LOCKed away

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT. Sakura and Nephrite get locked in a witch's maze! And, unfortunately, Sakura runs into the harshest lesson a magical girl can learn. It's not all fun and games after all. Sometimes people get hurt. Sometimes... worse things happen.

Date: 2017-08-19
Pose Count: 34
Sakura Kinomoto 2017-08-19 19:08:06 81555
Sakura Kinomoto felt really good right now. She was energetic, happy, she'd seen Yukito(Sigh. Yukito...), and she'd sensed a card. Most of them were almost caught now, soon all of this would be over. She just didn't know how.

She was wearing another Tomoyo original(because she WAS sakura, after all.) Today the two were riding on Kero, the giant flying cat carrying them through the city as Sakura looked around. "I... feel it. This way. Turn right!" she called out.

"Are you sure?" Kero asked.

"Yes! It's faint, but I know it's there!" she yelled down. They turned and, sure enough, she could feel it. It was... near the docks. Good. Not many people this time of night. Though... it was... odd. She felt something... else. Too. Something weird. And when she flew over the docks, there did seem to be people milling about. She wondered if they had a late night, oh well. Kero touched down and the two hopped down. "I think it's around here somewhere. I definitely sensed some magic..."
Nephrite 2017-08-19 19:22:34 81556
This late at night, there were certainly fewer people out on the streets. Being a night owl, Nephrite certainly did not mind the thinner crowds when he decided to take a walk to clear his head. A lot had happened lately, and he was feeling restless.

A crowd by the docks caught his attention. As he moved closer to check, he began to sense... something. Some kind of magic? He glanced over head and -- ah. He vaguely recognized the small girl flying above. Well, looks like he had better offer backup. As Sakura landed, Neph walked briskly over. "Hey. Sakura, right? Is something happening?"
Sakura Kinomoto 2017-08-19 19:31:21 81557
Sakura Kinomoto jumped down from Kero and then smiled at Neph. "Oh! Hello... ummm..." She had to think for a little bit. what was his name... what.... "Nephrite-sempai!" she finally said, holding her wand in both hands in front of her, crossed over her lap as she bowed politely. She gave him a big smile.

"I don't actually know. I sensed a clow card this way, though. It's not very strong, but I came here as soon as I could. Tomoyo-chan wanted to record, of course." She cocked her head slightly and looked up to him. "You're welcome to come, if you like! Though, ummm, you might want to stay near Kero-chan. He's keeping Tomoyo-chan safe in case anything happens."

Kero coughed. "He's a bit... big... to be riding me," the large flying cat objected.

"Oh! Right, sorry. You have magic too though, right Nephrite-sempai?" she said with a big smile. Of course he did. He didn't have that confused look like so many did.
Nephrite 2017-08-19 19:39:22 81558
Nephrite chuckled. He was very used to being around teenage girls half his size who could flatten him with a look, but receiving an offer of protection from a -- what was she, a ten-year-old? -- was positively adorable. "Don't worry about me, kid. I've got a few tricks. How about we stick together until you find this card thing?"

He gave Kero a mournful look and sighed. "Someday I will find a magical flying creature that will actually let me ride it, instead of being all 'nooooo you're too heavy' or 'noooo you'll be electrocuted if you touch me.'"
Sakura Kinomoto 2017-08-19 19:43:26 81559
Sakura Kinomoto nodded, then turned and started walking, looking around. "I think it's... this way."

"Oh Sakura-chan, you're so cool..." Tomoyo said softly.

Sakura just blushed. "I-I'm just doing what Kero-chan taught me! It--" Then her eyes widened. "Wait! I feel it!" she said, looking around. "It's... It's really strong now!" she called before running. Kero chased after her, likely Neph as well.

And she soon entered a... dead end, between some crates. "It's here!" she called, running down it. "I feel it!"

Of course, when Neph came closer and turned the corner, he'd... likely see something that would chill his blood.

She was already halfway there, to a seed lodged into the side of the crates. One of the most dangerous magical things in existence. With a ten year old girl RUNNING RIGHT AT IT.
Nephrite 2017-08-19 19:54:46 81560
Nephrite gave chase as soon as Sakura took off running. He knew better than to question the one who was supposedly attuned to certain kinds of magic. His long legs gave him an advantage over Tomoyo, and he quickly outpaced her. He heard her voice around the corner, and --

and, and that was a grief seed. It was unmistakable, and it made Nephrite stop dead in his tracks. "Wa--wait! Wait, Sakura! Get back now!" His arm shot out to block Tomoyo and Kero from advancing any further.
Takashi Agera 2017-08-19 20:04:34 81561
The surge of magic fills the air, it's like a miasma that only those who are aware can understand. And there's just a single moment where the world shudders and a false reality breaks its way in, shoving the real world aside for a moment, and it inserts itself - and the swelling sphere of disreality consumes Nephrite and Sakura within it.

At first the world seems dark, but just before thier eyes can adjust to it, blinding lights - two - light them up in white light. And following those lights back to their start they're mounted on reveals empty guard towers... and from those guard towers, impossibly large, imposing walls topped with multicolor razor wire. More spotlights - these not even from towers but erupting from a stormy sky - light up several trapped civilians as they walk, blank eyed, through the paper-mache and watercolor prison yard.

The massive warped prison complex, built more from curves than straight lines, looms in the distance as the dull-eyed civilians zombie-walk to it.
Sakura Kinomoto 2017-08-19 20:08:19 81562
Sakura Kinomoto yelped and glanced back. "W-what? W-" And then the world erupted. Kero grabbed Tomoyo and took to the sky. "Sakura!" he yelled, but it was too late. Sakura was inside whatever... this was.

She looked around nervously, before quickly making her way to Neph's side. She looked up at him, confused and a little worried. Though not nearly as worried as she should be.

"Nephrite-sempai? What is this place?" she asked in confusion. "Is... this like what the cute girls fight?" Yes she STILL called them 'cute' instead of 'cure'. She just couldn't get it right!
Nephrite 2017-08-19 20:15:31 81563
Nephrite had his phone in his hands. He thought -- there was still time, he could still call Kyouko and she could deal with it. But it's already too late. The labyrinth has them.

The phone slips from Nephrite's fingers, striking the sickly-colored ground with a resounding crack. He doesn't seem to hear Sakura. He's shaking his head, mouthing "no, no, no" through voiceless ragged breaths.
Takashi Agera 2017-08-19 20:30:59 81564
The sky above crackles with green and purple lightning - as the gigantic prison doors open. Inside, there's a long, long, impossibly long hallway - but even though it's extraordinarily long, it's clear to see what waits at the end - what the prisoners are steadily walking towards. It's a witch - so far in the distance - but it's also an amalgation of execution equipment - parts from an electric chair, a guilotine blade, an entire arm sticking out of the mass that's a needle...

Then the doors slam, waiting for another group to walk in.

But lumbering up come two 'guards' - familiars, but familiars in the sense that they're whirling chains and handcuffs stuffed into officer's uniforms, with a camera for a head.
Sakura Kinomoto 2017-08-19 20:39:42 81565
Sakura Kinomoto stared at Neph. What was wrong? Why was he... She then looked back to see what was going on.

The people were walking TOWARDS that thing. They were...

She then turned back to Neph. Indecision played on her features. Then she knelt down and picked up his phone. She stood up, and placed it into his hands. "Nephrite-sempai. I need you to listen to me. I need to go and help them. I'll stop... whatever this is. And I'll get us ALL out of here. Everything will definitely be alright. I just need you to wait here, then I'll be back. Okay?" She closed his fingers around the phone and smiled up at him. "I promise, I'll be back as soon as I can, okay? I just need you to be brave." She then let his hand go and turned, running TOWARDS the.... whatever that was. It looked scary.

To be honest, her heart was hammering. She didn't know what any of this was. She knew there was a card out here, somewhere. But first she had to rescue those people. There was time.

She ran towards the building, drawing out two cards. "Dash, through, release!" she yelled before racing forward, towards the door.

Her intention? Run through the fence, then through the door to rescue the others. Her situation? Poor... she didn't know what she was up against.
Nephrite 2017-08-19 20:51:32 81566
Nephrite was dimly aware that Sakura was speaking, but the roaring in his ears seemed to drown out everything, even the awful slam of the giant doors sealing the prisoners inside. But then he shoved his phone back into his hands, and that bit of familiarity seemed to center him a bit. He remembered how he'd clung to every piece of reality he'd carried into the last labyrinth he was trapped in--his uniform, even his own hair on his face.

And then she was running. Nephrite startled out of his paralysis. "Sakura, no! Wait! Don't get closer!" The two 'guards' were moving to intercept them. Nephrite snarled as his henshin enveloped him. He no longer had a phone to cling to, but he had a caped uniform. He lobbed a bright white meteor at the guards, hoping it would be enough to at least distract him while he chased after the girl.
Takashi Agera 2017-08-19 21:04:25 81567
One of the 'guards' raises a hand and a swarm of chains and cuffs burst out of the hand towards Sakura - though they just end up getting snarled up in the chain link fence as she dashes through.

The other guard is the one that gets the bright white meteor lobbed directly at it, and it bowls him over - a mass of chains in a suit isn't a terrible stable enemy.

As Nephrite chased after Sakura - and both headed towards the towering prison - the guard he'd nailed began to stumble to it's feet, lens broken, while the one that had chased Sakura simply tore away the fence and charged after her - the fence grew back after it like metallic ivy.

But as Sakura tried to go through the door, a shimmering, watercolor barrier of strange reality surged into existence - preventing her from, at current, making progress even with the Dash card, at least not until the barrier is dealt with.
Sakura Kinomoto 2017-08-19 21:10:40 81568
Sakura Kinomoto glanced back and smiled to him. "It'll be okay! I know what I'm doing! Don't worry! I'll protect everyone!" she called back, before skidding to a stop. She tried to push through with through, but... it didn't work. And the chain guard was coming after her.

Then she got a bright idea. She drew two cards as through and dash returned to her. "Power! Fight! Give me the strength I need to free them!" she called out.

When the chains came at her the second time, she dove to the right and her hands reached out, to grab the chains. She'd then give them a tug. Now, considering her size it may not have been much. Except the fact she currently had the kind of strength she could have picked up and thrown a car. And the fighter's prowess to dodge and weave as needed. Assuming the creature was tugged forward, she'd then kick it up into the air and, when it came back down(might take a few seconds, jump forward and then jump kick back, launching the.... thing, into(and hopefully through) the barrier.
Nephrite 2017-08-19 21:30:10 81569
Nephrite skidded to a stop as the fence mended itself behind the other guard. He swore under his breath--there was barbed wire at the top. Now he really wished flight were an option. Well, he could fight off the other guard that was rallying, slowly climb up the fence, and probably get his hands cut up and probably get caught on it. Or he could risk teleporting in a wonky sub-reality that is bent on constantly warping around him and may or may not spit him out somewhere completely unintended. He watched through the fence as Sakura took on the other guard. She looked like she was winning, but--she was still a child. A child who seemed to have no idea that she had stepped into a nightmare. He had to chance it. Nephrite closed his eyes, and teleported inside the compound.
Takashi Agera 2017-08-19 21:45:42 81570
Nephrite's teleport is perfectly timed - with just a moment of difference it could've gone a lot worse, as just before he materializes within the shimmering, semisolid magical barrier, Sakura's efforts with the other 'guard' causes it to connect with the barrier and run crackling spider-lines before shattering just the tiniest moment before Nephrite's slightly-disjuncted teleport puts him in it, instead of in the compound proper just yet.

But it's allowed him to keep pace with Sakura, and it's cleared the way down that terribly long hallway - as the doors open again. There's no trace of the group that went in to meet the witch moments ago, but another half-dozen people start to stumble into the Witch's sanctum...
Sakura Kinomoto 2017-08-19 21:53:04 81571
Sakura Kinomoto blinked. Wait, where were those other people? They should be here? Were they trapped? Ugh, it didn't matter! she had to stop... this! To save everyone! Because no one ever died in these. She'd fought a few youma. People might get hurt, but they always got drained or something else. That was it.

She ran forward, straight into the sanctum and at the creature. "E-enough!" she yelled, her voice a little shaky. "I don't know what you are, but you're going to let these people go now, or... or I'm going to beat you up!" she threatened as she raced at it, trying to get between it and the people. She didn't have dash now, though. However, any monsters that tried to get in her way would find themselves punched or kicked aside, as the fight card guided her movements and the power card gave her the power her small body needed.
Nephrite 2017-08-19 22:02:20 81572
Disoriented and panicked were Nephrite's new default states, so reappearing somewhere not at all planned were just one more on the pile. But it has put him where he needed to be--right next to the only other person who is powerful enough to fight this. When she took of running again, so did he. "It's a witch!" He shouted. "Be careful! It can warp everything around us, make anything attack... "
Takashi Agera 2017-08-19 22:13:02 81573
This time, Sakura and Nephrite are close enough - and there are no odd barriers - that they're able to pass the line of entranced people waiting patiently with their hands behind their backs. Only one more of the guard-familiars tries to stop Sakura only to be thrown casually aside - and then Sakura and Nephrite make it into the wide room with the concrete-like floor and the Witch at the center of it. The Witch doesn't seem to have noticed the two of them yet.

It particularly doesn't instantly pick up on little Sakura, and just as she gets to the waiting group, it's only her height that saves her as the witch brandishes that guilotine blade and, cleanly, cuts with it sideways through the necks of the dead-eyed people.
Sakura Kinomoto 2017-08-19 22:20:57 81574
Sakura Kinomoto ran in, smiling. Yes, they were in time, she just needed to stop them. "I'll be fine!" she called, running in amongst them, through the crowd. She just had to get close enough to--

The was a sound. And then... blood. So much blood. Why was it raining? It took Sakura a few moments to realize what was going on. Why were people bleeding? Why--

The bodies started to fall down around her, some toppling against her. There was a clatter as her wand fell. Her hands reached out, in shock, trying to push it off her. Her mind struggled to grasp what was going on.

Then it finally did.

There were ways that children could do things that adults just couldn't. Little signs and expressions they made, that adults couldn't do, but could understand. She screamed. She screamed the kind of scream only a child could scream. The kind of scream that bubbled up within someone, that was a mix of terror and feat and horror and a complete inability to understand what was happening around them. A scream that ignored any sense of self preservation or survival. The kind of scream that evolution had created to for the sheer sake of bringing adults forward to save children.

She reached up to hold her head, but on the way she saw the blood soaking her hands and she just screamed louder.
Nephrite 2017-08-19 22:38:48 81575
Too late. The cards were always stacked against them, from the moment they were trapped in this place, but it was still worth hoping--

Nephrite pushed aside his horror and focused all his attention on Sakura instead. He grabbed the little girl and pulled her toward him, wrapping her in his cape, shielding her from the sight. His eyes were trained on the witch, and the blade. If it did not notice them yet, they could get themselves out, try to survive long enough for help to come. If help was something that even could come.
Takashi Agera 2017-08-19 22:54:29 81576
Perhaps unable to really gather anything about it other than Sakura's sheer emotion, in this moment of terror, there's something that's very much out of place - but not out of place in the witch way, but in the 'doesn't seem to get the timing' way - there's a little green and golden lock with tiny wings that suddenly begins to flutter around Sakura's head for a moment - before suddenly raising up and flying behind Nephrite, flying into the catch for the door - and a crushingly loud sound, somewhat stereotypical, of a padlock sliding in - and a shimmering clow-and-Witch barrier seals the room dead tight.

It's only now that, with the doors not opening to bring more food in, that it rounds and notices Nephrite so close. The screech it makes is inhuman, unearthly, and likely brings a lot of bad memories back as it rises up into the air, brandishing various implements of execution, ancient and modern, from its amorphous mass.
Sakura Kinomoto 2017-08-19 22:58:37 81577
Sakura Kinomoto had screamed for a while, into his chest. Nut now, she wasn't. Now she was just... limp. If he looked, he might see her wand had fallen to the ground. But so had her cards. Her friends. She didn't even try to reach for them. The girl who had thrown herself in front of hannah's fist and ended up in the hospital... only to APOLOGIZE for worrying them. The girl who had almost drowned, been cut up, stabbed, shot at, lit on fire... and yet never gave up, always ran head first at the cards, supporting her friends as best she could.

And her friends were laying there on the ground, surrounded by the bodies around them. And Sakura didn't care. She just stood there, held in his arms. Unmoving. Completely and utterly broken.
Nephrite 2017-08-19 23:13:38 81578
Nephrite squinted at the small green lock as it fluttered around. He knew a labyrinth's particular pattern of movement, even if this one was completely unlike the one he was trapped in before. This thing doesn't belong.

--And suddenly, before he even considers reacting, it snaps into place. Well. No rescue, then.

But still, there is a little girl huddling against him. And even though he is absolutely shaking inside, Nephrite goes into overdrive. The witch screeches, and Nephrite scoops Sakura up, grabbing her wand with his free hand (the cards, alas, stay where they are), and takes off running. Running in circles works on everything, even the worst nightmares.

"Sakura. Sakura, listen. We need to stay alive. You need to stay alive to protect more people. We can stop this before anyone else gets hurt, but only if we're very brave."
Takashi Agera 2017-08-19 23:18:38 81579
The Witch meanwhile, screeched, and gave chase. It's not the brightest creature - and while it had fallen into a quick lifestyle, it's not an ancient Witch either so it's less powerful than the one that had migrated into Nephrite's observatory. But it's no less scary, as it tries to catch up to the two of them, guillotine blade slamming into the ground and Nephrite barely dodging hails of likely-poisonous needles.
Sakura Kinomoto 2017-08-19 23:20:49 81580
Sakura Kinomoto doesn't respond. Doesn't even seem to listen to him. She could be moved, but when she stared at him, her eyes were empty and hollow. The life was gone. Her blood caked face showed no signs of anyone being actually home or there. Even if he tried to force the wand into her hand, it'd just fall away the moment he let go.

She'd snapped. She'd completely broken. He was alone there. With dead weight.
Nephrite 2017-08-19 23:30:39 81581
Eventually he was going to have to turn and fight. And he needed his hands free to do that. New plan: Nephrite darted to a corner and set Sakura down, pushing her wand into her hands. There was no blood here, at least. None except what was already on her. "You stay here and you stay safe, got it? Anything comes near you, you punt it with that croquet mallet thing."

He stood in front of her, gathered all his strength into starlight, and fired it at the witch.
Takashi Agera 2017-08-19 23:43:12 81582
Well one of the two people there was being an aggressive threat, and the other was 'dead weight' - which meant that, on the positive side, as soon as Sakura wasn't in Nephrite's arms, she was out of the immediate danger.

The surging starlight blasted forward, and while it didn't rip a hole in the Witch proper, it caused it to skitter around the room, like some sort of horrific arachnid made of spare parts, and letting out another one of those screams Nephrite's heard enough of to last a lifetime and then some, as it bristles with wooden stakes before blasting them forward at him.

But at least his panicked charge is safe.
Sakura Kinomoto 2017-08-19 23:51:47 81583
Sakura Kinomoto just sat there, staring off into space. Slowly, she looked up. But she couldn't... do it. She couldn't do this. Her mind just wouldn't allow her. She wouldn't allow herself. She looked down at the wand and... dropped it. The tears starting to fall down her face.
Nephrite 2017-08-20 00:19:40 81586
Nephrite dove out of the way of the wooden stakes, but there were too many of them. He felt one, then another strike his shoulder as he hit the floor. Pain splintered down his arm, but--he could work with pain. He scrambled clumsily to his feet and gathered starlight into his other hand--as much as he could hold. "So this does hurt you, huh? Good." He shot his hand forward, and a stream of blinding white light charged into the witch like a battering ram.

If that did it, he shuffles backwards, back to Sakura, clutching at his shoulder.
Takashi Agera 2017-08-20 00:31:38 81588
The second blast of Nephrite's light follows the first blast, and it surgest forward leaving the gleaming bit of light behind it. Perhaps if this Witch hadn't been newly hatched, or if Nephrite had been weaker, or if it had been allowed to consume Sakura, it would've been a different issue, but truly, it was just a baby monstrosity, perhaps birthed by a weaker Puella.

And so Nephrite's second surge shattered its way through the creature and it shuddered, screaming out on last time as it began to fall apart and the illusory world with it, the last bit of the witch being twofold - the loud sound of the blade clanging to the floort very close to Sakura, and the Grief Seed that slowly floated down to the floor, a handcuff design on the top.
Sakura Kinomoto 2017-08-20 00:34:39 81590
Sakura Kinomoto sat there. Then.... "SAKURA-CHAN!" Tomoyo yelled and ran forward. And then stopped. Her eyes went wide. "What... what happened to... Sakura-chan?" She asked.

"Sakura?" Kero asked. Then the card hovered up, the door it held gone. "Quick, sakura, the card. Catch it!"

Sakura stared. And then, she flung her head back and she screamed. She screamed as hard as she could and then she THREW her wand before she got back up and she ran, shaking her head and screaming until her lungs burned and her throat hurt and then she just ran. Ran to try and escape whatever had just happened. All of it. Everything.

Kero stared. "What... Sakura?" he said.
Nephrite 2017-08-20 01:23:38 81596
Nephrite used the corner of his cape to pick up the grief seed--no way he was touching that thing with his bare hands. He needed to get this thing to Kyouko immediately, and then he maybe needed to go puke.

And then Sakura was screaming. And running. Oh god. If the shrieks of the witch were not going to haunt his dreams for the next month, the screams of this poor traumatized child might.

Nephrite briefly considered going after her. But the thought of a strange man chasing down a screaming child in the street in the middle of the night, with an extremely dangerous and volatile object in his hand, no less, cancelled that plan very quickly. He turned instead to Sakura's friends. "That little girl's just seen something nobody should see ever. She's your friend, right? She needs your support right now. You need to take care of her." He looked at Kero. "Are you able to make sure she'll be safe? I need to get this thing to somebody who can deal with it before it causes any more harm. And I think she needs to be with somebody close to her right now."

He glanced over at the floating card. It was a lock before--is this what she was looking for? "Wait, do you need this? Could we just--" Her wand had turned into a little key. Locks need keys, right? He picked it up and inserted it into the card. It glowed for a second and dropped into his hand. "Huh, okay." He held the key pendant out to Kero. "Don't forget this."
Sakura Kinomoto 2017-08-20 01:30:10 81597
Kero nodded and then Tomoyo scooped up the scattered cards. He then nodded. "We'll keep her safe. We'll make sure she's okay." And then his wings spread and, with Tomoyo on his back, he took to the air.

He followed after her, but.... gave the girl space. She needed to run. Somewhere. And they'd be there when she calmed down. For now, though, they just let her do as she needed. Staring with concern.

What had happened in there?