2017-11-13 - A Doll's House 2

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A Doll's House 2

The magical girls have been brought somehow to the Land of Dolls, or something similar, where they have been tasked by the empress to rescue her kidnapped baby. With talismans given to them by their own favorite childhood dolls, the girls venture forth on their quest...


Takeo Akamizu, Fuu Hououji, Makoto Kino, Setsuna Higashi, Inori Yamabuki, Nori Ankou, Niramo Umokeshi, Steven Universe, Lera Camry

GM: Hotaru Tomoe



OOC - IC Date:

11-13-2017 - 03-03-2015

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


It's Girls' Day, the Doll Festival, and the millions of beloved dolls on millions of beloved displays have all gone missing!

All that was left in their wake was, for those with the hearts to see them, a tiny, fresh peach cake, marked with a label, EAT ME.

Upon consumption, magical girls find themselves both transported -- to an imperial court of olden times -- and transformed -- into samurai period piece versions of their usual costumes.

And there in the court was everyone's favorite doll, miraculously alive and marvelously real -- though still porcelain, plastic or yarn, if ensouled. The dolls were mourning the kidnapping of the Empress' baby daughter. And the group has just agreed to brave the massive, towering dark forest outside to rescue her...

OOC: If you weren't here last week, you were totally here all along, having eaten the peach cake on your family's (or school's)
display, you just didn't say anything. It is still early enough in the plot for you to easily slip in that way.



"Thank you," the Empress nearly weeps, breathlessly grateful. She straightens, and so does her Court. Looking between her
courtiers, she seems thoughtful, and then nods, resolute. "We must bestow talismans upon our champions."

The other dolls smile for the first time. Where they all wept very differently, they all have beautiful beams, or clever grins, or
raffish smirks.

Hinayo approaches Sailor Jupiter, and, kneeling, offers her a tiny, embroidered bag. "Where all is bleak, plant these," she
advises warmly. "I know you know how."

Abe-sensei presents Fuu with a set of delicately carved pan-pipes, which can easily fit in the palm of her hand, like pipes made
for the doll of a doll. "To bring happiness," he intones firmly.

Cure Passion and Lera are both met by Setsuna's favorite red-kimono'd doll, and she gives them each half of a pendant, the yin to
Lera and the yang to Passion. "Now, if you get lost, you'll be easily found."

Sourisi's homemade samurai greets her with a clap on the shoulder, then -- as his hand pulls away -- reveals a calligraphy brush,
as though it's sprouted from her like her tail. "Let no darkness go unmarked," he says sternly, but there's a twinkle in his eye.
He drifts over to Lancelot, after, and offers him a little flag to mount on his back. "Wear our Empress' sigil boldly, and our
hopes will go with you."

La Sirene is presented with a gorgeous fan from the sake-bearing doll, and Batiste with a matching tinier one. "Be careful... the
most beautiful things are also the most dangerous," she whispers.

Finally, Steven is approached by a pair of twin dolls. With their tall, tall hats, they must be wise ministers of some kind. They
clasp hands, and then separate, and between them comes a grand, rainbow-colored scarf, draped around Steven's neck. "For bravery!"
they shout, clapping him on the back.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Lera takes the half of the pendant -- the yin -- and watches it dangle on a string, between her fingers. She blinks down at it, before she smiles, her eyes lighting up as it sways side-to-side. "If we get lost..."

She repeats it, softly, before she nods her head, and then slides the pendant around her neck. It comes to rest against the green coat of her Barrier Jacket, before the orange-haired girl looks sideways at the Pretty Cure. She flashes her a grin.

"We match, Passion!" she says. Then, she looks down at the red kimono-wearing doll. The Midchildan girl's expression is serious in but the blink of an eye. She nods. "We'll get her back. I promise, y'know?"

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

Lancelot blinks as he is offered the Mon of the Empress. He bows deeply and accepts the Mon reverntly before he affixes it in position on his armor. "I will wear her sigil with both pride and honor, and I pray that my actions will be proven worthy in her eyes." He bows again and steps back, and looks to the others, waiting to see what they are planning to do next.

He checks his blades by reflex, and then looks around the room again. Taking in the surroundings and frowning slightly. "So. What's the plan?" He asks, "We're either actually in the Fuedal Era," his tone makes him sound like he hopes they ARE in the Fuedal Era, "Or we're in some strange Doll populated dimension. Which I will know less about than what vegetables to eat." He shrugs a shoulder. Then blinks at Steven before punching him lightly in the shoulder. "Nice scarf little dude. And you won't need it, you're plenty brave! But it looks good on ya!"

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Jupiter [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Talismans? Sailor Jupiter has never heard that word used in a good context before and reflexively tenses up--but when Hinayo approaches her, smiling warmly as she carries a beautiful embroidered bag, she can't help but smile back as she accepts the gift. "I do," she replies... and then wraps Hinayo up in a great big Makohug. "Thank you," she whispers. "For everything."

A moment later, she pulls away, smiling fiercely. "We'll be back before you know it!" She bows to the Empress, then turns to the others as she tucks the bag away someplace safe. It looks like everyone else is getting heartened too, and she grins to see it. Who knew talismans could be a good thing!

Lancelot asks what the plan is. Jupiter punches a fist into her palm. "We find the bad guys, beat them up, and rescue the princess!" she declares. ...someone might want to fill in some details there.

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

The Wind Knight (Wind Samurai?) looks at the pan-pipes, handling them respectfully - not 'delicately,' not as though she's afraid of them, but with a conscious awareness that they're Important. "My thanks to you, Sensei, for this talisman," she says solemnly to the sorcerer, bowing politely. "I'll keep these close at hand for when we need them."

Under other circumstances, she might not be quite so grateful for a musical instrument - she's usually fairly reluctant to participate in karaoke, and she considers her musical talents meager at best. But being given a gift of pan-pipes, in a situation like this, she's sure that she's meant to play them - and to be *able* to play them, her normal skills (or lack) notwithstanding - when happiness needs to be brought. By the same token, though, she refrains from testing them out; a magical gift is best kept ready for when its magic is required, even if it can be used more than a handful of times.

She looks around briefly, indulging a measure of curiosity about the other items which are being bestowed on the magical warriors here assembled, girls and boys alike. There's no shortage of gifts being given - and while the Wind Knight may not the significance or symbolism in every case, she's sure every talisman is very likely find its use before this quest is over.

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

La Sirene de Diamant, or perhaps the Diamond Siren of Mount Kouhai-gyou, bows deeply at the waist. She is able to lash her brass lantern to the sash of her monastic outfit as well, providing her with the position she's used to now, and then she's offered a present.

She and Batiste bow again to the bearer of drinks. "... I understand," she says as she takes the fan, holding it in her right hand and opening it to admire the design for a moment. Batiste does similarly, although he must stow it, like a sword, for he can't walk on his hind legs for long.

"Thank you, for your generosity. We will remember," the Siren says. The fan is raised, half-veiling her lips.

<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Pine says that they will, and with her and Lera beside her, Passion looks into her ally's eyes before she nods. ...Then her attention goes to the woman in red, the beautiful doll who so captured her. ...She's been shy to use her name, still adjusting to the idea that she's even allowed.

But... Talismans? They're thanked, and Passion stands stoic at that, except that she watches them smile and that is already wonderful on its on, a preview of what it could be. ...Of what it should be.

Passion reaches out with both hands to collect the white half of the pendant. "...?" A pause. "Found..." Something like that means a lot to her; she looks back to Lera as she speaks, and smiles. "Mm! They go together..."

Passion has a touch of warmth to her, hidden, displaying with a little more subtlety, maybe apt to the court. But she nods firmly. "I'll do my very best," she promises, and from her it is no less certain for not presenting the outcome. She sets the pendant about her neck, where it rests among white and pink layers, and she briefly takes Lera's hand. "We will."

But... The plan....

Jupiter suggests one. Passion, more retiring, hesitates before adding, "We should go to where she was taken." She doesn't find it her place to say this. ...But... Well, Pine's theory... "Labyrinth is willing to go beyond Earth," she says. "...But we have to go regardless of who it is."

She turns to the doll in the red kimono, "Thank you." Then to the exit. ...She's not eager precisely, but intent to get going.

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

Sourisi smiled as the dolls before them all began to hope once more. It doesn't matter that they may be made out of cloth, porcelain or yarn, the imperial court here is just as human as the Magical Girls and Boys before them. There was help to be given, and Sourisi wouldn't be her if she simply looked the other way when there was a baby in danger.

Upon hearing that they were going to be gifted talismans, Sourisi tilted her head in confusion. "Why are we-" She cut herself off as the firm hand of the samurai rested upon her shoulder, and Sourisi looked up at the noble guardian's face. Those strong features, stern, yet with soften edges due to the will of the man before her, made her nod her head before taking notice of the talisman gifted to her.

The calligraphy brush she was gifted with was beautifully gilded in polished bronze, and Sourisi has her smile hidden by her ninja hood as she notices the mouse motif on it. The tip of the brush glistened with the finest ink, yet didn't drip as she held it in her hand. Taking hold of the brush with her left hand, she makes sure to memorize the samurai's words of advice, cryptic as they may be. "Let no darkness go unmarked...I shall, samurai-san."

The mouse ninja girl looks after the Samurai as he approached Lancelot, then starts to take notice of the others as they receive their gifts. Taking a chance, she walks over to Steven and speaks quietly to him, not wanting to potentially disturb the dolls. "I'm really...new to this sort of events, but...is getting pulled into dreams and helping out dolls find their children happen often?"

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


Finally, Steven decides to speak! THe wonderment of this event had taken his tongue for quite a while! He never thought finding a small peach cake with what he thought of as a test label, would bring him to a place like this! The boy lets out the sound of amazement as a rainbow scarf is draped upon him. "I uh, thank you!"

Steven's garb consists of a traveler's hakama in various shades of blue and pink. Upon his back is a shamisen, well strung and vibrantly painted in reddish colors. His hair is held back in some sort of bun, which he has been picking at since arrival. He sports a pair of geta on his feet, whose toes they support barely poke out of the hakama. The scarf is a welcome accessory!

"Hey! Thanks man!" Steven replies with to Takeo. "Nonetheless, I gotta say it is stylish." He turns to the two dolls of ministry and bows to them for their gift. Or tries to. He stumbles some due to the geta. "S-Sorry!" he says, catching himself. "Thank you so much! We will find the princess!"

Has he actually saved a princess before? It is one of those things he has always wanted to do, too! The boy makes sure the scarf is well tucked around his neck as to not lose it. "We got this!" he says to everyone else. He seems unusually excitable to this change of events. Wonder if there's a particular reason for this?

A look to a friendly ninja! She has quite the cool outfit. "Hahaha! Sorta! Though all sorts of freaky things can happen, where others need help and we folks able to help get brought to them somehow." A pause. "This particular kind of thing though is new to me as well. Magical stuff is super fun to be a part of!"

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

The dark forest was easy to see out the window, and it's easy to get to -- the shortest of hops from the massive and lovely front gate of the castle (all lacquer and carvings; truly suitable for a doll's house), down a nobly cared-for road for a few feet, and then it's all roots and trunks and vines and darkness.

That's inadequate, though. Let's talk about them in some detail.

The roots are the most prominent thing, here at the bottom of the forest-cum-tower. Any single one of them is wider around than the tallest of the group is tall (probably Jupiter), and yet there's a distinct tapering as they enter the ground. 'Enter' doesn't capture it quite right, though. They stab the ground. They pierce it. Green growing things are a revolution, a miracle, but these roots are the opposite. They're revolting in the way that they stab downwards, the way that they violently rip the life from the earth.

The trunks and vines are the same thing, mostly. This place is somewhat like a banyan tree -- there's a keen sense that it is all one single living organism. There's no diversity at all, just endless twining gray-green vines that, in sufficient density, become trunks. They exude a musk that is difficult to describe; it is both sickly and bitter, rather than properly sweet.

The darkness is everywhere. There is nothing but shadow; the overgrowth blots out the sun completely. But there are gradients -- places where the layering is lighter and things are merely gray, or thicker, where the only light there is comes from the magical girls themselves. Whether more or less dark, however, it is always hungry... and always watching.

There is no path up the tree but the one forged for oneself. It is much too thick to fly up, and in any event too much slashing or blasting might endanger the baby, who could be anywhere, within.

And the tree is eager to add to its collection. Just as the group begins to climb in earnest, their handholds and footholds betray them, seeking to snatch and grab and entwine -- and drag apart, and separate!

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe transforms into The Jungle Malicious!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Entangling Vines! on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Steven Universe transforms into Steven Quartz Universe!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Entangling Vines! on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Entangling Vines! on Sailor Jupiter.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Entangling Vines! on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Entangling Vines! on La Sirene de Diamant.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Entangling Vines! on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Entangling Vines! on Sourisi.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Entangling Vines! on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Cure Passion narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Entangling Vines!, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Cure Passion's Fade ability
activates!  Tangle and Trap applied to Cure Passion!
COMBAT: Sourisi narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Entangling Vines!, taking 2 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Sourisi's Fade ability
activates!  Sourisi's Flash ability activates!  Tangle and Trap applied to Sourisi!
COMBAT: Lera Camry perfectly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Entangling Vines!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Critical Dodge!
Lera Camry's Fade ability activates!  Lera Camry's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Entangling Vines!, taking 2 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Jupiter's Block ability
activates!  Sailor Jupiter's Parry ability activates!  Tangle applied to Sailor Jupiter!
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant perfectly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Entangling Vines!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Brace!  La
Sirene de Diamant's Block ability activates!  La Sirene de Diamant's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Steven Universe narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Entangling Vines!, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Steven Universe's Block
ability activates!  Steven Universe's Parry ability activates!  Tangle and Trap applied to Steven Universe!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji narrowly counters Hotaru Tomoe's Entangling Vines!, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Tangle and Trap
applied to Fuu Hououji!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji's counterattack, Sword Strike, partially gets through, doing 4 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Lancelot narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Entangling Vines!, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Lancelot's Block ability activates!
Lancelot's Parry ability activates!  Tangle and Trap applied to Lancelot!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Lera squeezes Passion's hand, when she takes hers -- and looks sideways at her, before she nods once to her. She hears the plan. She nods.

And they find that flora here is ready to kill them. The terrifying dark jungle is something that one could get lost in easily -- with all those terrifying roots, all those huge leaves, and the fact that no sun gets through. She comes to a stop before the tree, then she stares up at it, and grits her teeth once. She starts climbing -- though she flies, where she needs to.

Which is when the first pair of vines try to grab at her. She pushes off the tree, then flies upward, past the vines that snap at her. She grits her teeth. "Passion, be careful!"

<We'll need to be. We can't attack recklessly here.>

"I-I wouldn't do that..."

Lera lands ahead of the crimson Cure, and then she extends a hand down to her. "Need a boost?"

COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Clasped Hands on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Cure Passion accepts Lera Camry's Clasped Hands, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cure Passion is Cheered!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Going to a dark forest is one thing in theory. ...Finding this dark forest, after the lovely doll's house and nobly cared-for road...

It unsettles Cure Passion, visible in the slight stiffness of her shoulders, the light frown on her lips as she carefully walks through. She is not so tall as Jupiter, even smaller at these roots, and the trunks and the vines... It's all the same. The vines... Sickly, bitter...

It is tinged with memory for Cure Passion, of plants that are not kind but chillingly ruel, sharp... and hungry. She shakes her hea as she tries to put aside the comparison in her mind. She focuses on moving through.

..She tries very hard to find a path, rather than force it, to look for the point of least resistance, to avoid touching the worst of it... But she can't fnd such a thing. SHe'll have to just climb, and she does, but while she keeps some of her path, her hand is grabbed, her path goes off where it should be--"Ah--"

It stings. Her heart feels tight. But...

The orange-haired girl ahead of her lands and offers a hand, and Passion, surprised, reaches out to take it with an intent look. "...Yes," she says, and manages a small smile. "Let's go together."

So that's what she'll aim to do.

COMBAT: Cure Passion has used Clasped Hands on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Lera Camry accepts Cure Passion's Clasped Hands, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Lera Camry is Cheered!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Tree-climbing also isn't a thing that the Wind Knight is particularly used to - but the only way through is up, and the only way up is one handhold andor foothold at a time. Climbing it is; she starts picking her way up the vinestrunksrootswhatever, doing her best to keep an eye on where her allies are.

And then the vegetation stops being stable or reliable, and turns treacherous in a way that only animate beings can. The Wind Knight freaks out just a bit, instinctively conjuring her sword and trying to cut herself loose - but while the Escudo blade bites into a vine, there are *many* extensions of the plant trying to wrap around her and deprive her of purchase to keep climbing; the sword quickly vanishes again, willed back into storage rather than risk getting lost entirely.

"Is everyone all right?" she calls out, trying again to keep track of where the others are. That's a lot harder when she's been twisted around so her *back* is to the great dark tree; she focuses her efforts on trying to extricate herself while listening for answers ... and trying to figure out what the best way *is* to keep ascending.

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

"now that's the kind of battle plan I can get behind!" Lancelot says with a grin to Jupiter. Which is true. Lancelot's battle plans tend to be one of two intricate and beautifully organized plans. The first: Hit em Hard! The Second: Hit em Harder! So it is that he laughs with Jupiter and then grins to Steven giving his accessory a thumbs up.

As they make their way up the tree, Lancelot is careful where he puts his feet and hand holds He blinks as the vines and roots try to entangle him but he brings his blades quickly around to smack the encrouching things from snagging him. He turns and grins to La Sirene, "Heya Sirene. Let's get up this thing, save a baby, and the day eh?" He offers a hand with a big goofy grin to help her up to the next level of the Tree.

COMBAT: Lancelot has used Climb That Tree on La Sirene de Diamant.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Moment of Stillness on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji accepts Fuu Hououji's Moment of Stillness, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Fuu Hououji is Reinforced
by Fuu Hououji!
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant accepts Lancelot's Climb That Tree, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene de Diamant is Cheered!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Jupiter [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Jupiter grins back at Lancelot, and gives a kind smile over to Steven. "Magic can be fun, but it can be dangerous sometimes too, so keep an eye out, okay?" she tells him, kneeling down to look him in the eye. "Don't worry too much, though. We've all got your back!"

Soon enough, everyone's on the road (so to speak), heading into the dark forest. The roots are massive, but that just means it's easier to find footholds and handholds. That's the only positive here, though. The roots just have this sense of *wrongness*, of tearing life from the soil rather nurturing it. Jupiter scowls to see it, to smell it, to *feel* it. "This isn't right at all..." she mutters.

And even then, the handholds and footholds betray her--the greenery snatches hold of her and tries to carry her away! Jupiter yelps, grabbing hold of the trunk and bracing herself; she manages to keep herself from getting dragged off to who knows where, but she's still entwined in the dark greenery.

"You've got some nerve, trying to use plantlife against *me*!" she declares. With a fierce roar, she pulls her right arm back as far as she can with all her strength; then she SLAMS her fist into the trunk in an impressive punch. Hopefully that'll get the rest of this misbehaving plantstuff to back off. "Hanging in there!" she calls over towards the Wind Knight.

COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has used Back Off Branches! on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The dark and mystic green of these towering trees sings to the Siren, even if she is, perhaps, more of a creature of crag and surf and rocky beaches. Even so, there are forests in the Sea of Tears... Batiste looks up and around, standing on his hind legs.

The smell in the air takes a minute to reach her awareness as something unnatural. It is only when the vines come towards her that the Siren recoils, Batiste himself leaping into the air and catching on the loose cloth of her mantle, scrambling up to the safety of a shoulder perch as she twists her arm around, cool inverted light running along her body like poured water as she swings towards that tree.

The touch fends the vine off, but not far. Her cheeks puff out; it's so close in here, she thinks -

A hand comes down.

The Siren looks up, and she smiles. Her dark-ringed eyes are eerie here, but her smile is genuine. Taking Lancelot's hand she pulls herself upwards, even as Batiste tells the knight, "Thank you so much. I think that the energy of the Pharos can fend them off. Our sun, you see, is not the same as the one they know."

The Siren looks towards Jupiter, then upwards. Her left hand raises, and she tells Lancelot, a little shyly, "I'll be careful right now, but you might like to watch. I've wondered, do you think the light is beautiful?"

She does not invoke Les Mysteres, not like this. Instead, she sends snaking vines upwards, the undulating hydraulic in its motion, like an anemone reaching upwards, negative light glowing mystically in this green and overgrown gloom. There are highlights that might be red, or violet, or pale green.

Several more vines prod towards the Siren, but she is protected from at least those brief sallies by the faint sheen around her body. Of course, that might also mean she needs something bigger aimed at her, especially when her way, foretold by those dark lights, lead to her resuming an upward climb. "Where the light lingered, I think that is safe," she tells Lancelot, over her shoulder.

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has used Polyploia on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Sailor Jupiter's Back Off Branches!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Sailor Jupiter
is Psyched!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to brace La Sirene de Diamant's Polyploia, taking 25 Fatigue damage!  Tangle applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Sourisi let out a sigh of relief upon hearing Steven's words. "Whew, good to know that i'm not the only new-ish person here. Everyone else seems to know what they are doing, so I was afraid to ask!" The ninja girl rubbed the back of her neck in slight embarrasment before noticing that the others were leaving without her, and she rushes after the others.

Seeing that there was no other way than up the Tower of Dark Growth, as Sourisi was mentally calling it, the ninja girl carefully tucked the caligraphy brush inside her outfit. Quickly making a mental note to ask Takk about trying to add pockets to her normal costume later, Sourisi starts to climb up the vines, and finding handholds very easily to grasp.

The lack of any obvious enemies, like giant man-eating plants, and the overall creepy and depressing vibe coming from the gray light filtering inside, has Sourisi on edge, with her constantly shifting her head around her in an attempt to find any evil root archers. Unfortunately, that leaves her open to the current threat at hand, namely the vines that just grasped Sourisi around her right wrist, instead of Sourisi grasping them. Gasping in surprise, she tries reaching for a tonfa with her free hand to wack some sense into the vile growth, but her left arm is tangled with more vines, and she finds herself being pulled away from the others. "Hey, watch out! Look where you grab!" She manages to call out to those still climbing before she is pulled from sight of the rest of the group.

Struggling against the vines pulling her away from the others, she finds little give and growls in annoyance at being caught off guard so easily. "Come on...there has to be something...wait...my legs are free? Ah hah!" Indeed, the mouse-themed ninja girl finds her legs are clear of any invasive growth, and as she is pulled near a 'branch', she wraps her legs around it to anchor herself before starting to pull back. She wasn't trying to pull the vines out of where they were growing, but more to pull herself free of the dark trap.

"I'm okay too! The greenery is a little tight on my wrists, though!" While she can hear the Wind Knight and Sailor Jupiter cry out, she couldn't make any sense of their direction from where she was. The Dark Growth around her distorted the sense of direction of where their voices were coming from.

COMBAT: Sourisi has used Let Go, You Weed! on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly dodges Sourisi's Let Go, You Weed!, taking 16 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe's Fade ability
activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Steven may yet regret going to find the princess so happily however. One look at that forest sends chills up his spine, but he has to go forward! He promised to help. "Perhaps it isn't that bad?" he asks rhetorically. Upon closer inspection, it is only worse however.

It was remniscent of the forests in horror movies, meant to invoke suspense and fear. The smell doesn't help either. Like some kind of compost heap scent. The inability to see much of their surroundings is probably the worst. Who knows what could be out there lurking, watching, waiting...?

As the group begins to finally make progress, the trees themselves lash out at everyone! "Look out!" he says, before the vines grasp the boy. Steven begins to struggle against the vines, summoning his shield to attack!

The shield looks different. Rather than round, it is more rectangular in shape, taller than it is wide. A symbol much like a budding rose can be seen at the top, with thorny vine motifs swirling downward. It is otherwise much like his shield usually is. Translucent, pink with blue edging, and painful to whatever gets hit by it.

Especially encroaching vines! "We need to try and fins somewhere safe!" Sirene and Lancelot's comments have him looking around for possible sanctuary spots. If light could help them, was there a way they could punch a hole through the canopy to let more light in?

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Shield Slam on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe perfectly counters Steven Universe's Shield Slam, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Counter!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe's counterattack, Girl vs. Environment, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Steven Universe!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

Somehow it doesn't seem quite as dark in here with such nice things being said. Words of support are as bright as any flashlight, any torches (though the lack of fire here is probably good).

A little violence doesn't go totally amiss, though. Jupiter's punch causes the whole trunk to vibrate, and where those ripples of force travel up trunks to vines to leaves, they make the leaves unravel themselves right off their twigs. That makes it easier to see upwards, and easier to hear, too --

-- there's the faintest snatch of a distant cry.

La Sirene's snaking vines of unlight catch snaking vines of unplant (though that might be unfair; dark it may be, but it's definitely a plant) as they descend towards the group, pushing them out of the way. Sourisi rips more of them down, although, disturbingly, their being separated from the main trunk does not make them stop wriggling. And Steven slams about with his shield -- and discovers that the roots slam back, matching him strike for strike!

In fact, the roots in general seem eager to pursue the group up the tree. They tear themselves free with dreadful power, chunks of dried, drained dirt spraying everywhere. And, twisting into sharp points, they try to pierce at the group's elaborate costumes, hoping to catch and pin them before they can go any higher!

And, if touched, they seem to drain the very life out of their victim, just like they did the ground! Skin goes pale and loses all color, as does clothing. And it feels terribly cold...

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Roots of Darkness! on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Roots of Darkness! on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Roots of Darkness! on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Roots of Darkness! on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Roots of Darkness! on Sailor Jupiter.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Roots of Darkness! on La Sirene de Diamant.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Roots of Darkness! on Sourisi.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Roots of Darkness! on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Cure Passion narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Roots of Darkness!, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Cure Passion's Block ability
activates!  Cure Passion's Parry ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe drains 4 fatigue from Cure Passion!
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Roots of Darkness!, taking 14 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene de Diamant's
Block ability activates!  La Sirene de Diamant's Parry ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe drains 6 fatigue from La Sirene de
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji perfectly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Roots of Darkness!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Fuu Hououji's
Fade ability activates!  Fuu Hououji's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Roots of Darkness!, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe drains 2 fatigue
from Sailor Jupiter!
COMBAT: Lera Camry narrowly counters Hotaru Tomoe's Roots of Darkness!, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Lera Camry's Reverse ability
activates!  Lera Camry's Tactician ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe drains 3 fatigue from Lera Camry!
COMBAT: Lera Camry's counterattack, Sentinel Flash, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Steven Universe fails to dodge Hotaru Tomoe's Roots of Darkness!, taking 42 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Hotaru Tomoe
drains 17 fatigue from Steven Universe!
COMBAT: Lancelot fails to dodge Hotaru Tomoe's Roots of Darkness!, taking 30 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe drains 12 fatigue from
COMBAT: Sourisi narrowly counters Hotaru Tomoe's Roots of Darkness!, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe drains 3 fatigue from
COMBAT: Sourisi's counterattack, Vine Whip, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Lera's hand squeezes onto Passion's, and then she nods down at her. She keeps moving, though, and finds the way is not clear. As she climbs up, she grits her teeth and tries to stay ahead of those terrible, peiercing roots. It proves hard to manage -- especially as another pair come in, and one gets quite close to her. <Look out! Sentinel Flash!>

Soaring Sky flashes -- a cross-shaped pair of light beams, off the sword-Device in her hand -- and the vine scrapes along the edge of it and almost slashes into Lera. A few locks of red-orange hair flutter away after it hits.

"I'm going to try to clear a few away!" she calls out. It's aimed at Passion, but at the others too. Lera kicks off the tree and comes at the roots. As she does, she spins around, and then slams her foot for one -- trying to kick it back, before she rises back up to the tree.

COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Sonic Kick on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Jupiter's boisterous approach to the plants catches Passion's eye; she says nothing to the other girl, but she watches her for a moment, admiring that kind of strength. ...She's not sure what she can do to help the others, but she makes sure to keep an eye out for them anyway, not wanting to leave anyone behind as they work.

With Lera, it's definitely better going than without; she feels better about it, more buoyed against this awful place, these awful vines. But that cry--is it there? The light certainly is, or unlight, or whatever it is from the beautiful Sirene, but abrubtly the vines are coming.

The sharp points tear towards her and Passion spins into their way, snapping out her left arm to knock the one closest to her free. ...The color drains from her arm and partly from her face, the cold awful. "Mm--" She doesn't show much reaction, but she sways briefly. Then she sees--

"Lera, I'm going to help him," Passion calls back, and jumps away from the orange-haired girl towards Steven, a red aura about her as she grips beside Steven, looks to him. "...We'll be safe together." Her presence, briefly, is a beacon of good memory, happiness, in all this dark... despite her hand still being too pale.

COMBAT: Cure Passion has used The Crimson Heart on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Steven Universe accepts Cure Passion's The Crimson Heart, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Accelerate and Empower
applied to Steven Universe!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Leaping to the side Lancelot tries to use his quickness ot get out of the way fo the incoming and piercing vines. However, while he does manage to dodge the one he intended to not be impaled by, he finds himself right in front of another of the things. "Oh. Snap Crackers." He manages to say before one of the vines hits him in the thigh. He drops to a knee wincing in pain as he feels energy frain from him and blinks when the armor and cloth there turn a sicklier white than the pure white that was there, and the blue turns a light and sickly gray.

He grits his teeth and pushes himself to standing hissing at the pain there. "Careful." He says through gritted teeth. "This may be a Doll world but it hurts real enough." Then he launches forward drawing the Daisho that Arondight had become. The twin blades crackle with lightning as they slide free from the bamboo sheathes and explode with even more of the energy as he slashes at the vines calling out, "LIGHTNING IMPACT!" The edges sending pulsing waves of lighting with each swing of the impossibly sharp blades.

COMBAT: Lancelot has used Lightning Impact on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

The vines move with frightening alacrity. Every attack Steven tries to land as he makes his escape do nothing. These plants are tough! He would say they have been eating their vegetables, but it is highly possible they have been eating something else. Something that everyone here is made of.

The boy begins to climb as fast as he can, though the roots easily catch him. This is their domain. They know how to move, and where their targets are at all times. The roots grasp Steven, and he begins to feel ill. Part of his hakama turns gray instead of blue. The vibrant colors of his shield seem to become more muted. "Ugh..."

Steven feels tired. It was difficult to move. But he had to continue! The boy looks to his scarf, given to him by the dolls. He had to be brave, but it was hard to move--

And then Passion arrives. The boy looks to her. "I remember..." He remembers the day she became Passion. Plants attempted at all their lives. It was the same here. They made it through that. They can make it through this. "We will...!" he says, fighting his best against the draining, finding the strength to get through. "We can do this!"

The boy finds the strength to push forward, brandishing his shield at nearby roots to keep them at bay! He will have to thank Passion again once this is all over! "Was that a crying sound?" He couldn't be sure, but it sounded like someone in trouble ahead!

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Shield Bash on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Jupiter [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

The tree quivers and the leaves shake out of the way. Good; for all the force of her punch, Jupiter's aim wasn't to hurt the tree but to clear their way. Cure Passion catches her eye, and Jupiter gives her a grin and a thumbs up before getting back to climbing up. "I'll try to clear a path up!" she calls to the others--after all, she's got an affinity with trees, so she ought to have the easiest time getting up, right? It might not work with a tree of darkness, though.

Especially since those roots come again for her, this time with a sapping coldness. "Argh!!" she utters as they wrap around her ankles. She kicks them off as best she can, managing to get them away before they can pierce through her clothes--good thing this battle kimono has a short skirt-but she can still feel those rings of cold--so cold--around her feet, stinging through her white tabi like they weren't even there... It's also a good thing she's got so much upper body strength, or else she'd be in trouble as far as climbing goes.

"This is taking forever," she says, scowling as she looks down at the roots and then up at the treetops. There--a crying sound, somewhere far above...! They've got to hurry. And Jupiter has just the solution! "I'll try to tie up these roots," she calls. And, while she can't spin herself, pink flower petals spin around her as she concentrates and manifests her will. "FLOWER... HURRICANE!!"

The cyclone of petals WHOOSHES around and above, whirling around the others and their assailant roots and up the tree trunk. Hopefully those petals will keep the branches busy for a while, leaving Jupiter and the others free (or free*r*) to get to the top that much faster. The baby princess needs them!

COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has used Flower Hurricane on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The Siren climbs. The vines...

"It's peculiar," Batiste observes, "that they seem to be so insistent. It's not just an alien plant. Something about it - kyahh!!"

Because one particular vine just came around and stabbed down as if to tap into the Siren's body! The blow comes to the left, and as she's struck, her back arches and she makes a noise that is half scream and half groan, even as the color seems to flow out of her, pouring up that root as her head presses against the side of the roots where she had been climbing.

Batiste looks in dismay at the fluttering eyes of the Siren! "It certainly does," she husks out to reply to Lancelot. Her fingers curl downwards into the grasping handholds where she had been supporting herself...

The light around her flutters for a moment, and then she twists around suddenly! One arm windmills out and strikes at that vine, pulling at it, to get it loose as the light around her heightens, eerie silver characters seeming to form in her shadow but not in the visible shape she casts.

"What - crying?" she then says. Her head lifts up, almost snapping to attention. She calls out to Steven, "Which way did you hear it?!" The light pulses, rippling forwards, aiming to pour into that suckling root. Does it hunger for something? Let it choke. Plants don't USUALLY like salt, right? And this is an aether that comes from a far-off, deep sea. Even so, the Siren's teeth clench.

She feels cold... that isn't very common for her.

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has used Shine On Through The Night on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Souris is at a standstill as she tries to pull herself free from the vines encirling both of her arms and wrists. She wasn't sliding free of the branch, but she wasn't making any progress of pulling herself free from the vines either, and her shoulders were starting to become sore from the effort.

And that's when the distant sound of a baby crying out in distress reaches her ears from above.

"The Empress' child...let me go, you stupid, overgrown weed! I got a doll to sa-" "RIIIIIIP!" Sourisi's no doubt heroic cry to action is cut short as she redoubled her efforts to pull herself free, only for the vines to rip as she pulls back one last time and lands on her back. Quietly thankful that no one is around to see her make a fool of herself there, she stands upright and notices two things. The first was that she was apparently a lot stronger than she realized, and the second? That the still wiggling vines have not loosen their grip on her in the slightest. "Ewwwww...why can't I have a brown thumb on the things I want to die?"

As if taking insult from this, the very roots of the Tower uproot and start darting upwards, with a rather large one heading straight at Sourisi. Deciding that it would be a -very- good idea to avoid the roots causing the decayed earth below, she turns and jumps upwards, heading in the direction she thought she heard the crying come from. Using the vines attached to her arms to her advantage, she swings them at branches above her, using them as makeshift grappling hooks and to help her make quick turns in an effort to avoid the roots chasing after her. "Ugh, is this how Ladybug climbs with her yo-yo? I don't see how she stands all this swinging!"

Catching a flash of light out of the corner of her eye as she ascends, she spots a samurai with a rather massive blade in hand, sending out beams of lightning with every swing. Seeing that she could make the next jump on her own without the wiggling vines, she leaps out, grasps her tonfa in both of her hands and throws them at the nearest roots near Lancelot, all while in midair. "Hey, Mister Samurai, this way!"

COMBAT: Sourisi has used Crashing Tooth on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Struggling has its benefits, at least once in a while; in the Wind Knight's case, she's able to deprive the vines (or whatever part of the plant they are) enough of a grip that the roots tug at her clothes but *don't* pierce through. On the downside, she can't break loose yet - and the sound of that distant cry, faint as it is, still catches her attention and reminds her that she can't afford to whip up a serious storm.

So she keeps struggling, managing to slip an arm free for a moment, then an ankle; the tree isn't so quick to relinquish its clutches on her, but if she can move faster than the plant-matter tendrils can, then hopefully she can outpace it and win her liberty. But in the course of that -


- she sees one of the youngest present getting brutalized mercilessly by the fiendish foliage, and her heart leaps into her throat. Cure Passion is there far faster than the Wind Knight can be, and that reassures the green-clad Magic Samurai, but there has to be more she can do ...

"Steven-san, you're the smallest one here!" she calls out, hazarding a suggestion that *might* be useful. "You can get through openings the rest of us can't; you might be able to lose some of those stalking roots among the trunks if you have to!"

Of course, if he takes that advice and gets hurt because of it, the Wind Knight is not going to forgive herself ... and neither will the Crystal Gems, she knows that without even having to ask. But ... she has faith in him, too.

She continues trying to climb further, taking in as much about her surroundings as she can - not just by sight, but by hearing, even by smell if that helps.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Favorable Observation on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge La Sirene de Diamant's Shine On Through The Night, taking 21 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene de
Diamant is Psyched!  Diversion applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Lancelot's Lightning Impact, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Lancelot is Psyched!  Diversion and
Exhausted applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly dodges Sourisi's Crashing Tooth, taking 24 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Hotaru Tomoe's Fade
ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Lera Camry's Sonic Kick, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Lera Camry is Psyched!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe perfectly dodges Steven Universe's Shield Bash, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Hotaru Tomoe's
Fade ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Sailor Jupiter's Flower Hurricane, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Jupiter is Psyched!
COMBAT: Steven Universe accepts Fuu Hououji's Favorable Observation, taking 0 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

It's a desperate race up the tree, away from the life-draining roots and towards... the baby, hopefully.

The wailing -- and there's nothing worse than the sound of an infant in distress who one cannot immediately help -- acts as a soundtrack to the desperate fight-and-flight that plays out.

Although it seems to be answered, in duet, by a basso so low and slow that it's practically unintelligible.


Lera slams back a root with an axe kick that sends her soaring upwards; Steven struggles to find purchase with his shield, but is supported by both Cure Passion and the Magic Knight of Wind. Standing together, the three of them are also able to find a path.


As the situation becomes more desperate -- the fighting more thick, literally, because the vines are becoming more dense the higher they go -- the gloves come off. Lancelot slashes away, thunder booming in his wake; a different kind of sonic boom follows Sourisi's tonfa as they soar across the space to lay the smackdown on a root that would have taken him from behind. But the wailing is still distant... this was probably safe...


Sailor Jupiter starts winding up with a tremendous floral power, but roots are closing in around her on all sides. She needs time to wreak her miracle, and it's time bought by La Sirene, who tries to flood the encroaching roots with seawater-flavored unlight. This enjoys only mixed success -- they don't seem as put off by salt as one might hope -- but it takes them time to burst through the immense quantity of it. Time in which a great mass of petals build... and explode.


Everyone rockets upwards on the wake of a finely-perfumed shockwave. Petals pour behind them, while above, they burst through a layer of vines, then are able to spot a gap in the main trunk--

--one just large enough for Steven to squeeze through. The others are able to follow a heartbeat later, through some higher forks in the branches.

They land in something like a chamber. The heart of the wood, perhaps. The darkness is strongest here. It pulses. It roils. And at its heart is crying, terrible crying...

...which is becoming... a giggle?

"Puri pi! Puri kyua!!"

The baby is apparently a lamb. With fluffy pink ears and tail, and a supernova star on its brow. And big, liquid brown eyes...

Chiffon lifts her arms, a clear request to be picked up.

But before anyone can quite reach her--


The darkness pulses once more, then expands to fill this space, pushing everyone, infant fairy included, out with such force that it sends them clear of the forest entirely!

And out in open space, at a height sufficient to see the whole tree, it is possible to know it for what it is. That cavity they were just in? That was its eye socket. Which is now full of a baleful red eye.

It clenches its vines into terrible clawed fists. It raies a rooted foot for a massive stomp.

"SOREWATASE!!" it repeats.

But why is it so large? --oh.

It's just that everyone is very, very small...