she isn't stained with the purple ichor her tears usually bring. One thing to be sure, it's easy to tell if she's been straight crying.

"Yes, please." is what she says to him.

Then there is Ariel. "I'm fine." she says softly to Ariel. "Go see your mother." she says quietly. "please?" she asks, if Ariel needs help getting away from her. Her tone is at least deadpan again as she begins to push herself up slowly and rubs her upper arm with her other a moment.

"Sorry. For that. Earlier." she says finally softly. Though to no one in particular.
Seishi Tamashige 2017-06-05 02:59:06 77945
Blink and you miss it - for a heartbeat in the wake of Amalthea's greeting to Akashimaru, the samurai who stands there dressed in red and holding a tessen is not the girl those assembled are familiar with, but a rough-looking young man with a long black samurai ponytail who's looking back at the unicorn knight with an expression that's somewhere between indignation, chagrin, and self-deprecating humor.

Then it's the usual Akashimaru again, ducking her head a little with a wry smile. "It only took a few lifetimes, apparently," she agrees. "Good to have you back. You've been greatly missed."
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-05 03:00:53 77946
    Kokoro is sitting up, as a hand comes down on her shoulder. She turns, looking up into Amalthea's one eye, and there's... a complicated expression on her face. A complicated look in those purple eyes. "...maybe. But mine ain't comin' back," she replies softly, before moving up to her feet. She takes a few moments to brush herself off - and, privately, to collect herself. Then she quietly walks over to grab her hammer, swinging it up to rest on her shoulder in its usual spot. THere's nothing but silence, while she steps back, lets all the others step in, speak with Ariel, with Amalthea. There's a worried look in Lacrima's direction, briefly. But... there's not really anything she can do.

    So she stands aside, deciding to just... watch something else for a little while.
A Siberian cat 2017-06-05 03:06:25 77947
Tyrfing remains as a ghost now, leaving Koji to be solid this whole time. Since the cup is taken, the young man stands back up and looks around the place for a moment, wiping his brow and looking almost ready to throw up... and then what happens with Akashimaru does, and he's just sort of left staring for a moment... looking Her/him/them up and down for a moment, and then has to rub the back of his neck in confusion. So he just does what he does. He smiles, he bows, and then steps back as he says to Ariel, "I'm happy for you."

The pair move off and away from the pair, since this really isn't a moment for them, which leads them to stand closeby Kokoro. While the boy doesn't speak, Tyrfing says to the girl, <<After this, we're probably not going to see each other. Not like this. So... just gotta say? You got heart. A big chip on your shoulder, but heart. The kid could use someone like you watching his back.>>

Koji looks a bit shocked at the request, and then sighs while hanging his head.
Hokuto Minase 2017-06-05 03:12:44 77948
Lifetimes. Well, that's not a concept Hokuto is unfamliar with. The revelations about Akashimaru have pushed pretty much everything else out of her mind, for the moment, though. She turns to stare at the older girl, reaching out to her - pausing briefly at the flickering image - but then steps closer.

"Congratulations," she offers. "It's good to know that your precious people are alright, isn't it?" She holds out her hand, once again, this time smiling.
Kazuo Takeba 2017-06-05 03:13:32 77949
"I'm not certain I'll be able to get out of the apartment that long," Kunzite says up to Hokuto, his tone only mildly dry this time. The glow is subsiding, settling back to his usual whites and grays; but he seems more solid this time, more present. Less of a ghost than when he arrived. "We'll see. Maybe if I bring company."

He glances back to Lacrima, rising slowly as she does. "But donuts I can manage." A pause. "And there's no need to apologize. You held on."
He draws a breath, then, and answers the question of Amalthea's that no-one else has touched. "You were bound against yourself, and used to carry corruption. It is not your fault. You were not the only victim to be treated so. Your daughter is all right. Your lady was all right a few minutes ago, when we left her. The one who bound you is still at large, and the others he has bound are still carrying that corruption, still working to damage the barriers between dreams. But we know now that what he's done can be repaired. And that knowledge may itself be enough to begin undoing the damage."
Dream Defender Ariel 2017-06-05 03:37:34 77950
    Just as fast and easy to miss as the fleeting image of the old samurai from days long past, is the brief quirk of the elder unicorn's lips. But she says nothing. She says nothing at all. Instead she takes the moment to bury her nose in silver hair as Ariel clings tightly. There are no words for the moment, and there are no words for a long, long, moment to follow, but to simply bask in a small victory that has brought a family back together.
    "Do you dream about them?" Is all she asks of Kokoro, and nothing more.
    She sighs, though. "It's no small feat, calling on the four heavenly guardians. Color me impressed." Asided to Hokuto. It's to Lacrima she looks next. "In older days I would have been duty sworn and oathbound to attack one such as yourself. But my daughter seems to have a special place in her heart for you if she would see to you first before coming to me." She says with a hoarse chuckle. "Guess that makes you good enough to be welcomed in my forest any time." She pauses, glancing around with that snarling scowl once more. "What's left of it anyway."
    Kunzite, though... Her squeezes shut. "I'll go to her once I can move. But there is work to be done and I no longer have the strength to do it." And that's it. The happy renunion is cut short. "Yes, him. That one. The Prince. I know I'm not the only one he twisted. I would say be glad I was one of the worst, but he wants to do more than just thin those barriers. ... Making his Nightmares stronger is just the start. For his plans to move into the waking world." She sighs and stops long enough to look up at the stars. "I'll try and gather any other Dream Defenders that still remain uncorrupted and willing, but I'm afraid the rest is in all of your hands. For now though..."
    It is with that, she gently nudges Ariel. "Go tell your mother I'll be along soon. And I would much like to see her."
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-05 03:40:51 77951
    Of all things, Kokoro doesn't look like she expected Koji and Tyrfing to approach. She peers at the Device's spirit for a moment, giving he and Koji both somewhat of an odd almost-scowl. But then it softens a little. "...you're Seiyou too, aren't you?" A quiet snort. "A kohai looking out for her senpai." She shakes her head, but then gives a little shrug. "Sure, whatever. You got some jerkass needs smashing, you got someone on your case you need to lay off, come find me, I guess."

    But Amalthea asks a question that... wow. Just for a moment. Just for a fleeting, brief moment. Kokoro Akakuma wears an expression of hurt. It's gone quickly, replaced by a more neutral expression. But her response is telling enough. "...I was too young for that."
A Siberian cat 2017-06-05 03:50:13 77952
Koji replies while looking away from Kokoro, "I never really had that problem at school. No one really knows me, but everyone kind of likes me... if that makes sense..."

To which Tyrfing just shakes his head and rolls his eyes, and look back towards to Kokoro, <<Not quite what I meant. But now I think we should get you two back to your beds. You two have school in the morning?>>

That reminder, combined with the 'Seiyou' comment from Kokoro makes him bow slightly, "Sumimasen." And then past his shoulder towards the others, "I'm sorry, but I've got school in the morning. Can someone guide us out of the forest so we can wake up properly?"