2017-08-12 - What Lies Beneath 6

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What Lies Beneath 6

Spurred on by Kaoruko Hanasaki, magical girls proceed with their mission to uncover what lies beneath Library Island by entering proactively, rather than holding a reactive expedition to rescue a kidnap victim. But to find the innermost, sacred chamber, they're going to need something like a map...


Yumi Ohzora, Kasagami Araki, Fuu Hououji, Fate Testarossa, Rinji Sakurai, Chitose Shiratori, Garnet

GM: Hotaru Tomoe


Library Island

OOC - IC Date:

08-12-2017 - 02-09-2015

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Library Island +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
  Beneath the skyscraper of Infinity, a mirror of water stretches, in which
  the tower floats amidst the sky. This is Delta Lake, and offset from its
  center point is a gritty spot of land called Library Island, separated from
  the shore by a broad bridge. The eponymous library appears considerably
  older than the sparkling-new Institute; a Meiji-era Neoclassical complex the
  size of a large warehouse, its stolid exterior belies strangeness within.
  Infinity may well be the only school in Japan where students need gym
  uniforms to access library stacks.

  Oh, the above-ground levels are sane enough, even if they exchange Infinitys
  hypermodern aesthetic for an Escher-like array of overlapping staircases and
  dizzying bookshelves. The basement levels, of which there are many, are a
  different story. The shelves become more and more chaotic; there is a logic
  to it, but it is beyond reach. Stacks of books begin to threaten to topple
  on unwary visitors, until the library abandons all pretense of not trying to
  kill you, and begins to feature arrow traps, spring-loaded books, and
  boulders that run down the rows. In places, the floor falls away, leaving no
  choice but to walk on top of bookshelves. They say in the lower floors,
  there are monsters that attack unwary seekers. Some, but not all, can be
  appeased if you have the correct filing number on hand for the book you
  need. Getting to the filing system to get that is, itself, an adventure.

  Infinity being what it is, it naturally has a student club dedicated to the
  library's mysteries; indeed, the Library Exploration Society is officially
  sanctioned by the school to regulate anyone attempting to go in. They have
  the only even nearly complete map of the facility locked up in its club
  room, right next to the free climbing gear. Even their map has huge pockets
  unfilled, however, marked with that old explorer's adage: Here, there be
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.


(From +bbread 11/60)

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."


BGM: Beauty and the Beast, Prologue https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hM22Lk0Rl6M

This bank of stairs leading down into what are commonly thought of as 'the depths' of Library Island -- where the more typical rules of a library do not apply -- have held many secrets in recent months. They've turned into a slip-and-slide. They've had spike traps every few steps. They've disappeared completely, leaving only a pit.

But today they are just stairs. Not even spidery winding spiral stairs, but a wide embankment, suitable for descending into a ballroom.

It is very dark, but with a keen sense of space -- voices slip away without even an echo. And when they group reaches the bottom, they find out why, as a pair of braziers erupt at the base of the steps -- and then another, further down, and another, and another, and another...

Books have not been a terribly prominent feature of previous expeditions. Maybe they were just all in here. Because these stacks are a labyrinth, a paean, a prayer in a forgotten tongue to ideas, to thoughts, to the infinite possibility of the written word. Every shelf is dozens of feet high, and the only reason their ending doesn't simply disappear into the distance is because the shelves often curl or twist artfully, cutting off line of sight every few yards.

It smells wonderfully ancient and musty, instead of scary-old and forbidden. This is no tomb.

There are innumerable smaller paths off into the stacks, but the central thoroughfare is as wide and welcoming as the main street of a city. It leads to a huge, round desk, which appears to have been carved out of a single, massive cross-section of a tree. It has more rings than any hundred jewelry shops; its sides remain rough bark, albeit studded here and there with handles, implying the presence of many, many drawers.

And at its center -- the center of the center, as it were -- is a lazy susan sort of device, which spins at the touch, and contains a single, massive book. It is currently closed, and bound by what seem like truly elaborate chains which come together, at the apex of their knot, in a dragon's-head lock. A single word is stamped into it, over and over, in every conceivable language and many others unconceived and unrecognizable.

It says 'INDEX'.

OOC: It is customary to already be transformed for these expeditions. For the time being we are in social rounds (eg, three pose
rule), and you are encouraged to keep your poses relatively quick and light so that we can cover lots of ground on today's
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa transforms into Barrier Jacket Assault!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki transforms into Crimson Rose Duelist!
COMBAT: Rinji Sakurai transforms into Muse Terpsichore!
COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori transforms into Barrier Jacket!
COMBAT: Garnet transforms into Garnet's Got Gauntlets!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Wind Knight!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora transforms into Witch Ivy!
<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

To live is an act of defiance. To grow is a revolution.

That stuck with Yumi, with the Witch of Lost Ivy, when she spoke with Kaoruko and saw that circular chamber. She's waned to come and help, kept that seed and made her plans. So making contact with the heart of the space...

Whatever it took, she wasn't done.

So the Witch expects more trouble, coming down here. She's been here more than once, recently making a friend in the depths, but today it's jus stairs. Yumi isn't the biggest fan of stairs as a rule, but these aren't so bad. She uses her staff to keep her footing, and mentions, "Does anybody else--" No echo. No echo in this space. The light comes, and....

Books. Books everywhere, and Yumi looks longingly at their spines as they walk, keeping her staff lit to let herself have a little extra light. "There's so many..."

A library. A magical library, and not only because of the obvious spells at work. No, it's ancient and musty and wonderful. Yumi is tempted now and then to walk one of those smaller paths, but she does not. She walks to this central thoroughfare and she walks onward to the desk, staring forward. Handles... Wow...

"What does it...? Oh! Oh, Japanese. It says..."

"Index..." Yumi stares in awe. "But how do we open it?" Pause. "Do we need to open it? I want to..."

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

She should probably be studying, or sleeping. Her entrance exams aren't over yet, and even with all her studies, Fuu Hououji does not take it for granted that she'll pass them.

But if the place of power beneath Library Island is taken by the agents of darkness - if the power of the World Tree is tapped by those who desire only their own power and influence, or by those forces darker still which thirst for destruction - then there won't be much point to getting into high school, will there?

So it is that the Magic Knight of Wind makes her way down those wide, welcoming stairs, remembering the gathering which Hanasaki-sensei invited her to, along with others. The seed which was entrusted to her is nestled within a locket, and the locket itself remains within her glove-jewel for safe keeping. And as she descends, she looks about herself - partly on the watch for hostiles, partly keeping an eye on her allies to make sure everyone's still well.

But most of all, she looks upon the books which should always have been here. It's *Library* Island, after all.

In the words of a classic video game, it's dangerous to go alone - which is why the Wind Knight sought out Garnet. She would gladly have asked Steven and the other Crystal Gems to come with them, but connections were missed. Still, it's even better to know that there are additional allies here and now. "If we need to open it, then we'll be able to open it," she says to Yumi with a gentle smile. "Perhaps it's a puzzle, or a form of magic?"

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

Today's expedition is important- she knew from her time in Dark Fall how much the powers that be covet the World Tree's. Tea at the botanical gardens only reinforced this. So that anxiety comes, just beneath that surface, that sense of apprehension. It crops up on seeing the first stair upon the descending staircase. The last time they were here... travelling down these stairs didn't end well.

And yet today- she felt a little more confident, just thinking about another girl that had just come home, and back to her.

The descent is very dark and frightening but she's walked in dark and terrifying places before, so she looks mostly unaffected save for the tightness in which she holes the poleaxe in her hands. She walks alongside the others rather than flies out of the belief the library is unforgiving to those who seperate from the group, even a little.

And at the bottom, she stops, as the braziers light one by one and she looks upon in wonder as books upon books upon books appear. It's a magical experience to a girl who grew up around magic. A wonder of wonders from something as simple as how the books appear and are displayed in such great numbers.

The girl actually twists, and turns around as if to get a true sense of the depths from all angles around her. She wants to explore this place, to fly through it and check what it has to offer-

She doesn't do any of that. "I really wish we could take some time to look around."

Because what they're doing is too important. That wonder fades into determination, as they trek forward through winding paths that seem both infinite and finite to her.

And then at the center- Fate stays back, giving it's lock and the winding chains that bind it a long and serious look. "It's probably warded very well... and I wouldn't want to damage the book."

She walks closer to it, giving it a look as the Magic Knight of Wind speaks on puzzles, then her eyes move around the room- "Maybe there's a hint on where to find the key?" There's mostly just books, and books, and books, so many places on where one can find it, "Some..." She turns around, and checks the device it's upon, crouching down with Bardiche in hand to look around the round desk it's upon, "...where..."

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.


Kasagami Araki found the letter on her desk at the dorms. It'd been a while since she'd been directly contacted by her mysterious benefactors. When she read it? Her laugh lasted for minutes. These are the kinds of orders she loves. And after last time in Library Island? Well, she still hasn't found that book.

That's when she, almost literally, bumped into one Rinji Sakurai. Quite a few hugs and serious deflection over Time Guardian shaped matters, she'd pressed a leather pack into the Muse's arms.

"...How's a date at a Library sound?" Mirth that had been missing for some time shined in Kassie's eye.


Kasagami seems far too confident down here. Especially after freefalling down into a void from a skull bomb. She's brought a grappling hook this time. The leather jacket-vest, pants, all in red trim with that stylish top hat seems to have become her dungeon delving attire of choice. Her sword is across her back, and a smaller curved sword of piratical design is at her belt. A hand lantern hangs from her belt, and heavy boots thud with every deliberate step. This section of the Library is very new to her, but she doesn't hesitate, as is her way.

A wink to the Muse which she keeps pace with, and near Yumi as well. 'Index'. Chains. Grin.

"You know, I'm all for finding the key, but we're a bit low on time, right? I might have a solution..." Offers Kassie to Yumi. Already, she's in a sword drawing stance, lowering her nodachi to her waist. Yet, she doesn't draw. A glance to the other girls.

After all, there's parties here that would know more about magical tomes than she would. Yumi, the witch, is getting friendly deference for now.

<Pose Tracker> Muse Terpsichore [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The Muse Terpsichore couldn't turn down the offer of a date. Not with what had happened before. While Kasagami may be coming across confident, The Muse is not too far behind. A little jingle jangle sounds eith every leather booted step as Terpsichore almost bounces to a beat inside her head. Her guitar is slung around her shoulders, but held in front with one hands black painted fingernails occasionally drumming out on the shiny exterior of the guitar.

Terpsichore follows along after Kasagami as she walks towards the book, and she gives a bit of a grin to those present when Kasagami seems ready to draw blade. She idly walks full circle around the book, appreciating it from angles as she takes in the lazy susan styled device it sets on with a curious expression.

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

Chitose Shiratori...has not been invited to 'tea parties'. She'd wonder why, had she known they'd existed. She digs good tea. But as it is Chitose's completely unaware of any actual coordinated effort to deal with Library Island.

Which is why she's completely surprised when her boss, one (1) Kazuma Kogoshi suddenly bursts into her office. "Shiratori!"

Chitose suddenly bolts awake off her desk. "Ah, yes sir?"

He points directly at her. "Go to Library Island!"

Chitose blinks. "...Why?"

Before she finished that word, he was gone, door to her office wide, wide open.

Chitose sighs.


Chitose stands at the back of the pack, observing the others doing their thing.

It's a few moments of silence out of her before there's a voice. <That's not at all how that encounter went, and you know it.>

"It's close enough!" Chitose says to her Device. "He wasn't making much sense anyway. All I heard was 'Go to Library Island' and that was enough. He didn't even say why."

She hasn't been down to the depths for a while, but she has so that is why she's here. But she hasn't really offered much in the way of communication to most anyone. Not yet.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

This Library Island had become a place of interest for the Crystal Gems as of late. Their leader Garnet had seen with her second sight that a corrupted gem had wandered into its halls and sent Steven and Amethyst to retrieve it. Steven recounted many magical adventures, though his rapid speech left Garnet unable to ascertain whether it had all been one trip, or if he had gone back for his own reasons. Her own experience with the structure was under graver circumstances, in recent months children and others had begun disappearing from this place, and Garnet accompanied Fuu in their search.

That was weeks ago, perhaps more.

Steven told her after the fact and at the worst possible time, that he had also attempted to find missing children in the depths of Library Island, and that he had later been invited to a magical meeting that attempted to explain it as an event of cosmic magical importance.

All this has been on her mind recently, jumbled with the rest in the clutter of one who rarely sleeps, but when Fuu asked her again to accompany her into the Library, Garnet agreed once more, and accompanied her friend.

She was heartened to see that most of the others assembled she could call friends or more: Fate Testarossa, Yumi Ohzora... and Kasagami was also there.

She had brought friends, only one of whom she recognized. Garnet hopes upon seeing two Shepherds, that old buried business will stay old and buried for now. She suspects from her previous ventures here, and Steven's tales, that they might need all their focus, even in such a seemingly welcoming floor of respite as the one before them now.

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


It is the super-soprano of voices; high, shrill, tiny.


It's coming from all sides -- they're surrounded??

"Hup hup hup... yosh!"

That was the sound of someone tiny climbing a rope. No -- a bookmark, which hung silken and green out of the center of the book to pool on the floor. And now they're sitting on its edge, right under the lock.

'They' are a roughly six-inch high little person, all of purple; purple skin, purple eyes, purple hair, purple shirt (open) and slacks and teeny grappling hook and jungle hat. Darker purple tattoos up their well-toned arms and across their chest -- they've got some sweet ink.

"Are you looking for the Key of Khartoum-Rajadh?" they -- she? -- asks hopefully. "So that you can look something up in a... certain magical index?" She glances down at the book she's sitting on, fondly.

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

"I wish we could too," Yumi admits to Fate, before she waves with a small smile to Garnet on their way down, remembering what happened with her and not particularly holding the Gem business against her. She'd wanted to help.

A bit later, "Kasa-chan," Yumi says with a note of disapproval in her tone, "Don't attack the priceless ancient book." She pauses and then smiles at her tall friend. "It's fine, we'll get it. A little extra time is worth it when the alternative is letting the potion blow up in your face!" It reads like a precept... Kind of.

For her part she doesn't lose that wonder... In part because she really wants to be thinking of endless possibility, rather than what else is on her mind right now. There's too much.

"Right," she says to Fuu, "We should be optimistic. She glances then to the Muse who is with Kasagami, and waves at her briefly, before she turns bac to look at the device. "Yeah, a clue..." She pauses. "Well, it might be... Hidden under something close by? Even magic librarians can be forgetful." She glances to Chitose, fellow Shepherd, to see if she has any ideas, but she's not really saying much... Or seems to her to want to say that much, either.

But then there is a greeting, and Yumi blinks. She's used to being tall, but not... this tall. "Aah!?" Pause. Yosh. THere's the... person. With sweet tattoos, even. Yumi would have to admit that she stares a little for a brief moment before she clears her throat and gets polite.

"I'm pretty sure that's exactly what we're doing!" Yumi says. "...Pretty sure." Pause. "What's Khartoum-Rajadh, anyway?"

Hibiki Houjou walks over from Infinity Institute.

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

"Yeah please don't. What if you damaged it? Or it's cursed." Her eyes move over from giving Kasagami an almost scandalized look to giving Chitose a curious one instead- and her Device.

Curious- one of her twintails falls lopsided as she tries to get a look from a different angle. Chitose might catch her staring for a few long moments before she goes back to what she's doing.

Fate Testarossa starts so quickly that her head almost hits the desk at the shout from all sides. Getting back to an upright position. On the next comment- she points to herself? Only to see a tiny person with incredible tattoos and sweet muscles climbing out on a bookmark. "Ah."

For a while it's all she can do to watch the motion until she's down and she's staring at her jungle hat.

"If it's this index... and that's the key to it. Then... yes." Whereas Bardiche answers in his own way to the tiny person. Respectfully offering with a chime. <Yes Sir.>

Yumi asks what it is. Fate doesn't repeat the question, but she's eager to hear the answer.

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

"Oh, I was wondering if there were guardians or somebody down here!" the Wind Knight exclaims, softly but cheerfully, at the sound of the tiny figure of purple. "I'm not exactly sure what we're looking for, but this Key sounds like a very important lead ... we're trying to protect the Library from being abused by people who want to do a lot of really bad things. Worse than doodling in borrowed books, or not returning them on time."

.... hey. This is a library, and Fuu respects books deeply. What was she SUPPOSED to compare the bad guys' (admittedly unknown) plans against?

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

And so Great Witch Yumi passes judgement over Kassie's typically Kassie plan. She very visibly slumps in dissappointment. It's a very 'hammer-and-nail' moment, but she hauls her sword back up to rest position anyway.

"I really could have cut it, you know!? I guess you're right, though. Good things, patience, and all. Alright, alright..." Huffs Kasagami, before smiling to Yumi. You win this one, Yumi-chan and Fate-chan! Meanwhile, she's content to flick a few strings on the Muse's guitar, with a smile as well. Though nowhere near the fondness she shows for those two and her fellow Shepherd, even the three Chevaliers in the group get a casual wave and smile. Garnet, Fuu, and Fate aren't on her bad list. No, her beef is elsewhere. If anything, she can respect their loyalty and restraint here, given the tensions amongst the two groups.

Suddenly, tiny purple people with awesome fashion sense and tats. That's actually very disarming for the usually quick-to-act Duelist. Chin-rub. Finally, a nod, and a thumbs up. Now that is body art. Color her impressed. She has to force herself to not snap a picture with her phone, that would be rude.

"Something like that, yes. Kasagami Araki, and my dearest friends." Then, she dips into a full on european bow, hands indicating friends and 'friends' alike. Smile. Confident, charming smile.

A nod with the rest of the group. They have it covered.

<Pose Tracker> Muse Terpsichore [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The Muse finishes her pacing of the book when.. little people crawl up onto it. Oh, well. There we go. She takes a few interested steps forwards, peeking curiously down at the little tattoo'd purple people. Terpsichore can definitely appreciate some good ink! The question though has her peering up at others around, glancing between Yumi and Kasagami. Her pale fingers come up and she wiggles them in greeting at Yumi with a cheerful smile when she is greeted. But soon, her eyes go back to the little purple people!

She angles her pacing around to come up behind Kasagami after a short time, offering polite smiles to the other magical girls that she hasn't ever met. Ever quiet, the Muse doesn't volunteer any advice as she just listens and experiences.

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

Fate may give Garnet a look when Kasagami says 'dearest friends'. As if to ask the Crystal Gem- 'Is she serious?'

DICE: Hotaru Tomoe rolls 1d7+0 and gets 1!
<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"Ooh, it could be cursed," Yumi agrees, and then looks to Kasagami's isappointment. "If you did though, that would be kind of the problem, right? It's fine. There's probably something down here for you to chop up." She smiles back.

Oh right. She didn't introduce herself. Oops. "Yumi Ohzora!" Yumi chimes in after the introduction. "Sorry!" But she is interested in the answer to her question, too. After that she smiles back to the Muse, waving back in turn. And introductions well... Why not.

COIN FLIP: Chitose Shiratori flips a coin. It lands on heads!
<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet looks down at the very tiny speaker with the demeanor and stony silence of a giant. She listens to the others ask the questions she might have asked herself and waits for the answers.

And watches.

This especially is a strange world the likes of which is quite alien to the Gem, as her own stars and ruins might be to any here.

Garnet returns Fate's Look to her regarding Kasagami's terms of endearment with one of her own that simply speaks: Resignation. Exasperation, and Caution.

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

Chitose continues to stand in the back of the group, standing silently without words.

Well, until Kasagami tries to attack the book. "Ah, as someone who goes here please don't destroy the books, Kasagami-san. I may want to read them someday."

Garnet does get a look, though Chitose doesn't say anything, as is per the usual today. Garnet seemed nice, so she's okay. Chitose is mostly defensive in nature as far as that Chevalier/Shepard thing goes. Chitose's mostly at those fights to protect her friends, mostly, so she's fine with leaving that in the past.

Or something like that. She's not sure what's been happening lately. Ah, well.

Fate gets a look back, but she doesn't say anything about it. Fate can look all she wants, but Chitose only really gives her a glance. For now, anyway. But she mentally files Fate and her similar Device away for the moment, as the really tiny person appears.

This is when she speaks again. Or at least opens her mouth, as the really tiny person makes her pause before asking. "Is it a place?" She adds to Yumi's question. "It sounds like a place."

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Rock On The Road https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YLJp-g0duk

The pixie -- well, no wings, maybe her people have another name for themselves -- cocks her head to one side, causing the front of her fauxhawk to fall into her face, feathery and wild. "I have no idea," she confesses to Yumi and Chitose with a glittering smile. "But that's what it's called!" She gives Fate a thumbs-up, Fuu a little V-sign, and Kasagami and the rest an equally flowery bow.

By that point she's standing up, one foot on one of the chains like she's gonna plant a flag on it. A comfortable sense of ownership exudes from her, in tandem with the raw and total confidence of the young. "I don't care why you want it!" she says cheerfully. "But I've been hoping someone would come along who could help me get it back, and here you are! Just let me, the Great Guardian of this place, show you the way!"

Her grappling hook whistles out and catches on Garnet's hair. It is not painful -- she is very light, and scrambles up nimbly to make a nest on top of the 'fro. Once she's all settled in, cross-legged and comfortable, she points down one of the many, many, many passages between shelves. "Go that way! And watch out for Fau Ling Laoq!"

They leave Book Civilization pretty quickly -- it starts by having to clamber over a huge slanted bookcase, then the next one is upside down, and the one after that is as giant to the girls as the books in the main hall were to the Great Guardian. That or everyone was shrunk somewhere along the way, but the pixie remains the same relative size, whatever the case.

Anyone who tries to scale Mt. Tome (as it were) in a way that would damage a book's cover will trigger a bookalanche. Other than that, it's reasonably smooth sailing across this bookish borderlands.

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

Yumi nods quickly to Chitose's addition. "It totally sounds like a place!" Yumi says, and then watches the sort of pixie with the great hair answer, and... Smile with her answer. Yumi blinks, blinks, and then laughs. "I guess I might not know if I were assigned to guard it either. Thanks anyway!"

This is the coolest purple person Yumi has ever met.

"Oh... Well I mean, that's fair, right everybody?" Yumi seems even-handed about all of this. "Right! We'll help you!"

She blinks over to the grappling hook and sighs. "I want somebody to carry me," she points out, and then starts down the passage directed. Clambing over a huge bookcase is really not Yumi's wheelhouse, especially not carrying a staf, so she falls near to the back of the group quickly with her utter lak of athleticism.

"W-what?" she says at the unside-down one, and finally just lets her staff float beside her, grabbing it forward as she goes, spelling her hat onto her head in the process so it doesn't fall off. "W-who's Fau Ling Laoq anyway!?"

"W-whoa... These are so huge," Yumi says, holding her staff again and staring up in wonder. "I want to read one of those..." she trails off in wonder, and then quiets, suddenly sad.

But her climbing is purely on the cases themselves if possible; she's very careful with the books.

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

Fate just nods at Garnet, instinctively trusting gem mom on that. But her attention is back upon the tiny person. The Great Guardian gives Fate a thumbs up, and after a moment Fate raises a hand and gives the same gesture to echo it- a little smile on her face.

The Great Guardian introduces herself and explains- "It's very nice to meet you. I'm Fate..." -and Fate watches her climb up Garnet's afro- "She's so daring." She comments in admiration, before starting to head in the direction she points at. Fate does leave the ground as they make it to the slanted book case, floating just at the top- she waves the others on enthusiastically as if to say- 'Come on come on.' before darting ahead in the air.

Then down the next book case, and then she stops to gawk at the books that are as big as she is.

Floating back to the ground, she moves to stand beside one of the books on the bookcase, and puts her hand at the crown of her hair, letting that hand move back to the book's cover, before she steps off to the side, hand still in the same place against the book. She looks up in wonder again at the top of the book then down to where her hand is.

"It would be a lot of fun." Fate agrees with Yumi on that at least.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Is Kassie smiling vaguely towards Fate and Garnet? Oh yes. Yes she is. Way too proud of herself, this Shepherd.

"With so many brave, beautiful people asking me to stay my blade, how could I possibly do otherwise?" Smiiiile. Ahem! A glance to the purple pixies of amazing. She very visibly holds in a laugh. They are just too adorable and wonderful. And they even have a similar goal!

"I think we can call this an alliance. Let's go, everyone!" Encourages Kassie. Traversing the terrain isn't too hard for Kasagami, though she's definitely on the 'tall and muscle-weighty' end of today's spectrum. Then again, Garnet's here. Always a bit scary, just how huge that woman is.

Of course, there's a Yumi-chan. She caught the girl last time, but there's mischief in her eyes. Suddenly, a rope is offered and she's trying to tie it around Yumi's waist. A gentle nudge towards Rinji!

"Muse-chan! Let's help our earthbound Witch up, shall we?" Leap! Where superjumps don't work, she'll walk up the side of a book or just jump off a brief step of dark crimson roses. When she's up top? Well, she'll be the anchor. Rinji the way up. Why is she smiling so much, here?

<Pose Tracker> Muse Terpsichore [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The Muse grins to Yumi, raising two fingers up to her forehead and offering a friendly salute her way once she gets a name. She reaches to her guitar, and flips it over to reveal the elaborate writing on the backside. It just says 'Muse' across the length of the guitar. She gives it a gentle pat, and then lets the guitar sit back against her body as she too looks back to the little purple people to see what they say.

A bright laugh sounds from Terpsichore, short and sweet when the purple not-pixie grappling hooks out towards Garnet. There is mirth dancing in her expression, a grin turning up her black painted lips as she observes. But when it seems time to go off on their quest for a key, she looks ready. She climbs where she can, but when they get stuck a grin is cast to the Duelist that she has been accompanying.

She gives the same two fingered salute to Kasagami she had offered Yumi. She'd hold the tail end of the rope while Kasagami gets herself set up above and ready. Once they are both ready, she'd turn a sunny smile over to Yumi, and jerk a thumb upwards for the young witch. She'd follow soon after, her guitar slung to her back so she can haul herself up.

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

Chitose continues looking at the Guardian, as the Guardian moves to Garnet's head. And over there, Chitose has a minor philisophical moment about Garnet's hair. Is it hair? Does it feel nice to sit on? Or is it a hat--oh, everyone's leaving.

Chitose runs to catch up, and as she sees Fate take off, she does as well, taking off to minimize how much climbing or jumping she has to do...

Only to land when she sees the giant books. This stops her dead in her tracks, as she gawks at the giant books. Being as tall as she was normally, this was a complete turn of fortune.

"This isn't fair." She mutters to herself. "Why is everything else so large?"

She shuffles over to the book edge, before she takes off again. But she's flying slowly, the giant-sized library dampening her enthusiasm now.

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

"Muse. Nice to meet you, Muse!"

But here at the giant books, Yumi finds herself a little bit stuck, daunted by just how tall they are, with how few handholds. She flushes her cheeks at that mischief in Kasagami's eyes, and a little more t being called earthbound. "Ivy clings to things!"

Yumi is much stronger than she is as a normal girl, luckily, and soon she has a rope up towards Kasagami... and Rinji encouraging her. "Right," she says. "Up..."

"Never thought I'd have to do gym class in a library..."

Yumi starts climbing, her staff jabbed under her arm to stay up and supported with a little bit of magic here and there, hat still ensorcelled. She clings as hard as she can, and her technique is terrible, but cute witch power helps her up. "Ivy climbs! It's..." huff, "Fine! That..." Huff.

Up she goes!

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

'A sound mind in a sound body' ... isn't that the traditional ideal of education?" the Wind Knight points out, carefully climbing up and over bookcases. She's being very cautious, and possibly slower than some of the others because of it - she does NOT want to damage the books. If they're here, they're important. Somehow she just has that feeling.

"Fau Ling Laoq ... that sounds like a dragon's name," she muses as the group continues on their way. "Although I hope it, or he or she, doesn't breathe fire. Especially not *here*."

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet, is more than accostomed to small and precious riders hopping onto her hair for transport.

The little one here is The Great Guardian... she thinks to herself with a small smile, but in the world of Gems, power is not always tied to size, and even the smallest things and people can be the most important. She's found this to be even more common is the greater magical community as well, she thinks as she looks over to Fate, and Fuu and Well... Yumi and Chitose are small to Garnet at least.

"Hold on."

Garnet attempts to do her leaping work as gently as she can to keep her little charge from having to cling on to her hair for dear life.

It was only recently that Steven started bringing more books home on account of school.

Garnet hopes he doesn't require any of the ones she's climbing as part of his Earthly education. She'd have to start giving him rides to school personally, which... she might not mind actually.

Still... if they get much bigger, she might have to as well...

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami Araki hup hup hup! Kasagami whistles as she works as anchor, and if need be, physically lifting up Yumi. Her dedication to fitness is definitely helping her, and Rinji gets a grateful look for the assistance. Hup hup hup! Tauntingly, Kassie wiggles the rope briefly with one hand.

"You can do this, Yumi-chan! Come on, put your back into it! This kind of thing is good for you! Or you could just make an Ivy rope and haul yourself up with me as the anchor. Up to you!" Suggests Kasa 'helpfully'. Haul, lift, haul!

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Volvagia! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mKWOb5PMY4

Once the group makes it to the top of the huge books, they can look back at the chamber behind them. Indeed, the books did get larger rather than something stranger afoot -- not that those enormous books aren't strange enough on their own. And from up here, it's possible to glimpse the magnificent complexity of the stacks, the bird's-eye view of the labyrinth. Whoever designed this did so not with a random jumble of bookshelves, but rather with the delicate carving of some kind of flower, like a lotus or something. The paths trace petals of an unfurling blossom.

The Great Guardian is not impressed by this, tugging the group onward into the darkness. "C'mon, we gotta hurry through this section..." 'The darkness' is, specifically, some kind of tunnel in the wall, an unnatural bore made by who-knows-what. It does indeed get very dark, very quickly, and then someone takes the wrong step...

  • rumble* Rising thunder?
  • crash* Down come the... boulders.

'Watch for Fau Ling Laoq', she said.

"HURRY HURRY HURRY!" yells the Great Guardian, deciding that Garnet is too slow a perch and leaping onto the edge of Fate's cloak instead. She dangles from it like an explorer on the edge of an airship's sail. "Go go GOOOOOOOOO!!"

Forward, into the dark!

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe transforms into What Lies Beneath!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Watch For Fau Ling Laoq on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Watch For Fau Ling Laoq on Garnet.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Watch For Fau Ling Laoq on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Watch For Fau Ling Laoq on Yumi Ohzora.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Watch For Fau Ling Laoq on Chitose Shiratori.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Watch For Fau Ling Laoq on Muse Terpsichore.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Watch For Fau Ling Laoq on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Watch For Fau Ling Laoq, taking 2 Fatigue damage!  Kasagami Araki's Fade
ability activates!  Kasagami Araki's Flash ability activates!  Stagger applied to Kasagami Araki!
COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Watch For Fau Ling Laoq, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Chitose Shiratori's
Fade ability activates!  Chitose Shiratori's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Watch For Fau Ling Laoq, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Yumi Ohzora's
Block ability activates!  Yumi Ohzora's Parry ability activates!  Stagger applied to Yumi Ohzora!
COMBAT: Garnet perfectly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Watch For Fau Ling Laoq, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Garnet's Fade
ability activates!  Garnet's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa perfectly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Watch For Fau Ling Laoq, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Fate
Testarossa's Fade ability activates!  Fate Testarossa's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Muse Terpsichore perfectly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Watch For Fau Ling Laoq, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Watch For Fau Ling Laoq, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji's Fade ability
activates!  Fuu Hououji's Flash ability activates!  Stagger applied to Fuu Hououji!
<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"Whoa..." Yumi stares back for a moment at the labyrinth, at the huge books but at what's past all of them. She can see it all, and it's amazing, and she wishes she could show...

Yumi shakes her head and smiles. "It's not good for me! Kasa-chan, I don't have a spell like that," she points out about the ivy rope, "Can you help me untie this...?" Even before she's freed the Great Guardian is telling them to hurry, and Yumi starts to take a step.

The rope is undone by her careful efforts and she starts running, and if anyone takes a wrong step, it might be her. Hurry hurry, it's shouted, but Yumi is going as far as she thinks she can, and the boulders start coming down. One moves straight for her and Yumi blinks up and yelps in surprise, holding her staff forward and creating a shimmering green barrier that shunts its path away from crushing her... but still impacts so hard that she slams to the ground nearby, collapsed and sprawling with one hand clinging to her staff. "Uhh..."

She's still on the ground a few second later, stirring but not getting up.

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

The advent of level ground gives the Wind Knight a chance to catch up, making up for some lost speed on the ascent - but then the boulders fall, and in the darkness, she can't even see what to dodge, never mind *where* to dodge.

She's not sure if she made THE wrong step, but she certainly can tell when she makes a different wrong step and her feet find nothing solid enough for purchase.

Cue a yelp of distress as she has to lean further in exactly the wrong direction to avoid getting a boulder in the face ... well, in the everything really ... and she has no idea who might be able to come to her aid, if anyone even can.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

One piratical flick of a sword, and Yumi is free! "Then sounds like someone needs to do more research! You're one of the smartest people I know that go to Infinity, Yumi-chan. I'm sure you can do it! All you have to do, is belief in your dreams, and shatter every obstacle that dares show it's face in front of you! Cleave through the opposition with confidence, grace, and power! That is the way to achieve your dreams!" Encourages Kasagami loudly.

"Wait, huh?" Mid-point dramatically at Yumi, there's a boulder coming right for her! She leaps, dodging the initial one, upside down in the air! And then a second boulder is practically nose-to-face with her! A knee smashes into it, shattering a small bit of the boulder as she cries out in surprise. With no room or enough time to draw her larger sword, she lets loose with a series of hard, lashing kicks, and quick slashes with the small curved sword. Some of the boulder is sliced up, but not nearly enough to make a difference even with her strength! This isn't even a winning mid-air battle either, as Kassie is slowly falling and that boulder is descending right down upon her despite her best efforts to hack it to pieces!

Kasagami Araki needs some help! Her beautiful Duelist Hair would be a shame to be mussed by a giant rock, after all!

<Pose Tracker> Muse Terpsichore [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

It might come as a surprise to Kasagami that Yumi can climb probably a fair bit better then Rinji can! But at the least, the Muse can get her butt up the rope in time, struggling a bit at points especially with the awkwardness of climbing with a guitar strapped to her. But either way, she isn't going to fail on this one. Before too long, she has followed Yumi up and gotten ready for the next leg of the trip, needing to catch her breath.

And then comes the mighty dragon. Er. The mighty falling rocks. Thats kind of as bad as a dragon.

Terpsichore is a whirling commotion of motion, the electric green highlights blurring in the air behind her as she scoots, dips, and slips out of the way of the boulders. But even with her getting out of the way, she has an eye turned back on some of the others.

The sound of her guitar splits the room, as Rinji plays an upbeat and fast paced rift, the kind of thing that gets feet twitching and bodies wanting to move. And Rinji is moving.

Kasagami would feel more then see the Muse, as she passes by an electric green blur underneath the swordswoman, a hand reaching to deftly pluck her out of her predicament and onto her feet. The Muse face is briefly obscured behind a wave of her hair as she grins brightly to the duelist, and another riff of her guitar is let out, almost playful at Kasagamis expense for needing the rescue.

She turns to make sure someone is heading for Yumi and the others, then she jerks her head in the direction of the dark where the Great Guardian had directed them! Onwards!

COMBAT: Muse Terpsichore has used Move to the Rhythm! on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki accepts Muse Terpsichore's Move to the Rhythm!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Kasagami Araki is Cheered!
Cleanse! All of Kasagami Araki's debuffs are cleared!
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Fate's feet leave the ground again in short order as her flight spells take hold. At Chitose's muttered comment she's close enough to barely hear it- "Oh you must be used to being the tallest in the room." Fate says, unbothered as she flies upwards. She's used to being the shortest among middle schooler and higher schooler Mahou Shoujo besides.

And that's not even counting Garnet over there...

The magnificent flower pattern would cause her pause to look upon it's complexity, except the Guardian urges her ahead and suddenly she takes off in that way down the darkness of the tunnel. It all starts rumbling and even in the air- "Oh that sounds bad." This coming from a girl who was very used for thunder.

HURRY- and the girl shoots ahead like a bolt of lightning, zig-zagging past the falling boulders- shapes in the dark her only indicator to stay ahead, only noticing a few seconds later that the Guardian has caught ahold of her flapping cloak instead.

She's about to reach back and try to help her get to a better perch when looking back her eyes notice the sprawled Yumi on the ground, her shimmering green a beacon. "Hold on tight! We have to go back!"

Suddenly the girl pulls up abruptly just before she'd have to weave around another boulder, looping around and down, then dipping down low to grasp ahold of her non-staff holding wrist.

She doesn't stop. She doesn't slow, she can't. Thus Yumi may feel a yanking motion at that wrist, at that arm, as she's lifted into the air at high speed. "Got you!" The girl does a complete reversal and- "Fast as we can Bardiche." <Yes Sir.>

The girl becomes a Golden flash, zipping through the air to try to regain her momentum around the falling rocks- trying to avoid even any close calls that would bang either of her charges against the sides of the tunnel or the boulders. "Sorry about this! You're hanging on alright?" She calls back to the Guardian, though she has little doubt the adventurous little person was doing just fine.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

A red armored gauntlet answers the call of the Magic Knight of Wind, and Garnet gently and slowly removes rocks and helps Fuu to her feet. She's careful to read the Future, to help her determine which rocks are safest to move without causing another small avalanche.

That power had saved the Gem herself when she saw the rocks coming her way early enough to ensure that they missed her beneath their fall.

She was lucky.

She looks around to make sure there are no others caught beneath the boulders still, and finds to her relief that the quick wits and kind hearts of the others had carried the day, or at least the moment.

There's certainly more where this came from...this place seems to balance its dark, blunt brutality with its elegance and opulence.

Garnet thinks again to the meticulous arrangement of the bookshelves. A being who draws her inspiration from unity and balance, and cosmic harmony, the Gem wishes to herself that she'd had more time to just sit and appreciate that arrangement, and reflect on it.

But the expedition must move forward.

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

Chitose flies upwards, and when Fate passes her Chitose gives the smaller girl a weird look. What was that supposed to mean? That sounded rude, little girl! She watches Fate for a moment before giving just a little bit of a 'hmph'. When Chitose reaches the top, she lands for a brief moment, and takes off again--

Only to stop after another moment, as the Great Guardian says to watch out.

Then rocks fall. She takes off again and flies towards the darkness as fast as she can. She swerves from one side to the other as she dodges one really large rock or two, but a few rocks do manage to find her Jacket, falling on her, but they're not large enough to knock her out of the sky.

The bird lady zooms into the Darkness, hopefully free of more rocks.

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

The group dashes, flashes, stumbles, staggers and otherwise navigates through the collapsing tunnel in the nick of time! With ears well-trained by their descent down the Grand Staircase earlier, they become quickly aware that they are entering another gigantic space. It saves them from The Pit, or it would if there wasn't something else going on instead.

For, yes, the wind from somewhere whooshes and tugs at hair and clothes, and the bits of magical light trace out hints of an endless drop below and rise above, but... as soon as someone (Kasagami) places a foot over the edge of the cliff, probably by accident, there's an almost electric HUM.

And, from beneath her foot, pointed by the tips of her toes, grows a beam of light that shoots off across the chasm. It is as crimson as her roses, and about four times wider than a balance beam, which is to say, wide enough to walk across comfortably but not wide enough to be entirely safe if one falls.

As other people touch the edge of the cliff, more energy bridges in the colors of their heart shine into being. In the end it's quite a rainbow.

At the same moment that the first one was conjured into being, however, white runes flared at the edge of the tunnel -- runes that nullified all flying magic. Which means Fate and Chitose and Yumi are in for a possibly dangerous drop over the chasm/bridges, unless they are quickly saved!

They also get a close-up look of the Great Guardian as the hover spells fail and Fate's cloak starts to flap. Her eyes are as big as her face.


<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Good news: Fate has Yumi in hand! There's a deep sigh of relief from Kassie. She might actually have to thank Fate later. Oh, Shep-Chev relations, you are a complicated beast. But no time to think on that now, as she's trying to not be boulder'd!

Craaaack. One slice that's a little too hard has rocks going in her face, only for the grand Muse Terpsichore to grab her and pluck her out of the way of the avalanche of boulder debris! Twitch twitch. Her pride is definitely stinging tonight, but both arms definitely threw themselves around the Muse. Just for a moment, and then a riff.

"Y...you!" Comes her 'angry' response to being saved! She's blushing. But her smile is grateful, and then suddenly she's rushing forward with hard pounds of boot-to-book!

"I won't let you outdo me, Muse Terpsichore!" She proclaims, morale very much increased, even as she seems to dance to the music. Onwards indeed!

She'd smartly stuffed away Pirate Sword, and this time has her own sword in both hands. She knows what to expect from this place now, and so she's gone all out speed and offense. Which leads to the Pit. And a road of dark crimson that has Kasagami once again gasping in surprise. Legs brace, the bottoms of her boots are going to need shining and repair after this hard stop. Calves flex and she jams her sword down to finally arrest her skidding from the impromptu bridge. A deep, sucking breath, and she wipes away sweat from her brow with a shining, Ohtori-scented flick of her impossibly perfect hair. Roses frame her as she stands up.

Suddenly, runes. And fliers seem to no longer able to fly. Her good eye goes wide, and then she reaches out with her hand. Those famous Ohtori roses, stained dark crimson, blossom from her sleeves, back, and from her boot. A floating cloud of particularly comfy and slightly springy texture. No knives in them, this is all lashing power for the sake of a friend, and a would-be frenemy. That is, if her roses can make it in time!

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Said friend and frenemy of course being Yumi and Fate, respectively.

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

Chitose continues flying, and it's when Kasagami places her foot on the edge of the cliff, that's when she starts to pay attention to her surroundings again. She sees the bridge expand into being, and the rainbow beginning to form.

It's about this point where the runes sputter and go into action. And her spell fizzles out a moment, and her velocity doesn't quite notice it for a moment as her world comes to a stop.

And then she falls toward the chasm, with a loud 'WHOOSH'.

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

Yumi doesn't have the chance to try to think of an answer to Kasagami's encouragement beyond surprise and a little awkwardness, because instead there's the matter of boulders, and soon she loses track of her entirely. She can't see her rescued, can't see much of anything but floor at first, and not much of that because her hat blocks out what light there is.

Small fingers close around green leather and yank, and that does jar Yumi away from that daze and into another. "A-ah!?" Got you, Fate's voice says, and Yumi looks up at the smaller mage with another blink. "Whoa!" Gripping Fate's wrist in a gloved hand, Yumi holds her staff close about her, wavering with black clothes with the speed of Fate's movements, darting here and there as she's pulled along. "Aaahh!"

But it's worth it. It's getting her out. And here they are in a big empty chamber with brilliant lights and flying is really a whole lot like falling, if you think about it.

"Oh crap!" Yumi holds tighter to Fate as suddenly there's a cloud of roses all for both of them... though it's hard to catch both of them at once, it does slow Yumi's movement, the impact knocking her loose from Fate and tumbling forward along the ground towards the cliff. "Urk--"

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

A literary mountain, a tunnel with falling boulders (and hints of a dragon), now a large room with a bottomless pit and bridges of light. To the Wind Knight, this seems more like a video game than even Cephiro did at first ... but no time to dwell on that. They need to keep moving.

... check that: they need to save the flyers from plummeting to their dooms. The Wind Knight reacts to the sudden falls faster than she can frame the conscious thought, thrusting her left hand and glove-jewel towards one of the people falling. "Wind, heed my will!" she calls out - not really a spell invocation, but words to support her desire and intention, as she conjures as stiff and powerful an updraft as she can. Mustering that much force means she has to be picky as to whom she applies it.

Fortunately, her reflexes and her aim are good enough to apply brakes to Yumi's fall, and the Wind Knight angles her updraft to propel the Witch of Ivy back towards safe, stable, secure footing. She reaches out with her right hand to try and help catch Yumi and steady her on her feet, if needed or desired.

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

Somehow they make it through the tunnel- she emerges a half pace behind the others because she had to go back- but then Kasagami puts her foot down, figuratively. Or steps in it, however you want to say it- but either way, a beam of light shoots across the chasm.

But at the same moment, white runes flash into her vision. She feels her flying spells fade. Her eyes growing wide and startled- just as Yumi yells out an 'Oh crap!'- there's a gasp out of her lips that never quite reaches the level of an all out shriek.

She starts to fall, and bracing herself, she closes her eyes- holding tightly to Yumi- fearfully ready for what's to come on impact. She doesn't see a sudden cloud of rose petals blossom, and blossom, and blossom until she impacts in what feels a little like hitting a leaf pile in fall- only softer, with the floral petal texture. Her eyes open in that moment reflexively, looking this way and that in a sea of red petals. It's like she just fell out of bed and onto a flower bed.

She'd have immediately tried to extricate herself, to check upon the Guardian, to thank whoever for this if they're responsible- except Yumi just rolled out of her grasp. "Is everyone-"

And she realizes she's heading for- "-the cliff- Ivy!" The girl tries to get up, and the whole springy texture of it is like walking atop a bed on stumbling legs- she's so far back, she can't quite make it to her in time.

Fortunately the winds start sending Yumi back in an updraft, and Fate collapses to her knees, weak with relief and the adrenaline rush. "Ah... thank goodness. That was close." <Yes Sir.>

She checks on the Guardian, and helps her out of the rose pile if she needs it, "Are you alright, Guardian? And ah-"

Her eyes drift around and she says a little shyly, "Whoever did that... thank you." She was a little embarrassed after all, she'd been flying for so long that not being able to fly had taken her somewhat off-guard.

<Pose Tracker> Muse Terpsichore [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Rinji does... not fly. The Muse was never much one for that. She blinks and looks worried as suddenly people are starting to tumble! How to help them with... And then a bed of flowers comes flying out of Kasagamis sleeve, and The Muse looks sidelong towards her with surprise, before she beams. Won't be outdone, indeed!

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.


Thump! Chitose the Falling Mage's trip into the howling dark is cut short by an object interjecting itself below her, pitch black as the pit itself. It folds around her with five columns, and moves her upwards, and back towards the direction of the group, where it opens again, revealing itself as a giant ebon hand connected to Garnet, leader of the Crystal Gems.

Garnet gently tilts the palm downward to allow Chitose an easier exit, and once that exit is made, retracts it back to normal. She looks to Chitose with no apparent expression, but there was no tactile attempt to crush or squeeze the girl during transport, Shepherd or no, and perhaps the stoic Gem allows that to speak for itself.

Garnet observes the colored bridges appearing under the others, and though she's not one to head forth heedlessly, she seems almost comforted by its presence and design.

Once again delighted to see that there are no lost members, and that the teamwork of the group despite their differences remains strong, she waits for them all to regain their bearings and assemble.

Garnet stands on the edge, and presses a foot down on the bridge to test its staying power, a Garnet colored light with a slightly purpler tint than usual reflects in her visor, she allows herself a small smile.

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

As Garnet pulls Chitose back from the brink, she breathes a sigh of relief. She takes another breath once, then twice, then she yells towards the sky. "Come ooon!" A library of giant books first to make her look small, and now she can't fly! "This entire trip is like my worst nightmare."

Again, a sigh, before she turns to Garnet. "Thank you very much." She gives her a bow, deep enough to be respectful, but not quite to hip-joint level.

And with that, she turns towards the bridge and makes her way towards it. "Flying is kind of the only thing we have, why did you take it away, library." She frowns. She frowns a lot.

<Very rude.>

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

The wind arrests Yumi's fall and brings her back to stable ground, leaving her catching her breath along with trying to gather her wits. It was... It was really something.

Yumi starts to pick herself up, wobbling as she props herself against the ground with staff as her help up.

"Whew," she says, "Uh, thanks..." Yumi looks around, "Wow that's... Really pretty, huh?" Yumi wobbles bak towards the group, says, "The flowers were probably Kasachan's style..." She seems a little subdued for the moment, as she looks towards the colored bridges. She then pauses.

"Aw, it's not so bad not to be able to fly!" Yumi says to Chitose. "You just get sore feet and get out of breath. ...And it's not as exciting. ...But you can see the flowers?"

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

It looks like everyone's okay! Once Fate is heading back up, Yumi is safe, Chitose is caught, and Garnet is her powerful, warm self? Kasagami allows herself to feel her own heartbeat again. Roses dissappear, aside from that which habitually clings to her hems and the scent of them that follow her.

One discrete beam to Rinji, and then she has one hand in her pocket and the other shouldering her sword as she stalks forward across a bridge of crimson. Fate's thanks go unanswered. And if Kassie heard Yumi? She's not responding.

At least verbally. The smirk might be enough, even as she jauntily whistles and makes her way forward.

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

Yumi says that it was probably Kasagami, Fate's surprised by that but she still looks towards her way and- "Thank you very m-" But Kasagami is walking forward, not acknowledging it. And she blinks her eyes twice and looks back towards Yumi- "You're sure it was her?"

After fully extricating herself and shaking the last of the dispersing rose petals out of her hair... she starts finding her feet and striding forward, only stopping to give Chitose a look. It's not a rude look, just thoughtful, "Well nothing we can do but make the best of it I guess."

At Yumi's assessment she adds a touch nervously, "I... think that's enough flowers for a little while."

And then she keeps moving forward, onto the rainbow.

<Pose Tracker> Muse Terpsichore [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The Muse is relieved as well when it seems all are well, and once that particular crisis is past, she starts off to follow after Kasagami. Her guitar however is now held in her hands.

When Kasagami doesn't acknowledge Yumi directly, the Muse does with a bright thumbs up towards the other girl. And then she moves forwards!

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

"She's just... mode..." Yumi frowns. "She's not modest at all, ever. She brags like breathing. So I don't really know what's going on there." Yumi shrugs, "But I'm pretty sure! I don't know what everybody here can do."

The Muse acknowledges her though, and Yumi beams over at her with another wave. "See? We're fine."

A pause. "...You sure? I mean, I like flowers..."

Yumi moves along, until she steps onto a green path that she looks nervously on. "This is... Really narrow. Aaaah..." Lookng closely, Yumi seems to have gotten a little tired.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Flight of the Bumblebee https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYAJopwEYv8

The group is about halfway across this new kind of rainbow bridge when there's a new hum joining the existant one (which had heralded the birth of the solid light). It is higher. It is buzzier. Like rapidly moving wings--

--that thought has just enough time to form before the whole group is buzzed by a massive swarm of... something purple. Something(s) purple. They're like huge mosquitos or very small birds.

They are there and then gone all in a rush, leaving behind little stinging welts in their wake. There wasn't time to see what, exactly, the girls got hit with.

And then they're coming back for another pass. And another. And another. The air is filled with screaming, howling, frothing tiny fairy warriors. Rather like the Great Guardian (who is still in Fate's cloak, and now pulling her head down like she's under a sheet) only with wings. And weapons.




One voice rises above the rest, though exactly which tiny person in the swarm it is, impossible to see. "DRIVE BACK THE INVADERS! PROTECT OUR VILLAGE! NO QUARTER GIVEN, NO QUARTER SOUGHT!"

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used PIXIE PANIC on Yumi Ohzora.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used PIXIE PANIC on Muse Terpsichore.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used PIXIE PANIC on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used PIXIE PANIC on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used PIXIE PANIC on Chitose Shiratori.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used PIXIE PANIC on Garnet.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used PIXIE PANIC on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa perfectly counters Hotaru Tomoe's PIXIE PANIC, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Counter!  Fate
Testarossa's Reverse ability activates!  Fate Testarossa's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa's counterattack, Blitz Rush, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori fails to dodge Hotaru Tomoe's PIXIE PANIC, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Blind, Cripple, Stun, and Trap
applied to Chitose Shiratori!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora narrowly counters Hotaru Tomoe's PIXIE PANIC, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Yumi Ohzora's Reverse ability
activates!  Yumi Ohzora's Tactician ability activates!  Blind, Cripple, and Stun applied to Yumi Ohzora!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora's counterattack, Dark Beam, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Muse Terpsichore narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's PIXIE PANIC, taking 1 Fatigue damage!  Blind and Trap applied to Muse
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki perfectly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's PIXIE PANIC, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Kasagami Araki's
Fade ability activates!  Kasagami Araki's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Garnet narrowly counters Hotaru Tomoe's PIXIE PANIC, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Garnet's Tactician ability activates!
Blind, Cripple, Stun, and Trap applied to Garnet!
COMBAT: Garnet's counterattack, The Unstoppable, partially gets through, doing 23 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji fails to dodge Hotaru Tomoe's PIXIE PANIC, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Blind and Trap applied to Fuu Hououji!
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

The bridge is wondrous in a way, it reminds her of just after her trip to the Chaos World- the flower that brought them back to this world.

On the first pass of the creatures Fate sees a golden gleam of her auto-protection spells shimmering into place. "Huh?" -just after the strike. Fate's thumb moves up to her cheek to press a finger to a welt which causes her whole fance to scrunch up in pain.

She looks up at the swarm- which is screaming, howling, frothing, and realizes that they're under attack.

Holding Bardiche defensively, she murmurs to the Great Guardian- "Hold on tight again." Fate takes off in a run, one- two steps- <Blitz Rush>

And then more steps than counting. She's a flickering image only just ahead of the cloud of defenders- always about to get nicked by a few hundred weapons. "Could-" FLASH "-you-" BLUR "-please-" BLINK

When she reappears and skids to a stop, cape flapping- she blurts out, "-we're not invading! We're looking for the Key of Khartoum-Rajadh!"

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

Chitose thinks to herself for a moment, and then raises a finger like she's bringing something up. "Wait, if the rocks were giant strawberries, then it would be my worst nightmare."

tFinally, though, Chitose stops and emerges from her annoyed rant. "Yeah, it does look kind of nice." Chitose says about the bridge.

She stays with the group. At least, lack of flight means she's staying with the group more? A bonus.

Yumi, though, gets the older girl to look at her. "I suppose I like the flowers. But, um..." "I don't know, maybe I might need the exercise? Flying around all the time does mean my feet don't get any exercise..." She squints as her brain tries to accept this logic. It is hard. "I guess..." Then Fate says her thing, and Chitose only shrugs. "You're right."

With that, Chitose makes her way onto the rainbow bridge. On foot.

She's not too far on it by the time she starts to hear the buzzing. "Wait..." And then suddenly they come, buzzing purple fairies swarming the entire group. They strike her without mercy, though there's not much but welts on her. "Hey!" Whack! "Ow! Ow! Stop it! We haven't done anything yet!" This attack does slow her run through the bridge, but there's so many of them she's having problems making it across the bridge. Not just so many, but maybe too many. But she keeps trying anyway.

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

"You're welcome," the Wind Knight says to Yumi with a smile. "I'm glad I was able to catch you." The group continues onwards without much further delay ...

Right into an ambush. The Magic Knight of wind tries to get clear of the abrupt assault, but the pixies swarm her too swiftly, suddenly, and fiercely for her to dodge. Also, they're attacking from EVERY direction at once, which means there's nowhere to really dodge *to*.

"We're not here to invade or destroy your village," she protests, flailing ineffectually even as one particularly bold pixie manages to steal the glasses right off of her face. "We're looking for the Key ... um, Khartoum was part of its name, the Key of Khartoum-Radjah or something?"

She heard the name *once* and she can't concentrate to remember it, she's probably getting it wrong. Hopefully none of the little purple fairies take it *too* badly, if the key's a vital artifact to them or something. Although on that note -

"I think we're just borrowing it, one of us can bring it back to you if necessary," she additionally offers. "And ... if you believe me that we aren't here to hurt you, could I trouble you to return my glasses, please?"

<Pose Tracker> Muse Terpsichore [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

PIXIE INVASION! Rinjis guitar comes up to guard her, and the Muse swings it a few times to clear a little bubble around her as she squints and goes still amidst the horde of the swarm. She strikes the strings to make a warning noise, but its drowned out in the swarm of pixies.

She tries to keep going over the bridge, but the swarm of Pixies is making that obnoxiously hard. The Muse tries to squint towards their 'guide' on Garnet, hoping that the host-Pixie actually manages to... well, talk down the horde attacking them.

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

"Right," Yumi agrees with Chitose about flowers, smiling at the older girl. "Hey that's good logic!"

The bridge is gorgeous, and so is this new humming light. Or, it is before suddenly there's a horde of very small things crashing around them, and Yumi gets a welt on her cheek for her troubles, a buzz at her shoulder and her hair whipping around her. "Hey--"

There and gone, and then back, and this time Yumi throws up a barrier and a green beam crashes into nothing towards the wall of this place. "Hey!"

She flails her hands, "I hate bu--" Pause. "Librus? ...Khartoum?"

"Hey!" Yumi calls, "We're not interested in hurting your village! We're here for a Key, so we can read a book! It's very important! Even the Great Guardian is with us!"

Yumi didn't see her hiding.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

A shoulder-devil Kassie poofs. Brag. Brag and hold it allll over her enemy! Make Fate-chan indebted to her forever! Poof! Should-angel-kassie! It's halo is cheap plastic, and very suspect. Stay quiet, and look absolutely above any petty conflicts! Cleary it's option number two. Even as she smiles just a little more between Yumi and Rinji.

Suddenly, jerks. Tiny, purple, possibly less amazing tat'd fairy jerks! With an apologetic glance to a certain Great Guardian, Kasagami rushes forward down her road with all of her power! She's a blurr of...is it recklessnes if it's time for speed? Maybe not, but she's leaping into the air! A flick of her sword in both hands, and, she uses it like a shield! Dodging most of the swarm, the impossible numbers are met by the backside of her sword even as the sword itself comes dangerously close to kissing her own throat. Any purple fairies in the way are met with a battering of blunt steel, or the sheer physical force of a falling, spinning Kasagami Araki. There's a lot of her to go against.

The leather she's wearing has seen better days though. Her right shoulder's coat is slashes up and flayed, as are her ankles. But she doesn't stop, even as she's introduced to the 'ripped expensive leather pants' style of fashion. Somehow she makes it look good. Pretentious, even edgey, but good.

"Of course you do Yumi-chan! I've been trying to tell you that for ages now!" Finally grumps Kassie. Then she forehead pokes a purple fairy out of annoyance!

"We just want the stupid key!" Kassie adds to the chorus. Somehow, she's starting to think her original idea was the right way of things!

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

Chitose looks at Fuu for a moment, now that the other girl has lost her glasses. Chitose winces.

And then she places her hand on her own glasses, her fingers placed directly on the edges of her frames.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.


Tiny voices, trying their loudest.

A cloud of purple strikes at her head, then swirls around Garnet, who feels more of a giant than ever. Stab stab stab. Prick prick prick. Death of a thousand Pixie Spears! They're buzzing around her head, getting in her sticking to her visor, making it difficult to move without fear of harming them.

"Stop this. We're not invading your home."

Stab stab Stab Prick Prick Prick.

"I said we're not invading your..." A tiny rallying cry amd cheer rises up as they double their attack! Prick Prick Prick Stab Stab Stab!

Garnet raises her arms and slams her two gauntlets together, sending out a wave of force to send the faeries around her flying away. "STOP!"

It seemed to have gotten all but the most foolhardy or lucky she doesn't know how much time that bought.

"You need to calm down, and listen."

From Garnet who speaks with authority by default, it sounds like more of an order than a request.

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

"Great Guardian?" asks the presumptive Queen Pixie. Elder Pixie. Imperator Pixie. Whatever. There's a pause in the action, as a hundred little fairies hover so perfectly in midair that they seem to be totally still, even as their wings beat at a million miles a second.

They all stare at the wingless one in Fate's cape.

Then the laughter starts, bawling like crows. It rises to a crescendo before their leader emerges from the swarm, at which point they all go silent. Her hair is gray as a storm, her eyes as fierce as one. She wears a spiky black crystal crown, and purple studded leather armor.

"Great Guardian," she repeats.

The 'great guardian' draws circles on the bright yellow bridge with her tiny toe. "Um," she offers, "Let me explain, Mom..."


'Mom' looks around the group. "This one is exiled from our lands, for she used the Key that we had won, and in so doing, lost it. A single person can only use it once. To open the book -- to look for a single entry -- and then it returns to the library at large. That is the way of things. And it is our way of things to retrieve it, but..."

She gives her younger counterpart a death glare.

"This time it departed our realm, the realm of Khartoum, for that of Rajadh. My foolish child has brought shame upon our whole village. She cannot return until the Key does. And I assume she told you all this?"

More toe-circles.

"They look tough, Mom! They can face Rajadh and get the Key and use it, and then it will go to who-knows-where but at least it won't be right in the... lair..."

She coughs.

Mom frowns, glances down at the energy bridges.

"Let us discuss this further in the Great Hall," she suggests to the group, henceforth ignoring her daughter.

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

Everything stops. For just a moment she wonders if it's because Garnet yelled for them to STOP! And everyone is staring at her, and Fate just looks left and right, suddenly under the weight of a few hundred eyes- Oh they're looking at the one in her cape. Fate looks that way too at the wingless pixie curling a toe on the ground. And when she says the word 'Mom' Fate's lips become an o.

Suddenly she really feels for the 'Great Guardian'. During the exchange Fate begins to kneel down onto one knee, her cloak becoming like a great safety blanket over the thing.

Fate doesn't answer on the fact that she didn't tell them all this. She's not about to rat her out to her mother, even if her demeanor says it all. She knows all about being in this kind of position. At the end of it, she pats the daughter once lightly on the back comfortingly. And she whispers softly to her- "It'll be alright. I promise, we'll help you fix this- so that you'll be able to go back home."

Even if the thoughts of the key being in a 'lair' disturbs her.

Still after a moment she starts to get back to her feet, staying in that spot to give the pixie time to climb back on if she wants, before she follows the crowd of other pixies down the rainbow bridges, towards the hall. Now she's being a whole lot more protective of their guide.

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

"What, what have you been trying to tell me?" Yumi calls to Kasagami, "I don't remember because OW!" Yumi is distracted by the airies attacking and attacking, but Garnet here at least is trying to be calm and... be...

Wow. It's a good thing Garnet isn't on the other side from Yumi on any conflicts. Regardless, she's pretty inspiring. Yumi has to admit she's tempted to be calm and listen, except that it's hard to stay calm here until--

The Queen(?) pauses with the others, and Yumi catches a breath. She waits, and hears laughter, and her heart sinks a little. She watches the storm-grey hair, fierce eyes, that crown and armor...

Yumi blinks and watches. She listens to the story, and starts to get an answer... To... "Huh. You did know what Khartoum-Rhadja..." She pauses, and moves over to where Fate is and the daughter, too.

"It's okay," she chimes in too. "My mother's really scary when she's mad, too. You're not alone, all right?" Yumi doesn't sound certain... But she has to say something.

She follows with the others.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami Araki lands, skids and pauses. Her good eye goes wide in a confused manner. Wait. Wait hold up. This is...

A glance to Fate and the little one, and then back over to Yumi and the Fairy Queen (!?). Slowly, her sword slides back into its sheath. Her fist clenches. This 'Fairy Queen' abandoned her child, exiled her because of some stupid key to a book.

Silence from Kasagami at first, punctuated by a pure glare of wrath towards the sound of that voice. It strikes against every concept Kasagami has for 'family'.

But still, it's that little fairy's mother. With a gulp, she pushes it all down into the darker corners of her soul. She stands tall, hands behind her back. A grin, way too confident.

"Yes, let's discuss everything. We will acquire this key, no matter who or what stands in our way!" Proclaims the young woman.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet listens to the unfolding tale of family woe from the unique position of being on the other side.

Banishment to complete a task before returning home has never been an option with Steven, he doesn't have the focus.

In an hour he'd make some new friends and play them songs about themselves on his ukelele and lead them back home like ready to play snacks and games.

She didn't want to have to always be there to keep the door shut and remind him to only return when he's secured the Stone of the Setting Sun, as many times a day, every day... until... well... it just would never end.

But beyond that, she'd miss him. She misses him now even with his busy school schedule.

Maybe it's different for faeries, maybe that's what works for them, but it still seems too harsh, even for a Mum that thought grounding meant to bury someone in the ground. At least then she'd know where he was and that he was safe.

She suspected this Guardian might have been less Great than she let on, but the Gem feels for her, despite the deception.

Reuniting a child with her mother...

Garnet can think of few better uses for her time.

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

Chitose rubs her face to try and dampen the pain, though she listens to this Fairy Queen. "Neat." Says Chitose after a moment. "I figured it was a place. Kind of?"

But still. Chitose looks at the Fairy Queen, and then the Great Guardian, or whoever it is now, and her face scrunches up. She's not sure if exiling someone for something that's not coming back was the greatest idea. Maybe there's something Chitose doesn't understand, but Chitose didn't really think exile was the answer, especially if it was extremely beyond the exile's ability to return.

She scrunches her shoulders for a moment. At least, the fairy could probably see her mother again, at some point. That's something Chitose can't do, with her own mother at Midchilda, unable to return to Earth.

So she joins Fate and Yumi, and kneels to give her a pat on the head. "Hey, it's going to be okay. We'll deal with this and you can be reunited with your mother."