2016-11-13 - What Lies Beneath 1

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Title: What Lies Beneath 1

Following rumors of kidnappings, a team of magical girls enter the labyrinthine Library Island to rescue Kuu Hououji, Fuu Hououji's sister. There they find evidence of considerably more malice than the norm...


Fuu Hououji, Fate Testarossa, Chitose Shiratori, Ren Aizawa, Hikaru Shidou, Garnet

GM: Hotaru Tomoe


Library Island

OOC - IC Date:

11-13-2016 - 12-05-2014

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUnfilmYoc4

There are many reasons to be here, here at the top of the stairs leading down into the uncharted reaches of the endless reaches of Library Island's basement.

Chatter is way up both within the population of Infinity Institute and that of the Magic Association, about how Something Is Going Down in there -- the specifics are completely unknown, but ordinary students and wizened wizards alike whisper to one another in the hallways, about seeing the hem of an arcane robe whipping around a corner, about feeling the shadows draw closer. The Sister Schools being what they are, there's little reason that these mutterings cannot reach ears further-afield, either.

The Library Island Exploration Club -- an Infinity institution dedicated to dungeon-delving, and almost wholly populated by students who are well-able to defend themselves from the many mysteries therein -- has been receiving tearful reports of missing persons... or at least rumors that the last few people who ventured too far into the library, never returned. That sort of talk is the reason the club even exists, but nonetheless, the frequency and intensity of the rumors having drastically increased in the last week, they're eager to go check it out.

And, inevitably, word of both of these facts has passed between mascots -- do they have a coffee shop somewhere that they swap gossip? A dive bar filled with fluffy bunnies and cute kitties? The world may never know, but regardless, the average magical girl may have gotten word from the Lunas, the Kyuubeys, the Mepples of the world, that something evil -- more evil than usual -- is brewing beneath Library Island, and that it may be at the root of the rising rate of disappearances on that side of Tokyo.

The latest is Kuu Hououji, the responsible eldest sibling of an upstanding family. A senior at Infinity Institute, she decided to hit the library for her latest round of university exam studies... and never came back. That was yesterday.

So, there are the stairs. They are ancient stone, and cold not with the clammy memory of time, but rather cold with the intent to kill, cold with malice. Some part of the rumors must definitely be true. Normally the stairs are just stairs, but right now they feel like the gaped-wide maw of a hungry dragon...

OOC: Tonight's scene will be more focused on navigating Library Island safely than it will be on outright combat, though there will be some danger and you should come transformed. We will also be keeping a pretty brisk pace; this won't be going late tonight.

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe transforms into What Lies Beneath!

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Wind Knight!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has fully healed herself.
COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou transforms into Fire Knight!
COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou has fully healed herself.
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has fully healed herself.
COMBAT: Ren Aizawa has fully healed herself.
COMBAT: Garnet has fully healed herself.
COMBAT: Garnet transforms into Garnet's Got Gauntlets!
COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori has fully healed herself.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

For Fuu Hououji, it's bad enough to know that her family has just happened to be in harm's way when threats loom across Tokyo. Alcyone went so far as to attack her home last year - a memory which is still chilling enough, no pun intended, to give her second thoughts about whether to have a birthday party this year, even with Alcyone dead at the hands of her own master, Zagato. The memory of her mother's brief disappearance, thanks to the reality-erasing Nakewameke of a couple of weeks prior, is still far too fresh and tender. And now her beloved elder sister, Kuu, has gone missing - not just in Library Island, but at a time when there are dark and troubling rumors surrounding the library's depths.

Even if Fuu *weren't* the Magic Knight of Wind, nothing would have kept her from descending into the library's catacombs to search for her sister. But since she has the armor, weapons, and magic of the Wind Knight at her disposal, Fuu has no compunctions about using them - and although she rarely treats her magical identity with the secrecy that it probably warrants, she's in no mood to dance around the question of who she is right now. If she has to come out as a magical girl to her family by the time all's said and done, she'll do so without regrets; it's probably time they knew anyway.

But first, they have to find Kuu.

The Wind Knight is more than willing to lead the way, holding a flashlight in her left hand, her right hand free for the time being. Her glove-jewel could hold everything she needs, but she's wearing a backpack anyway, loaded with rope, first-aid supplies, a couple of grappling hooks, another lantern, and a canteen of clean water. She's fairly certain she forgot *some*thing that would come in useful; she's also carrying a copy of the Library Island Exploration Club's most recent maps, but there's no telling how accurate *those* will be, especially if evil plots are afoot ...

<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

It doesn't take much to convince Ren that something fishy is afoot. The rumors are certainly circulating around enough, whispered by her classmates when they think no one is listening to them. Heraut is good at picking up not-so-silent communications, which he always does his best to relay to her as soon as possible. These rumors, combined with the knowledge of the most recent disappearance from yesterday, is more than enough to convince Ren that something must be done.

Library Island is... strange to say the least. She's never found herself deep within its depths before at any point in time. Though now when faced with the fact that she'll have to venture into it proper, she can't help but feel more than a little on edge. The stairs leading down look innocent enough /but/...

<At least you won't be alone.> Heraut chimes helpfully, shaking Ren from her thoughts. She looks around at everyone else who showed up, likely clued in by mascots and the other usual sources. Her eyes land on Fuu for the longest, aware that the missing person is the Wind Knight's elder sister. She has the most to lose here if they don't find her... Ren simply can't bear such dark thoughts, though, and instead focuses on finding Kuu alive and well. Her eyes flick over the others, giving them all equal nods of reassurance as she grips Heraut and begins to follow after Fuu...

<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

It's a strange place, yes, but Hikaru doesn't care. She wants to help Fuu find her sister, and she's not afraid of what might be in the way. Whether it's a friend, a family member, or a civilian who can't protect themselves, Hikaru feels it's her duty to protect them and help them using whatever means she can. And just like Fuu, Hikaru has no qualms about coming in her Magic Knight form either.

So Hikaru, or the Fire Knight as she'd be known as now, is following the Wind Knight through the darkness, letting her lead the way since she's got the light, while the Fire Knight keeps an eye out behind them to make sure nothing tries to sneak up on them. The only thing that might seem out of the ordinary is the fact the Fire Knight's breathing seems to be a little uneven for a moment, before normalizing again. "Just stay calm," She tells herself. "We're gonna be OK!"

COMBAT: Ren Aizawa transforms into Barrier Jacket Lustre!

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Fate caught herself turning over a golden triangle in her hands. He felt the same. Warm with the same edges and grooves and lines and curves. He held the same sense of inner light. But he wouldn't talk to her. That sense of warmth warred with the thought that he felt colder than usual.

Logically she could tell herself that he was upset with recent events. That he wanted something to change. However experience had taught her that when someone wasn't talking to you when they normally wouldn't, it meant something else.

Is he mad at me? It was a question she turned over and over in her mind, the same ways she had when her mother locked herself in her lab for days and wouldn't spare her a moment's time, or glance, or look. Is he ashamed of me? Do I embarrass him?

She tried to stop dwelling on those thoughts. Someone had gone missing within Library Island- a familiar surname. Her school. Her responsibility to be involved. She wouldn't ignore it. "Bardiche." There was a ping that felt far too automatic and cold for her. "Set Up." And then it just happened. A flash of light, the sense of electricity over her skin and- there she was, in her barrier jacket, holding his polearm haft.

So how did you find out about this anyhow, Arf?


What was that?

From a bunny alright!?

Oh. I'm surprised there was a bunny brave enough to approach you.

Well it's not like it was trying! It startled me when it saw me and ran when I growled- so I went after and caught it.

And then?

Well it kind of cute so...

So you let it go.

Right! And then it told me!

Ah. Did you pet it first?

What makes you think I ever would!?

No reason.

Hey Feito- be careful

I promise I will be Arf.

She cut off telepathic contact then. Looked sideways at Fuu, then at Ren. She tried her best to offer a smile at Heraut's chime, but then Hikaru says it's going to be okay. Fate looked down the stone steps and how they seemed to go on forever in the dark. And while she wasn't afraid of the dark, there was something still intimidating enough for her to murmur, "I wonder if that's really going to be so."

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa transforms into Barrier Jacket!

<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

"I don't know if I like this."

Chitose Shiratori has always wanted to go down to the depths of Library Island. Sure, she's been in the more public areas of the Library before, she's liked it. But she's never been /there/. Not to the deep catacombs.

That, in itself, is mostly why she's here. She wants to see what's down there. It's gonna be great, right?


Chitose, as she usually is, spends most of her time in school alone and goes to work immediately thereafter, so while she's heard of disappearances she's not sure who, or even if they're actually true!

Of course, this might mean that she's hanging out at the periphery of the group when she herself finally shows up, standing out in the distance, trying to figure out just what's going on. Also, she's muttering to either herself or her Device. If she wants to go, it's probably best to do so in a group.

At the same time, she's not exactly sure she wants to go down with a group, in case something goes wrong.

COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori transforms into Barrier Jacket!

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

The winding stairs only allow entry two by two, so there's a densely clustered train of magical girls making their way down them, curl by curl by curl.

Gradually, a distant rumble echoes through the channel. By the next heartbeat, it's less distant -- a series of grinding noises rising up from beneath, more and more rapidly, until--!

The stairs clunk downwards, becoming a smooth, steep slide!

There's a dozen plummeting yards to go until they end, and at the egress, where things open up, the usual cavernous atrium seems a whole lot more shadowy than usual. Can people stop in time, or will they go plunging head over heels into darkness?

OOC: The outcome of your reaction to this attack (do you get debuffed, or not?) will determine whether you manage to stop yourself or go flying into the dark room out of control!

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has fully healed herself. She is now ready to take on 6 opponents!

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Stairs Without Cares on Chitose Shiratori.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Stairs Without Cares on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Stairs Without Cares on Hikaru Shidou.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Stairs Without Cares on Ren Aizawa.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Stairs Without Cares on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Stairs Without Cares on Garnet.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji fails to brace Hotaru Tomoe's Stairs Without Cares, taking 11 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Stairs Without Cares, taking 7 Fatigue damage! Fate Testarossa's Fade ability activates! Fate Testarossa's Flash ability activates! Stagger applied to Fate Testarossa!
COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Stairs Without Cares, taking 11 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Chitose Shiratori's Fade ability activates! Chitose Shiratori's Flash ability activates! Stagger applied to Chitose Shiratori!
COMBAT: Ren Aizawa narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Stairs Without Cares, taking 8 Fatigue damage! Ren Aizawa's Flash ability activates! Stagger applied to Ren Aizawa!
COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou perfectly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Stairs Without Cares, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Critical Dodge!
COMBAT: Garnet fails to dodge Hotaru Tomoe's Stairs Without Cares, taking 10 Fatigue damage! Stagger applied to Garnet!

<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Yes. Everything would be alright. Ren readjusts her grip on Heraut as they continue their descent, the sounds of footsteps echoing around them. She tries her best to be on guard for any sudden attacks the whole while, glancing around with vigilance she's developed through countless encounters. Still, the feeling of being in wholly unfamiliar territory is still gnawing away at her quite a bit. Looking behind her at Fate she smiles down at the younger mage, her face pretty much all but saying "I'm glad you're here" without words having to be conveyed.

And in that next instant, a grinding noise can be heard. Ren stops immediately, turning away from Fate, just as the stairs beneath everyone's feet disappear, placing them now on a flat, sliding surface.

"Ahhh!" Ren goes down onto her back immediately, losing her balance, and then begins to slide downwards. Her panic is enough to spin her around a couple of times, further disorienting the mage who thankfully manages to hold onto her device. Once the end of the surprise slide is reached she goes into a roll, disappearing into the darkness, her surprised yelps still heard.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

It's not Fuu's first visit to the lower levels of Library Island, thus her desire to overprepare. It's not even the first time she's been down there as the Magic Knight of Wind. But the abrupt transformation of the stairs into a steep ramp, as smooth as any playground slide, catches her by surprise nonetheless - if it's a trap, it's not one that she's encountered previously. Not that anticipation would have allowed much preparations; there are no real handholds that she can spot in time, much less grab hold of.

So she just needs to MAKE a handhold. Swords can be good for that - and the Wind Knight conjures her own weapon, stabbing it into the wall and managing to halt her slide. "Is anybody *not* okay?" she calls out, glancing around -

Didn't they have a couple more people when they started? Fuu tries to shine her flashlight into the darkened archway ahead, to see if she can spot anything in the atrium.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Always willing to help those she cares about, Garnet came along as soon as she heard from Fuu that her sister was missing in the library's labyrinth. She was able to come alone without a family member of her own to lose in a maze, (though she had to promise him a trip to another, far safer library).

Garnet looks upon the entrance with trepidation. A library gone out of control to become a dangerous dungeon has wizardly hubris written all over it...

At the lead of the others, she follows the group down below.

Quite comfortable with her above-average stature, Garnet thought too late to shrink herself down to a more managable size. When the stairs suddenly dropped out from under her, the Crystal Gem loses her footing completely! Though she had no room to manuever her dodge or grasp something to catch herself initially, she's able to quickly shapeshift down to a quarter of her size so as not to bowl over the ENTIRE train. as she goes tumbling down into the dark room below!

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Two by two they walk down. Fate tries to stay closer to Ren- nodding at her comment and offering a smile. "I'm glad you are too." While flicking a glance towards Garnet on this journey through the dark. Garnet was something of a comforting presence after all. She had been during the trip back from the other world.

And then it happens. The rumbling noise which gets closer and closer until- she feels it shifting beneath her feet. Now Fate- Fate can fly, but it's a bit harder when her Device isn't as active as usual. She was used to that synchronicity of master and device which made flying as easy as breathing.

It wasn't that easy anymore. Her legs fall out from beneath her with a gasp, her butt strikes hard, and then she's sliding.

Her cape is a hindrance at first, something she gets tangled up in, but then eventually slides behind her as she moves down and out of control. /Bardiche/ is a hindrance in that he's big and wide, but she can't use him to arrest her fall.

Down. Down, she goes, plummeting down the sheer slippery slide- sometimes tumbling end over end and into the dark with likely only the floor to break her fall.

<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Chitose is walking back in the back, some distance away from the rest of the party. She's quiet for the most part, mostly thinking to herself and looking down into the depths of the dungeon. Thanks to her... somewhat unique vantage point, she can see a little more than others would from her position in the back. Granted, it's really dark, she can't see much.

She's not quiet for long, though, as the stairs suddenly shift into a ramp. As focused as she is on the whole lot of nothing she sees, she doesn't even begin to get the footing necessary, and she falls to the ground. She slides down and down as the woman slides past those who don't fall and down into the darkness, the only record of her journey on the stairs a surprised squeal of confusion as she slides down into the darkness.

<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

It appears that breathing deeply keeps the Fire Knight's mind focused, and ready for a possible trap. That possibility, however, turns into a reality, as the stairs suddenly turn into a slide, something that the Fire Knight is familiar with but didn't expect to happen here. Fortunately, though, being on high alert means that the moment she feels the stairs turn into a slide, she quickly takes action.

Just like the Wind Knight, the Fire Knight takes out her sword and drives it into a nearby wall, using it to hold on for dear life. "I'm OK, but I dunno about the others. I do know, however, that someone really doesn't want us here..."

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

Fuu's flashlight bounces off of... nothing. There's a gaping chasm where the floor should be, and it's far too deep to see the bottom.

A chasm that Ren, Fate, Chitose, and Garnet are plunging into, downwards, downwards!

Teamwork will be required to make sure no one is lost to the endless abyss. Hikaru and Fuu stand on a ledge about ten feet wide, but that's all there is to this room for the moment.

For those taking the plunge, there's a faint stirring of air, an inconsistent warmth that heaves its way out of the chasm every fifteen seconds or so. And more distantly, a very faint sound of echoing footsteps.

OOC: Hikaru and Fuu can each save someone. The fallers will defend against another attack; if you avoid a debuff, you can save yourself or someone else! (Not both.)

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Falling Down on Ren Aizawa.

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Falling Down on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Falling Down on Chitose Shiratori.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Falling Down on Garnet.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Garnet narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Falling Down, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Diversion applied to Garnet!
COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Falling Down, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Chitose Shiratori's Fade ability activates! Chitose Shiratori's Flash ability activates! Diversion applied to Chitose Shiratori!
COMBAT: Ren Aizawa narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Falling Down, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Ren Aizawa's Block ability activates! Ren Aizawa's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa narrowly counters Hotaru Tomoe's Falling Down, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Fate Testarossa's Reverse ability activates! Fate Testarossa's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa's counterattack, Desperate Swipe, partially gets through, doing 16 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

"There really *should* be a floor down there," the Wind Knight remarks worriedly. Stairs become ramp, floor becomes chasm - if the Library was magical to begin with, then it's turning downright malevolent, and if it WASN'T magical then it might be TURNING magical. Either prospect is kind of terrifying, but she literally doesn't have time to think about the deeper implications.

Fuu keeps a firm grip on her sword with her right hand, holding her left hand out towards the mouth of the chasm. There's no real focus to her spell - she just tries to summon an updraft, to apply some brakes to whomever is falling ... while not making it so strong as to dislodge anyone who might actually have caught themselves. "Hikaru-san, there's rope in my backpack; can you take some out, secure one end up here, and throw the rest of the length down that crevice? Hopefully they'll be able to climb back up with the combination of the rope and the wind ..."

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

The good news is that when you learn to fly, one of the first things you learn how to do is fall. And caught in free fall, Fate's mind starts working very hard, very fast. Bardiche she shifts over to one hand, as she reaches out and lashes out with a gloved hand to latch onto Garnet colored fabric. "Got you! Scythe Form."

It sounds calm, but there's that note of desperation which indicates it's anything but. A thought that maybe he wouldn't shift, but the flare of golden light is evidence enough that he has. The erupting blade of mana. Shifting her other arm along Bardiche's haft, her eyes find the blur of wall in the darkness, and she swings as hard as she can.

There's a shriek of protest as he embeds into something solid, then a lurch from the weight beneath her that strains at her arm. Sparks go flying as that pull on him causes him to carve just a bit more out of it, before it stops.

It leads to a Device->Girl->Crystal Gem chain in the dark anchored to the wall, the golden glow marking their position. Fate latches on twice as hard with the gloved hand holding onto Garnet and the other holding onto Bardiche. She takes a breath.

Then another, sweat already beading on her forehead as she stares up searchingly, within Bardiche's gentle glow, "If anyone up there could help!" A beat and it turns a touch shrill from tinny desperation from the strain of holding on, "Quickly please!"

<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Even in a dangerous situation like this, the Fire Knight is willing to do whatever it takes to save her friends. Holding onto the sword with one hand is a bit difficult, but the Fire Knight manages to do what she can to remain steady while reaching into the Wind Knight's backpack and pulling out the rope that the Wind Knight talked about. "OK, I've got it, Fuu-chan!" She proceeds to tie one end up as tightly as she can (she never was good at double knots, but she tries!)

Then she calls out, "Down there, I'm throwing a rope! Be ready to grab onto it!" And with that, she throws the other end of the rope into the chasm. Hopefully this should do the trick and save those falling from a rather hard impact!

<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

The darkness is swallowing her up like a black hole. Ren's panic-filled brain is making it hard to focus. How far down does this go? The wind rushing in her ears isn't making things easier, either. Thankfully, Heraut is there to help, chiming over it all. <Your majesty! Focus!>

His words are enough to get Ren to do just that, making her aware that she isn't the only one plummeting to some form of possibly uncertain doom. And /then/ she feels herself start to slow down just a bit thanks to... wind? Oh! Fuu-san! And then there's a rope being tossed down, but Ren's eyes are more focused on Chitose, who is still falling her way.

"Heraut!" She cries, and the device heeds his master's call by calling forth a Midchildan runic circle that will arrest Chitose's momentum, allowing her to then use it as a temporary platform.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet tumbles down, down and away and towards the chasm. This was... not going as well as she'd hoped. All is dark, perhaps because of it, the sounds are much more noticable, and the cries of pain, surprise, and aid start to blend together in a dull roar. But Garnet feels a tug, and hears a voice clearly. "Got you!" and Garnet is saved by both the figurative and literal Hand of Fate. "Thank you, Fate." Garnet says, and she decreases her density, pushing her body of light as close to weightless as she can, to keep from being a burden on Fate and Bardiche during the moments between their heroic catch, and the welcome support of the Magic Knights.

<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Chitose continues to skid down the ramp-stairs, her feet unable to gain traction. Nor is White Omen-- unlike other Midchildan devices, White Omen looks like a crossbow, and while the 'bow' part is pretty solid, it's not solid enough to even consider to try and dig into the wall or the ramp, so she continues to fall down.

Until her fall is suddenly stopped by the appearance of a Midchildan runic circle, which stops everything but her heart, which still feels like it's falling. But even that sensation stops, and the only thing that remains is its rapid beating. Chitose's eyes look towards Ren, whose circle saves her life. She smiles up at her despite herself. She takes a deep breath, and uses the circle to get back on her feet and leap towards the main group, grabbing either the rope if she can, or Ren's hand if not.

Chitose is silent for a few moments, at least before she turns her head towards her Device. "We should have flown down the stairs."

<Not enough room.>

"Then we could go first?"

<If we did fly and then fell, it would hurt a lot more than it did.>

"Oh, fine."

But, despite this conversation, Chitose can only look down to the abyss, heart still pumping despite her rescue.

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Surprisingly as things move on, her burden at least on Garnet's side seems to become lighter and lighter. Garnet thanks her, but she doesn't speak for a while, as if saving her energy. Fate wonders if all her training lately has made her stronger- Hikaru shouts that there's a rope coming down. Fate waits until she sees it. "I'm gonna toss you at the rope. I know you can catch it!"

She sounds pretty confident about that, as she's seen Garnet in action. Then she calls up, "Make sure you have a really firm hold on it! Please!"

Swinging a little in the opposite direction, she starts a pendulum like motion, finally releasing Garnet when she's built up enough momentum to swing her far enough at it. Fate then repeats after Garnet has climbed up a little, and just as she's about to let go, "Axe form." The shifting of Bardiche causes the energy blade to disappear as she catches onto the rope with one glove. Now actually in a way where Hikaru can pull her up, she takes a breath out of sheer relief and says- "Safe."

Maybe she could have flown, but she's not as confident about that today.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

The eruption of Bardiche's blade provides some light, and it's almost like this was a signal that Library Island was waiting to see, because still more radiance begins to spill from lanterns that hang up and down the chasm, flickering on one after the other. Less comfortingly, their flames are icy blue, and it makes for a spooky sight. The walls themselves, if they're stone, are no kind of stone anyone recognizes -- their matte black is more similar to the sides of an ominous corporate skyscraper, though they don't seem new, quite the opposite. Age reeks from the whole tunnel, a scent amplified by Fuu's updraft.

Regardless, the combination allows everyone to see what they're doing -- there is a bottom to this chasm, and knowing where and how to land, the three flyers ought to be able to see the three non-flyers down safely.

At the bottom of this immense, circular pit, there are hallways leading in four directions, perhaps cardinal, perhaps not. They all seem the same.

The four sarcophagi -- sarcophaguses? -- that point in each direction also all seem the same; old, ornate. There are lines of dust on each one, as though chains binding them were recently removed.

<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Ren smiles back at Chitose, using the updraft from Fuu to right herself, now having regained her bearings as she reaches for the rope. "That wasn't very pleasant!"

<I'll say!>

Once everyone is safe and sound she looks down below, seeing the floor now that the previously darkened area has been illuminated. "I'm glad there's a bottom." She says to no one in particular, heaving a sigh of relief afterward. "I don't see anything looking to eat us, either... But they could still be hiding somewhere."

Either way there's no way to go but down. Activating her flight spell she lets go of the rope and floats a ways from it, looking up at Fuu and Hikaru. "Thanks for the save! Did one of you want to ride down with me?"

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

One of these days, thinks Fuu, she's going to have to figure out how to make her wind magic work as an actual flight spell.

Barring that, though, Fuu looks at Ren. "I'm afraid I'll need assistance from somebody, so if you're willing to put up with carrying me to the bottom? It certainly doesn't seem like there are any leads up here, and if Kuu-neesan ran into the same combination of traps ..."

She trails off, shuddering a bit. She really, REALLY hopes Kuu didn't wind up plummeting down that chasm to an untimely demise; her family's come close enough to calamity already without actually losing anyone.

<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Looking to Fuu and the others, Hikaru smiles and nods to Ren. "Hey, it's no problem, it's what we do!" Her smile trails off. "Although, there's nothing up here, so that means down there..." She bites her lower lip as she realizes that getting down there may be easier said than done. She looks around, then to those around her. "Uh, can someone help me get down there? I don't exactly know how to fly."

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Fate holds onto the rope for a moment, then tests flying while holding onto some sort of anchor. She doesn't do much more than hover while holding onto the rope, shifting one way, then the other, without causing too much strain on it.

She learned how to fly without Bardiche, but it feels so strange now doing it without him to this extent. Eventually she has enough confidence again to let go of the rope and let herself rely on that. "Photon Lancer." A crackling sphere of gold and purple electricity erupts over her shoulder, and she simply lets that spell's illumination replace that which she used. Her eyes search the bottom and-

She then floats a little upwards to Garnet, "Ah. So. Would you like a ride down, Garnet ?" If she sounds a little embarrassed, that's because she definitely is.

Not long after~

It's a pretty immense pit. And in each direction is a hallway. "So how do we decide which way to go?" She defers to the general consensus on that, but no matter which way- she wouldn't really want to go near any Sarcophagus. History class had taught her what these things meant to ancient people.

And Fate really doesn't like thinking about death.

<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Chitose continues to hang for a few moments, as she comes to a weird realization -- she only has one good hand. The other is mostly covered by Device, which makes climbing somewhat hard. But as Hikaru mentions, there's not much up here. She takes a look at the dark deeps for a moment, before she finally decides to let herself fly as well, casting the spells necessary through White Omen.

She continues looking at the darkness though, only breaking off when she finally feels herself floating a bit. Chitose turns to Hikaru, and flies upwards to her, reaching out with her hand. "Yes, I think I can help you down." Again, a smile.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

After climbing up Hikaru's rope, and taking a second to figuratively breathe a sigh of relief, Garnet smiles, nods, and takes Fate's hand, humbly accepting the offer to carry her down,

With her other hand, she emits a cone of light from the gem of her palm, scoping out their landing area.

Four directions, four... sarcophagi... Her face becomes grim again. Garnet is glad everyone made it, and delighted at the teamwork they used to get there. She's also relieved, once Fate sets her down, to be once again standing on level ground.

But the dungeon was making sure to not let her enjoy it.

This new level, a pit bottom illuminated by unearthly fire, seems to seethe with ancient malevolence, which makes Garnet very uneasy. She looks at the coffins intently, and hmmmms...

"There don't seem to be monsters waiting inside. Which gives us a moment to breathe." Garnet pauses and looks to the rest of the group as they land.

"Even though there are many paths before us, the trial behind us proves we are strongest, and safest as a group. We should decide on a path to take together."

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

It's silent as the grave -- except for the footsteps. There is more than one pair; a crisp set of heels, and a softer shuffle. They echo from all directions, difficult to pin down.

Difficult, but not impossible -- down one of the four hallways, there's the absolute faintest flicker of light. Perhaps that route holds promise.

Adding urgency to the decision is the fountain in the center of the room. It wasn't there a moment ago, but has risen with a soft grinding sound out of the floor. A gurgling drain promises that something is about to burst out of it, and the metallic stench in the air strongly implies that that something is 'acid'.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

For a moment, Fuu wonders if that flicker of light was her imagination ... but the grinding noise as the fountain emerges, combined with the gurgling of a pipe trying to bring something out and the acrid, metallic stink of strong acid, makes her wonder less about her imagination and more about not staying around. "I think I saw something this way," she states, flicking her flashlight towards where she thought she saw that flicker. Her sword has been back in her glove-jewel since descending into the chasm, so her other hand is free -

She actually goes to the trouble of reaching back with her right hand (the empty one) and trying to grab whomever's hand is closest. "Don't get separated, let's go!" she calls out, starting to lead the way into the passage where she thought the light was. She'll be glad if she's not the only one who saw it - but there's no time to compare notes.

<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

After helping Fuu down Ren surveys their surroundings, noting each exit with a nod, especially the one with the aforementioned flicker of light. "Hmmm..." What Garnet says is right, though. Whichever direction they pick, they pick it together. No use getting divided after coming this far. She goes to say something, but is cut off, however, by the grinding that starts up again. Oh no! She gets ready to dodge out of the way of any oncoming trap, possibly taking the closest person to her along.

What she doesn't expect though is for a fountain to come rising up out of the ground. "...What is-" Then comes the smell -- something distinctly... acidic? Ren takes a step away from the fountain, eyes widening a bit. "...Yeah. Let's go!" Fuu has the right idea here! Ren spins around and does her best to usher anyone around her forward, away from the perceived danger, in the direction the Wind Knight is heading.

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Fate gives deference to Garnet purely because she has that motherly air of authority about her. But when she says that they should pick a path together... "Ah. Well-" Fate turns to regard each passage equally. One after the other, then looks again. Fuu mentions that she saw something, and Fate looks that way but-

A fountain suddenly appears in the center of the room. "Where did that come from?" Nothing is coming out of it yet, but that smell in the air. That smell like an Infinity lab... "Oh. Right! And quickly!" Fate starts walking /really/ hastily down that passage Fuu pointed out.

<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

After getting down there, Hikaru follows the others, frowning a little as she does so. When she spies the fountain with acid, she scowls a little. There's something definitely not right about it from the smell and sight of it all. Deciding it's not worth risking messing with it, she follows behind the Wind Knight again, sighing as she does so. After running a hand through her hair, she finally speaks again.

"I knew something wasn't right about this place, but this confirms my suspicions too much." She looks to the Wind Knight. "I just hope your sister is all right."

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet follows Fuu, and gestures for the others to follow her It occurs to her that this could very well be a very devious trap, but she hopes those fears are unfounded.

In the worst case scenario, she can grab whoever she needs to, her magical body may be able to resist the acid long enough to get them to safety.

She honestly doesn't know, she doesn't spend a lot of time dipping herself in acid, but is able to swim in nonmagical lava, so there's a chance... But for now, faith in the light!

<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Chitose lets Hikaru down gently before landing herself. She takes a look around at the room and the four hallways. When Fuu mentions the one with a light, she looks down it... but after a few moments her eyes float over to the other three hallways.

Chitose's glasses glint with the light in the room as she drifts off and just considers what might be in there. Sure, there's probably a lot of evil and horror, but what must be past it would be worth it, right?

When the slow grinding happens and the fountain emerges, Chitose looks over to it, but the smell of acid assaults her nostrils, which puts an end to thoughts of straying from the group. "Yes, I think that's a good idea." And then she turns and starts running down the hallway as fast as her legs can carry her.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

Acid continues to gurgle behind the group as they plunge their way down the hallway. It really does seem to be nonstop danger -- there's the whirr-click of arrow traps firing right over their heads (thankfully, they seem to be expecting taller intruders, with the possible exception of Garnet whose magnificent hair might be in danger), another pit to avoid...

In the end, however, the hallway opens back up into another chamber. It's similar to the first, except that this one doesn't have a fountain (yet?), and the four sarcaphogi aren't closed. Three are empty.

One contains Kuu Hououji. Her arms are clasped across her chest, and her eyes are open, but sightless, gazing dully at the ceiling. The very slight puffs of chilly air above her lips indicate that she's still breathing... for now.

A dull grinding indicates that something in the room is about to change, or perhaps has just changed. Either way, it feels like there can't possibly be much time.

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used A Barrage of Traps on Chitose Shiratori.

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used A Barrage of Traps on Garnet.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used A Barrage of Traps on Hikaru Shidou.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used A Barrage of Traps on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used A Barrage of Traps on Ren Aizawa.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used A Barrage of Traps on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's A Barrage of Traps, taking 3 Fatigue damage! Fate Testarossa's Fade ability activates! Fate Testarossa's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Garnet narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's A Barrage of Traps, taking 4 Fatigue damage! Garnet's Fade ability activates! Garnet's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Ren Aizawa narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's A Barrage of Traps, taking 3 Fatigue damage! Ren Aizawa's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori fails to brace Hotaru Tomoe's A Barrage of Traps, taking 18 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji perfectly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's A Barrage of Traps, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Dodge! Fuu Hououji's Fade ability activates! Fuu Hououji's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou fails to dodge Hotaru Tomoe's A Barrage of Traps, taking 27 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit!

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

The whirring and clicking of the arrow traps alerts Fuu to their presence, and she flicks her flashlight's beam along the walls to see where the slits are. They're outrunning any threat from the acid, it seems, and a quick duck of her head ensures that the Wind Knight steers clear of a couple of arrows -

"Pit!!" she calls out as she spots the opening in the floor. She lets go of Garnet's hand, or whomever's hand she had, prior to leaping over the pitfall trap with a hastily-conjured updraft to assist her jump. And she nearly lands in the crosshairs of MORE traps, but bolts onwards, calling out what warnings she's able to so her allies know what lies ahead.

By the time they reach that next chamber, the Wind Knight has to stop and catch her breath, staggerinrg away from the doorway and almost starting to sit down on a sarcophagus. Almost. "Oneesan!!" the Wind Knight exclaims, her lungs' burning all but forgotten. "Winds of Healing!!" she calls out, casting her healing spell and hoping it can awaken Kuu, unravel whatever spell or curse or poison has her asleep ... only asleep, right, please only be asleep - okay, she's breathing, that's a better sign than the sarcophagus itself.

Somebody else might have to take the lead when it comes to moving on from this chamber; Fuu doesn't look like she's going to STOP casting her healing spell until her sister is awake again, and moving under her own power and control.

<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Of /course/ there's more traps. Ren lets out a yelp of warning as arrows come flying their way, ducking down extinctively while maintaining most of her forward momentum. Her foot catches against part of the floor, though, and her ankle twists in a not-so-great position that sees her doing an unceremonious face-plant. "O-Ow..." She groans, thankful nevertheless that she hasn't been skewed by arrows at least. Pushing herself off the floor she hurries forward after those who managed to keep going, avoiding various other traps along the way while making sure to help those who aren't so lucky. "This place /really/ sucks...!"

Finally, however, they seem to arrive in a room similar to the one from earlier, though lying in one of the open sarcophagi is someone -- a girl. Kuu? Yes, it is accoring to Fuu's reaction. Ren rushes forward as the Wind Knight uses her healing spell, checking Kuu for any outward signs of injury. The way she's just laying there staring up at nothing though isn't too heartening. But... at least she's alive.

"We need to find a way out. Going back the way we came might be out of the question I think..."

<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Acid coming at Hikaru? No problem, she can outrun it.

A pit? She can just jump over it.

The arrows? That's another story.

Several of them pierce the Fire Knight's armor and sink into her flesh, causing her to yell out in pain and drop to one knee as she attempts to get them free. Once she does that, she continues on her way, stumbling a little from her injuries, but making it through nonetheless.

Once they find the sarcophaguses (sarcophagi?) there, the Fire Knight gasps in disbelief as they find Fuu's sister. There are several other people here too it seems, but the show must go on. Fortunately, the Wind Knight seems to have a good grasp of healing, so the Fire Knight decides to take the lead for now. "Catch up when you're ready!" The Fire Knight calls out to the Wind Knight.

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

The telltale sounds of clicks alerts her to the sounds of traps, and Fate instinctively starts to quicken her pace, ducking her head, as she takes off. On foot at first, but then she starts to hover and fly forward straight and close to the ground. She's forced to weave a little when one arrow grazes her barrier jacket, causing golden ripples, though she keeps evasive motions very slight so she doesn't run into anyone.

And when the pit trap opens up, she just flies right over it with a call of- "Pit! Watch the Pit!" She echoes at Fuu's warning. But once in the room, there's the sight of Kuu- and while Fuu's reaction is understandable...

Fate hears that ominous grinding and just moves forward to tug hard on Fuu's arm, noticing the cold wisp out of Kuu's mouth, "Look! Look she's breathing! But we need to go! Garnet- can you carry her?" She of course trusts Garnet to be able to keep her safe- but with that grinding, they needed to find a way out-

Ren mentions trying to find a way out and she nods, "The way we came is probably a lost cause so let's start looking around." And Fate does- just that. Looking around the room for a point of egress.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

The pit arrives, and this time Garnet is ready, she quickly leaps over it and lands on the other side! She dodges and weaves, and keeps rushing forward as traps spring and fly! When she emerges into the room, however her afro is full of little arrows, sticking out in all directions.

She seems not to notice for the moment, as she takes the brief respite the room offers.

Fuu is there, casting the spell on her sister, who appears to be affected by an unknown curse or ailment. Garnet stands by, hoping that it works, giving Fuu the time she needs to invoke the magic as many times as she can.

She nods to Fate's wise counsel, if Fuu's spells don't work, she's willing to carry Kuu, and whoever else if need be.

She takes point for the tense seconds before the change keeping an eye on the room, and the others as they arrive, ready to let them all know the second things inevitably change for the worse, and act quickly herself when they do.

<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Chitose has slowed down by this point, having fallen behind everyone else. There's a nervous glance behind her and the rest of the group, wondering at the speed of the acid's gurgling. Are they going to reach their destination just to see a hallway-cleaning wave of acid sweep through?

It's Fuu's call of pit that finally brings her back to the future. "What?" She asks--

Just as her foot finds the lack of stone. SHOOMP!

Chitose suddenly disappears from view, gravity pulling Chitose downwards. But after a quick flight spell, the next thing one sees of Chitose actually isn't her, it's White Omen (and also the hand he's strapped to), as Chitose pulls herself upwards with the aid of floating.

<A pit trap? Your mother would be disappointed.>

Chitose pauses to give her Device a dirty look, but sighs and continue pulling herself up.

When she finally stands up back in the main hallway, she dusts herself off and turns back towards the group just as the arrows come for her. She doesn't just get hit once, she gets hit multiple times. No less than five arrows impact the woman's barrier jacket as she starts to just rush towards the others, as she hastens to catch up.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

Whatever's wrong with Kuu, it doesn't seem to be something that magic that staunches blood and knits flesh can fix. She remains blank-faced and empty through all of her younger sister's incessant casting -- the only time she ever showed even the slightest reaction was at the very beginning, when Fuu cried out to her, and that was the barest flicker of an eyelash, the barest glint of light behind her gaze.

Beneath Fuu's hands, she is very, very cold.

And the room is, too; getting colder all the time, in fact, with frost creeping in along the corners of the room in whimsical spirals and swirls, each of which forms the shape of a skull. There's more grinding, the sounds of changes wrought upon this place coming ever more imminently, though no sign just yet of what it means.

One more thing, too: crawling along one of the four egresses of the room (one of which was used as an ingress, of course) is something thin and green and slimy. A snake? No -- a vine. It's terminated in sprays of forget-me-not flowers, and, if anyone approaches it, gives the best come-hither gesture it can manage without fingers, hands, or arms.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Are the sarcophagi some form of cryo-stasis capsule ... ? Kuu is at least breathing, and seems to still be doing so - but Fuu can feel through her spell that the healing magic isn't accomplishing much of anything ... and even with her worry over Kuu coming first and foremost, she can't avoid noticing the deepening cold.

"All right," Fuu gasps, letting up on her spellcasting. "Garnet-san, if you could please carry my elder sister ... we do need to get out of here somehow," she agrees. She's fairly certain that the trap in this room will be not acid, but freezing. The peculiarly skull-shaped swirls of frost don't really suggest anything otherwise.

Hikaru's already on her way down the corridor where that vine is growing; lacking any better means of deciding which way to go, Fuu follows her, trying to put her focus back on the potential hazards ahead ... but asking her NOT to worry about her sister is going to be asking a lot. Still, getting Kuu to a hospital or something seems like the highest priority right now.

If only Clef were still able to help them ...

<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

The continual grinding signaling a coming change (or several, all of them possibly unpleasant) spurns Ren into looking around wildly for a way out. There has to be one, right? Library Island can't just have one way in and out... can it?! She sincerely hopes not for all of their sakes. Either way, the Fire Knight has chosen to take the lead, scurrying off down one of the paths towards... a vine? Ren looks at it dubiously. "Be careful!" She calls out to Hikaru especially who seems to be getting closer to it.

Still, they can't very well stay put. Not with the freezing sensation that's starting to filter in. She doesn't want to become a popsicle! "Alright Garnet-san. We'll leave Kuu to you. Get her and lets go." She looks to Chitose and Fate to make sure they're on board with what's next before heading off after Hikaru and Fuu, hoping this is the right way...

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet nods to Fuu, and reverts back to her normal size. She picks up Kuu and carries her in both arms. "Let's go everyone, Hikaru went this way, follow me!" and she moves in the direction of the corridor with the vine, and Hikaru, and the others."

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Fuu agrees and Fate nods in relief. If Fuu suddenly became too overwhelmed that would make the job of getting everyone out safely even harder.

The grinding is still happening, The skull frost spirals are ominous and macabre in ways that make her feel uneasy, and she's getting /really/ cold in here. The last time it was this cold Alcyone was about to freeze her in a block of ice- but that just makes the vine all the more out of place. Fate peers at it, at it's pretty flowers and the motions it makes. To a magic student, it doesn't seem really all that strange.

She trends towards that way, and begins waving in the same way copying the waving motion with one of her own before turning and heading down that corridor. "Let's- hurry before we find out what that sound means."

<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Chitose finally manages to rushher way into the room, shoulder first like a linebacker in American Football. Her Barrier Jacket is rough and shoddy from all the arrow strikes. She dusts herself off yet again. "When I'm done here, I'm transferring back to Ohtori."

But then, Chitose finally realizes where she is, and what's inside. The sarcophagi is plainly visible to her, and one of the party is trying to heal one of the occupants. Narrowing her eyes, she looks around to all of the exits to make sure nothing's going to attack them.

But it takes her a few moments to notice the barest flicker of movement from the vine, and Chitose snaps and points White Omen directly at it. Even when it doesn't attack, Chitose continues to point her Device at it. The last few times she's dealt with vines didn't go too well, after all. Soon, though, she relents and lowers her arm.

Being something of a hanger-on, Chitose lets everyone else discuss what to do, and as the group starts to head towards the vine's exit, Chitose takes up the rear and follows behind. This time, it's a lot closer, though she has turned around enough to be able to point behind the group, just in case someone... or some/thing/ attacks them from behind.

<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Hikaru doesn't look back, she just continues running down the corridor, silently hoping that there's an exit someplace. It hasn't been that long they've been down here, but Hikaru feels that it's enough and she wants out. "This place... so... want out..." She gasps as she starts to feel her lungs running out of air.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

The vine waves everyone through the hallway, but certainly can't keep up with Hikaru's pumping legs, nor anyone else's. They find themselves alone once again, plunging through darkened corridors, a hiss of steam gradually filling the hallway behind them, the first hint of whatever fate they've just evaded through their departure.

Inevitably, though after a few minutes too long such that it was starting to feel quite claustrophobic and awful, the corridor opens back up into another large chamber. This one is very similar to the first -- in fact, it might /be/ the first, though there's no sign of the acid fountain, just a faint scent of metal once again perfuming the air.

Something's different, though -- there are stairs. Well, sort of. There are vines weaving themselves with all the intricacy of a French braid and more, sprouting a rainbow of flowers, very eager to help the group up, up, and out.

Kuu is slowly beginning to warm in Garnet's arms, though she has yet to stir. Her breathing continues, shallow but steady.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

The stairs are really the best lead they have at the moment - wherever they need to go from here, tey need to go *up*. Fuu spares a glance around - making sure the rest of the group is still basically okay, and that her sister remains secure in Garnet's arms - and then begins climbing the stairs, whether she's in the lead or not. It doesn't really matter right now who's leading the way, so long as they're all going in the same direction ... right?

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

As they run, Fate gets more time to take in the details of their surroundings, there are the stairs, the vines weaving themselves together in such a beautiful way, the flowers. It could be leading them into a trap but- she'd prefer to think of it optimistically. "I think we should follow them." But after a while, her eyes focus upon Kuu and her slowly improving state. Curious, she reaches up and puts a hand against one of her dangling arms from her position in Garnet's hold- her face inscruable.

After a moment, it comes to her. In fact it's pretty strikingly obvious given- given her time in Dark Fall. She didn't like to think of her time around Nephrite much but, that's what it made her think of "Ah. I see. She's been drained."

She let's go of that arm. "I think I can fix what was done to her but we should wait until we're all in a safer place." If Kuu woke up- couldn't it make things more difficult?

So instead she goes up- and up- and up the stairs, letting the helpful vines guide them. "I wonder who- or what did this to her though?"

It really didn't seem like Dark Fall- setting traps for lone students down here didn't seem like their usual method. Does something lurk down here? Not out of the question given everything that happens at Infinity- for some reason that made her think of Hotaru Tomoe.

She shivers once, and not from the cold.

<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Ren hurries along with the others, making sure to keep an eye on those behind her. "I think I see something up ahead!" She calls out as she puts on a burst of speed, skidding to a halt once clear of the narrow corridor. "It's... the same...? No... similar." She shakes her head, unsure of what's what right now. But she /does/ spy the latticework of vines and flowers that seem to lead up and out of this room.

"There!" She jabs a finger at them, likely a bit late at bringing it to the attention of everyone else who has likely already seen it. "That might be the way out? I'm willing to take that chance right now!" Fuu seems to be of the same mindset since she begins climbing the flower-vine. Ren floats up into the air, turning to look at the others. "If anyone wants a quicker way up..." She doesn't need to finish that to convey what she means, eyes falling on Hikaru and the Kuu-carrying Garnet.

<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Shaking her head, Hikaru begins climbing the flower-vine as well. "I'm fine, don't worry!" She climbs it like nobody's business, obviously wanting to get out of here as quickly as possible. "I can manage this!" She does briefly lose her grip with her right hand, but she regains it quickly and continues climbing. "I just want out!"

<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Chitose continues following behind the rest of the group. For a little while what generally happens is that Chitose takes a couple of steps, turns behind her and the rest of the group, takes a few steps backwards, then turns back and repeats the cycle.

She does stop when she comes across the flower vine, and actually doesn't climb the stairs for a few moments, a little uneasy with the sudden magical vines. She casts a wary glance behind her, before deciding to finally climb the stairs.

When Ren suggests flying, Chitose tsks. "Yes, I suppose that's the best solution." She looks at the ground-based party members, in case one of them wants a ride. If not, well, she just takes off like a jet, streaking forward towards where everyone's going.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet looks up at the vines, and realizes she's not going to be able to climb them with her hands full. She thinks back to the last time she was carrying a person with her. "Don't be alarmed." she says, perhaps to Kuu, perhaps to Fuu, or perhaps to anyone else happening to watch, as she gently presses Kuu into her chest.

She shapeshifts around Kuu, enveloping her sleeping-bag-like front-carrier, one padded like warm blankets, like the one she made for Steven when she caught him during the monster attack on the plane to Okinawa. "It's a little awkward looking, but it should keep her safe, and maybe help warm her."

Garnet follows along with the others, up the stairs, letting the vines guide them.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

Up they go -- by vine and muscle, by flight and magic. Perhaps most eerily of all, nothing seems to be chasing them; there is no distant howl, no more footsteps, just silence broken by their own grunts and gasps as they make their way out.

This is the way they came, and that initial staircase is back in 'stairs' position. That's not very comforting, but the viney handrails, and criss-crosses in front of each step, might be. They shower the group in petals as they pass, then, all too quickly, wither away to nothing but dust, behind them.

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Garnet says don't be alarmed. "Alright." Fate then watches Garnet shape shift into a sleeping bag carrier for Kuu. "That's very handy magic." She replies, with a complete lack of alarm. Fate's trek up the stairs this time has her keeping a hand against the vines for security perhaps.

Once they get to the top however- she turns to Garnet, "Ah. If you don't mind. I'm going to try waking her up now." Fate puts a hand against the carrier, feeling for Kuu, and closes her eyes. "Divide Energy."

As she concentrates, a warm golden glow of her directing her mana towards her- seeps into the drained girl.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet twice fought alongside a "witch" magical warrior that used vine based magic. Could it be the same girl helping them now? That there was no explanation worried her, but they were so close, they could worry about the cause once they're back out. "We're close to the entrance now, let's press on, It seems as though some magic in this place is working to help us, but be prepared in case its mood changes." Provided they reach the top safely, Garnet gladly pauses to let Fate administer her magic.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

At this point, Fuu is hardly in any position to complain about the unusual help they've gotten from the vines. Whether the stairs she's climbing are of vines or of stone, as long as they don't turn into another trap, she'll climb them - she's going to need to collapse and take about a two-hour nap or something once they're all safe and Kuu is confirmed to be all right, but until that point is reached, she's almost literally running on pure willpower.

Only once they're on the relatively safe ground of the actual Infinity Library, up before the point where all the trouble started, will the Wind Knight actually relax. She watches, half-numbly, as Fate divides her energy between herself and Kuu .... and it's at this point that Fuu gathers her own will and casts a fresh Winds of Healing, not just on her big sister, but trying to share it among the rest of the group, if anyone else is injured.

Her focus is *rotten* right now, though. She might not actually be able to get everyone without attending to each person individually ... and with her worrying so much about her big sister ...

<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Once they're outside, Hikaru bends over and begins to catch her breath, before looking to her ally and noticing how stressed she seems. She goes over and speaks in her energetic voice. "Stay strong, you can do this!" In that manner of speech that really gets one encouraged. Hopefully this will at least improve her somewhat.

<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Chitose has skipped the vines, mostly, and thus does not see their eagerness, nor their eventual withering. When she finally arrives up top, she lands, one step making sure she's got her balance, and a few more steps to bleed off her excess speed as she comes to a landing stop.

She turns back as the rest of the group catches up, and she looks at the cataconic girl, frowning. "What's going on down there?" She shifts her weight to try and get a better look past the group, but all she sees is darkness.

Chitose is quiet, once again, before muttering. "I really don't like this."

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

A measure of energy restored to her, Kuu Hououji regains consciousness swiftly. She looks up at her saviors -- not recognizing any of them, inevitably -- and smiles, knowing safety when she sees it, even if she doesn't fully understand everything that's happened.

"I'm afraid I studied for one hour too many and went to sleep, but this is not where I took my nap," she murmurs. "Whatever could have happened?"

It's a rhetorical question; now that her spirit has been restored, she falls swiftly back into a far more natural slumber, her body overwhelmed by the experiences of the day.

There are plenty of unanswered questions, and only one likely place to get them. For the moment, however, the stairs into the catacombs of Library Island just look like stairs.