2017-08-16 - What Lies Beneath 7

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What Lies Beneath 7

A direct continuation of What Lies Beneath 6. Our heroines adventure to retrieve the Key of Khartoum-Rajadh, necessary to unlock the Index of Library Island, and discover the chamber of its mystical heart!


Fuu Hououji, Fate Testarossa, Yumi Ohzora, Chitose Shiratori, Garnet

GM: Hotaru Tomoe


Library Island

OOC - IC Date:

08-16-2017 - 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
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa transforms into Barrier Jacket Assault!
COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori transforms into Barrier Jacket!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Wind Knight!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora transforms into Witch Ivy!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.


A quest to secure the untainted heart of Library Island -- its connection to the nearby World Tree!

How to find a missing piece of an ever-changing library... why, consult the Index of its card catalog, of course!

But the Index is sealed, bound by magnificently magical chains and a lock that can only be opened by the Key of Khartoum-Rajadh.

Fortunately, a self-styled Great Guardian appears to guide the girls; a wingless pixie sort, all over purple, with a fauxhawk and the general trappings of Indiana Jones.

After surpassing such obstacles as mountain-sized tomes, collapsing tunnels and pits of despair, the group is confronted by more of these pixies, with actual wings, who -- after a brief misunderstanding -- escort the group back to their village for tea, and explanations.


Tea, and explanations.

Both are quite satisfying; the tea is unexpectedly vibrant for something being served in thimble-sized cups, as spicy as it is sweet. And the explanations, as delivered by The Eldest (which seems to be the actual title of the storm-haired, storm-eyed leader of the fairies, and also mother of the guide, who turned out to be in exile), are less cryptic than might be feared.

As they can't possibly fit inside homes designed for six-inch-tall beings, all this convening is taking place out in the central 'square' of the village's cavern, which they call the Great Hall. There are giant mushrooms for seats, luminsecent moss for tablecloths. And, yes, dollhouse-sized abodes all around, mostly wrought from books. Apparently the protection of all knowledge within the magical library is not this clan's baliwick. Still, the paper carvings they've come up with are truly amazing. The faeries live in pagodas and castles and intricate compounds, hollowed out of compendiums from hundred-year-old encyclopedias to thousand-year-old bundles of scrolls.

The Eldest is using an actual, real full-sized teacup as a throne. Flipped upside-down, and with her in a lovely seiza, it's not as strange as it sounds.

"It is said that the Key can be used only once per person, to prevent the Index from falling into the wrong hands -- or, at least, to prevent the wrong hands from being able to do too much harm with it. For the last several hundred years it has been used by no one, protected by our village. But now... when it returned itself to the Library, it went directly to the lair of Rajadh."

Her eyes hold shadows, grief, caution.

"Rajadh is far too dangerous to approach directly. However, the caverns whisper now with her dreams. She may be sleeping. It may be possible to retrieve the Key without fighting..."

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

When the teacups are that (comparatively) small, taking small sips is trickier than usual. Hopefully that's not going to give offense to the fairies. As for the rest of their surroundings, the Magic Knight of Wind basically taking things as they come. A mushroom for a seat is not that bizarre, really; the weirder part is that it's big enough to support a person's weight. And so forth. The fact that the fairies have carved up books and scrolls to make their homes is a little troubling, but ... well, unless there's a title which jumps out at her, she's not going to worry much about it. Some of these old volumes may be better used for fairy housing than getting read by the wrong (or even the right) sorts of people.

"So we'll need to approach as quietly as we can, without awakening Rajadh or otherwise drawing her attention to our presence," the Wind Knight muses. "However ... how likely is it that Rajadh is aware of the Key's value, and that she'll have taken special measures to protect it against possible theft? Is it a thing that's likely to be of use to her, or ..." She pauses, finishing her current cup of tea (not entirely on purpose). "Is this Rajadh capable of conversing, if she's awake and we're able to address her before being attacked?" she wonders aloud.

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

Fate Testarossa stares at the thimble cup for some time before lifts it to her lips. Her eyes may light up a little. She wasn't used to tea without much sweetener but this was exceptionally good- and sweet to her tastes, with a pleasant burn. "Thank you for your hospitality." She says politely after draining down the thimble full.

She's watching her feet out here, trying not to fidget, not wanting to accidentally step and crush part of the village or one of the occupants. However every so often her mind turned to the Great Guardian, the exile, and her eyes try to search her out.

But eventually they return to the Eldest upon her upside down teacup throne. She didn't want to look unattentive while they were pasisng on important information.

Thoughtfully she nods as she watches their eyes cloud over. She listens to Fuu's questions- then after a while she raises her hand like she's in class, that slender arm and gloved hand sticking up high. She waits until she's called upon. If not she just waits until there's a break in the conversation to ask, "You say she's really dangerous... and that she's dreaming... what is Rajadh?"

To her that's one important question, the one that frames how to approach this. But there's an even more important one to her. Their mission may be to make contact with the heart of the library but to her this isn't a side objective- "And... if we retrieve the key, and see that it's used properly so that it might return... the..."

She manages to catch herself before she said 'The Great Guardian', "...your daughter's exile will be lifted, right?"

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

Yumi is thrilled to hae a tiny thimble teacup, even if she has to be very very careful not to drop it with how small it is. What must the tea be like? THis place is magical, wondrous, and Yumi sips at her tea shortly after getting it despite the heat and smiles at the flavor... Though she can't stay smiling; it's a serious situation, after all.

Yumi does have a terror of tripping and falling o or fainting on beautiful paper houses, though a part of her frowns a little at the use of books for this and the rest of her is amazed by their artfulness.

The throne is every bit as regal as it must be for the Eldest in Yumi's mind, and she looks thoughtfully at what she says.

"...I wonder why the Key would go there? There has to be a reason built into its enchantments..." She trails off, "...Ah... I hope what Fate-chan says is true, too. I want to help her..." Yumi can't quite meet the Eldest's eyes for that. "A-and right, I'm fine with indirect approach to danger, but..."

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

Chitose Shiratori is still here, still part of the group, and still drinking tea, patting her welts and other damages suffered through the last few hours in an attempt to soothe the pain. Granted, by now all of the pain has mostly gone away, so she's mostly just soothing her wounded pride.

"Is Rajadh capable of using it?" She asks after a moment. "Spite can fuel people's motivations, just as much as hope and despair." She takes some tea after a moment. "What are the chances this Rajadh will try to use it just to deny the key?" Chitose is well aware of the power of spite. "Would Rajadh gain anything from doing so?"

For her part, Chitose has going between doing her best to not trip on anything really tiny, but she's also not going out of her way to do so. If there were any fairies near her, they probably should watch out for her movements, though now that she's sitting and consuming tea there are very few of them.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet sits and listens with the others, she holds a tiny teacup and saucer in the palm of one of her hands, her fingers too big to hold it by its handle, and not needing to drink, but not wanting to turn down the offer completely. Part of her mind is occupied on just when, and how to go about this gracefully.

One again her companions beat her to the chase with the questions on her mind, particularly Fate's: "What is Radjah"?

For this creature may be so terrible and known within the library to evoke a picture and terror of her by name alone, as a dweller of the surface, and strangers to the library's depths, to Garnet that is not nearly enough to know what to expect. She glances occasionally while listening to the speaker at the paper sculptures of the pixie housing, admiring them for their beauty, and blissfully ignorant of their cost in history and magical knowledge.

COMBAT: Garnet transforms into Garnet's Got Gauntlets!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

The Eldest shakes her head at the barrage of questions. Instead she answers one of the only ones that wasn't asked. "To reach Rajadh, you must walk the path of sharp shadow, and sail the sea of stars. Beyond that is her lair, where the waves lap sweet and strange."

She pours herself more tea, and anyone else who requires it. It steams fragrantly.

"When the Key is used wisely, it is returned to us. When it is used without wisdom," her eyes flash, and surely she is thinking of her daughter, "It is returned to her. Such is the way of all things. There is ebb and there is flow, push and pull, constant motion yet perfect balance."

She pauses to consider. "A final piece of advice: Rajadh dreams always of questions. And nothing wakes her up more quickly than a lie. Go now, then. And if you dare trust such a foolish guide, you may take that one with you."

'That one' is seated on the edge of the village, unable to come inside. She is, however, on the far side of the village, where the tunnel disappears into darkness. So, presumably there was a way to go around. "I am sorry for deceiving you," she says earnestly to the group. "I spoke the truth as well, however. I will lead you to the Key. And when you use it, my ban will be lifted, for the Key will no longer belong to Rajadh."

The Eldest snorts, but does not refute this.

"So c'mon," the Great Guardian concludes, breaking into a wide, irrepressible grin. "Let's go!" She suits action to words, striking off into the cavernous beyond. She's easy to keep up with, but will be lost around a corner quickly if she isn't.

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

Fate cringes at the without wisdom part. She does accept her tea being refilled. Takes another sip. She's glad it's only a mouthful, she'd hate to have to ask the group to stop for her along the way.

She doesn't try to press her questions, she just listens to the way to find her, the advice on not lying- "Thank you very much." She mumbles again once the Eldest is done and tells them to go.

She's very careful walking out of the village again. And when she apologizes- "It's alright." The girl forgives instantly, though she flinches at the Eldest's snort. "You just wanted to go home, I understand." She understands too well perhaps, when one gets desperate with longing for such things.

She's following her in short order, with a small amount of pep in her step, apparently she's very determined now to find this key.

Along the way into the cavernous beyond she comments to Garnet- "I wonder what sharp shadow means? That it cuts?"

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

"Sharp shadow..." Yumi trails off, answering The Eldest's explanation in a murmur as she tries to remember it. Yumi definitely needs more tea. She accepts it politely, possessed of very good manners among magical beings as befits a with. ...Well, pretty good. She tries.

Her question is answered though, and Yumi nods, brow furrowed, and adusts her glasses. "I see..." So they're linked. Hence being called that. But the advice--the advice makes her look up in alarm.

"L-Lies?" She feels guilt immediately, and glances down. Dreams of questions... But what does that...? "Oh, thank you!"

Yumi walks with her staff to find 'that one', and smiles at her after a moment. She apologizes, and Yumi nods. "Yeah it's... I don't mind. We want to go anyway."

She uses her staff as a walking stick and scurries along, adusting her hat as she does. "I'm more worried about sweet and strange waves. I don't usually drink the water at the beach if I can help it..." Pause. "Uh, nevermind. A-anyway. We can make it, and sharp things are... something we deal with anyway!"

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

Chitose continues to take some tea when it's offered, but only really nods to whatever the Eldest says.

When she and the rest of the team gets done and starts to leave, she gets up and carefully takes steps through the town, and when they're free she falls in with the rest of the group.

Chitose also adds to Fate's words to the daughter-fairy. "Yes. If I could help my mother come home, I'd do whatever it'd take."

She looks around, keeping occasional glances towards the front, and then back behind them, in case something tries to ambush them, or other things happens.

She's been down into the depths of Library Island before. This place gets very weird, and very dangerous.

But after a moment, she stops and thinks. "Wait, what if we say what we ourselves think is true, but actually isn't? Like you think it is the truth, and you say it, but it turns out to be a lie?"

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

That was somewhat less helpful than the Wind Knight was hoping for, but she suppresses any show of disappointment, instead committing the Elder's words to memory as best she can. She takes a moment to bid both the Eldest and the rest of the fairy villagers a very polite farewell before setting off.

"The 'path of sharp shadow' could mean literal sharpness, or just a cleanly-defined edge between the shadow and the light," she says as she overhears Fate's comment. "I'm a little more curious about the 'sea of stars' ... although, that's still not the part which worries me most."

She falls quiet as the group continues pursuing the Great Guardian, marshalling her thoughts and keeping an eye on where she's putting her feet. If Rajadh can hear lies without necessarily being awake, and dreams questions, then it may not be actual sounds which they have to worry about.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet grimaces a bit at the lack of answers as to the nature of Radjah herself, but takes the offered information to heart, and is relieved that the company she keeps here is honest. The Gem takes a last moment to enjoy the aromas of the tea, and the hospitality of the setting, then sets down her saucer, bows to her host in gratitude, and walks carefully after their designated guide.

Though there seems to be a risk of losing her if they don't go fast enough, Garnet hopes her large purposefully gentle strides will be enough to carry her adequately out of the village, with her size and potential force, it's just too risky otherwise.

If she were to tear out of here with equal excitment to "The Great Guardian", there might not be much of village for this exiled pixie to return to!

Garnet returns Fate's inquiry: "Things behave oddly here. Expect anything."

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

The Great Guardian ducks her head at Fate's eyes, and scratches the back of her neck awkwardly, fingering the place where her fauxhawk overhangs the undercut and itches, when people are kind to her.

She cackles a little at Chitose's question. "How would anyone ever find out? That's not a lie detector you survive."

The path of the sharp shadow turns out to be literal, indeed. It is very dark, and full of sharp things: retractable floor spikes, darts shooting from the wall, and so forth. It is conventional danger, and would be of no great interest if not for the fairy's observation that all of the sharp edges in this place are cursed.

Good luck!

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Sharp Shadows on Garnet.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Sharp Shadows on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Sharp Shadows on Chitose Shiratori.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Sharp Shadows on Yumi Ohzora.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Sharp Shadows on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Sharp Shadows, taking 14 Fatigue damage!  Fate Testarossa's Fade ability
activates!  Fate Testarossa's Flash ability activates!  Blind applied to Fate Testarossa!
COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori fails to dodge Hotaru Tomoe's Sharp Shadows, taking 17 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji fails to dodge Hotaru Tomoe's Sharp Shadows, taking 21 Fatigue damage!  Blind applied to Fuu Hououji!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Sharp Shadows, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Yumi Ohzora's Block ability activates!
Yumi Ohzora's Parry ability activates!  Blind applied to Yumi Ohzora!
COMBAT: Garnet narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Sharp Shadows, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Blind applied to Garnet!
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Chitose's statement draws her attention. For a moment she just stares at her, then she closes her eyes, and nods, "I understand that feeling..." Before nodding at that, "Anything..." She repeats. Having been to the Multidimensional Chaos dimension though, she knows that Anything is quite a lot. "That's a little tough." She mumbles as she listens to Yumi talk about the sweet and strange waves.

The Great Guardians cackle makes her look at her in wonder, "Let's just... be careful."

But into the darkness they go. And there's a blur of movement in her vision, and the girl twists, barely avoiding a floor spike which causes her to backpeddle-

A moment later she hears a SCHWINK and her cape is riddled with darts.

Turned around within moments and unable to see, she whimpers once- dizzy and does what comes natural. Bardiche chimes, <Plasma Lancer>

There are yellow arrowheads of her magic in the dark, but they don't illuminate anything substantial. They hover there as if waiting for the order to fire.

It never comes, she's trying to use it for ineffective torchlight. She can see them but naught else. It's so dark right now. So dark. And there are things in the dark trying to kill her.

It's not long after that she's hitting the ground just so she won't get more disoriented and frightened and there's a soft whisper in the dark, "...help..."

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

Strangely. Sure. Yumi can tell strangely.

But she also understands awkward, and tries not to draw attention to the Great Guardian's duck of her head and everything. The cackling is... Not especially encouraging. Chitose's question gets a nervous look from the Witch. "So uh... Ha ha... Yeah let's not. Let's all be totally honest. You can ask me questions and I'll be honest, if lies wake her up maybe the truth keeps her sleepy!"

Yumi stays nervous, but the path is... well, her staff is green-lit, but she still has to actually try to do anything about all of this. Darts shoot through the wall at her and she manages a barrier, but it's tiring; floor spikes knock her down as she tries to block them. All in all she quickly gets hit by something sharp, yelping in pain, and gets...

"It's so dark... Where are we!?" Yumi tries to hold up her staff so the others can see her, "I'm so dizzy with all these..." It still hurts, for that matter. But then Fate whispers...

"Fate-chan!" Yumi calls, unsure where she is. "Come over to the sound of my voice! If you can! Or... Or speak up, and I'll come to--ow!" Yumi starts mumbling and then starts speaking up, "I'm over here! You know um... That was... Really good tea?" If she can keep talking, then between that and her staff...

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

Those are sharper shadows than the Wind Knight had been expecting, to be sure - and while they don't cut quite as deep as she expects them to, the sharpness is quite sufficient nonetheless. "Ugh ... Is everyone else all right?" she asks, trying to regain her bearings - and to get her eyes to clear. It's not just her glasses, which actually stayed in place; rather, it feels like something's gotten into her eyes.

Still, Fate's unfired Plasma Lancer at least provides a point of reference. If she can get to those sparks of yellow light without wandering off the path, or blundering into another of those spikes or a different set of flying darts, maybe they can at least group back up.

Except that then she remembers something else, and there's a strong hint of panic in her voice: "Did the Guardian keep proceeding ahead without us?!"

She starts trying to focus magic for her healing spell, but she needs to know more or less where to aim it, and she's not even sure of *that* much at this point.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Light projects from Garnet's gauntlets to little effect. As Fate had guessed, the sharp shadows here were more than a figure of speech, and more substantial, in a similar fashion as her own hard light body.

The whizzing of darts, the *snikt* of floor spikes and the whirring of blades all around, the frequent movements Garnet must engage in to renders her attempts at lighting all but useless. So when a blade clicks out of its wall trap, and swings its way to her back, all Garnet is able to do is twist and punch out at it with her gauntleted fist, allowing the conjured armor to bear the brunt of the punishement.

She steps back carefully, and stops, and tries to gauge the position of the traps here. She can hear Yumi's call to Fate, Fuu's inquiry to everyone, and Fate's soft cry for aid, so she follows Fate's voice as well as she can determined to be of some aid to her. but how much aid is questionable, the darkness here is so thick, she can't see...

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

Chitose is... looking backwards when the darts come, and so when she looks forward her entire vision is filled with darts.

She leaps into the air... and realizes a few moments later that her flight spell still doesn't quite work! So really what happens is that she hops into the air and gets a number of darts in her Jacket in return. "Ow!" She still tries to dodge and weave through them, but each one she successfully dodges is replaced with another one that manages to get through.

Her vision grows dark, but there's still the glimmer of vision, aided by Yumi's staff and Fate's Plasma Lancer, and between that and her own eyesight, maybe she can still see the way out? Maybe? It's better than doing nothing, and it's way better than staying here in the annual migration of the darts. "Tsk, this is just like the first time I was down here."

Chitose runs up to Yumi, and places her right hand on her shoulder. "I've got you." If Fate's handling the local light...

She points her left arm towards the front. "Everyone, watch out." She pauses for just a moment. "How does that go... oh, right. Fire in the Hole!"

<Thunder Dove>

The doves made of light zoom out and away, a number of them lying on the ground to the side near the wall.

"Okay, let's follow the glowing... doves..." She trails off after a moment. Wait, if she can barely see, what about everyone else?

Then, suddenly, one of them explodes a distance away, as she gives the command, giving people a sound and vibration-led direction to go in.

"Okay, everyone follow the sound of explosions!" And then she starts running through the halls towards the way out. At least, she hopes it's the way out. She tries her best to grab Fate, or Fuu, or Garnet on her way too! And periodically, one of the doves in the distance explodes, to refresh the leading sounds.

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

It isn't much fun to get through this midnight forest of blades, but everyone emerges with nothing wounded but pride, nothing scratched badly but, perhaps, the odd cape, ribbon, or other frippery.

And the reward is considerable: they emerge from the darkness like a little kid emerges from the fortress of their bedclothes, standing on the edge of a river.

A river of stars.

They trickle along with the current, too heavy to float but too light to sink, at that perfect neutrality where they precisely chart the waters, wherever they are.

They are all colors and none, in the manner of stars; golden suns and red ones, flickering blues and brilliant whites. Also in the manner of stars they vary in size, from little specks that rival the fairies' thimble-cups to basketballs.

At the edge of the water -- if that's what's lapping against the rock -- is a boat. It has oars enough for six rowers, and already the Great Guardian is sitting eagerly... on top of hers. Well, no one can fault her for enthusiasm.

"...that was so cool," she says to Chitose. "The way you did the thing! With the birds! Although... do they hurt, when they explode? Your doves? Do they feel pain?"

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

Fate slowly reaches out with Bardiche to make certain she won't be skewered waving him with axe-head down rather than up... she hopes... before slowly starting to crawl towards Yumi. "I think I'm close... I hope I'm..." Fate wonders why she's talking about tea. "It... was good tea. Why are we talking about it?"

But then Chitose says fire in the hole! And Fate puts her head down quickly- "Ah!"

A hand over the back of her blonde hair. However out of the corners of her eyes she notices the doves zipping on by. Chitose says to follow them and she starts to get up to her feet- "Right- right."

The percussive ringing in her ears- at least she's able to track which way to go now. Though along the way Chitose manages to snag her hand, and she doesn't complain.

In fact she's very grateful as they emerge from the darkness. "T-Thank you very much." She murmurs- just as her eyes widen in wonder.

A river of stars, too awe-inspiring and strange and so many colors- it reminds her of the Garden of Time, that rip between dimensions, except less ominous, and more magnificent. For a while the girl just looks upon and says nothing, because she's just gawking at it.

And then she remembers that they need to keep moving, which is when she walks over to the boat and sits herself down and... she's not certain what to do with the oars. "Well they shouldn't unless it was a summoning spell..." Her eyes then move over to Chitose, "It wasn't right?"

After a moment of trying to figure it out she just says- "Boat. Please take us to the lair of Rajadh."

Apparently she thinks it'll just do that.

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

Sight may not work very well amongst the sharp-edged 'shadows,' but hearing is considerably less impaired - and Chitose's Thunder Dove spell lives up to its name, providing enough of an acoustic beacon for the Wind Knight to at least turn and start moving in the right direction. There's a rush of movement nearby; she instinctively reaches out for it - and just misses grasping someone else's hand.

But the sound of the 'doves' exploding is still a reliable guide, and soon enough, the Wind Knight also emerges from the darkness, blinking at the mystical spectacle of a river of stars. (Technically, if she remembers right, it was supposed to be a 'sea' of stars, but given the fairies' size, she's not going to be too picky with the details.)

"I'm not sure if the boat is self-guided or self-propelled," she observes gently to Fate as she climbs into the boat and seats herself at one of the oars. She has a vague sense of how team rowing is supposed to work, although she's very short on experience. If they don't need to row, though, it'll be more of a chance for her to look into the 'water' at all those floating .... are they actually stars in some sense, or just the images of them? Either way, it's a wondrous view, and she considers fishing her phone out of her glove-jewel to see if she can take photos, or video.

... Probably best not to try, she thinks wistfully. "Does anyone require Winds of Healing while we're on this leg of the trip?" she offers, dragging her mind back to the quest at hand.

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

Chitose, as they finally get out of the flock of darts and other sharp things, stops to take a breath. Exercise, what? But, also, Chitose holds up a finger to the Guardian, and gets some more air in. "Haa, just one moment."

With that, the odd Dove that they passed without exploding, well they all suddenly explode. Simultaneously. For Chitose understands the power of spite, and having now been in not one but two of these corridors full of darts and arrows makes her just a little grumpy. But only a little. And even if the explosions don't do anything to the library, well, it's the thought that counts, right?

Now she stands up and looks at the Guardian. "What did you say?" It only takes a second to recollect. "Oh, right. Ah, I don't think so? They're supposed to be light bursts that look like birds, they're not supposed to be, you know, living."


She thinks to herself for a moment. "...Can Midchildan spells actually live? Mom never told me anything about that." Wait, what if she's been sending exploding birds to their death this entire time? She lifts White Omen to her face, to see what he has to say about that.

<Not telling.>

Well that's comforting. Chitose looks uneasily for a moment back the way they came. Then she looks back at the crowd, and a little more specifically, Fate. "Well, ah, they shouldn't be?" Chitose slowly makes her way into the boat.

That's when she sees the oars. "Er... I'm not sure I'm cut out for rowing." Chitose focused on mental learning and not physical education, leaving her strength... a little bit to be desired, even in this form. But then she looks at the entire boat, and sees one for everyone! "I guess I have to try, right?" She sighs.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet follows Chitose's doves of light, and the others through the final corrdors of darkness, their light and sound allowing her to navigate the traps between herself and the end, and emerges with the others. She's grateful for Chitose's assist, but doesn't quite know yet how to express her thanks on her own... but when Fate thanks Chitose, Garnet nods to Chitose afterwards. The gem stands in awe of the river of stars before her, so reminiscent of the cosmos she knows and meditates on often. Again she wishes she could merely stay to reflect and meditate in the alien beauty of this place... but the forthright guidance of "The Great Guardian" convinces her to continue on.

When Fate orders the boat, Garnet doesn't give it much thought. A part of her remembers the gem servitor devices of old, and knows by now that there are also Earthly magical creations that take spoken orders the same way. She sits and waits for a response from the boat hopefully. It would be quicker than rowing themselves there.

"I would, please." Garnet replies to Fuu's offer of magical healing. Garnet's eyes were still adjusting to the light again, and her limbs ached with the stabbings of the pixies ambush. Anything that would help rid her of these lingering pains and distractions in such a dangerous place, especially if she's to be rowing a boat, would be more than welcome.

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

"Oh!" Yumi is surprised at a hand on her shoulder, "Thank you..." A beat before, "D-don't worry about the tea!" to Fate in embarrassment, "I-it's fine!" and leaves that be as Chitose leads her and then--with the doves and--Oh.

"E-explosions? I mean that's not what I usually do, I usually go away from them..." She trails off and laughs nervously. It's really cool though, she'd agree, and she finds herself so relieved to be out of there, and so amazed to see the beautiful sea mentioned. "Whoa..." She bites her lip. "I wish I had long enough to stay and paint this," she says, wistful. But in looking so clearly, she sees the boat as well, and her shoulders sink. "Huh? Oh I'm... not an expert on Midchildan magic," she says as she caches up with the conversation, shaking her head. "I'm definitely not cut out for rowing," she says to Chitose with a laugh, "But I'm going to do it! I've never done it before."

She pauses and looks so sad to look out at this place again, adjusting her glasses. She doesn't respond to the offer of magical healing, but finally moves over to the boat, letting her staff rest in it out of the way. "How do you... do this? Does anyone have any ideas? I mean it can't be that hard..."

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

"Get in and row already!" yells the Great Guardian impatiently slash helpfully.

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

"Aaaaah sorry!" Yumi sits down and starts pulling on the oar experimentally, "It's fine! Fine! Let me just--Oof this is heavy--"

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

Chitose sighs and starts rowing. She doesn't have quite as tough a time as some, but "...This wasn't what I signed up for."

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

Fate has no idea how to row. When the Guardian says that she picks up an oar, then watches the others, then thinks back to the little boats at the park that people rent out...

She's the last to start rowing as she's watching how the older kids are doing it.

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

"It helps if we're all pulling in the same rhythm," the Wind Knight points out. "That way, the mass we're trying to move and the inertia we're working against will be divided among us more or less evenly. So ... on 'one,' lift your oar out of the water and lean forward; on 'two,' oar into water and pull back on the part you're gripping."

She gives everyone a moment to get situated. "Everyone ready? One ... two ... one ... two ..."

Hopefully that makes for steadier progress. Steering is going to be another question, though - hopefully the Guardian's watching which way they're going and can call out instructions on which way to turn, if necessary.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet row row rows with the rest, taking Fuu's advice to heart. She hasn't had to manually row a boat in years, but she concentrates on the harmony, such as it is of the rowing, and does her best to fall in line, not too strong, not too fast, so that the boat can progress as smoothly as it can, where its destination may be.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Ave Maria https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6DaVdILu_o

Rivers flow to the sea. It turns out that rowing technique isn't particularly important here -- it is intent that matters. Perhaps that isn't surprising in such a strange place. Regardless, those determined to do well, focused hard upon their goal, find their oars slipping silently in and out of the water like the surface was molten glass. Size matters not (good thing too, or the Great Guardian's oar would be a real albatross).

As the speed picks up, the air washes cool and sweet across everyone's brow, scrolls down hair and sleeves. But that thrill is nothing compared to seeing this whole ocean open up, the cliffs on either side of the river dropping away. It is a galaxy. It is a nebula. It is a whole universe, endlessly wide, unfathomably deep.

And it swirls, swirls with tidal forces that turn individual stars into blurs of motion. They bubble, caught in the crests of waves, then crash into each other and become larger, or a scattering of smaller glimmers each the size of a grain of sand.

It doesn't sound like water. Every swell has its own snatch of music swell with it, celestial fingers drawing circles around wine glasses of the cosmos.

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

Fate is determined upon their goal and somehow finds her oars moving better than she expected, sweeping in and out of the water.

After a while though she adds, "This is kind of fun." She was never one to shirk physical effort after all. And then the whole ocean opens up and for just a split second her rowing stops- that's because her breath just caught.

Upon the wondrous spirals and clouds of color within this infinite ocean.

The air is so cool and sweet and yet the feel of this place to her as her hair is swept back in the wind. "It's so warm." She says softly.

That's how this ocean feels to her. Warm, inviting- come explore the magic of the universe.

The music of the eddies and swells and tides so light and sweet.

The girl finds herself humming sometime after she feels the music begin- then realizes she's doing it and finds it to be an embarrassing imitation compared to the music of the cosmos. So she stops, dipping her head for a moment and just keeps rowing with further determination.

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

For the Wind Knight, the whole experience becomes kind of relaxing. The lack of particular resistance as she focuses on rowing, on propelling the boat towards their destination, and the repeated rhythm of leaning forward then pulling back, and the eerily cosmic sounds of music coming from the 'sea' beneath their vessel, all combine into an almost hypnotic reverie.

... a reverie which breaks itself when it threatens to lull her thoughts away from the task at hand. That leaves her with a bit of a sheepish smile, although she's still finding it relatively enjoyable.

And she didn't forget her offer. A soft murmur of, "Winds of Healing," brings a soothing breeze to wrap around herself and around Garnet; nobody else spoke up for it, and - especially *now* - she's reticent to divide her attention too much ... which further healing would require. A patch job should be enough - she *hopes* it'll suffice; from what the Eldest said, if it comes down to fighting Radajh then they'll probably already be doomed, even before the first attack is ever launched.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Garnet.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cleanse! All of Fuu Hououji's
debuffs are cleared!
<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Yumi doesn't entirely hear the rowing advice, focused as she is on just doing it and moving forward with everyone and not being the one to leave them behind. ...By the same token she doesn't entirely notice at first that the Great Guardian can row just fine even at her size. So Yumi's intent is good enough, if focused on her companions here right now and not only on her mission ahead.

Fate says it's fun, and Yumi answers, "It kind of is. Still heavy, but... It feels nice."

There's no way she's going to take up rowing, but she's liking this boat.

They move faster, and the air ruffles her hair under her hat, which only stays on due to regularly applied witch magic. Her outfit is billowy, but the ocean opens up, and Yumi rows medittiely as she stares out at the whole universe, mouth opening. It swirls, and there's so much, everywhere...

It doesn't sound like water, but something else does, too soft to hear. One drop falls down Yumi's cheek, then another, as she sniffles once. "It's... beautiful..."

Quietly, her heart squeezed with it, Yumi stares out still at another set of stars.

"...Dad... I wish you could've seen this..." She whispers it, and doesn't want to say anything else for a while.

COMBAT: Garnet accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cleanse! All of Garnet's debuffs are cleared!
<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Chitose rows, as the boat sails through the sea of stars. This is, finally, when Chitose realizes just how the star-sea works, and she spends her time just looking at it.

And that's really what she does, focusing on that in exchange for not paying attention to the conversation that's already happening on the boat.

Well, also rowing, she does that too. But the less said about her rowing, the better, as she takes a lot of effort just to row, especially on a boat made for half a dozen people. Now, a one person boat, maybe. One of those swan boats you pedal to get it moving, even better.

Chitose wonders what that would be like, right now, a swan boat on a river of stars.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet accepts and relishes the warmth of the wind of healing, as it soothes her aches and helps her eyes focus once more.

"Thank you, Fuu." she says simply and then in the repetition of the rowing drifts off into something resembling a meditative state.

Garnet looks at the stars below her, and thinks of the stars above, the worlds, the space, she has left behind to defend the Earth. She doesn't think back to it as often or as fondly as some of the other Gems, especially Pearl...

However, in the darkness here, with only the light and the song of this strange ocean of stars, Garnet thinks back to the stars she used to know, and stays silent, losing herself in emotion, serenity, and memory.

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

There's nothing anywhere in the distance, just massive waves. The whole world in a bowl. The curvature of the Earth -- if Earth is even relevant to this place -- is irrelevant when the highest and lowest points in sight keep changing, changing with the breeze.

Which makes the rowboat washing up on a shore something of a surprise. But it does, tipping from the momentum, which is -- if they hadn't already tried -- what allows everyone to discover, inescapably, that this water is not salty, but sweet.

The shore -- the island? -- is not sweet. It's just stone, obsidian perhaps, dark and hard and shiny and a little bit sharp. There is fog all over it, though also an upward rise. Go high enough and one can, perhaps, see what there is to see here.

And the whispering has already begun. It's a snoozy voice, powerful as the wind and as ephemeral, too. It wraps around shoulders, oozes into ears.


The Great Guardian bites her lip nervously.


She stops moving up the hill, waits for it, knowing what's coming.

".......wHaT is yoUr FavOrItE........"





Don't lie.

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

The Wind Knight pauses as well, more out of surprise than at the Great Guardian's halt. This reminds her somehow of an old movie, but she pushes that back into the recesses of her memory and focuses on the here and now, and the actual question.

"The goshawk," she says quietly. "I've only seen them once or twice, but ..." But it's a memory that's stayed with her - not nesting or roosting, but on the wing, gliding overhead. Stronger still than that memory is the sight of a goshawk diving on its prey, striking hard and sure.

It's not a question she's given a great deal of thought to in the past - but in this moment, stirred by a question she never expected, she has no time to think about it and the answer simply rises up, almost surprising her with how readily it comes.

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

Fate is still captivated by the wonders of creation when they wash up on shore. She blinks- taken entirely off guard, before putting down her oar, and climbing out, Bardiche in hand onto the glassy black stone. It scrapes against her metallic boots as she walks. "Are we h-"


It's oozing into her ears, and she stops, her question answered.

Though now she has to answer one. And the girl stops. Waiting expectantly.

And once the question is asked, her mouth drops open.

Then she looks thoughtfully. Hooking her arm around Bardiche she presses her palms together in front of her mouth and says in delight-

"Adelie Penguin!"

Cut to one of them in the Antarctic at play.

"They're so dapper and cute, all at once."

That trip to the aquarium really made an impression on her.

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

Chitose continues to watch the sea, and its stars, and everything about it. Then, Chitose gets to see it up close and personal as the boat tips over and the girl goes into the drink.

It takes a few moments before Chitose re-emerges, taking a gasp of breath before swimming to the shore. She stands back up and tries to dry herself off quickly, before she looks up at the sound of the voice.

Then it asks... for a favorite bird? There's a bit of a raised eyebrow. Not quite what she was expecting. But it only takes a moment for her to respond, someone who slings birds everywhere in combat, or slings spells named after birds. "The Snowfinch." No, not doves, nor nightingales, nor starlings. "Very high-altitude birds who live in mountain ranges." She pauses, and continues. "Also very adorable."

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

Yumi keeps her composure for the most part despite that wish; it's so beautiful that she can't bring herself not to watch the movement of the stars underneath these waves. There's so much here, so much amazing, and with that music...

Yumi hadn't tried the water, but she tips right into the water with a splash and tastes the sweetness of these waves mentioned earlier. She emerges from the water with a cough, her staff helpfully floating towards her, and moves onto the obsidian(?) beach. She blinks, and tries to wave her glasses dry. "Augh... Is anybody dry? My glasses are soaked..."

Yumi will cheerfully accept a little help. Or just deal with them air-drying. Either is fine. But before she can say much more, start walking faruther up the rise in this fog...

Yumi blinks. Her favorite...?

Yumi blinks a few more times, hearing the answers coming from the others--Fate sounds so happy--and hesitates before adding, warmly, "Cranes. I... Really like them. I like the stories about them, and they're so graceul, and..." She smiles, looking down, "A lot of things."

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet pulls herself out of the waters. They smell... sweet... she recalls the mention of sweet waters by the pixie elder as being on the path to Radjah.

Their little guide asks the question as if to be answered, then falls asleep. The others begin to answer, so Garnet tries to think of the bird she likes the best. She recollects the birds she she's known, the birds she's seen on her many years on the Earth. She cannot speak its name, for she doesn't know it, but she thinks of it clearly in her mind, and hopes that is sufficient, as the pixie said something about the being knowing the truth in one's heart. (The Splendid Sunbird: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/c3/1f/2e/c31f2e674dbf8dfd4e3e58af853e8067--beautiful-things-beautiful-birds.jpg )

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

There is no actual response, just more snoring. Snoring disturbed with a brief cough and earthquake when Garnet fails to answer verbally; one gets the feeling nobody is going to get away with that twice.

After the ground stills, though, they get the sense that there's time to gain ground, however, to head up above the fogbank. It takes some hiking and some doing and the air here, despite the surrounding starsea, is so muggy.

Maybe that's because it's all being breathed in and out a few times a minute. One moment everyone's hair is pulled forward, past their face -- the next, it's sent back, over their shoulders.


And there's Rajadh.

On this obsidian isle she is only visible because of the bed of keys she's sleeping on; copper and brass and platinum, every conceivable key of every conceivable make. Some are massive. Some are too small to see clearly from the top of the cliff.

Rajadh is not too small to see clearly. Quite the opposite. She may not personally comprise the majority of the island's mass but certainly she is the entire summit of this hill; a literal mountain's worth of breathing, sleeping, curled up...


Oh yes.

The conclusion is inescapable -- there's the wings. There's the ridge of spikes down the spine. There's the tail.

The tail, half as long as a football field, curled around something sparkling, gripped at its very tip.

'That must be it!' the Great Guardian stage whispers, pointing frantically. Then she starts sneaking in that general direction, mindful not to disturb any of the other keys. They would tinkle quite nicely if bothered. It's a sea of chimes above that sea of stars.

The group has just long enough to wonder if there will be any more questions, before the next one comes.

"....zzzzzzzzzzhoo...... WhO....... dO....... yOu...... FeAr.... mosszzztzzzzzzzzzz...."

Truth or dare.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet follows their pixie guide with the utmost care and urgency, careful not to utter any words besides the answers to the questions asked, lest the rules to this place be stricter than they may appear.

Unlike the previous question regarding the birds, Garnet knows the answer to this question with certainty...Clarity...

"Blue Diamond."

She utters, trying her best not to dredge up the memories that name, (mysterious perhaps to all but herself), carries with it, and instead tries to face forward, move forward, face this trial, obtain the key and leave as quickly as possible.

Garnet. a being who enjoys keeping her many secrets, is becoming increasingly less fond of this whole situation, and almost thinks wistfully back to the halcyon moments of shadow-forged blades...

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

When there's no response, only snoring, she tentatively moves onward. And the air gets muggy, the girl finding herself sweating-

And then she is. No wonder they said they didn't want to wake her up.

A dragon. Even on Midchilda they knew about dragons.

She did not want to find out how her magic would do against it. Her skin shivers a little as she looks down its spikes and it's tail, upon the bed of keys it's sleeping...

And then the Great Guardian brings her eyes to what's curled up in the tail. She takes a second to step forward-

And that's when the next question hits her.

And Fate's eyes widen.

This little choking noise is made in her throat as the temptation to lie hits her. She inhales and exhales through her nostrils. Quickening. Quickening.

She doesn't want to say it. More than anything in the world she doesn't want to say who she fears the most, not because of any fear that she'd actually summon her back-

But because she doesn't like to think of being afraid of her...

Trying to steady herself and thinking of another girl who offered her hand to her, away from that life... her answer is whisper thin but audible to the others, "Pruh-Precia... Precia... Testarossa..."

And then softer, it sounds like a whimper, it sounds like she wants to cry behind her eyelids, or is about to, "...my mother."

She doesn't cry though, her eyes open and sparkling wet... but none fall. Because there's something else driving her on. The thought of helping one mother and one daughter reunite, she starts to walk towards Rajadh's tail.

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

Muggy. Muggy, and Yumi is wearing thick black cloth and leather. It's a little miserable, and her hat still only stays on because of raw luck and witch magic. The cold water(?) helps offset it though, and Yumi relies on her staff to move up the rises, sticking it into the hard ground and stabilizing herself with each step. And then...

Then they see it. Yumi stares down, reaching up to take off her glasses so that she can see the shape of it at least in blurs, and t's so huge. She's so huge. Yumi swallows. She's not looking for the key or the glint at first, because she can barely see until she finally whispers a curse and puts them back on her face to see. "W-whoa..." She trails off, "Amazing...!" Terrifying. Absolutely terrifying. But amazing.

But Yumi sees the movement and starts to try to sneak that way... until the question. The question comes. Yumi freezes, not even breathing. AN answer immediately comes to her and she feels terrible for thinking it, but can't say it. Garnet can speak, but Yumi still can't. But Fate... Fate speaks closer to her. Fate says something that makes Yumi stare at the little blonde too.

Yumi hesitates still, looking down to the dragon. She can't think of it this way; it's not like it's something meant. It's--

"My mother," Yumi whispers, looking over at Fate and then away, too ashamed to look at anyone. "...Kimie Ohzora."

"I'm sorry..." Her shoulders stay down, and Yumi doesn't feel wonder. She just tries to move quietly, not wanting to look at anyone at all. She feels like the worst daughter in the world.

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

This question isn't nearly so clear-cut for the Wind Knight - or so she initially thinks.

Certainly she can think of answers off the top of her head. Alcyone, the icy sorceress; Ascot, the monster summoner. Both from Cephiro, both enemies who know how to track down the Magic Knights in their civilian lives, and neither caring who gets caught in the crossfire. But Alcyone has already been defeated - more, she's been obliterated, presumably never to endanger anyone again. And Ascot himself ... the Wind Knight isn't quite sure what to make of him yet. Yes, he's a grave threat, but he doesn't personally frighten the Wind Knight as Alcyone did.

There's one person who *does*, though - ultimately, the point of connection between Alcyone nad Ascot.

"Zagato," the Wind Knight answers Rajadh ... even as she tries to step forward - to catch up with Fate - and to try and give the younger girl's shoulder a gentle, reassuring squeeze.

It's not an easy question for anyone in the group to contemplate; the Wind Knight is fairly certain of that. But then, that may have been *why* the dragon asked such a question - something easy but obscure, then something hard to confront even inwardly ....

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

Chitose looks at the Dragon hill for a moment. When no response comes, she takes a breath. Then she moves forward a little bit, keeping with the group.

It's only when she starts to look around does the next question come. She freezes, and there's a brief look of panic reflected on her glasses...

Then she realized that she thought she heard 'what', where in reality it was 'who'. She breathes a sigh of relief. There are a lot of 'whats' she feared, such as never being able to see her mother again, or perhaps being on the other side of the magical disturbance, never to see her friends again.

No, it was 'who' she feared. The list of people she mildly feared was an incredibly small percentage of the people she even vaguely knew, and that list was really small too.

-She loved her parents, of course.

-She was on good terms with her boss, and while she had to do some things she wasn't fond of under his company, the two of them got along.

-The boss's two daughters, twins. They were also on good terms with her, possibly enough to call them friends.

So who would that leave? Chitose had managed to avoid a lot of the more dreadful encounters so far in her life. Though, to be fair, the forerunner here was the dragon. That would be the easiest answer, wouldn't it.

She's stalled in thinking, however, when other people answer. Garnet's 'Blue Diamond', or Yumi and Fate's answer of their mothers, or Fuu's answer.

Chitose, however, suddenly has a thought, and her breath catches in her throat. She looks off to the side, hoping not to catch anyone's eyes. She mutters, quiet enough that it's not immediately easy to hear. "I may have to kill a few people to save the world someday. People who I care about, and people who care about me. But that sort of thing is a slippery slope, and I don't know how I will feel afterwards. So I guess my answer is, well, Myself."

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

Rajadh rolls over in her sleep, which is a pretty good impression of a collapsing mountaintop. Keys scatter everywhere -- not a few are lost to the stars below, though thankfully that doesn't waken the sleeper in itself.

And her tail winds up on her other side, which necessitates some backtracking.

But they make it eventually, and the Key itself comes loose surprisingly easily when brave hands grasp at it. It's about four times larger than the average housekey, so, it's like the lynx of keys.

It is, in fact, about the size of the Great Guardian, and her shape too -- where the lock on the Index, way back across the library, was draconic, the key is wrought in the likeness of a faerie.

"Gooooooooooo," she whispers, jerking her chin back down towards the boat. "Gogogogogogogogogooooooooooooo..."

There is more snoring, but, it seems, no more questions. For now.

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

Fate- spurred forward with the gogogogogo heads over across to it quickly and deliberately. She winces as her foot scatters a few keys with a tinkle of metal. And then she steps forward more carefully, more carefully, more carefully. She reaches up, hesitates as she looks at the huge key that's fashioned in the image of a fairy.

She takes one last deep breath, fingers flexing. Then she gently grabs it and pulls.

She's shocked at how easily it comes loose. She turns it around and shows it to the group as if to proudly display it- and say 'We did this. We got it!'

She doesn't actually say that though, because she realizes about two seconds later she's right next to a sleeping dragon and starts to move her little legs back towards them- and away.

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

Rajadh rolling over is terrifying. Rajadh generally is terrifying, though for Yumi it manfests more as a profound anxiety now, as she jumps in place and scoots back to try to get away from the falling. There's backtracking, and Yumi will go along, but she doesn't say anything else for now.

Eventually they make it, and Yumi keeps watch as Fate approaches, careful, in case anything else happens, or there's any more questions. But she also looks at the key, and it's so pretty. THey could look up anything back here...


Fate has the key, and Yumi manages a weak smile at her proud display. But Fate's moving back and Yumi reaches out towards her to squeeze her hand before she moves back and starts to head out with her. She... At least...

She doesn't remember how they got here. She won't be leading the way, but she'll at least keep a good guard.

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

Chitose watches the dragon, and its movements, and only really turns her attention to the key when the Guardian urges them on, and then Fate zooming off towards it. She herself doesn't move. Then when Fate starts to move back, she smiles.

Chitose moves towards the shoreline again, and that's when she stops, looking out towards the star-water, and remembering where they had come from. She remembers, yes. And again, Chitose sighs.

"Do we really have to go through the dark room again?"

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet looks on at Fate with pride, and heeding the words of the Guardian, prepares to abscond back to the boat.

She looks to the others and points a thumb back at the boat and gestures with her own head towards it, lest any of them not be watching the pixie's body language.

When they've all gone ahead of her, no one left behind, Garnet follows swiftly and surely.

This creature, this Radjah, is undeniably large and powerful. Garnet is not the most familiar with Dragons or what they're really capable of, but even unschooled in their lore, the thought of another whispered question, compelled to be answered immediately and truthfully is enough to light the kind of fire under the Gem that those more familiar with dragons might imagine as the result of its fabled breath.

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

It takes longer to get away than one might hope; among other things, the boat must be flipped back upwards, and it is quite heavy. The oars must be fetched.

And in all that time, the snoring escalates.



But the winds of the sea are picking up too, and the group manages to cast off without ever hearing who, exactly, the dragon was going to inquire after next.

The trip back winds up being less peaceful than the trip there; the waters are choppy and the land the group is deposited on winds up being different than the one they first came from.

In fact, it's the base of the stairs, the grand staircase that leads to and from the library's depths.

The Great Guardian is nowhere to be found -- perhaps the strange winds whisked her somewhere else entirely.

But the sun is setting; the true sun, the sun of Earth. It is time to go home for the day. There are exams in the morning for some, and school for everyone, to be sure.

The Lock of Khartoum-Rajadh can wait another day...