2017-12-10 - What Lies Beneath 15

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What Lies Beneath 15

The magical girls fight through more of Northa's illusions in order to reclaim a stolen piece of the World Tree's power -- and their connections to one another.


Setsuna Higashi, Saki Hyuuga, Northa, Lera Camry, Inori Yamabuki, Niramo Umokeshi, Kasagami Araki, Fuu Hououji, Anthy Himemiya, Honoka Yukishiro, Nagisa Misumi, Westar, Steven Universe, Nori Ankou


Desolate Mansion, Nishitama Park District, Tama

OOC - IC Date:

12-10-2017 - 03-10-2015

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

Roots cover a giant cylinder, wending around and over it from beneath to above, where in both cases vision fades at the enormity of this... chamber, such as it is. It is yellow, sickly, radiating misery. Greens and browns... and vines, too, wicked and dangerous, radiating a palpable awfulness that rests under that of the chamber. This is the Fuko Gauge, the repository of all the misery energy that Labyrinth has collected since beginning work on Earth. Beside it is a catwalk, all metals with white railings, reached by a chamber with strange circuitry all along the walls. Technomagic is on full display here; it feels alien, even before the yawning abyss of black that makes up the rest. It is huge. It is here. ...And so are assembled magical girls who have fought through Northa's despair to reach this place.

Cure Passion stands before the Fuko Gauge, in red with her pink hair, a serious look on her face as she looks to the crowd and prepares her further explanation. She has just finished cautioning the group that they cannot attack this monstrosity, this awful thing, and is already drawing the breath for the rest of her explanation, as she looks over each of the others. ...One hand comes up to her heart, to the clover emblem there. ...Public speaking isn't exactly her strength. Regardless:

"...The Fuko Gauge is this," she explains, for those who don't know what she means, gesturing with her free hand to the titanic cyldiner behind her. "It contains all the Misery Energy that Labyrinth has gathered on Earth. Every Nakewameke, yes--but much more than that. It's been able to grow farther than that, thanks to the connection that's been forged with the World Tree. If it's broken... The area will be saturated with Misery Energy. Endless despair--everyone here will be drawn into it, with no chance of escape. ...And with as much is here, with it being full..." Passion shakes her head.

"...That's why I came alone," she says quietly. "To ensure that no one else was caught up in it."

She lowers her hands, turns to look up to the Gauge again, staring at the strange roots and vines intermingling. "...But now that I'm here, to see these roots... I think they're the World Tree's roots, bound to the Gauge now. Even I don't know what will happen if the Misery Energy taints the Tree." She turns back to the others. "...It could spell the end for this world, not just this place or this city."

"I know this because I helped to fill the Fuko Gauge," she says to those she doesn't know, to those who don't know. "I'm not wrong. ...We can't simply break it."

<Pose Tracker> Northa [None] has posed.


Cure Passion tried to solo raid Labyrinth's desolate mansion, and got captured!

Her fairy was able to make it out, and in so doing, helped alert both Passion's loved ones and others who had been looking for the stolen energy of the World Tree!

A joint rescue ensues, but our heroines are met with a warm welcome: Northa, and her weaponized despair perfume, which casts everyone into their personal hell a la illusionary world.

But with a little help from their captured friends, plus the enduring belief of their own hearts that the real world could not be so horrible, they are able to free themselves, and reunite with Setsuna in person, on the catwalk beside the massive and threatening Fuko Gauge... which is completely full of despair energy. Ominously so.


Passion introduces everyone to the Fuko Gauge. Everyone, Fuko Gauge. Fuko Gauge, everyone.

But it turns out that there isn't time for questions, much less debate, because immediately thereafter, almost before her lips finish closing on the final syllable, the whole tower starts to rumble, ear-shatteringly -- the catwalk over the chasm sways, stomach-churningly -- and then the monster comes.

It's hard to see in all the fog, which rose up thicker than soup in the same moment that the earthquake happened, as though the planet itself disgorged bile into this tainted orifice. The fog swallows sound as well as sight; never mind questions, even shouts of alarm or coordination are unable to penetrate, vanishing into the shushing mist, into a sound similar to that of snow collecting on the ground. Very similar.

Everyone will have to face this monster alone, at least until they're able to find one another. Perhaps that's why Northa conjured the fog in the first place.

But the monster -- it's massive, as Sorewatase are wont to be, with a pair of brilliant red eyes that shine piercingly through the gloom. It howls again, and the world howls with it, everything roaring and shaking and tumbling down.

COMBAT: Northa transforms into Sorewatase!
COMBAT: Lera Camry transforms into Barrier Jacket Perihelion!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

The red light washes over Setsuna, and it makes Lera smile. She lowers her sword, a little, though the Device's red gem gleams meaningfully. Sky sees her, too. Her amber eyes soften as she looks at her.

"Passion," the Midchildan says, with a little note of happiness in her voice. And then, her eyes shift upward, towards the Fuko Gauge. The concern is clear in them; so is the determination. So, too, is the seriousness when Setsuna looks back and starts to speak.

She stares up at the gauge as Setsuna explains, and realization sets in. The World Tree -- that immensely powerful, immensely important thing, and Labyrinth had been feeding upon it. She gasps, softly, and stares. Then she looks back at Setsuna. Before she can ask the question on her mind -- what they can possibly do -- the fog swirls up and rises, and her shout vanishes into the fog.

And the brilliant red eye that looks at her is terrible, and not the red eyes she knows. She takes a step backward, gasping. "A Sorewatese!"

<She's not done yet.> Soaring Sky sounds tense. <It's going to be hard to find the others in this!>

"I know! We'll look, but--" The mage kicks off the ground, flying up, and rushes towards the Sorewatese. She wheels backward, and then swings Soaring Sky down in a hearty chop for the side of the tree. When she does, light dances up the blade -- then flashes, exploding out in a burst of golden light when she swings it in.


Lera's jaw tenses. "Passion," she says, quietly. "Pine... I'll try to find you!"

COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Lanzebrecher on Northa.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Pine [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

And then Setsuna - Cure Passion - tells them that it can't be broken. And Pine's face looks confused, uncertainty written into her expression as suddenly her posture goes lax. She'd never seen the Fuku Cylinder before - even if she'd heard about it. Even looking at it just fills her with so much dread.

And Passion reveals why she felt the need to come along - "So that's why..." For a moment that uncertainty remains. Looking at the Fuko Cylinder, hearing her explanation, she can't think up any way to overcome this obstacle but -

"Passion. We'll find a way." She says finally - looking at the other Pretty Cure and Magical Girls, "All of us came here to save you-" Well maybe not everyone but Pine doesn't understand that, "-so we'll all support you in finding a way that noone has to get caught up in it!"

But then the whole tower starts to rumble and shake - and with her posture lax she stumbles - and then the Sorewatase is there.

The fog thickens and suddenly everything goes quiet. Too quiet. Eerily so. In alarm Pine tries to call out- "Passion!?" Terrified when nothing responds - she calls out in turn, "WHITE!? BLACK!? BLOOM!? LERA!?" She half-sobs, "Where is everybody!?"

Nothing. No response. She feels so alone.

Shaken - Pine wonders if she was thrown back into that world of despair once more - even as a Pretty Cure. But the monster is still there. It's real. Just as real as she thought Setsuna being dead to be.

And that feeling - that thought - of someone making her feel like her friend was dead again causes her to clench her fist. "She can't keep us seperated. I'll definitely find them!"

Breaking into a run, she vaults off the ground through this world without images - relieved when the catwalk comes into view. Bounding off it, she sends herself further up to the ceiling - where she reverses herself - and kicks off. Descending - she uses gravity and momentum as her ally. Drawing back her fist - she extends it at the last moment, in an attempt to ram her knuckles into the thing as the rest of her drives her into it. "-HAAA!"

COMBAT: Cure Pine has used Pineapple Punch on Northa.
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Sourisi stares at the Fuko Gauge for a few moments before twisting her gaze away, unable to continue looking at the putrid, nauseating liquid that was the Misery Energy contained within. It disturbed her on some subconcious level, that something this wrong, wrought from the misdeeds brought upon humanity, should be collected and stored, and judging from the immense size of the Fuko Gauge, and the fact it was nearly filled to the brim made it heartwrenching. "Just...how many people have been drowning in misery for all of that to be collected?" It was an answer she really didn't want to get anytime soon.

But the news that this reservoir of despair was somehow intertwined with the World Tree, which was essential to Earth's existence and couldn't be broken without unleashing the Misery Energy throughout perhaps all of Tokyo, or even more, was the most disturbing part. The mouse-eared magical girl rubs an arm in thought, but doesn't risk another direct glance at the Gauge. Once was more than enough for her. Before she could raise a question as to what they could possibly due to somehow safely negate the Misery Energy, the Gauge itself starts to rumble, and the catwalk shake. Sourisi kneels down to brace herself, not trusting in trying to grab a wildly shaking support rail to keep herself upright. She cries out something to the others, but it is lost in the noise.

Then the fog starts to roll in, and Sourisi loses sight of the others.

This fog was all too similar to what she encountered during her trip into the world of dreams, and she stares upwards at the Sorewatase, grimacing. "Were you that reaper monster...? Kasagami? Breeze?...Cure Passion?" Her call out to her friends and allies fails to get any replies, but she knew they had to be fine. Despite what backgrounds they come from, Sourisi trusts in her allies to be fine. It was due to their common purpose and wishes to work with one another that allowed them to push past Northa's despair crystal, and they only had to find each other once again.

Standing upright, her grip tightening on her tonfa, she barely resists the urge to flinch as the Sorewatase's howl manages to pierce the fog, for even shielding her ears could leave an opening. As the roar dies off, she stares back up at the Sorewatase, and yells right back. "You can howl all you want, but all of us, working together, will be the end of you. We're going to stop you and your master from taking advantage of the innocent people of Tokyo, and halt your evil deeds!"

It's not like the Sorewatase could understand her, but hearing her own voice raise up in defiance is comforting to her. With the piercing glow from the eyes of the massive monster guiding her aim, Sourisi throws her tonfa outwards, the fog becoming ever so slightly displaced from their passage. With that, the mouse Miraculous user starts running down the catwalk, hoping that by heading towards the center, she'll be able to find one of her allies.

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

Shaking off the last of the malaise driven into her by seeing her own failed dreams and circumstances, the Engaged sucks in a breath. Arms cross, and she glares. Not at Passion, but at that cylinder full of unspeakable amount of misery.

The options, and implications, are not good at all. Kasagami almost visibly bottles up her anger and frustration, glancing back to Anthy briefly. Then back to the Gauge.

Kasagami listens, but isn't one to not leap into action. She knows however they deal with the thing, she can't be unprepared and this isn't a situation to hold back. After all, they survived, and there's that sorceress running around. Plus who knows how many more minions.

"Anthy! We can't let ourselves get caught off guard! Bring your liege her sword!"

Kasagami awaits for the now-familiar incantation, etched into the mind and heart of anyone who's held the hand of the Rose Bride. She sweeps behind Anthy like a ball dancer, magical winds and shining light casting her face in brilliant warmth as she bends to accept the Rose Bride. A brilliant, fabulous fulcrum, her strong arm easily holds the young woman's weight as she closes her eyes.

She doesn't hesitate in drawing the blade as it's hilt appears in Anthy's chest, wrenched out with a warrior's savagery without care for the one she's holding. The beautiful longsword's blade gleams with light as she holds it before her, pushing Anthy back up to her feet. And most importantly: out of the way.

"Grant me the power to bring World Revolution!" She at once howls and whispers, words coming to none but Bride and Engaged.

And then the long catwalk starts to rumble, and the tower shakes.

"Anthy! Stay behind me. I won't have my sheath cracked." Her stance wide, she waits out the initial rumblings along with that horrid roar. Not one to be afraid of heights, she nevertheless finds it all worrying.

Not for herself, but for the clumsy Bride.

A pause, and she lets her eye blink and adjust. The pain fades from her arm, and power flows through her. Still, just one set of working eyes isn't enough. Then she realizes something. In the chaos of the rumbling? She's alone. Utterly alone. Where's Anthy!?

"Hey! Get out here! Come to your King, Anthy!" Teeth grit. Tch!

No choice. She'll have to fight through and find her wayward sheath.

So first, she takes her attention to the giant youma. Rather than swipe at some vaguely unknown target, she raises her hand. "Creature that hides in the darkness! A King's justice can't be escaped from! Be torn from my path! Stealing something of value to me warrants your destruction!"

Rose petals fall from her hand, seemingly from nowhere. Where once there were but a few petals, rose after dark red rose blooms around Anthy and Kasagami. All at once, it's like they're sitting in the rose garden back at the Engaged's Estate. Shining light, roses, and most of all, the feel of overwhelming magic. And then Kasagami makes a single swiping gesture.

The sharp, magical petals swirl and spin and slash, a gathering tornado set to tear through the fog and into the sorewatase lurking in the gloom!

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki transforms into The One Engaged!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Walking The Garden of Engagement on Northa.
COMBAT: Sourisi has used Crashing Tooth on Northa.
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

La Sirene de Diamant opens her eyes and she looks towards the massive THING before them all, even as Cure Passion explains its function. It looks alien to her on multiple levels, unnatural - the angles, the tones. "Misery Energy... a curdled form of sorrow...? It could wash everywhere," she says.

She sweeps a hand through her smooth black hair. It occurs to her - is this her world? What does she have here?

Friends, she thinks; perhaps more -

This moment of intense consideration, especially as la Sirene is currently "la Sirene sans Loutre," does mean that the dark and glamorous magical girl does not have encouraging words for Cure Passion before the fog rolls in. "Ah?" she says, before the world rumbles, the world is shrouded in cotton...

No. She is not alone here.

Floating like this, or so it seems, la Sirene feels small compared to the vast creature. Her feet leave the ground, or are least relaxed, even as the creature screams sufficiently to shatter the earth itself. The sound breaks through the fog but

if it can scream

so can i,

la Sirene thinks, before she sucks in breath through her teeth. The liminal aura of shaded inverted light around her contracts into her skin for a moment, as if quailing in the face of the Sorewatase.

It feels like it's choking in her throat. Words that had left their mark there when they went to her throat to die, things she didn't say, things she wished she'd said later, things she never thought to speak before it was too late, things she hoped to say that never came to fruit. Still, perhaps, in the ragged after-edge of Northa's despairing fragrance, she finds these thoughts easy to reach.

" !" la Sirene says, and her voice screams out of her mouth like a diamond missile aimed right at the Sorewatase's eyes!

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has used Words We Didn't Say on Northa.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

They can't afford to damage the Fuko Gauge. The Wind Knight opens her mouth briefly, prepared to ask 'why' - but she realizes even before Cure Passion starts explaining the 'why'. That much misery and despair, distilled and concentrated as it is ... in such a form that she can barely stand to look at its contents, yet ... it *would* overwhelm them, just as Passion says. But just as clearly, they need to try and separate it from those roots -

The tremor, the clouds of eldritch vapors and fumes, and then the monster.

The clouds around the Magic Knight of Wind are kicked up into a localized tempest and pushed away from her as she raises her bow and her arrow, nocking the latter to the former's string, and adjusting her stance even as she lowers the bow and draws back on her shaft, perfect kyuudou form as she's practiced for hours on end over years in the Infinity archery team. That wind isn't just to create a clear space around her, though - that's just a side effect, useful though it may be, even as it tousles her hair and ruffles her skirt and sleeves. Behind her glasses, green eyes narrow ever so slightly in concentration as she sights along her shaft, aiming between those two flaring crimson eyes. The monster's howl whips her hair back from her face, against the turbulence of her wind magic, but the Magic Knight stands her ground, her focus coalescing once again, her attention narrowing down to the thread between her arrow and her target.

"Gale Arrow!"

The shaft is released, the wind magic wraps itself around the arrow, and that thread begins shortening rapidly - as if the arrow is not so much *pushed* towards its target, as *pulled* towards it, sharp tip first, with the sheath of magic accelerating and guiding its flight.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Gale Arrow on Northa.
<Pose Tracker> Anthy Himemiya [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

A girl known as Cure Passion, the one so many have come to rescue, explains their situation -- but the Bride has another requiring her attention, requiring... more. Bitterness still burns in her thoughts, still shows not at all in her demeanor. She comes when called, obedient.

She turns to Kasagami Araki with her jewel-green eyes hidden by long lashes, then turns further still, rotating to the side of the Engaged in an ceremonial dance. "Rose of the noble castle," and splayed fingers curl to cradle a blooming spark of light.

"Power of Dios that sleeps within me." Is it wind that pushes the Rose Bride's skirts to flutter and rise, or does the growing sphere of white before her have its own strange gravity?

Eyes closed, throat bared, back bent, she calls: "Heed your master and come forth!" One of many swords within the Rose Bride stirs. Released by the strong arm of her Engaged, the Bride begins to unfold with deliberate grace. She performs a slow twirl and rises with the hand of Kasagami as physical encouragement to get behind the taller teenager.

Only for the metal grating beneath her heels to buck and creak, heralding the approach of a massive something! The Bride is tossed with the quake, further back and away from her Engaged.

<Pose Tracker> Cure White [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Cure White's best and most true smiles dwell not on her lips but in her eyes, and one resides there, glowing merrily away with the full force of her happiness, when Cure Passion takes her hand.

And though she listens with utmost gravity to the explanation of how they're basically standing next to a nuclear bomb -- she can't help but continue to glow, and gently squeeze the two hands that she's claimed with her own.

Until she's knocked on her butt by the earthquake. It came all at once, and Hwaito is more likely than her partner to be unable to react quickly to such threats. There is one thing she can do, though:

She lets go of Black and Passion. The threat of pulling them down with her is, quite possibly, the only force in the world that would cause her to do so, right now.

A swirl of white skirts and long black hair later and she's back on her feet, palms thrust before her like knives. She spots the monster immediately, but the others -- no.

Her voice doesn't waver, doesn't crack, as she calls out, confident in the coming polo to her marco: "Blacku!"

When there's no answer -- when it's obvious that the fog has swallowed her shout -- her eyes glitter a little, her empty hand floats upwards to rest over her heart.


She steels herself, lifts her chin, and launches herself at her enemy. There isn't much to be seen yet, except for the eyes, so she works with what she has.

At the apex of her leap, when her skirts are beginning to bubble close to the waist like a parachute, and her hair is half above her and half below, she lashes out with a snap kick, straight into the Sorewatase's red-lit eye, one -- and then turns the spring of impact into a spin, and sends her outstretched leg at the side of its head. Two.

COMBAT: Cure White has used One-Two Kick on Northa.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Black [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

"Cure Passion," Black greets gratefully. Most of her relief is for Passion, of course, but a small portion is reserved for her partner, who is even closer with Passion than Black is. She squeezes White's hand in a quiet celebration.

Glancing around her, she finds Cure Bloom, not to greet her, but to check on her, and give a nod of satisfaction upon finding her safe. She has to be a good senpai, after all.

Before she can consider anyone else, however, Northa's transformation demands her full attention. White falls, torn away from her hand again, and Black's cry is plaintive; they had just been reunited. But as partners, Black and White trust each other to handle themselves in combat. The best thing they can do for one another is to attack.

"Huwaito!" she calls, to allow her partner to echolocate her. She bounds forward, taking a zigzag approach towards the Soretawase to make herself a harder target. When there's no answer, she calls out to her friend, "Cure Pine!"

With a kick off the ground, Cure Black spins into a single violent lutz, leg twining like a top, arms tucking and swirling. She comes down elbow-first with a fierce shout.

COMBAT: Cure Black has used Spinning Elbow on Northa.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Perhaps mercifully, Cure Passion is spared the need to answer Sourisi's question about how many people have been made miserable for this power. ...Unfortunately it means she has time to respond to almost nothing else, either. Those who don't have time to speak, Passion has still seen, like La Sirene, seen in misery and seen come through it to be here. ...Helping too is Cure White's hand, which Passion keeps hold of throughout her explanation, comforted and held here, and Black's presence so close.There's a lot she'd like to say to her, but even if she could imagine what it was, she doesn't get time for that, either. Nor Lera, nor Passion's reassurance and certainty.

The earthquake comes, the fog thickens, and having lost White's hand, Passion stumbles and falls to the side, hitting metal ground in a clatter and reaching out quickly to find something to steady her. The tower rumbles; the catwalk sways. ...And Passion can barely see here, in the silence, in the way the sound is swallowed up, but she can see the Sorewatase. She can recognize it regardless of her other sense,s, and it howls, so immense. Passion is alone again, it would seem, before one of her most terrible foes.

...But a smile; a few words; a hand holding hers. These linger in her heart, and buoy her as she stands up, despite the feeling of despair still suffusing her locale. She makes no shouts of alarm; she has spoken too much to have reflexive words to offer. But she does look it over, turn her head to try to find the others... They aren't here. They aren't here at all. Cure Passion tries, "Pine!" A breath, for someone she worries for, "Bloom!" ...Another, "Lera?"

...They aren't here. But...

Passion shifts her stance, letting her weight fall on her back foot as she regards her gigantic foe. They aren't here, but they will be. Pine would tell her to believe.

She gives no statement of intent, no inspiring words; she understands the Sorewatase in a way that obviates that for her. Instead, she abrubtly steps forward and charges, leaping into the air and rearing back with her fist to prepare to slam it right into her foe with a flash of red light. "Hah!"

She just has to hang on until she can be with them again.

COMBAT: Cure Passion has used Passion Punch on Northa.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Bloom [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Cure Bloom's eyes clear again, and she is back as she was. If her hand balls a little tighter, her gloves creaking with the power of the Pretty Cure of Earth a little more acutely, well...

Still, the lead down to the Fuko Gauge and the subsequent explanation sees Bloom's lips crook. She draws her power from - as much as a Pretty Cure can claim any single thing or group of things as her own - flowers and earthy things, but she feels no great welcome here. If anything she suddenly notices her teeth are grit. She really, really wants to break that thing. (As previously established this is not an uncommon plan of action in general for her...) But she forces a breath out and nods as Passion explains, eyes finding Black with a little smile of her own. It's nice to see them both here, she thinks, though it makes her own hand feel empty.

That may be what she's thinking about when the fog comes in. "Huh?" she calls out. And then, "Sempai!" she calls, and realizing that at the moment that is A HIGHLY INDISTINCT TERM, cuts herself off and tries a few names: "Black! White! Pine!? ... Passion!?" ............ "Egret....?"

The fog swallowing it all, even hopeful desperation. Her feet square again. "I think I don't like this place," she mutters. But at least she can find the monster in the mist, and she knows enough about her companions to know that in the thing's face is a pretty good place to start looking!

So she goes on an expedition to the Sorewatase's face, via the medium of her powerful legs and a glowing fist.

COMBAT: Cure Bloom has used Fistful of Flowers on Northa.
<Pose Tracker> Anthy Himemiya [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

It's a hard and painful fall onto the metal bars that comprise the catwalk, and the Rose Bride is a moment in getting back up again. She hears the sounds of battle already, even before she lifts her gaze to see what her Engaged fights, to come to her demanding call.

Standing, the Bride looks up and sees mayhem. She sees no smoke; she sees no monster. She does see, between drifting rose petals, a raging battle:

Magical girl versus magical girl.

Just before her, a challenge rings out from Kasagami's throat and she swipes the Sword of Dios at -- la Sirene de Diamant, who screams back her defiance as an eldritch blow.

The mouse-girl Sourisi throws her tonfa directly at the Wind Knight, who returns fire via her magical bow.

In a flashy exchange, Cure Bloom launches a flurry of blows at Lera Camry and receives a blast of golden energy in return.

Where moments before they'd been holding hands, Cure Black and Cure White now exchange physical blows -- kicks and elbow drops, hardly tender gestures.

Vaulting off of the ceiling. Cure Pine smacks her fist downward at Cure Passion, whose charge meets the punch in a red flash.

In the middle of it all the girl in the red ballgown spins and watches. Her big eyes reflect brilliant bursts of magic and take in all of the violence. She smiles, just a little.

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has cancelled their attack on Northa. If there are more attacks that need to be +cancelled, please hold all
+attacks until the process is complete.
COMBAT: Cure White has cancelled their attack on Northa. If there are more attacks that need to be +cancelled, please hold all
+attacks until the process is complete.
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has cancelled their attack on Northa. If there are more attacks that need to be +cancelled, please
hold all +attacks until the process is complete.
COMBAT: Cure White has used One-Two Kick on Cure Black.
COMBAT: Cure Pine has cancelled their attack on Northa. If there are more attacks that need to be +cancelled, please hold all
+attacks until the process is complete.
COMBAT: Sourisi has cancelled their attack on Northa. If there are more attacks that need to be +cancelled, please hold all
+attacks until the process is complete.
COMBAT: Cure Pine has used Pineapple Punch on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Walking The Garden of Engagement on La Sirene de Diamant.
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant fails to dodge Kasagami Araki's Walking The Garden of Engagement, taking 22 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has used Words We Didn't Say on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Sourisi has used Crashing Tooth on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki narrowly dodges La Sirene de Diamant's Words We Didn't Say, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene de Diamant
is Psyched!  Kasagami Araki's Fade ability activates!  Kasagami Araki's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Cure Passion fails to dodge Cure Pine's Pineapple Punch, taking 17 Fatigue damage!  Exhausted applied to Cure Passion!
COMBAT: Cure Passion has used Passion Punch on Cure Pine.
COMBAT: Cure Bloom has cancelled their attack on Northa. If there are more attacks that need to be +cancelled, please hold all
+attacks until the process is complete.
COMBAT: Cure Black has cancelled their attack on Northa. If there are more attacks that need to be +cancelled, please hold all
+attacks until the process is complete.
COMBAT: Lera Camry has cancelled their attack on Northa. If there are more attacks that need to be +cancelled, please hold all
+attacks until the process is complete.
COMBAT: Cure Bloom has used Fistful of Flowers on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Cure Black narrowly braces Cure White's One-Two Kick, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Cure White is Psyched!  Cure Black's Block
ability activates!  Cure Black's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Lera Camry perfectly dodges Cure Bloom's Fistful of Flowers, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Lera Camry's Fade
ability activates!  Lera Camry's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Lanzebrecher on Cure Bloom.
COMBAT: Cure Bloom narrowly dodges Lera Camry's Lanzebrecher, taking 16 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Cure Black has used Spinning Elbow on Cure White.
COMBAT: Cure White perfectly dodges Cure Black's Spinning Elbow, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Cure White's Fade
ability activates!  Cure White's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Cure Pine narrowly dodges Cure Passion's Passion Punch, taking 9 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Northa [None] has posed.

From her perch high above the battle, Northa smiles down at the chaos that has erupted below. "Look," she remarks to her subordinates, a shush of heavy fabric chasing the extension of her arm. Moments ago, they were concerned over how easily Pretty Cure and friends seemed to escape the grasp of her Fuko Perfume, but their boss was supremely unconcerned.

Everything is going according to plan.

"Bear witness. Moments ago they were celebrating their triumph over despair, their unity... and now, so easily, they are made to fight one another. How weak, the so-called bonds between hearts. The traitor Eas was a fool to depend on such things, instead of the power of Mobius-sama, which is eternal and infinite."

Her voice gains in both excitement and passion as she lectures, as she preaches. This is an important moment. A teachable moment. It wouldn't do for Eas' little comrades to join her on her treacherous path, after all.

"Now, let us see who will be the first to fall..." She leans forward, an eager observer and a brilliant one too. Her eyes flick between the fights with the clinical interest of a scientist, and the deep thoughtfulness of a masterful strategist.

Northa is both.


There is no hint, no clue, that the shadowy Sorewatase, the foggy battlefield, is anything but exactly what it seems. Details are filling in but they have little basis in reality -- the soft swish of robes, the soft clink of chains.

This is, indeed, the Reaper that once attacked those magical girls who dared to venture here in the world of dreams.

And it goes on the counteroffensive immediately. It has many weapons at its disposal: vines that erupt abruptly from beneath its fabricky surface, vines which feel like they sap the spirit on contact. It is heart-piercingly painful to be touched by them.

And chains, chains which bind, which not only entrap but broadcast the feeling of entrapment, of an inability to escape this terrible situation.

Finally, of course, there is the scythe. It could open skin with a breath of contact, but even coming close, its passage is chilling. An icy feeling crawls along the spines, curls hard as diamond in the gut.

OOC: Everyone is encouraged to interpret their opponents' attacks and their own reactions according to this paradigm!

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has cancelled their attack on Northa. If there are more attacks that need to be +cancelled, please hold all
+attacks until the process is complete.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji narrowly braces Sourisi's Crashing Tooth, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Fuu Hououji's Block ability
activates!  Fuu Hououji's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Gale Arrow on Sourisi.
COMBAT: Sourisi narrowly braces Fuu Hououji's Gale Arrow, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji is Psyched!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"Passion!" Lera calls out. "Pine! Are--are either of you there!? This thing can't have separated us already!"

She grits her teeth, and she doesn't think much of the way that the Reaper comes for her. The vine that rushes in is familiar, from that time, but she doesn't have the same hand to grasp. Her fingers tighten harder around the hilt of her sword-Device, and then she quickly steps to the side as one of those vines emits a brilliant, golden flash flash of light that should have hit her face.

But Lera is fast, and she ducks to the side. Saki may well hear the rustle of cloak, as if the Sorewatese ducked with a speed that its form belies -- and yet, is far from out of place for a terrible monster.

And then she launches forward, and she swings her foot backward. She flies at the Sorewatese -- her amber eyes narrow -- and she comes crashing in for its side. "I won't let you!" she calls out. "I won't let you pull us apart again...!"

Her foot swings up, as she does a spinning midair kick. It flies for the Sorewatese's face -- or, rather, for Cure Bloom's.

COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Sonic Kick on Cure Bloom.
COMBAT: Cure Bloom narrowly braces Lera Camry's Sonic Kick, taking 2 Fatigue damage!  Lera Camry is Psyched!  Cure Bloom's Block
ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Cure White [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Cure White doesn't even frown when her kicks impact with more of a whimper than a bang. It's not unusual -- the sheer mass of the enemies of Pretty Cure means that punching any given spot can be like punching the ocean.

Not that she hasn't seen Blacku create momentary craters of splash, a hundred meters and more wide, on impact. She may not be able to see her partner, but she knows she's here -- knows all of them are here, somewhere -- and takes heart in the knowledge that she may seem alone in the flesh, but in spirit? Never.


Ah -- her lips part as the monster aggresses in turn. She's midfall as it spins forward, chains erupting from the fog, from its looming bulk. Where they touch the mist they seem to freeze, adding icy spikes to their links.

They whoosh past Cure White as she draws her arms inward, across her chest, tightening her own spin. Together they spiral, chains and Pretty Cure, until finally she lands at the eye of the storm with a tremendous CLAP!

The ground cracks beneath her palm -- beneath the feet of the Sorewatase -- and maybe it's true that Blacku isn't the only one who raises craters, at times.

This time, the earthquake didn't take her by surprise. This time, she is the earthquake, the rage of the world against the horrible machine that Labyrinth has constructed. This time, even as the monster is forced to contend with the buckling ground (actually a piece of the catwalk...) threatening its balance, Cure White is perfectly centered.

She launches forwards and brings her palms upwards, intercepting the Sorewatase at the precise angle that it's forced to compensate to keep itself upright.

There's another CLAP! as her grab makes contact, and then--


So the monster is multiple-buildings-stacked-on-top-of-each-other-tall and Cure White is a slender young maiden. So it is many times wider than she is tall.

So what?

Cure White grabs, Cure White twists, and Cure White inverts heaven and earth in a magnificent throw.

COMBAT: Cure White has used Heaven and Earth Throw on Cure Black.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Pine [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Her punch connects solidly into what she feels is bevined bark. Thinking the impact of the shockwave has harmed the monstrous behemoth. And at the same moment - vines lash out from it's monstrous fist. Pine twists out of the way, feeling the massive pressure causing her clothing to flutter like she's in a wind storm. A cut opens up in it's passing - and she thinks it was the vines.

The things she hears - makes her feel like she's in a nightmare again. Has she truly conquered one nightmare only to enter another? Or did the first one never truly end?

Landing upon the ground and skidding backwards so far that she has to put a hand down - she hears subtle signs - but each one her senses tells her is wrong, wrong, wrong. It's like the sound effects of a horror film telling her the murderer is in the room.

"PASSION! IF YOU CAN HEAR ME-!" Again a sound causes her to start and look around her. And she sounds smaller, as the fear seizes her further, "... I'm here..."

Closing her eyes momentarily, she breathes hard, feeling herself hyperventilating before she starts breathing in through her nostrils. She can't let it get to her - but it absolutely is. She tries to think of White's words - an image of Black taking her hand. The two of them together just as admirable as they were apart. Of Peach and Berry holding out their hand to Cure Pine, their newest Pretty Cure. Of Bloom and Egret's cheerful partnership. Of Passion and Lera together...

The images are slippery right now - she can't focus on them long enough for them to help. They flow away like water. And Pine begins to run forward at the shadowy monster in the fog - her fists starting with the rhythm of her breathing, but then growing faster and faster - as she changes it up to pivot and throw a kick-

Before she keeps going. Her fists never stopping in between her irregular panting. Right now aggression is her only defense, her only outlet for her fear. And so she keeps pounding into her target - hoping that something will give.

Something has to.

COMBAT: Cure Pine has used Pineapple Express on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Cure Black narrowly dodges Cure White's Heaven and Earth Throw, taking 34 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Cure Passion fails to brace Cure Pine's Pineapple Express, taking 22 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cure Pine is Psyched!
<Pose Tracker> Westar [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

High above the battle, Northa is not the only Executive of Labyrinth observing the chaotic melee.

Westar, however, is much less triumphant in this ongoing victory. He stands not tall, but rather crouched; a white cape is draped drably upon his back. He watches the battle, but one finger doodles circles on his perch.

It should be a moment of triumph. It'd be a great moment to break out the popcorn and enjoy the biter battle. And yet - how terribly, brutally his hopes were just shattered. An ally's return was naught but a farce...

"...yeah, I guess so. Eas really was a traitor, after all..." He's hearing Northa's lesson, but not looking at her - rather, his eyes track the former Executive as she passionately lunges at her former foe, watches Cure Pine trying to find the very friend who's punching her. "Guess friends don't mean much...why can't they just listen to Mobius-sama already?"

He sighs, despondent as ally turns to enemy, friend turns to foe, lover turns to nemesis. It's a sight to behold, for certain - bitter eyes pick up on the very attacks his monsters have felt - but his glee at the pending defeat of Pretty Cure remains dampened. A long struggle is coming to an end...

...but Westar's heart really isn't in it.

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

Passion feels her fist slam against the Sorewatase, huge as it is, and tries to force that much more power into her hand before physics take over and she starts to fall backward again after her leap. She did not meet this Reaper before, does not know why she hears the swish or robes or the clink of chains and does not focus on these things at the edges of her awareness regardless.

No, she has a deadly opponent in her way, and it strikes back quickly even as she's in the air. It is not the scythe or the chains that come to her this time but vines, always vines, erupting close to her, coming within inches--and thenquickly piercing the rest of the way, slashing past even as she tries to dodge with a touch that sends agony all through her body. Passion falls the rest of the way and hits the ground, rolling to her feet despite the way the pain makes any movement a little more costly. Her side radiates with it, but Passion keeps her eyes focused, searching for a place to jump back to immediately. She'll do her best here.

She does not hear Cure Pine. ...Neither does she keep calling. She's busy; after all, the Sorewatase is working at her again, and the vines come quickly. The attacks come quickly, fiercly this time, and she's forced onto the defensive. She brings up her arm to block one vine, other arm for another, but each attack hammers through her defenses until the change-up comes and a chain batters against her, knocking her flying backwards again until she rolls to the ground. "Hah--" ...Alone, she can't do very much. But...

"Pine," she says to herself, and gets back up, adopting a ready stance. Everyone's still here somewhere. She's sure of it. Which means...

"I'll find you!" Passion lunges towards the Sorewatase with a flurry of punches--but they all turn out light, a distraction, as she twists herself bodily to deliver a hard, brutal kick knee-firstand spin around the trunk, already on the approach for another strike.

COMBAT: Cure Passion has used Flash Feint on Cure Pine.
COMBAT: Cure Pine narrowly braces Cure Passion's Flash Feint, taking 14 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cure Passion is Psyched!
Cure Pine's Block ability activates!  Cure Pine's Parry ability activates!  Exhausted applied to Cure Pine!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami growls openly as something smashes into, and past her side. She spins about, part of her sable cloak burn away and sizzling. Unbeknownst to her, it's part of Nori's non-light scream. But in her mind, all it seems to be is that blasted great creature within the fog!

And all around, the tug of chains and rustle of cloak almost reaches the ears. The sense of being bound, cut off, and alone fills her. It fuels her rage, heart drawn to darker places.

"ANTHY!" Howls Kasagami again, her wrath made clear. "Get out here! I swear, if you're ignoring me, you'll go from servant to stablegirl!"

Never one to back down though, Kasagami makes a series of backflips, landing in a runner's stance. Both feet slam hard onto the catwalk, and then she's leaping with the Sword of Dios held high in both hands! Magical light runs down the length of the blade as she falls. Again and again and again she slashes, slices, turns and smashes the hilt towards the Sorewatase, that sword seeming to be little more than a dazzling point of light as it cleaves and moves. Her every movement is a blurr. Yet, her brow sweats. Even for a Duelist like her, the Sword of Dios is difficult to wield without massive effort.

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Gleaming Blade on La Sirene de Diamant.
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

The fog filling the chasm limits Sourisi's eyesight terribly, and the sound of her pounding feet on the metal grate of the catwalk is quickly lost in the milky void. The glowing eyes of the Dream Reaper, though, was clear despite the mist it has conjured up once more, and it was only due to the mist being displayed from her throw that she was able to see her tonfa being deflected with the Reaper's scythe and away from her.

Sourisi didn't have time to worry about her tonfa being knocked aside from her, however. It was only due to the fact that she was already running that she was able to evade the vines lancing out from the Reaper's form and piercing the catwalk a moment after her passing. The vines recede, only to be replaced by chains whirling at her through the magical murk that was called forth, and the mouse girl barely manages to jump over a practically close swing on a massive chain.

Even that narrow passage felt as if the fog itself was closing in on her, to keep her on this catwalk forever away from her allies, and with good reason. It continues to stretch on, no matter how fast she runs, and the lack of sight of the others is worrisome. "La Sirene?! Steven?!...this is just as bad as those fog spiders, and Solais isn't here to help me this time!" The mere memory of those massive spiders she thought she was was enough to send a shudder down her spine, but she didn't have time yet to give it another thought. The others could be in trouble! Sourisi turns around, thinking that she somehow got turned around, was heading back towards the surface and away from her allies, only to be greeted by the rushing form of the Reaper, heading straight down the catwalk and swinging its' scythe straight for her heart. And she couldn't dodge in time.

As if called in her moment of need, Sourisi's tonfa whirl back to her hands, barely in time for her to deflect the point of the scythe.

Trying to force this scythe back was out of the question for Sourisi, and she is sent flying several yards backwards, but with this, she sees her chance. The swing of the scythe couldn't be halted so easily, and the Reaper was wide open now. The instance her boots touch the catwalk, Sourisi pushes herself off and jabs her tonfa while she has her chance. "I'm going to pay you back for those spiders, and i'm not going to back down so easily!" The cold in her chest from the very near miss of the scythe isn't so easily dismissed or shielded from. Did the Reaper attack her friends, and was it trying to finish her off?

Was she alone?

COMBAT: Sourisi has used Mouse Flurry on Fuu Hououji.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Bloom [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Abandoned in the fog barely any sooner than she recovered from that nightmare. Cure Bloom increasingly finds herself appreciating how good she has it with Kintoleski.

Still, right now there's nothing for it. Her initial lunge is easily repelled, and Bloom goes careening past until she happens to find a stone to plant her feet against. Her soles glow as she adheres, glaring up at the thing. "You again," she mutters. She REMEMBERS the Reaper, the way the terror of its mere possibility nearly swallowed them all. It's in front of her now, fightable now. Her power gathers down into her hand. "Got to get back," she mutters. "Don't wanna leave Mai waiting."

There's a blaring flash of light only the Cure of Earth can see as she rockets right back in. She doesn't quite parse what's coming at her - a vine, she thinks, and her magic lights up to repel the shot, and then she whips a kick around, hard and fast, slamming into the beast's colossal side. Then the other comes down and shoves Bloom off, roaring her down to the railing, and then she kicks right back off and comes back in, a series of quick, hard blows as Cure Bloom maneuvers like a rocket car - unbelievably powerful, and with a kind of strange, gallumphing grace.

COMBAT: Cure Bloom has used Bloom Pursuing Strikes on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant narrowly braces Kasagami Araki's Gleaming Blade, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Kasagami Araki is Psyched!
La Sirene de Diamant's Block ability activates!  La Sirene de Diamant's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji narrowly dodges Sourisi's Mouse Flurry, taking 18 Fatigue damage!  Sourisi is Psyched!  Fuu Hououji's Fade
ability activates!  Fuu Hououji's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Lera Camry perfectly counters Cure Bloom's Bloom Pursuing Strikes, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Counter!  Lera
Camry's Reverse ability activates!  Lera Camry's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Lera Camry's counterattack, Sentinel Flash, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Cure Bloom!
<Pose Tracker> Anthy Himemiya [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Because she sees neither monster nor fog, the Rose Bride is to some extent left to wonder why these allies and friends are turning their powers on each other, and why none of them seem to see her. Having wandered through their conjured nightmares minutes before, though, she has some idea that more magical trickery is involved. Once again, whatever it is seems to have passed over and around the Witch of Ohtori.

Unaffected and, surely, helpless to intervene, the Bride draws a bitter pleasure from the first moments of the fracas -- from this brutal repudiation of their earlier emotional triumphs, the ones she had no share in. Conflict and poison are things she has an appreciation for.

That little smile doesn't last. She is exposed on the catwalk, unseen -- even by her own protector. Vulnerability drives home in the form of Sourisi, her tonfa slicing within a foot of the Bride's face.

They don't see her.

She realizes her danger, but battling magical girls are all around and the girl in the ballgown has nowhere to go. Instead, she cowers.

Cure Pine dashes past -- more like through -- and the Bride stumbles to the side, barely escaping an unintended trampling. She takes another hard tumble, this one forward, and scrapes one elbow on the catwalk with a cry.

Kasagami howls for her and the Bride tries to get up. She's no longer ignoring her protector, and even begins to scramble toward the Engaged but then the other girl is charging right at her and there's no recognition in either steel eye or white.

She shrieks and rolls, desperate. The catwalk side railing slams into her shoulder, tearing free the gold-pinned green tassels at her epaulet. She grabs at the sure-to-bruise spot with her other hand and huddles there, becoming the smallest Rose Bride she possibly can be.

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

A scything blade smashes against her and la Sirene throws herself back. She says aloud with scorn, "Is this - your power? Do you think that you can just scrape together everyone's heart, like it's something you can weigh and put in a little baggie wrapper?!"

Not the smoothest analogy but she is having to yield ground - probably? She can't tell - the Sorewatase is resolving itself more clearly, and the cuts, the way they hurt... They remind her of something, something from when she was different, when she was less than she is now.

She shines fiercely. There isn't anything else to be done for it. In fog like this, even the light of the depths is a beacon. Right? Right.

La Sirene is struck with a telling blow that makes her flinch back -- and raise up her left hand, fingers upraised. "Les Mysteres," she intones with a swift cadence, eyes narrowing as she pushes past the baker's dozen of stinging wounds on her body: Reaching out for those unstated creatures that dwell in mirrorworlds beyond measure;


And the darkness blooms out from her, shining within in a thousand threaded shapes that echo behind her, casting huge distorted shapes on the fog that surrounds her. The billowing sphere of force expands as it tumbles forwards, hopefully to catch and crush the Sorewatase and crush it to the ground - to force through -

"Cure Passion... All of you... I won't let 'Despair' be used to destroy your dreams," La Sirene promises, to herself if nobody else. "I won't let it be twisted to someone's ambitions--!!"

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has used Les Mysteres on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki narrowly braces La Sirene de Diamant's Les Mysteres, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Kasagami
Araki's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Black [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

The monster is, in point of fact, not multiple building stacked up on top of each other. She isn't even a lone brick house, though it's nice of you to suggest it. No, she's just Cure Black.

The Soretawase's leg was suddenly out of the way, and Cure Black had been forced to catch her balance on her own as she spun out of the lutz, grasping the ground to turn with her own momentum.

"So fast," she grunts, not aware she's complimenting her partner.

A spiralling mass of plant tendrils churns along the catwalk towards Black, and she rushes to meet it, grasping a tendril in each hand and... feeling them thump into her torso and upend her so neatly and easily it's as though a giant spatula came and flipped her like a pancake. That is a disservice to the elegant force, however, as Cure Black is swung into the railing and right through it, her back crunching it down and snapping it. She bounces off the side of the catwalk with a clatter, dazed.

When she hits the wall of the chasm, however, she shoves off it with both feet, eyes sharp and determined. With a CLACK her boots are back on the catwalk, and she makes canny, rapid sidesteps and feints to box the viper-swift tendrils in against a still-intact piece of railing. The very instant she has them blocked off, she drives in close, slamming out with a flurry of punches. She ducks and weaves as she throws them at first, maneuvering the tendrils into one blob that she can hit, and then she isn't dodging anymore, isn't manuevering, she's just unloading. Lightning-fast streams of punches just pour out from her as her lungs bark from the drumming impact, and she presses her attack home.


COMBAT: Cure Black has used Hundred Fierce Fists on Cure White.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

A spearing vine tears through the air, brushing against the Gale Arrow's encapsulating layer of wind; that sidelong collision is most of what keeps the vine from plunging straight through the Wind Knight's breastplate, although the blunted impact still staggers her for a split second. And then the chains come howling for her; the Magic Knight of Wind scrambles clear, barely keeping her arm and her ankle out of the whirling vortex of entrapment, although the effort sends her sprawling to the catwalk - dangerously close to plummeting over the side, .

The other girls have to be *somewhere* around here. Where are they? Why is the Dream Reaper so fatally focused on her?

"Passion-san, Pine-san! La Sirene-san!!" the Wind Knight calls out as she scrambles to her feet and gathers her magic once again. "If you can hear me, please answer! Anybody!"

Didn't the Reaper do something like this in that dream quest -


First step: Immobilize the Dream Reaper, try to lock down its ability to attack physically. Maybe she can hinder its magic as well, if she binds the monster strongly enough. Once the monster's beaten (can she even beat it on her own?) she can figure out how to reunite with the other magical girls ...

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Admonishment on Sourisi.
COMBAT: Cure White fails to brace Cure Black's Hundred Fierce Fists, taking 54 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Sourisi perfectly counters Fuu Hououji's Winds of Admonishment, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Counter!
COMBAT: Sourisi's counterattack, Feral Flail, bursts all the way through, doing 13 Fatigue damage to Fuu Hououji!  Critical
<Pose Tracker> Northa [None] has posed.

These fights feel worse and worse as they go on -- a mounting, and rightful, sense of wrongness -- but it's all blasted away in a sudden burst of blinding golden light.

The light sheds truth: everyone realizes, midswing, exactly who they're fighting, and though it will take effort, they are able to stop in time.

Stop in time to see Northa's fury, a potent enough force that even with her watching unseen, it can be felt cascading through the now-trashed tower. Ah, there she is, descending in a controlled float. Her smirk is twisted with rage at this interruption, this mystery. She doesn't know what it is, that's clear from the furious question in her eyes.

But it's coming from underneath Fuu's shirt. From Steven's pocket. From wherever in that sailor fuku Sailor Jupiter keeps her stuff. The seeds, and especially the pendant held by the Magic Knight of Wind, the pendant that the World Tree gave them beneath Library Island, which once held its essence and was reused in a moment of desperation, such that it now contains the essence of Black Crystal used by Rubeus to open a black hole at Jindai Botanical Garden -- they're reacting.

It's as Cure Passion said: the World Tree is here. Part of it, anyway. The part that was stolen. The part that has to be reclaimed.

Massive brown, earthy roots, entangled in -- perhaps bound by -- green Sorewatase vines, which ooze toxicity. Any individual vine is far less than a root of the World Tree, but there are so many more of them.

And they are both, in their battle, rising around the Fuko Gauge, equal parts prison, frame and shield.

If only there was a way to separate them, without threatening to shatter the embodiment of darkness that the Fuko Gauge represents...

There's no time to contemplate further. What's that in Northa's hand? Why, another Sorewatase bud, a green blob that looks a bit like a mythical mandrake, a little plant guy with knobby limbs and head.

And, much like the Data Diamonds of her subordinates, it has the same basic function: to turn something into a monster.

It may be cause for concern when she slaps it directly onto one of the roots of the World Tree.

Her smile is still angry but now it's ominously excited again. And now there's nowhere left to stand except for falling chunks of circuits and stone, the whole tower is coming down, as roots burble and bubble and pop with the power of despair. Some of their ends thrash dangerously in all directions, and besides sort of incidentally destroying the catwalk, they are liable to swat, smoosh or enwrap people with casually terrible violence...

And the Fuko Gauge, the Gauge is entangled in the heart of this growing monster. It is the heart. How can they possibly avoid destroying it now?

+transform: You cannot transform while you still have incoming attacks to react to. Please check +queue.

COMBAT: Northa transforms into Sorewatase!
COMBAT: Northa has used Roots of Darkness! on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Northa has used Roots of Darkness! on Cure Black.
COMBAT: Northa has used Roots of Darkness! on La Sirene de Diamant.
COMBAT: Northa has used Roots of Darkness! on Anthy Himemiya.
COMBAT: Northa has used Roots of Darkness! on Cure Bloom.
COMBAT: Northa has used Roots of Darkness! on Sourisi.
COMBAT: Northa has used Roots of Darkness! on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Northa has used Roots of Darkness! on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Northa has used Roots of Darkness! on Cure Pine.
COMBAT: Northa has used Roots of Darkness! on Cure White.
COMBAT: Northa has used Roots of Darkness! on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Cure Passion narrowly dodges Northa's Roots of Darkness!, taking 17 Fatigue damage!  Cure Passion's Fade ability
activates!  Northa drains 7 fatigue from Cure Passion!
COMBAT: Cure Pine narrowly counters Northa's Roots of Darkness!, taking 22 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cure Pine's Reverse
ability activates!  Cure Pine's Tactician ability activates!  Northa drains 9 fatigue from Cure Pine!
COMBAT: Cure Pine's counterattack, Pineapple Reverse, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Northa!
COMBAT: Sourisi narrowly dodges Northa's Roots of Darkness!, taking 30 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Sourisi's Fade ability
activates!  Sourisi's Flash ability activates!  Northa drains 12 fatigue from Sourisi!
COMBAT: Cure Black narrowly counters Northa's Roots of Darkness!, taking 26 Fatigue damage!  Cure Black's Reverse ability
activates!  Northa drains 10 fatigue from Cure Black!
COMBAT: Cure Black's counterattack, Sen no Sen, partially gets through, doing 7 Fatigue damage to Northa!  Critical Counterhit!
COMBAT: Lera Camry perfectly dodges Northa's Roots of Darkness!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Lera Camry's Fade
ability activates!  Lera Camry's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant narrowly braces Northa's Roots of Darkness!, taking 16 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene de Diamant's Block
ability activates!  La Sirene de Diamant's Parry ability activates!  Northa drains 6 fatigue from La Sirene de Diamant!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki narrowly dodges Northa's Roots of Darkness!, taking 24 Fatigue damage!  Kasagami Araki's Fade ability
activates!  Kasagami Araki's Flash ability activates!  Northa drains 10 fatigue from Kasagami Araki!
COMBAT: Cure White narrowly dodges Northa's Roots of Darkness!, taking 41 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cure White's Fade
ability activates!  Cure White's Flash ability activates!  Northa drains 16 fatigue from Cure White!
COMBAT: Cure Bloom perfectly counters Northa's Roots of Darkness!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Counter!  Cure Bloom's
Reverse ability activates!  Cure Bloom's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Cure Bloom's counterattack, Petal Flash, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Northa!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji narrowly dodges Northa's Roots of Darkness!, taking 33 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji's Fade ability activates!
Fuu Hououji's Flash ability activates!  Northa drains 13 fatigue from Fuu Hououji!
<Pose Tracker> Anthy Himemiya [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

For everyone else the light is truth; for the Rose Bride, it is blessed reprieve from the crossfire surrounding her. She still huddles by the railing, visibly banged up -- indeed, simply visible now that the false fog has been dispelled.

She searches for Kasagami and the Engaged is many steps away, disengaging with a fierce and unintended combat with la Sirene. With a shaky hand, the girl reaches to the catwalk railing to pull herself up.

Her grip on that railing saves her from immediately hurtling into freefall when the roots upheave everything. The catwalk itself makes a horrible metal scream and wrenches free and down, and with her own smaller scream the Bride flies out and dangles from the railing! Her hand hurts, and her shoulder hurts more, from the force of the drop.

The tower rains down around her and the girl screams again. "HELLLP--" there might have been more coming but that's the only syllable she's allowed as the catwalk gets smashed loose. It comes free of the wall; the Rose Bride comes free of it with a wrench of one slender wrist.

The wind of the fall snatches sound away and she tumbles, lost and dizzy and terribly afraid. Her voluminous red skirts furl and float around her.

She looks for all the world like a rose petal, drifting...

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

The vines come whipping in -- and to Lera's impression, it is with all the force of a freight train. It should hurtle her aside, and she throws her sword in front of her. Her cry breaks over the cacophany of the battle, even if only she can hear it: "Sky!"

<Sentinel Flash!>

A brilliant barrier of light explodes off the sword, and all of Saki's force slams into it. It smashes Lera backward, feet digging into the catwalk as she skids backward, but proves untouched. She lets out a long breath, grtting her teeth, and a Belkan triangle begins to spin up behind her. "I don't have time for this! I'll--"

And there is a flash of golden light, which unveils the truth. She sees Cure Bloom, her amber eyes looking confused and then widening with shocked realization. "Oh no--I-I didn't realize, I'm sorry!" she cries out. "Are you okay!?"

She may not have time to properly have that conversation. After all, she sees Northa again -- furious at the shine of all this light -- and Lera looks up, to see the Sorewatese bud. She calls out, extending a hand as if such a gesture could somehow stop it. It cannot. She takes a few, terrified steps backward, as the tower around the Fuko Gauge begins to come crashing back downward. Her head looks up, and she shakes her head. "P-Passion... how do we--how do we do this?"

She sounds scared. She doesn't sound determined. She sags visibly and in her words.

And then a piece of rock nearly takes her head off, until a barrier appears over her head -- and it smashes off it. <Focus! We'll... we'll find a way. Maybe we can pry them off the Gauge! We can do something!>

Lera nods, weakly. "All right, all right, I..." She looks sideways at Bloom. She nods, once, to her. "You're... Passion's, um, kohai, right? I'm her girlfriend. Get in there and give it a good smack for me, y'know?"

She flashes her a grin. It's a little nervous, but bright just the same. "You hit pretty hard."

Then, she looks up. Lera is about to tear off. But, she hears the cry before she sees the source: 'HELLLP--' Her head snaps up, and she sees the Rose Bride come falling down. Her heart is momentarily in her throat, before her voice finds itself. "SKY! Up!"

A chime later, and she soars up on a beam of red-orange light. Lera whips past a chunk of rock and circuitry that falls free, and it shoots through the contrail of light -- but not into her. Anthy falls, not so different from a twisting, fluttering rose--

--and straight into green-clad arms with a whumph. Lera catches her in midair, head tilted down to look at her. The little emblem, a feather poking out of it, bobs in her hair. She looks down at her with a grin that comes a little too easily. "Hey," she teases, but the breathlessness and relief in her voice belie the attempt to sound cool. "There's better places to practice flying, y'know?"

COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Borrowed Kohai on Cure Bloom.
COMBAT: Cure Bloom accepts Lera Camry's Borrowed Kohai, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cure Bloom is Cheered!
COMBAT: Lera Camry covers Anthy Himemiya for Northa's attack, Roots of Darkness!, taking it upon herself instead!
COMBAT: Lera Camry fails to counter Northa's Roots of Darkness!, taking 36 Fatigue damage!  Northa drains 14 fatigue from Lera
COMBAT: Lera Camry's counterattack, Sentinel Flash, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Northa!
<Pose Tracker> Cure White [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

White always feels a certain shock of satisfaction whenever she throws something much larger than she is -- it courses through her from her crown to her toes. But this time, on the way down, when it hits her heart, something twists inward.

There's no time to analyze this, because the monster is coming back swinging, with its proper weapon now, the scythe. Honoka gasps as the blade swings downward, straight at her face, and CLAPS her palms to intercept it. Tears spring to her eyes immediately, bidden by the absolute zero scalding her hands.

But she isn't blinded by them. No, she can see all too clearly as a second scythe descends. That's -- these are gigantic weapons, one was all she thought there was, how many arms does it have...

Three becomes four becomes a dozen becomes five dozen, and Cure White is helpless before them, swept away upon this tide of blades. For some cruel reason they're striking her with the flat instead of the edge; any single blow could have sliced her open, splattered the contents of her heart upon the monster.

The monster would have seen lab coats and notebooks and sundresses. But most of all, it would have seen letters, loose-leaf. Some of them have stickers. Some of them have stamps. Some of them have equations; scrawled penmanship mixes with sublime precision. They would ruffle as they spilled out, spilled over, meeting the tide of blades with a tsunami of paper.

But that isn't what happens.

She's bludgeoned instead, and cruelly -- unable to take her palms from the first blade without facing what seems like sure death, the blows roll through her like thunder. They force a second spill of tears, glittering through the air, and she can hardly even roll with them as they send her crashing backwards.

Her eyes are half-empty, dissociation the last defense of a broken body, as she starts to fall.

Fall, looks up, and sees the fist descending, the hundredth fist...

"...Blacku," she whispers.

She whispers -- and smiles.

It lives in her eyes.

BGM: Yiruma - River Flows In You https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7maJOI3QMu0

COMBAT: Cure White has used With Your Whole Smile on Cure Black.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Pine [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

This time a scythe slashes at her in the dark. Quick little feints in a million cuts. And suddenly her momentum is halted, as she backpeddles, using her palms to try to knock away each strike without much success - as light as they are, her mind can't shake the sheer mass of a Sorewatase in the idea of it. They don't feel like a distraction.

Which is why when the next blow comes - her guard isn't in the right place. Gritting her teeth she whips up her knee like a Muay Thai fighter to try to entrap the scythe in what she feels is the mass of the Sorewatase in a bone-rattling impact.

What she doesn't realize in that moment is that she's knee to knee with the girl that she's been looking for all along - a golden flash of light revealing her for who she truly is. "Pa-Passion!"

It's a moment of wonder and relief that one moment is stronger than the guilt and shame.

And then crying out her name - "Setsuna!" It's as if on instinct that in that moment, she reaches for her hand. Taking it. It feels like she never wants to let it go.

"I thought- you know what? It doesn't matter - You're still here! And I'm here!"

In that moment, she knows that's what matters.

Even as roots ooze toxicity - even as the world turns horrible before her eyes - as they frame the Fuko Gauge as a horrible shield - a living target.

And now a Sorewatase out of the World Tree roots.

She trades one singular look with her in that moment and whispers, "Let's - Pretty Cure." The smash of impact - drives them apart - as Pine momentarily tries to grab ahold of the terrible crashing roots instead - but only finds herself being driven down in the thrust of rubble, ground against it until there's no floor to stand on anymore. Reversing her grip - she spies a red shape - and swings towards it - releasing to fly towards her with a held hand - "Grab on!"

In mid-air she grabs Passion's hand in the middle of their flight, using the momentum of her jump to direct them both onto a large piece of falling rubble. Bounding off of it the pair leaps to a piece of crumpled circuitry that's higher still.

The situation may be desperate. But it doesn't feel so desperate with her.

When they hit the circuitry they have to run upwards along it together, "You know we're going to have to be really on target here..." A quick glance towards the monster entwined around it. The idea of attacking it together right now is a leap of faith.

But when is being a Pretty Cure not that for her?

Jumping up together, the two twist around at the apex of their jump - each extends a leg. Pine her left - Passion her right. Each corresponding with the held hand. And as they fall they aim for the base of the monster's roots - away from it's fragile heart. Orange with yellow heels and red with black crashing along with their mutual cry of- "Double Pretty Cure Kick!"

COMBAT: Cure Pine has started a combo targeting Northa!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Lera's grin flickers, however, as one of those twisted roots crashing down. <Sentinel Flash!> Soaring Sky cries out, and then it's quickly followed by: <Damn! It got through!>

Lera's eyes widen for a moment. She looks away from Anthy, over her shoulder, at the root whipping in. She looks back at the Rose Bride. Amber eyes meet green for a moment, and she sucks a breath in, then steels herself. She does some quick math in her head -- she can't fly away in time, in the relatively inhibited space here. Nor would moving lower help. Moving closer to the Sorewatese... no.

So she turns slightly, someone else's Bride still in her arms, and puts her back into the stone. It hits the edge of the barrier it moved past, a shower of particles of light.

And then it slams into Lera's back, hard enough to throw her forward. But her grip is tight, even as her teeth grit together.

COMBAT: Cure Black accepts Cure White's With Your Whole Smile, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cure Black is Cheered!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami doesn't feel herself crash past Anthy. Nor does she notice the chaotic melee around her, odd for one so attuned to the thrumm of battle. Instead, she meets the attack coming her way head-on and blade first!

One foot before the other, she makes a series of three flashing horizontal strikes against that massive sphere of force! The first two cut cleanly, dissipating much of the initial blow. But she can't get rid of all of it, and she slams the flat of her blade down! The sheer power behind the Sirene's orb of darkness sends her sliding back as her boot heels dig in. She grits her teeth, eyes narrowing, only for her to leap up and over the rest of that baleful strike! Spinning in the air, she lands on her feet.

Both Sword and Engaged are smoking with yet more non-light, Kasagami brushing off shredded bits of cloak. Part of her stomach is visible, uniform sizzled and rent, and she can feel multiple bruises on arms and legs. A deep breath.

Golden light fills the air, and suddenly she's left before La Sirene! Kasagami pauses mid-war cry, and both eyes blink. "S...Sirene!? What the...." The pause is very, very awkward. She laughs.

"We have really got to stop ending up in situations like this. Are you a black cat or something?"

Her attempt at humor is brittle, but her gaze immediately turns to Northa. Her fury is unmistakable, as is her power. NO time to ponder unintended Shepherd on Chevalier violence.

Worse still, the World Tree entwined with the Fuko Gauge. As the great creature rises from one of the roots, and smashes everything on the catwalk to bits, Kasagami's howl is angry and surprised. Turning the very World Tree into a youma...or at least, in part. It rakes at her soul. She knows the world is rotten, but to only have these Executives further corrupt it? To end it, all for the Misery in that blasted tank?

Several bits of debris pummel her as she too falls, Kasagami's blade dancing to smash and slash away the rest. Her gaze turns to that scream! Fear grips her. She's too far way, falling too quickly. Even as she lands on a piece of rubble, Kasagami Araki screams.

"ANTHY!" This shout isn't one of anger. It's of pure fear. But Lera zooms, and manages to catch Anthy in her arms. Kasagami is leaping off after them, from rock to rock, until she finally lands on an adjacent one. Breathless, heaving, both eyes are wide.

"Anthy...you...idiot. Are you hurt!?" There's no venom in her voice. Honest concern instead.

A look to Lera. "Looks like I owe you one, big time! That one...is very important to me." It's true, in a way. But perhaps not in the way it might seem. For how she smiles, looks honestly relieved that Anthy hasn't become a Pancake Bride, there's no friendship in her gaze. Only the look of someone worried for an object.

Down lashes that vine at Lera, and then Kasagami is in action! She can't get there in time to help Lera directly, but she can swing her sword in a graceful, vengeful arc of hatred.

That blade, for just a moment, is in three places at once as it slices towards the vine. More points of light, and glass shattering in the motion as reality fades to normality. Seems that Anthy and Lera has the Engaged at their back now! At least as much as she can on a falling chunk of debris.

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

"I'll try to keep some of the pressure off of you! Just make sure that girl doesn't get hurt! Toss her too me if she's too much of a burden!"

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

Sourisi gasps as the Reaper takes the blow to the chest, its' scythe unable to deflect her tonfa lunge in time, but it takes the blow into its' billowy form without any other sign than budging backwards. She barely has time to think of another course of attack before the Reaper extends its' cloak once more, chains lancing outwards, and Sourisi raises both arms up in a pitiful attempt to protect herself from this close of a range. One of her tonfa slip free of her grasp in the desperate move, flying for the Reaper once more and-

-flys directly at the Wind Knight, who was in the middle of casting a spell at...her?! Confusion crosses Sourisi's face for a moment, before being replaced by realization...and horror. 'Just like in the dream world, the spiders...it was an illusion! That's why the fog was so thick!' One terrible moment that would sear itself into her memory was the other magical girls, up and down the catwalk, in the middle of attacking each other. And she had just accidentally launched one of her tonfa at Breeze-san.

Rushing forward, forgetting for the moment to wonder why the illusion was lifted now, or to take notice of the Fuko Gauge, she grasps Fuu's arm and takes a deep breath. "Breeze-san, I am absolutely, positively sorry! I...I don't know what came over me-er, us! You were this giant reaper youma for me, and there was all these attacks, and I couldn't find anyone...I...uh...I can totally understand if you don't forgive me, but...i'm sorry, and i'll do whatever it takes to make up for my actions, okay?...please?"

All thoughts of trying to apologize to the Wind Knight is discarded as she finally sees and feels Northa, with her descending from an unseen observation catwalk high above. 'She was watching us all that entire tim-the Gauge!' Dark green eyes fall upon the Gauge, upon the seeds that Fuu, Steven and Sailor Jupiter have brought with them, or what led them here, and wonders just what is going to happen now.

That is answered all too soon as Northa pulls out a green blob of matter...and slaps it upon one of the massive roots of the World Tree. She doesn't know exactly what it does, but she doesn't need to be a scientist as the roots bluge and twist, shattering the stone pillar that the Fuko Gauge was resting on...and breaking apart the catwalk they were standing on! She desperately tries to leap away from the catwalk, but it collapses before she could even start moving. Metal used to support the catwalk above this bottomless void breaks free under the stress of the roots' movement, and several jagged fragments lance into her arm and side. It was only with luck that Sourisi manages to leap against a bounder, reversing her uncontrolled descent, and she cries out towards one person, one that she feels absolutely terrible for hurting, despite not knowing any better.

"I deserved to be hated for what I did, Wind-san, but i'll support you, fight alongside you for as long as you want me to. I messed up, and i'll take responsibility for my actions!"

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Revolutionary Stab on Northa.
COMBAT: Sourisi has used Heartfelt Pledge on Fuu Hououji.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Passion strikes, and strikes and strikes, unleashing blow after blow upon her target--but all in service to the main. That kick goes through, and suddenly--

Light. Brilliant, brilliant light. With shock, Passion finds that the knee she's brought up is against Cure Pine's, that the pain running down her leg on impact seems to fade as she sees her friend again--as at first she doesn't even connect that they're fighting, and once she does, her presence is more. ...After all, Passion and Pine have fought before, and they found each other then.

"Pine!" she answers, something in her voice threading through. Her name is called, and she sees Pine reaching for her hand and starts to offer it forward. "We--" Northa is here. Northa's fury radiates from them, and there is light further still. "Northa!" she calls. But she sees what's in her hand, and her eyes widen. The monster comes, as the tower starts to fall. Passion looks to Pine instantly, and as Pine whispers, certainty shines back in red eyes. It doesn't fade as the impact drives them apart, as Passion has to twirl to avoid being smashed dead on and even then the sheer turbelence in the Sorewatase's passing batters her against another vine. It doesn't matter. She's falling, and Cure Pine swings towards her--she says to grab on, and a pale hand does exactly that. In mid-air, they join hands, and when Paine directs them to rubble, Passiong gets her feet under herself and leaps.

It should be desperate. But they're all here--Pine is right here, the same Pine as always. So, running along circuitry, she nods firmly to Pine's assessment. "We'll do our very best!"

This is being Pretty Cure, isn't it?

Passion twists in perfect time with Pine, as if she were part of that dance tone, her right leg extended, her hand still in Pine's. Their fall takes them to the edge, to try to drive vines off of the Gauge while they can. Orange with yellow heels and red with black crash forward with a mutual cry, "Double Pretty Cure Kick!"

COMBAT: Cure Passion has joined the combo started by Cure Pine!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji accepts Sourisi's Heartfelt Pledge, taking 0 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: COMBO! Cure Pine and Cure Passion have used Combo: Double Pretty Cure Kick!, composed of Pretty Cure Fresh Kick, on
COMBAT: Northa narrowly braces Kasagami Araki's Revolutionary Stab, taking 2 Fatigue damage!  Northa's Block ability activates!
Northa's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Northa fails to dodge Cure Pine and Cure Passion's Combo: Double Pretty Cure Kick!, taking 52 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

The tonfa slams into her chest before she can finish unleashing her spell, and the Wind Knight lands hard, again, realizing that her opponent was -- "S-Sourisi-san?!" -- no less than another magical girl, one of her own allies. But there's little enough time to realize it and then, with Sourisi's help, scramble to her feet; with the illusion dispelled, she can see what they're really up against.

And it is, as is becoming *most* distressingly typical, Not Remotely Good. She hadn't even realized how brightly her pendant was shining, practically backlighting her breastplate; she hadn't known it COULD shine like that, given thet darkness it's been holding in since Rubeus tried to suck them all into an artificial black hole. But she fishes it out, looking briefly between the seed-shaped pendant and the Fuko Gauge itself. She almost doesn't hear what Sourisi is saying to her ...


She pauses briefly to give the tonfa-wielder an apologetic smile. "You didn't realize it any sooner than I did; how can I hold you guilty for the same mistake I was making?" Her smile is short-lived, but only because she needs to concentrate. "I need you to cover me for a few moments. I don't know ..." She looks at the pendant again, biting her lip, fingers clenching around it. "I don't know if this is going to work, but - we have to do *something* to protect the World Tree. Before it's too late. My safety's in your hands, Sourisi-san."

She's done this before. She hated doing it but there was no other choice - and now, with the stakes mind-quakingly high, she has to do it *again* and trust for the best. Fuko Gauge, Sorewatase, *another* Sorewatase, and interlaced through and around and among all of them, the roots of the World Tree itself, just like in the cavern deep below Library Island.

The pendant isn't empty. That's the first and most immediate problem. But if that power can be put to use - at least, if it can be used, somehow, constructively, by a magical girl who has no part of that darkness within herself - then maybe she can buy her allies, and herself, just a little bit of extra time. If nothing else, she can at least release that energy so it's out of the pendant - *finally* - and prepare it for whatever she can do with its ability to contain power.

Her bow and quiver vanish, freeing her left hand to support her right forearm, grasping the bracer from underneath. The pendant's vine-like necklace is looped around her fingers; rather than clenching around it, she frames it between the ball of her thumb and the last two fingers of her hand, index and middle fingers raised out of the way. She raises her arm -

And wills the pendant to open, to purge itself of the energy currently contained inside of it.

For better, or for worse, this *has* to be the first step, and she's completely vulnerable while she's doing it.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Black Crystal Blast on Northa.
COMBAT: Northa narrowly dodges Fuu Hououji's Black Crystal Blast, taking 32 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji is Psyched!
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The light shines down -

La Sirene de Diamant glitters, and recoils from Kasagami, twisting back into a perfect sort of crane stance for a moment, hands upraised. Her pale eyes look huge in their dark-rimmed sockets.

Kasagami is there. Before her complicated emotions can do more than surge up in anticipation of -- SOMETHING - Kasagami makes a joke. It is welcome here. La Sirene's soul giggles even as her face remains perfectly poised. At her question, la Sirene's head tilts to the left a degree or two, before she answers: "Yes."

Her leg comes down. Kasagami may be her foe in some quarters but Kasagami wants to protect people who feed on suffering, and not build titanic diversions of the natural flow of sorrow and grief into a big machine to corrupt the world tree. Small difference. An important one. Then there's a cry - oh! She's leaping forwards, but Lera Camry has her...

La Sirene shakes her head once, viciously, to restore her focus. This is just when a massive vine comes downwards towards her, leaving her to leap up into the air and land atop it in a sparkle of inverse pastel, crying out as she does, "Magic Knight! What -"

She's not calling on her wind! That light...

It isn't what I have, la Sirene thinks, but perhaps - Her hands raise up, making a mystic pass, forming a loosely diamond shape in front of her eyes as she exhales with great force. That liminal glow rises around her, focusing - and then radiating outwards, towards the vine that she's standing, ish, upon. She tries to 'walk' the projection forth, looking for that sparkling diamond. That's - that's something they have to get off this tree.

Would it even work? she wonders. The scope of these things! How deep are the abysses and hadal zones of this world? It is easier to think about that then about what might be mere heartstopping moments away. It is easier to let your mind rest on a dream than to grind it against nightmare itself!

At least for her.

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has used Shine On Through The Night on Northa.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Black [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Yiruma - River Flows In You https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7maJOI3QMu0

Even dirty and battered from being first whipped across the face, then swung like a hammer into metal, Cure Black is pounding the bunched-up mass of vines into paste. It's pretty satisfying really; she is soft-hearted enough to like fighting things like vines and vacuums. It's guilt-free.

She's getting breathless as the punch count goes up, dozen after dozen. Cure Black is strong, strong enough to lift titans by the foot, strong enough to punch through a highway. Even punching multiple times a second, each one hits with bone-wrenching force, the bright pink hearts on each fist flashing and glinting as they jackhammer down into the faltering vines.

Cure Black can feel she'll be out of gas in a few seconds. The last few punches drill down mostly from the left in order to draw her right shoulder back further each time. Fist cocked, she hauls back for a final blow. Her face is scuffed up, orange hair a little bristly. She's grinning, a little savage, mostly tomboyish, as though about to swing her lacrosse stick. Punch One Hundred.

In the instant of the golden flash, it is almost impossible to tell it's Cure White. Almost all of her shape is swallowed as Black's pupils are overflooded. There is no reasonable way for her to stop, and no reasonable cause to do so.

Almost impossible.

No reasonable.

Cure Black's fist arrests the way an automobile crash does. Her whole arm wrenches as every muscle driving it cringes away. That last and most powerful punch trembles in the air and stops, as if frozen in amber.

And amber are the eyes that Cure White sees.

With a rattling clank, Cure Black knees down and scoops up White, not a moment after she lands. She hugs Cure White to her chest. It is strange for such mighty arms to be capable of such gentleness, but perhaps not strange to Cure White.

Cure Black holds her partner, and says nothing. They both need this hug right now.

"Huwaito," Black sniffles.

Carefully, she lets Cure White down a little, her arms loosening until they can see each other. She can hear, she can sense the danger building rapidly, but she needs this moment, and she will take it. She shakes her head wordlessly.

"I th-thought," she smiles slightly. "That was the most graceful vine I'd ever seen."

Now it's time to pay for the chance to be with White in peace for a few seconds. "URRRRAH!" Cure Black roars, still holding Cure White as she twists to deliver that cancelled last punch right into the thrashing root that approaches. She punches right into the whipcrack center of force; Black is not parrying, she is defying. The exchange of impact drives her off of White neatly, to skid along the catwalk and scrabble back to her feet panting.

"Huwaito!" she calls, dogged now.

COMBAT: Cure Black has used With Your Whole Smile on Cure White.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Bloom [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

This thing's FAST - every time Bloom thinks she's going to land a square punch it gets those tentacles up, or blurs aside, or bats it aside with that awful scythe...Bit by bit, she feels herself wearing down; confidence and patience all. She can't hear ANYONE else, even as the fight goes on. Did they get picked off, somehow? Taken somewhere? Her mind turns fitfully; she hates having to think, even more on the fly. Normally she's allowed that luxury because her enemies are mostly also idiots. It's nice! Mostly! She'd sure take it over this!

She's rearing back, gathering even more of the fitful energy of the space into her hands, when--

The light washes across her, and for a second she feels suddenly pure. The light sinks into her and she finds her eyes cleared. Her fist cocked back and ready to plow into--a...person! That isn't the Horror Reaper at all! "I--" she stammers out, her head tipping in open confusion. "Huh??" .... And then a vine lashes out to try and take her head off, and Cure Bloom turns and thrusts her arms forward, that gathered magic recycling itself into an eruption of sparkling motes that crash against the oncoming attack and send it flying aside. "THAT LADY AGAIN," Bloom barks, frustration immediately sorted and placed. And, like she were cued, the woman of the hour sinks into view, and Cure Bloom's whole body tenses as she tries to draw as much power in for a direct attack as she can. But Northa soon enough - "NO!" Bloom calls, as Northa achieves Strike Three in RECORD TIME by awakening the evil power within the World Tree.

She thinks of all the spirits, cheering and thanking her for freeing them from the evil power of Akudaikaan, and she's not sure if it's her gloves or her bones creaking as she balls her fist. "This is..." she mutters, unable to even verbalize the frustration gathering in her chest. She can't even take solace in Cure Egret being at her side.

Lera does her best, though. "...yeah," Bloom says, managing a thin smile. "You're her -" ...huh? Her head tips again with naked incomprehension (look she's being asked to process a lot right now) But she takes a long breath even of this noxious air, fingers slowly relaxing. Focus. This place...the whole world has her back.

Her feet shift, just so. "Yeah. I think I will," she says to Lera's parting remark, and then there's an eruption of light as Cure Bloom ROCKETS into the air, a powerful leap ripping her from the ground and sending her hurtling into the Sorewatase's midst. She has to place it carefully, she thinks, as the light gathers in her hand, and then she swings - slamming that fistful of light home into a cluster of knotted poison.

COMBAT: Cure Bloom has used Fistful of Flowers on Northa.
COMBAT: Cure White accepts Cure Black's With Your Whole Smile, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cure White is Cheered!
COMBAT: Northa narrowly dodges Cure Bloom's Fistful of Flowers, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Cure Bloom is Psyched!
COMBAT: Northa narrowly braces La Sirene de Diamant's Shine On Through The Night, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  La
Sirene de Diamant is Psyched!  Northa's Block ability activates!  Northa's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Northa [None] has posed.

The monster requires a few moments to unfurl, like a crocus, like a fern. But combat has already begun, battle is joined in earnest, even as that's happening.

It will have arms -- like the one lengthening towards Lera and Anthy and Bloom. In the end they are long, and more vine than root, with far too many fingers, every tendril oozing and popping with awful, far-too-familiar yellow liquid.

This Sorewatase has grown strong, indeed. But it takes a crucial few extra seconds to grow fully, because Kasagami's best impression of a weedwhacker forces it to grow like a hydra instead of just a plant, allowing Lera to get some space. To make some time. Of course, that leaves the One Engaged surrounded, far deeper in the vines than she should be, at real risk of becoming part of the elbow... and all of them cling, encircle. Constrict.

As the arm completes, though, La Sirene is walking down it, and walking her beam of unlight, too. She doesn't see the brilliant crystal that is the heart of this branch of the World Tree's roots, not directly, but every once in a while there is a glimmer of tantalizing radiance from deep in the monster's mass, which hopefully isn't just unlight reflecting off of the Fuko Gauge's glass. She is daring, going in like this, and she, too, risks entrapment.

When the limb is at full extension, it erupts with flowers -- evil blooms, which disgorge pollen from blood-red petals. There is much too much of it, and it burns, especially in the lungs. Cure Bloom is able to detonate one of these poisonous knots before it goes off, making things a lot better for her senpai and the Rose Bride, but it means that yet a third magical girl is far too close to the twisting, snaking insides for comfort...

Meanwhile, down at the feet are Pine and Passion, who land full-force to knock roots and vines away from the plant monster's all-too-fragile heart. This is a difficult and scary endeavor, because that glass looks so weak -- how can something so weak contain something so strong? -- and while it's possible to dislodge the vines and roots mashed up against it, surely they transfer the force that they experience down their own lengths, which can't help but somewhat intersect...

It holds -- for now -- and, perhaps in response to the threat the Pretty Cure pose, the roots redouble as they form knobby feet, redouble and grow so quickly that the two girls might be smooshed right into the ground. Black and White, nearby, are not the direct targets of this, but even on the edge they are severely endangered by the rapid growth.

The ground, which is forest floor, not mansion foundation.

There doesn't seem to be a mansion anymore. It could not hope to contain this creature as it grew.

There wouldn't have been much left in any event, after what Fuu Hououji invokes. The power of the Black Crystal explodes out of the pendant, briefly turning the whole world gray -- color cannot hope to withstand its might.

Paradoxically, it can do what Pretty Cure cannot. It's like fighting fire with fire -- evil power roars into the monster, and passes straight through the Fuko Gauge harmlessly, because like cannot hurt like.

The same is not true of the World Tree roots. They tear off, tear away, and when the massive black beam has finally ended, when the wind of its passage dies down, there are now two entities: the mixed Sorewatase vine-World Tree-root monster...

...and the Fuko Gauge. Which spins end over end -- someone's going to need to catch it.

That won't be Fuu, who is surrounded by roots, roots closing in from all sides. The monster has been weakened, denied its heart. It needs a new one -- and it wants her.

COMBAT: Northa has used Venus Girl-Trap! on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Northa has used Venus Girl-Trap! on La Sirene de Diamant.
COMBAT: Northa has used Venus Girl-Trap! on Cure Bloom.
COMBAT: Northa has used Choking Pollen on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Northa has used Choking Pollen on Anthy Himemiya.
COMBAT: Northa has used Choking Pollen on Sourisi.
COMBAT: Northa has used Massive Threat on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Northa has used Massive Threat on Cure Pine.
COMBAT: Northa has used Rapid Growth on Cure Black.
COMBAT: Northa has used Rapid Growth on Cure White.
COMBAT: Northa has used Grow Strong With Sorrow on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Lera Camry narrowly dodges Northa's Choking Pollen, taking 42 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Lera Camry's Fade ability
activates!  Lera Camry's Flash ability activates!  Stagger applied to Lera Camry!
COMBAT: Steven Universe transforms into Steven Quartz Universe!
COMBAT: Steven Universe covers Sourisi for Northa's attack, Choking Pollen, taking it upon himself instead!
COMBAT: Steven Universe perfectly counters Northa's Choking Pollen, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Counter!
COMBAT: Steven Universe's counterattack, Bubble Shield, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Northa!
COMBAT: Sourisi covers Fuu Hououji for Northa's attack, Grow Strong With Sorrow, taking it upon herself instead!
COMBAT: Cure Pine narrowly braces Northa's Massive Threat, taking 51 Fatigue damage!  Cure Pine's Block ability activates!  Cure
Pine's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Cure Passion narrowly braces Northa's Massive Threat, taking 42 Fatigue damage!  Cure Passion's Block ability activates!
Cure Passion's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Cure White narrowly counters Northa's Rapid Growth, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cure White's Reverse ability
activates!  Cure White's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Cure White's counterattack, Heaven and Earth Throw, partially gets through, doing 12 Fatigue damage to Northa!
COMBAT: Cure Black narrowly braces Northa's Rapid Growth, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Cure Black's Block ability activates!  Cure
Black's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Sourisi narrowly counters Northa's Grow Strong With Sorrow, taking 56 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Northa drains 22
fatigue from Sourisi!
COMBAT: Sourisi's counterattack, Forest Down, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Northa!
COMBAT: Anthy Himemiya narrowly braces Northa's Choking Pollen, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Stagger applied to Anthy Himemiya!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki narrowly dodges Northa's Venus Girl-Trap!, taking 23 Fatigue damage!  Kasagami Araki's Fade ability
activates!  Kasagami Araki's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Cure Bloom narrowly dodges Northa's Venus Girl-Trap!, taking 44 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Stun and Trap applied to
Cure Bloom!
<Pose Tracker> Anthy Himemiya [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

As heavy as a person falling to their doom can be, there's still a featherlike quality to the Rose Bride as she lands in Lera Camry's outstretched and heroic arms. It is as if the girl was made to be rescued... She gasps, a big involuntary and necessary breath that refills lungs robbed blind by the fall.

And she clings, still caught in the aftershocks of that mortal terror. The girl who's caught her, all in green with orange hair -- she remembers. This is the girl who was looking in the locket...

The magical girl gives her a grin, teases her, and the Bride knows her role. This girl has saved her. She gives Lera a shaky little smile (they are almost always available to her) full of gratitude and nods. "Th-thank you." Another sword within the Bride twists underneath that, but before she has time to either examine or ignore the root of this particular pain--

--Lera swings around and takes a walloping hit intended for the girl she's just rescued, and the Bride lets out a quick shriek and just clings all the harder.

That imperious shout, she would know anywhere. A trembling Bride dares look away from her rescuer to see Kasagami Araki on a nearby chunk of rock. Her eyes are wide, and she's clearly had a rough time of her own, with torn bits of gown and an abraded elbow both on display alongside that fear.

She's just a terrified girl, after all. (And there is truth to that; the Bride can feel the fear and still make use of it. That just makes the performance all the more effective.)

"I'm all right," says the Bride when she clearly is not. "This girl saved me."

She's still shaky but capable of standing when the ground is finally available, and turns that smile again to her rescuer. "You were so quick, I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't been there." There's a faint scent of roses that seems to underscore the sweetness of her gratitude.

Then the monster erupts, all evil blooms, and Anthy spares a moment to stare at these hideous things with a look that spans the extremes of curiosity and horror before the vines reach, and the pollen explodes... she catches it in the face and immediately starts hacking and wheezing, doubled over from the sear of it down her airways. She tries to squeeze her eyes shut but it already burns there, too, and again she huddles in a little ball of misery.

COMBAT: Anthy Himemiya has used Damsel In Distress on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Lera Camry accepts Anthy Himemiya's Damsel In Distress, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Lera Camry is Cheered!  Withstand
applied to Lera Camry!
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant narrowly dodges Northa's Venus Girl-Trap!, taking 35 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"Yeah," Lera says to Anthy when she thanks her. She nods. "A-Any time, y'know?"

Lera keeps flying, wincing -- but moving to let Kasagami interpose herself between her and the vine. She looks at her, and there is a look of surprise across her face. Something, for a moment, bothers her. She doesn't hold onto it, though, as she focuses on something else in what Kasgami says: 'Important to me.' She looks down at Anthy, then to Kasagami, and she nods once. "Don't worry, I'll be fine!" she says. "I'm pretty good at flying, y'know? I'll make sure she's safe!"

And she does, in fact, put Anthy down. She gives her a glance, as she starts to float back into the air. "W-Well, um--hey. I'm glad I was there. I--kyah!" She yells, as the vines come whipping in. She flies up fast, and the vine still clips her feet. Lera, already flying, goes hurtling off towards the wall. She slams into it hard, bouncing off, and she wipes at her lip. A little smear of red is left on her sleeve.

Despite how it happened -- and how much that last hit hurt -- Lera finds a grin across her face, as the Fuko Gauge is pried free by the power of the Black Crystal. The roots move back, and the Fuko Gauge goes crashing downward. She sucks in a sharp, tight gasp. "Passion! Pine! Catch it!"

Lera calls it out. She realizes, though, that she can do more than that. She sucks a breath in and holds it. The encouragement from Anthy rings in her ears and she looks up, towards the vines. Most of them hurtling for Fuu -- and she knows they can move fast. She looks down at Passion, and for a moment, amber eyes meet red. She doesn't say anything.

This, perhaps, should concern Setsuna.

She pulls her Device out -- and then she hurtles in. Lera grits her teeth, as she flies faster, and faster, and faster. She speds up until she becomes a blur, which is quickly between Cure Passion, Cure Pine, and any vines that might have an idea for just a moment. Then, her sword swings out, glowing red.

And a dozen copies of Sky, glowing with spectral energy, form. When she strikes, they alls woop out, and slam down at the vines as one. "Impulse Dive!"


Lera and Soaring Sky strike as one. Their strikes slam ahead -- and Lera keeps flying, far too fast. She doesn't slam into the vines. She slams into the wall behind them. She smashes into it with a crash and a crack, before she falls down to the ground in a heap.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Lera Camry has used Reiztauchen on Northa.
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Fights break amongst magical girls and boys, and yet, though the power of friendship, determination, and a little help from a gift once given, dispels fear and deception like a candle banishes the dark. But much like the candle, the darkness still remains all around. But the flame is lit, and it needs only fight against to succeed.

When the illusion dissipated, one person was missing. Or possibly, wanted to appear missing. A Northa weaved her backup plan in to fruition, those that assembled would not take it lightly, and would push their hearts to the limit to stop it. The stage was set to deal a vicious blow to evil.

As reality tore apart around the Fuko Gauge, even mid fall, those magical defenders refused to back down. The very roots of the World Tree have been turned against them, yet there was no going back.

Yet, a certain absence has been felt. A child among those assembled is nowhere to be seen.

As the fight reaches the floor, or what may be considered a floor, the monstrous youma begins its true assault, reaching a desired size. Attacks begin to be traded, though some seem in dire distress. A particular pair seem to be getting the worst of it, and in their moment of need, they are not disappointed by a friend they acquired along the way.

A portal rips open nearby, and a boy flies through it at very high speed, followed shortly by Lion. A few incredibly long stries with flip-flips clapping against the ground, and a pink bubble springs around Fuu and Sourisi, blocking a sudden noxious blast of pollen. "Sorry I am late!" The boy says, looking back to them. "We totally got this!"

The boy calls out to those who would listen. "The World Tree is counting on us! We gotta stop this thing! If we work together, there is nothing we can't do!" Those closest nearby would surely feel the warmth in his uplifting words!

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Strong In The Real Way! on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Strong In The Real Way! on Sourisi.
COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Strong In The Real Way! on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki accepts Steven Universe's Strong In The Real Way!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Kasagami Araki is Cheered!
COMBAT: Sourisi accepts Steven Universe's Strong In The Real Way!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Sourisi is Cheered!
COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Crash Landing on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Lera Camry accepts Lera Camry's Crash Landing, taking 31 Fatigue damage!  Lera Camry is unable to keep fighting!
COMBAT: Lera Camry is unable to keep fighting!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji accepts Steven Universe's Strong In The Real Way!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji is Cheered!
<Pose Tracker> Cure White [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

White, enveloped in Black, is safe and -- at least in her heart -- unharmed. Would that this could last forever. The whole world could fall away. Only the two of them could exist, for all time. For all of time.

But it can't, and it doesn't. The vine comes in and Black's fist slams out and White's blue-hearted feet find the ground lightly, so lightly. She doesn't CLAP or CLOMP for once, just the lightest of taps.

It is similar to the taps of White's fingers on Black's shoulders, as they clasp her, encouragingly. They may have been separated, but not for long. "I'm okay!" She means more than the roots, much more, and it's even true. There are bruises under that white gown, and her bow is in tatters, but they're together. They're together, and that makes everything okay.


Her other hand clenches into a fist, the blue heart on its back straining audibly, as she looks up at the spinning Fuko Gauge, soaring through the air, and at Cure Bloom, all but engulfed in the mass of the now-free-to-be-beaten-up Sorewatase.

They're together, and they will make everything okay.

Blue eyes meet amber, and they nod in unison.

She has absolute faith that Passion and Pine will handle their despair-laden burden, so White's knees flex, the lace on her legwarmers fluttering with the speed of the motion, and then she's in midair. She lands on the tip of one of the trees, and it bows almost to the ground, not with her mass, but with her velocity.

Then it springs back upright and so does she, rocketing up, up and away with the added force of the ricochet. Pretty Cure can't fly -- but White Cure can jump.

Jump to the level of Bloom, way up in the monster, and higher still, until finally she has a bird's eye view of the forest. Everything is almost a speck. It's beautiful up here.

But not as beautiful as the one she's next to. Her leg thrusts out, straight, as they start to descend.

COMBAT: Cure White has started a combo targeting Northa!
COMBAT: Northa narrowly braces Lera Camry's Finisher, Reiztauchen, taking 54 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Northa's Block
ability activates!  Northa's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Lera Camry is unable to keep fighting!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Pine [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The rattle of the Fuko gauge from the transferred force causes her to wince. Right as the roots grow over them - and Pine lets out a loud cry in the sudden danger - she has to let go of Passion's hand. And in response to the sudden crushing force she whips out her leg. At this mass - it's less a kick, and more a brace.

Driven into the ground - it craters all around her, her leg quivering in the strain, as she shrieks. With the leg being pressed back the mass of roots is closer and she thrusts out both of her palms to try to keep herself from being crushed into the forest floor.

Her sudden cry of distress becomes a battle shout as she kicks off with her foot and presses off with her hands in order to slide herself out just before the mass crashes down. The sensation of being nearly crushed to death wiped her out - and she'd like nothing more than to lay down and rest.

But with her eyes she spies that full cylinder of pale yellow fluid flying through the air. "NO! NO!"

All of the rest of the drama flashes around her and in that moment all she can think of is what happens if that hits the ground. There wouldn't be a world for any of them - there wouldn't even be a world for Labyrinth to rule. It'd just be over.

That sudden burst of adrenaline causes her to put her leg down like a runner at a block - as she gives a singular glance sidelong at Passion in Red.

And then she takes off into a sprint. Her hands slicing into the air at her sides in a manner usually unlike her in running. Her footsteps fragmenting the green with each step - tearing up dirt in flying clods with each step. Her lungs burn and she just pours it on. Not one to scream out commands normally she does so now in a breathless wheeze- "EVERYONE - DON'T LET IT - REACH US!"

And then on her next step - as the shadow of ever-shifting shadow falls over her , she presses down at the knees hard enough to crunch the ground - despite the protest of her body - and leaps straight up to one end of the twisting gauge. As it moves end over end, she uses her body to brace it's catch. One hand slides up along one length, her shoulder it's brace. The other hand can't quite get around it. The sudden upwards force causes the gauge to freeze in mid-air for a moment - in equilibrium for that one split second. The revolving motion arrested by the Pretty Cure's double upwards brace.

But then the only way to go is down.

And Pine let's out this small meep of sound as she prepares herself for what's to come.

Down. Down they go - and she repeats to herself as a mantra, "IbelieveIbelieveIbelieveIbelieveIbelieveIbelieveIbelieve- I DEFINITELY-" And that's when they impact feet first - in a shower of dirt, the impact jarring enough from the heavy cylinder that she's afraid that it's going to crack from the sheer force. Or that she's going to split in two herself.

Her feet can't hold - and so after a trembling moment they slide beneath her and she's brought low to her knees driving them a half inch into dirt. The cylinder still precariously balanced on her shoulder.

There's a little tired laugh at that moment - "-believe." She looks across the Fuko cylinder at her fellow Fresh Cure, the pair like tired fellow loggers after a hard day's work - if loggers had to actually fight trees that is. The words come so easily looking at her right now, "...I definitely believe."

COMBAT: Cure Pine has used Holding Sorrow on Northa.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

There's so much here; Passion, as she works with Pine, keeps an eye out for the others--especially Black and White, and of course for Lera, rescuing Anthy in the way that she does. ...A rescue from Lera never surprises Passion. But she can't do more than see these others as she works with Pine at first, can't focus on anything but her Pretty Cure partner and the monster before her. It's too large, too strong, for Passion to give it anything less than her best.

Pink hair floats behind her as she bounces off of her kick, heart in her throat as she hopes she's been able to avoid the Gauge--but it holds, and the roots rush onward, seeing to crash her right into the ground. Passion brings out her other arm to shield herself from the vines--

The one that could have crashed straight for her chest is blocked, but the others all around hit shoulder and side and leg and hip, and Passion is torn from Pine's grip and forced to whirl in place as best she can, using elbows and knees and forearms that bruise badly to keep the vines from entangling her entirely; she hits the ground, but manages to force herself free, barely, tumbling again against the forest floor. Her boots dig into the dirt as she rises again. ...Just in time to see LEra's action. Just in time to see the Black Crystal's work--for her eyes to widen as she sees the Gauge freed, and then to meet Lera's eyes. ...Lera doesn't say anything, and Passion knows it's wrong. "Lera-!" But she moves fast--too fast--to crash forward, into the vines, past the vines...

It's ice on Passion's heart but she can't go to her. She knows Pine is crying out, and Passion looks to Pine in that instant, sharing a look. "Lera," she breathes, and turns her ankle to start rushing. With Pine... But not quite to her.

Pine calls out not to let it touch them; Passion adds her voice in an instant, "Together!"

Alone, Northa said. She wouldn't let herself be anything else. ...And that was true. But this, here--

Cure Passion leaps upward, hands reaching out for the other end of the twisting Gauge, taking her position opposite Pine. She offers no mentra to herself; she grits her teeth, ignores the pain in her hands, lets the despair of being this close to it wash over her and pass her. She gets her grip, and then go down--to impact, feet-first. In a shower of dirt, Passion's heels dig into the ground and nevertheless rocket backwards. She's slid backwards, but keeps herself up, forces herself until the cylinder stops. ...Stops, on their shoulders. Passion huffs a breath, looks to Pine, worry for Lera still in her expression. ...Worry for all of them.

"...Mm," she agrees, with a quick nod of her head. "WE'll... find a way, you said..." Huff. She needs a moment.

COMBAT: Cure Passion has used Catching Misery on Northa.
COMBAT: Northa fails to dodge Cure Passion's Catching Misery, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cure Passion is Psyched!
COMBAT: Northa perfectly dodges Cure Pine's Holding Sorrow, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

As she continues trying to ascend back up to Fuu, barely making each jump from boulder to boulder to halt her descent, Fuu's words continue to echo through her head, both the good and the bad. The fact that Breeze-san doesn't actually hate her, despite the fact they both hurt and harmed one another...it was wonderful to not have to worry too much about what the Wind Knight might do to her in the future. But what Fuu said - how she looks so anxious about her locket, her plea to Sourisi to protect her as she forms a plan, the fact she's trusting Sourisi to be there for her...it's like Fuu expects something terrible from using her locket.

The mansion explodes as the Sorewatase grows beyond its' limits, the sheer size it has astounding. This wasn't a massive monster when she is the size of an ant, this is a monster in skyscraper form. Sourisi escapes to the outside world and spots the Wind Knight instantly, and rushes to her side, dodging the rain of shattered walls, technology and piping. She can feel the energy that pulses from Fuu's locket, just how wrong it se-...what exactly was in Fuu's locket?

The answer came in the form of the world, for the briefest of moments, turning grayscale, the dark energy contained within, leeching the world as the black beam of dark energy barrels into the chest of the monster. It wasn't a clear answer in the slightest.

She twists around as the beam slowly fades into nothing, and spots the Fuko Gauge instantly as it tumbles end over end through the air, and Sourisi's heart leaps into her throat. If Breeze-san didn't need her help, then maybe, just maybe she could do something to prevent the Gauge from shattering and drowning them all in infinity misery, but the future was already set, and she had to hope that anyone of their group can band together from preventing this chaos from being unleashed. A wave of toxic pollen flows outwards, and with Fuu still focusing on her plan, Sourisi finds there's little she can do to stop it from reaching the duo.

Then a hero, followed by a pink Lion descended from a portal and creates a bubble barrier around them, saving them both. "Steven-san! You're okay!" That's right, She didn't see Steven after the illusion fell, and he seems to be alright, despite the wounds everyone had inflicted upon one another. His rousing words made the mouse girl grin, filling her with another spurt of energy. "Steven-kun is right - we'll all work together, and stop their plan!"

Sourisi was suddendly finding herself needing her second wind, as the roots of the now Fuko Gauge-less Sorewatase breach under Steven's bubble barrier, breaching from all sides through the dirt and...heading straight for Fuu! 'I promised her...i'll protect her!' Seeing the roots coming from behind Fuu, Sourisi throws her tonfa outwards to intercept the roots on the far side then unleashes punches and kicks upon the nearest roots, as they rushed the defenseless Fuu. Each punch, each kick, each throw of her tonfa to catch another root is part of a deadly dance, a dance to prevent harm to the Wind Knight. Bits and pieces of her bodysuit rips and tears, her boots lose their shine and luster with each strike upon diseased root, her tonfa slow upon each and every throw.

But the Knight of Wind is unharmed.

COMBAT: Sourisi has used Mouse Flurry on Northa.
COMBAT: Northa fails to dodge Sourisi's Mouse Flurry, taking 34 Fatigue damage!  Sourisi is Psyched!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami's perch suddenly becomes much, much more root-ish in nature, her eyes going wide. Letting out a curse, she backflips off of the growing tangle of vines that's becoming a shoulder, her blade once again becoming a whirling dance of light, sparkles, and quite a few errant rose petals just to be able to hack and slash her way out of immediate doom!

She loses fully her coat, nearly one ear-ring, and as one final series of vines clamps down onto her feet! Tugging, pulling, and finally...pop! Kasagami tumbles out and off the giant shoulder, back to the ground. Mid-flight from her would-be captive elbow bit, it's vines and rocks and other things that see her to the way down.

She's going to be picking splinters and rocks out of her toes for a day after this.

She looks from Anthy, to Lera, and back again. "Well aren't we both lucky, huh? Now learn to stay close. Yeesh. You really don't listen do you?" Admonishes the Engaged, even as she nearly falls to a knee. She's battered, exhausted, and it's only through sheer stubbornness that's keeping her up.

That blasted pollen blooms, and Kasagami does her best to try to drag Anthy out of it and keep her near. But there's so much! She slowly realizes she can't protect the Rose Bride entirely.

Inwardly, she prays she can handle it. She whips off the rest of her cloak, and tosses it to Anthy. "Use that to cover your mouth, and stay out of danger, alright? If we don't stop that thing, everyone's dead."

But she can't help but laugh as Steven encourages them! "That's right! Everyone we love is depending on us! We can't fail now! Looks like we have some WEEDING to do!"

And then she's at Anthy's side once more. "Lend me your Blessing, Rose Bride!" With a command voice, she calls to the girl, to kneel, to bend, to accept her dominance and rulership over her as the Engaged. With those brave PreCure on the rise, she can't let them fail. Legs sweeping out, Sword of Dios laid in both hands upon the altar that is the Rose Bride, she awaits the girl's blessing.

Thus done, the sword glows a burning dark red. With the Fuko Gauge leapt to, ready to be caught, she leaps straight at the massive Sorewatase. The floor beneath them cracks as the power of the Sword of Dios, Anthy's power, and her own fury and ambition combine! Sword held in both hands up above her head, she howls to the sky.

"I SHALL BECOME THIS WORLD'S KING! You will not take it from me before it's mine!" Proudly rages, and then lets her sword fall.

The Sword of Dios is everywhere at once. From every conceivable angle, and many that no normal sword could ever make, that beautiful sword lashes. Magical glass frames the world in an instance of pure power unleashed. In colors of stained glass, in blacks, in reds, in golds and beautiful white, it's like looking at a Church's windows in devotion to power laid upon an altar of destruction wrought from suffering and anger. Beautiful in it's on way. And perhaps, pitiful.

The glass shatters, and Kasagami falls. Voice hoarse, and body battered, she's barely unconscious as she unleashes the sword's power.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Kasagami Araki has used The Once And Future King on Northa.
COMBAT: Northa fails to dodge Kasagami Araki's Finisher, The Once And Future King, taking 124 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Black [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

A bright smile with teeth apart, a puff of a sight: this is Cure Black's relief. Her posture grows more firm, her shoulders spreading confidently. Her fist clenches just like White's. If they had been standing on the other side of one another, they would have clenched the other fist; it is instinct.

Amber eyes meet blue, and they nod in unison.

Floating midair, her long orange bangs just slowly beginning to invert, Cure Black briefly reaches out to touch Cure White's hand, feeling in the sway and pull of their contact the shift of gravity about to draw them down. Then, making an arrow of herself, she plunges downward with Cure White.

Cure Bloom is her kouhai, even if she's at another school. They are more alike than most sisters, and Cure Bloom was there for them when their enforced retirement nearly ended in tragedy. Cures White and Black have not forgotten.

As terminal velocity begins to near and the eye-watering force of whipping wind ripples clothing and hair, Cure Black draws back an arm to fletch just one side of her arrow, sending her into an increasingly rapid spin.

"We're taking Cure Bloom BACK!" she shouts. "You spit..."

In the last few meters, the controlled drilling motion that the two Cures are separately performing synchronizes perfectly. "Her OUT!"

The monochromatic Cures impact the Soretawase with a boom like a building being demolished, each of their adorably bulbous boots striking with entirely unadorable force.

COMBAT: Cure Black has joined the combo started by Cure White!
COMBAT: COMBO! Cure White and Cure Black have used Precure Double Screw Kick on Northa.
COMBAT: Northa fails to dodge Cure White and Cure Black's Combo: Precure Double Screw Kick, taking 155 Fatigue damage!  Critical
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

La Sirene de Diamant thinks of eagles as she walks down that tree; she is, indeed, going where eagles dare. I wonder if there's one of us who has an eagle, she thinks as the light gleams, as her mind seizes on an irrelevancy to avoid tearing itself apart in anxiety.

It's a good trick, when it works.

But the vines writhe around her. They come towards her and she does not leap free in time; she does make the air but her left leg is firmly and agonizingly entwined, meaning that she comes to a juddering halt with a wincing grimace and a pain in her hip. She looks down, now, at least having gotten a better angle of AHH THAT GAUGE--


She snaps her head up again when she hears the distant cry of Steven. He's right, she thinks. La Sirene's face also tightens as her leg gets squeezed again, the vines and growths perhaps hesitating to get any closer than that to the luminant Pharos resting on her hip. La Sirene reaches down, touching the smooth glass...

The light brightens; her leg draws up...

"It ate Bloom!?" she cries out. Whatever scheme she had is temporarily displaced here, although the radiance around her lashes out around the vine in a sudden complex pattern; if this is a tree, her motion is fast-forward coral or the writhing motion of a sea urchin's living flesh, drawing out of her trap with a loud "pop!"

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has used Weavery of the Abyss on Northa.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Bloom [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Cure Bloom would surely help with the Fuko Gauge, or any of the thousand things threatening at this moment, except that as she aggresses the gathering gloom of the World Tree root monster, it finishes taking shape around her. She plants a foot, light gathering beneath her, and cries out as she leaps!

But two vines grow taught around her and slam her back into the original, and Cure Bloom finds the world growing dark as she becomes ensconced in the horrible thing's body, barely even threads of light reaching her through plant like muscles, her voice growing hoarse from the growing scream ripping itself out of her.

And it ends as suddenly as it began, with an atomic boom ripping her prison free, and soon Cure Bloom - "ahhhHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!" - as well, as the Cure of Earth tears the vines around her with the raw glory of Pretty Cure light.

She hangs in the air, wheezing, from the exertion of her own part, but she bleerily seeks out Black and White in the sky, and is able to favor them with a grin before her foot sluggishly reaches out for one of the remaining scraps of vine. It shouldn't really be enough to do much of anything, but Pretty Cure magic is great, and when a blast of light erupts from her shoes, Cure Bloom is surging back at the thing again. She's more careful, this time; her foot slams down on the vine beast, and then she blasts herself right back away, trying to buy herself some distance to come down on the branches of the forest trees.

As soon as she stops moving she staggers, one hand rising up to grip at the other shoulder with a visible cringe. "Th...thanks!" she rasps out.

COMBAT: Cure Bloom has used Petal Clash on Northa.
COMBAT: Northa fails to dodge La Sirene de Diamant's Weavery of the Abyss, taking 22 Fatigue damage!  Tangle applied to Northa!
COMBAT: Northa fails to dodge Cure Bloom's Petal Clash, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Cure Bloom is Psyched!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Something about this battle feels familiar, thinks the Wind Knight as they descend into the depths on chunks of rubble and shattered subterranean architecture. Maybe it's her imagination - no two monsters are entirely alike, after all, even those intended to be similar - and maybe she's confusing some of her nightmares with past experiences in the waking world.

Certainly the fear is all too familiar - her heart in her throat more than half the time, as she tries not to get killed by something; sinking into her toes at other moments, when she sees an ally smashed and sent flying, or flattened into whatever they were standing on. And once in a while, a surge of hope and optimism when somebody lands a telling blow. Her own gambit with the pendant's dark power is, for a moment, one of those last - a successful strike, when she wasn't even entirely sure what was about to ensue; an act of faith, rewarded.

But just as quickly, the terror returns in full, adrenaline spurring her heart to race as the roots come swarming in from every direction. It's only because of Sourisi, and by extension Steven himself, that the Wind Knight doesn't suddenly become a pincushion of impaling roots; Steven's bubble shines around them, and Sourisi wields her tonfa much like a weed-whacker, the two of them safeguarding her.

It's actions as much as words that dial down the adrenaline, and the Wind Knight lowers her arms for a moment, daring to breathe again - particularly when the fallen Fuko Gauge is caught and protected against a shattering impact which would surely have doomed them all, and more. "Steven-san, Sourisi-san ... everybody ... !"

Steven is entirely right, and she knows it. The World Tree depends on them - that's what led them all to this battle, to this moment. And just as certainly, working together, they can accomplish what would have been impossible for any one or two of their number.

The Magic Knight of Wind lifts her gaze to the rampaging monster, daring to smile at something which deeply desires her doom. Her smile is defiant but proud, this time: she knows now that she won't die here. Not to this monster. That smile trembles just a little as she remembers seeing Lera fall, but the Device-wielder isn't dead. Not yet. And not to be today, either. She draws her arms back, the breeze rising around her, spreading to ruffle Sourisi and Steven, as if to buttress and support them in turn - but if anything, she's just making sure they won't be hurt by the forces she's about to unleash:

The wrath of the unbridled tempest.


The Wind Knight flings her arms forward, left then right, as if grasping the turbulence about her and hurling it at the Sorewatase with all her might, physical and otherwise. Magic weaves together with air, infuses it with the power of a Magic Knight's will, and goes screaming up at Northa's conjured monster, to tear it asunder like a mundane tree in the teeth of a devastating typhoon.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Fuu Hououji has used Emerald Cyclone: Full on Northa.
COMBAT: Northa fails to dodge Fuu Hououji's Finisher, Emerald Cyclone: Full, taking 76 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Northa [None] has posed.

Lera's sacrifice is not in vain; the Sorewatase, or at least the force animating it, is not a fool. As part of it flowed towards Fuu and her pendant, another part went after the midair Fuko Gauge.

One imagines it would have been ungentle on impact.

But it doesn't make it -- it can't, not with a dozen Soaring Skies slicing and dicing it into so much gross green jelly.

And so it is that a huge piece of arm crashes down into the forest -- and writhes there, slowly turning from tip to tip into black dust that cracks away into nothing.

When the last of it has dissipated, there's Passion and Pine and the gauge, the glittering intact glass catching the the diffuse, overcast moonlight.

The Fuko Gauge is -- for better or for worse -- all in one piece.

Northa fades into view next to them, reaches out with her palm, and touches the glass. "Domo," she murmurs, all too happily, her eyes set directly on Passion. "Every last drop," the chief Executive reminds her, before she -- and the Gauge -- vanish, leaving Pretty Cure empty-handed by the world, at least, intact.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the battlefield, pollen billows through the air and so do roots, terrible draining roots which are all too eager to meet Fuu, and failing that, Sourisi. But her tonfa is there, there and meeting root for root, strike for strike. La Sirene, too, stops it in its tracks. Not the roots but the vines; vines that hold her, vines that advanced on Steven from behind. Vines that are no more as she pops out of them.

Vines that are no more as Fuu conjures forth her first and most iconic spell, no less potent today than it was on Cephiro. No, it is more -- she has grown, as young things do, as plants are supposed to, not rapidly but well. She calls the wind and it comes -- and the vines shred.

Vines that are no more as Kasagami advances, the perfection of her strikes enshrined forever in stained glass, and in no time at all as it shatters. Shatters, and takes a leg with it.

Silence falls on the five of them as the advance is slowed, stopped.

  • BOOM*

"ahhhHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!" --Cure Bloom

That was the other arm. It is, suffice it to say, no more.

Still, a one-legged, no-armed Sorewatase is still a Sorewatase. It is a pillar of purest horror. It roars and the world trembles. Its jaw, more root than vine, gapes and creaks inhumanly widely. Yellow liquid despair drips from its deep-set red, glowing eyes.

For miles around, babies wake up to cry and wail. And even the plants seem pained; the many trees of the forest, the early spring flowers...

Well, they are attacking a piece of the World Tree, if a corrupted one. The sooner this ends the better, for everyone's sake. EveryTHING's.

<Pose Tracker> Anthy Himemiya [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The Bride realized some time ago that her Engaged was not able to perfectly protect her. Still, she comes when called.

Thus it is even when she can barely breathe for the pollen setting her lungs on fire, she obeys. Kasagami tells her to cover her mouth, and she pulls the great black cloak up with a shaking hand to cough into it, painful little wheezing hacks. Not long after that Kasagami requires her blessing, and the girl in the gown obliges.

The cloak flutters to the ground at her feet as the Rose Bride twirls to face away from her Engaged. She bends like the greenest sapling, supple to the limits of ligaments and beyond. The drawn bow of her back, smooth and unquivering, betrays not a whisper of her muscles' screams.

Her body, an altar for this sacrament of blade and ambition. The Bride rises from her contortions after the Engaged charges off, dragging the cloak back up from the ground to scrub at eyes that burn. They're halfway clean by the time Kasagami wields that blessed power, and the Rose Bride watches.

Light splinters into panes of color and the Sword of Dios is seen through each. It slices down and in and up and every direction with grace and each angle terminates in the Sorewatase. That multitude of strikes demands it all from the Engaged and when she falls after, the Bride clutches that cloak to her mouth in horror.

People might be watching, after all.

The terrifying Northa makes off with the Fuko Gauge, but they are still here, even if it is with a great corrupted chunk of World Tree that persists in the face of some serious dismemberment. The roar triggers a shiver in the Bride who is, after all, one of Roses: a flash of true empathy for spring flowers, more than she felt for any of the magical girls present.

In the wake of reaction she looks back to Kasagami. The thrashing of the thing is far enough from the fallen Engaged that it does not seem to threaten her, so the girl in the ballgown does not release the sigh within her and heads that way, dutiful.

She kneels by the girl's head and waits for her to regain herself with her scuffed elbow and torn gown.

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

Everyone is working so hard. Passion can see that, feel that, as she catches her breath. ...Despite that, that breath is chilled in an instant as Northa fades into view beside them, her heart seized again. She is tired; her hands are full; she freezes where she is for a half-instant even before Pine's presence reassures her. ...But in that instant Northa looks right at her, and she stares into merciless eyes. The reminder sends a chill down Passion's spine, and a remnant of despair remains even when the Gauge vanishes. "Northa..." It comes out afraid, caught. ...But Pine is here. Lera is in danger. Everyone--everyone is working so hard.

The thoughts of what Northa will do with the Gauge are terrifying, but they will be an afterthought if this moment is not taken. This, Passion knows. ...So her fear doesn't leave her; instead, Pretty Cure join her. Passion is standing there as White and Black and Bloom land nearby, as Pine is already here, and even as the others keep up the battle against the Sorewatase, Passion takes just an instant to let herself be with these others. ...Only an instant. SHe can't stop. After all...

The Sorewtase is so great. Inhuman, certainly; full of despair. Passion can feel it radiating, feel the sheer hopelessness settle in, imagine what horrors are to come at this unholy combination of joyful life and awful misery. It can't go on like this.

The others are here, and Passion steps towards them, as they come together. She looks at each, mouth half-open in words that she can't find, held up in pain and worry and one... One other thing.

Alone, Northa told her. She won't let herself be anything but...

Cure Passion looks down, the gems on her hair glinting as she looks up again and--on the verge of some powerful emotion, says--

"...I can't do this alone." It is her responsibility, in many ways. She helped make this happen. She is from Labyrinth. And yet...

Passion reaches out her hands, towards Cure Pine, towards Cure White. She looks to the Sorewatase, and looks back to Pretty Cure, once her enemy. The plea is obvious.

The red aura beginning to emanate from her would be lonely, ineffective, as the only one.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Cure Passion has started a combo targeting Northa!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

After giving his rallying call, Steven holds his Bubble Shield just long enough for the pollen to abate before dropping it, and moving out of the way of the two ladies and their attacks being launched. Wouldn't want to be accidentally hit after all! "You got this, ladies!" he says toward Miss Wind and Miss Mouse. The boy quickly begins to scamper across the battlefield, blocking residuals from attacks and avoiding massive blows from Sorewatase appendages.

Whether from throwing or falling off. They would crush all the same. Across the battlefield, Lion fights the writhing vines and roots with as much vigor as the girls around him. "Lion, to me!" Steven calls out, and the animal listens, portaling to him.

"Sorry buddy. I have always wanted to call you over like that. I saw it in so many movies." A pause. "Hang here for a moment!" And the boy literally disappears in to Lion's mane with a halo of pearlescent light.

The other side was a stark contrast to what was happening outside. Rose colored grass waving in a light breeze, originating from unknown, even though there was no air here. The boy puffs out his cheeks, trying to hold his breath as he wades toward a solitary hill with a single Acacia tree perched upon it, with leaves colored much like a lotus.

Steven marches forward, something large glinting and reflecting in his eye.

The boy partly emerges from the mane, his head, upper torso, and a single arm. "Just because we fall to depression, doesnt mean we should drown in despair! We have lives to live, and they may not be the best at times, but our choices are our own!"

The boy pulls with all his might as a pink tube-like pipe sticks out from the mane. Lion digs his claws in, bracing for something. An impact maybe? Or perhaps recoil? The mechanism shudders with great energy, as if anticipating something.

"And that is why you don't belong, monster!"

The object begins to glow, a deep pink light can be seen within the chamber.

"...Because if every pork chop was perfect, we wouldn't have hot dogs!!!"

The tech appearing forth from the mane has folds that come off the cylinder in a blooming fashion, as the object vibrates then ERUPTS with roseate light, a giant beam shooting like a star across a midnight sky. As it flies towards impact, the tip of the laser forms into a vaguely femining shape, its long flowing dress ending in a swirling pattern that encircles the attack.

It takes everying Steven and Lion has to keep the heavy weapon in place as the cannon sends its munitions hurdling at the Sorewatase!

COMBAT: FINISHER! Steven Universe has used Laser Light Cannon on Northa.
<Pose Tracker> Cure White [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

The gold of Cure Bloom's light washes across Cure White, and for a moment, all colors and none, she is golden too. But her expression is more valuable still -- the awe, the affection. It kindles, and so does she, as she lands near everyone else.

As she lands near Black. They were never far apart, but now they're almost on top of each other, touching down almost toe to toe. There isn't much time, but there's enough to touch nose to nose, too.

As she pulls back, there's a fire shimmering inside of her -- everything is too much, and too much is exactly enough. She overflows, she runs over. Her eyes close, and reopen.

White lightning exploding as contact is made, one hand in Cure Passion's -- the other in Cure Black's -- she exhales, a terrible burden lifting from her shoulders even as she opens herself to become a conduit to something so much more than any single soul could hold. The opening is vulnerability. The opening is strength.

She is so glad to be here.

"We aren't alone," she says, to Passion, to everyone.

She leaves the second half of the sentence to Black without consciously stopping for her -- it's just something the two of them are effortlessly capable of expressing as one.

COMBAT: Northa fails to dodge Steven Universe's Finisher, Laser Light Cannon, taking 74 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Pine [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

As gently as possible, Pine tries to ease the Fuko cylinder to the ground under the light of the room. Which is when Northa appears - and her lips work in a breathless gasp as she watches her touch the glass. It's not until after she's gone that she can strangle out a single word - "No."

But with the weight literally off her shoulders - there's still the horror of the battlefield. Even a maimed Sorewatase is the one of the most intense threats she'd faced. A Sorewatase made out of the World Tree - an apocalyptic terror. As evidenced by the world shriveling around them.

Without any ability to affect the Fuko gauge any longer - the corrupted piece of the world tree is the problem they must now face.

It takes her a moment to stagger off a trembling knee, to limp over to Passion's side. Her hand reaches out and takes hers - attracted as if by magnetism. "You won't have to." Their differences having brought them together just as surely as their common ground.

And it's not long before the others join them - her hand clenching in Bloom's as she gives the girl a momentary glance before it follows along to Black - then White as she tells them they're not alone - before finding their way back to Passion - "We're with you."

Despite the gravity of the situation she can't help but smile. Like right now in this circle - whatever horrors and nightmares they'd faced in the mansion seem more distant than ever - even as they still threaten them.

Auroral light gathers around her, sparkling lightly yellow - before becoming more radiant, growing with intensity every moment that it's joined with the others.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Cure Pine has joined the combo started by Cure Passion!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Somewhere during Kasagami's plummet to the ground from her leap and subsequent bleeding of energy, she spies the Fuko Gauge. Claimed by none other than Northa. Her last action of active consciousness, even not dream-like awareness of the chaos is a piercing glare. She can't help but hate that woman. So full of power, so using of trickery rather than fighting like a warrior. Or a Duelist.

Whatever cutting remarks she wants to say to that misery-thief is ended by an immense thud as she hits the floor once again. And bounces twice, only to roll to a stop on her back. The scrambling of the Sorewatase isn't known to her. Nor is that faux look given to her by Anthy as she kneels over her. No, there's only a vague slit of white and steel in her gaze, and the heavy fall of her chest. She's battered, bruised, and simply out of energy. Magic slowly slips from her body until the Sword of Dios returns to it's rightful place. She hadn't let go of the sword once. Stubborn as a bull, this Kasagami.

Her voice breaks. She hears Passion, Cure White, Steven, everyone...and mutters, her voice carrying.

"This world...isn't theirs to steal. No one here's....alone tonight."

COMBAT: FINISHER! Cure White has joined the combo started by Cure Passion!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki transforms into Kasagami Araki!
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Sourisi pants as she kicks one last root, breaking it in half, and nearly toppling over from pure physical exhaustion. The cuts and scruffs visible on her are likely going to look so much worse the next day, and she honestly hopes that Takk wasn't kidding about how quickly a Miraculous user heals from injuries. "I'm...so going to be black and blue in the morning. Breeze-san, are you okay?" Sourisi turns her head and gives Fuu an exhausted, but proud grin. There was going to be words later, she was sure, about what happened back when they believed each other to be the Dream Reaper, but for now? She was just happy she could protect her friend.

Sourisi doesn't miss Northa teleporting with the Fuko Gauge, but the fact this didn't seem to be her final plan...well, it means that they still had a chance. "This wasn't...her plan, then? Then, we just need to stop her from using the Gauge in the future, get it back, and clease it...uh, somehow." She certainly didn't know anything about how Misery Energy is collected, how it was used, or why Northa had been collecting it for so long, but she had to hope that something could be done about it. Maybe Takk might know something, and just hasn't lectured it to her yet.

Finding one of her tonfa, having lost both on her last throw, she walks over to Steven with a light limp on her right leg...and pauses as Steven emerges from Lion's mane with a beautiful pink tube. Was it resting somehow in Lion's fur this entire time? Her eyes widen as Lion braces himself, claws digging into the ground, and Steven starting to aim the cylinder. "Steven, you'll pulling out the big guns! Wooo!"

Sourisi couldn't just sit back now, despite how bruised and battered she was. There was a monster fused with the roots of the World Tree, and who knows what damage it could do if she gives up now. Stumbling into a run, Sourisi rushes towards the Sorewatase with a pained and determined look on her face, and she starts to twirl her remaining tonfa in her hand, building up momentum. She didn't know if this would work like she hoped, but these were magical weapons, and what kind of Magical Girl just gives up just because they want to just fall over and go to sleep? 'A terrible one!' Halting from directly underneeth the mass of corrupted roots, she crouches, preparing herself. Her twirling tonfa continues to build up speed, gusts of wind disturbing dust and making the very air whine from the speed. This was going to take everything she had left...she just hopes someone doesn't mind helping her get back up after this. With one last push, Sourisi leaps up from the ground and raises her tonfa up above her head, hoping that, with its' speed and magical endurance, it will tear right through this twisted monstrosity.


COMBAT: FINISHER! Sourisi has used Primal Crazy Rodent on Northa.
COMBAT: Northa narrowly dodges Sourisi's Finisher, Primal Crazy Rodent, taking 48 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Sourisi is unable to keep fighting!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Black [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Cure Black clops down onto the ground again with a nod of satisfaction. She gives Bloom a big smile and a wave as she recovers, then turns with a more stoic expression to the still-lumbering monster.

Passion seems to feel a subtle grief... that is about to become something more. Stepping forward, Cure Black takes Cure White's hand, extending the chain. She holds out the other for Cure Bloom, giving her a little nod of encouragement. She looks to Cure Pine, too, happy she's stayed safe through all portions of this fight that she has lost track of her through.

When White speaks, Black looks to her for a moment, placid and adoring, and then to the rest of the group. "Together," she finishes White's sentence, quietly but with a beaming enthusiasm, "We are Pretty Cure."

COMBAT: FINISHER! Cure Black has joined the combo started by Cure Passion!
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The vines wither and recede from her and la Sirene is left in midair, sparkling darkly. And yet, the Sorewatase LIVES - the air is still full of that tension - that Sorrow Gauge remains a lingering threat. As she descends downwards she lets her eyes rest down and they meet with those of Cure Passion as she speaks.

"It's alright," she tells the Pretty Cure.

Her descent from that height is slowed by power alone; she staggers on landing even so, turning to face towards Northa -- just as she disappears.

There is silence in the space of la Sirene de Diamant for about half a heart beat.

Then she seems to swell a full inch in height even as she shouts with great dudgeon, "You think that you can just STEAL the sorrows of the world and run away with them, after everything you've done, after a thousand unforgivable cruelties?!" Her fingers curl tensely into fists. "After what you made them all feel -- and you leave us with this creature to contend with? With another thing you think you've spoiled?!"

The light rises from la Sirene, like steam from a boiling pot. No, like a cloud reaching for the heavens. Where Steven's blow was a warm and heartful pink, where Passion is gathering red, la Sirene seems to be sending out black --

And yet.

It is a cool light, certainly, but it is not a threatening one. It is as if the clouds have parted and revealed a starry sky, even if the light that sparkles with luciferin intensity within the spreading umbra is not one that exists in normal shades. La Sirene sparkles all the more intently, every gem on her body alight. There are a lot of those gems. More than you probably thought at a glance.

As she crooks up one foot, the diamonds on the sole of her shoe glittering with their carbonado intensity, she looks towards Passion. "It's weeping. This is my duty. But... please consider it my thanks, as well."

Then she snaps her attention back towards the looming Sorewatase. "Your sorrow...!!"

And then la Sirene's hands snap forwards and that effloresence of undersea inversion moves as well, the glittering sparks of colors not seen on Earth under regular circumstances shining like alien galaxies as it collapses. They focus together, moving in rhythm with her arms, the unlight on the far ends collapsing and tightening into vantablack spadelike shapes on the far edges --

As she aims to sweep them gently, and wipe the 'tears' from the monster's eyes.

... and then erupt like a tide all over its head, even as she screams with a vigor well beyond conventional amplification.

COMBAT: FINISHER! La Sirene de Diamant has used The Light That Never Warms on Northa.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Bloom [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Cure Bloom sucks in a breath as she sees her allies - her friends! - gathering, and hops down, trailing motes of gold as she descends to touch down beside Black. Maybe it's only up close with her that the way her magic manifests is so clear, trails of sparkling motes tracing every move of her arms and legs. She's a little unsteady - Lera hurts and being compressed in a vine monster HURTS - but she nonetheless manages a grin in Black's direction, appreciative and fond at once. The others seem to have the same idea she gets as soon as the words leave Passion's mouth.

And rather than feel lonely as Cure Black says words that often enough leave her own mouth, Bloom finds her smile softly curling. "We have people we have to see," she says, eyes sweeping the group as she reaches for Black's hand. The tracers of sparkling light that follow her movements thicken as the spirits of Earth hear the wish for power in their Pretty Cure's heart. "And we have things we still have to say!" as her hand wraps around Pine's. "We are all together here!"

COMBAT: FINISHER! Cure Bloom has joined the combo started by Cure Passion!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Grief. ...That's a good word for one of the feelings Cure Passion still holds, as she joins hands with Pretty Cure. But not only that. ...There is a serenity in this gathering circle that is a balm to that feeling, to others. This vulnerability is strength. ...Still she has worries; she worries what could happen; she worries for Lera, crashed into the forest floor. Outside the circle they are still working so hard.

Steven, with his light, speaking of choices that are theirs, a lesson still being learned for a girl from Labyrinth. ...Kasagami, with her talk of ruling the world--Passion would oppose her, will, but in this at least they are together, and that difference makes that more poignant for the moment. La Sirene, who speaks of cruelty, of sorrow, of her duty and her thanks. Passion doesn't understand it. Sourisi, still charging ahead. ...Fuu, diligent in this as ever. And Anthy, so quiet, who Passion still doesn't understand.

...But those worries cannot overwhelm her now. White takes her hand; Pine takes her hand. They all join together. White says that they are not alone, overflowing. Pine says that they are with her, that she won't have to try alone, and that light of hers is so familiar, like her smile now, too. Cure Bloom mentions those they have to see, despite her pains, things they have to say. And Cure Black finishes White's thought, after that look. She says those words.

Together, they are Pretty Cure. All of them.

The light shines. Now it is not only red, it is yellow, and black, and #-1 FUNCTION (ANSI) EXPECTS 2 ARGUMENTS BUT GOT 1, and deep pink. Each of these colors shines on its own, yes--but they meld together, held at the hands and growing. They come together, in the center, radiating from all of them and start to rise upward. Passion stands, her eyes closing as she focuses on these others with her, stays open, but the light becomes a glorious rainbow that sails upward, that flies through the air both gently and powerfully. There are tears, all over; this must end.

And as the light rises, Pretty Cure speaks as one in five voices.


COMBAT: COMBO! FINISHER! Cure Passion, Cure Pine, Cure White, Cure Black, and Cure Bloom have used Pretty Cure Miracle Gathering
on Northa.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Grief. ...That's a good word for one of the feelings Cure Passion still holds, as she joins hands with Pretty Cure. But not only that. ...There is a serenity in this gathering circle that is a balm to that feeling, to others. This vulnerability is strength. ...Still she has worries; she worries what could happen; she worries for Lera, crashed into the forest floor. Outside the circle they are still working so hard.

Steven, with his light, speaking of choices that are theirs, a lesson still being learned for a girl from Labyrinth. ...Kasagami, with her talk of ruling the world--Passion would oppose her, will, but in this at least they are together, and that difference makes that more poignant for the moment. La Sirene, who speaks of cruelty, of sorrow, of her duty and her thanks. Passion doesn't understand it. Sourisi, still charging ahead. ...Fuu, diligent in this as ever. And Anthy, so quiet, who Passion still doesn't understand.

...But those worries cannot overwhelm her now. White takes her hand; Pine takes her hand. They all join together. White says that they are not alone, overflowing. Pine says that they are with her, that she won't have to try alone, and that light of hers is so familiar, like her smile now, too. Cure Bloom mentions those they have to see, despite her pains, things they have to say. And Cure Black finishes White's thought, after that look. She says those words.

Together, they are Pretty Cure. All of them.

The light shines. Now it is not only red, it is yellow, and black, and white, and deep pink. Each of these colors shines on its own, yes--but they meld together, held at the hands and growing. They come together, in the center, radiating from all of them and start to rise upward. Passion stands, her eyes closing as she focuses on these others with her, stays open, but the light becomes a glorious rainbow that sails upward, that flies through the air both gently and powerfully. There are tears, all over; this must end.

And as the light rises, Pretty Cure speaks as one in five voices.


COMBAT: Northa fails to dodge La Sirene de Diamant's Finisher, The Light That Never Warms, taking 134 Fatigue damage!  Critical
COMBAT: Northa fails to dodge Cure Passion, Cure Pine, Cure White, Cure Black, and Cure Bloom's Finisher, Combo: Pretty Cure
Miracle Gathering, taking 1038 Fatigue damage!  Northa is unable to keep fighting!
<Pose Tracker> Northa [None] has posed.


<Pose Tracker> Northa [None] has posed.

The magnificent rose laser of Steven's light cannon slams into the pillar of Sorewatase from the right side.

La Sirene de Diamant sweeps and screams and conducts a symphony of unlight from above.

Sourisi comes in from the base, tonfa-first, at tremendous speed, a living buzzsaw.

And from the left, the rainbow pours downward like liquid, slams in like a solid, expands in all directions like a gas. The gathering of Pretty Cure is a miracle, and it has no single, simple expression. It resounds with black and white thunder, with joy and prayer, with the spirits of the Earth, and yet it is not so simple a combination.

Nothing of Labyrinth can hope to withstand this combined assault. The last of the vines, and the corrupted roots, pop out of existence, cracking into black dust, then into nothing at all.

Nothing, that is, but a speck of diamond light.

No -- a seed.

The world grows quiet with its passage, as it floats downwards to the nearest repository, the nearest vessel that can hold a fragment of the World Tree's leash -- Fuu's pendant, of course. Once it held the power beneath Library Island; now it has a much-abused power that was wrested from beneath St. Ursula's, through a Nakewameke into the Fuko Gauge, and back out again via Sorewatase.

It nestles into the huge seed, which glows again, briefly blindingly bright, and then quiescent, just a necklace.

All at once the world exhales -- the tension in the plants releases, and there's a rustling of leaves in a wind that sweeps outwards in all directions, not violently but happily, with relief.

What was lost is found; what was stolen, reclaimed. The world may not care, precisely, who holds this power, but it was never truly held when it was grafted onto the Fuko Gauge.

Finally, it has a home.



Northa lowers the Fuko Gauge back into its new home -- it was suspended, floating, from her palms, but as she releases it she lets her fingernails scrape against it, as unmusical as a chalkboard.

Her laughter chimes in discord.


There's more to be done for the World Tree and the world itself -- but the knife's edge they're all on is, if not finally sheathed, at least in balance, directly upwards rather than tilted horribly to one side.

For those keeping count at home, as to the occupation of the World Tree's five control points:

Dark Fall: Infinity Institute, Library Island

Magical Girls: Jindai Botanical Garden, Fuu's Pendant

Neutral: Tokyo Tower