2017-07-22 - What Lies Beneath 5

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What Lies Beneath 5

In response to the revelations at the plum tree replanting at Jindai (What Lies Beneath 3), a Magic Association elder, Kaoruko Hanasaki, summons magical girls to discuss the stakes beneath Library Island... and all of Tokyo.

This conversation, or one very similar to it, took place between Kaoruko and many other magical girls who answered her invitation for tea. Its contents can be assumed to be IC knowledge by all.


Yumi Ohzora, Saki Hyuuga, Mai Mishou, Fuu Hououji, Steven Universe

GM: Hotaru Tomoe


Jindai Botanical Gardens

OOC - IC Date:

07-22-2017 - 02-04-2015

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> The Gentle Mr. Coupe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onmEO6fLpuU


A mote of light hangs in the air above Mokona's head -- above Flappi and Chopi's -- above Tama's -- above Lion's. It smells very faintly of flowers, that sharp chlorophyll scent, that gentle pollen, and like a bud it unfolds into a blossom.

As it bursts, an envelope flutters downwards, sealed with rose-wax, stamped with a lily. And within lies an invitation to tea at the private greenhouse of Kaoruko Hanasaki, Chief Botanist of Jindai Botanical Gardens.

Underneath the signature's title is another line, in spidery gold ink: Magic Association


Offset a ways from the temple is a gleaming glass building. Outside it is dreary early February -- made more dreary by the coming of high school entrance exams, now in mere DAYS -- but inside it is delightfully warm and bright. Plants all but purr in pleasure to be here, unfolding smilingly at the new arrivals, gleaming with health, with vivacity.

Another group of girls seems to be leaving out the back; perhaps Kaoruko is doing a series of these meetings. But her attention is thoroughly towards the front; in her white lab coat and sensible shirt and slacks, all a little grass-stained, she seems earthy and strong, a world away from the frail old woman knocked to the ground by Karehaan some days ago. But then, here she is in the center of her power.

There is a tea table, set with places for everyone, though the tea itself must still be brewing and no snacks have been set out yet. Not all that far away is, somewhat incongruously, the world's hugest stuffed animal. He looms, with soft fur and a big heart and a big horn and big googly eyes. What is he? Why is he? He just is.

He just is.

"Welcome, please come in," Kaoruko says to her latest batch of saviors.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.


By the sight of it, Tama had wanted to hunt that little mote of light a little more. By the scent however she wanted to stay, and wait for that blossom. There was no time to get Yumi from the other room; she would see the envelope, and see she did.

"Tama, do you smell flowers?" Yumi asked, peeking her head into her bedroom and then scooting inside in case her cat answers and her roommate isn't in bed. "Oh!" Yumi kneels down and picks up the envelope, as Tama answers, "Yes." It's fairly deadpan. The gray-haired girl moves to her bed and caaarefully opens up the envelope.

She decides to wear a warmer scarf, just in case.


Despite the gloomy and dreary conditions, Yumi Ohzora looks around as she steps inside, still wearing her Infinity High uniform and her bright yellow-green tights against the cold. ...And gloves, and a scarf that she lowers. The hat stays on. They're all softer colors, blues mostly. But she stares with a bit of wonder at this stuffed animal. "He's so cute!" Pause. "Oh, uh, I mean."

Yumi stands up a little bit straighter, "Thank you for the invitation, Hanasaki-sensei." A beat, "This place is still so beautiful... It's like the plants are happy."

It's Magic Association, so she relaxes a little extra.

<Pose Tracker> Saki Hyuuga [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.


Saki had her head down, hunkered in on homework - really the only way she gets it done - when Flappy made a noise, squawking unexpectedly. "Saki-lapi!"

"Jeeze, what is it!?" she snaps back. Minori could hear, he's breaking her concentration, and there's a weird light over his head and-----wait no hold on

It bursts open. "Message for you-lapi!" Flappy chirps, pleased with himself. Saki looks at the envelope and then back up at Flappy with a somewhat flummoxed expression. "You keep not telling me all this handy stuff you can do!"


Saki is blissfully immune to entrance exams, but she has her own trials ahead of her, aiming for the captain spot of the Infinity softball team, and it's not like she doesn't have some tests coming up, and the constant threat of trees coming to life and punching everyone nearby, couresty Karehaan. That jerk.

She arrives! She is untransformed, because for Saki Hyuuga Pretty Cure is a thing only for fighting. Dressed in the warm duck-yellow hoody she likes for this time of year, she gives a sidelong glance to her companion and marches right in at Kaoruko's invitation. "Ah, thanks for having us..." she says, a little awkwardly, bowing properly.

She is about to sit when her 'phone pouch' suddenly emits a shrill noise, and she gets in the immediately familiar pre-battle wariness of Pretty Cure - except a blue puff leaps off her pouch and manifests into a light blue fairy, which immediately dashes directly over to the mysterious stuffed animal with wide, starry eyes. Saki sets her weight on a chair with a huff. "Uhm. Sorry about Flappy? He doesn't usually do that."

<Pose Tracker> Mai Mishou [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

The invitation was a surprise, but it wasn't unwelcome either. Mai Mishou accepted it with the usual grace she does everything -- and then promptly contacted her friend, Saki, to figure out what to do about it. It isn't reliance, as much as it is working together as a team with everyone. She steps up, just behind her friend, and she smiles politely.

"Yes," she says, and her bow is much less awkward. "Thank you very much. I am very curious about what you have to--"

And then Flappy erupts with a shriek. Choppy does not; she just makes a soft whine from inside of Mai's phone pouch. Mai looks down at her belt, and then at Flappy. She looks at Yumi, too, where she smiles very apologetically. Then, finally, back to Saki.

Finally, she finishes: "...s-say."

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

She should be studying.

She should be patrolling.

She should be training.

Between the suddenly-rapid approach of entrance exams and an increasingly acute aware of her own deficiencies as a Magic Knight - or as a magical girl in general - Fuu Hououji's first feeling is that she shouldn't be taking time out of her schedule to visit the Botanical Gardens. Still, it's a formal invitation, so she can't *not* go, even if the formality lies heavily on the magical side of her world. Or more accurately, perhaps, she should go *because* it's so formal and still coming from a member of the Magic Association.

Fuu is doing her best to keep her worries and consternation off her face as she approaches the Jindai Botanical Gardens, although her usual smile may seem a bit more pasted-on than normal. "Good day to you all," she greets the other girls (and Ms. Hanasaki herself), bowing as she enters the greenhouse ... and in the time it takes to bow, and straighten up, the pleasant fragrances - if not simply the feel of so many green and living things - seems to knock some of the stress out of her system.

Not all of it. She's still tense and worried and fretful about various things - but she can at least push those to the back of her mind. "Hanasaki-sensei, thank you so much for your invitation; I'm glad I could be here," she adds, addressing the chief botanist. "I'm sorry I didn't have time to bring anything as a token of gratitude for your hospitality ..."

Okay, she's a little distracted by the fairies now, too. But it's a much happier distraction than the other stuff on Fuu's mind, and she glances around, wondering if Mokona is cavorting around somewhere too.

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

Coupe, for long moments, is totally immobile. He's just chilling there, leaning against a tree that grows within the huge greenhouse's interior. There's no hint at all that he's a living being --

-- until --

-- his huge googly eyes slowly, slowly lower their gaze until they rest upon Flappy.

And there is the very faint sense of a smile, though no lips are involved.

Chief Hanasaki, meanwhile, shakes her head with a soft laugh at Fuu's concern about gifts. "You are my gift," she says quietly, and it rings with truth. "All of you. You girls... are gifts to the whole world."

She gestures everyone to the table, and pulls a teapot off a nearby hot plate just before it starts to scream. It bubbles vigorously beneath the metal, and emits a vast, misty cloud of steam.

"Do you remember," she begins, "What brought us together? You saved me from a warrior of dark leaves..."

She trails off, but there's a clear, vaguely professorial invitation in her voice for others to recount the story, and the parts of it that might matter most.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Yumi would be wearing her uniform, were she not wearing a different sort of uniform entirely, leaning on her staff as she walks with her great hat over her face. Her dress and mantle are warmer than her school attire, and that matters less in this place, but it sure mattered outside.

Flappy startles Yumi when he shrieks, causing the young witch to Jump up and hold her hat. "Aaah," she says, and then more quietly, "aaah." Mai smiles apologetically, and Yumi smiles back. "Thanks..."

But Coupe--Oh! "Oh it moved!" Yumi says, with wide pink eyes. "...Aw. I'm sorry I called you an 'it', she says, and smiles at him."

the Chef mentions gifts, and Yumi almost shrinks at that. "I don't know if I'm..." She may be one of the oldest here of the girls, but she's not very confident. "Ah... Yes..."

What brought them together.

"I--Y-Yes, I--You--" The Witch trips over her tongue, not quite able to get out what she means to say, and flushed because she can't.

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

"People have been going missing in the depths of Library Island," Fuu states, settling into a seat that isn't yet occupied. "My elder sister Kuu was one of the first - she went to the library to study, and never came home until we gathered a group and went into the catacombs to find her. It was different than when I'd been down there before .... it's never exactly a pleasant tourist destination, but it seemed more ominous, darker than I remember from other quests in those depths."

She pauses briefly as a cup of tea is poured for her, bowing her head appreciatively, and picks the cup up to take a sip.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Mishou [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

"Yes," Mai says, after Fuu. She looks sideways at Yumi -- and smiles, reassuringly, to her. But, then she looks back ahead, and peers at the older teacher for a moment. "And later, both Michiru-san and Kaoru-san were lost there. We found... a terrible labyrinth underneath. A medical facility, of some sort..."

She hangs her head for a moment. A shiver runs down her spine. They saved their friends -- but they didn't save other people. The things they saw downt here were terrible.

Her hand balls into a fist.

"...We didn't know what any of it was," she says, quietly.

<Pose Tracker> Saki Hyuuga [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

For Splash Star Pretty Cure, there is a fairly simple reason they have rarely worried much about identities; it doesn't really come up. Their enemies have always known who they were.

So it's Saki Hyuuga who's here, albeit looking a little abashed to be around all these magical girls in their magical girlin' clothes. Gosh, everyone looks so serious...

Then again. She knows full well that moments like this rarely happen for unserious reasons. She glances to Mai, concerned, but...

Then she looks to Flappy with an expression more bewildered, as the apparently immobile object looks at him and he emits a noise like a Beatles fangirl and swoons. "Ahhhh...such an amazing honor...!" he croaks.

....Saki leaves him to his life, and returns her attention to Kaoruko. She blushes, a little. She hasn't really had that kind of lavishly warm praise heaped upon her before, and her lips purse, shyly pleased. "Eeeheehee, we only do it because we want to," she demures, which is not entirely true but in the right range, anyway.

Saki looks to Fuu, who starts talking about some other thing, and her head tips down at Mai's response. It's true that she's still troubled about that day, but...she looks back to Kaoruko, nodding. "Karehaan," Saki says. "A Warrior of Dark Fall. He's been after us seeking the Fountain of the Sun for a long time. I, uhm."

She tips her head, some approximateion of formal apology. "I'm sorry that our problem came to your door, Hanasaki-sensei. Dark Fall...the generals of Akudaikaan, are usually only after us."

Flappy is too blissed out to do his usual exposition thing.

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

Kaoruko moves to the table and pours the tea. She pours for the Witch of Lost Ivy, first, not because she's the oldest but because it seems like now would be a good time for her to have a grandma figure warm and close at her shoulder.

The tea is special: it smells like a favorite memory, and tastes like a favorite sweet. The steam, rising from the delicate cups, swirls in subtle patterns, briefly taking shapes like stars and hearts and wings. It seems to sparkle a little, too.

Once everyone has been served, the old woman takes her place (it happens to be between Yumi and Saki) and spares a quick look off to the side to the fairies. "Coupe is my oldest and most beloved partner," she murmurs to Flappy and Choppy. "He likes it when young things like you visit him." Something in the way she says 'visit' invites 'hug'.

Then she returns to the girls, and becomes a little more grave, a little more drawn. "Yes... you speak of two different places, but you are right to sense their connectivity. And so, too, are Akudaikaan's generals connected to something larger. In the same way that the Sky Tree -- the World Tree -- is much larger than it seems. Do any of you know its tale?"

She pauses to sip her tea, which smells of lilies, and tastes of strawberry.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

This tale is started, but Yumi can't quite manage to talk much. She listens to the others once she manages to stop suttering, and looks down. but Kaoruko approaches her, and the Witch accepts the teacup in grateful hands, looking at the older woman and remembering.

The scent of the tea relaxes, puts her in mind of being not with a grandmother but a mother, once. It was good then. "Coupe... It's nice to meet you."

Once everyone is served, Yumi takes a sip and sighs. "Thank you," she murmurs.

It's nice to be sitting by her for the moment. "Karehaan--that's his name?--was doing things that were wrong for all of us. I won't let someone hurt this world that way."

She hesitates. "I've studied it in school, but I don't remember a story of it. It's at the center of all of these ley lines, it... Well, it's really beautiful."

Yumi's tea smells of an art gallery, and tastes of green melon.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Mishou [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Mai's tea, unsurprisingly, tastes like the sweet pastries at Pan-Paka-Pan. She has her tastes.

Mai smiles, for a moment, before she looks at Coupe. Choppy pokes her head out of the belt, and then she floats out -- and lands on the ground. "Hi Coupe-chopi!" she calls out. Then, she scurries across the ground, and gives him a hug. Mai giggles, hand over her mouth, before she looks up.

She nods once to Kaoruko. She glances at Yumi, then nods. "Yes," she says, "it was. The Sky Tree... my mother told me about it, when I was little. She said that it is important--that it acts as a gateway to other worlds. I've always loved to come here. But..."

She trails off. "...I may not know all of the story."

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

"We do seem to share our enemies rather broadly in this city, don't we?" Fuu remarks to Saki with a pleasant smile. "Although given how strong some of them are, I'd hate to see the day when any of us are cut off and can't help ..."

Her voice seems to just stop abruptly, and for one brief moment, an unhappy look - not quite despair, but a precursor of sorts - crosses over her face before she cranks her smile back into place, and has a sip of tea. The scent wafting from the cup's contents is that of a sunny spring day, with a hint of cherry petals on the breeze, and a vestige of wood and resin. The taste, on the other hand, is that of manju.

"There's a lot that I don't know about the World Tree," Fuu resumes after savoring that first sip of her tea. "But it's a focal point of power - fed by the ley lines, but I think it has its own source of power within it, even greater than that. And I know that there are those of *this* world who desire to lay claim to that power, to use it for their own ends. The Association's duties include protecting the World Tree against such plots ..."

She trails off again, pursing her lips. "One of those plots *also* happened in the catacombs under Library Island, didn't it? At least a piece of whatever machinations they were enacting ... ?"

<Pose Tracker> Saki Hyuuga [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Flappy practically teleports into a big fluffy hug of Coupe-sama's mighty side, and Saki turns back at the noise he makes. "Wow..." she says, quietly. Normally her relationship with Flappy is...a little contentious, in a way that might seem unfriendly to an outside eye; but here and now she watches with some genuine surprise. She finds herself smiling at his delight. "...I guess it's been a long time since he saw someone he could look up to," she murmurs, and there's something a little bittersweet to that look on her face.

But when she sips, she finds herself calming into the scent of loamy soil around the Shrine of the Sky Tree, and the taste of her mother's chocolate. Thus calmed, she finds it a little less worrisome to dwell on the horrible topic of what she and Mai saw below the Island, and of its possible connection to Akudaikaan and his minions. She nods to Mai. "Yeah, didn't she say that there were like...religions about it? Going way back, even. Ritual sites and stuff."

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

Coupe says nothing, hardly moves at all, but like the plants, pleasure seems to roll off of him in silent waves when he gets hugged by Choppy and Flappy. And Kaoruko is an attentive listener as her guests recall some truths about the World Tree, nodding here and there.

As they trail off, she gamely picks back up the thread of things. "Yes... the World Tree's power is ancient, and the battles over the use of that power equally so. It rises once every hundred years or so, and magic like that... it wants to be used, almost as much as people want to use it."

She sets her tea down in its saucer with the softest of clinks. "A great deal lies beneath Tokyo. History builds upon itself, and so does humanity. There are old shrines and old tombs, forgotten truths, hidden secrets. But, again, much connects to the World Tree."

There are a number of little potted flowers on the table, and she starts rearranging them; five, around a sixth larger one which might be a bonsai-style chrysanthemum.

"If this is the World Tree," she explains patiently, "Then these five are the places of power that, if held by someone with both knowledge and conviction, can be used to harness the World Tree's power, when it erupts. They're like a bridle on a horse... and who grasps the reins is important, indeed."

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

"And Library Island is one of those five points, isn't it?" Fuu asks. "That's what was happening ... was it only last year? The Tree's power was peaking and there was an effort to seize control of those ... 'power spots,' maybe, is a good word for them. There were others as well ... one of the local parks ..."

She looks around at the others, a somewhat sheepish expression on her face. She really *should* be able to remember these details better, but her head is full of all kinds of other things right now.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Yumi keeps sipping at her tea, quietly delighted by the sheer wondrous nature of it; it shows in her eyes, in her bearing, a tall slight girl hanging onto this one cup. The others seay more, and Yumi listens to all of that too. Power, and gateways, and... Religions?

"It's nice to see him happy, right?" Yumi says to Saki, the too-awkward stammerer melting away into something a little bitdifferent. She considers the explanation given.

"Yeah..." Yumi looks to the potted flowers thoughtfully. Places of power. "...I know about building," Yumi says. "My family recovers important artiacts for the Association. Sometimes I get to see pictures of them, or hear stories. The things we build are amazing. But this tree..."

"If it wants to be used, what if we could..." She hesitates. "Sorry, I'm talking out of turn. Where are you going to find people with that kind of conviction?" Yumi starts counting magical girls... but doesn't point to herself. She has mixed feelings.

"But um, somehow... I want to help. I don't know what I can do, but there's something, I'm sure." She looks at the plants again. "...They're so pretty... Are the places all like this?"

<Pose Tracker> Mai Mishou [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

"Much connects to the World Tree..." Mai repeats, softly. She isn't surprised by this. She not only knew its importance, but she felt it. It had been a constant for her entire life. She looks down for a moment, and then she looks at the potted flowers. Her eyes widen for a moment.

Then, she frowns. "And... some would seek to control the Tree for themselves? To have this power? Is this--is this what these people have been doing?" She looks sideways at Yumi, then.

She smiles, before she nods. "I want to, too. I care very much for the World Tree."

<Pose Tracker> Saki Hyuuga [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Saki knows the Tree; she's there whenever she has a moment, who went whenever she had a moment to spare. The shrine is her most special place there is. Maybe this is why she's always felt so comfortable there, with the light of the world swirling through the place?

She finds herself looking to Mai, nodding quietly. "We can't let them have it," she says, quietly. She's thinking of Akudaikaan, mostly, but it surely applies to anyone who'd wield that power against the world. Her eyes turn, worried, to Kaoruko. "I want to protect the Sky Tree, that let Mai, and Flappy, and Choppy, and Michiru, and Kaoru and I all meet!"

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

"Oh man, I think we are late! Lion, go faster!"

The pitter-patters of large pawprints on sidewalk and dirt paths are heard, as Steven Universe tries to havigate to a strange location he has not been before! Lion apparently decided it would be fun to eat an invitation and hurk it up on the carpet an hour before the time to meet! Well, okay, he wasn't all his fault. He may not have remembered his own, due to... reasons.

The pink feline skids to a halt outside some sort of glass structure. It reminds him of a greenhouse of some kind. Perhaps to grow orchids or some other delicate plant? The boy looks at the partially damp invitation. "I think this is it. Feels so fancy to be invited to a place like this! I wonder what for?

The boy begins to head inside. He is wearing his usual attire for the climate, along with a hamburger backpack, which appears to be partly open. a peculiar blue mirror protrudes out of the back partway. "Hope we aren't interrupting...!" he says quietly, heading toward the sound of lady-like voices.

He reaches the group, soggy invitation in hand, and watches from afar, waiting for an appropriate time to join. Lion looms overhead Steven, watching the others as well. THe positioning feels like something comical; almost out of a cartoon.

"What is a World Tree?" he whispers to Lion. "...I really should stop whispering to you-- it probably looks weird."

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

"Ah," Kaoruko exclaims softly, at Fuu. "Yes, you are half correct. There was an effort made last year to move one of the control points." Her hand wraps around a small potted tree. "The places targeted, targeted the point itself, more than the World Tree, in order to seize the mystical well that makes a place a control point, and... shift it. It worked, sort of... that was St. Ursula's Cathedral, an important place to us. It's still important, but it is no longer a control point."

She moves the tree away from the circle, places it in her lap.

"We don't know where that power is now. If it is tied to a place, or still in abeyance. Finding it... is important."

But four other little plants remain.

The grandmotherly figure looks up when Steven arrives, and beckons him over. Coupe, who looks like a ceiling-high stuffed animal, winds up being a good place for Lion to sit next to.

There is an empty seat at the table for Steven, and a cup of steaming tea which smells like a favorite memory, tastes like a favorite sweet.

"You've seen the World Tree," Kaoruko promises Steven, warmly. "It is not far from Infinity Institute, and its branches pierce the sky. We are discussing how it contains an ancient power that emerges every hundred years.... to be wielded by those with the will and the means to do so."

To Mai and the Witch of Lost Ivy, she adds, "There is no shortage of strong hearts on either side. Though sometimes, even when wielded by a good person, catastrophe can emerge."

Her eyes rest on Yumi, extra-expectantly, like a teacher who knows her student has the answer.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Yumi never spent that much time out at the World Tree, not like Saki and Mai both did. Much connects. Yumi glances at Mai at her question, meeting that sideways look. "It seems like it..." That's not a great thought. But Mai wants to help too, and Yumi smiles for a moment. "I thought you were reliable," she says to her.

Steven's arrival gets a blink and a wave before she sips at her tea again. Steven is not the only new arrival, however. A small black cat snakes into the room and hops up gently, in her catlike way, onto Coupe, curling there comfortably with one green eye open peering at woman and girls and boy before her. Yumi waves at her familiar, and gets a bat of Tama's tail as her only reward.

Yumi also learns more from this explanation, of things before she was so involved on the front end of things. The explanation comes quickly, and Yumi watches Kaoruko attentively as she mentions strong hearts... and a catastrophe. "Ah." Then she's stared at. Then--

Yumi doesn't scramble or flail or stammer at all. Instead she nods once, serious, almost suited to her robes of office as a Witch. "...I know a story," Yumi says. "A story about a good person causing a great catastrophe. I learned it when I was little, and I've heard a few different versions by now. But this is the one my mother taught me during my early apprenticeship."

A breath, "He lived during the late 19th century, and even today people call his World-Smashing Genius, Greatest Mage To Ever Live, Magus Magnalium. His name was Clow Reed."

"...He could do anything, so far as anyone knew. For--for basically his mage's graduation, he created two magical beasts, Yue and Kerberos, drawing power from the Sun and Moon. If you've ever heard of the Clow Cards, he's the one who made them. He did all of this just as part of his life."

"But he wasn't just talented; he cared for others. With his friend--friend? that's in dispute--Yuuko Ichihara, he eased pain, rooted out suffering, vanquished evil, and unravelled the secrets of the world. He even found ways using these gates to potentially lead to worlds much farther away than they ever had before. The Gateports. He would just need so, so, so much energy to realize that dream. Unimaginable power."

"Turns out... 1882 was coming up, and in 1882, this very tree was set to resonate with other sacred sites around the world, releasing vast, unthinkable amounts of energy. Normally you couldn't harness that much. It was hard, it would attract attention... and it was necessary for Reed-san's idea to reach beyond our limits. Some people say that Ichihara-san was the real brains, but I wouldn't know; it is known that she was already an expert in time and space magic."

"During the ceremony," Yumi says, still speaking with importance to her voice, looking around at each other person in turn, "A mighty demon and his minions descended upon them. This incredible genius, incredible power was called to battle, and he defeated the demon. Bontou--the tree's--power was open for use... and Yuuko Ichihara was dead. He couldn't contain the power around him or the despair of his grief. He called on all of that power to beg the worlds he would have reached for a way to make her open her eyes again. He was answered. That miraculous energy gathered together drove through the sacred geometry of his spell, and it plunged to the heart of everything. You see, prior to that point, Earth was closed off for an Age from other worlds, but this spell crashed through all of those barriers. ...Then light faded, and they were both gone."

"Darkness was prepared to descend upon our world, no longer kept at bay like it was for millennia. They would strike. And why?"

"...Because someone with good intentions was human. A lot of people would do the same. And if the best can go astray in grief and loss... Then everyone needs to be careful. Being a good person doesn't mean you'll have good results."

Yumi pauses, and stops to drink some of her tea. "...That's all," she says. "I have other ideas about some of what happened, but... My mother still spoke of him as a great man. And it's the same tree, right here."

Yumi's getting great grades in her magic classes.

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

During the Witch of Lost Ivy's narration, there's a minor disturbance when the mirror in Steven's backpack squirms a little. Before too long it has fallen onto the table, face up... and it provides a visual accompaniment to the story, as images swirl into being on its surface.

Images of Clow -- tall, bespectacled, beautiful -- plunging a big fuzzy beast into a bathtub. Bubbles everywhere. Clow reading a book. Clow casting a magnificently complex spell.

Images of Yuuko -- tall, not bespetacled, beautiful -- seated in a garden very similar to this one, gazing into a pool. Yuuko writing a scroll. Yuuko engaged in some kind of ritual, mystical dance.

And the World Tree, seen from a distance, erupting with light, light which pours into Clow and out of him again, transmuted from white to a horrible, gorgeous, heart-throbbing red. And an unexpected, answering black, which pours, too, from cracks in the sky.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Mishou [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

When Saki says those quiet words, Mai looks sideways at her friend. Then, she nods her head to her. "Yes. We can't. It's... too important to allow that." And, despite what has been said, Mai doesn't just mean to the whole world.

She frowns, though, and she listens -- both as Kaoruko speaks and as Yumi does. Yumi's story, though, makes her look sideways -- makes her eyes widen for a moment as she looks at her. "I... never knew," she says, quietly. "I-I see... 1882. That is so long ago. But... it is good, that it was stopped. It..."

She catches the mirror, and sees the images that flash in it. Her eyes widen a little more.

"...So now, is the same thing happening again? That happened with Yuuko and Clow?"

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"Um," Yumi says, when Mai speaks up. She thinks best how to phrase it, and then just settles on, "It wasn't stopped at all. It totally happened, and it's the thing that led to a lot of the problems we have today."

"So I mean... That's kind of the story."

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

"But yes," Kaoruko also murmurs, "I believe you are also correct, Mai-chan. As with last time, Bontou is set to resonate with extraordinary power. Far more than in 1882, because there is so much more power arrayed upon Earth now than there was then. A positive feedback effect."

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

Fuu just listens to everyone else, especially Kaoruko and Yumi. Steven's arrival is greeted with a smile and a little wave, although she doesn't want to interrupt the knowledge being shared by the others. Especially by Yumi - and by the mirror.

Her expression is much more pensive when Yumi finishes recounting that story. "It's like that Key to the City that we dealt with ... that the Searrs Foundation went so far in trying to take possession of, and which -" Fuu grimaces sheepishly. "I know that ultimately, I didn't trust myself to use its power, to make a wish with it. It still took some of my friends' convincing me that unmaking it was the right decision. How much more must Clow-san have been tempted ..."

She looks at Kaoruko. "When you say that a source of great power 'wants to be used' ... I won't dismiss that the World Tree, that Bontou, can have a will of its own, or that it can desire for something to happen. But is that incredible power really 'wanting' to be used? Or is it just that the temptation it exerts on those who desire to use it is so great ... ?"

<Pose Tracker> Saki Hyuuga [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

As is often the case with Saki, 'the world' is a distant, tiny part of the math. The tree that gave so much to them...the tree she cares about so much...she would protect it even if it were a mere shadow of the thing Kaoruko reveals. Even if it meant nothing to the world at all.

She turns as Yumi tells a story. She's struck, briefly, that the girl seems more composed, now. But mostly she's struck by the story, eyes widening at the thought of such an incredible thing happening. The visuals help. What is up with that mirror? Maybe she doesn't even think to ask. Magic people just have stuff, right? "Wow..." she croaks, stunned. "I...I think I get it...he was so sad that even though he had all that control, and had done so much, the only thing he could think about was using that power for something that caused problems..."

She thinks of something, then; she doesn't betray what, but there is a briefly stricken look across her face.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

All at once, an elderly woman invites the boy over. "Oh! Am I in the right place?" Actually, now that he thinks about it, he recognizes a person or two at the table! The boy heads to the table, and takes a proper seat.

Lion walks over and sits right next to Coupe, as if ordained to have a fuzz-off. WHICH IS THE MOST FUZZIEST MASCOT?! He silently watches the scene unfold.

As the conversation goes on, the scent of that tea gets Steven's attention. It smells like... the smell of roses. Particularly the ones that seem to grow wherever that... she went. "Huh." The boy gingerly takes a cup of tea and takes a sip. Stars fill his eyes, as it takes no amount of time to register what it tastes like. He barely keeps his mouth shut from shouting.

"I've see that one, yeah!" he adds to Kaoruko. "Its pretty!" A pause. "Power? Oh, like a magic tree or something?" It wouldn't be the most farfetched thing he has seen since coming here. After all, he fought a giant umbrella-wielding robot thing within three days of appearing in Tokyo!

Yumi begins to spin a tale of how even the best of intentions can go awry despite all efforts. As he listens, the mirror falls to the table, and begins to show images! It did this earlier, even mimicked talking (and fart noises), but now it is desplaying the story! Saki picks it up to take a look. "S-Sorry! A strange mirror. I think? I dunno." He isn't even sure he is supposed to have it right now. The Gems don't know about it. But how did the mirror know about the story?

"Does this power stuff have to be used? Like, will something bad happen if it doesn't get used?" A pause. "Y'know, keep people away from it and the power goes away?"

He only heard about it five minutes ago, but throwing darts at a dartboard can be helpful. Sometimes. A small wave with a cheeky grin is given to Fuu in the midst of the conversation! It helps alleviate feeling a little awkward being here. This seems to be a very serious subject after all!

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

Lion is the very rare mascot that might be older than Coupe, so we'll call the fuzzy contest a draw. There's a lot more of Coupe, but Lion's fur might be a bit softer.

"Fuu-chan," Kaoruko says with a glint of very real respect behind her spectacles, "That is a very wise question. Yours, too, young Mr. Universe." Her educated voice manages that bit of English with hardly an accent. "And I promise, we will answer both today... but not yet. Those are answers that must be shown and not told."

The mirror makes a farting noise in response, and she looks at it sharply. "You're excused," she says, with a certain gravitas that rises above such things.

The corner of her mouth twitches with amusement, though, and she reaches out to the other girl next to her seat -- Saki -- and gives her shoulder a gentle squeeze.

"So," she continues, "Here we are." With her free hand, she points at another little bush on the table surrounding the larger one, one of the four smaller. "Jindai has one under the temple -- you saw a bit of its architecture during the fight with Karehaan, when the ground opened up. It remains safely controlled by the Magic Association, of course. And the others..."

She names them fairly casually, but the air is heavy with their importance. "Tokyo Tower is on one, Infinity Institute was built by the Association to protect one, and, of course, Library Island is one, as you said, Fuu-chan."

<Pose Tracker> Mai Mishou [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

"Ah... ah, I see," Mai says, her words trailing off as she thinks about it. She isn't surprised by any of those. All of those locations had seen some fights -- had drawn battles to them in Tokyo. She was new to being a magical girl, and still, Mai Mishou knows this to be a truth. She frowns.

"Then... the things we saw under the Library Island," she says. "Is that a plan by--by someone to control that space?"

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

The mirror is frankly cool; Yumi's eyes flick to the visual aids once or twice, but mostly she keeps her focus on those to whom she's telling the story. She can tell that people have things to think about. Yumi nods to Saki. "Yeah. It's something anyone would wish for. I can tell you right now... If I had the power to bring back the dead, I'd do it."

Yumi looks down, after saying that to Saki. She glances at Fuu after that though. Temptation... "It seems different..."

And Steven, too. Tama opens her eyes again, still sitting with Coupe, and watches Steven for a little while.

"Yeah, I wonder that too, Mai-chan." Habits die hard, even in henshin. Tama, for her part, would prefer to be called other things than fuzzy. She does not attempt to compete. But Yumi...

Yumi sips at what remains of her tea, listening. She thinks quietly, marking each in her mind. "...Library Island... It's gotten so dangerous down there. That doesn't seem safely controlled."

"There's things out there that would want to control them," Yumi says. "Mm... So, we know where they are, but do we have control of the others? I mean I assume we do at school... We have all those witches and mages there. But we're close to Library Island too and that one's..." She frowns.

Yumi is relatively new to being a magical girl... but not new to being a part of magic.

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

"At the very least, somebody is doing *something* in the catacombs," Fuu observes, "and whatever they're doing ... whether they're tapping into the well of magical power or not, I think they're using the people who get lost and trapped down there. Those ... coffins, sarcophagi, whatever they are ..."

She pauses, drinking some more of her tea as if to steel herself against what she's about to add.

".... and the monsters that have people inside them. Like that ... that big one, the one we didn't beat in time at Tokyo Tower. The one that killed the girls who were stuck inside it."

She's not even *trying* to smile as she recounts that piece of history. It's still a viciously deep scar in her memory, even in her heart - a failure that cost her the ability to be a Magic Knight, until a crisis pushed her back across the threshold. "I don't know what those monsters are called, but if they were created by human hands and intellects, we have to stop any more of them from being made. If we can. - I'm sorry, Hanasaki-sensei, I think I'm dragging us off topic a little ... but at the same time, these things *are* connected, aren't they? For one of those to appear at Tokyo Tower, for Library Island to be a 'breeding ground' for them ..."

<Pose Tracker> Saki Hyuuga [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Saki never quite grabs the mirror, though she does lean over it with interest. But she seems far away for just a moment...

Yumi, perhaps, identifies what's on her mind, and she nods. "Yeah. I...I think I understand." The hand on her shoulder makes her look up at Kaoruko, and she tips her head just a bit, trying to recover her smile. "I have a partner too, after all. So it's easy to understand what he was thinking. Which I guess is the point you're making, huh."

She breathes a bit, sipping at her tea and thinking. They're talking about what they saw under Library Island, and the look on her face is much more sour now. Those people...She grimaces. "Dark Fall....They're always attacking just us," she murmurs. "We just live our lives and fight them if they come along. I'm sorry. I don't really know what to do about something that's just...out there, doing these awful things."

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

It seems there is more story to thise tale before answers are to be revealed...

THe lady points out that the smaller shrubs part of a display are actually representations of some important locations to this World Tree they are talking about. They need to be controlled to help use the World Tree, or something to that effect.

"Shhh, Mirror!" Steven says quietly to the mirror. The fart noises were great earlier, especially on a bustling sidewalk. But this was an important story!

"Wait, are those them scary, slimy things?" The boy shivers, as if he feels watched. It could be in part due to that other cat! That was a frightening time. At least they saved those that were lost.

"Huh, more spots involved. It would be hard to protect all of them." Wait, did that lady say Magic Association?! Like a place for magicians?! So cool. Wonder what tricks they know? "Is there a way I can help with this somehow?" These ladies seem to know so much more about this problem. It would be wise to take their lead.

At least thats what Garnet would say. And she's always right.

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

While the girls speak, their host pours them a second round of tea. Like the other one, this cup smells and tastes like precious memories and favorite desserts -- but a different pairing than the last one.

Once the wheel of conversation has turned back to her, Kaoruko sips her own tea... and frowns.

"The world is as big as the ocean... and as small as an afternoon," the old woman says kindly to Saki, leaning in until they're almost nose to nose. "Living your life is no less important -- not even a tiny bit -- than fighting evil. Never think otherwise. You fight to protect happiness. That includes your own."

Having imparted that bit of wisdom, she looks up at the group. "It does sound as though great evil is brewing under Library Island, and it would be foolhardy to assume it's unrelated to the World Tree, though whether it is or not, it sounds as though it must be confronted, for its own sake and the sake of all those girls ensnared below ground. Tokyo Tower... is harder to judge."

Her lips quirk a little bit wryly. "Tokyo Tower -- everything happens there." There's a sort of affectionate exasperation in her voice, when she makes that observation, but it smoothes into something a lot more serious. "And these monsters you describe... I've heard of them, of children transforming into them, all over the city. But... yes. It does seem like dark forces are moving on Library Island. And if they also hold the missing control point from St. Ursula's... then they would only need one more, three out of five, to win the power of the World Tree when it erupts. And it could erupt at any time. It is, in fact, statistically overdue."

Her wryness blossoms into a full smile. It's a powerful one, not with magic but with warmth. "That is why you are here, Mr. Universe. I very much believe that you can help."

<Pose Tracker> Mai Mishou [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Mai looks down, a little, at Saki's remark about a partner. She doesn't agree aloud. She doesn't need to. Her expression is thoughtful, though, before she looks back up at the old woman. She watches her lean in so close to her friend -- and then she glances to the side, back towards the pots.

"Then... they might have enough already," she says. "How worrisome..."

She blinks, though, and turns to look at Steven. She smiles after a moment, then nods -- but stays quiet. She doesn't doubt an explanation will come.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"For me it's my dad," Yumi admits to Saki, still dressed traditionally witchily. Her staff is propped against the wall, the green gem embedded there faintly luminous. And when her tea is refilled with one that smells like sketchpad paper and pencils, tastes of matcha cake, she lefts the steam rise into her face. A lot of strong scents give her trouble, but not this, it's cleaner than that.

Steven wants to help too; Yumi looks at him, looks at the others here, and listens. "Protecting happiness..." Yumi trails off. "I'd really like to." But it's something that's giving her difficulty lately.

Yumi doesn't even talk about the creatures at first. She stays quiet, sippin her tea even though it's still very hot. "Right... It could be anytime, but--" Yumi looks to her art club kohai and shakes her head. "We can't think like that. If we decide we've lost already, then there's nothing we can do." Yumi puts on what she hopes is an encouraging smile, but might just be warm.

"...I'll do something. I can't become a great witch if I sit back when I could help." Yumi hesitates. "And yeah, those things are scary... I don't know what to do with them. But... Still. I have a family to live up to. I can't sit back and be afraid."

<Pose Tracker> Saki Hyuuga [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

It's a rebuke of a kind, but it feels nothing of the sort to Saki. It feels like what she gets from her own parents, guiding her world with the wisdom of years while nonetheless letting her feel the kind intent behind it. She finds herself smiling. "I understand," she says. "Uhm....thanks." Somehow it makes it feel better. She sips at her renewed tea, the familiar smell of her mother's well-loved softball glove, the taste of melon pan.

Saki's life has some themes.

She grins at Yumi a bit. "I guess it'd be my dad, too, but...he's out of danger. Uh, mostly."

But her eyes turn from learning from Kaoruko over to Steven. That mirror...is it more than just some weird tool? She just assumed it was normal magic lady stuff, but now that she thinks about it...what's Hanasaki-sensei got in mind for him?

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

The nice lady pours more delicious tea! This time, it smells like a summer sea breeze, and tastes like the freshest donut from The Big Donut! HOW DID SHE DO THAT. That teapot or steeped tea didn't change! SORCERY.

Delicious sorcery.

The kind elder talks about those proto-things as well. The creatues everyone was so frightened of. So powerful to stir absolute, true fear in every single combatant. A malevolent force if one ever existed. "Well, it sounds like we have to take one of those control spots!"

Steven tries to say this with enough enthusiasm. He dreads even looking at those things again. But if it can save the world, well... thats kinda what Crystal Gems do! As do all Magical Girls! "Awesome! I will be happy to help. I can't do much yet, but that won't stop me from trying!"

If everyone works together, perhaps they could find a way around this... but in the end, what if someone does use the tree power like in the story? Is a bad outcome inevitable? So many questions...

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

"If the dark forces only hold three of the control points," Fuu comments slowly, "then theoretically, we can wrest one or more of them back, especially if we move before the World Tree's power peaks. It's like that old game, Archon - holding three power points gives one side an advantage, but it doesn't mean 'game over'." She pauses, sipping her refilled tea, the flavor of chocolate contrasting with the scent of the ocean in summer.

"Or I wonder if Archon was inspired by the points of power you've explained to us ... ?" she muses, before setting that aside. "Is there a way we can fortify the remaining points under Association control, or to wrest control away from our adversaries where the other spots are concerned?" Steven beat her to bringing that up, and she nods to the younger boy with a brief smile, partly to acknowledge the credit due him, partly to apologize for the accidental piggybacking.

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

Kaoruko lets the young people in front of her talk amongst themselves, and sips her tea. They speak of plans -- they make commitments -- they have ideas.

Finally, she stands up. "Come with me, please. It's time for you to see your truth."

In a few short strides, she crosses the chamber, to Coupe. The huge fuzzy's eyes move, pointing towards the ceiling...

...and then he moves in total, lumbering to even greater height when he stands, and takes two steps out of the way. THUMP-THUMP.

THUMP! He's seated again. Underneath him is a wooden door in the floor, surrounded by ivy. Straight outta Hobbiton.

The tunnel beneath smells like age, but not like evil. The air is heavy with it, and so is the ground. One thing it does not smell like is books.

Roots curl above and below, forming the curvature of the roof, the floor.

"Some of you have been to St. Ursula's, I think. When it was lost to those awful mirrors."

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Yumi sips at her tea as she goes, letting the warmth keep her from being so cold as she was outside. It also warms her over some of her thoughts. What Saki says back is nice; it's a thanks. But what she says to Yumi...

"Ah. Yeah." Yumi manages a weak smile. "Mine was, too."

But sorcery is the name of the day. Yumi's hat wobbles slightly with her movements, as she listens to battle plans and ideas and a video game. "Mm..."

Kaoruko invites them with her, and Yumi sets down her tea after another big drink. She rises, and moves immediately to take her white staff. When Coupe's eyes move, Tama hops away and out of the way, peering up at the others before she takes up at Yumi's feet, tail curling around her charge's leg.

"It's so pretty," Yumi murmurs, looking at the door. "And so old..." She would want to explore it regardless.

"Um, I haven't. I never got the chance to go. But I'll go wherever now. If it's dark, I can help..."

Quietly, "Though I really wish I could learn that spell for sending messages..."

Pause. "Sorry, curiousity later, important work now."

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

The mirrors. Fuu doesn't remember every detail of the fight in question - but she remembers *quite* enough, and she grimaces at the recollection.

But she doesn't say anything further about it for now, instead focusing on a mix of listening to Kaoruko and walking along the passage with the others. She has a vague guess about where they're going, but nothing to really support it; better to let the answer be revealed as the chief botanist sees fit.

<Pose Tracker> Saki Hyuuga [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Kaoruko invites them along, and along Saki comes. She watches with a certain shock as Coupe moves, and even more surprise as Flappy just sort of STICKS TO HIM as he goes. Fairies just...hangin' out, man. It seems nice. He must be so fluffy....

no wait focus. Saki comes to the tunnel, making an "ohhh!" of surprise, impressed. "I don't remember that," she says, slowly. "But Mai and I haven't been doing this for very long..."

<Pose Tracker> Mai Mishou [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

"Ah..." Mai stands, slowly, and she follows after. She peers down at the hole, standing next to -- and a little behind Saki. She shakes her head once, at that. "I only heard of it. I was in Kyoto, when it all happened before..."

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Steven enjoys the remnants of his tea before looking up. Everyone has such good ideas! Listening to them would be a good idea. Most of them have dealt with magical problems longer than he has. Then suddenly, the kind woman asks to be followed! The boy collects his backpack and the mirror, and follows.

Poor Lion is startled by Coupe's sudden movement, and skitters back a few feet, but no harm done. "Hey, a tunnel! Have any of you been down here?" he asks the other girls in attendance. Obviously Kaoruko has.

The tunnel feels as though primal life is making a path for them down a stretch to destiny! ...Or something equally cool sounding! Whatever it is, it is old, and not often traveled. The event at St. Ursula might be before his time in Japan. He is excited to see where they are going! So suspenseful!

Unless it is bad stuff. Please don't be bad stuff.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> The Legend of Pretty Cure https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9WSbNBTv34

The underground chamber they're led to is ancient. It is a perfect circle, with ancient runes engraved on the wall that seemto subtly shift every time one blinks. They are incomprehensible to most, but not all.

More familiar are the leaves, the vines, which pop out of footsteps, curl around wrists in a friendly clasp, lift blossom-heavy tops upwards like raising heads. It's the same mysterious plant that has helped, repeatedly, in the depths of Library Island. It wants to help -- to be of use.

Kaoruko, who has let the kids get ahead of her, lingering a bit, speaks up. Her voice is soft, and it is fond.

"No one knows exactly what the source of the power is, when the World Tree erupts. But... 'erupt' is a newer word. There is an older one, to describe what happens when its time comes -- it is said that the World Tree blooms."

She smiles, caresses a leaf, a petal.

"To live is an act of defiance, against those who would pervert this power to destruction and despair. To grow is a revolution. Please... Pretty Cure, inheritors, mages and knights. Protect the World Tree. See it used for good."

At the heart of each blossom, one for each child, is a shining golden seed. It's a clear offer. "I think that begins with returning to Library Island and finding this chamber, within. Making contact with the heart of the space. Surely it still exists, some part of it untainted."

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

When Fuu received the invitation to Hanasaki-sensei's greenhouse, she could think of many reasons to decline the invitation - but ultimately, any of those 'reasons' would have been an excuse, many of them rooted in her doubts and fears.

Talking with the chief botanist and with the others who were invited, engaging with the questions which Kaoruko Hanasaki asked, her doubts faded and were all but forgotten. Here, in this ancient grotto garden, those same doubts and fears return - but at the same time, hearing the botanist's words, hearing her request, her wish, those words seem interposed against Fuu's uncertainties, and her wavering heart is reinforced. Not by any great act of will or power, but by the trust and faith embodied by one lady's choice to make such a request of them.

"Hanasaki-sensei ..." murmurs Fuu, looking around at the underground garden. Then she turns to face Kaoruko properly, and bows deeply. "I'll do everything that I'm able to complete this task," she says, simple words which carry the weight of an oath. She will accept one of the seeds, carrying it like the precious treasure which it surely is, and trusting that she'll know what to do with it when the time comes.

Her doubts and her fears haven't been eliminated; she's still troubled by many questions, about herself and about others. But she's been trusted, by a woman who must have been a magical girl herself at one time, to help carry out a task like this, and she won't be doing it alone. To be so trusted does a *lot* to reinforce her against the myriad uncertainties; if Kaoruko didn't think they could do it, surely she wouldn't have brought them here to ask them.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

There are things that can be a reminder of beauty and hope even when life is difficult, and events have conspired to make them seem overwhelming. For Yumi, there are a lot of those things available to her riht here, if she looks.

She doesn't mind the darkness. It's underground; it's going to feel like they're underground. But it doesn't feel threatening; no, instead, it feels familiar, wondeful.

Yumi pauses in their walk to look down at one of the bloosming vines, watching it curl around her wrist and about her staff. "Hi," she says, warmly, excitedly, and reaches to try to pet the plant closest to her because that's what you do, if you can.

Kaoruko speaks up, and Yumi blinks, lifting her free hand to catch her hat as she looks around. The runes she squints at, the words she hears. "Blossom..."

Inheritor. Yumi knows that title, and knows that it is hers, and she listens carefully to what she's just heard, letting it move about over her mind as the vine curls about her wrist.

Yumi reaches to take the seed, carefully, carefully. "To grow..." Yumi dips her head. "Yeah. To grow is a revolution. I think so, too."

She doesn't explain. She doesn't have to for now. Instead she nods again. "I..." She falters in her words again, but looking at Kaoruko there's compassion in her eyes for this little seed, for the Tree. "It's... It's what I'd..." She glances down to Tama at her feet, and Tama rubs against her leg.

"That says enough," the cat answers, looking over to the woman nearby. Yumi rubs her cheek.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

The group is led to a strange room, circular in pattern. The room is covered in plants and strange runes that feel disorienting to look at too long. The first time a plant touches Steven, the boy flinches away quickly for a moment. "S-Sorry mister plant! I have had uh. I have had problems with plants trying to eat me before. Three times. Heh. It is almost natural reflex at this point. No offense!"

He instead kindly pets a flower blossom. The blossom turns around and sprouts a golden seed! "Whoah." A look to the caretaker. "I... I will do my best," he says, accepting the seed.

He will have to go back down in that evil place, but it will be for the greater good. The question remains though... who will use the World Tree's power? As long as an evil person does not get it, it may have to be enough just to hope for that.

They will find a way.

They have to.

<Pose Tracker> Saki Hyuuga [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.


The word rings in Saki's ears when Kaoruko says it; she snaps to a sudden, new kind of attention. She breathes it in, slowly, the must of age and plantlife. She draws up to one of the shining blossoms, hand half-raised. As Pretty Cure, she feels the pulse of the earth, the magic of the world. The spirits of flowers and earth thank her for her kindness, for her courage, her resolve, after every battle.

This is something else. Similar, maybe; perhaps those same spirits are about, somewhere, now. In the end, she hesitates only long enough to recognize what is happening before her hand reaches for that blossom.

"Then we'll find it down there," she says, quietly. She turns to Mai, grinning. "Right?"

<Pose Tracker> Mai Mishou [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Mai looks down at those seeds.

It is a burden, and she knows that. But, she accepted the burden of being Pretty Cure a long time ago. She looks sideways at Yumi as she talks, and she smiles, and then steps forward. Her hands cup around the seed and her eyes close, before she bows her head. "I understand, Hanasaki-sensei." She looks sideways at Saki, and she smiles. "Mm. Right! We can go there. We can find that place."

Her head bobs, once. "We'll be certain to protect the World Tree. We already promised to protect the Land of Fountains. I don't think... I don't think keeping the World Tree safe is different from that promise."