2014-10-03 - Ghost in the Shelves

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Title: Ghost in the Shelves

There have been reports of hauntings in the bottom forty, as it were. They were viewed as primarily rumour dreamt up to keep underclassmen away from some of the more dangerous areas, or an elaborate prank, or some kind of setup for a prank-- and then the rumors started including injuries and kids scared speechless and even suddenly-white hair. Still, none of it's proven, and the intrepid members of the Library Island Exploration Club have decided to take one evening and lay it all to rest...

...whether 'it all' involves rumors, or actual ghosts.


Shun Minami, Kinzo Hiroyuki, Lera Camry, Maron Kusakabe, Makoto Kino, Lucy Iwai, Fuu Hououji, and Hikaru Shidou; emitted by Mamoru Chiba


Library Island, Infinity Institute

OOC - IC Date:

10/03/2014 - 22 March 2014

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Just because it's sunny outside doesn't mean the warm light of the searing ball of plasma hurtling through space reaches the insides of buildings-- or the deep insides. Or the deep, deep insides. It being Saturday, school's out; Infinity being huge, it's echoingly quiet. Given the goals of the day, it's likely unsurprising that the hush has a slightly eerie quality to it.

At least upon entering the library-- well, going through the doors in the skyscraper that lead to it-- the sunshine lends a wistful glow to the mist that hangs over the water, softening the edges of the bridge and the outline of the island in the middle of the lake.

It's still quiet.

Equipment was thoughtfully gathered ahead of time by those club members who, due to other commitments, couldn't be there to help entice new people to join: rucksacks with emergency rations, flashlights, rope, first aid kits, space blankets, extra socks, and extra rope; a few shovels, a couple of compasses, two printouts of the latest available map, hard hats; a Geiger counter, a high definition digital recorder, an EMF reader, several pairs of night vision goggles, and walkie-talkies.

It's a lot of stuff, and newcomers might honestly wonder at the necessity of some of this gear.

The giant doors beckon, and the mist moves around the adventurers despite the profound lack of wind; the hazy shapes of towering bookshelves half-buried in the sand darken the bright fog irregularly to either side of them. At least the path to the doors is relatively clear.

A low, muffled cry sounds from inside, somewhere, and the mist briefly chills.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

When Lucy Iwai told Lera Camry that she should join the Library Island Exploration Club, she didn't have to ask twice. Delving into dungeons sounded like the most amazing, most awesome thing ever. Being here -- as a new member, if technically more of a guest because the new school year hasn't started yet -- is actually a little more scary. There is equipment, and she has a backpack loaded with a spool of rope, a flashlight, and a shovel. She also has a hardhat on.

And, of course, the giant doors are /right/ there. Lera stares up at them and walks forward -- and looks at the bookshelves. This, she realizes, is serious. This looks really haunted! Like there may be ghosts and goblins lurking in there!

She does not ask if this is such a good idea. Instead, she murmurs:


<Pose Tracker> Shun Minami [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

By contrast, Shun Minami has been a member of the Library Island Exploration Club since he enrolled in Infinity Institute, but due to encroaching finals, student council elections, and various other necessary duties, he hasn't had the time to actually join in on an expedition. That won't do, so when one was scheduled before the very end of the year, he made a point to be able to attend.

It's a bit different from what he expected, though not necessarily in a bad way. The sheer amount of preparation involved in even a single expedition is promising. Shun, for his part, wears a backpack with various necessary supplies and an attitude of total confidence, despite this being his first time out--though not his first time to Library Island, period. He looks around at the others assembled, observing and making note of them; overhearing Lera's starry-eyed comment, he smiles slightly her way, but doesn't yet say anything.

There will be much to learn today.

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

Maron Kusakabe is here again for the usual reason. Because Lucy asked her to come. Actually it was more like she was asked a million times if she'd already made up her mind about joining the club, never giving a definite answer, and finally getting invited along on another excursion because it was easier to get her to agree to that much. It was the perfect angle: knowing that Maron was into occult TV shows, surely asking her to come investigate ghosts would make it impossible to refuse!

Well, agree Maron did, but probably not quite as readily as expected. 'The paranormal is best left to the professionals,' she reminded Lucy once again, the credo of one of her favorite shows. But knowing that wouldn't be much of a dissuasion, she decided to come along just to make sure nobody would get hurt. It's not like there would actually be ghosts involved anyway, right? Even if it's presented as reality TV, those shows are just fiction. There's no such thing as ghosts.

Yes, she is firmly holding onto that belief. Even though Maron has already seen angels, demons, youma, witches, tons of people wielding various magical powers, and oh yeah, /an actual ghost/. Few possess the kind of special talent required to still be skeptical about this stuff despite all of that.

Even so, she can't deny it feels kind of neat, having all this stuff available that they also carry on those shows. It at least /feels/ pretty real this way. And it's by far best preparation that she'd ever had going into these things. Unfortunately, it's also a little heavy. She'd actually feel more confident if she had more freedom of movement. But oh well.

For now, she just moves along with the group, keeping her thoughts to herself. Lera being here is a little awkward, as it always is when dealing with people she already knows, but isn't supposed to know yet. Oh, double life, you always complicate things. She briefly freezes and looks worried when she hears the sound coming from inside, before smiling and deciding, "...probably just the wind."

This isn't the first time she's said that about sounds in the Library. It hasn't been correct yet. But no reason it couldn't be right /this/ time.

<Pose Tracker> Kinzo Hiroyuki [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Kinzo Hiroyuki isn't a part of the Library Island Exploration Club---but he does like helping out, and the excitment typically involved in these kind of expeditions. Also, school is ending soon- he might aswell end 11th Grade with something potentially exciting. He smiles and gives Lera a wave as he leans down and picks up one of the rucksacks. He opens it and looks into it and blinks. Huh, that's a little more than he's used to, even for this kind of thing.

He slings it over his shoulder and smiles. "Hey, Lera. Haven't you been in here before?" he asks curiously, as he follows along with the group, placing a finger underneath his chin. He frowns as he eyes the large door. He looks over to Shun and gives him and a wave and a smile... and then Maron.

He kind of tries very hard not to look at Maron. He still may be a little weird about the last time- with the whole gas trap making him see things and what not. "Yeah, probably just the wind." he seems to agree.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Fuu Hououji is very big on planning ahead, and would have made sure to load one of those rucksacks up herself. Rope is an absolute must in Library Island, and a good grappling hook doesn't hurt either; two flashlights and extra batteries for both; first-aid kit, a canteen full of clean water .. and so forth. She's dependent on one of her sempai within the club to confirm what's actually necessary, what's a good idea, and what she should leave to the real experts, but she has a sense of what's a REALLY good idea to have along on this expedition.

Her backpack is substantial but not overloaded as she makes her way along with the rest of the group. "Do we have a specific goal for this trip?" she inquires of the others; it may have come up in previous conversation, but she's looking to refresh her memory on what that destination IS. The anime fair was kind of distracting, and she's actually glad to be done with it ...

At least there are some familiar faces in the group, even if there are some unfamiliar ones as well.

<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Though not a club member herself, Makoto has at least been in the library before - once. That once (plus a series of slightly pleading texts from Mamoru) is enough that she's taken it upon herself to help distribute gear and make sure that everyone going on this expedition has, at a bare minimum, a hard hat and a flashlight. No exceptions.

She's wearing one of the hats herself, of course, her hair pulled back into a practical braid instead of her more usual ponytail. Hitching her shoulders to settle one of the rucksacks into a slightly more comfortable distribution of its weight on the shoulder straps, Mako sweeps her gaze slowly across the assembled group, a last check before they officially head inside.

The question from Fuu brings Makoto's attention toward her, and the tall girl smiles a little. "If I understand right," she answers, "we're going to find out for sure whether there's really a ghost here, or if it's all just rumors." She glances toward Lucy after she says it, a questioning look as though seeking confirmation.

<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Library Island. New place for Hikaru, but exploring's always fun. She did some last minute preparing and arrived as quickly as she could. Even with her backpack packed fairly full, it's still light enough to move around with. Good thing too, since Hikaru doesn't like being weighed down.

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

Rumors of /ghosts/!

Normally just there being an expedition would have been enough to get Lucy to come. But this, however, has gotten her excited enough to enlist others into the effort, Lera being her newest friend, and Maron being a fellow fan of paranormal investigation shows. Today they're busting out the really specialized equipment, which means this is no joke!

She's greeted everyone with her usual cheer, most of them her friends, though Shun is not someone she's spoken to before. To her eternal pride, she's been put in charge of keeping the group safe, and will be sharing that task with Makoto. Though Lucy doesn't know about her secret identity, she's still very glad for the assistance. She's the kind of person it feels safe to have on your side, she finds!

She nods to Makoto. Much like last time, she has a few notes on what's ahead to read from, and pulls them from her bag, reading from the light attached to her helmet. "The reports indicate that the ghost's sightings were in the area where a person died in an accident back in the fifties, though since the records of that time were partially destroyed, we don't know whether it was a library caretaker, a sixth-grade girl, a tenth-grade boy, or a government agent. We'll be heading to that area, find out if there's really a ghost, and... ah, improvise from there, I suppose!" Lucy sounds rather confident when she says this, smiling.

Then the doors open, and the mist rolls in... All right, the atmosphere in this library has always been a bit unsettling, but this is a new level of ominous. "I-It must be!" she answers Maron, smile frozen in place, but voice suddenly trembling a little.

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Empty of immediately visible probably sentient life, the grand first room of the library has a strange quality to its sound: it's partially dampened from echoing by the beautiful carved wooden bookcases lining the massive space and the books that rest sedately on their solid shelves, but only partially. The acoustics of the place lend themselves well to psyching oneself out.

Further into the library, behind shelves beyond one of the corridors leading away from the main hall, perhaps, there's a long, low creaking sound. A chilly breeze comes from that direction, blowing the mist back outside past the ankles of the students. Drafty. Maybe one of the walls needs repairing again.

The maps, at least, seem to outline a reasonable-looking path-- but yes, yes, it does lead through the sketchy hall in the direction of the breeze.

When the little bit of wind dies down again, stillness reigns once more, and the vastness of the place seems to somehow be emphasizing itself.

Someone died.

Once the group's on its way down the side hall, there's at least the noise of their passing; the gathering of living, breathing young people does work to disperse the oppressive alone-ness, especially in a smaller space. Books line the walls, some of them clearly not having been moved in years, as they've grown roots. Now and then, the further they go, there are bigger roots that disrupt the floorboards, and then the floor tiles, and then the mossy eroded brick and stone. The light remains a constant, dim and ambient, directionless unless one should be looking at words.

The scent of sea spray hits the air before the distant white noise of the ocean hitting a rocky coast begins to filter in, and faintly, though it could be an artifact of the rhythmic waves' echo, it sounds like someone's crying.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

"Nope," Lera replies to Kinzo, smiling sideways at him. "Never! I always wanted to, though. And now I get to!" She nods, before she looks at Shun -- ooh, he's cute! -- and keeps the smile on, and then at Maron. She waves her hand at them, realizing she better introduce herself. Soon enough, she will be their new clubmate! "I'm Lera. Lera Camry. From America! Nice to meet all of you!"

She listens to Lucy's explanation; her eyes widen, a little bit, and she starts to look much more serious about that. Are they here to set a ghost at ease? That is incredible. If a little scary.

She starts moving down the hallway, following the breeze. Lera's head is directed here and there to the books -- trying to get glimpses of titles. She wanted to grow up into a famous mage adventurer, and mage adventurers went into ruins like this, to learn secrets of the past. It may be romantic, but this is what she wanted to grow up to do. She draws a gasp in, though, as she sees the roots that have somehow grown down into floorboards.

"That's... that's something else," Lera murmurs, before she looks up -- and sniffs the air. "The ocean?"

<Pose Tracker> Shun Minami [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Shun's green eyes cross over Maron, who comes off to him as nervous, given the way she freezes at the sound of the 'wind.' Perhaps this is a first expedition for her as well? Beyond that, he doesn't recognize her. Kinzo he *does* recognize, being in the same class as him; Shun also recognizes him from the Student Council speeches. As he recalls, he's running against Hayato as President. Shun considers him for a moment, but doesn't say anything to him yet. Fuu seems well-prepared, and asks decent questions; as Shun recalls, she's a full member of the LIE Club, though he doesn't really know her beyond that. Makoto seems similarly well-prepared, particularly given that she answers Fuu's question concisely, though she *should* be well-prepared given that she's co-leader of this expedition. (Shun allowed her to make him wear a hard hat, but only grudgingly.) Hikaru he almost doesn't notice at first due to her height; when he does, he gives her a brief, wondering look, then finally rests his attention on the leader of the expedition: Lucy Iwai.

He'd greeted her politely enough before. He has no reason *not* to be polite to her, considering she's in charge and he's new to the club. Shun would rather not make any waves, at least in the beginning; he has his own reasons for joining this club, and it's best to integrate as smoothly as possible. For that reason, when Lera introduces herself, he gives her an equally polite nod. "Shun Minami," he counter-self-introduces. "A pleasure to meet you."

He muses over Lucy's range of options; that's some very different people who potentially died. The prospect of it actually being a spirit of the dead is intriguing in its own right, and when the doors roll open, he follows the others' leads.

"Do people die often in Library Island?" he wonders as they begin to work their way through misty hallways and around book-laden shelves. The cold wind blows, punctuating his question, and as they go, he casts looks towards texts that have literally gone to seed, frowning.

The sudden smell of salt and waves jars him from those thoughts, and Shun turns around in time to hear the sound of the ocean. He does not yet hear the crying, or rather, it's not the kind of thing he's naturally attuned to hearing, being a rather alien sound to him until recently. Rather than remark on anything, though, he glances at the others to gauge their reactions.

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

Maron notably didn't actually keep wearing the hard hat she was given. She tried, but her hair got in the way, and soon enough she decided it was too uncomfortable and probably would just look dumb on her anyway. Those are good enough reasons to be a rebel and flake out on a safety precaution.

The Juuban student must have definitely noticed Kinzo, but she hasn't really shown any signs of holding what happened during that gas trap incident against him. Maybe she's forgotten about it?

Of course then he actually speaks in response to her, giving her an excuse to respond in turn. Even if it's actually a response to Lucy, who could obviously use a bit more reassurance. It's just loud enough for anybody to hear. "Of course that's all it was! No need to worry, see, the pervert thinks so too." It's unclear if that was actually intended to be an accusation of some sort, as casually as she said it. The previous unfortunate circumstances might have led to her deciding that that's just what she's going to call Kinzo now.

When Lera introduces herself, Maron expertly handles acting as if this is their first official introduction, cheerfully responding in kind: "Ah, right, my name is Maron Kusakabe!" As a service to the American from America, she adds in English, "<Nice to meet you!>" It's also at least partially out of curiosity regarding the reaction. She hasn't forgotten that this girl seemed to think 'bonjour' was English, too.

The draft blowing through the halls as the group proceeds gives Maron's theory further credence, allowing her confidence in the expedition turning out well to stay pretty high. She just glossed over the story of people dying, until Shun brings it up again, prompting her to immediately assert, "I'm sure those stories are exaggerated. It can't be /that/ dangerous, if students are allowed to explore like this. Why, are you scared?"

She doesn't get to tease about that for very long, however. The ocean sounds and smells didn't really fase her, given what she's already seen down here. But the sounds of crying quickly makes her the one who looks scared, or at the very least worried. "Is... is somebody there?" It's not quite clear who she's asking. If she wanted the person themselves to answer, she probably shouldn't have been speaking as softly as she did.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

"So, we're looking for a ghost ..." Fuu falls silent for a moment as she moves along with the group. "Did anyone bring exorcism supplies, then? Holy water, blessed salt, prayer slips ... something?"

Her, scared of ghosts? She's not telling - but she's taking this at least somewhat seriously, apparently.

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

Lucy is doing her best to have a brave face on for everyone here, but as she walks forward, illuminating the way with her flashlight, it's hard not to wonder about a few things. Things like whether her trusty club, stashed away amidst the many things in her backpack, would even be able to hit a ghost if it turned out to be an evil one. Or whether it was such a good idea to go to a place where, despite how easy it's been to take in stride Library Island's dangerous nature otherwise, someone had actually died.

The company of friends, at least, breaks the uncomfortable silence, and she's glad for that, though Shun's question is not precisely reassuring. "It's the only case I know of, sometimes people do get injured, but the club's main job is to make sure everyone is safe, after all..."

Her voice doesn't tremble anymore, but then the cool wind blows. A chill runs down her spine.

Lucy's nostrils flare as the unmistakable, out-of-place smell of the ocean reaches her, before anyone else, as far as she can tell, seems to notice it. It's rather distracting from the wonderful sights, and when Lera points the smell and sounds, she nods in agreement. How odd. And then... Crying?

Nervously, she checks the Geiger counter attached to her belt. Seems all right for now. (Lucy does not actually know what a Geiger counter is for.) "This way," she says as evenly as she can, leading the group in the direction of the crying sound.

<Pose Tracker> Kinzo Hiroyuki [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Kinzo Hiroyuki turns on a flashlight as he pulls it out of the backpack and sort of shines it into his face at first--- he sort of reacts in a 'ack it blinded me!' manner, he squints and turns it back towards the stacks and hrms a bit to himself, he answers Shun. "I don't think that's a thing that happens often here?" he asks as he looks on ahead at the odd sounds and smells---the kind you don't normally hear in a Library- that you'd expect say- in the Harbor. He raises a brow.

"I wonder what that is." he says.

Then Maron's off calling him a pervert again and het gives a long, sufffffffering sigh. There's really no point in causing an argument about it right now. He's never going to live that gas trap down. Ever.

<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

As for Makoto... well, she just kind of sighs, stepping very carefully over a tangle of thick, gnarled, moss-covered roots in front of her before pausing momentarily to look at her copy of the map. "Shockingly," she reports, her voice very wry, "the ocean is not on the map. It might be out of date again."

The look that she turns toward the distant hiss of surf is more curious than wary, though she still moves carefully. "We don't know for sure there's a ghost," Mako remarks, following Lucy's lead toward the scents of the sea. "I get the impression that a lot of weird things happen down here... I don't know about any of you guys, but I'm not really qualified to perform an exorcism."

<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Hikaru is starting to begin to think that this isn't the best idea after all, given how crazy this place is looking. But she reminds herself that even though she's in her civilian form at the moment, she's still a Magic Knight, and if things get to that, well... well, let's just hope they don't get that far in terms of things like that. Let's just hope this is just a spooky coincidence or something like that instead.

Hikaru bites her lower lip as the breeze can be heard blowing by, and then the echo gets to her, which makes her a little more uneasy by the moment. "It's just the ocean, yeah," Hikaru replies, although the hesitancy in her voice indicates she's definitely not feeling right about this. When Fuu mentions ghosts, Hikaru looks at her and cocks an eyebrow while scowling with the other. "Come on, Fuu-chan! Ghosts don't exist! That's just a bunch of nonsense!" Of course, whether Hikaru means that for real is anyone's guess.

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Despite the pausing, the trepidation, and the skepticism, the sound of ocean waves is utterly unmoved. Oceans move, they do the moving, they aren't the moved! Unless one asks one of les Sirenes, then it's somewhat less clear.

The odd thing is, the books aren't especially damp, nor is the earthy, broken-up floor of cobbles and moss and tree- and book-roots. The scent is there, the sound is there, but the humidity's even less than what one might expect for a below-basement area carved from caves well below the waterline of the lake that surrounds them.

The air is dry and cool, and the further they proceed, the greener the moss grows and the more organic the bookshelves appear. Overhead is no longer the ceiling of a hallway, but leavy branches arching up into the darkness.

The ocean sound doesn't get any nearer, but the soft crying does-- until it stops abruptly at the calling out.

The end of the hall is in sight, now, and it opens up into a vast space crisscrossed with ladders and stairs and strung overhead with rope bridges, all attached to bookcases of varying heights. Through the center of the room is a large crevasse, with moss growing up the sides and bridged by logs.

An echoing sniffle comes up from inside-- this part of the enormous maze of a library is circled on the maps, with smaller circles inside it of probable sites.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

"Nice to meet you both!" Lera says to Shun and Maron. She grins at them, before she lifts a finger up next to her head. There is an incoming (nonsense) lecture about her alleged homeland. "This reminds me of--"

Before she can offer sage advice about the nature of America to Maron and Shun, though, the crying catches her ears. Her raised finger droops down like a wilting flower, before she looks nervously at Lucy. Her mouth opens, before she nods. "Oh no," she says. "I hope it isn't a sad ghost. Does our official club handbook have something on how to send restive spirits to the hereafter? That seems like something that... might be in the manual?"

Lera keeps walking while she talks, though -- and then she sees the crevasse. The sound of the waves, she thinks, is strange. It keeps up when they get to the end, though, and there isn't a sign of an ocean. And the air is not damp -- nor are the books. But more than that, there is something about the waves. Her gold-brown eyes narrow, thoughtfully, and she reaches a hand up, tugging on her hair.

"I think..." She trails off. "There's something with the wave sound, it's not like a normal wave. It's repetitive!"

<Pose Tracker> Shun Minami [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

'Just' the ocean, Hikaru says. 'It might be out of date again,' Makoto says, of the map. They're so *blase* about it. Shun refrains from reacting outwardly, but he finds he has to wonder about Earth humans. The ocean is not typically an indoor feature. Still, for that very reason, it's a point in favor of a certain hypothesis of his...

"I see," Shun says to Lucy. Just one death in the history of the club? Injuries aside, that seems rather impressive, for an Earth organization. He glances over at Fuu when she asks after exorcism equipment. "I'm afraid I didn't. That sort of thing isn't my forte."

Definitely not his forte, he thinks, remembering the exorcism techniques Sailor Mars used on Dark Mercury.

While Shun may be unused to oceans, having grown up in a decidedly dry environment, it does soon strike him as odd that the ocean doesn't get any louder or quieter regardless of where they move to, something that stands out to him when the sound of crying *does* get louder--now loud enough for him to notice it too. It also soon strikes him as odd that the air is so dry if there's supposed to be a body of water linked somewhere in the Library Island space. Frowning, he strains his ears on it as he walks along with and behind the others, noting the earthier progression of their environment with distinct unease. As the minutes progress and they make their way further and further in, Lera voices what he's concluded.

"I've come to the same conclusion," he says, nodding briefly Lera's way. "There's a pattern to it--a loop of about two minutes' worth of variations, I'd estimate."

He pauses.

"It also seems to be moving with us," he adds, as if it weren't creepy enough in here.

<Pose Tracker> Kinzo Hiroyuki [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Kinzo Hiroyuki listens as he looks over to Lera, he's been thinking something seemed off for a bit. It seemed. Timed. Lera notices it too. He nods a bit. "Yeah. It's repeating." he says to Lera and Shun with a smile. "I wonder what it is." he says as he thinks a bit. What makes waves in a repeating pattern?

He looks up and down the mossy stacks, as he huhs. "I don't /think/ there's water anywhere in here. I mean. It's not even very damp."

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

"Actually, the water isn't necessarily that far away," Fuu points out. "The library *is* built on - and into - the island, after all ... but it's a little unusual that we can hear the waves this clearly."

She pauses briefly. "And that the sound stays consistent no matter where we are ..." she adds, as if just realizing that it *IS* of a consistent volume despite where we're going. Combining that with the steady repetition that Lera just mentioned ...

"Maybe it's actually the ghost of a mermaid or something?" she asks lightly - but behind the attempt at a joke, she's starting to try and put the pieces together. She may need more of the pieces to work with first, though.

<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

"The ghost of a mermaid?" Hikaru turns away quickly, her voice sounding like it's disgusted, but in reality, she's trying not to laugh. Her eyes are squeezed shut and her mouth is covered with her hand. "Oh, Fuu-chan..." Hikaru is trying not to laugh even more. Although something about this seems forced.

<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Makoto's head tilts, her expression turning to one of interest as the others make their observations. "So, it's not actually the ocean, then. That's good, probably." What about this she finds encouraging is hard to say, but she seems cheered nonetheless. "Maybe the map's still good after all." Silver lining?

She looks at her copy again, thoughtful. "We're near some of the likely spots, I think..." Abruptly, a thought seems to occur to Makoto, and she folds up the copy of the map to tuck it under her arm, freeing her hands so that she can dig into her rucksack. After a brief shuffling through the pack's contents, she comes up with the EMF reader. "Not that I've used one of these before," she admits, "but... worth a shot, huh?"

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

"I'd feel better if I could actually see the ocean," Maron remarks mostly to herself. There being an ocean down here somewhere would be no more than par for the course. It's a lot more unnerving when it feels like something is trying to make you think there's an ocean when there actually isn't. There must be a reason. And she's trying very hard not to remember the episode of Paranormal Super Sleuths where the investigators said they smelled the ocean when investigating the house of a man who drowned at sea, which was nowhere near the ocean.

Geh, she remembered it. A sad ghost, huh? No way, it can't be. She's got to take her mind off this somehow. The ocean sounds aren't exactly going to be very soothing under these circumstances. "A-anyway, we should keep an eye out for--"

It's almost involuntarily that Maron turns her head towards one of the bookcases, having seen something out of the corner of her eye. Even when she isn't actively trying to be particularly attentive to detail, spotting something that glints in an unexpected area still draws her attention. She could never turn off her curiosity either, and rather than finish her sentence, finds herself moving towards one of the ruined bookcases. It may look pretty random to others, particularly since she doesn't explain herself, but... her intuition is telling her that this is somehow important.

Though what she actually noticed in there was the glinting of coins, there's also a silver necklace in there. Though the impulse is there to take them, she refrains, remembering another episode from the show - she wouldn't want the ghost to think she was trying to steal from it. ...wait, no, why is she thinking about this again, there isn't any ghost, dangit!

Then her gaze follows the shelves towards the crevasse opening up next to them, and she notices parts of clothing. A faded shoe, old buttons scattered around. There's only one conclusion that she ends up arriving at: those are totally signs that somebody died around here. She starts to back away, immediately slipping and falling on her behind. She doesn't even remember to say 'ow', instead what comes out is, "Wh-what the heck is this doing here?!"

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

Lucy manages a giggle at Makoto's joke, despite the situation. She's been on enough expeditions down here, however, that the bizarre change in the environment doesn't really phase her.

"Not as far as I could tell," Lucy says sadly to Lera's question, "I checked." Then again, she found the unabridged version of the club handbook to be a dauntingly long read, sometimes covering incredibly specific cases with alarmingly vague instructions. For all she knows there may be detailed instructions on how to deal with the unquiet dead, but she hasn't found it despite her best efforts.

"We can try to talk to it," is all Lucy proposes. Who knows, this might actually be all it takes.

Then, Lera makes an odd observation, which a few others chime in to corroborate, but her mind is too far away for it to register. Her childhood has been full of expeditions on her own, finding treasure where it's least expected. Here, of all places, those instincts kick in-- it might be the familiar, almost comforting scent of the ocean. She signs Makoto to watch the group while she steps away from the rest and checks a nearby, half-broken bookcase, unbeknownst to her the one (fellow keen eyed super-sleuth) Maron checked just a second ago...

After searching between the boards, she finds a few coins and a broken, bright silver necklace with an oval locket. She examines the out-of-place objects for a moment, perplexed, before showing them to the rest of the group.

"Look! I found something!" This is precisely the kind of thing Paranormal Super Sleuths warned her about! And THIS is why paranormal investigation should be left to the professionals!

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The stillness of the room grows deeper around them, as if they were caught in the only bubble of life within the immense space. It's almost the thunderous silence right before tinnitus hits, and creeps up on it when there's a lull in conversation-- the sound of the ocean cuts off when Lucy takes the coins and the locket from the ground. Er, floor. And-- the longer the group remains more or less stationary, the less pervasive the scent of the ocean grows.

The EMF reader Makoto's holding cuts the sound problem nicely; its low hum is steady and reassuringly technological, reassuringly mundane, and gives no hints of resident electromagnetic fields greater than those given off by human beings. There's no particular electricity running down here, after all. Should she turn to look at what Lucy's holding up, however, the hum goes up in pitch.

The coins themselves all look old, and a quick glance will date them all at nineteen fifty-five, the year of the accident. The locket is bright: it's old, but it's not at all tarnished, and the clasp doesn't look broken.

The moss beneath Maron is soft and a little slippery, it's not impossible to imagine it might have been so those many years ago; the ground slopes gently down toward the crevasse, but there's a wide log across it right about where Maron would fall in had she been in mid-trip.

Just over the sound of the EMF reader, another sob escapes the gorge, echoing and alone-- but. But. It could just be something falling down and finally hitting, knocked off the ledge when Maron hit the ground.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

"Yeah!" Lera agrees with Shun -- and the others, too. They put it eloquently. "And, uh, now that you mention it... the sound is totally following us. That isn't creepy at all, though. Really."

She purses her lips -- and then she hears what Maron (who she has only met once!) asks. She blinks, looking in her direction.

"What the heck is what doing here?" Lera asks Maron, before Lucy lifts up the silver necklace and draws her attention to that. It takes a moment more to notice the shoes, the buttons. Then her eyes begin to widen. They may have found where this person died. But what do they do, now? There isn't anything in the manual about this! Lucy just said so.

So when the sob comes over the sound of Makoto's reader, Lera lets out a yelp -- and a squeak -- and then she /points/ at the crevasse, generally. "G-Ghost!" she says. "The person who died is still here! What do we do! TH-TH-THEY DON'T PREPARE US FOR THIS IN AMERICA SCHOOL!"

<Pose Tracker> Shun Minami [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

The ghost of a mermaid? ...What's a mermaid? Shun decides not to ask.

"It may not be far away, but it shouldn't be this audible inside," Shun points out to Fuu. "Unless..." He pauses, considering, and then listens closely to the sound of the waves. Now that he knows to listen to it, the young man who grew up in a computerized society realizes it: "It's a recording. The speakers," he adds, eyeing the roots crawling in and out of the walls, "are remarkably well-hidden." He rests a hand on his chin, his other hand supporting his elbow. "The sea-salt smell hasn't been constant, though. It's stronger in some places than others. We may be approaching the source, but at an angle."

At that point, Maron and Lucy interrupt to point out the clothes and coins; Maron brings attention to it effectively by dropping to her butt and all but shrieking about it. The sobbing sound is tremendously clear, now, and emerges from the crevasse now in view. Shun frowns at it for a moment, before looking at the oval locket that Lucy cheerfully shows off to the crowd. It's in remarkably pristine condition for something that's been mouldering about for decades.

What *do* they do? Lera poses a good question. Shun has no answers, so he remains silent, opting to learn as much as possible by keeping his mouth shut and eyes and ears open. For the moment, he takes a couple steps closer to the gorge, careful to avoid the slippery moss as he leans in cautiously to see if he can't get a better view.

<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

When Lucy gestures to her and heads off after Maron, Makoto leaves off fiddling with the EMF reader and straightens slightly, turning her attention back to the group and do a quick headcount. The reader didn't really seem to be doing anything worth noting, anyway, just humming steadily.

At least, until Lucy holds up her find - and the hum of the reader suddenly goes up in pitch.

"Hey," Makoto says, suddenly a bit more tense; with the reader still in one hand, she looks up, sweeping another quick look around to check on each of the others and finding several of them closer to the crevasse than she really likes. "Careful by the edge," she warns, beginning to move closer herself, just in case anyone ends up in need of a swift rescue. "If you panic, that's when accidents happen."

<Pose Tracker> Kinzo Hiroyuki [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Kinzo Hiroyuki watches as Lera picks the items up---and the sound apparently dimishes thereafter. He looks more closely at the layout, and nods at Shun. "It would make sense the sound is artificial-- not many things keep a consistent pace like that." he says a bit as he hrmphs. He closes his eyes a bit as he thinks very carefully, and puts a hand over his mouth for his moment- and he takes a big, big sniff into the air.

"That smell isn't permenant. It's going away." he says with a frown. "Like something or someone sprayed it, or something like that." he says with a hrmmmmmm. She looks over at Makoto as the sob comes over her shoulder and walks on over. "Hey--- is anyone there?" he calls out, since he himself, hasn't tried. He's also nodding at Makoto. "Yeah- I wouldn't want to slip down there." he says.

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

Maron is always doing her best to project an image of strength, no matter what. Her methods aren't complicated. All she has to do is rationalize things in the most optimistic way possible, and have faith that the conclusions she arrives at are 100 percent correct.

The obvious flaw in this is what happens when she loses that faith, which tends to happen when she has evidence to the contrary right in front of her. Granted, it isn't solid, irrefutable evidence that this is indeed marking the spot where someone died. But she's completely convinced that it is, now, and despite Makoto going 'don't panic', she is panicking quite a bit over it. It's a scene straight out of her shows! It's real, it's all real!

And when that sob emerges... Well, this might just be the quickest anybody ever saw anyone shuffle backwards. Maron doesn't even bother to get back to her feet until she's gotten faaaaar away from the cravasse. When she finally does do so, she turns and all but flees in the opposite direction, much of the color drained from her skin. The final remnants of her efforts to save face consist of her suggesting to the group in general, "W-well, looks like we solved the mystery! Ahahaha... guess we can all go home now, right?"

And then she notices Lucy is holding the jewelry from earlier, and she panics all over again. "Lucy!! What are you doing, you're going to get us all cursed! Don't you remember season four, episode thirteen?!"

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

Lucy doesn't hear the very curious bit from Shun about this being a recording. The creepy clues she and Maron have found are enough to make her nervous once more, and it seems it's all starting to get to a few of her companions, none the least of which are Lera and Maron.

She looks down the crevasse, swallowing with an audible gulp and trying her best to steel herself. "Perhaps we should climb down. We have the equipment, after all. Of course, I can't force anyone to follow," she adds... And then, Makoto reminds them to be careful. "Ah! Yes." Lucy takes a few steps away. Safety first, of course!

Then Maron points to the locket still in her hands, and Lucy's expression turns embarassed. Of course! She should have known better, especially since she's one of those supposed to keep everyone safe! And still...

"I know, I know! But this might be an important clue as to who... died here," she says with some difficulty. Maybe opening it will unleash the Mummy's Curse or something equally sinister, but her conscience would never let her live it down if she went in without such a vital piece of the puzzle. She steps away from the rest, just in case this vaporizes her like in that archeologist movie she saw with Eri. Wouldn't want to subject everyone to the same fate.

And slowly, with trembling hands, she opens it. Holding her breath, she finds something inside, which she unfolds, and reads. Her brow furrows deeply, and she mouths a silent, incredulous, flat 'What.'

Lucy Iwai has never looked more teenaged than at this precise moment.

It takes a few agonizing seconds before she shows her findings to the rest of the group.

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Everything adds up, really, once what's written on the paper is revealed--

--from the recorded ocean sound to the temporary and dissipating scent they'd been following at irregularly paced intervals, from the faintly magnetized coins to the discrepancy between the age of the other items and the locket, from the curiously same-year coins that look like they've been worn down from use to the fact that all this evidence has apparently lain untouched for generations while clearly being in a recently-remapped area not far off the beaten path...

Once unfolded, the words can be read. They're written in a laboriously tidy hand: 'Damn, I lost the bet.'

Suddenly, echoing back toward them from behind AND ahead, there are running footsteps and the distinct sound of a receding stifled laugh.

<Pose Tracker> Shun Minami [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"Going away?" Shun says, frowning at Kinzo. That would be another explanation for why the smell is stronger in some places than others. But if both the sound and the smell are artificial, and the locket is in pristine condition, then... He breathes a faint sigh, leaning back from the gorge. He eyes Maron during her freakout, though he doesn't say anything--only watches--until she's nearly fled the scene and starts panicking at Lucy for holding that locket. "It's rather late for that," he tells Makoto dryly.

And then Lucy reveals her findings, and Shun sighs again, the sound punctuated by receding laughter. "...I knew it," he murmurs. /What a waste of my time,/ he thinks. Folding his arms, the dark-haired young man looks to Lucy. Tone carefully neutral, he asks her, "Does this sort of thing happen often?"

<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

"--What?" Makoto's not easily shaken, but even she's starting to get creeped out; despite her warnings to the others, it's hard not to catch a bit of their agitation, and it's with widened eyes that she looks toward Lucy. "What is it?"

She doesn't wait to hear the answer, already moving to look for herself.

Once she's close enough to read the words inside the locket, Makoto stands quite still, her expression blankly dumbfounded.

And then laughter and running footsteps, and Makoto straightens to let out a groan of profound disgust. "...we've been HAD." The hum of the EKG is cut abruptly short as she switches the machine off and begins stuffing it back into her rucksack.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Lera's eyebrow twitches. She doesn't get angry that often -- loud, yes, and impassioned, always -- but when she does, it is remarkable. Her ears and face turns red as she looks down at the words on the revealed paper. She reads them a couple more times, before she looks up at everyone else. Her eyebrow is twitching unhealthily; her hand is curled up into a fist.

Then she turns and looks down the hallway and bellows: "Someone really, REALLY SUCKS!"

<Pose Tracker> Kinzo Hiroyuki [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Kinzo Hiroyuki waits in antcipation! Is it a map? A loved letter of someone so forlorn they lost thier one chance at love they lept into the chasm below in despair!? He then facepalms as the writing is revealed.

"Well. That solves that problem." he says as he leans his head back, and blows upwards , causing his bangs to flitter a bit. He looks over to Shun.

"Well. It was still an adventure of sorts." he smiles. He looks over to Lera. "Woah---" he says. "Now the fun comes to find out who it was." he says.

"So we can make sure they get the wedgie they have coming." he says ominously.

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

It takes a few moments for Lucy to process it all, as she looks uncharacteristically irritable while the others react. That was a mean prank! She might find it funny in retrospect, but for now, she's not in the best of moods. The fact that some of the others are angry enough for several people is actually... comforting, though. Solidarity!

Then, Shun asks that question, and she remembers that she's representing the club, here. An obviously nervous smile returns to her face.

"Not at all, not at all!" she waves her hands around, and addresses not only Shun, but also the rest of the group, "If anyone wanted to join the club officially, I guarantee you we see wonderful sights and find amazing things! Usually. ...No ghosts, though." Maybe they really /don't/ exist, after all.

Then, she grows more serious as she comes up with a theory: "It was probably the work of some senpais, having some fun with new members before they graduated..." ...and Kinzo's idea causes her to grin. Maybe not a wedgie, but... "Yes, I propose we prank them /right back/."

Is this the moment historians would know as the beginning of the Great Infinity Prank War?

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

With both being fans of the show, Maron is obviously expecting Lucy to do the obvious thing to avoid the curse - return the necklace to where she found it. Surely she's noticed the atmosphere, the encroaching sense of doom, the mere seconds they have until it's too late ticking away.

Lucy instead chooses the open the necklace. "NO, don't--" Maron's hand reaches out in vain, and she freezes entirely, fearful but not knowing what to expect.

When they are not immediately punished for their arrogance, the extended hand is slowly and awkwardly withdrawn. Even now, she's still kind of afraid to ask. But as usual, her curiosity wins out. "...what, what does it say?" she finally asks, a second before the piece of paper is shown to her.

The color is abruptly brought back to Maron's face, along with something else. /Burning fury/. They made a fool out of them - of her, scaring the crap out of her for no reason?! Unforgivable! Somebody has to pay for this!

And somebody will, if she has anything to say about it. Somebody's running, and she's going after them, dumping her backpack on the floor and dashing off at top speed. The sounds could be heard from both directions, but just to be on the safe side, she's running back into the direction they came from, not about to stop until she's either caught someone or cleared the library entirely. Even if she's unlikely to get her hands on anybody, trying will at least make her feel better. ...plus that way she won't have to stay around the others and be embarassed about the way she acted.

Well, that settles it. She was no longer around to hear the latest pitch, but... Lucy will get her wish. She is going to join this stupid club, just on the off chance that one day, she'll be able to find out who did this, and pay them back for it. Surely not the worst motivation anybody's ever had for signing up with a club.

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Given the cognitive dissonance, disappointment, disgust, and righteous indignation bubbling and frothing up around the group, it's actually perfectly reasonable that people leave, or give chase, or otherwise express their annoyance. It all added up, didn't it? Every last creepy thing, every last piece of the puzzle was flawed in some way, expensive and clever but impermanent, or occasionally just plain sloppy.

It probably won't be until late at night, or in the middle of a math test, or even next week that the various adventurers realize...

There was crying. There was crying down there in the yawning crevasse, from a source in amongst the moss and darkness and well out of sight. A source that didn't answer when called to, that didn't cry for help, it was definitely crying-- but there weren't any recent or real signs of a struggle or accident. Either there was a third person who was a very, very good actor, or--

--no, that must have been it. Ghosts aren't real.