A Walk in the Park and the Maze

Nightbell and Sakura have a philosophical heart to heart which mostly takes place in the Maze Card.

Date: 2018-09-11
Pose Count: 29
Rosalie Janus 2018-09-11 22:28:39 97556
Nightbell asked Sakura to meet her in the park in front of the Penguin Public Library, in the name of checking in and just "keeping myself grounded" a few hours after school. Sakura will find Akari waiting for her, loitering around in front of the library in her usual exercise clothes of a red tank top and dark blue capris. She's looking just fine, but slightly pensive.
Sakura Kinomoto 2018-09-11 22:37:16 97558
Sakura Kinomoto was wearing... pants, blouse, jogging hat. She had a bit of a sweat and... Wait, had she run her? Oh, that Sakura. Always doing her exercises. "Hi, Akari-sempai!" she called out, giving a big wave as she jogged towards her, coming to a slow, casual stop in front of her. "So what did you want to do today?"

She didn't even look annoyed at her....
Rosalie Janus 2018-09-11 22:44:15 97560
This gives Akari pause, but then she just nods. "Mostly I just wanted to check up on you," she says. "And ... let you know I'm not just off moping anymore or whatever." She gives a shrug. "Wanna go for a walk? I mean, it's still a nice day out either way."
Sakura Kinomoto 2018-09-11 22:46:06 97561
Sakura Kinomoto nodded, moving with her. "Sure, walking is great!" she said happily.

Though... it wouldn't take Sakura long to broach the subject she imagined Akari wanted to talk about. "You wanted to talk about what happened before, didn't you? About the horse?"
Rosalie Janus 2018-09-11 22:51:41 97562
Akari shrugs, and tries to bring her state of mind to something more out-of-infiltration-mode. After a moment, she shakes her head. "The whole mission was dead in the water the minute my little sister got involved. Especially five against one," she says. She puts a hand on Sakura's shoulder. "I'm just ... kind of scared I hurt you. When that shield shattered, I just ..." She shakes her head, hesitating another moment. "Mostly I wanted to make sure you aren't, like, hiding some injury or whatever," she says. "And, I mean, you don't seem to be, and I'm not mad at you or anything, I just ..." She laughs weakly. "Yeah."
Sakura Kinomoto 2018-09-11 22:59:03 97564
Sakura Kinomoto nodded. "yeah, I know. I don't have any protective magic, so I might get hurt. Trust me, I hear it from the other girls all the time. But... I'm okay! I had the shield card. As long as I have that... Well...I'm safe. Besides, I'm more durable than i look. Heck, Riventon hit me with lightning once...."

"... I really don't like lightning..." she said a bit sheepishly. "But really. I've gone through dozens of cards. I've almost been drownedl ike, five times. Hit by lightning, almost crushed, smashed, fallen to my deat hand... Well. The point is I'm more durable than I look. Though..."

She sighed. "I guess... for most of theose, someone did save me..."
Rosalie Janus 2018-09-11 23:10:25 97566
Akari laughs nervously as she keeps walking. "Jeez, Sakura-imouto!" she says, ruffling Sakura's hair. "If you wanted me to stop worrying about you, I'm sorry but you just did the opposite!"

She considers this a moment, and then changes her course slightly, moving towards a larger cluster of trees which looks like it might hide the outside from view. "Wanna 'get changed'," she murmurs, obviously talking about going back to being Nightbell. "It's ... still kind of hard to talk about the, the magic stuff when I'm in this form. Even if it's you."
Sakura Kinomoto 2018-09-11 23:12:39 97567
Sakura Kinomoto nodded and.... "That's fine. You're my onee-san, either as Akari-sempai or as Bell-sempai," she said with that smile. That completely loving, forgiving, 'Never hurt you or even not do my chores on purpose' smile.

She walked into the clearing with her and then... "Do... you want to be alone? I mean, just you and me?" she asked.
Rosalie Janus 2018-09-11 23:19:56 97568
There's a big part of Bell that feels very weird about having a little girl just latch onto her as a sister. But for some reason, today, she just can't help but smile. "Yeah," she says softly.

At the question, she nods. "I was gonna ... teleport home and change into something that'd actually fit my other form," she says, fishing her Rubindorn-pendant out of her tank top. "Should only take about a minute. Why? Do you have some kind of card that'd ... keep out prying eyes?"
Sakura Kinomoto 2018-09-11 23:23:55 97570
Sakura Kinomoto nodded and pulled out the maze card. "Yes. If I use this one, it'll... KJind of move us into this... pocket space? We'll have privacy until I end it, then we'll deposit ourselves outside," she said with a smile.

"I'll wait until you get back, okay? Since... well. I can't do the whole teleporting thing. Its so cool."
Rosalie Janus 2018-09-11 23:26:32 97571
Akari nods. "Right," she says. "And I wouldn't know how to get back into the maze, anyway. I ... think you can only teleport to places, not people. Anyway ..."

She takes a step back from Sakura, then passes backward through a black portal accompanied by an eerie ringing sound. A moment later, Nightbell steps out, dressed in a red T-shirt and black track pants, holding her Rubindorn pendant in one hand. "Okay," she says.
Sakura Kinomoto 2018-09-11 23:32:27 97573
Sakura Kinomoto nodded and... "Maze card! Hide us away from everyone else! Maze card!" And so, the two were inside a massive, stone maze now. Sakura started walking.

"Let's make sure to at least try to solve it, okay? Otherwise Maze will get sad. It doesn't get a lot of visitors, after all, and sometimes it gets lonely. and I'm fine, really. I have a lot of people who protect me. Really."
Rosalie Janus 2018-09-11 23:43:16 97574
Nightbell nods, and puts on the Rubindorn pendant as as they wander through the maze. "Honestly, I think a part of me would feel better if you didn't have to wait for someone else to save you, if you could protect yourself on your own," she says. She hesitates, and then says, "I mean, case in point: how would you have dealt with the Loop Card if I hadn't been there? And how are you gonna handle Final Judgment if it's just you and Riventon-sama?"
Sakura Kinomoto 2018-09-11 23:57:50 97577
Sakura Kinomoto blinked a few times and... "I can handle myself, usually..." she mumbled. "I mean, there's been a few times I couldn't but..."

She then shrugged. "I don't know." She drew up the cards. "They... They're my friends. They mean the world to me and... I won't let them go." She then looked to Bell. "And I don't know... Why Riventon is trying to take them. Or... maybe I do. I don't think he trusts me. But..." She then turned back and smiled. "I still think he's a good person. And so... I have to try my best, you know? Because I know he'll try his hardest. And I won't give up my friends to anyone. And... I hope I can show him how important... all those bonds we've formed are. Because I know a lot of people don't like him... but I don't think he's that bad."
Rosalie Janus 2018-09-12 00:09:18 97578
Nightbell nods. "Yeah, it's because of the stakes of Final Judgment," she says softly. "And ... I guess he's really not as trusting as you are, to be honest. He's said outright that between the two of you, he doesn't think you're the one who has what it takes."

She thinks for a moment. "Can I ask you a weird question, Sakura-imouto?" she says finally. "Why do you think that Riventon-sama and I are good people? Like, according to your own standards."
Sakura Kinomoto 2018-09-12 00:23:42 97582
Sakura Kinomoto blinked and nodded. "I figured. And... maybe I'm not. But I'm not going to give up. I... I've worked too hard. And I've made so many friends. I've made so many memories," she said with a sigh, spreading the cards out. "And... I don't know what final judgment will be. I mean... I'm practicing really hard. And making my strength better... Ready to fight her."

She blinked, cocking her head to the side. "Because... you are...." she said with a giggle. "I can feel it. Whenever I..." She hummed. "How to put it into words..." she mumbled, walking and turning left.

"I don't believe anyone is bad. Not you. Not Riventon. No one," she finally said. "I mean, I know there are bad things. But... I also know you're kind to me. And I know Riventon saved me, once. I think people do bad things. But..." She then turned around. "Besides. When I'm near you, I feel... kinda warm and gooey inside, from you. Kero-chan says it's because there's magic in you. And... how could someone who has magic, be bad?" She walked over and took her hand.

"that's why I know you're both good. Even if you do bad things. So.... when you do bad things... I'll just always stop you. Okay?"
Rosalie Janus 2018-09-12 00:44:56 97584
Nightbell listens in silence as Sakura talks. When she's finished, Bell gives her hand a gentle squeeze, taking another moment to mull it over.

"Well, you're not wrong that I 'have magic inside me', considering I'm literally made out of it," she says. "My body's basically a magical construct, like a barrier jacket or any other magical uniform, or the humanoid form of a mage's familiar." She shrugs. "But my body is just under forty percent Dark Energy by volume, which the people on your side tend to find objectionable."

She sighs and shakes her head. "Honestly, I don't actually think I'm doing bad things. I ... was created to bring order to the world, and I decided that Earth was the world I should bring order to since Belka was long-dead when I was first activated. And I know that ..." She doesn't want to tell Sakura to her face that she thinks she's a naive child who views everything in black and white. "... your side ... views what we do as objectionable, too. But ... I do honestly think we're saving the world more than we're hurting it."
Sakura Kinomoto 2018-09-12 00:52:40 97586
Sakura Kinomoto niodded and then grinned. "As long as you don't regret what you do... then I don't think there's anything wrong with what you're doing. But I do still think you're doing the wrong thing. so I'm going to stop you!" She paused. "That... didn't make much sense, did it?"

She shrugged. "But... I think we can bring happiness, love and peace and everything. Without having to hurt everyone. Because.... When you hurt people, when you hurt someone... I think you hurt yourself a bit, too. Like... remember when you thought you were gonna try to hurt me?" she asked with a smile. "And besides, it dfoesn't matter what you're made of. It's now what you are, it's what you do with it that matters!"
Rosalie Janus 2018-09-12 01:09:31 97588
Nightbell considers the first part, trying to make heads or tails of it. "Not really," she says softly. "I mean. As far as that goes? Your actions are either a net positive, or they aren't. I don't really think that how you feel about it is ..." She shrugs. "Well, I dunno." This would explain a lot about her thought processes.

From the expression on her face, it doesn't seem like she really understands or believes the second part ... right up until Sakura mentions the fact that Nightbell almost stabbed her. "... ah. Well, that's different," she says. "You're my little sister, y'know?" She then remembers how easily she caved just from Tessen's words. "... and ... the ..." She quickly tries to reconcile that part, finds it surprisingly difficult, and just sort of ... abruptly stops talking.
Sakura Kinomoto 2018-09-12 01:12:45 97589
Sakura Kinomoto nodded and then turned around, taking her hand. "How about... this. Final judgment is soon. We both have our own beliefs, right?"

"So... if I win, I'm right. And love and kindness and friendship beats all! All of my friends! And... if he wins... well..." She blinks. Then...

"Maybe I was wrong all along. And should join eclipse and help you guys out. Because you.... may be what's best."
Rosalie Janus 2018-09-12 01:33:01 97592
Nightbell shakes her head. "I'm not willing to abandon my principles just based on one fight," she says. "I mean, I don't know what you need to do for Final Judgment anymore than you do, but ..." She shrugs. "Long story short, I don't feel any doubts that I'm in the right with this. I could join your side, but I wouldn't really feel it, y'know?" She looks down at Sakura. "And you don't sound like you have any doubts, either, so you'd probably be the same way." She smiles faintly. "As much as I'd like the idea of being on the same side as my imouto ... do you really think you'd be willing to help me out on a mission like I had the other night just because Riventon's the one who won Final Judgment?"
Sakura Kinomoto 2018-09-12 01:38:18 97593
Sakura Kinomoto shrugs and flushes. "I guess not... But... Okay, fair. But I won't lose. No matter what. I won't give in to him. I won't let my friends go." Then stoppe,d turned and took her hand again and squeezed it.

"Then how about this. When I win... You know that, no matter what... I won't let my frineds go. And I won't let them suffer."

"Because you're my friend. Okay?" she said happily. Then turned, before she could respond. And started running. "I think the exit is on the left!" she said as she ran.
Rosalie Janus 2018-09-12 01:46:45 97595
Nightbell smiles. As much as she's somewhat uncomfortable to be on the opposite side from her sister, she can't help but admire how unflinching she is. Maybe she does have what it takes to pass Final Judgment. "Okay!" says Bell, following after Sakura.

She pauses as they near the exit. "One other question," she says. "Do ... I don't suppose you know how to get in touch with Tessen-san? I ... kind of want to meet her in a non-fighting context." She hesitates. "Or at least, one where we're not on opposite sides of a mission."
Sakura Kinomoto 2018-09-12 01:57:33 97599
Sakura Kinomoto nodded and.... came to a dead end. "Huh. Nope!" she said happily, before running off and trying again. "Sure! As soon as I cget her information and know her more and have her number, I will!" she said. Another dead end.

"Why? Did she seem like someone you wanna be friends with? She was really cool, too! You were super awesome, also! Oh oh! Do you think sometime I can go for a ride on your horse?"
Rosalie Janus 2018-09-12 02:07:59 97600
Nightbell frowns. "Kind of," she says. "I mean, I might as well try talking to her. She did offer a fight without a mission at stake." She hesitates. "Just, if she asks about my secret identity, say you don't know it, and if she asks point blank if I'm Akari, just say no." She shrugs. "It's ... kind of an important thing that I keep it a secret from people who aren't, y'know, my bosses and my sister. Don't tell me hers, either, for the same reason."

She looks around. "Rubindorn, can you try mapping this place out?"


"'Maybe'," Bell translates. "Eh, she's specialized in being a weapon, we'll figure this out."
Sakura Kinomoto 2018-09-12 02:23:19 97602
Sakura Kinomoto nodded. "Oh, don't solve it with magic, that's not fun! Maze is a nice, playful card and deoesn't get to play much!"

She took her hand and.... Then ran. She stopped at a split. "Besides... you can never give away someone's magical identity. That would be terrible. And mean. And ruin our trust, wouldn't it?"

She stopped and then... "And I will win." She then turned and nodded. "Because I've always been luck. And even if I can't beat him with my powers and my friends... I'll beat him with luck!" And then took off to the left and... "We're here!" The exit... Well, she was lucky.
Rosalie Janus 2018-09-12 02:38:17 97603
And Nightbell finds herself smiling again. "Got it!" she says. "Heh ... you're a good kid, y'know that? I'm glad you're my imouto."

She blinks at the sudden arrival of the exit, then grins. "Well, it's hard to argue with that kind of result," she says dryly. "Uh ... by the way, Maze Card-san!" she calls out, more-or-less at the ceiling. "Thanks for the help!" Might as well at least act like it's a friend in front of her sister. She then starts walking through the exit.
Sakura Kinomoto 2018-09-12 02:54:07 97604
Sakura Kinomoto steps through as well, running out and... back outside. She then turns to Bell. "I should probably head home, though." The maze card appeared in her hand. "But it has beem so wonderful meeting with you. And thanks for playing with maze and me. And..." She then hugged her.

"When next we meet... I should have all the cards. So... don't worry. Okay? I won't give up no matter what... on them. Or on you."

And then she ran off.
Rosalie Janus 2018-09-12 03:03:04 97606
Nightbell blushes faintly, and hugs Sakura close. "Okay!" she says softly, smiling down at her. "You can win, I know you can," she adds, because if Riventon's assessment is anywhere near correct, Sakura will need all the encouragement she can get. "Bye!"

She watches Sakura leave, then ... dusk steps away and back to change into Akari, because she feels like going for a walk at the moment. She's certainly feeling a lot better, now that she knows Sakura is fine, even if she doesn't agree with her philosophy --

Akari stops. For some reason, and she has absolutely no idea why, she doesn't feel so sure anymore that she's in the right and Sakura is wrong.

She frowns as she walks back towards the direction of Mitakihara's residential district. That's certainly odd, and frankly somewhat concerning ...