2014-05-24 - Storm Warning

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Title: Storm Warning

An emotional parasite creates inclement weather at Ohtori Academy. A life hangs in the balance. A prodigal son returns.


Nori Ankou, Mai Tokiha, Shiori Takatsuki, Lucy Iwai, Maron Kusakabe, Yayoi Kise

GM: Juri Arisugawa


Ohtori Academy

OOC - IC Date:

18 January 2014 - 5/24/2014

<Pose Tracker> Juri Arisugawa [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.


Takumi Tokiha, the ostensibly cheerful, pale seventh-grader with a heart condition, drags his roommate, Akira, Real Man, Man's Man, Man About Town, off to Taiyou Ramen, the stand down in the Asakuza Traditional District so famed for the quality of its noodles that word has spread to the hallowed halls of Ohtori Academy.

"I know they won't be as good as the ones my sis makes, but maybe I can pick up a trick or two by trying it," he explains merrily as they wait in line at the stand, bound and determined to disguise the fact that he's actually not feeling very merry at all. The hospital told him this morning that the heart transplant donor lead they had has dried up, the heart bought out from under them by a wealthy party.

"What flavor are you going to get?" asks Akira with vague indifference, looking as annoyed as usual to be dragged somewhere by his bouncing puppy of a roommate.

Takumi ponders this seriously, violet eyes, the precise hue of his sister's, agleam. "I don't know, maybe the signature dish, I'd like to explore the depth and complexity of their soy base."

Akira flushes with rage, and folds his arms, brows practically meeting above his nose with the intensity of his creed. "I'm getting the Flaming-Hot Spicy Ramen, that's the ramen that a Real Man must consume." He elbows Takumi, who nearly topples over. "You should get it too."

"Umm, I don't know, it looks kind of... harsh..."

"Are you a man or not?"



Now, both Takumi and Akira are equally red-faced. Takumi has tears streaming down his cheeks, while Akira's bitten the inside of his bloody to avoid the same fate.

The noodles are exceptionally delicious, but on the way home, when Takumi talks about the savory aftertaste, Akira has no idea what he's talking about. The discrepancy in their dining experiences, meanwhile, snakes its way through Takumi's innards, finally taking root around his heart. If someone did an MRI of him today, they'd see something like an uncomfortably veiny earthworm pulsing in time with it.

He starts feeling better immediately, his anxiety and distress sucked up by the parasite. Fine cuisine really can fix anything.


"Dude, you are starting to freak me out," remarks Akira coolly, as Takumi frog-marches around campus with a manic grin. Storm clouds menace the mood of Ohtori Academy today, but he's never felt more alive.

"Why? I'm great, you're great, everybody is great, hahaha-- ahaha-- ah~"

He collapses next to a gorgeous, gushing fountain with one of those naked and anatomically correct cherubim that are somehow not gross or uncomfortable at all as they tinkle gaily into the basin. Akira kneels down beside his swooning roommate and shakes his shoulder. "Oi. OI! Oh, hell."

Long ebon ponytail trailing behind him, Akira takes off at a dead sprint for the nurse once he's established that the boy is still breathing. He's been told not to move Takumi when he collapses like this.

The worm, which has made its way through Takumi's veins, flows out of a fingertip and into the fountain. Improbably he seems to go even more limp.

In the same moment, the storm clouds overhead burst with a throaty roar. The campus is totally whited out within seconds -- it's impossible to see more than a handspan or two in front of one's nose. Locations are unrecognizably strange and twisted, with jagged, fanglike icicles jutting out from every conceivable surface. The labyrinthine, medieval campus is transformed into an icy maze. Temperatures are dropping so quickly that ears pop and windblown tears freeze instantly.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

It's a cloudy day, but Mai Tokiha's spirits are lifted. The temporary job of the day fell through, but things turned out rather upbeat in spite of that. An earlier-than-planned return to campus, giving her enough time to get a head start on a history essay that she can't really afford to skip. Still, one can only reread the textbook so long, and Mai finds herself looking out the window more and more often.

On the latest glance, though, she spies her brother - evidently in high spirits himself! It's a great day, really. Mai grins to herself, opens the window to call out a greeting -

And watches him collapse like a sack of bricks.

He's gone and overstrained himself, he needs help - Mai barely notices Akira running for the nurse, as she's already bolted for the door herself. It's only a couple of flights of stairs down, it's easy enough to vault down a half-story at a time, and the roar outside goes unheard over the din of her own heartbeat. Not far to the door, a clear shot across the square to those statues, to where she can get to Takumi's side.

Mai bursts through the doors, and stops cold. What was previously just a cloudy day has turned into a frozen storm, a wintry force unlike any she'd ever seen. Great walls of ice stand before her, dancing snow obscures all sight, an abysmally cold wind snaps and tears at exposed flesh.

And Takumi is out there somewhere.

Mai forges onward, absently wrapping her blazing crimson scarf around her face. Sheer burning determination will let her enture whatever mysterious power of winter has fallen over Ohtori. All that matters is that she needs to get to her brother.

<Pose Tracker> Yayoi Kise [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

Yayoi Kise had come, to Ohtori today, to perhaps checkout thier Library. That was the inital reason. It's a place she had never actually been, and the rumor is, while not nearly as huge and labrynthian as say, Library Island, it's still pretty great.

So she's her usual, bright. cherry self, when she walks in on a winter day, onto the Ohtori Campus.

Then it gets dark...

Then it gets cold....

Features change, ice takes shape.. it's a maze now..

She kind of retracts a little and decides, yeah nows a good time to go home. Oh no..! There's just an ice wall and twisting corridors where the entrance was. This makes her eyes go wide. "But...!? Ah no!" she says frightend some. She wonders now, what the hell is going on!?

"Hello!? Is anyone there!?" she calls out!? Maybe someone can hear her. "What's happening!?" she calls out. Well. It seems the only way is.. in.

So she begins to trudge through pulling her coat up around her like it was some sort of invincible shield from this odd odd bout of cold and ice.

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Having completed her Saturday coursework, Nori Ankou went to her cozy petit dorm room and burrowed into the improvised fortification brought together from a comforter and several large pillows. She then dozed off.

She is not the only resident in that dorm room. An illicit squatter resides there as well. Ten minutes ago, a concerned twinge came to the fuzzy belly of that squatter - no - otter; and so it was that he was lingering near the window, veiled by the laced curtain, when the storm broke.

The ice came suddenly. Batiste drew his paw off the windowpane, and spoke in his mild voice into the silence, accented by the wind.

"Cousin. Hey, cousin. Come on."

"Mrf," came the voice from inside the nest of warm comforters.

"Come on, get up."

"I don't wanna."

"Don't you feel it?"

A pregnant pause. Batiste repeated: "Do you feel the storm?"

"... uh huh."

"You should get your mirror," he said, looking back out. "I think it's something bad."

And so...

After opening her window, Nori raises the rectangle of darkness in her hand. "Twinned in the mirror," she intones as the icy wind blows in: "The north wind comes!" Her hair streaks backwards, head tilting upwards as the comfortable fabric of pajamas glow with silvery light. A pure sound in a minor key ripples out as the wave surges upwards, bare feet wrapped in dark thick-soled leather that stretches upwards: leggings curling together from interlacing ribbons, and the formal dark fabric of her dress sliding into place.

Buttons snap, and a brooch pours outwards like candle wax dropped into cold water. Her eyes open, gazing into the storm; the color pours from them, forming a frame of indigo blue highlights for her face. Lowering the mirror, the cap settles onto her head.

La Sirene du Nord raises one leg, taking a giant's step onto her windowsill. She pushes the window fully ajar as Batiste leaps up, grasping her coat tails and hastening up to her shoulder. She tenses as if to leap -

And finds she doesn't need to. The tree that gave her northerly window that extra hint of shade that made her choose this room is sheathed in spiky rime. La Sirene steps forwards, gingerly, but finds it can bear her weight; negotiating her way down to the ground, she says over the wind, "It feels a little like home, doesn't it?"

"No," Batiste says, bleakly. "Not as much as you think."

"What does THAT mean," la Sirene asks as she slides down the rest of the way.

Batiste doesn't reply, even as the Siren looks up and down the glittering landscape, trying to grasp her bearings.

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Today. Today, Shiori Takatsuki left her own classes at Infinity Institute early, even for a half day. She could make something up about club activity, if she were in any. It would be a lie, and a clumsy one. ...It didn't matter, anyway. This cloudy day is not one that finds her particularly upbeat. Roaming the campus of Ohtori Academy is nostalgic, in its own way. This isn't a good thing.

Her steps slowly take her away from the building where the fencing club meets. One foot in front of the other, she walks, aimlessly following the path before her as she manages to avoid the company of others for the moment. She barely notices when the weather shifts, at first; she feels cold, and distant, and the world seems willing enough to match it. She actually smiles, despite herself before she glances up to see the white, everywhere, stopping with a gasp.


The cold is biting, but that's when Shiori sees a familiar figure burst out of double doors, and start running. Hair the color of a sunset is easy to see against the ice. "...I..."

Shiori takes off running after Mai.

<Pose Tracker> Lucy Iwai [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Lucy's Ohtori visits have been getting more frequent as of late. Could it be that she's finally run out of Infinity Institute to explore?! ...Nah, not at all, but the places she hasn't checked out yet are covered by a fair amount of Recognition Inhibition, you see. So instead, she's checking out Ohtori, which surely is just as ordinary and unmysterious as Lucy's own school!

"You know, Didi, I... think I'm lost," Lucy admits, as she rounds the corner of a building peppering the thoroughly impressive campus. "That's what you get for wandering around and gettin' distracted so easily!" her dinosaur companion says, head popping out of her sports bag. "Then again, with the amount of friends you've got here, you're bound to run into someone you know sooner or later."

Lucy gives a half-hearted shrug in response to that reprimand, but it soon turns into a chill running down her whole body. Today didn't look like it would be terribly cold, but Lucy dressed warm... Not warm enough, however. Didi, always prepared, already has a wool cap on. Lucy can only tighten her scarf.

The blizzard intensifies in the blink of an eye, however, and soon the jagged icicles and the maze forming around her makes it clear that this is /not/ natural. Only one thing to do, then...

"Rock of Ages! Make me shine!"

Green sparkles mix up with swirling snowflakes, and a moment later, the whirlwind around Lucy dissipates to leave only the Mesozoic Maiden. Luckily for her, despite how relatively lightly-dressed she is, her mesozoic magic keeps her warmed than any coat would. Which is great, because she's running in snow bare-footed! She should look into adding boots to her magical outfit sometime. ...However that would even work.

And so, Mesozoic Maiden Lucy runs through the snow in a straight line, smashing up snow banks and ice walls and generally making a bit of a ruckus. Hopefully by doing that she'll run into whatever is causing this, or at least find people in need of rescuing more easily.

...It's not the best plan she has ever come up with.

<Pose Tracker> Maron Kusakabe [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

"So tell me again why I'm wasting my saturday afternoon hanging out here?"

Clearly not in the best of moods, a sour-faced Maron Kusakabe lowers a pair of binoculars from her eyes as she demands an answer from her companion that few can see, chibi-angel Finn Fish. She doesn't appreciate needing to skip out on club practice unless there's a very good reason, and so far, no such reason for keeping watch on the Ohtori campus from afar has materialized.

She is answered in the form of more questions. "Weren't you the one who said that it was worth keeping an eye on Ohtori Academy? Something about 'weird things going on'?" Maron grumbles non-commitally. She might have said something like that. So Finn just keeps going with the lecture, Maron doing her best to tune it out. "You've been slacking off on your share of searching for demon activity lately. I can't cover the whole city by myself, you know. Can't you just--"

The sudden silence followed by a gasp from her companion draws Maron's attention. The cause is hard to miss, even from a distance. The binoculars don't even really help now, there's no way to see through it anymore thanks to the weather changes. Okay, snow storms /that/ local just don't happen, especially not that suddenly. This definitely qualifies as 'weird things'. With a wordless nod to one another, Finn initiates the activation of Maron's rosary.

A streak of pink flames in a vaguely angelic shape soon swoops down towards Ohtori, helpfully obscured by the snow storm, landing just outside the affected area. The flames rapidly disperse after impact, revealing Kaitou Jeanne, who hesitates only a moment before dashing right into the abysmal weather. The wind resistance and cold is not making it easy to proceed, nor is it easy to make out many details, but right now her only thought is getting to the bottom of this. People might be in trouble. She doesn't exactly have any plans going into this, but that's never stopped her before.

<Pose Tracker> Juri Arisugawa [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

There's something weird about the snowflakes.

They swirl and spiral, creating whorls of a heartbeat's duration. In one moment, they are cakes, Christmas Cakes, shimmering white and lovely and delicious. In the next, they're ten thousand icy eyes, flashing with refracted pink or green light, staring unblinkingly at those who wander the maze.

Most aren't; students are staying inside. Only a mad fool would brave this weather... or a desperate one.

The snow doesn't tickle when they land on one's nose, or heaven forbid, one's tongue. They sting with judgement. The larger clumps land fluffily on hair and coats and bring with them tremendous, unreasonable weight. The heavy burdens of the world, beneath which only exhaustion and apathy can truly prosper. The wind howls with an insecure edge, whipping this way and that like the lashing tail of an angry cat. Sometimes it provides a veritable wall of pressure, making it near-impossible to move forwards. Other times it threatens to bowl people off-balance, sneaking up on them from behind.

The difference between ground and sky is rapidly diminishing. Soon, there will only be snow. Snow and cold, cold that bites with jaws that catch as surely as any beast.

No matter which way people wander, blind and deaf within the storm's embrace, all pathways forged through the snow lead to that fountain in the courtyard. The cherubim now looks like an icy demon, its spray of ornamental piss a spiked whip between torso and ground.

Standing next to him, perched precariously up on the basin's edge, is Takumi Tokiha. His eyes burn with an unnatural blue light. No snow lands on him, flakes charting indescribably complex and impossible courses to avoid his flesh. It looks warm. He looks warm.

Fevered, even.

He looks up as people approach, and his voice cuts through the wind like a knife. "I can feel it," he hisses. "I can feel my heart beating." The whole campus can, now, the snow vibrating once every few seconds with a thu-thuck, thu-thuck, thu-thuck that is /just/ a little bit irregular, a little bit... off. "Each one bringing me closer to my limit. Soon it's going to just..."

He raises his hands, and the elementary fury of the storm seems to coalesce in his palms before bursting out in all directions, carrying with it rage, despair--


The boy smiles a smile that is not a smile at all.

COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used Feel My Pain on Kaitou Jeanne.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used Feel My Pain on Mesozoic Maiden Lucy.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used Feel My Pain on Shiori Takatsuki.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used Feel My Pain on Nori Ankou.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used Feel My Pain on Yayoi Kise.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used Feel My Pain on Mai Tokiha.
COMBAT: Yayoi Kise fails to dodge Juri Arisugawa's Feel My Pain, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Yayoi Kise is Quipped!  Yayoi Kise is Taunted!  
COMBAT: Nori Ankou narrowly braces Juri Arisugawa's Feel My Pain, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Nori Ankou is Quipped!  Nori Ankou's Block ability activates!  Nori Ankou's Parry ability activates!  Nori Ankou is Taunted!  
COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki narrowly braces Juri Arisugawa's Feel My Pain, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Shiori Takatsuki is Quipped!  Shiori Takatsuki's Parry ability activates!  Shiori Takatsuki is Taunted!  
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha narrowly braces Juri Arisugawa's Feel My Pain, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Mai Tokiha is Quipped!  
COMBAT: Kaitou Jeanne narrowly braces Juri Arisugawa's Feel My Pain, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Kaitou Jeanne is Quipped!  Kaitou Jeanne's Parry ability activates!  
COMBAT: Mesozoic Maiden Lucy narrowly dodges Juri Arisugawa's Feel My Pain, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Mesozoic Maiden Lucy is Quipped!  Mesozoic Maiden Lucy's Fade ability activates!  Mesozoic Maiden Lucy's Flash ability activates!  Mesozoic Maiden Lucy is Taunted!  

<Pose Tracker> Yayoi Kise [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

Yayoi Kise comes upon the disturbance out from the corner of one of the exits near that fountain and peeks... eyes wide. What's going on. It looks bad. She frowns just slightly. She's all alone. Well.

Not REALLY alone, there's others there! Some she even recognizes!

But there's no... other Pretty Cure, or Candy. Ugh. These moments are ones she hated most of all! She felt so.


Regardless, she pulled out the Smile! Compcat. "Pretty Cure...! Smile Charge!." and then there is a bright flash of yellow light, and a truncated transformation where Yayoi becomes Cure Peace. Who is still kinda short.

She leaps up over the edge of the maze. "Sparkling... Glitterting!.. ROCK PAPER NYAHHGGHHH!"

Some sort of really.. hurtful storm fury. She gets knock off balance. Pretty much anything wins against 'NYAHHGGGHH!' in Rock, Paper Scissors."

"HEY! Yoo..you're not supposed to interupt a Pretty Cure's speech! It---it's rude!" she insists, managing to still fire off a bolt of lightning from the still kinda off kilter 'scrissors' sign she was about to make.

COMBAT: Yayoi Kise transforms into Cure Peace!
COMBAT: Cure Peace has used Introduction Interuption on Juri Arisugawa.
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha tries to cover Juri Arisugawa for Cure Peace's attack, Introduction Interuption, but cannot get there in time!

COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa perfectly dodges Cure Peace's Introduction Interuption, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Juri Arisugawa's Fade ability activates!  Juri Arisugawa's Flash ability activates!  
<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The labyrinth is frigid. Beautiful, in a strange way, but inhospitable. Mai's hands burn from the frost spreading across them, her school uniform's jacket has several tears from icy spikes she glimpsed too late to avoid, and judgmental snow must be wiped out of her eyes. Unheeding of anyone else - even the one following closely behind her, she tries to find her way.

And then...success. Mai's found her way to the heart of the maze, can see Takumi sitting up. That's the first and most important thing, that whatever caused him to collapse has passed. One hand braces against painfully frigid ice as she breathes a sigh of relief, sees the one who was following her all this time. "Shiori-chan?! What are you-"

And then Takumi speaks. Mai whirls, properly sees him now, sees the blue light and the snow dancing to his command like fire so often dances to hers. Something strange is going on, but somehow she can't spare a thought for what it could be, because what he's saying-

The cold bites into her, but the words have already done far worse. Mai staggers forward, reaching out in desperation. "Takumi, what are you saying? Don't think about that, you're going to be fi-"

Someone bursts into the area, hurling a lightning bolt at Takumi, and Mai's lunge forward is foiled by icy stones. She slips, falls, still reaching out- "NO!"

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

La Sirene du Nord is silent as she walks through the storm.

"You're right," she says, her voice grave. "It's not the same. But it's a bit like it..."

"A bit," Batiste agrees, taciturn. He takes shelter beneath the violet ruffle of la Sirene's blouse, clinging. His head turns around as he watches.

And in time, others come nearer. La Sirene du Nord says nothing in greeting, instead gathering her coat closer around herself. Even she, resilient as she is in the face of cold weather and the storm, is feeling the weight of it, and soon enough they're near to see...

The boy.

La Sirene du Nord looks at him with her pale eyes, momentarily envying his warmth. Batiste detaches, landing on the snow-swept ground and gazing steadily at him as he speaks. His whiskers twitch. And then!

Cure Peace dives inwards, and a moment later so does Mai Tokiha. Batiste gives the Pretty Cure a look, but when he ducks downwards and starts motoring over the icy ground, it is Mai to whom he runs.

"H, hey!" La Sirene says, querelously, shuffling after him even as his fuzzy body gets near the fallen girl. He does not attempt to lever her up, because that would be rather impractical; instead, he straightens again, wringing his paws and speaking urgently, largely to her, but also la Sirene.

"Do you know him? There is hope," Batiste tells Mai, "still quite a bit of hope, but we have to hurry. If matters have gone this far, there is no time left to waste, and if you want this boy to be safe..."

"What are you talking to her about!?" la Sirene wails, her voice at least clear over the noise.

"That thing," Batiste says, pointing an accusing paw -

"It isn't a person," he says.

"What?!" La Sirene cries out, looking towards Takumi and then saying with obvious scorn, "He looks ill, don't be stupid! Here, I'll show you myself!" She stalks towards Takumi then, raising up a hand presumptiously. "You - you're sick; get down from there! Are you causing this storm? Cut it out!! The traffic's bad enough already! I command you to halt it instantly!"

Batiste's paws hide his face for a moment. "Ugh," he groans, to Mai (and any others who might listen). "I should have said something before, BEFORE she got like this... That isn't the real form. Lady, come on; if you know him, if you know his heart..."

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has used Carpe Aonyx on Mai Tokiha.
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha accepts La Sirene du Nord's Carpe Aonyx, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Withstand applied to Mai Tokiha!  

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Shiori barely looks at the snowflakes, stumbling through the snow in her uniform as she is. She is not dressed for the snow, and her limbs move clumsily as the chill grows. The snowflakes seem only to tell her more of what she already knows. The burdens that await are no hange; she is tired, alread, as she goes through, feeling the wind scythe through her insufficient jacket...

But she continues anyway. The cold is almost reassuring, in its way; each judgement is a reminder, each burst of pain a familiar friend, though she has begun to numb, given the storm. But eventually she makes her way through the pathways to the center, right after Mai. She stops, seeing the boy there, and then--


Takumi speaks, and Shiori stares at him. Then, there's the lightning, on top of Mai's words and the Infinity student steps back, hesitating, mouth half-open but no words coming out even as she looks o the others gathering here. "I--But, what's--"

"Then what," she says to Batiste, "What are we supposed to do...?" She stumbles backward again, away from him, the feeling rolling off of him in waves still echoing within her. Her arms are still raised against it, but it sunk in regardless.

It's not as if she can do anything to help. It's not as if...

COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki has used Hesitation on Shiori Takatsuki.
COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki accepts Shiori Takatsuki's Hesitation, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Shiori Takatsuki is Quipped!  

<Pose Tracker> Mesozoic Maiden Lucy [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Lucy's charge appears unstoppable at first, walls coming down easy before her mighty club, but soon, she slows down, her every step weighed down by the weight of the world, her every swing more and more labored.

So once she bursts through the maze's outer wall, her entrance is not... quite as impressive as it could be.

"Strong as the tyrano..." Lucy bows down, hands on her legs, catching her breath "Clever as the... raptor, right..." pant, pant, "Nimble as the dactyl, I'm Mesozoic Maiden Lucy..." She's still a bit red-faced from fatigue-- not a thing that happens to her often! --as she stands back up, ready to face her foe...

Who turns out to be a sickly-looking kid only a few years younger than she is, looking possessed by something very, very bad. Lucy had yet to meet Takumi, but she knows her sister, who also just appeared on the scene, and seems to know him all too well.

Cure Peace, though Lucy doesn't know her much at all, appears to be the most out of sorts from the unnatural influence permeating the place. "Don't worry," she tells her in a strong voice, hopefully strong enough for the both of them, "You're not alone! We can figure out a way to save him together!" It's directed at her specifically, though hopefully Mai will hear it too.

But then, La Sirene and her otter cousin arrive, and since Batiste seems to have something to say, she tries to stick close to him and Mai so she can better hear it-- Though he'd better be fast, because as loath as she is to attack Takumi right now, the cold is already starting to get through the magic protecting her, and she /hates/ it!

COMBAT: Mesozoic Maiden Lucy has used Impromptu Pep Talk on Cure Peace.
COMBAT: Cure Peace accepts Mesozoic Maiden Lucy's Impromptu Pep Talk, taking 0 Fatigue damage! 

<Pose Tracker> Kaitou Jeanne [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

The initial going through the snow storm is about what Maron expected. Cold, uncomfortable, and just generally making her wonder what the heck she was thinking, rushing into something like that. Granted, she'd probably be a lot colder if not for the protection of her transformation, but still.

But that's when her mind was on the state of her body. It doesn't remain that way. All too soon, her focus shifts to mental concerns. School, the well-being of her friends, her broken family life, this whole 'destiny' thing that got thrust upon her... all kinds of things that weigh heavily on her mind seem to bubble to the surface at once. This does sometimes happen at an unguarded moment, but why would she be reminded of things like that now?

She doesn't even really notice the cold anymore after a while. Illusions dancing before her eyes are barely having an effect. It's the pressure of her own mind that's mainly slowing her down, causing her to unexpectedly lose her balance on occasion. At some point, she started running moreso out of a desire to escape, strongly wishing she was somewhere, anywhere else. Somewhere with more people, so she wouldn't feel all alone out here.

And then, her wish is granted. The storm appears to open up before her, and several people appear in front of Kaitou Jeanne, several of which familiar to her. She wants to smile, but finds herself unable to. Bits and pieces of conversation reach her ears, but most of all, her attention is drawn to the boy at the center of it all. How could it not be? There's no doubt in her mind that she's found the source of all this, especially after the reflexive emotional reaction that results after she's hit with another burst of snow. Now it all makes sense. That's what caused her to be reminded of all these unpleasant things.

Unsure of what to do or say, Jeanne's voice is so soft, it's barely audible when she wonders out loud, "This pain... is it yours?"

Then, her gaze hardens. Now that she can focus on another's problems instead of her own, everything's changed. Enough so to call over to the others present, "Hey! If anybody knows what's going on and what we can do about it, now's the time to share! ...even if it's you, otter!" He did seem to have a good head on his shoulders. For an otter.

<Pose Tracker> Juri Arisugawa [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Lightning sizzles through the storm, raising a line of steam as it evaporates every bit of snow that spans the distance between Cure Peace and Takumi in an instant.

"Fine?" he answers Mai, even as he hops hastily down from the fountain to evade the bolt, his loafers crunching in the foot of fast-accumulating snow. "I'm going to be fine?"

Like the ringmaster at the circus, he sweeps his arm outwards, across his body, pointing... at the marble beside him.

At the nearly iced over shape collapsed on the fountain's far side: the real Takumi.

"DOES THAT LOOK LIKE /FINE/ TO YOU?" he screams at 'his' sister, spittle flying from his mouth. It's blood red, drawing the eye with its stark contrast to the white palette of the snow. The ichor freezes instantly and sharpens to a razor's edge, then flies towards the confrontational Nori. There's something about her that attracts his attention immediately, like a moth to the flame.

He sighs, gustily, his rage becoming something else, perhaps even more dangerous, if less dramatic. "People always tell me about all the things I can't do because I'm sick. Do you have any idea what that's like? Day in and day out -- can't climb, can't swim, can't run, can't jump. Can't be rude," he glances back at Peace briefly, "Because that would be wrong, it's nobody's /fault/ that I'm the way that I am, only a great big jerk would take it /out/ on them."

His flesh is beginning to... shift, subtly, as though there's another shape underneath it, ready to burst out of this skin as though shedding a cocoon. It makes his face contort even more strangely than sheer emotional already is.

"What do /you/ think?" he snaps back at Jeanne, liberated from the expectations of society for one afternoon only. "Is this my pain? Are you sure it isn't yours?" The storm begins to whip itself back up to a fevered pitch, bringing with it more wind-driven snow that slashes and stings.

COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used Veracity on Mai Tokiha.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used Veracity on La Sirene du Nord.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used Storm Rising on Cure Peace.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used Storm Rising on Shiori Takatsuki.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used Storm Rising on Mesozoic Maiden Lucy.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used Storm Rising on Kaitou Jeanne.
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord narrowly braces Juri Arisugawa's Veracity, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  La Sirene du Nord's Block ability activates!  La Sirene du Nord's Parry ability activates!  
COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki fails to dodge Juri Arisugawa's Storm Rising, taking 22 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha accepts Juri Arisugawa's Veracity, taking 27 Fatigue damage!  Cripple, Stagger, and Stun applied to Mai Tokiha!  
COMBAT: Kaitou Jeanne narrowly dodges Juri Arisugawa's Storm Rising, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Kaitou Jeanne's Fade ability activates!  Kaitou Jeanne's Flash ability activates! 
COMBAT: Cure Peace narrowly braces Juri Arisugawa's Storm Rising, taking 8 Fatigue damage! 
COMBAT: Mesozoic Maiden Lucy braces Juri Arisugawa's Storm Rising so perfectly it breaks the MUSH!

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Batiste looks momentarily aggrieved when Jeanne refers to him in such unpleasant tones. He keeps speaking, even so, looking to Lucy with some relief. She's got a good head on her shoulders! It's probably club resistant, too.

"What has happened is a dark evil," he says; "something forbidden, which we knew only by reputation and insinutation. This poor boy has been fed a parasite, one cultivated by murderers and the banished. You know -"

Batiste exhales with great force, almost a sneeze. "You know how your feelings come and they go? It's like a tide, sometimes? There is more truth to that than you think. The Cardiax worm, fed to him, has clogged the channels through which they flow. His tears are stopped, his sorrows dammed, and so: This is what has come to pass." He jabs a paw towards the advancing Takumi --

even as La Sirene recoils from him, her hands held up as if to ward him off. "I - I didn't know," she protests. Her face, already pale, gets paler. "You can't blame me for-- For, for...' She trails off, shivering once, wrapping her arms around herself to ward off an unwonted shiver.

Batiste curses to himself, before urging the girls nearby, "You have to stop it, destroy it - it's not the boy himself, it's... it's like the hair in your drain, you have to break it NOW! There is no time to waste!" He calls ahead, "La Sirene, HIT IT!"

La Sirene's face has this introduction slowly dawn on her.

Batiste meanwhile urges Mai, "Come on, come on - We have to go around, care for the body. Physically he is fine, the worm doesn't hurt the body."

But meanwhile:

La Sirene's eyes narrow slightly. "Whatever you are doing, whoever you really are, I shall not permit you to just /berate/ them. Even Saint Tail doesn't deserve a guilt trip!" A pause, but she decides to continue rather than self correct. "And if his words are true, then you're just making things worse for... 'Yourself'."

She throws one arm upwards. It might seem for a moment as if she's going to start a dance competition - but what comes instead is a cracking, crashing peal of thunder, sufficient to break up some of the rimes of ice that have formed! And hopefully dismay the cardiax as well. "SO STOP!"

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has used Thundersnow: A Real Thing on Juri Arisugawa.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa narrowly braces La Sirene du Nord's Thundersnow: A Real Thing, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  Juri Arisugawa's Block ability activates!  Exhausted applied to Juri Arisugawa!  

<Pose Tracker> Cure Peace [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

Cure Peace eyes go wide.. "Wah---what's going on!?" she states, she looks at Lucy but sadly, she's still feeling really, really small here. She perhaps, finally notices, that no one else is actually attacking. Wait. What? This is clearly some sort of bad guy, shouldn't-- shouldn't they all be beating the badguy? That's how this works!! Right?

I mean... that's what. the mangas say! It has to be true!

She begins to feel unsure...

Then the otter makes his explanation and she listens with a wide eyed face. "So...it's hair in the drain? Well... um..."

She kind of thinks for a good minute and does her entrance poise again! Two peace fingers. "Well..I am, the Pretty, Beautiful PLUNGER OF JUSTICE!."

  • SHING!*.

She sort of blinks and sort of wilts a bit. "That was kinda lame..." she says a bit. "But...I'll still help!" she says. Hopefully. No one will try to dive in front of this next jolt she flingers.

COMBAT: Cure Peace has used Sparkling Plunger of Justice on Juri Arisugawa.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa narrowly counters Cure Peace's Sparkling Plunger of Justice, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Juri Arisugawa's Reverse ability activates!  
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa's counterattack, Kaleidoscopic Blizzard, partially gets through, doing 10 Fatigue damage to Cure Peace!  Blind and Diversion applied to Cure Peace!  

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Something here is ugly; Shiori at least finally sees what 'Takumi' is showing them, sees a second boy who is distinctly less... mobile, frankly. Who has a lot to say about a lot of things. That much, frankly, sort of washes over Shiori like so much more snow; the motion of his form is a bit more prominent to her. The information Jeanne asked for starts to sink in, as does the presence of a rather strong Maiden, who is... awfully optimistic.

Shiori is finally able to move as the winds blow, but only /into/ the attack that comes; the ice slices across her, blood springing onto the snow from her legs and her arms and a little shriek brings her to collapse to the ground. Just a normal girl, here, she is clearly ou of her depth. And yet...

She lifts her head. "I.." The otter's words dirft towards her. "Your feelings are blocked," she murmurs, from her pile on the ground. "So that's..."

"Mai-chan!" Shiori calls. "P-please! Let me!" As she rises, unsteadily, suddenly there is something glinting in her hands, a jeweled dagger, its edge curved and sharp. "Believe in miracles," she murmurs, holding the dagger forward. The orb on its pommel starts to glow. An edge of desperation threads into her voice as she calls, more loudly, "And they will know your true feelings!"

A burst of purple light flashes from around her, momentarily obscuring her form entirely. When it returns, Shiori is clad in greens and in the same purples as her hair, masked, her weapon light and her stance combatative. She seems warmer, more alive, less... well, stiff.

"I'll--I'll free you! Just hold on!" She looks to Mai, once, "Go!" and /charges/ forward, moving to tackle the apparation that isn't apparently really Takumi. Tackle, or... embrace, more like.

...Except that her weapon comes up from behind, to try to scythe into his spectral form, while giving him a new target to deal with.

COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki transforms into True Feelings!
COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki has used Believe in Miracles on Juri Arisugawa.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa narrowly braces Shiori Takatsuki's Believe in Miracles, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Juri Arisugawa's Block ability activates!  Juri Arisugawa is Taunted!  

<Pose Tracker> Mesozoic Maiden Lucy [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Lucy listens as the boy speaks amidst the raging snowstorm, and rages against his tragically unfair lot in life. "That must be awful," she says softly, sincerely, a hand coming up to, ironically, her own heart. "I can't even /imagine/ what it would be like..." She really just can't.

Batiste explains what they're up against. "So we simply need to destroy it. From the look of things, I might be able to purify it with holy flame, right?" She looks to the otter for confirmation.

But the storm continues to pick up, and despite all the magic protecting Lucy, it can only do so much against cold from a heart that tortured. She can, however, whip up a shield of flames to protect herself for the time being, with a wave of her hands and a nicely-timed thrown matchstick from Didi, who has finally caught up to the group. Teamwork!

She needs to move fast before her heart freezes entirely, and so, once the shield dissipates, she plunges through the opening it left in the nearly palpable snowstorm, and signals Didi to throw the entire matchbook! "Your pain must be unbearable," she says in a strained voice, "If I can warm your heart even a little bit..." She doesn't manage to finish her sentence, but he should get the jist of it, as the dinosaur-flung matches catch fire, and she directs a rapidly-growing stream of flames in the parasitic imposter's direction.

COMBAT: Mesozoic Maiden Lucy has used Blast from the Past on Juri Arisugawa.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa narrowly dodges Mesozoic Maiden Lucy's Blast from the Past, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Juri Arisugawa's Fade ability activates!  Juri Arisugawa's Flash ability activates!  Exhausted applied to Juri Arisugawa! 

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mai struggles to get up. Batiste's words are met with confusion - and not because he's a talking otter. Takumi isn't a person? Sure, he might be talking about something morbid, but both of them have worried about that sort of thing. Even the ice could be from something like her own powers - it could run in families, right? As everyone else arrives, Mai gets to her feet, coming closer to the ice-wielding Takumi, still reaching out.

...she can't move. Even as something strikes home, some pain beyond the cold she can't describe, she can't move. There's a second Takumi, lying still, maybe dead. The Takumi before her, accusing her, finally voicing all the problems that her brother has been suffering. Everything that's out of his reach, because of his heart issues, because of....

The otter makes another plea, getting her attention. It takes a moment for his words to sink in - but when they do, her previous panic and determination flare back to life, and she starts to run for the fallen Takumi. "He's not fine, that's entirely the problem! Even without whatever this thing is, his heart-"

Shiori calls out to her, and the orange-haired girl turns back to see what she's talking about. She gets a full view of the flash of violet light, the heroic charge, the younger girl throwing herself in danger for Mai's sake. To fix Mai's mistake.

Flames erupt around Mai - swirling around her wrists and ankles, becoming golden rings with emerald magatama on them. In an instant, they spin into flame once more, allowing Mai to leap - no, to soar over to Takumi's side. He's still, all too still, nearly encased in ice - but Mai's flames will not burn one she cares about. Heat, to be applied to the ice, to warm up her true brother - and as she works, she calls out to the icy one. "Takumi - if you have anything of my brother left in you - stop this! Please, don't lash out at the world, just...just me! Take it out on me!"

COMBAT: Mai Tokiha transforms into Mai-HiME!
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha has used Your Enemy Is... on Juri Arisugawa.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa narrowly counters Mai Tokiha's Your Enemy Is..., taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Juri Arisugawa is Quipped!  Juri Arisugawa's Reverse ability activates!  
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa's counterattack, Kaleidoscopic Blizzard, partially gets through, doing 13 Fatigue damage to Mai Tokiha!  Critical Counterhit!  Blind and Diversion applied to Mai Tokiha!  

<Pose Tracker> Kaitou Jeanne [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Jeanne's eyes follow the boy's arm gesture to... another person? That's another person there, isn't it? And it seems to be implied to actually be the same person, or rather the actual person. So who or what is this? She can't help but be reminded of a similar situation, where someone's Passion seemed to have taken on an existence of its own. Is that what this is, except for Despair?

Thankfully there's Batiste to clarify, and remove all doubts about what to do. To make things right, she'll have to fight. The gymnastics ribbon she uses for a weapon appears with far less hesitation than Maron is actually experiencing. Even if they say that isn't really the boy... he still looks that way. And the things he said make it particularly difficult not to sympathize. She really can't imagine what that would be like, not being able to be physically active. What would she do with herself if she couldn't do that?

Another blast of icy pain follows, chilling in more ways than one, but rather than just stand there and take it, Jeanne dashes sideways, not quite escaping but at least not suffering through it for an extended period of time. As she circles, she finally speaks, "You'd better be right about this, otter! Stealing from a thief is one thing, but...!" She interrupts herself mid-sentence to suddenly question La Sirene: "...you don't /still/ think I'm Saint Tail, do you?"

She shakes her head, refocusing her attention on the matter at hand. Now's not the time for this. Besides, she's already decided that she's going to believe the otter. Now she must follow through. "My pain isn't important," she responds to 'Takumi', charging the imposter even though still talking to him as if he's the real thing, "But I'll do what I can to ease yours!" The ribbon lashes out, with as much force as she would employ against any demon. This better be the right decision...!

COMBAT: Kaitou Jeanne has used Ribbon Whiplash on Juri Arisugawa.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa narrowly dodges Kaitou Jeanne's Ribbon Whiplash, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Kaitou Jeanne is Psyched!  Juri Arisugawa's Fade ability activates!  Juri Arisugawa's Flash ability activates!  

<Pose Tracker> Juri Arisugawa [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Takumi, now apparently christened a Cardiax, does not take La Sirene's speech very well. His eyes, which are now totally black as night, without delineation of any sort, widen with rage. "Who are you to tell me what's better or worse for myself? You think this is about /guilt/? You think this is about /them/?"

Her blast of thunder slams into him with concussive force, knocking him back head over heels. He rolls on impact, the snow writhing like it is a living thing, eager to accept him, to cushion him, to help this be a less than otherwise probably lethal blow.

And he comes up swinging, emotionally, literally.

"WHY DOES EVERYONE MAKE MY CONDITION ABOUT ANYONE BUT ME?" Snow pours from his palm, reducing Cure Peace's next bolt to an unpleasant, wrist-shaking shock rather than the electirc chair, and keeps on coming to momentarily envelop her. It's a strange experience, the snowflakes merging into panes of ice that shatter and reform continuously, reflecting all manner of ghastly funhouse scenes.

He's so focused on trying to torment the Pretty Cure that he barely notices the thusfar-bystanding Shiori Takatsuki. She stabs him in the back, and it's finally the impetus that sheds the last of his false mien. Her dagger tears into nothing spectral at all, but flesh, ghastly gray flesh, with quarter-thick pulsating veins of the darkest possible blue that can still not be mistaken for black.

With an unholy screech from its mouth, which contains within it three sets of concentric fangs, it flings itself to one side with surprising agility for a worm that is now the size of a school bus, and Lucy's blast, already in midair by the time of his transformation, melts the snow caked around it but cannot quite reach its skin. It lands hard, needing a moment to collect itself after that exertion, and even more slowly springs away from Jeanne's whip, the very passage of which opens up a welt on its side, simply from the compressed air nearby. It pauses, its head facing her direction, for a long, silent and deeply strange moment of something like acknowledgement.

Which is when it hears Mai calling. It does not lack awareness, oh no. Nor does it lack malice.

What it does lack is eyes.

It doesn't seem to need them, though, exhaling a blast of ice, more of those awful refractive panes, at the girl, the sister of its host, courting pain. Words are carried with them, harsh ones, that can deliver what she's asking for in a far less pleasant way than she might hope. "You'd like that, wouldn't you? It would make you feel better! It would make things even!"

The worm coils inwards on itself, then its head and forethird rise upwards not unlike a snake. "EXCEPT FOR THE PART WHERE I'M GOING TO DIE BEFORE I'VE EVER EVEN GOTTEN TO LIVE!" Snow transforms instantly into ice, congealing into a tomb that encases seemingly everything, of such opacity that it even blocks out what little sunlight had penetrated the storm clouds. Then it all shatters in an instant, sword-sized shards slicing from every direction. "NOTHING WILL EVER FIX THAT!"

The real Takumi is easily melted free, and warms in Mai's arms. His chest rises and falls with shallow breaths. Where he is right now, there are no dreams.

COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used Darkness Falling on Kaitou Jeanne.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used Darkness Falling on Mai Tokiha.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used Darkness Falling on Mesozoic Maiden Lucy.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used Darkness Falling on Shiori Takatsuki.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used Darkness Falling on Cure Peace.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used Darkness Falling on La Sirene du Nord.
COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki narrowly counters Juri Arisugawa's Darkness Falling, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Exhausted, Tangle, and Trap applied to Shiori Takatsuki!  
COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki's counterattack, Cruel Innocence, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Juri Arisugawa!  
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha narrowly counters Juri Arisugawa's Darkness Falling, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Mai Tokiha's Reverse ability activates!  Mai Tokiha's Tactician ability activates!  Tangle and Trap applied to Mai Tokiha!  
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha's counterattack, Flare Shroud, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Juri Arisugawa!  
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord perfectly counters Juri Arisugawa's Darkness Falling, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Counter!  
COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord's counterattack, Les Mysteres, bursts all the way through, doing 33 Fatigue damage to Juri Arisugawa!  
COMBAT: Mesozoic Maiden Lucy fails to counter Juri Arisugawa's Darkness Falling, taking 28 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Mesozoic Maiden Lucy's counterattack, Blast from the Past, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Juri Arisugawa!  
COMBAT: Kaitou Jeanne narrowly braces Juri Arisugawa's Darkness Falling, taking 22 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Kaitou Jeanne's Parry ability activates!  Exhausted, Tangle, and Trap applied to Kaitou Jeanne!  
COMBAT: Cure Peace fails to dodge Juri Arisugawa's Darkness Falling, taking 36 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Tangle and Trap applied to Cure Peace!  

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

"Yes! Good! Plunge!" Batiste says to Cure Peace, even as he looks with greatest concern upon his soi-distant cousin there, confronting the Cardiax.

He gives Shiori a relieved look; she seems to be speaking to Mai, perhaps even aiding her. He scampers forwards a couple of body lengths to get out of the way, before telling Lucy in reply, "It might." In fact, he vaults to Lucy, grasping the side of her fur dress and mounting up towards her shoulder, underlit by her tattoos.

But --

La Sirene looks momentarily bushwacked at the words of the Cardiax, lips curling back in a dismayed grimace, brow furrowing. "I," she begins to say, even as the others smash inwards. Cure Peace is getting it hard, and then Shiori slashes against it and the true face is revealed.

She bites her lip. The creature screams. Guilt washes through her heart, and she takes in a breath as she hears that cry. The world freezes to ice, glittering in the dim and guttering light like -

(La Sirene's pale eyes widen. Batiste says, where only Lucy can hear, "Is she --" but he seems to be speaking to himself.)

She moves with fluid grace, turning to face the creature-Takumi. She throws her left hand up, performing the horned salute, and as the swords of ice lance towards her, she completes the mudra; for once, without prompting or error, the spell is perfect. A wailing chord fills the air, sound rippling silver veves upon the ground that fade in the mist, smashing forwards and clearing the field around la Sirene. Her hair rises, rippling with frost shaken free.

Like tears, she thinks.

"You're Right," she enunciates, her voice resonating with the after echoes of that rippling chord. "That's the most horrible thing I have heard this year --" Her hand comes up to clutch at her ruff, head raising upwards. Her face tightens again, lips crinkling. Her eyes wet, blinking away tears as they threaten to frost over.

"This world is cruel... you haven't earned your sorrows. I -"

She wavers slightly, cutting Kaitou Jeanne a momentary look. Then back she snaps to the Cardiax. "I'm sorry," she says. "For everything."

La Sirene steps forwards, towards the Cardiax, one step. Then the next. She stops then, wavering. "What do I do now?!" she wails, shoulders slumping; the momentary sense of grace in motion fleeing her like morning dew!

COMBAT: La Sirene du Nord has used Before I Leave Your Eyes on Juri Arisugawa.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa narrowly braces La Sirene du Nord's Before I Leave Your Eyes, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Juri Arisugawa is Quipped!  Juri Arisugawa's Block ability activates!  

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Takumi's sister throws herself over the ice-trapped boy when that frosty retort is delivered, and shards of ice dig painfully into her back. The words, in a way, hurt more, even as they build to a crescendo. An icy tomb encases everything, shards of ice raining down - and rather than leave anything to chance, Mai summons a fiery barrier to intercept them. Whatever gets through finds its rightful target, rather than the sickly boy she protects.

"...I would." Now that the monster's true form is revealed, now that Mai knows her brother is alive and breathing, she can speak to the foe more directly. Still, that voice - those words - combined with the fact that the beast is not her brother, they ignite responses that would normally go unsaid. "If I could make things even between us, I would! If I could fix things myself..." Her nails dig into her palm, and she looks down as La Sirene gives the creature her apologies..

Takumi - the real Takumi - is sleeping peacefully. He's alive. Mai looks up to the monster that screams his sorrows with his voice, and determination blazes on her face. "...you're wrong. My brother is going to live. No matter what it takes, I'll make sure of that!" Fires dance to her whim, much like the ice had danced at the false Takumi's command. Rising, spiraling upward, melting the falling snow and embracing the Cardiax in a cage of fire!

COMBAT: Mai Tokiha has used Infernal Prison on Juri Arisugawa.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa narrowly dodges Mai Tokiha's Infernal Prison, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  Juri Arisugawa's Fade ability activates!  Juri Arisugawa's Flash ability activates!  Diversion applied to Juri Arisugawa!  

<Pose Tracker> Cure Peace [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

Cure Peace is beset by some horrible ice. And also. Ghosts.

Wait, what ghosts!?

Her eyes go wide. "Nyaahhhh!" she sort of huddles a bit. Because. Ghosts. They do a good job of keeping her put for a good long while. And she's already feeling horribly unsure of this...

Maybe she should had just hid. It was a complete and utter mistake to transform like this with anyone around. Such a god awful, stupid. Mistake.


She can hear it in her head. Akane is calling her a cry baby. Not right now. Or her. But back in school... out and about. Crybaby. Crybaby. Crybaby!

She's right. She shouldn't be about to cry. That boy sounds hurt. Not physically of course. But.


She pushes herself up and tries to peek beyond all these ghost. "Go-away!" is all she says to these illusionary phantoms before she steels herself as much as she can... firsts shaking. "Peace... Lightning!" she says. Trying to launch a cleansing bolt through the air, through the ghosts and towards the Cardiax. She has no idea how effective this may be. Not all things evil are always powered veiled evils, afterall.

But she can try. If it could help calm a heart, regardless...

"Ah! You have to trust your friends! and your sister most of all...." she manages to say shortly after. Though her voice is small.

COMBAT: Cure Peace has used Peace Lightning on Juri Arisugawa.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa narrowly braces Cure Peace's Peace Lightning, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Juri Arisugawa's Block ability activates!  

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Shiori doesn't know /what/ it's about, frankly, and has no basis to even start to act as if she does; what she has come to undrstand here is something... different. Something distinct. Something that sticks with her, about Mai.

...And it isn't, frankly, why exactly she chose to put herself directly in harms way in this fashion. He shouts, and she feels her weapon slip into flesh, cut things that she can see to her horror are very little at all like what she epected they might be, and then she /hears/ the screech. It paralyzes her for an instant, causing her to be able only to watch as it moves. It hurls its abuse...

And its despair, and its power. Shiori hurls a magical projectile after, a flower conjured out of nothing, glowing, and then another, and another, to block the ice--but it just scythes through. She blocks a little, but nowhere near enough, as the attack digs back into her, slamming her back against an icy wall where she stands, dazed again, stiff.

"You can't," she exhales, trying to steady her stance, "You can't give up!" She doesn't look back at the otter for now, though it's his words that mattered a good bit to her earlier. Now...

What to do?

"You will!" she calls to Mai. "You will, and you can! After we... After we destroy this thing! Believe!"

Shiori levels her weapon--but does not charge, this time. Instead, she inhales, and the area about her warms, even as it dims, briefly something more alive--and differently dangerous--than the snow. Blacks and greens and purples focus on her weapon, before she /hurls/ the mass forward--and it bursts into vines, thorny lengths reaching towards the worm to crush and tear at it, explosions of light and color bursting from flowers that bloom as the mass of magical plant goes.


...If the wicked, barbed thorns should happen to drip with something like poison, surely it is only because they burst with life.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Shiori Takatsuki has used Thorns of Death on Juri Arisugawa.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa narrowly dodges Shiori Takatsuki's Finisher, Thorns of Death, taking 36 Fatigue damage!  Juri Arisugawa's Fade ability activates!  Juri Arisugawa's Flash ability activates!  

<Pose Tracker> Mesozoic Maiden Lucy [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Lucy is caught a bit off-guard by the monstrous transformation of the newly-christened Cardiax. Fighting huge enemies is nothing new to her, but she wasn't expecting it to emerge from such a small shell!

Batiste climbs up on her, and she lets him stay on her shoulder, though she can't guarantee his stability. "Hold on tight!" is all she can say to warn him. He's yet to see how much leaping about she can REALLY do.

It screams tragic words, painful words, and Lucy's eyes well up unbidden with unbearably cold tears. In her time here, she's heard painful stories of broken dreams and separation, of twisted love and crushing despair... And then there's death. Death is what it is. How fitting that this boy's sorrow would manifest as a snowstorm? As darkness closes around her, and blades of cold slash at her so painfully, she reminds herself that winter is, after all, the season of death.

Lucy hates winter.

If she were in a better state of mind, she would counter with words of hope, like Mai is managing to, albeit desperately-- Or even just apologize, like La Sirene is doing. But Lucy, who feels she must keep moving lest she freeze entirely (literally or otherwise) can only manage a primal roar and a leaping charge, spinning across the air. Then, with every single one of her muscles put into that swing of her club, maybe she can stand up, just for this one fleeting moment, to winter and death.

COMBAT: Mesozoic Maiden Lucy has used Cretaceous Clobber on Juri Arisugawa.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa fails to counter Mesozoic Maiden Lucy's Cretaceous Clobber, taking 27 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa's counterattack, Truth Or Dare, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Mesozoic Maiden Lucy!  

<Pose Tracker> Kaitou Jeanne [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Wow, did things ever change quickly. Before Jeanne full well realizes it, she's no longer attacking anything that looks human. It's strange to feel relief at things taking a turn for the monstrous, but she'd have to admit that this does in fact tend to make things easier. Yet even so, when that eyeless face turns to her, she finds herself unable to see it as nothing but a monster. There was... something there. What was that?

She can't afford to let it get to her, though. By now it's pretty clear that this creature has to be defeated. But once again, she has to acknowledge that it's a good thing that she didn't turn out to be alone in this. Once again, she ran straight into something that she may not have been able to handle without support. If she hadn't known what she was dealing with, she may not have even put up a fight.

At this point, it doesn't even really surprise her that even the apparently normally students that were present turned out to also have magical powers. It only makes sense, who would push forward into the center of this mess if they didn't have those?

Just as she wonders that, her head turns sharply to Mai at hearing the word 'brother', instantly realizing that she was mistaken. This girl would have come here, even without any powers. Maron may not have a brother of her own, but... she'd do absolutely anything for family. Yet if what that creature says is true, cruel fate will yet end up tearing them apart...

There's little resistance from Jeanne as she braces herself against the sudden onslaught of dark icicles. Her state of mind directly affecting her performance, she doesn't manage to remain standing against the barrage and goes down unceremoniously, falling backwards into the snow. For a moment, it doesn't seem like she's going to get up.

Until she hears Mai's fervent denial of the creature's claims. Yes. That's right. There's no such thing as an unchangable fate. You just have to fight it with all you have...!

It's hard to even spot Jeanne getting up again, since after vaulting up she goes off straight into a run as if she wasn't even a little dazed, before long delivering a second ribbon strike against this Cardiax. And for some reason, she still feels compelled to talk to it as if she was talking to the boy himself. "...listen to your sister. Nothing is set is stone! There's always hope as long as you don't give up!"

COMBAT: Kaitou Jeanne has used Miraculous Reversal on Juri Arisugawa.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa fails to brace Kaitou Jeanne's Miraculous Reversal, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Bind Break! All of Kaitou Jeanne's debuffs are cleared!  

<Pose Tracker> Juri Arisugawa [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The Cardiax has no eyes with which to meet La Sirene's, but her words arrest it -- acknowledgement of the issues it has leeched out of Takumi's heart, and an apology. It recoils from the simple purity of that action, which is, in its way, as mighty as any blast of energy or stab of sword.

Which isn't to say that what follows isn't highly unpleasant for it. Like a spring, it launches itself from its coiled position away from Mai's flames before they can imprison it -- that would surely be doom, and the heat of their passage scorches it badly regardless. There is no more snow on its form to shield it from the flames of her feelings, and it thrashes in agony, her touch anathema to what it is at its very core. Cure Peace's lightning joins in, crackling across its thick flesh, raising tiny burns with every arc, and the Cardiax inhales sharply.

But before it can exhale, and bring with it terrible suffering, the Mesozoic Maiden's club sends the worm, the now big rig-sized worm, which has never stopped growing, flying away like a baseball over the bleachers past center field. It goes crashing through Shiori's vines, which rip and tear at it with those thorns, ultimately halting its momentum entirely in an oozing tangle of plants, worm, and poison. Jeanne has no trouble lashing it soundly with her ribbonwhip, from there -- it's as trapped as a fly in a spider's web.

Struggling to free itself from its knot, the sense of its presence is abruptly heightened, as it gathers its strength around itself like a cloak. It cannot glare, but its hatred is as palpable as the gathering storm clouds.

It calls to them with an unspeakably piercing shriek, a scream, a howl of agony and ecstacy, as inhuman as the Cardiax once mimicked the strengths and weaknesses of humanity. The power of the sound shreds through its bindings, freeing it, and boils along them back towards their caster, Shiori, attempting to deliver a sonic detonation of truly tempestuous scope.

Once free, it lashes out at those around it. Cure Peace feels the full brunt of its tantrum as more shards of frozen ichor, mingled with the heart of a storm, come screaming towards her, bearing despair on every edge. Jeanne and Lucy get entire walls of snow flipped at them by the other end of its body, the tip of its tail, a snowball fight of epic, lethal proportions.

Lunging forward, it gnashes its sets of fangs at La Sirene in an effort to consume what it cannot control, but the real threat comes from its icy breath, which leaves lingering doubt in its wake. Some of those doubts congeal literally into another set of obsidian ice blades, which stab at Mai from all directions.

As to the efforts to speak to it as though it were Takumi, the worm rejects these attempts soundly. "I AM CARDIAX!" it bellows, carrying with the words an ancient, pulsing wound that cannot scar, much less heal.


It is a mantra as much as an introduction, and the storm above, the blizzard all around, is spiraling around as though this is the center of the entire universe, as though all the snow, and ice, and misery, and suffering, is all about to come crashing down at once.

There are but seconds left--!

COMBAT: FINISHER! Juri Arisugawa has used Castle-Moving Howl on Shiori Takatsuki.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used Feel My Pain on Cure Peace.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used Veracity on Kaitou Jeanne.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used Veracity on Mesozoic Maiden Lucy.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used Darkness Falling on Mai Tokiha.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa has used The Truth Hurts on Juri Arisugawa.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa accepts Juri Arisugawa's The Truth Hurts, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Accelerate and Surge applied to Juri Arisugawa!  
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha narrowly counters Juri Arisugawa's Darkness Falling, taking 24 Fatigue damage!  Mai Tokiha's Reverse ability activates!  Mai Tokiha's Tactician ability activates!  Exhausted, Tangle, and Trap applied to Mai Tokiha!  
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha's counterattack, Sanctum Blaze, partially gets through, doing 10 Fatigue damage to Juri Arisugawa!  
COMBAT: Cure Peace fails to dodge Juri Arisugawa's Feel My Pain, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cure Peace is unable to keep fighting!  Cure Peace is Quipped!  Cure Peace is Taunted!  
COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki narrowly braces Juri Arisugawa's Finisher, Castle-Moving Howl, taking 52 Fatigue damage!  Shiori Takatsuki's Block ability activates!  Shiori Takatsuki's Parry ability activates!  
COMBAT: Mesozoic Maiden Lucy fails to dodge Juri Arisugawa's Veracity, taking 29 Fatigue damage!  Cripple and Stun applied to Mesozoic Maiden Lucy!  
COMBAT: Kaitou Jeanne narrowly dodges Juri Arisugawa's Veracity, taking 23 Fatigue damage!  Kaitou Jeanne's Fade ability activates!  Kaitou Jeanne's Flash ability activates!  Cripple and Stagger applied to Kaitou Jeanne!  

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Batiste is thrown about violently, clinging to Lucy desperately. He screams, thin and clear, into the wind. "La Tempete!" he shouts. "USE IT! CALL IT OUT!"

La Sirene's paralysis breaks, even as the thing roars. The storm grows, and she sinks down to one knee in its fury; wind rips at her hair again, and she raises one hand to cling to her cap desperately. Her teeth stay clenched as her other hand plunges into the side pocket of her coat and pulls out -

Another object, small and gleaming. No, the same as before: the treasure, the mirror. During a momentary lull in the wind, she turns her cap's brim several inches to the side and holds the glistening black object aloft. Its white jewels shine, as she says aloud, "Your sorrows are real. But..."

Her head snaps up one last time: "Even in your dismay and regret, you can't just do as you please! Wail your despair, surrender your tears to me - because your lashing out must come to an end, now!"

The mirror gleams; silver washes over it. Those who were looking right at it would see an impression of rising, a glimpse of froth; stone in a tempest-wracked sea...

And then steam rises outwards. No, that isn't the charm itself; holding the Black Mirror aloft, la Sirene has sought the place where the tempests rage across the Sea of Tears in their greatest strength... towards the equiatorial latitudes, where the air is languidly warm and the unseen sun pours heat into the sea.

The pressure in the air changes; literally! Wind pours outwards, hot and fragrant and certainly far warmer than you'd expect in January. It contends against the Cardiax's own tempest even as la Sirene's other hand comes up to brace her grasp, holding the mirror aloft as she struggles to rise upwards. Ice starts melting, the interface between the two marked with a curious pastel gleaming, subtle yet splendid shading.

Batiste's claws, small as they are, dig into Lucy's fur as the storms struggle; a vibrantly piquant scent stands out though, all the sharper as the Siren's storm grows. Will the Cardiax be able to match it?

"Come - onnnn," la Sirene wails, now standing up fully. A sudden gale-force gust from the Mirror nearly throws her over, but she throws out a boot before she topples, stirring up the spreading water from the melting ice--

COMBAT: FINISHER! La Sirene du Nord has used L'Appel de la Tempete on Juri Arisugawa.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

'Believe!' 'There's always hope.' The words of those around Mai can let her start to think she isn't entirely wrong - a meagre defence against the cutting words of the creature that screams in Takumi's voice, but it's something she can hold desperately onto. The monster, in response, roars as it bursts free of everyone's combined efforts.

Blackened ice, converging from all directions. Mai summons up all the flames she dares to melt them, but focuses the bulk of the barrier on protecting the slumbering Takumi. In spite of the burning aegis, half a dozen shards make it through, to rip and freeze and pierce. She cries out in pain, falling to a knee by her brother's side.

The creature - Cardiax - bellows with an ancient horror, singing a song of agony and rage and frigid horror. Some part of Mai shudders at the noise, cringes in fear. But for the most part...

She's just glad it isn't Takumi after all.

"Cardiax..." Flames ignite with Mai's will once again, burning into a spinning pattern like three comets before her. A burning barrier, growing larger by the second. "Takumi's burden...I know. There isn't a day that I don't wish he didn't have to suffer it! I'm trying, desperately trying, to fix what happened - and we'll get there!"

The inferno's growth comes to a halt as Mai's voice suddenly falters. "We have to get there. Get to the day that all those doors open up again. Get him healthy again." She looks up at the Cardiax. "Get past you." The spinning pattern blazes to life again, and rushes forward - slamming into the monster, unleashing its heat upon it and the storm it has begun to call.

COMBAT: Mai Tokiha has used Sanctum Blaze on Juri Arisugawa.

<Pose Tracker> Mesozoic Maiden Lucy [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Even though Lucy is nimble as the raptor, raptors are notoriously bad in snowball fights, and this particularly epic one is no exception. An onslaught of snow and ice sends her flying and tumbling back, and when she gets up, her body and dress are covered in it, and in spite of everything, she's visibly shivering. She's reaching her limit, physically and emotionally, and she knows she's not the only one.

"Didi, Batiste," she says weakly, even though Didi is cowering far out of earshot and she can't even feel if the otter managed to hold on to her shoulder anymore, "we can do it, right?" She only has one shot, and as far as she knows, it may well all be riding on her. If she falls here, it'll be over for this boy, for Mai, for...

La Sirene du Nord unleashes an amazing power called La Tempete, judging by Batiste's shouts. (reassuringly confirming his presence!) The wind is warm, and moving is just that little bit less painful now. Whirling her club about to match the winds as best as she can, Lucy takes this as her cue to unleash the divine power she's been entrusted with. Her weapon is engulfed by a blaze burning from within, which covers Lucy entirely, until it dissipates, and leaves only her long hair and eyes burning with holy green flame.

"You have a loving sister, and wonderful friends. We can only soothe, not end your sorrows. But I implore you, take our gift, and let your heart be frozen no more!" All around Lucy, snow dissipates as a spiral of green purifying flame is summoned into being at the tip of the Maiden's club, then sent flying towards the parasitic, sorrow-filled worm, joining the last-ditch efforts of La Sirene, Mai and the rest. "BLAZE OF THE GODDESS!"

COMBAT: FINISHER! Mesozoic Maiden Lucy has used Blaze of the Goddess on Juri Arisugawa.

<Pose Tracker> Shiori Takatsuki [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

For once, Shiori feels a certain kinship with the people she's fighting with, as they speak about hope this time. It's important that this happens, too--because when the creature begins to free itself, when Shiori /feels/ the hatred rolling off of it, if she did not have something to bolster her she would fall immediately.

As it stands, the sound crashes back through her own magic, the connection used against her. "N-no!" She hurls back magic in turn, bracing herself with a boot dug into the snow to try to stay standing, arms crossed before her, and her slim figure cuts the blast; it hits her, but most of it flows right past, not enough Shiori even there to absorb it all. It's painful, to be sure, dazing...

But, if barely, she is still standing. Standing, to hear the thing call ot its nature.

...And hearing La Sirene speak of what she does. It sticks, in Shiori's mind, as does more that she hears--

"But, we will," she insists to Cardiax, going through rather than around; she suddenly shifts her weapon into an overhand grip, and attacks right after the blazes and the tempest--nothing as flashy, something all too easy to miss...

It's just a little bit of magic, that's all. A snaking blast, to a wound already opened.

COMBAT: Shiori Takatsuki has used From Greatness's Shadow on Juri Arisugawa.

<Pose Tracker> Cure Peace [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

Cure Peace kind of tries to brace this new oncoming attack. But....

What's the point? She's alone... she has no clue what she's even doing. She evening messed up by trying to be one of her manga heroes earlier.

She kind of...relents to the attack and lowers her arms as she unfs---

She's hurt. Just not on the outside. She kind of collpases into a pile on the ground with her arms to either side as her eyes well up a little...

"I'm...not crying." is all she insists after, afterall, more valiant heroes seem to be doing it better afterall... she figures at this point.

And she isn't crying!...well. Maybe barely...but. Well...

<Pose Tracker> Kaitou Jeanne [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Something changed. The sudden realization hits Jeanne like a ton of bricks. Or more accurately, a ton of snow. It was not until just before that happened that she realized that her words were falling on deaf ears. Or more accurately, no ears at all. She might be more appreciative of the symbolism if she didn't need to dig herself out of all that snow. Why couldn't /she/ have any fire powers, that would've been really useful right about now.

Fortunately, this is when temperatures in the general area turn upwards sharply, aiding the phantom thief in making a quick escape. Thankfully she wasn't buried too deeply, but she still needs a moment to catch her breath after that. All the while, the worm creature declares itself to be various impossibilities. Such finalities are painful to listen to. That seems to be what it's all about. Bemoaning its fate, claiming there to be no way around it.

"...didn't I just tell you?" Jeanne turns a steely gaze upon the creature, firmly declaring: "Nothing is impossible!"

Of course, words are only words, so she punctuates the declaration by throwing something at it. The object she chooses to employ to prove her point is, of all things, a bomb. And not just any bomb, a black, spherical one with a lit fuse. It even has the letter 'B' on it. And it explodes just like you would expect, possibly with even greater force than expected. Now all one needs to do is pretend that was something dramatic instead of silly.

COMBAT: Kaitou Jeanne has used Classic Cartoon Bomb on Juri Arisugawa.
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa fails to dodge Shiori Takatsuki's From Greatness's Shadow, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Stagger and Tangle applied to Juri Arisugawa!  
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa narrowly dodges Kaitou Jeanne's Classic Cartoon Bomb, taking 18 Fatigue damage!  Juri Arisugawa's Fade ability activates!  Juri Arisugawa's Flash ability activates!  
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa fails to dodge Mai Tokiha's Sanctum Blaze, taking 35 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa fails to dodge Mesozoic Maiden Lucy's Finisher, Blaze of the Goddess, taking 63 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Juri Arisugawa narrowly dodges La Sirene du Nord's Finisher, L'Appel de la Tempete, taking 35 Fatigue damage!  Juri Arisugawa is unable to keep fighting!  Juri Arisugawa's Fade ability activates!  Juri Arisugawa's Flash ability activates!  

<Pose Tracker> Juri Arisugawa [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The two storms slam into each other, creating a momentary eye. Winds blow and buffet all around in a twisting, merging ring.

The silence that reigns within is so absolute, such a shocking change of air pressure, that it is stunning in and of itself. The worm groans with the effort of maintaining its storm in the face of La Sirene's warm tempest, and the sound is shattering.

The noise squirms upwards into a scream as Mai's firestorm enters the equation, pouring across its bulk, blisters forming on top of blisters, exploding with pus and ichor, then cauterizing instantaneously. The Mesozoic Maiden adds green flame to the red, and unlike the storms raging above and around the battle, these two merge in a union of purpose, to enormous, purifying effect. Lucy's flame flows all the way to the tip of the Cardiax's tail like a tsunami of energy, a baptism of fire.

Slipping right in between the two gouts of flame, where they interface, Shiori's blade strikes hard and digs deep, piercing through several layers of burn to score a nasty blow. Jeanne's bomb explodes as it's reeling off balance, and sends it tumbling, tumbling down, roaring with surprise and pain.

No longer able to sustain its storm against that of La Sirene du Nord.

The relative quiet ends as abruptly as it had begun, as the bittersweet winds of the Sea of Sorrows banish the last of the snowclouds from the sky. They blow across the Cardiax with gale force, and with every passing moment, more of it seems worn away, as all the sorrow it ingested from Takumi flows out of it, out of it and into the magical girl's strange mirror.

When the storm abates, all that remains is a tiny worm and a frail boy in his sister's arms. Takumi blinks blearly, his consciousness restored, and something in him... released. Discharged. Tears of catharsis roll down his face. "Sis..." he coughs, reaching out a shaking hand to touch her cheek. "...thanks for... everything."

It takes a few moments for anyone to notice the man.

He must have arrived while all the explosions were going on. He is unassuming in stature, but his shoulders are very broad, as though to compensate for the shortness of his legs. Beetlebrowed and quiet, he reaches down to pluck the Cardiax Worm from where it lies. It twines around his wrist like a bracelet.

He stares at La Sirene du Nord for five long seconds, and there is a dreadful feeling there, but its identity is as unreadable as its origin. His arms and shoulders sway heavily as he walks away, without so much as a word, shimmering out of sight a moment later.

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

The storm blows away. The area is curiously warm for the moment, though mist is rising - the anomalous burst of languid near-tropical temperature water won't last long. Still, though, it's likely quite pleasant compared to "January."

The man appears.

La Sirene looks at him, confused. Something about him seems almost - she can't quite -

Batiste is much less ambiguous. He suddenly goes limp on the dress of Lucy, holding on Lucy and not letting go. He seems almost like he's trying to appear to be a piece of fur himself. But Lucy can feel he's shaking.

But then he's gone.

La Sirene puts a hand on her hip, looking baffled. Batiste moans, "He was right THERE, oh lord - another minute and..."

<Pose Tracker> Kaitou Jeanne [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Kaitou Jeanne does that thing where, as soon as the first person starts looking around for her, she's already gone. The threat is past, Mai's brother is alright... that's all she needed to know, at least for now. All that's left at that point is to make sure you won't have to answer any possible questions regarding the presence of an infamous phantom thief. The mystery man conveniently provided the distraction necessary for her to sneak away, but he certainly won't be forgotten... and if his involvement is what it appeared to be, also not forgiven.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

A warm storm, emboldened by flames both passionate and ancient. Mai clings to her hopes, clings to the slumbering brother in her arms...and in the end, that small miracle comes. The monster is gone, the ice storm diminishing, the immediate crisis over.

A hand reaches up to stroke Mai's cheek, and she freezes in her tracks. The rings around her ankles and wrists are banished in an instant - fading away like they'd only been imagined. Tears well up in her eyes at Takumi's weakened statement.

He doesn't hate her after all? It was just the monster talking?

But he's coughing, and weak, and Mai's grip on him tightens. "You don't need to...listen, I'm taking you to the hospital. You collapsed, and there was a cold snap, there could be complications...." Carefully cradling him as best she can, she makes her exit. For a moment, she pauses to look back to whoever remains - gratitude shimmering in her eyes - but without another word, she departs.