Your Best Nightmare


The Nightmare Prince comes to Tokyo.

Date: 2017-06-11
Pose Count: 117
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-11 19:18:52 78369
    Things have hit rock bottom. The Tokyo populace is beyond exhausted. No one has had a good dream in far too long, and it has possibly even started spreading to more magically inclined. While most people may be going to bed expecting to toss and turn and wake up feeling worse for wear in the mornings, others know to ready for something else entirely. Though the shared dream phenomenon has been prevalent among the magic users of Tokyo, tonight... That is not what happens.
    In fact what happens is far worse. A dreamless black sleep that... Might give rise to some idea that perhaps something is not right. As though the nightmares were all focused elsewhere and there was nothing in the realm of slumber and dreams to greet them this time. Like everything was just... Shrouded in an obscuring fog miasma and all good has left.
    It's not hard to wake up at least. Be it on the simple desire to wake up, a panicked and wild mass text from Ariel declaring that 'tonight is the night'.
    Or perhaps it's as easy as getting attacked in bed. There's no warning as Nightmares emerge into the world of the waking, with deadly threat and promises of violence; and by the time everyone has gathered there are far more beings of darkness in the streets than there were a short time ago.
    There is no set meeting point, it's a chaotic mess. Though the nonmagical residents of Tokyo are all still currently asleep, magical girls and boys are fighting pockets of Nightmares and opportunistic Youma taking the chance to strike now at several locations across the city.
    Ariel is on Lucky's back in her pajamas, clinging to the glowing hound for dear life as he pounces a car-sized centipede and savages someone's fear of insects. She's been doing her best to gather up anyone and everyone she can while still trying to pinpoint the source of it all.
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-11 19:26:50 78370
    Kokoro has begun to notice the difference even in the couple she's staying with. They're still trying to make her feel welcome, but it's gotten bad enough that the troubled teen can see them fraying around the edges despite the habitual distance she tries to keep. It bothers her. She knows why, and they haven't been able to stop it, and it bothers her. She might not even need the help of the rising nightmares to have a troubled night's sleep.

    But of course, what's in store for her is something else entirely. A strange, unsettling sleep takes her, and almost immediately the tall girl is awake again, her instincts screaming at her that something is wrong. She's out of bed in a heartbeat, and looking out her window at the street, and-

    Oh god. That's a Nightmare. That's a Nightmare down there.

    She doesn't even need a text from Ariel. She's down the stairs and out the front door in a heartbeat, transforming the instant she passes the threshold, and laying into the Nightmare without hesitation or mercy.

    By the time she reaches Ariel, it's been only the first of many. The thunderous magical girl looks... agitated. Not quite angry, but very alert, keyed up. Tiny arcs of electricity flit across her arms and her weapon now and then. "Tch, this ain't good. It's like they're comin' from everywhere. We even got a way to find a source?"
A Siberian cat 2017-06-11 19:33:26 78371
Outside of the hospital, a lone figure in black garb lands in a crouch, the glowing blue-haloed silver energy of Tyrfing's Sword Form in one hand, and the other balancing on the concrete as the walking dead fill the parking lot. The Nightmares manifested of the residents of the place... fears of death, pain unending, all of them coming out like a zombie-like swarm trying to go out and 'find' the people they'll most hurt.

For every one he's discorporated, it seems like two more come out of a shadow, or the front doors of the place, chased by creatures in nurse's gowns, their fears unending pain and suffering, of not being able to live lives because they're trapped in the job... these are the horrors that the pair are fighting.

The windows break out from the second story as Tyrfing himself is there too, Koji's subconscious tapped by the Nightmares coming real and landing with his claws tearing into someone else's idea of Death, the creature nothing but a hissing amaphorous darkness that dissipates into the air. The pair look at each other, and the Shutran says to his partner, "You're doing good, kid. Keep it up." The beastman smirks just a bit, "Besides... it was always a dream to fight side by side with you."

The bigger male jerks his chin towards another group of fears of the dead coming into the parking lot, and the pair charge in to try and get rid of them.
Seishi Tamashige 2017-06-11 19:35:47 78372
A corpse-white, wormy thing shatters into fragments like glass as Akashimaru bursts through it from the other side, tessen blazing red. "Ariel!"

She's transformed but on foot - no horse tonight, not outside the realm of dreams. O-Yasu is behind her, but the baku looks different from what those who have met him are used to seeing. Normally a small rounded and comically pudgy-looking creature little more than calf-high, tonight the baku is transformed as well, a muscular beast closer in size to a tiger, with heavy claws extended from his striped paws and ghostly flames emanating from his wide-open, blazing eyes.

"I've never seen anything like this," O-Yasu growls, drawing a worried look aside from Akashimaru. It's not normal for the irascible baku to sound... shaken. "If it keeps up--"

"O-Yasu," Akashimaru interrupts, her own voice clipped and terse. "The seal. We'll - we'll figure out how to handle things here - I need you to go keep watch. If it breaks..."

O-Yasu snarls, a shake of his shaggy head. "Don't say it. I'm going."

Akashimaru nods grimly, and as the baku lopes off into the dark, she turns her attention toward Ariel and the others. "It's got to be the Prince," she says. "If we can find him, we find the source. Not," she admits tensely, "that I have any ideas on how to do that."
Lacrima 2017-06-11 19:39:04 78373
Lacrima was sleeping in her coffin. This is typically a safe place for her in her manor. She decided to sleep there after calling her parents the day before, just for one more night. No one is supposed to be down in the basement, or near her coffin, or even in the manor right now, technically. At least as long as she knows.

So when some bloody black knight smashes a rather large greatsword down into the coffee impaling her, it's safe to say she's wide awake. And unhappy. This is not a knight from her dream. But she imagines a neighbor or a neighbor's child has very specific ideas about what dwells in the old, formerly abandoned manor. Needless to say, Lacrima gracefully removes the greatsword from her form, then proceeds to blast the armored knight- that is mostly animated armor- out through the ceiling, through the kitchen floor and out to the street where it shatters into it's component pieces and the sword sort of chuncks sideways into a tree in the front yard, impaling itself in it to the hilt.

Lacrima is throughly unhappy.

There is strangeness and chaos in the night though. It seems she isn't the only one. So she frowns and gently searches her thoughts, and eyes around as she skips into the Dusk Zone, and lands nearby onto her feet somewhere near a tree near where Ariel is as she frowns.

"I was attacked by a knight. In the night." she says with a scoff.

"It appears things have gone entirely south." she says.
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-06-11 19:39:40 78374
For a brief moment, Cute Wolf Tsukiko is reminded of her first time as a magical girl, nearly two years ago: bounding through the city, finding a youma causing nightmares to one of her classmates, and defeating it.

But there's two noticeable differences this time:

    1.) The Nightmares actually look like their content, and

    2.) Instead of one classmate, it's the entire city.

Still, it's a reprieve from the dreams she's been having lately. Something about being on the wrong side of a contrasting mirror...

Well, at least there's other magical folk around, if some of the ruckus a few blocks away is anything to go by. The wolfgirl heads towards one of the apparent fights, looking to meet up with an ally -- extra points if it's someone she already knows!
Kunzite 2017-06-11 19:39:59 78375
Dreamless and black, for Kazuo, with a sense of scouring sand, dissociated from any concept of pain -- only a lessening that made his twitching awake to the sound of Ariel's text arriving into something of a mercy.

Kunzite's been on the move since, conserving energy where he can. Preferring the rooftop road, where the Earth's gravity's inclined to do him favors, over teleportation or flight. Limiting his use of power to its more physical foci: his cape to defend, his sword to block or to strike. No dark shields, no bright beams. Not against the things he's fought on the way.

Which is good, because even having begun near full capacity, he'd have drained himself dry fighting that way before ever spotting the glowing hound and the unicorn. Maybe before getting out of the building. As it is, he's down a substantial fraction by now, but not worse than that; and he keeps station of a sort near Ariel, where he can intercept certain of the more distressing sorts of nightmares and deal with them before the unicorn ever needs to see them. (Parents have terrors that almost no-one else do.)

"Endymion was able to catch his attention," he calls back to Akashimaru. "I wouldn't count on bringing him to us in the middle of this -- but if we can't find the center of things, he might respond to a challenge." Maybe.
Rashmi Terios 2017-06-11 19:40:59 78376
Catapulted out of an uneasy sleep by the warning chime of her Device, Rashmi scrabbles for her window to look out over the darkened street. Nightmares?! Which point her phone vibrates, and is snatched up as the redhead hauls her cognition along to wakefulness to join her hindbrain. <<I'll be right there,>> she texts in response. <<Where are you now?>>

Wait for answer later, take care of Nightmares now. Not perhaps a good time to test out a new spell, but needs must, and the street is a bit..... crowded..... to make for rapid response. << FLIER FIN, >> Nicomachea chirps, and a pair of long, feathered wings of yellow light sprout from her ankles. Pushing open the window, she hurls herself up and into the night, gaining altitude to see where the greater concentration of explosions is happening.

Tracking in on a series of thunderous explosions that must be Kokoro, Rashmi arrows away, loosing a few groupings of golden light into the crowds of Nightmares as she passes. Finally arriving on the group, she hands in the air, book out and in its standard configuration. "What in the world?! How did this even happen?!"
Hokuto Minase 2017-06-11 19:41:07 78377
Following briefly behind Akashimaru is Hokuto - Hanabi, as she's sometimes called when doing this kind of work - in her familiar miko's red hakama and white top. Her peachwood bow is in hand and strung, an ofuda already held ready in the other hand - they've already seen some action so far tonight, it would seem. She remains quiet while the samurai speaks with the baku, keeping an eye on the surroundings in case some sort of creature should assail them.

Just as O-Yasu makes his departure, there's a movement in the shadows of an alleyway nearby, and Hokuto sets paper to bowstring, draws, and fires the blazing arrow that the inked slip becomes. Deep in the alleyway the projectile explodes, knocking about a group of creatures that fade away like television static.

"I hope we find the seal quick, sempai," she says, keeping an eye on the alleyway until she's sure no further foes will arise from it. "Before I run out of ofuda." That said, she flicks another one into her hand, ready for the next attack as they join Ariel's group.
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-11 20:04:44 78378
    For a moment, Ariel looks more shaken by the violence committed by her canine steed than the utter warzone the streets have become. The unicorn stared in a silent shell shock for a moment before topaz eyes blink back into focus at the sound of the voices with her.
    "I don't know yet- I'm trying." She bleats, strained and stressed to Kokoro, horn shimmering softly as she works on focusing. Sweat beads on her brow. It's the Nightmare Prince's work, of this there is no doubt, but the best she can do is lead in the direction where everything is concentrated at the worst. There is almost an apologetic look given Norie's way, on hearing her friend was attacked in her sleep, but it's all the more reason to resolve this mess before it turns bloody, for someone who is far less capable of getting back up.
    "Good luck, O-Yasu..." Murmured as the now massive baku takes off to tend to another seal, lest something daring try and disrupt that balance. It's for the better that one be protected, as Ariel nods to Akashimaru. "I couldn't be anyone else..."
    So they begin to gather, Hanabi, Tsukiko; there's Kunzite coming to her aid, and Rashmi following shortly after. All familiar faces. All faces Ariel is heartened significantly to see in this waking nightmare. "We have to keep moving..." Ariel says, clutching Lucky's fur, nose scrunched and doing her best to concentrate, to find the highest concentration of where that nebulous gossamer stuff that dreams are made of is flowing in to the waking world, and where the corruption to that fleeting material is the worst.
    The best she can do is find a direction, and as she starts leading in that direction, the streets are flowing again with dark beasts as black as the night itself. A giant bestial crow swoops from a roof, claws and beak snapping with the dread of Falling Down. From the very alley Hanabi keeps watch over hundreds of hundreds of black snakes slither along the ground, turning the concrete into a writhing mass of someone elses dislike of lizards. A mime with a knife clasped tightly in hand lunges for Kunzite, while man-sized action figures of transforming robots throw themselves at Kokoro.
    The best Ariel can do is point in a direction- one that leads past a darkened hospital swarming with the fear of death; the light of her horn is so very faint, but cuts through the black night well enough for Koji and Tyrfing to spot, follow, and join the impromptu battle procession.
Rashmi Terios 2017-06-11 20:14:15 78379
As the heroes begin to gather, Rashmi dips down during a moment when Lucky isn't moving quite so ferociously, and rests a hand on the unicorn's shoulder. "It's okay," she says after a moment. "It's going to be a *really* scary night, but, you've got your friends around you. No matter what happens, we're all stronger togWAUGH!!" Tackled by the giant crow -- such an easy target, hanging there in midair -- Rashmi tumbles to the ground into a clot of reaching, grasping, disembodied arms and hungry mouths. The darkness closes around her, and for a moment the young Mage seems in deadly danger.

Then comes the -- muffled -- cry of << SUMMERTIDE SHIELD -- COLLAPSE >> and the cloud of blackness is rent from within as a golden dome of light balloons into being, then bursts outward, light-made-glass scything the Nightmares away. Panting, Rashmi kicks back off into the air, this time much more alert for the crow's return.
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-11 20:15:38 78380
    Kokoro's eyes track to Akashimaru, then Lacrima, then Rashmi; Kunzite has his own thing to do, and the others present right yet she doesn't know well enough to give them more than a cursory, 'oh that sure is a person right there' look. Ariel, though. Ariel is struggling enough that something like concern shows itself in those violet eyes. "If we have to keep moving, then let's keep moving." She falls into step right beside Lucky without hesitating, taking up a position at the forefront of the crowd.

    And it's a good thing, too. The Nightmares are out in force. Lightning crackles across her body, along the hammer, and as the first of those strange action figures leaps in, Kokoro takes a step forward and swings for the fences. Krak-BOOM. It's like a peal of thunder. She's never been much of one for 'holding back', but now she's actively putting more juice into each swing. "There's too freakin' many of these things. Hit 'em hard and don't stop hitting, we can't afford to be swamped! Take 'em down in as few hits as you can!" And she suits word to deed - taking particular care to never, ever let any of them get within arm's reach of Ariel.
Seishi Tamashige 2017-06-11 20:19:18 78381
Akashimaru's head shakes, a little jerk of motion. "The seal's not our problem right now," she replies. "At least, I hope not. We've got all the trouble we can handle right now already."

A quick motion flips the Shinken in her hand, and as she raises it before her, the red light blooms outward and transforms it into a short bow. "Like Amalthea-dono told us, the Nightmare Prince is trying to destroy the boundaries between dreams and reality," she says. "If that happens, the seal restraining the Eater of Dreams will be destroyed as well. I'm not sure what would happen then, but I really don't want to find out." The words are accompanied by a grimace.

"O-Yasu will reinforce the seal as much as he can, and warn us if it breaks." 'If he gets the chance,' she does not say. "We have to find the Nightmare Prince and stop this while we still can." With those words, she falls in after Ariel's lead, sparing a brief nod of acknowledgement for Kunzite and the others who have gathered.

That's about all there's time for, because as soon as they're moving the fight begins in earnest. She yelps out a quiet, bitten-off curse as the monstrous crow dives at Rashmi, already drawing back her bow - not quick enough to keep the other girl from falling, but in the next instant she looses a heavy black arrow in a trail of glittering red sparks.

And then another. And another. The ones that don't find their marks in a Nightmare (and some that do) explode into fire-flowers overhead, raining fragments of red light and serving to help light their way in brief, fiery flashes.
A Siberian cat 2017-06-11 20:21:22 78383
Since the pair are actually in full merge for once, and not working separately like inside the dream, Koji has access to the full (if limited) arsenal at the Unity Knight's disposal, while this Dream-Tyrfing is at the height of his ability too. The advantage giving the pair the ability to fight in tandem, even if the Device is still doing the majority of the fighting.

They clear a pocket in the darkness and fear of death in time to see the light push through and give them a beacon.

Dream-Tyrfing looks up from punching a monster made of blood so hard the pavement craters, and says, "Koji, switch me to Bow Mode. Clear us a path while I cover your back!"

With that, the sword's energy blade vanishes and with a few movements of his hands, the young man in black sheathes his sword and draws the scabbarded weapon and it begins to change shape. Reforming into a mechanical bow, the string ignites in blue as Koji readies for a shot, "I hope Rashmi likes this one. I learned it from her."

The pair call out at the same time, <<Sonne Barret!>>

An arrow shaped beam of pure Sunlight fires off from the bow, slender and dart-like, but begin piercing random nightmares about people's fear of going to work, cutting a path for the pair. And that's how they move... Dream-Tyrfing keeping anything from pouncing on his Lord, while the young man seems to be acting almost tactical about it, moving slow... picking his shots... moving forwards with slow steadiness towards the light at the group.

When the pair reach the group, the henshin'd Koji says, "Don't shoot him!" Motioning to Dream-Tyrfing, "This isn't Tyrfing. It's his Nightmare. But he's friendly now, I promise. It'll help us, as long as we don't remind him of why it happened."
Lacrima 2017-06-11 20:21:48 78384
Nightmares left. Nightmares right. The sheer feeling is intoxicating on this really bad level to Lacrima. The fact of the matter is... well. This is currently almost a paradise to her. It's dark. and black and there's SOOOOO much negativity. But that alone is frightening to her. When she feels THIS comfortable to the point she's considering buying a summer home RIGHT near that hospital - she knows something is DREADFULLY wrong to everyone else in the world.

At least she recognizes that.

"I think I've had enough of this." she says as she steps away into the Dusk Zone. Wait. Did she just run away?

There is actually just a few moments where that seems to tbe case when there's a bigger 'step' that happens and two rather large, spindly creatures that look a lot like a longer spindly Bacteriophage but made of cold ice appear. Then does Lacrima who dusts her hands off, before she makes a shoo motion over towards them off towards the man sized transforming robots swarming Kokoro. They seem all to eager to start stabbing spindly legs into them and shoving pieces and darkness into what is probably a hole-mouth at the bottom of the body portion of the 'phage'.

"Those things are under my control. I don't care if they're the victim of friendly fire." she says softly. She has a name for these things but she doesn't use it here.

"They prefer eating other youma over humans. Novel. Really. For this sort of thing." she says ULTRA smuggly. Like something in her research has paid off. She turns away from them.

"But can't control that many at a time. Either." she says sadly. "Because they still will eat humans." she scoffs. "As Alexis-kun found out."
Kunzite 2017-06-11 20:24:26 78385
Kunzite snaps the cloak upward with a hand, and the knifeblade aimed for him skitters along it as if the cloth were a solid barrier; the sword he bears is not magical in itself, but an instant's salute sends pink-gold lightning crawling over the metal, and he slashes across into the mime's body and releases the energy there. More efficient than sending it through the air. Less need to penetrate external energy with the attack, if the blade will do it for him.

He's unsurprised that the fog that the mime dissolves into disperses into a perfect cube, and he holds his breath on instinct until he's hacked his way out of that, too.

The things following the mime are worth a little more expenditure, and he raises a small black dome over the cluster of them to hold them in, and sets more of the lightning to crackle among them until all that's left is the unnaturally large rat-tails and the occasional gleam of the teeth. The rest of their shapes, none of the others need to deal with seeing. It'd be convenient if avoiding those things were as simple as avoiding schools, but teachers live anywhere, too.

Still. That's more energy spent, and all at once. He retreats a little more toward the center of the moving group, shaking his head -- and then he sees Lacrima's creatures, and Tyrfing-and-Koji, and there's a moment's slash of a smile across his face. "Nicely done," he says. To one of them, or both, or to the others; hardly matters right now. His attention's on moving again a moment later.
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-06-11 20:27:45 78386
Well, here's a mix of familiar faces and unknown allies! Tsukiko nods to the people she recognizes, but most of her effort is on the fight: striking foes trying to lurk on the periphery, then darting in to finish off foes that weren't fully eliminated by the others. It's busy work, but it plays to her speed.

"Is it just this one, or are they getting thicker?" the wolfgirl calls out as she crashes through a swarmy blob of arms, legs, and torsos (someone's fear of crowds, perhaps) like a cannonball through bowling pins.
Hokuto Minase 2017-06-11 20:40:26 78387
Hokuto's arrows make quick work of the monsters they hit, but she fires them sparingly. Perhaps there was something to her remark about running out. She's never run short before, but this is... quite the busy night for her. "It's not you," she calls out to Ikiko. "They're getting thicker. Or at least stupider," she comments, sniping one that was trying to sneak up on one of the others from above.

"Hey, Sempai," she calls over to Akashimaru. "What say we go for waffles and ice cream when we're done with these idiots?"

Every so often along the way, one of the ofuda she launches does not explode, plastering the paper onto a wall with characters gleaming dully in the dim light. Odd. But many of her more powerful seals require a large array. And she does pause, once, to consult a map of the district...
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-11 20:47:34 78388
    "This isn't about me- too many people are in danger right now." Ariel replies. Though Lucky keeps his pace, she glances back over shoulder to Rashmi when she feels that hand on her. "This is why we're here now, right? To make sure no one else gets--" Bleat! She's cut off when the mage is snapped up and thrown to the horde, a look of relief washing over her when she watches the girl's vibrantly golden escape.
    But Kokoro is right. There's no time to be wasted, and though Lucky pauses now and again at cross street for his rider's prompt on a direction. It's slow going. Between the almost unending assault giving Kokoro a LOT to swing at. For the first few blocks the crashing roar of thunder so loud and so close makes Ariel flinch, before she grows accustomed to the sound of the thundrous girl protecting her and the others the only way she knows how.
    The course is strewn with violence, the city lights flicker and lose power, leaving only Akashimaru's arrows and the magic flung around left and right to illuminate the streets. Elsewhere around corners at points it might be possible to see flashes of blue, or bright green, or floating cherry blossom petals; signs that others are out defending the city as best they can from the tides of darkness rising. Though the massive toys are dispersed, forced to retreat when faced with Youma that eat other Youma, it is a brief reprieve.
    They rush headlong into another nightmare, becoming one with the blob swarm of The Crowd to make up for the losses incurred by Tsukiko, and try to face the summoned creatures of darkness working under Lacrima's control.
    Now and then Ariel's concentration is distrupted- not by the horrorterrors of the night made real, but out of worry for a friend. From nowhere a shimmering kite shield manifests in front of a blow meant for Kokoro. A giant butterfly net snatching up a monstrous moth fluttering down to assail Hanabi. The giant crow is already swooping for another pass to try and grab at Tsukiko this time.
    But eventually the skyscrapers and buildings break way as the fight through the city leads to land's edge.
    There. The only lights left active in the city now. The prism hued spotlights that shine all across an immense suspension bridge. The wash of color and vibrant brilliance gives Tokyo's rainbow bridge an apt name. But all the bright lights in the world can do nothing to light up the immense sphere of pure blackness roiling over it like a second sun made of purest starless midnight. Even from a distance there's no missing the figure of the Nightmare Prince atop the bridge, dark cloak fluttering in the wind. And from even this far away comes the sense of that smug and victorious bastard smile spread on his face.
    There. That is where all this will come to a boil.
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-11 21:00:53 78389
    Kokoro's movements are surprisingly flowing and continuous, even with the shifting and movement of the battle. Somewhere in that constant stream of strikes, she manages to turn and give Tyrfing a brief look, and what might be the briefest of nods to Koji. The arrival of Lacrima's thralls earns more trepidation, but as long as Norie claims to have them under control, she won't worry about them either. Unless they get too bitey.

    "If they're getting thicker, means we're going the right way," she calls out to Tsukiko, this time without even looking. Because here comes- SMASH. Another one. "Tch. Always hated convoys. Trucks never look anything but big and blocky!" But even when Ariel summons her shields, the thunder warrior doesn't stop, just briefly ducks behind it at the precise moment to deflect a blow and then come around with a counterattack. That hammer swings, spins, and then- there's one coming down from above, a blind angle, even Lacrima's youma are in a bad position. She won't be able to hit it in time-

    -but without thinking, acting on a sudden, desperate defiance, Kokoro hefts her hammer up, levels it at the descending Nightmare, and- *krak-BOOM.* A bolt of thunder leaps from the hammer to strike the jet-like nightmare with the deceptive tactics square in the cockpit.

    "...didn't know I could do that," she mutters.

    But on and on the fight goes, Kokoro's assault punctuated every now and then by the report of a short-range thunderbolt. On and on, until they stand before a bridge wrapped in a globe of darkness, topped with an ornamental evil overlord. She can sense the smug rolling off him - and her response is to let that hammer drop to the ground, one hand rested on the pommel, and glare across the distance.
A Siberian cat 2017-06-11 21:02:06 78391
Snow leopards are renowned for their leaping potential. The mountain cats able to leap more than 10 meters up the side of a mountain to chase prey. The Shutran variant seems just as capable as Dream-Tyrfing jumps up to chase off the dreamcrow, taking a couple feathers with him in his claws, and as the beastman lands near Hokuto and Akashimaru. He turns and gives the pair a clawed thumbsup, "Nice to meet you!" Tail lashing, he adds, "Koji told me that you prefer horses. I could become one... if you require. I only wish to help." Something almost desperate in the big beast-being's tone.

Koji on the other hand, is walking up on the other side of Ariel, opposite of Kokoro now as the bow is drawn and fired with a smooth sort of proficiency that doesn't seem like the flashy or violent movement that is normally associated with their combat style. More arrows of sunlight continue to pierce or knockdown the flood of darkness from their focus. When the blob comes up, he calls out, "Miss Lacrima! Pull your servants back!"

Bringing up the bow again, the arrow vanishes and turns into something thicker, almost like a ballista-bolt mounted on the nock, <<Verzoegerte Explosion Sperrfeuer Barret!>>

He looses the shot, and this time six arrows all spiral off and slam into the blob, each of them pulsing with the regularity of a ticking clock... waiting to explode. It's inventive and brutal, but the effort costs him as his Knight Cloth glitches, the protective covering flickering in and out of existence in places as the constant usage of mana is becoming a strain on Tyrfing's unstable Linker Core.
Lacrima 2017-06-11 21:04:50 78392
Lacrima blinks is that....

"....Ikiko-chan?" she asks to the werewolf she hasn't seen in a while. She looks over at the crow and frowns a bit. Some--something... nevermore. She thinks to herself as she raises her hand and shoots out an arc of black lightning at the crow. She frowns and as she lets the creatures get eaten and potentially destroyed. Afterall. There's only two. They eventually will be overtaken.

BUT it's given Kokoro tyime and that's important.

"Ikiko-chan. These are nightmares." she says as... did the rainbow bridge just light up? In weird colors and...

"....that would probably be where we need to go." she scowls.

"That would be The Prince of Nightmares" she says.

"That's... that's still a little bit away." she says as she turns around and blasts another blast at that stupid crow JUST to be sure.
Rashmi Terios 2017-06-11 21:11:53 78393
The way forward is an utter slog, and Rashmi darts here and there, wittering like a neurotic pixie, trying to figure out where best she can help. A patch of sunlight is summoned beneath the front-line fighters, soothing aches and pains and easing minor hurts, runic ribbons sent to tie around the wrists of the shooters to boost their ranged power for a time, but her contributions are generally minor-but-multiplicative.

Until she sees Koji's Barrier Jacket beginning to glitch out. Swooping down to his part of the fight, she drops a second glowing dome of light around the overworked archer. "Take a breather, Koji-kun," she says gently, ankle-wings fluttering. "We've still got a long way to go."
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-06-11 21:13:38 78394
The Nightmare-crow has nearly as much speed as Tsukiko, and definitely has the advantage of aerial maneuverability, but the wolfgirl has agility and cleverness on her side. She darts towards a building with the bird in pursuit, then uses the building to leap backwards past the crow (and over Lacrima's lightning), then rebound off of a lightpole to launch a spiking kick, catching the Nightmare in the back and slamming it into the side of a skyscraper.

Leaping clear (just in time for Lacrima's second blast to coup de grace the crow), Tsukiko quickly catches up with the rest of the group. "Organized nightmares, from the sounds of things," the wolfgirl nods to the vampire. She glances over at Dream-Tyrfing, still somewhat surprised to see another beastly humanoid. Definitely something to ask about... when there's not a fight going on, of course.
Kunzite 2017-06-11 21:16:35 78395
Of course it's the bridge. Of course that's where there'd be the right set of symbols to coordinate with dreams, to break through into another world. Of course. No sense kicking oneself for it in hindsight, though. Kunzite takes advantage of what he can see, when he can, instead -- his shadows flickering in and out of existence every time Koji looses a sunlight arrow, absorbing some of the ambient light from places where it's not needed. Taking what tiny traces of recharge he can.

He falls back a little further when Rashmi drops that dome, wary of its light drawing more attention. "Anything we can do to ease the strain?" he asks Koji. And Rashmi, by extension, on the chance she knows.

That bridge isn't going to be easy to cross. Koji's armor giving out partway would be ... less than good.
Takara Himura 2017-06-11 21:28:19 78397
Aaaaand here comes the cavalry! A flash of red streaks out cutting through dream things ilke butter, only to paus and retract, showing that its a red ribbon, of all things, thats extednded from the outstretched arm of a certain Takara Himura. Shes dressed in an old school school girls uniform, dark blue, the skirt going down to her feet. The ribbon retracts and winds itself back across her left arm and chest. In her left hand shes clutching a straight plain cane. When a nightmareling gets too close, theres a *schwick* as she pullls a sword out of it and cuts it down. "What the heck is going on?"
Seishi Tamashige 2017-06-11 21:31:35 78398
"Hiraisen!" Akashimaru's bow bursts into tiny motes of red light and becomes a fan which she hurls spinning out into the dark; like nothing so much as a flying sawblade it slices through a hulking, slorching Nightmare of mold and decay and rotting meat. When the Shinken arcs back to her she plucks it out of the air, but can't keep from giving it a shake or two to flick off nonexistant clinging slime.

Breathe. "...Let's not think about food right now," she tells Hokuto wryly. "I don't want to accidentally summon the Terrible Waffle Kaiju..."

Dream-Tyrfing gets a solemn nod; despite the circumstances, the samurai girl makes her best effort at a smile. "The help is welcome," she assures. "No need to tie you down being my mount, but I'll keep it in mind..."

At least, at last, they have sight of their goal. Staring across the distance at the form of the Nightmare Prince, Akashimaru frowns, lips thinning grimly.

--and then she's staring, because their number has abruptly increased by one in the form of an old-fashioned schoolgirl with a swordcane. "I know you," Akashimaru blurts, looking just about as surprised by this as anyone possibly could be.
Hokuto Minase 2017-06-11 21:33:39 78399
Twirling away from shooting the netted moth that was about to run into her, Hokuto hurries to catch up with Akashimaru, pausing only to slap away a smaller monster with her bow-staff. "This is just getting crazy. First all that stuff with the storm last fall, now this? How in heck are people not going to figure out what's going on?"

The ordinary people of Tokyo have as much capacity for self-deception as the residents of Sunnydale, California, it would seem. She pauses briefly to admire Akashimaru's fan-work, and for once finds reason to smile even in the midst of darkness. If nothing else, she isn't alone.

"And of course it's a bridge. What else would it be?" She chuckles ruefully, then hmms and takes a set of ofuda to prepare another shot. This one arches off into the sky, the prayer-slips zooming out across the city to alight in a number of different locations on the streets.

The would-be ward launched, she looks back at Akashimaru and her sempai's sudden exclamation, her attention turning to sword-cane-girl with widening eyes. "Well. Well well well indeed. Hello there, New Person. Welcome to the Party."
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-11 21:59:07 78400
    Well, that answers the question of where it's all coming from. Ariel can let her concentration drop on trying to find the source. And even if she didn't have to, there's no way looking up to see that giant dark sun in the sky would not have distracted the tiny unicorn, topaz eyes wide and staring in abject horror.
    A slog is understatement. Getting to the bridge is a grinding ordeal. For every step the gathered heroes take to defend their home a new nightmare springs up in place of the last they cut down. It is a forced battle of attrition, putting endurance to the test as every creature from the dark spaces in children's closets and all the monsters under every bed in Tokyo creep from the shadows. Strangling blankets drop from the sky trying to smother and crush, hands rise and grasp out of the concrete, the wind howls and lightning flashes, painting monstrous scowls on every tree near and far. There is not one moment where anyone even has the chance to work on their own, it is a blanket spread of hand holding, covering for one another, and watching everyone else's backs every step of the way from assassin blows and ambushes that reach all the way to the foot of the bridge. Even with the help of one Nightmare terrified of its own past, no matter how concentrated the fire on that crow is, now how many arrows of fire and light are launched about. A long way to go only convers half of it as Nightmare-shaped craters are left in buildings, the tessen cuts like a flying buzz saw, and a new face joins the fray.
    "A-... Akashimaru?" Ariel says, panting even from her spot atop Lucky. Lucky is out of breath, the giant hound letting his tongue loll out as he pants, dark black ichor dripping from golden fangs. "Who is she?" The unicorn asks, wiping a slow trickle of liquid silvery blood from her brow as she looks to Takara.
    But then. Finally after what feels like a whole night of fighting everything there is to fear, they all reach the foot of the bridge. The silence is ominous, but it's a chance for everyone to catch a breath. The bridge itself is devoid of anything and everything. No cars, no nightmares, all lanes empty in the perfect way that can only happen in a dream.
    And then from above comes the sound of one man applauding. The Nightmare Prince lets himself descent, adjusting his opera mask casually while flashing that thin victorious smirk.
    "Come to see me off, have we? Well this is a pleasant reunion, I'm certain but you're too late. I have all the strength I need. And with that..." Noted as he motions a finger up at the dark mass floating overhead. "I will block out the sun, and bathe your waking world in a neverending night, where every Nightmare ever dreamed up by you and yours will forever more be loyal to me."
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-11 22:06:30 78401
    Even Kokoro, with her considerable stamina, is looking winded by the time they reach the bridge. Her outfit is torn or scratched here or there, depending whether there's cloth, leather or metal, and a few patches of bare skin are marked with a red that most certainly isn't part of her outfit. But she forces herself to stop, to take a deep breath; she gathers herself, takes a moment to recover, and stands up straight, enough so to look their descending foe in the eye. "Then tell you what," she replies, swinging her hammer up onto her shoulder again, glare sharp. "How 'bout we just keep punching you 'til the sun comes up?"
Rashmi Terios 2017-06-11 22:12:59 78402
Rashmi is *wiped,* though perhaps not from mana depletion -- although that is swiftly becoming a factor -- but from hours of effort, darting here and there and providing aid and support where she can. She hasn't come through the fight unscathed, however; opportunistic Nightmares of every description to wait to pounce the unwary have taken their shots at her, and each time beaten back. But her Barrier Jacket is ripped and frayed, and a long, bloody furrow traces across her back.

But even the uncertain Mage remains determined to stand against the dark.

"So... so what?" Rashmi says, panting heavily for a moment, but then straightening and tucking a lock of hair away from her face. "So *what* if every nightmare in the world becomes your slave?! What then? You need us to make more, and nightmares only have power if we give them power. And nobody can be afraid forever, so, what is even the point of doing all this?! You can't win, because hope will always be there when fear dries up!"
Takara Himura 2017-06-11 22:14:51 78403
With lightning strikes of her sword and flashes of red of the ribbon, Takara cuts her way throgh towards the rest of the heroes, and finds herself close to Akashimaru. "Yeah, hi," she says. "Sorry Im late." She tilts her head as the Nightmare Prince dialogues. "Oh. So thats whats happening." And theres a familiar voice. "Rashmi?!? Woah, nice speech!"
A Siberian cat 2017-06-11 22:18:29 78404
Twice on his way up to this point, Koji has lost his Knight Cloth... once from a complete failure on their part, which turns him for about a minute into a 15 lb Siberian Cat. But that doesn't stop the pair from fighting... not at all. Fears of Mice are bit at and swatted away, Nightmares traditionally scared by cats are hissed and yowled at until they flee. Once he even scurries up and leaps off of Ariel's shoulders to catch and pounce a little bat-mare that Lucky was unable to get to, and just bites it hard, breaking it in two. When he shifts back, he just barely gets his Knight Cloth in place before being briefly overrrun by a literal swarm of faceless monstrosities that tear at the pair, until a blast of magic in the form of a bubble throws them all off. Under his henshin, his nightclothes are torn, he's got scratches and bloody marks all over him, but there's that same grim determination when the first serious incursion with the Kaiju happened.

The Nightmare Dream of Tyrfing fights just as hard, almost desperately as he defends the archers from any foes who get too close, up until the point that he sees the newcomer, and Koji is swarmed under by the mass.

"NO!" Comes the almost deafening cry as the form begins to waver and darken, beginning to shift back into the distorted representation of the group's ally. But then the Dreamform shakes it off and says, "You can't fail them..." Before he becomes nothing more than a blue outline of power, and 'merges' to the young mage in black, rejuvenating him with the power of dreams.

On one knee, bracing with the bastard-sword sized energy blade of the Unity Knight, Koji looks up at the Nightmare Prince, one eye covered in blood and blocking off it's sight for the moment, "Loyalty isn't Love... is it. Because that's what your nightmare is."

Pushing himself up to a standing position, he readies the sword once more, "We're not here to stop you. We're here to save you. You're not the Nightmare Prince. You're the Prince of Dreams. Right now there's a home for you... a place where you can go and learn to be happy again. It's only a small place right now... just a little beach. There's only three people that live there now, but one day there can be more. They can come and go, and they'll be able to tell you about their worlds and their adventures. But... right now, you're so scared, you're so alone... and I get that. Reaching out to people is hard. Because they don't always take your hand. And it happens again... and again... and suddenly all you want to do is fade back away and just make sure you're in the picture... because that's all that matters right? That you were there?"

There's something in Koji's words that sounds like he's talking about himself as much as the Prince, "Everyone matters to someone. Everyone has a place. Even someone who does wrong... someone who fights, and fights, and won't listen to reason... even they have someone who gets them. It's why I get you. And it's why it won't matter how many time we have to fight this, we'll be here to help you come back."

"Inch by inch."
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-06-11 22:20:58 78405
Cute Wolf Tsukiko discreetly spits some Nightmare ooze as she sizes up the Prince. The fighting had gotten packed enough that she had to use her fanglies more often than she'd like, and the dark energies of youma never leave a pleasant taste. She's bound to have bruises after all of this; for not the first time, she's glad that her diluted werewolf heritage means that she can sleep off most of the shallow scratches.

"'Playing in the moonlight, hunting in the starlight'," the wolfgirl mutters to herself, recalling the words she used 23 months ago when she decided to take up the mantle of being a magical girl.

She then glares at the Nightmare Prince. "But there's not going to be moonlight or starlight when you're done, is there?" she snarls. "Because the light brings inspiration and hope, which you cannot stand!"

Standing tall, Tsukiko takes a deep breath. "For all of the dreamers in Tokyo, Japan, and the entire world -- I WILL protect the night from your deeper darkness!" she bellows, her hair floofing out in ferocity.
Seishi Tamashige 2017-06-11 22:26:39 78406
"...Ichi," is Akashimaru's answer to Ariel's question, still rather bewildered. "She's one of mine... I think." That last is a murmur. Stupid past-life resonance ought to come with a cheat sheet. "Nice of you to finally catch up. Sorry, but we'll have to fill you in later."

The Nightmare Prince's speech hits the salient points, anyway. Akashimaru listens, her expression taut, as the Prince explains his plan. As Kokoro and Rashmi and Koji and Tsukiko speak up against it. Like all of them, she is tired, battered and bloodies. The fabric of her scarlet kimono is ripped and spattered with blood and dream-ichors of several unpleasant colors. Her tessen dangles in her hand, steaming with the black vapors of a dissipating Nightmare.

She lets the others have their say, but finally she too speaks up, head tipped back to turn her face up to where the Prince of Nightmares looms. "...I have a question."

She breathes in, tips her head towards the others who have spoken. "They're right, you know," she says. "But let's suppose... just for argument's sake... you pull it off, and make your world of Nightmares."

A pause; another breath. Akashimaru looks up at the Prince. "What then?"

If there's sarcasm in it, it's hard to read. She looks tired and troubled and entirely earnest. "Will all that make you happy?"
Lacrima 2017-06-11 22:28:34 78407
Slogging through nightmres. Being unhappy at it. Still wishing there was someway to obtain a summer home here without the horror of eternal nightmare night that the Nightmare Prince is now threating. This is not a good night, no.

"I'd tell you." she says up to the prince with a frown. "That I know what it's like to have a lot taken away from you. Pretty much everything you loved about life... and get nothing but dark and black in return." she says.

"But I have a feeling that some people already tried to give you that talk." she says. "Or close to it. And besides. We're way past that point now I'd say." she says gently up at the prince.

"Besides. You're about to take what little light I do have in my life away."

"I'm not going to allow that." she says sourly.
Kunzite 2017-06-11 22:34:22 78408
Kunzite's continued to keep the lightshows to a minimum -- he's been a silent presence threaded through the group, mobile, watching backs while the heavy hitters were dealing with the greater problems. He and Rashmi, and the wolf, and the cat. He bears marks by now, scorings of claws along the side of his face and blood threading down his hair from a moment when his cape wasn't in the way in time, burns on his hand from when it wasn't sufficient. He's conserved energy -- maybe enough. Maybe not. But enough that he is still there, that he hasn't reverted to an unarmed university student.

(Yet.)

He has nothing to say to the Prince. Perhaps no moral high ground to stand on, given that Tokyo Tower would be visible if it were lit, or if it were day. But his presence backs the others giving challenge or chipping away at the Prince's emotional armor... and when Lacrima adds her last two words, he bends his head a little, and despite strain and exhaustion and horror and pain and threat, the smile that he doesn't quite hide is real.5r
Hokuto Minase 2017-06-11 22:34:31 78409
Hokuto takes a moment to bat away a remaining little monster, and then looks back up to the Nightmare Prince, hmming softly as if considering. She looks down at her by-now rather ragged white top, and tsks softly. "Is there any real point to it at all?" she asks. "I mean... things are scary because they're rare. They're unexpected, they're out of the norm. If you make them the norm... sooner or later people won't be scared of them anymore." She shrugs. "I suppose you might get some jollies out of it for a little while. But it never lasts. We're a resilient, adaptive lot. People get used to all kinds of stuff. Even horrors and monsters from beyond." She waves an ofuda at the wall nearby, the paper slip sticking in place like so many others she's launched so far this night. "You take away what makes a nightmare special. What makes it terrifying rather than just scary. Make it the norm... and you'll see people like us become the 'norm' for humanity."

Pausing for a moment, she reaches into a different pouch, pulling out a new set of ofuda - simple protective charms - and handing them out to the others in the group, lingering for a moment as she gives Akashimaru hers. "Come home safe, Sempai," she murmurs.

"So what shall it be? An occasional gourmet banquet of screams.... or an unending misery of dull, boring, unafraid humanity? Because I'll tell you one thing." She launches one more ofuda straight up, the paper shedding a bright golden light. "Dawn always comes."
Mamoru Chiba 2017-06-11 22:51:48 78410
(It's been hours. Hours while the Prince of Earth was locked, asleep and mentally stymied, in the guardian palaces of his knights -- kept safe in a dreamless slumber in those places half built of dreams and half built of the real world, those places that act as a buffer, an airlock, a guarded gateway between the World As It Is and Elysion, the living and sealed-off heart of the Earth's own brand of magic.)

(They meant to keep him safe.)

(He's got kind of a thing about being kept incommunicado, perceiving nothing but a clinging dark fog of wrongness, unable to fight his way free to control of his own body. Even when it's meant as a safeguard, even when it's meant to keep him from being eaten alive by nightmares like he almost was a year ago, he'll keep fighting.)

(That's kind of the point, too.)

A brilliant red rose wings through the darkness, leaving a crackling trail of red lightning searing the air behind it, and pierces the pavement between Ariel and the Nightmare Prince. A petal falls gently as the steel-stemmed thing of ancient gold magic vibrates to a halt. (Somewhere, a spanish guitar plays, accompanied by the rattle of castanets.)

A ringing voice belonging to a dark-cloaked figure, gargoyled atop a streetlight at the foot of the bridge, cuts through the unnatural night.

"Akashimaru's question is one you've had a bit of time to think on, Prince. Consider your own determination, fuelled by vengeance and schadenfreude: consider that of your opponents, who have learned to find hope in the hopeless, to find something to believe in even when they're lost and cannot even find hope itself."

The figure straightens, cape unfurling, the inside of it as blood-red as the rose he threw; his white mask is luminous, and the golden medal on his red-stained white tuxedo shirt-front gleams, reflecting light from somewhere, showing five points radiating from a circular center. He stands solidly there, looking directly at the twisted Prince of Dreams.

"I've learned the tensile strength of love at impossible attenuation. I've learned that even at our most alone, we're never alone. Most of those here in this fight are here to defend Earth or dreams, or to help Ariel, or to stop you. You've already been told that some are here to save you. I still mislike seeing you in pain, Prince," Tuxedo Kamen continues, the red on his chest spreading, a phantom shape impaled through it.

And then that ringing voice reverberates through the very ground. "But you attack the defenseless and the defenders alike, and in your exacting of vengeance on the one who took your love from you, you betray the very thing your love stood for. We cannot allow this. I cannot allow this, and will not stand for it -- but nothing, NOTHING, is unforgivable. Whether you stop or you are stopped, remember that, and reach out your hand for us to take, to pull you back into dreams of brightness and adventure and brilliant love."
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-11 22:57:51 78411
    Kokoro isn't much of a speech type. She's content to let the others say what they feel the need to say. They're better at this than her. So let them do the talking, and she'll swing her hammer when the time comes... at least, that's what she's thinking at first. She's fine with just tilting her head slightly, listening to Rashmi...

    Then Koji starts to talk.

    Her head remains tilted at first. But as he talks, she... straightens it up. Turns her attention back to the Nightmare Prince. And then, from there, downward. A close eye might catch her fingers clenching more tightly around the grip of her hammer... and then tighter. Tighter. Tight enough for her fingers to turn white. Tiny little arcs of electricity start to dance along her fingertips, her biceps. Her arms... her arms are trembling just a little? They're tense. Way moreso than they should be.

    She's still at the front of the group. So there's probably only one or two people in position to see Kokoro's teeth gritted.

    It doesn't pass until after Koji has stopped talking. But even after that, she remains visibly more tense than she had been. She doesn't even bother to look up at the arrival of Tuxedo Kamen - she's too busy trying to find some measure of focus and calm again.
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-11 23:19:55 78412
    Breathless and exhausted they stare down the dark prince of the night. How much of their power have they exhausted just to get to him? How much will everyone have to dredge deep down for those last reserves of anything left at all, just to face him now at the peak of his power, shrouded in the shadow of that dark sun?
    Ariel is silent a long, long moment as others take to the front to verbally spar with their darkly dreaming adversary. Her attention is almost elsewhere, topaz eyes brimming with a quiet worry and concern- not for herself but... But she looks among friends, compatriots, allies... Kokoro with her unwavering strength. Koji's stalwart and unshakeable sense of what is just and right in the world. Rashmi's brimming hope even in the face of adversity, Lacrima ever fighting her darkness from within, Akashimaru's unshakeable sense of duty, Kunzite's calming stoicism, and Hokuto's staunch bravery in the face of this darkness. Ichi, she has yet to meet properly... And in the chaos of a sleeping city turned into a battlefield, Ariel will not say no to one of Akashimaru's old allies from long long ago. But among all of them, the unicorn makes her decision.
    A small hand rests gently on Kokoro, for a beat, right beside her, before Ariel tugs Lucky back, and hops off her canine steed. It's toward Rashmi she approaches, on the tail end of her final declaration of hope. Hope always remaining, hope being eternal. Ariel leans in close; disregarding every rule of social boundaries and personal space both written and unspoken.
    It takes a great deal to move a unicorn to tears. Even one as young and new to the world as Ariel is. But there is no warning to the act. There is no telltale brimming of mist in her eyes before it happens. Just the appearance of something small and shimmering in the darkness before the lone tear that rolls off her cheek and onto the mage to suffuse her with a healing warmth that eases all hurt. And she sighs as it leaves her.
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-11 23:20:01 78413
    But the Prince himself can only hover in his place silently now. He had not expected such words to stab him deeper than any blade; and if he had so much as a glib retort towards Kokoro, he has forgotten it. For a moment. For the stretch of a long and silent moment it seems as though he considers words flung upon him in both threat and hope. As the Elysian rose lands smack in the middle of the bridge between he and the warriors of hope that have risen to stand against him, each shining like a small beacon of light against the roiling darkness of the nightmare night.
    "... Were it so easy..." He whispers, a new melancholy weighing his voice down like it had never done so before. "I would love nothing more than to step back into the light, as I had once been so long ago. But it has been far too long. That place for me is as dark as this now and I don't know how to bring it back. I am afraid... My love is gone. My course is set, and with the darkness I create tonight I am certain I will be able to destroy that which took it from me." He pauses there to draw a breath and glance up at the dark miasma sun he has called to the top of the bridge.
    "When I began this course long ago there was a rage within me like there had never been. Now... " He trails off. "Now I suppose that matters very little. It is time. Farewell."
    And upon farewell he begins to ascend, and with him goes that massive orb of darkness to the skies. But not all hope is lost. Someone else has heard what everyone has had to say. And Ariel steps forward.
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-11 23:20:25 78414
    "He's not going to stop now. ... This is all doom-driven for him. Even if he believes all of you- which I think he did..." She murmurs, clutching the star shaped pendant around her neck. "But I think you can all have a second chance- to reach out to him again. And I think we should try." She says, looking upwards to the starry night. "If the barrier between this world and the world of dreams is so thin enough for Nightmares to pour through... Who says we can't pull our own hopes and dreams into existence?" A good question to ask... As Lucky tilts his head back... A silver-white light enveloping the unicorn, replacing pajamas with armor. A new suit of dreamsteel so pure and bright it shines almost a perfect white instead of silver.
    And the hound, the fallen star howls.
    Almost as though in response to him, the sky begins to tremble, Ariel's horn glowing as streaks of gold begin to fall from the skies, entire constellations dropping on a course for the Rainbow Bridge... And landing. Cygnus the condor, a mother bear and her cub. A chariot driven by a noble hunter. A dragon, a horse, a lion, a bull. They land in silence and bow in unison lowering to let themselves be mounted before jolting back upwards for a chase into the night sky, Ariel already on Lucky's back.
    "If we can hold him back long enough... The dawn will chase away every nightmare."
    Which means now is the time to strike, as that great mass of darkness begins to slough parts of itself free on half-hearted command of its master, letting the inky black miasma fall like deadly debris onto the chase.
Rashmi Terios 2017-06-11 23:41:23 78415
Societal rules and traditions be damned; if Ariel wants to approach and is moved to tears, then Rashmi *will* wrap the young unicorn in a brief, tight hug and a gentle smile. "Thank you," she whispers. "Thank you for everything, Ariel-chan."

Releasing, she lets Ariel go, and as their hopes and dreams are pulled through the boundaries, and the stars fall from the sky to help them give chase, Rashmi clambers atop the small bear. "Okay, Nicomachea," she whispers to the book in her hands. "Let's do all the crazy things we talked about. We *can,* now, even if we never do them again."

<< SEALING MODE >> the book chirps, and with a flash it rises from her hands, pieces flying away, others appearing to snap into place, and with a gout of mana-steam, the light fades on a much heavier, arcanopunkier version of the book, which unfolds on either side, to point the jewel of Nicomachea's main display toward the rising dark star. << COMMAND INPUT READY, MASTER. >>

And Rashmi closes her eyes, drawing in a deep breath. << Shine, stars above! Shine, hopes within! Be the light that pierces the darkness! Be the light that travels uncountable miles in the beat of one heart! >> Circle upon circle upon circle resolves into existence, each revolving opposite the last, until the final circle stretches out wide enough to support all the assembled warriors of Light and their carriers. << Carry us on wings of hope past the heart of despair! ROYAL RAINBOW!!! >>

From the circles, a wide, wide ribbon of rune-etched light blasts along their path, emanating magics that strengthen all facets of power, and etched with a repeated, very very obvious motif that hints at other boosting magics.

>>> >>> >>>
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-06-11 23:50:39 78416
So many constellation animals to choose from! But what would work best for a magical wolfgirl who mostly relies on kicks and leaps?

As Tsukiko ponders that question, a constellation arcs in from over the southern horizon, landing at one end of the Rainbow Bridge and loping over. Tsukiko grins as she spots it: Lupus, the Wolf.

"I think we'll be a good pair," the wolfgirl says to the starwolf, petting its snout before leaping onto its back. The starwolf nods as Tsukiko settles in, then leaps through the circles Rashmi summoned, dashing along the ribbon to build up a charge of magical power before taking flight.

As the canids take to the air, Tsukiko leaps into action -- literally. Using Lupus as a springboard, the wolfgirl jumps at the falling darkbris, shattering them into smaller (and thus less harmful) pieces... then landing on Lupus as the starwolf maneuvers to catch her, not unlike the ball-and-cup game.
Kunzite 2017-06-11 23:54:46 78417
One of the constellations that lands lightly on the bridge is a heartbreakingly beautiful woman, broken chains at her ankles and wrists and circling her waist. Andromeda turns to study Kunzite, eyes thoughtful and wise. He bows to her without a word -- monsters she knows too well to need one -- and she does not smile, but she bends down, her flowing hair brushing the pavement, and with both hands removes the blue-gold glitter of one chain from an ankle and tosses it at his feet.

It changes as it moves: one star becoming a dual system, and one of those in turn becoming a triple, colors whirling around one another and changing and growing until it settles into a form like the constellations. A desert lynx the size of a Clydesdale.

Gamma Andromedae. Almach. The Caracal.

It eyes him skeptically. "You look like sh--"

"Language," Kunzite answers, and moves to climb on its back in a way that no real caracal could support.

"I'm just saying. You'd be thirty times more ready for this if you, you know. Did your job and got that thing fixed."

"Harassment later. Nightmare Prince now."

The caracal yawns, glancing at him over its shoulder. "That is no kind of name to call your boss," it tells him, but kicks off afterward, leaping up into the sky to let Kunzite draw his blade again and follow Ikiko's lead. Animal-borne cavalry, clearing the way for the others.
Lacrima 2017-06-11 23:57:19 78418
Lacrima has a crow land in front of her. She makes a face like :I. Because of course she gets the crow. She rolls her eyes and climbs on board despite all the tiredness and exertion she's feeling and she flies upwards with the others as she holds on for mostly dear life. BECAUSE she still has things to yell after the prince, even if he isn't listening.

"I SWEAR." she calls out. "DARK PRINCE OR NOT YOU'RE STILL A TYPICAL BOY THAT DOESN'T DAMN LISTEN!" she screams as she rides up Rashmi's cleared brilliant path.

Thats about all she has to say on this now. What to do about that energy....

In theory. She could try to absorb it from him. But that is also a LOT of really bad juju and for all she knows that much could overtake her. She doesn't want to find out right now if that's right.

Nrg. She begins patting herself down, as if looking for someone and pulls out one of those crystals from somewhere against her side as she frowns as she looks up to the big dark ball of energy. She looks down to the crystal and then her eyes light up a moment as she begins to formulate a plan. One of her fingers forms into some sort of awful dark claw as she begins to retune the crystal in a weird, arcane manner. It changes from a dark glow, to a redder glow.

Then she grasps it in a palm as she scowls. "Not sure if this will work. But I'm gonna use a little trick Riven-sama taught me." she says.

Basically. How to disrupt masses of dark energy to study it better. It's not a permenant soultion. But hopefully it'll make it easier for someone like Kokoro to smack it to pieces or Koji to blast it, or Rashmi to solar-whatever it, or Ikiko to whatever wolves do at it. BARK at it!? She doesn't know. SHE'S DOING HER BEST HERE.

She launches the crystal on a trail of dark energy towards the ball.
A Siberian cat 2017-06-11 23:58:01 78419
From behind Koji, two hands come down on him, one for each shoulder... but from two individuals. Castor and Pollux, the children of Zeus and the Spartan King by the same woman, and the physical manifestation of the constellation Gemini. They then help steady him a moment and smiles to him before suddenly he's split in two... and now Koji and Tyrfing are both in existence at once, followed by a third piece, the remnant of the Nightmare Tyrfing. One hand stays on Koji's shoulder... another is on Tyrfing's... and a third is on the remainder of the reformed Dream being that changed sides because of it's very nature. And all three... CHANGE.

When the light of this change vanishes, There is Koji, but now his Knight Cloth is silver, making his black hair a shock against the display. Shoulder armor, gauntlets, and shinguards adorn him, as well as holding a silver bow that looks like it was made by reshaping a harp into this shape, two strings looking almost ready to pluck like a shamisen. On his back is a quiver with ivory arrows and snowy swan-feathers.

Tyrfing is now a blue-armored knight, breastplate, shoulders, arms, legs, all covered in form-molding but otherwise functional silver-accented dark azure. The club that is part of the constellation morphs in his hands into a bastard sword like the one that is normally used when the pair works together, and on his back is a long asymmetrical cape that is short to the left, but long on the right.

The third form is where things change. A tall woman with raven hair like Koji and wearing glasses. Her armor is gold and black, and much more traditional to the Midchildian magical style. In her hand is a long katana-like techblade that has a familiar sort of 'feel' to it as Tyrfing. She smiles, and then gives a little chuckle before saying towards the Shutran beastman, "Awww, you old softie. Allright... one more time... Shall we?"

The duo-turned-trio... Koji, Tyrfing, and the Dream of Seraphim all incant at the same time, <<FLUGMODUS!>>

From behind each of them, lines of light form into Belkan Tri-grams just behind their shoulders, and as they move forwards to touch where Rashmi's Rainbow Road begins... all three begin drawing in lines of light from it as those incantations suddenly sprout wings. Silver, Blue, and Black with Gold. All three then launch themselves into the air towards the darkness.

Seraphim smiles down towards Rashmi, and the dream woman says towards her, "Thanks for looking out for them. You know how stubborn boys can be, right?"
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-11 23:58:37 78420
    When Ariel's hand touches Kokoro, even just briefly, the taller girl tenses. It might not have been the best choice right then and there. But hearing the Prince talk, she finally manages to look up. To meet the nightmare man's gaze - to see him briefly draw back the curtain and show what's under all that smug, pompous pageantry.

    Her hand tenses on the hammer again.

    Teeth grit.

    Violet eyes don't leave that fleeing man even when Ariel sheds a tear, even when Lucky howls. She just keeps staring, right up after the Prince of Nightmares, her scowl growing deeper, deeper still. That intermittent electricity starts to dance across her arms again. And then, finally, finally she turns, regarding the array of stars, the array of guardians come to lend their aid.

    Her hammer hits the ground. Starts to drag across it, drag behind her as she strides towards the bull, kicking up sparks the entire way. "I'm not just gonna hold him back. I'm gonna pound him right in his smug face. Arrogant jerk, pushing his problems onto everyone else..." She'll sling herself up into the metaphorical saddle, taking a two-handed grip on her hammer.

    "Oi. Taurus, or whatever you are. Don't hold back. I ain't gonna fall." And she is off, on the back of a stampeding star bull at full speed, racing up a rainbow road loaded with dash pads it seems to be doing its level best to hit all of.
Seishi Tamashige 2017-06-12 00:06:52 78421
With the star-hound's resonant howl, in the light from Ariel's horn and the golden light that showers down from on high, all of Akashimaru's fatigue seems to wash away. Smiling, she inclines her head to Ariel. Says, simply: "We're with you."

And then, without hesitation, she strides forward and seizes a handful of mane to swing herself up onto the smooth and shining back of the celestial horse. "Saddle up, folks," she declares. "Let's ride!"

As her legs clamp tight against his sides, Pegasus spreads his starlight wings and launches upwards along the path that Rashmi has laid, and the chase is on.

Silver hooves hammer the magical road like the tolling of great silver bells, kicking up bursts of stardust and thin red petals with each beat of those broad bright wings. Somehow Pegasus has acquired a saddle and bridle, standard issue Tokyo Mounted Police tack, but its bit and buckles shine with all the shimmering light of the stars the winged horse came from. Akashimaru, too, is shining, armed and armored in crimson that blazes with the glory of a sunrise. The long banner of her hair gleams so brightly it's hard to tell if it's still black or has turned the same starlight-clear as her mount.

Shooting stars roar from her scarlet bowstring, arcs of red and gold and silver that lance through the air ahead and above and piece through the masses of falling darkness, shattering them to nothing.
Hokuto Minase 2017-06-12 00:07:07 78422
Hokuto walks over to the dragon and runs a finger along the ridge atop its eye, looking deep into that glemaing orb. "Well, then. Shall we?" she asks, and smiles gently. It twines around her, gleaming golden scales contrasting with the white and crimson of her garments, then slides a coil under her to lift her up.

"There's room for one more, if you want," she calls to the others, though there seem to be plenty of potential mounts available. Still, if someone else is set on riding the dragon, she'll wait for them.

But not for long, though. It's going to be one of those fights, after all. Soon enough the dragon soars up, following the rainbow road, leaving a sparkling trail of pixie-dust behind as it flies. Soon enough she's launching a positive storm of arrows, each ofuda splitting into a dozen more as she fires it, zooming out at the little nightmares that drop from the Prince's sphere of darkness.

"Arise! Fell deeds awake! Spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered. A sword-day, a red-day... Ride! Onward!" Unfortunately she's a long way from Gondor. And the script.
Takara Himura 2017-06-12 00:23:12 78423
Being so close to the dream causes Takara to change even more than she normally does, her schoolgirl uniform gets replaced by the tattered blue robes of a Goza who has been on one too many roads and has seen one too many fights. Her strange pale eyes flare and move as she sees things that no others can see, the latticework of fate woven between people as red cords, their destiny laid out before her like a giant tapestry. Her eyes are shining so bright that if one squinted they might be able to see these cords as well.

Ichi scours the threads, noting how for each person writing in nightmare there is a black corruption to their cord, a gooey black string seeting with energy, leaching the fear, and all leading straight towards the prince. "Go fight the prince!" She barks, "I have to stay and cut the corruption of the fates of these people. It should help weaken him." And with that, she gets to work.
Kunzite 2017-06-12 00:28:03 78424
"Prince! The only thing that can banish such an evil darkness is a powerful light!" calls Endymion, as Leo, the King of Beasts, looks up at the bleeding Prince of Earth on a streetlight. Then the lion bows, solemnly and unnecessarily, to indicate that Tuxedo Kamen should get with the program. Leaping down to land featherlight on the great beast's back, Mamoru tries really hard not to think about how cool the selfie would be. And they're off into the sky.

It's not really a race, because that would be reckless and a waste of time, but lion and former gentleman thief move swiftly to catch up with knight and Clydesdale-sized caracal. Mamoru stays to Kunzite's flank, so that the white-haired man can't actually see him, and calls cheerfully, "Hey, Kunzite! Catch! Tuxedo la --"

He does wait to finish until he's sure that Kunzite is actually receptive. Because it would suck if his knight were knocked off the giant cat because of poor planning on his part.

"SMOKING BOMBER!"
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-12 00:38:29 78425
    And they chase him into the night, stars running on a road of rainbows.
    But it is true. He is stubborn. The prince has not listened. Or if he has, he simply believes his cause to be too close to fruition to stop now. It matters so very little as the buildings break way. Soon the tallest part of the bridge is long past, and the skyscrapers of the Tokyo skyline recede further and further into the distance, smaller and smaller, until all of Japan can be seen- then the mainland.
    The dark night sky gives way to clouds, and those too are passed, leaving just the faintest glimpses of the first rays of morning sun on the horizon, but even the royal blue hue of the sky gives way to the blackness and stars beyond.
    This is more than just doing something crazy, as Ikiko and The Wolf bound from nightmare to nightmare, deflecting them off their paths or crushing them under paw outright; whatever gets by forced to contend with the caracal and the blade of one of Earth's cherished knights. But it looks like Riventon's truck does work, as nightmares break free from the mass of utmost darkness, Lacrima leaves them stunned and disoriented , unable to properly aim their fall or otherwise left vulnerable for others as the break away.
    But now. Right now, in this moment, there is probably not one among them anyway that could stand in the path of Kokoro Akakuma, her bovine steed racing up the skies in a mad charge, chased by starlight and ofuda arrows from twin bows.
    Then. Then Takara sees. Every thread that connects the nightmares to this world, leaving her free to prune them and make more of the twisted dark masses fall from giant orb.
    So now. Now it's time to give the prince that light. If they keep this up, surely that big ball of darkness will never reach its destination.
    Until the prince turns, sighing weary and voice heavy with dark resignation.
    "You hope... Is painful for me... Let me fix that for all of us..."
    Even though his voice is a whisper, it carries resonantly as he puts forth one last ditch effort in the face of the unstoppable tide of good behind him.

    And the world goes black...
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-12 00:38:56 78426
    Waking up alone has become a painful norm. The luxury rooftop apartment almost completely empty every day. The remaining senshi have long stopped visiting all save for one; the impatient ringing at the door speaking volumes on just precisely how much even she wants to be here. But perhaps most painful of all... Is to pass the glass case containing four shattered stones.
    The fragments no longer seem to even catch the light as they used to; a somber and sobering wakeup that it is a true and unequivocal finale.
    Rei is at the door. The formerly passionate and hotheaded guardian of Mars only able to glare with a chill frost; her fire just as dead as the princess she had loved.
    "Chiba." She greets with the warmth of a glacier, stepping in past the prince of the earth to make her usual rounds. "It's Sunday. I'm here to check up on you." Like she always does, beholden to her oaths and saddled with the responsibility of protecting him now that the others have so rightfully turned their backs.
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-12 00:39:14 78427
    The throne room at the top of the old manor was cold and lonely. Perhaps manor was no longer the proper word since the ancient structure built upon itself around its new dark lord. As her power grew so did its size and dimensions, far larger on the inside than out, yet still becoming more of a castle of darkness than it had been before. A gothic vision of high towers and crumbling ramparts, leering gargoyles formed of dark energy withstanding the test of hundreds of years.
    In the tomb-like silence of the highest tower, the moonlight shines through the stained glass, giving the chamber very much the feeling of an abandoned cathedral. The throne is as cold and uncomfortable as ever. But as the ancient countess Lacrima would know in her eternal dark solitude, the only place comfortable for one of her kind is the gravedirt of her own coffin.
    The immense doors creak open. The lone figure standing backlit from the hall beyond is diminutive, but there's no mistaking the elegant black dress, nor the hood and cloak that she favors to cover her moonpale features. Nor the grim scythe slung over her shoulder as she approaches unbidden.
    Any other servant in the castle would be subject to the harshest and cruelest of punishments for an act so bold and audacious. But not this one, as she kneels before the dark throne. "My Lady, it has been some time~. I heard you woke again after another century and have come to resume my services as your right hand."
    Morte glances up, lips tugging into a chill smile. For only an ancient vampire well versed in true darkness and as powerful as Lacrima could make Death her very servant.
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-12 00:39:50 78428
    Today was the day. The location wasn't all that surprising; The Korma Chameleon. The date and time were correct, September 22, 4PM sharp after school. Kokoro must have felt pretty daring huh? Actually showing up to the invitation that somehow made it to her.
    Come celebrate Rashmi Terios' 15th birthday! The holder of this invitation is entitled to fun times, and all the curry they can eat!
    Not many people got this invite, and that means it was more for the purpose of getting Rashmi's friends together than a business stunt for the Chameleon. It's easy to see the party in full swing, inside, through the windows though. Rashmi surrounded by all the others. Kazuo and Mamoru quietly taking up a booth close by, Koji, Ariel, Norie, Alexis, and all the others enjoying themselves. Smiles abound, there are hugs, claps on the back, toasts and cheers...
    So then why does the restaurant suddenly go so stone silent when Kokoro steps through the door, all eyes wide and staring as though a ghost just walked in.
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-12 00:40:18 78429
    The usual alarm rang as normal. But something felt... Off. Sometihng felt so very, very, wrong. A pervasive feeling that can't quite be placed, seemingly suffusing the entirety of Koji Silvia's room. And apparently the house beyond when it turns out there's no sign of anyone else home. Slightly disconcerting perhaps, but there's not much time to think on the matter. It IS a school day after all.
    Once ready and out the door though is when things start to get... Ominous. The streets are empty. A stone silence envelopes Tokyo in a way that's almost unnatural. Wholly so as cars remain motionless on the street, idle but with no on behind the wheel for any of them. A bike lays propped against a wall, not even chained to fend off possible burglary. The door to the local convenience star is ajar, the ice cream section slowly melting from the summer warmth seeping in thanks to someone leaving the freezer open as well.
    Though the school bells ring, Seiyou's yard is empty. And quieter than a tomb, Not even Tyrfing has responded to mental inquiries all morning.
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-12 00:40:38 78430
    He moves through the world, and the world is silent and dark. And he moves through this lonely world by himself. It was the only world that was left, and the only one left for him to protect. A world locked in that perfect moment forever, its inhabitants clueless to their bodies being frozen in time forever more. But it was the best that Kunzite could do for those he cherished.
    It had taken so much to lock the few rooms of the apartment building in this solid state, an ice so thick and cold that not even time could melt through to the figures trapped within, locked eternally in a sweet moment. There's Usagi, with her head on Mamoru's chest, Zoisite lazily laying across both their laps in an almost feline laziness. Kyouko and Naru in the kitchen, Jadeite lounging in a chair, lazily stroking fingers through the fur of the black fox on his lap.
    For all Kunzite had managed to save them, there were others he could not. Painful absences such as the Shrine Maiden, or another cherished blonde. By now the energy taken from Norie's body uses to sustain this perfect frozen world will be almost running out, leaving behind only the pendant worn around his neck and a renewed need to leave the frozen world into the empty void beyond and seek out a new sustenance to feed it, to keep it going. These scant few rooms were all that remained of everything. And it was Kunzite's self appointed duty to see that nothing happened to it.
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-12 00:41:18 78431
    And just like that it was over. The Nightmare Prince waved his hand and he had undone everything. The others still fighting on valiantly, all that's left to do is fall.
    "I waited centuries to shatter the barrier between dreams and waking. I will not be stopped now of all times. He sighs, precisely zero fighting spirit in his heart. "I can wait another few seconds to break you too."
    Indeed, all he had to do was snap his fingers and all of Rashmi Terios' hard work was undone. The strength she had given her companions, the bolstering support and courage granted by both her spells and any hope she could have had to share means nothing in this instant. While the others continue their fight in the stars, he leaves her to fall, gravity kicking in unforgivingly as Nichomachea gives out and her starry steed vanishes from the sky; the Device far too damaged over the course of the night to even put out the calculations for continued flight. Or arrest the girl's fall.
    All that is left is for Rashmi to reflect on her failures as she plummets, the earth so far below waiting almost as patiently as the Prince had, for her to meet it at terminal velocity.
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-12 00:41:41 78432
    Looking at the calendar brings on a sense of dread. By this point the lunar cycles are an ingrained and innate knowledge. The only reason that several days of the month were circled in bold red marker was just to grasp at the last shreds of what made Ikiko Hisakata feel even remotely close to human anymore.
    Cute wolf Tsukiko was gone. It had all gone too far and the power of the Lycan Locket had twisted so terribly. Every waking moment came with the sense of growing more and more feral. Scents becoming more pronounced in the day, only able to look at her classmates like slabs of walking meat, and...
    Her school friends had stopped bothering. Ever since she viciously bit the teacher. But tonight is the first night of the full moon, and that means another night of horrific pain. And waking up the next day disoriented and terrified of what she may have done.
    The clouds part. The first shimmering rays of moonlight begin filtering in through the window with lunatic whispers. The window Ikiko had forgotten to shutter and blind.
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-12 00:42:03 78433
    It was not a happy day. But it was to happen today. Though attendants had tended to most of the difficult matters of applying makeup and forcing the clothes on, there was no joy. None of what should be expected of a bride to be.
    Powder, plucked lashes, hours of hair being done, all cemented with the weighted finality of layers on layers of layers of rich and luxurious silks. But the wedding kimono for this shrine maiden is not white. The heavy black and red wedding attire does not symbolize purity, but the blood of her oncoming sacrifice, as one of the attendants whispers in Hokuto's ear,
    "Your husband, Lord Kozai, will see you now..."
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-12 00:42:28 78434
    Waking up was a gift. A sweat-soaked respite from re-living the nightmare again. The memory having returned in the night as fresh and raw like a bleeding cut. The memory of something dark and formless coming in the night... Easing its way into a place that was supposed to be safe; a place that was supposed to FEEL safe.
    Even someone born blind would be able to feel it. The dread chill of something that should not be. But perhaps more prominent were the sounds of someone close and dear tossing, groaning in their sleep as a formless blackness from beyond loomed over the bed of Takara's mother.
    But it was just a bad dream. A nightmare returned to make the night a miserable experience. Right? ... Right?
    So why, then... Why can she feel that same presence from so long ago at the foot of the bed- crawling onto the mattress with its weightless formlessness, slowly edging in closer, dark whispers rolling off every part of it like mist off dry ice...
    Feed me...
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-12 00:42:57 78435
    Saturday night. A war meeting has been called. The Earth Court seemed the best place to gather after the failed attempt to speak with the Nightmare Prince in Prince Endymion's dream. Though Endymion, Kunzite, and Akashimaru had learned some important new information, at least and it needed to be shared.
    he normally relaxed atmosphere of the penthouse apartment is strained with tension. Everyone knows that whatever the Nightmare Prince has planned, it's going to happen soon. No longer a question of 'when' but 'how much time there left to prepare.
    Ariel's weight is almost nothing on Akashimaru's lap. While Mamoru, Kunzite and the other knights, Norie, Koji, Rashmi, and Kokoro talk defense plans and how to best try and get through to the Prince, Ariel was busy in talks with her mothers, for any last ditch information and support they could give.
    Unfortunately there was little solid planning to be done by the time the clocks chimed late into the night. Yawns start growing in frequency and eyes are rubbed more often, before the best decision is to just adjourn and sleep it over, as the guest rooms are opened for everyone. One by one the others retire for sleep, leaving Seishi alone with Ariel on her lap, and the battered old book of memories on the table, taken from that dark dream castle. The book that writes itself to tell a tale... Flips open, text scrawling in a lunatic hand in an ominously red ink.

    They planned and they tried...
    With all of their might...
    But not one could think of how to stop this Nightmare Night.
    A whisper she did hear. Sweet like honey in her ear...
    The Samurai in red, it filled with an uneasy dread.
    "This is the night!" It said with good cheer.
    "Wherein you give in to fear... You cannot win, give up, don't try."
    "To the Eater of Dreams, this Prince is a joke. Now once again, for your old enemy succumb to his yoke."
    She fought inside with all her might. But as with Akashimaru before, it was an easy fight.
    With trembling hand, she raised the knife, unable to stop it from taking their life.

    And with a voice in Seishi's ear like a vengeful revenant locked behind a door, the Eater of Dreams exerts its power once more.

    "Kill them all, now, as they sleep, Akashimaru... Start with the unicorn. Just like as you had with Renge so very long, long, ago."
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-12 00:43:31 78436
    When she awoke, it was in a soft fluffy bed. Familiar, yet not after so long of not sleeping in it. The sheets were warm, and the massive hound curled up around her under them was even warmer.
    "Mnnh..."
    Rousing with a lazy and luxurious stretch, Ariel stared blearily around her room. Not the one she shared with Seishi in Tokyo... But her room in the cozy little cottage tucked away in the woods, by the sea. A big wet lick across the face from Lucky brought her to full wakefulness with a bleat, the smell of beakfast starting to waft in from the other room.
    Staggering out of bed with her dog hot on her heels, the tiny unicorn stumbled down the creaking old stairs. "... Mom...? Mom?"
    There they were, at the old table where they shared meals as a family, flapjacks on the griddle and the table set for breakfast.
    "Oh look, dear, our daughter decided to finally wake up."
    "Heh, it's about time. The pancakes were about to burn." Amalthea replies, setting a stack into Ariel's usual space.
    "What... Are you both doing here?" Ariel murmurs, bewildered and lost, utterly disoriented.
    Brows lift. "We live here." The sea-witch says. "Ariel. Did you sleep well?"
    A frown etches way onto the younger unicorn's face, the elder rising to approach with concern in her lone eye.
    "But what am I doing here? I should be back in Tokyo- in the waking world, helping everyone else. They're fighting- I need to be there with them..."
    A strong hand sets on her shoulder as Amalthea lowers to kneel to her level.
    "Ariel, what are you talking about? You never left your room. You dropped like a light half way into your bedtime story last night. You tossed some, and then slept in. It was all just a bad dream."
    The weight of her mothers words hits Ariel like a sledgehammer, topaz eyes wide and staring. "... What...?"
    "I told you not to have given her the story of the Nightmare Prince until she was older. Look, Amalthea, you gave her a nightmare." The mermaid across the table says with the cool chill of a mother who is very cross with a spouse that does not listen.
A Siberian cat 2017-06-12 00:54:18 78438
Silence...

Not even the sounds of his shoes on the pavement as the lights change, the little man in the walk symbol appears.

Cars sit like they were just left there, as if everyone had just gotten up and left. Koji bolts towards the hospital and winds himself before coming to a konbini, and looks inside. The television is playing the news, but there's no one sitting in front of the screen. The magazines have no faces on them... cartoon character drawings on candy are still there, but as he goes inside to check, the *BING* you hear doesn't happen. Tears begin to form as he starts screaming out for Tyrfing... for his mother and father... for anyone. But still...

Silence.

Trying to run again, he makes it to the middle of what should be a busy intersection where he stumbles and falls. Pain courses from a bruised knee, and he screams... but only the sound of his alarm seems to fill any sort of auditory range for him. Commercials show on screens on buildings, signs flash the names of shops and bars, but there is no one here.

There is no one else here.

There is nothing but him, and the chirp of the alarm...
Rashmi Terios 2017-06-12 00:56:20 78439
"Wh...?"

The road beneath her shatters, Nicomachea sputters and dies, and the Ursa Minor vanishes, as though it never were. Momentum alone keeps Rashmi ascending, but slowing... slowing...

"No no nononononopleasenowhat'shappeningnoNICOMACHEA WAKE UP I NEED YOU!" The final words are stripped from her throat as she begins to plummet. Tears fly from terrified and windburned eyes, one hand clutching the quiescent book to her chest, the other stretched out to the warriors still fighting on above, farther and farther away...

As if she'd never left.

As if she didn't even matter.

As if she never should have tried.
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-12 00:57:58 78440
    Caught by a nightmare to the metaphorical face, Kokoro doesn't even have a chance to ready herself. She wouldn't know how if she did.

    So without even sensing anything wrong, Kokoro Akakuma makes her way to the Korma Chameleon. She's not even sure why. She never does this sort of thing. It reeks of getting too close. But... but just this once. It'll be alright, just this once. Besides, there's free food.

    The door opens before a vaguely nervous Kokoro, who takes a step in, and- ...and stops. Stops dead. They're all staring. "W-what is it, it's not that weird for..." The faintly irritable, vaguely defiant tone dies on her lips, as do her words. "...o-oi. Oi, what... what are you all looking at me like that for?" Her voice is suddenly shaky. "The hell... the hell'd I do?" She knows that look. "What's this sudden cold shoulder?" She's seen it before.

    Teeth grit. Fingers curl tightly. The silence drags on as they stare. Kokoro starts to tremble quietly. With fury. With hurt. She's not sure.

    "...y-you ain't... you ain't any different at all, are you?"
Takara Himura 2017-06-12 01:04:00 78441
"Oh, God!" chokes Takara in English. "Not again!" Gone is the ribbon and bell that gives her to confidence and power to fight the nightmares. Gone is her sword that lets her cut the corruption from peoples dreams. Gone is Ichi, the wise council that gave her the understanding that she so desperately needed to save her mother. She had defeated this monster once, and it had taken everything she had, everything Ichi had to do so. And now.... not satisfied with her family, it has come to consume /her/ in its endless hunger for revenge.

"Go away!" the blind girl shouts at it, feeling like shes twelve again. "I fought you and beat you!" she helplessly shouts at the dark presense. Of course, her words of bravado are belied by the fact that she is hiding completely under the covers of her bed where its safe.
Seishi Tamashige 2017-06-12 01:05:03 78442
It feels like a rush of ice water through her veins, chill and thin. It feels like the bottom dropping out of her stomach in one sick, heavy lurch. Seishi can't move, as though her body is not her own. Her limbs simply won't respond.

The edges of her vision are slowly filling with red. Her mouth fills with a coppery tang of blood.

"I...?" Her voice is the barest whisper. It's a lie, she wants to declare, but the words won't come. They are lost in a sudden flood of almost-forgotten nightmares, fragmentary memories that up until now have always been buried upon the very moment of awakening.

Suddenly it's all too clear why O-Yasu has always been so curt with her. Why he's never answered questions about how the fight against the Eater of Dreams went so wrong.

Her body is not her own, and there is a knife in her hand.
Lacrima 2017-06-12 01:13:18 78443
The first moment. Lacrima is screaming about typical boys and the next....

There is a burst of... something.

Suddenly there is a familiar throne. And a manor castle. Lacrima did once sit in that throne. In the dreams. Just to see what it was like. Wait. No. She always. Sits here. Doesn't she? Doesn't.... she? Somethings is wrong. Something is very very very wrong suddenly and she can't place it. Wasn't she... wasn't she... just. Doing. Something?

Eyes sideglance to a light out the window. It's Vados. She knows that much. The little flickering lights of the village the manor presided over. Eyes glance back to... a.... servant....

Is.. is that why she's foggy right now? Because she's been sleeping? For years? Maybe. Maybe that's it.

Maybe that's it..

"Y-yes. I'm just a little. Weak. Is all. Lets... lets go down to the village. To feed." she says in a shaky manner.

No this is wrong.

She turns back to the window towards the village. There's a crow there now. It looks especially straight faced for some reason. She blinks and then hesitantly turns back towards her 'servant'. then back to the crow as she squints at it really, really hard. Why is it so familiar.

She turns back away as she begins to walk down the old, crimson red carpet slowly.

"Did something... change while I was..."

This is wrong..

"WHY IS IT WRONG?" she suddenly snaps out looking upwards for no reason. Yeah. This nightmare has her good for the moment.
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-06-12 01:13:22 78444
Ikiko screams from the sense of pain as the full-strength wolf-soul rushes to the fore, trying to reshape her body into something more pleasing for itself. The enraged ferocity that comes from having two full-sized incompatible souls crammed into one body -- there is no magic; just conflict.

"L-Lycan Locket!" she gasps, tapping into the corrupted magic just to dilute the pain enough to retain long-term sanity. As her body shifts, the multiplied wolf-soul now able to easily outmaneuver her multiplied human-soul, all internal!Ikiko can do is huddle together.

As she loses connection with her external senses, all Ikiko can feel is the horde of wolves growling at her selves. There's a chorus of whimpers from the cluster of 10-20 human-souls... and one canine-soul.
Kunzite 2017-06-12 01:13:53 78445
There is no sound, even on the occasions that he moves. There is no air to breathe; what remains of the atmosphere is water-ice and nitrogen-snow. There is no light; the distant gifts of the stars and the dead moon have been harvested as far as he can reach, alongside the dim and fading glow of the core.

He survives on those, and on the carefully-mutated curse patterned into the necklace. But his stores are low, and he dares not divert energy only to his own survival. Time to hunt, then.

And yet, with a hand lifted to carve open the portal to the Dusk Zone, he hesitates. His stores are low. His stores must be low. He knows this feeling from a long time ago, the gray tinge to the darkness, the way his fingertips no longer feel the finer details of things they touch, the way he lapses back to plans already made rather than analyzing the situation anew.

(But there is a white-gold energy burning in him, new and fresh, tinged with stolen sunlight. And there is the bizarre, haunting certainty that if he were to try to observe the silent ones, if light were allowed to move there, there would be a phantom blade --)

Anomalous reports. He's fading enough to hallucinate, that's all. To fail to evaluate his own condition correctly. The solution to that is the same. Go into the Dusk Zone. Find trails that hint at other worlds. Pursue them until he finds something he can consume.

And yet.

He hesitates, and wishes he still had the habit of breathing.
Hokuto Minase 2017-06-12 01:18:11 78447
Hokuto sighs heavily as the last pieces of the black dress are fitted to her body, her hair pinned up in an ornate arrangement, interwoven with bejewelled combs and pins. The Daiyoukai is nothing if not... opulent. And assuredly his bride-to-be can be nothing less.

She looks down into the face of the attendant, and inhales sharply, recognizing Seishi's face through the gauzy veils. "Sempai...." she breathes, only for the other's clawed fingertip to press to her lips, silencing her.

"You gave your word, kouhai. We all did."

Yes. She had agreed to this. Reluctantly at first. But... it was the only thing she could do, to save them. To keep those she valued alive, even as she had to watch them be corrupted and twisted into monsters. Even as she, herself... She flexed her fingers, feeling the feline claws flick out and in, and matching ears twitch as the last hairpin is set in place.

This was her fate, her choice, her last horrific resort: to be the better monster.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-06-12 01:39:25 78448
It used to be a pain he'd lived with for so long he didn't even notice it-- after all, if you don't remember ever having had anyone that loved you, anyone worth fighting for, anyone worth living for, it's not so bad, is it? But this is different. Once upon a time, not even two years ago, it was only the one apartment that had furniture, that had a resident. The other three were silent, dark, and closed, only waiting for-- someone. Waiting to be needed.

And then they were. Promises, hopes, and notes tacked up all over the fridge, after each one of them had thought for sure they'd burnt all their bridges and there was no going back. Four boys and one girl: all his brothers-in-arms, all his knights, all his family, living there or nearby-- and they all came back from the darkness, they all came back to be with him. And they, and his bright shining star Usagi, and his adopted-in-all-but-law sister Makoto, and his finally-a-friend Minako, and his dedicated and protective friend Rei, and his fellow works-too-hard problem-solving friend Ami-- all of them together guaranteed he'd never be alone again, would always have his people.

"I'm alive," Mamoru tells Hino-san (Rei-chan, Rei-chan!), his voice empty, distant, and polite. "Still."

"As she wished," Rei says, her words a hooked arrowhead pulled back out through the flesh, and she turns her face away.

She has to make sure he lives, as her princess wanted, as his Knights wanted. She doesn't have to make sure he's happy about it-- no one else is. It's not enough that he lost the other parts of his soul: he's made the other parts of Rei's miserable too, just by surviving.

Neil gave his life to save Mamoru's, just as Makoto had dreaded he might. Kazuo was taken from Minako the same way-- but Zoisite and Jadeite still had their Prince, and the girls still had their Princess, and Mamoru still had the boys' gems. Zoisite and Jadeite fell next, and Usagi-- bless Usagi, she'd so earnestly promised that they'd be able to bring them back, somehow, with the Ginzuishou, once the catastrophe was dealt with; he'd believed her. He had to.

Kyouko died taking a hit for both him and Naru; the spillover had burnt him and incinerated Hyalite, and Apatite's had been the first of the stones to shatter.

Usagi'd gone into shock then, and the sparkling remnants of red soul gem sifted through the prince's fingers like bloody and glittering sand. He'd looked up--

--the girls could still at least focus on Usagi, and she screamed at them to protect him, to protect her Mamo-chan, while she ripped the Silver Crystal from the Crescent Wand and held it up, while it blossomed into its lotus shape-- and they did. Endymion couldn't even talk, couldn't even hear, because all the Earth screamed around him and his guardians appeared at his sides.

All but one, because her stone was gone.

He tried to step forward to lend her his strength as he had before, as he could without thinking, but Mars and Mercury grimly held him back while Jupiter and Venus fought the things still trying to come at the increasingly bright princess, surrounded by weightless clouds of silk and chiffon, eyes closed and face serene as she held up the purifying light of the moon to banish the darkness. The powerful light--

--the powerful light that he could feel consuming her as he screamed his voice raw; the powerful light that banished all traces of darkness from the Earth, that lifted his ghostly guardians to life again for the scant seconds it lasted until Usagi collapsed in her school uniform, eyes blank and heart stopped.

The scant seconds before the four remaining stones shattered into bits and bodies briefly made whole scattered as ash in the suddenly desolate wind.

Ami never trusted men. No man had ever managed to avoid failing her, not even Mamoru, succumbing to the darkness when his heart and mind were shattered and left as open doors.

Makoto loved with her whole heart, and once the love she'd regained sacrificed himself for another, that was a betrayal of duty over love--

--duty over love, and both duty and love failed Minako, and left a hollow shell of a medical student where once she had both Princess and Kunzite.

And Rei--

--Rei would always do as her Princess asked.

Mamoru survived again. The first life was easy: he didn't even have to see everyone else die, because he was the first to fall. What a cherished recurring nightmare. He lived it every night now, despite what Akashimaru had taught him, because it was better than this. This: surviving, over and over, while everyone else was taken, was silenced, or actively turned from him. Surviving the crash. Fighting to make his brothers remember as they tried to kill or turn him, then surviving everyone but Usagi's death at D-Point-- and now this, surviving everyone, and no one ever coming back.

What good was he, when he could heal anything but death?

What was he even for, if he couldn't protect the people he loved?

The shield of Earth-- but even the Palaces were silent, their masters dead and shattered. Even the caracal was gone. He'd never find Elysion-- and even if he did, his own dreams were dead, were nothing but char and ash, attar of rose and bile, blood and blades and empty silence. What would it even matter?

He turns from Rei, waving a hand. "As she wished. As everyone who's dead wished. Goodbye, Hino-san. You've done your duty once again."

As he closes the door, Mamoru's hand lifts to his chest, where blood soaks through his shirt and his fingertips can slip, if he wishes, into the hole left where his heart should be. But that's not real. He knows that's not real. He knows that all it would take to make this stop is to make that real-- and the utensils Makoto once so creatively and diligently used to make so many delicious things are all right there, in his warm, bright, empty kitchen, surrounded by the cold, dark, perfectly preserved apartments. She'd be annoyed with him for bloodying one of the knives she used to use to chop onions.

He'd be annoyed with himself for leaving a bloody mess on the tiles.

There are easier ways to go, less messy ones. But it should be painful. It should hurt.

Half an hour later, he's walking in the park, and he stops in the glade where he'd danced with Kyouko in her juice-stained ballgown to music no-one could hear, right before Nephrite found him alone and powerless. His hands curl into fists, and then relax, and he brings them up in a lifting motion.

The grassy earth in front of him rises to meet his gesture, opening up, and his eyes glow bright gold, and the glow of his hands cuts through the darkness of the falling night. He'll even bury his own corpse for them, so they won't be troubled.

Mamoru steps in, expressionless--

--and his planet won't take his life. He can't close it. He can't even go and find them in the afterlife-- he can't even go be reborn with the rest of them, if they ever are, or at least be reborn without these hopeless and devastating memories.

Endymion survives, and on his knees, he weeps soundlessly. If he can't dig in the earth, he can--

--he can dig for the reason, maybe, that he's even still here. Everything is raw, but--

Mamoru Chiba stops, blotchy face lifting, frown creasing his forehead. His hand's over his heart again. "No. No, I remember what it feels like when this is raw--"
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-12 02:07:33 78449
    It is quiet. So very, very quiet. A silence so perfavice and far reaching. There isn't even an echo to call back to Koji. Not even the balm of hearing another voice- even if it is just his own rebounding back to him is spared. Tokyo is empty. Desolate. Abandoned. The entire city- perhaps all of Japan. Maybe all of the world. There is no one but Koji Silvia, given the whole world in desolate solitude. And it goes on around him like nothing was wrong, yes. The street lights flicker and change in a mockery of the bustling activity that just... Isn't there.
    If everyone left, they left him behind. Maybe like he wasn't needed anymore. Or wanted.

    Certainly, another young mage is not needed. No, no one even turns around on their starlight steeds to go after her. Gravity kicks in. But it's not jarring. The pull downward to the welcoming embrace of the land so far below only tugs after that initial inertia, with no response from her cherished Device. No one is turning around to help.
    Did they even notice? If they didn't that's some small solace at least right? That no one was watching when Rashmi Terios didn't have the power to stay in the fight while everyone else gave their all. Maybe they'll think a nightmare hit and killed her. That's better than any of them seeing her fall. Will anyone even ever find her body where it lands?

    The Korma Chameleon remains silent though, eyes darting between Kokoro and then Rashmi, as though expecting her to handle it, while the others all awkwardly shuffle feet or try to find something else good and interesting, others choosing to try and hide in their curry. Throats clear, and finally with a resigned sigh, Rashmi stands herself up.
    "Hey, look... About the invite. I'm sorry, I forgot to remove that one from the pile... We all talked about it. It wasn't easy but you're just... Too angry. It's not healthy. For you, or any of us honestly. Look I'll get a bowl of curry wrapped for you, but it's the last one."
    She means the last one for Kokoro Akakuma.
    "We all tried so hard. But when you just refused to open up every time... I think even Ariel giving up was the last we could take."
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-12 02:08:04 78450
    Takara must face this on her own, though. That nameless, faceless, hungering malevolence that had hunted her mother now hunts her. Its breath chill, it's voice like sandpaper as it reaches with a touch both frigid and yet not physical.
    It starts. A wrenching feeling; the sensation of everything Takara Himura could have ever loved, ever hope for, ever wanted in life -- every happy memory being pulled from her painfully as though sucked through a straw jabbed through chest and into her very heart. If not stopped, all that will be left is little more than a husk. A girl living... But with nothing to love for ever again.

    Yet Vados is a lovely village by night. Even if the villagers live in constant and never ending fear and terror. For if the countess herself does not come to bring their worst fears out to them in the night, her youma do, or Morte, or the varied thralls gifted with her dark empowerment, as she had seen Poderoso give unto others.
    "My Lady?" Morte asks curiously. "Come, you must be famished. It has been so long since you were last awake. I heard tale some new Hunters arrived in town. Why not make sport of feeding on them?"

    But the beast within wants out. And once again Ikiko Hisakata must struggle to 'remain Ikiko Hisakata even if only by degrees. Even if only fractionally. There is no stopping the physical transformation. The best she can hope is to remain in control. If she's lucky. To remain under her own human senses rather than let that snarling soul overtake her.
    But it is strong... It wants to be free. A wolf in captivity will always dream of the world beyond the cage, and what will whimpering childlings do to stop it? It flashes fangs. At one point it gave her power. Now it exerts it, facing off against Ikiko from within in a challenge for dominance. A challenge to see who is truly the alpha of the body they share.

    There is little left nearby. The ancient knight must travel farther and farther each time. But those reserves are low. They must be replenished. It takes some searching. So many worlds already extinguished for the sake of preserving those he loves.
    There. Through the distance. Far far off. It is a brief journey through the dusk zone, but there's no mistaking it. The last speck of light and life left in all the known universe.
    It is a small world. But it is inhabited. Life in the earliest stages. Tribal life only recently rising up to form the first cities; discover agriculture over hunting and gathering, beginning to find out just what free thought is and take their first steps towards learning and philosophy.
    All in all, it is perhaps only a million lives upon this world. What they look like does not matter. What does is that Kunzite is presented a choice. One that strange warmth within him might be able to remind him.
    Kunzite. Kazuo Takeba has the choice to weigh this life. To weigh it and find which he deserves more.
    The light of a small 'many' in the beginnings of their life. Or to continue selfishly feeding the chosen few he has the gall to play god for at the cost of there being nothing left once this last world is devoured.
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-12 02:08:35 78451
    It's been a long time since Rei insisted on the more fomal term of address. As though Mamoru were no longer even allowed to speak as though he were close to her. Yes, he was alive now. As she wished. But it did not happen. The Silver Crystal brought none of them back. It could not. It would not with the moon princess dead, and it would do nothing with her now dead for so long.
    But yes. Once again, Rei Hino- Sailor Mars has done her duty. The duty she does not want. The duty she has made as clear as the silver crystal itself that she does not want, leaving him to be in his accursed sentence of solitude. As though the universe had decided to deal out a twisted justice all its own, just for him, the earth itself refusing to let him die this time. He is left to weep. And to reflect on his inadequacies as prince of the earth.

    Hokuto... Hokuto gave her word yes. A grim reminder that is presented as soon as the makeup is all done and the dress is on. She is handed a bouquet. Black roses to commemorate her wedding day, as Seishi gently nudges her out of the door.
    The path budding with flowers and cherry blossoms in full bloom seems... Dampened. The flowers all wilted, life sucked from each of them on the way towards the shrine. The shrine where he waits. The very monster that cut down her parents, looming by the altar as though it is where he belonged, burning dragon eyes staring through Hokuto more than at his new bride to be. She gave her word. That her hand in marriage would seal the deal in which the Daiyoukai would supposedly keep his promises to end the systematic breaking and destruction of everything she loved.

    The knife gleams... Sharpened to a razor honed edge. As sharp as, say, the katana Akashimaru had hoped for when he was given a measly fan for a weapon. But soon there will be more than the taste of blood, if Seishi cannot control herself... Soon the whole of the Earth Court apartment will smell of it.
    But to start...
    Ariel murmurs sleepily. Tossing ever so slightly on Seishi Tamashige's lap. A place warm and comfortable to her. Against someone she trusts implicitly and holds dear. She yawns. She's waking up. Slowly but surely, lashes flickering as topaz eyes peel open.
    "Mmmh... Seishi? Where is everyone...? Ah... Did I sleep through it...? Mom and mom didn't have any good news but..."
    She trails off, staring upwards into Seishi's eyes.
    Wholly unaware of the knife. Not aware in the least that her friend is not in control of herself at all.

    But back in the small cottage grove something is so very wrong. Ariel can not return her mother's hug. She stands there, torn between confusion and heartbreak. Was it all a dream?
    Did her friends in the waking world ever exist at all?
    If they do are they fighting something terrible without her or...
    Was it all just a flight of fancy crafted up by a sleepy unicorn tossing in her bed...?
Rashmi Terios 2017-06-12 02:16:48 78452
Fifty feet later, Rashmi pulls back her hand, tears rising anew from her eyes. They never even noticed...

She may be powerless, she may be worthless, she may be unable to keep herself from splattering on the ground... But she can at least say goodbye to the one person she loved, who couldn't have come to this fight.

To the one person whose life will end the moment hers does.

To her new big brother, who never asked for anything and never gave less than his all.

I'm sorry, Chandra, she sends through her mental link. I'm sorry I'm such a failure.

...A hundred feet later, there's still a huge amount of space between herself and the ground.

...Maybe he loves her enough to ty and save her?

It's a thin hope at best, but she holds onto it tightly.

Because hope will always be there when the fear dries up.
A Siberian cat 2017-06-12 02:22:04 78453
BEEP

BEEP.

BEEP...

...BEEP...

The most maddening thing is the lack of sound in it all, like he's deaf or everything is muffled. And Koji is curled into a ball in the middle of an intersection. There's this indeterminate amount of time for him just being there, but then... he pushes himself up to a kneeling position, and from there, to a standing position. Sniffling, he looks around at the world that is still going as if nothing was wrong... except he's the only one there.

Going back into the konbini, he piles up a huge array of junk snacks, and comes back outside. Sitting on the edge of the sidewalk like a delinquent, he just starts eating... and eating... scarfing snacks and chugging Ramune like it's a hot summer day, while occasionally checking his phone for a call or a text... for anything. Even checking on games he occasionally plays on the phone his parents got him for his birthday not even a month before he met Tyrfing, seeing servers where he's the only one there. The thought of it, of Tyrfing and fighting the monster, it stops him mid-food as the image on the phone change. It's him... at 12. Shorter body, shorter hair, thicker glasses, round and pudgy face, a body that clearly could shed a few pounds. The little boy that would get picked on for being fat in a world of perpetual healthy children... but even where there should be at least someone making a face, the image has nothing. But the image is going the same thing he is. It's Munching away at a big bag of snacks.

The phone goes one way, and the junk food goes the other as he stands up and starts RAGING! Just yelling up at the sky. It's silent, just everything else.

Again, the only sound he can hear is the alarm from his desk.

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP...
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-06-12 02:37:57 78455
The human parts of Ikiko huddle, warily eying the surrounding wolves. With equal numbers, control boils down to ferocity, and the pack of caged wolves has more ferocity than a group of human girls with a domesticated...

    ...wait a minute.

Ikiko's selves do a quick nose count. Yup, 10-20 human souls... plus one canine! Tan and white, it looks more like a husky than a wolf -- but after three generations of being a partial soul among human souls, why wouldn't it?

Her eyes widen. The numbers are not even. There's one more of her -- yes, the domesticated wolf counts, even though it's not human -- and there's one less of the feral wolves. What's more, there's a fierceness that she can tap into: the determined canine loyalty of protecting what's important to it -- family, friends, her city...

Ikiko's selves pet the husky, trading energy as the mob of them all glow with a silvery light. When the luminance fades, it's no longer 10-20 scared Ikikos and a frightened dog; instead, it's 10-20 Tsukikos... and one Ikiko with wolf-ears and -tail, as she's seen herself in double-indirect views.

The pack of Tsukikos grin, their fanglies glistening in the moonlight as they pound their fists into their hands, but they don't make any movement towards the outnumbered wolves. Instead, the dreamlike landscape of the soul gently shifts, bringing the wolves to one side and parting the Tsukikos around the Ikiko -- the one formed by the domesticated wolf-soul trading its canine energy with the human-souls and getting human energy in return.

The Ikiko looks up, coldly staring at all of the wolves simultaneously. For a moment, it feels just like that one time, many full moons ago, when she faced down a youma in what she thought was a dream.

But now she's on a deliberate path to protect others, and she knows it. "Leave," the Ikiko says, her calm whisper of caninespeak striking like a shouted hurricane of snarls.
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-12 02:38:33 78456
    The look in Kokoro's eyes as her nightmare's Rashmi speaks is not one of fury. It's not indignation. It's not outrage, or any sort of fire.

    It's a look that can only be described as 'quietly broken'.

    "...yeah," she says, her tone hoarse. "Yeah, that. That sounds about right." She's still trembling. "Shoulda... shoulda figured. Don't bother with your damn curry," the tall girl hisses. She turns on her heels without waiting for another word, and starts a very swift, very stiff-legged walk that lasts as long as it takes to walk three buildings down and duck into an alley. Then she stops, turns, and drives her fist into a wall, with a simmering, wounded growl. WHAM. There's no words. No coherence. Just a quiet noise of pain and anger, and a tiny arc of lightning across the back of her fist as her nature responds to the upwelling of both.

    Kokoro goes still.

    Her eyes, already brimming, track up to that fist. Another little arc flits from her thumb to the wall.

    Confusion.

    She's not transformed. So why... ... ...wait. She's not transformed...?

    ...

    Realization.

    The alley fills with a thunderous voice. A howl of rising, boiling fury. The sky above roils, going from calm evening to rumbling, boiling thunderstorm in a heartbeat. Between the buildings, a small electrical storm erupts. Kokoro Akakuma has realized what happened. Where she is. What has been done to her, and who did it.

    "I'M GOING TO TEAR YOU APART, YOU HEAR ME, PRINCE?! I'M GONNA SMASH YOU UNTIL THERE'S NOTHING LEFT!"
Seishi Tamashige 2017-06-12 02:41:14 78457
"Ariel..." Run away, Seishi tries to tell her, but her throat closes and try as she might she cannot speak. She can't do anything - can only stare down into those innocent, trusting eyes, as her own eyes fill with helpless, horrified tears.

The memory of the light fading from Renge's eyes is suddenly, treacherously crystal clear.

The knife quivers in her hand, the razor-sharp edge drawing soundlessly nearer Ariel's back. She's so small, so light, and the blade is so sharp. It will slide between her ribs and snuff out that bright pure life almost without effort - a thing that Seishi would never, never in her life want to do, so why can't she break free?

Foolish child, whispers that dark voice in her ear. You've been my pawn all along.

"No." It's not Seishi's voice that answers, as a phantom hand clamps onto her wrist with a grip solid as iron. Akashimaru stands behind her, disheveled and dirty, reeking of spilled blood, and he holds Seishi's arm immobile before the edge of the knife can touch Ariel's clothes. "Not this time!"

In an instant Ariel's slight weight is gone for her lap and the welcoming light of Mamoru's nice clean penthouse no longer surrounds them. They are back in that place, the shambles of the last campsite after that last disastrous battle, cold scattered ashes and bloodsoaked earth.

"There's still a way out." The familiar voice echoes contemptuously through the shadows. "If you have the guts."

Akashimaru's grip guides Seishi's hand towards her own abdomen, until the tip of the blade comes to rest against the thin knit of her t-shirt.

"This time," he whispers, "with honor..."
Kunzite 2017-06-12 02:42:14 78458
His choice is obvious. Is clear. Is neither of those two. Both of them would lead to the sleepers' deaths. No. Harvest ambient energy from the world's sun, what's radiated in other directions. Let this world grow. Let it spread into the worlds around it -- consume them, then. The reaping, not the seed corn. Easy enough --

That white-gold energy within him whispers: it is not his choice that matters, is it? He gave his oath on that.

How does he still bear that energy? How is it not consumed? Sentimental value, perhaps. A memory of warmth from long ago.

But how does he bear the sunlight? When it should be either long since gone with the sun itself, or abundant within him, feeding him day by day? Why is there only that little trace of it, a few dozen square meters for a few seconds --

Sunlight. Dawn.

"The dawn will chase away every nightmare."

His lungs shifted, as if he tried to draw in a breath.

He drew out the sunlight, forcing it to remain focused, glimmering in his hands. Shaped it into a blade. Into a certain blade, one that he used impossibly precisely once before. (DEX: +5 WIS: +3 INT: +1) Whispered to it: "Akashimaru. Find Akashimaru."

He doubts it'll work. His powers certainly won't accomplish it. But there's the slightest chance that hers will, a dream of light drawn to a dreamwalker. And he flings the blade all the same.

It burns the smallest of holes through the stuff of the Dusk Zone, and it is gone.

It's that place that he turns to, then. Not that bright gleaming world. Even in dreams, he chooses to let that place and the time-space that holds it be. No -- he turns to that place where the fabric of whatever reality he stands in is frayed. And he summons his power.

Even if it backfires on him, it cannot be worse than giving in.
Hokuto Minase 2017-06-12 02:43:18 78459
She did, in fact, give her word, it would seem. She walks down the flowered path, booted feet treading thoughtlessly on wilted petals. The attendants at either side of her, also garbed in black, silent as they walk along. She glares out at the starlit sky: the constellations are all wrong. This is... ever so slightly unreal. But then, she's felt that ever since the day the monster first returned.

She looked out at the gathered crowd. On the groom's side, youkai - 'demons', some called them, but not quite really what they were. They had as much choice as humans did, to be good or evil or in-between. Just her luck, some chose... poorly. As she had had no choice but to choose.

Or had she? If nothing else, a few had survived. The bride's aisle held so many of Tokyo's surviving defenders. Senshi, Mages, others. All in black, just as she was. Some of them more visibly monstrous than others. Her own family, as well, the latent youkai bloodline in so many of them now clearly visible.

She swallowed heavily, her heart sore at the sight. But she had given her word. And even darkened and monstrous, they were alive.
Takara Himura 2017-06-12 02:44:27 78460
"No," breathes the blind girl again. "No, this is .... " Takara doesnt get a chance to finish her thought as the Eater starts to snack on her soul, on all the things that makes her unique to the world. It starts with the umbridled optimism and confidence that has kept her sane in this world that was not built for blind people. It starts with the earliest memories, of when she was three, and beginning to realize that there was this strange world out there called "sight" and it is not something shell ever have access to. Of her mother comforting her and telling her that it doesnt matter, that she can do whatever she puts her mind to it. Gone.

First grade. She can barely speak English, and its something that other kids hook into and tease her. Tease her about her eyes which have that foreign slant to them despite her golden hair. Tease her accent, especially when they call her Chinese, (shes Japanese, /dangit). But she doesnt care. What do they know? She doesnt have to be sighted to know that theyre just lashing out because of their own weakness. Whatever. Let them tease. Shell learn to give as good as she gets.

Gone.

Takara cries out, almot in pain as she remembers the first time she held a bokken and now /right/ it felt in her hands. How, when she held the wooden practice sword it seemed like a piece of her life she didnt know was missing was suddenly filled. How surprised everybody was at how good at the sport she actually was. She was a natural.

GONE

"No, stop!" she cries out. "No more. I cant take anymore...." she sobs. But then, in the distance she can hear the twang of a shimasen. A single note, as clear as day despite how far away it might seem. The whole nightmare seems to hang in the air with that note, suspended, waiting. A second note follows the first, and a third, and soon a soothing melody follows. A voice, in the distance sings an old cradle song.

Do not cry little bird
your wings are not clipped
Your feet are free
You have just forgotten

Do not cry little bird
You are safe in your nest
you have just forgotten
Forgotten how to sing.

Takara breathes heavily as she listens. "Yeah. Yeah," she agrees. "This isnt how it works." She grits her teeth against the rending of her soul ,and shakes her left wrist. Nothing. Once more, and concentrate /hard/er/. There it is. The faint tinkling of an ancient bell tied to a red ribbon around her wrist. She shakes her wrist again, and the sound is easier to hear now. "Remember," she breathes to herself, and she does. With a swift action, she strikes at the Eater of Dreams with her straight sword in a single underhanded cut, freeing herself from this nightmare.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-06-12 02:53:00 78461
His inadequacies-- but. But. No: Mamoru learned the hard way what it was like to be locked in a small place inside his soul, unable to communicate, unable to feel any of the other people to whom his heart is tethered, throwing himself against the walls of his tiny prison and being stung every time he did-- and still, and still, trying anyway. Trying through brute force and failing. Trying through code and maths and clever tricks, and managing to get the ideas out--

--and slowly coming to realize that those tethers, however attenuated, were not snapped.

Kunzite repeated the orders he gave, over and over: they belong with him, stay alive, don't give up, don't let go... have faith. Usagi kept poking at the wound, kept peeling at the sandpaper in her soul, trying to bolster and buffer the flickering golden candle light with her silvery love and will, no matter how much it hurt. Zoisite watched over him when he was a shell; put himself in front of his prince and danger and still followed those orders. Rei kept reading the fires; Minako came through in the end; Ami trusted against her better judgement, was burned, and still forgave. Jadeite prepared the way, revealed the weaknesses, protected where the others could not-- and Nephrite added the quantum element to his physics, to his F=MA, to his engineering, to the tensile properties of a given variable; he reminded him that two particles, once entangled, would always remain so. And Makoto-- oh, Makoto. Over and over again, the symbol to remind them. The quartered circle.

This time it's Mamoru's turn. He remembers: his heart, his complete, un-torn soul, most certainly not rent asunder, reminds him that he is real and this is not. The people who make him real are still alive. They are STILL ALIVE, and he can feel them.

All of a sudden, in his hollowed-out little crater of uncrumbled earth, Prince Endymion snarls and stands, hot fury filling him. The Prince of Nightmares. How DARE he? How dare he use this against him -- use these things against all of them? Because they were fighting him, and he said--

No. It doesn't even matter. His words don't matter. The crater turns, in the dream, into a pillar that takes the Prince in his unsullied armor up into the sky, and it's not twilight anymore, not in this shard of dream. Guarded by the Sun under the sign of Leo, full of the golden web of connections to every living thing on Earth, Endymion holds damascene sword aloft in one hand, and flings the other out to shove his gathered strength and emotion at this twisted and broken shell of a world. "TUXEDO LA SMOKING BOMBER!!"

It rockets toward the sky in an explosion of molten gold, bright as the sun and as forceful as a comet, and it shoves a symbol through the prince's empathy at anyone who might recognise it, and the feelings associated with that symbol at even those who don't: we're not part of this monstrosity. He's trying to trap us. Break free.

__
(||r^2)/4

The quartered circle, burning in the sky like the sunlight they're trying to call -- burning to help bring that sunlight into the unnatural darkness.
Lacrima 2017-06-12 03:03:49 78462
Lacrima blinks merely at this servant. Who is familiar. But isn't. She blinks as she seems to calm down. Surely... this. This----- whatever he is, she isn't even sure, really, is right. She just needs... needs to feed. Why wait for the Hunters to come to her. They would time. They always did.

Wait. Did they?

Why is her memory so fuzzy? She's not... fuzzy. When she's hungry. She's. Irrational! and crazy! But how does she remember /that/?

Maybe. She should just leave. With the man.

But then that crow caws. And it's moved to a closer window in the open air throne room. and she's staring at it. Crow. Why is the stupid crow familiar.

There is a sudden streak-- almost a thin thread in the distance past the crow. It isn't coming from 'over the ridge' in the dream- but from somewhere else- and it's that thread that causes her to blink and causes images to flash throw her head as twitches a bit as she comes to the realization.

This is a nightmare. This isn't how she wants to be. THIS ISN'T HER. There's a sudden slash of energy to her right as she attempts to just slice right through this servant with a wave of dark energy that just comes into the existence just to the pure RAGE she's feeling--- it doesn't even come from reserves.

"ENOUGH!" she screams out into the night.

She doesn't know if this would work.
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-12 03:09:31 78463
    Solitude...

    Inferiority... Giving way to dominance.

    Crushing loneliness succumbing to storming rage.

    A past life steps in to halt history from making the same mistake twice.

    Elsewhere an infinite devourer remembers what it is to give back, and in so doing releases a small mote of warmth where it needs to go.

    But there is still so much derpair. Can nothing be done to halt the procession of blood and tears this night has been? Forcing a girl down a path she does not want...

    Yet for all that is taken, there is resolve in the night. All it takes is an old lullabye.

    And for a prince to remember that all is not lost.

    For a dark countess to see even the faintest glimmering streak of the sun once again...

    In her cozy little cottage in the woods, surrounded by her mothers, looming over her with concern... Ariel pulls away.
    "No..." She whispers. "No...!"
    Tiny fingers clench into fists as she remains staring at her toes for a long, silent beat, after the outburst. "That's not right." Whispered, more to herself than to the frowning faces of her parents.
    "You told me... That the happy ending can't come in the middle of the story. But that's not right either." Declared as she storms back up the stairs, and climbs back into her bed.
    That's not right either... Because nothing truly ends.
    And, unsatisfied with an incomplete resolution, the unicorn decries the fleeting image of her own happy ending. It was everything she wanted. Was. But now she wants more as she squeezes her eyes shut.
    This is the bad dream. But it is her dream. And if it is her dream than she can change it, whispering as she wills herself back to sleep...

    It is enough. As that high stat blade of sunlight tears through the skies every dream, landing just where it is intended and offering a samurai the choice of another thread to cut entirely, than her own.

    "It's all just a bad dream... But it's your dream. You have the power to change it." A unicorn's voice breaks through in but a whisper for all to hear. And do with as they may.

    Because when everyone does wake up, they're still on their glowing mounts, racing up towards the starry sky. The light of dawn and the rising sun chasing just behind them for one last push on the horror-stricken looking Nightmare Prince above them.
Takara Himura 2017-06-12 03:26:08 78464
Before her nightmare completely vanishes, Takara reaches out with snakelike reflexes and grabs a hold of /something/. If they could see through her eyes, theyd see a tattered red cord, dulled through the years, and dripping with icky black corruption. "There," breathes the dream Samurai Girl. The cord snakes its way around the brdige, touching the other heroes here and there as they break out of their own nightmares. "Your fate has come to an end, Prince." Her blind eyes shine as she examines the cord of fate she holds in her hands. "For so long you have embraced the corruption. I do not know if I can free you from it."

"But I will try.

Takara lets go of the cord, and the blade of her sword suddenly blazes to life. "FINAL CUT OF FATE!!!!!!!" she bellows, slashing her sword, burning away the corruption that has plagued the Princes desitny. With any luck, there might be a future left for the prince, but thats up to the others.
Rashmi Terios 2017-06-12 03:27:51 78465
It may not be Chandra who answers her hopes, but someone does.

Someone answered.

She mattered enough to answer.

That alone is enough to convince her that the nightmare is just that; her mind whispering its deepest, darkest doubts to itself, while she's not around to get in the way.

It's such a tiny thing, in the light of day, one wonders why a nightmare is ever a thing to fear.

Snapping awake on the race toward the black sun, Rashmi shakes her head sharply, looking about for all of her friends, familiar and not, who ride for the throat of the Nightmare Prince. Seeing them beginning to come out of their own nightmares, she turns to the horror-stricken Prince.

"Please," she says, her voice crushingly sincere. "Stop this. You can choose to stop this, Prince."

"All you need to do is want to, and reach out to us."
Seishi Tamashige 2017-06-12 03:29:25 78466
With a powerful yank, Seishi plunges the knife into her own midsection--

    --a flash of sunlight dazzles the air--

        --a sound of shattering metal--

--fabric rends and Seishi winces involuntarily at the sharp pain of metal stabbing into her flesh, drawing blood... but not deeply. Finding she can move again, she looks down to see that the knife she was holding has been broken off near the handle; the jagged broken-off stub of the blade has cut into her stomach, but though the blood is already soaking into her torn red kimono, the cut's not deep.

A faint trail of steam in the air marks the path of the missle that broke off the knife. A dagger of pure sunlight, bright and golden, stuck point-first into the ground.

With the sight comes the rush of feeling that the Prince of the Earth pours out, and the small, clear voice of a unicorn: It's all just a bad dream...

Seishi drops the handle of the broken knife as though it's burned her. "It's all right," she says, breathy and ragged; taking hold of the sunlight-dagger, she gets her feet underneath her and lurches unsteadily to her feet, looking around. Her samurai's garb is ragged and filthy, her Shinken nowhere to be scene, but the dagger blazes bright in her hand as she lifts it up, high, high over her head.

"--NIGHTMARE BREAKER!"

She brings it down and the nightmare explodes all around her, the dark forest and bloodsoaked campsite and everything else coming apart into a million glittering shards that fly out in all directions, and she is a rocket, a meteorite of pure daybreak soaring upwards towards the Nightmare Prince on the back of a celestial steed.
A Siberian cat 2017-06-12 03:33:16 78467
BEEP. BEEP. *THUMP*

BEEP. BEEP. *THUMP*

The change in the tone of the world jars Koji as the streak passes by in the air.

BEEP. BEEP. *THUMP*

Inside of the konbini, the radio throws off static, and suddenly begins to give the world a new sound. The sound of music.

The sound of Queen.

BEEP. BEEP. *THUMP*

BEEP. BEEP. *THUMP*

Buddy you're a boy make a big noise
Playin' in the street gonna be a big man some day
You got mud on yo' face
You big disgrace
Kickin' your can all over the place

BEEP. BEEP. *THUMP*

Koji looks at the radio, and then back up into the sky as the pinprick starts a thunderstorm, rumbling on the horizon, and lightning crackles through the air, and he can HEAR it all. The door behind him *jingles*, and someone walks inside, and it's the familiar form of himself in his henshin.

BEEP. BEEP. *THUMP*

Buddy you're a young man hard man
Shoutin' in the street gonna take on the world some day

You got blood on yo' face
You big disgrace
Wavin' your banner all over the place

The form of himself reaches a hand out, offering it with a smile before his voice echoes the song perfectly...

WE WILL WE WILL ROCK YOU!

*BOOM* *BOOM* *THUMP*

SING IT!

WE WILL WE WI-

The sky cracks as Koji takes his own hand, and then shatters as the lonely world around him shatters into glass and is scattered into the wind. To each side of him, Tyrfing and the Dream of Seraphim as both boosting up on their wings, slashing at the darkness that rains down on them both and Koji, blocking anything that might come and strike him down, trying to keep his shot-line clear. They twirl and dance with an elegance that makes ones think they were both born as birds, their blades glinting and melting through each of those bits of Nightmare as they pass close.

"So how many is that for you, Tyr-kun?", Serpahim asks.

Tyrfing laughs, "Must be a dozen now. How about you!"

"Twenty", she replies, and grins, "''You're slowing down there, Tyr-kun. Is everything allright?"

The beastman huffs, "Just a little off my game is all. Hey Koji! Take your shot!"

From below the pair, Koji draws an arrow from his quiver, but it's not an arrow, not really. Inside of it, one can see a dream taken form. It s a dream of all of them sitting on the beach, eating watermelon and playing games. It's laughter and peace, and in it there's a handsome young stranger sitting under an umbrella and smiling. It's the Prince of Dreams. Not how he looks now, but how he could be. A possibility. And Koji takes that little hope, and fires it.

Not at the darkness. Not at the nightmares.

But into the dark to where the Prince is.

Aiming for his heart with hope.
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-12 03:33:59 78468
    'We're not part of this monstrosity.'

    'It's your dream. You have the power to change it.'

    Somehow, those whispers reach Kokoro, even through the hurricane of fury. And for a brief moment, she falls still. She doesn't know when she changed back to her transformed state in the dream, but she did. She looks herself over, she looks at the battered, scorched alley around her, and then she looks skyward.

    Her voice comes out a growl. "Some piece of crap dream like this... only thing I wanna change it to is rubble."

    The sky opens up.

----------

    In the real world, a pair of violet eyes open.

    There is an absolutely outraged bull charging up the rainbow road. A roaring bellow heralds its passage, a crackle of lightning announces its charge, and a positively booming stampede of hooves forewarns its utterly livid advance.

    Taurus is there, too, bearing the bull astride his back ahead at full speed.

    Lightning crackles and dances along Kokoro's hammer. It flits and arcs across her arms, her shoulders, her chest. Even those violet irises seem alive with the fury of a thunderstorm, locked with nothing but a promise of pain on the Prince above and ahead. Her natural charge is higher than anyone here has yet seen it.

    She doesn't even wait for her celestial mount to bear her closer. She pushes herself up, going from sitting to standing, quickly finding a balance atop the charging bull. That hammer is shifted to a one-handed grip, the other held out forward and slightly to one side. For balance. To adjust her center of gravity. To get a better feel for her momentum and weight. She waits for it. She waits for just the right moment, just after the bovine guardian passes over a boost pad and reaches his peak speed - and then she leaps, with all the incredible strength her inhuman heritage bolstered by Rashmi's own enhancements can give her. It launches her like a rocket. It launches her in a high arc. It launches her almost straight up, the lightning storm centered on her hammer's head growing more intense all the while.

    By the time the towering magical girl hits the top of her arc, it's almost impossible to see any metal, purely for all the intense electricity radiating off the thing. And there is no quip from Kokoro. No kiai. Nothing witty, or scathing, or even just taciturn and smart-assed.

    As Kokoro Akakuma descends, as she puts both hands on a thunderbolt in the shape of a hammer and brings it down, she has only an utterly, incomprehensibly furious roar.
Hokuto Minase 2017-06-12 03:41:11 78469
The wedding is happening. The oaths are sworn. Hokuto's fate is sealed... or is it?

Moments before, as she stepped up to the dark altar, Seishis' hand caught hers - and slipped a knife into her grip. A wicked little smile crosses her lips, enough for the onlooking monster to take as cruel anticipation... which perhaps it is.

As the priest encourages the groom to kiss the bride, she plucks the blade out of the wide sash that binds her dress. She loops her other arm around Korzai's shoulders to keep his attention, drawing him close...

Thank you, sempai. Please... forgive me. Lips pressed to her grooms, she slams the blade into his throat with all her strength, and holds him there as he gurgles, coughs up blood.... and slumps, falling from her grip as she steps away, blood staining her face and hand and her dress. She looks out over the crowd, reaching down to claim Korzai's crown and crush it in her hands...

And then she's astride the dragon once again, soaring into the night bow in hand. One of the monsters that drip from the Prince's wandering sphere approaches, and she fires a bolt into it without hesitation. Onward and upwards: she will not give in. Not to despair, nor to cruelty.
Lacrima 2017-06-12 03:41:28 78470
Lacrima finds herself back on a giant crow. She blinks once- then again rapidly as she frowns. Then the frown turns into a expression of furious anger. At least her anger is her own this time. She seethes and just raises both hands and just summons up as much energy as that pure rage will let her feed into pure dark energy protection.

This is another trick Riventon taught her. How to use unbridled wrath as a power source. At least it's safer to use this as a power for dark energy than despair or sadness is.

"THIS ENDS NEXT TIME, PRINCE. ONE WAY. OR ANOTHER." she seethes out in that anger.
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-06-12 03:45:26 78471
The empathy of the quartered circle is its own heads-up before its arrival, tipping off Ikiko and the Tsukikos before erupting into brilliance, projecting down onto the surprised wolves. The sunlight blade pierces the fabric of the dream, and the wolfgirls' ears (all of them) perk up at Ariel's words.

Grabbing onto the projected quartered circle with one synchronized hand to empower herself and using that energy to reach for the blade-tear, Tsukiko pulls herself together as she drags her consciousness back into the real world.

There's a mental snap like a rubberband being released, and the wolfgirl blinks for a moment as she regains her bearings. Riding on the back of the starwolf Lupus, check; chasing after the Nightmare Prince, check; the afterimage of the quartered circle around her left wrist, check...

    ...wait, what?

Tsukiko takes a closer look. Sure enough, the fading image of the circle hovers a few centimeters above her skin, the quartering lines seeming to run through her wrist. Even odder, there's a swarm of light brown motes floating around it, each no bigger than her thumb. As she focuses on the motes, they become more distinct, both to her eyes and her spirit-ears: wolf heads.

About 9-19 of them.

The wolfgirl gives them a bemused look as they roo confusedly, then offers them a fragment of sunlight that had somehow gotten stuck in her vest. "So you've been pulled out of my nightmares, huh?" she murmurs in caninespeak as the wolfmotes munch on the sunlight -- not unlike how the strays she feeds munch on dogfood. "You guys aren't so bad like this, actually."

She looks upward towards the Nightmare Prince, eyes narrowing. "Time to clear the path," Tsukiko growls, then points with her left hand towards the sphere of nightmares. "Minipack: Hunt!" she howls, and the now-glowing wolfmotes streak forward, their auras tearing through the falling chunks of darkness.
Kunzite 2017-06-12 03:47:54 78472
Not everyone makes it out of those nightmares ... quite the same. Not when dreams are so close to the waking world. Not when they chose to consume nightmare, knowing the nature of their oldest nightmare.

Clinging to the back of the star-caracal now is not a tall, lean knight with blade in hand. Instead - a battered and bloody eight-year-old boy in a blousy blue shirt and leather breeches and knee-length coat, none of which are any cut that's been fashionable cut in the last thousand years or so.

He is dazed, and injured, and half numb from shock. But he knows that golden quartered-circle, too. And he knows Akashimaru, and Ariel, and Lacrima when she arrives. He's seen them before.

He set off to fight a war with less.

He rises up, uncertain for a moment; but he lifts his shaking, bruised hands, and he follows Akashimaru's trail and Lacrima's aim. Winding together all the energy he can muster: the burning white-gold he does not recognize; his own quiet pink; the nightmare grief for lost kin that refuses to surrender, no matter how much is broken, no matter how impossible it seems. It's not the slender laser that his elder self would make of it. But like Lacrima's rage ... even unfocused, it may do.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-06-12 04:09:57 78473
The smoking bomber, flaring its quartered circle -- even as it gives Ikiko a leg up (I can feel you, Cute Wolf! I know you're there! Hi! Welcome!) and Kokoro hears the whispers (It is a goddamn monstrosity, isn't it? Let's find the right cracks to tear into!) -- finds that sunlight slice through the sky, and the dream-sun gives way before the infinitely greater truth of that gleaming glory. It blasts that sliver wide open, and there's a lion's roar:

A sleeping prince, rigid with paralyzing self-loathing and locked in a prison of his own fears, awakens abruptly as Leo sounds his mighty voice, and it's almost like the Metro Goldwyn Mayer lion crashes through an empty circle on a screen with Endymion on his back, waving his sword and roaring himself, half rage and half delight at the escape--

--and then they're running on that rainbow road again with all the others, and the Prince of Earth wrenches his henshin back from the reactive to the teammate.

Tuxedo Kamen produces his hat from absolutely nowhere, white shirt-front clear of blood and phantom blades, five-pointed medal gleaming with starlight and cape billowing behind him...

...and he pulls his knees in and tugs on the lion's mane to slow down, ocean blue eyes wide behind the luminous mask.

Let the prince of nightmares see forgiveness and love for one who came out the other side, having faith.

He comes up behind the eight-year-old, aiming with such uncertain determination, and slides off the back of the constellation. The hat gets dropped on the small white-haired child's head, and Tuxedo Kamen takes his gloves off and crouches alongside the boy, and bare hands reach to lace fingers through much smaller ones from the back. The white-gold glow may only be familiar as the source of the burning energy he's been holding. The sense of belonging-- of accepting wholly, of loving unconditionally, of understanding-- is as strong as the Earth's own power bolstering that attack.

The belief burning through it? That one might be new.

"Hi, Kunzite," whispers Mamoru. "I missed you."
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-12 04:36:56 78474
    Ariel forces herself back to sleep...
    And when she wakes up she is once more on Lucky's back, the massive hound charging through the skies. Friends to the left of her, friends to the right, sunlight hot on their tails as they chase the prince up into that dark night.
    "Why..." He whispers, eyes wide. Is that shock? Or horror? It's hard to tell. Though in reality he must be thousands upon thousands upon thousands of miles away, in a world where dream and reality intersects, his face is as clear as day and his voice as loud as though he were speaking from mere inches away. "Why don't you just give in?"
    His last gamble has failed. Pitted against their worst nightmares, his dreaming adversaries have shaken their chains in one way or another. The wedding does not happen. The ancient countess is young and angry once again rather than filled with the apathy of ages. A raging bull careens towards the heavens, brimming with silent and dauntless fury. Oh and she's riding Tauros.
    There is nothing, no nightmare he can call on now to change what happens next. As though a single thread binding him back towards the earth below was YANKED, he jerks; looking lost as it is cut. In that instant it is as though his connection to every nightmare roving in Tokyo below is severed, the sunlight already washing across the city causing them to vanish in puffs of black smoke without their connection to their prince to sustain them.
    Ritual suicide is not the answer here, when that blade is broken, replaced by one of bright hope and promise, and the samurai in red returns to her senses. It is all just a bad dream. One she can break if she puts all her heart and belief into it. A dream that can be shaped into something brighter once that darkness is cut.
    For what is a samurai that cannot cut?
    Not this one as, in the sunlight blade cleaves through that dark sun.
    Of all of them though, the first to reach the Prince, himself, with Queen blaring in the backround is that thundrous rage, and the hammerblow that follows it. He puts up no defense- nothing in his repetoire can fend off the blow that sends him crashing through the sky seeing stars swirling. An arrow strikes next. The light of hope burning tiny and warm at the point impacting his chest and erupting in a gentle flare. Though it does not hurt him, there is a different kind of pain etched upon his stunned face. The pain of someone who understands, even if just for a fleeting moment- someone tho has been reminded of what hope IS, only able to watch punch drunk as the wolves set upon the gathered darkness, everything, everything wearing it down as a warmth of white and gold burns away through the night.
    His momentum is gone, gravity seeming to assert itself as the sunlight breaks over the earth-- all of the earth now visible in the distance below. A bright blue shining ball that only starts to get bigger and bigger as that dark orb of dread is burned to a misty nothingness. He falls to the earth, and the stars start to wink out.
    "I... See..." Whispered as the Prince of Nightmares plan is brought to an abrupt halt.
    Annnnnnd everyone starts falling back to the earth below. But it's okay. With hopes as strong as theirs... Everyone should be able to dream up a safe landing.
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-12 04:43:58 78475
    All her indignant fury, all the pain of that nightmare, all of it is spent on that one blow. Thunder splits the sky. And afterward, she simply drops past the Prince, not even seeing the rest of the assault on him until her fall turns her enough to catch sight of the last of it. That's settled. Good.

    Kokoro's not imaginative enough to give herself a parachute or a pair of wings, or anything of the sort. With the last of the dream world's waning power, all she can come up with is 'I land just fine'. And she lands just fine. Three-point superhero landing.

    But rather than stand up, she goes from there to 'down on one knee', letting the head of her hammer flump to the street. Without all that rage to bolster her, her mind just keeps dancing back to those cold, hostile eyes.
Rashmi Terios 2017-06-12 04:45:57 78476
Flying is *amazing* in dreams. But nt wanting to overtax Nicomachea anymore than she already has, Rashmi goes ahead and dreams up her own wings. Bright yellow fluttery wings made of glowing ribbons, because Rashmi.

And the moment she touches down, she abandons all pretense and social awareness. YOU get a hug, and YOU get a hug, aaaand YOU get a hug, EVERYONE GETS A HUG! And a sincere, whispered, relieved 'Thank you.'
Lacrima 2017-06-12 04:50:25 78477
Lacrima lands just fine without needing to dream anything up. There's a cushion of dark energy to steady her fall and she lands with a soft bow to her impact. She closes her eyes and sort of wavers there a moment. She needs to make sure shes.... herself right now. Really really sure.

When she's sure of that, what's when she opens her eyes to a Rashmi hug. She sighs a bit and just wavers there.

"Yeah." is all she can say after that.

She then mutters. "Stupid nightmares. Broke my coffin." she mutters.

"Where the heck am I supposed to get a coffin this time of night."
Kokoro Akakuma 2017-06-12 04:51:23 78478
    Everyone gets a hug except Kokoro.

    She hears the mage coming. There's a little turn of her head. She's not really thinking about who it's going to be, just silently trying to gather herself at least enough for the trip home. So for just a brief eye-blink of an instant, Rashmi Terios gets to see a quietly haunted look in the eyes of Kokoro Akakuma.

    Then the look transforms to a brief, wounded horror, as actual recognition sets in. She can't quite bring it under control in time, and even when she does get a handle on it, it's not a very good one. The tall girl still looks a little disturbed. "I..."

    Of course, when she stands up, backs three steps away, and then turns to hurl herself up onto the rooftops, leaping away at high speed, it probably can't even really be called 'having a handle on it' anymore.
Kunzite 2017-06-12 04:52:26 78480
The eight-year-old is injured in both the real body and the dream, but far less so in reality; that may reassure Mamoru somewhat. The dream lingers, though, and the child therefore remains. And shifts in reaction to that touch and that sense, his eyes widening for a moment before he curls almost reflexively in against Mamoru's chest. Home when there wasn't one. Haven for the exhausted and numb...

He is exhausted, reserves burnt in that last strike. So when the star-cats fade, and their riders begin to fall, there's nothing he can do but trust.
A Siberian cat 2017-06-12 04:52:30 78481
"You know you need to say goodbye, don't you, Tyr-kun?" The spirit, or Dream of his former Lord says to the Shutran beastman with sad eyes behind her glasses. The three are still floating in the air for a moment, as the spell remains intact.

<<I... miss you. I really do. Why did you... send me away. I could have protected you.>> Tyrfing replies, something hurt in those feline eyes.

"You know why, Tyr-kun. You know why. It doesn't mean you should beat yourself up over it.", She replies softly, tears forming as the image begins to fade.

This time it's Koji's hand on the big beast's shoulder, "Any second now this spell's going to glitch, and I'm going to drop like a ro-"

Too late.

But as the boy falls, the fading woman laughs a bit and then gives Tyrfing a bit of an amusedly annoyed look, "Well... go catch him, silly."

And so as a dream says goodbye, and Koji falls, the form of Tyrfing vanishes and merges back with Koji, just in time to use a little Belkan magic to arrest his fall and drop him right into the hug-strike from Rashmi with an OOF. He looks almost embarrassed about it all before sniffing once and then looks at the others for a moment, "I..."

And then Kokoro takes off, causign him to close his eyes a moment as if he suddenly blames himself, and just takes a breath before saying, "Is anyone else hungry?"
Lacrima 2017-06-12 04:52:57 78482
Lacrima just blanky says while not even looking at Koji.

"Are you fucking kidding me?"
Seishi Tamashige 2017-06-12 04:53:14 78483
Like something out of a wuxia wire-fu action flick, Akashimaru descends in a controlled fall as light as a feather, tattered kimono sleeves fluttering in the air as she touches down neatly on her feet.

She stays on her feet for another second or two before everything that's just happened catches up with her and her knees kind of... buckle and she sits right down unceremoniously on her butt right there on the ground.

She looks kind of dazed, accepts Rashmi's hug with a blink and a wobbly smile and and a vague pat on the shoulder. Also her hand is pressed against her stomach. She's not yet ready to find out if she's still bleeding or not.
Hokuto Minase 2017-06-12 04:55:55 78484
Plummeting from the sky is the kind of thing that sometimes happens in dreams. Fortunately they're over Tokyo, and there are plenty of tall buildings to be hand. So Hokuto bounces herself off of one skyscraper and then to another and yet another, ping-pong-ing her way along, converting her vertical momentum into horizontal to burn off speed. Somehow it seems to work, without even breaking any office windows along the way.

She lands neatly beside Akashimaru, flexing her knees a little, and then - with a grin - converts it into a bow. "An interesting evening, was it not, sempai?" She smiles and reaches out a hand to the samurai girl... and her tummy rumbles. "Hmm. Breakfast, perhaps?"
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-06-12 04:58:47 78485
Okay, so the Nightmare Prince has been defeated. That's good!

And gravity has reasserted itself. That's... not good at all, really.

The wolfmotes gather around Tsukiko, their concern plain in their whines. Well, a fall from up here really isn't a good idea, is it?

But the motes do remind the wolfgirl of the nightmare she went through. Focusing for a moment, she positions herself like a spread-eagle skydiver, the motes forming a circle formation with her...

Then there's a glow, and now there's an Ikiko and 10-20 Tsukikos floating downward in a hand-linked ring, the wolfmotes interspersed between the Tsukikos. Thanks to dream-logic math, her effective mass is greatly reduced, and her net surface area is greatly increased -- slowing her falling speed to that of a feather.

Once she lands, there's another glow, and suddenly the horde of wolfgirls is reduced down to a single Ikiko, who doesn't have any wolf-ears or wolf-tail -- at least, not if you look at her directly. They do seem to show up in reflections, or out of the corner of your eye, albeit faded and insubstantial.

Ikiko rubs her left wrist, picking up the sense of the now-invisible wolfmotes flitting away for now. She absentmindedly hugs Rashmi in return, but her ears perk up at the mention of food. "I think getting something to eat will help a lot," she agrees.
Mamoru Chiba 2017-06-12 05:10:25 78486
Trust-- and they're blinded by the bright light of day, now, instead of the pitch blackness of a fall through a cavern.

Mamoru closes his eyes and enfolds the eight-year-old boy in arms and cape, bending his head to smile against white hair. It was a dream. There's still a little dream left, and all the Earth is connected beneath and through them, and he's not alone-- none of them are alone.

Just as she wished.

As they fall, Tuxedo Kamen knows who he is: all of who he is. And he turns them midair not so that his back is to the ground with the child shielded from impact by backpack and body, but so that his feet are pointed groundward. His arms still enclose the dream-memory of Kunzite before they ever met, but he releases his cape to billow up behind him--

--and they land, light as a feather, and with only the rustle of silk falling and the ta-tap of dress shoes on pavement to herald their arrival.

Trust.

He's not going to let go even when the dream's over. This may result in mildly ridiculous injuries when the height differential rights itself.

Also, he winces at the impact of Rashmi's hug, but otherwise just sort of -- hey, she's having a good time, and she's on to the next person in a second, so it's fine.

Finally he says, slightly muffled, "And is anyone hurt? Because takeaway and ECFH. Except the new redhead ran off before free food again."
Lacrima 2017-06-12 05:13:21 78487
Lacrima frowns and watches Kokoro bounce away. Part of her wonders what her nightmare was. She has guesses. She isn't gonna bother her about it though.

She sighs and places her hands against opposite arms and just hunkers a bit now. Yeah. She's in a foul bad mood for sure. Probably a mix of using horrible anger and the whole experience of the nightmare really rather than actual anger.

"Sure." is all she manages to wrack out finally.
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-12 05:13:42 78488
    Freefall is not as horrifying an experience as it should be like this. Everyone lands. Everyone is safe. No one is hurt, nothing has gone horribly wrong...
    Topaz eyes watch in wonder as the earth approaches. Clouds whip by. Skyscrapers and the bridge rise to meet her. It's at the last second that Ariel squints her eyes shut. More to savor the last of the view before that perfect white armor unfurls wings.
    The best they can manage is a single FLAP before her own dream of flight is brought to an end by the morning sun, the wings erupting in an explosion of downy gossamer feathers before boots touch down with a tiny clink.
    There is no sign of the Nightmare Prince. Wherever he went is a mystery for now. But that's okay. It's worth the celebration. It's a time for hugs, even if Rashmi's supreme newfound enthusiasm gets a tiny bleat out of her before it's returned. Before her smile fades.
    That look on Kokoro's face before she flees... Puts a somber dampening on the moment for Ariel as she leans quietly against Akashimaru.
    Koji may bring up food... But it's morning. Everyone has been up all night. Ariel raises another, entirely valid, option.
    "... I'm really tired. Can we... Take a nap?"
Kunzite 2017-06-12 05:23:21 78489
There's only so much dream left to go; soon enough there is no white-haired child, but a white-haired adult, down on one knee with his head bent and half-leaned against Tuxedo Kamen's chest. No uniform. No sword. Just Kazuo, dressed not in jeans but in dark blue pajamas.

(Tyrfing may suspect that photographs this time might invite their own brand of doom. Tyrfing may or may not care, granted.)

He blinks after a moment. Shifts just enough to straighten and attempt to reassert some kind of dignity. And, in passing sometime in the chaos and relocation and obtaining breakfast and occasionally carrying people to bed that follows, he says quietly to Akashimaru, "You and O-Yasu seem to have had more of a point than I thought."
Ariel Theodore 2017-06-12 05:26:45 78490
    Ariel is already out like a light where she stands, nose occasionally twitching as a butterfly lands on it in her dreams.
A Siberian cat 2017-06-12 05:28:36 78491
Despite the fact that he's exhausted, his mana is completely drained, and he's looking not in the best shape in the world... Koji sort of staggers over, and picks up Ariel off the ground. Just holding her close, he says with a little smile, "Okay, you win... we'll nap."
Ikiko Hisakata 2017-06-12 05:31:41 78492
Ikiko Hisakata shakes her head at Mamoru. "Nothing I can't sleep off over a couple of days," she admits. "But definitely food and a nap. Probably in that order."

She does try to stifle a smile at Kazuo's appearance; she might even be partially successful.