2019-01-26 - TIMELINE 2: The Dragon and the Shiny Rod

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2019-01-26 - TIMELINE 2 - The Dragon and the Shiny Rod

The Magic Program at Infinity, along with invitees from the Sister Schools, makes a journey to the labyrinth underneath the Library Island! After they fight some magically-created monsters that ordinary students can handle, they find a powerful dragon -- and it eats magic! But, an ancient artifact is found, too... and with the help of Sailor Mars, the Wind Knight, and Steven Universe, the students at Infinity might just save the day!


Akko Kagari, Diana Cavendish, Yumi Ohzora, Sucy Manbavaran, Rei Hino, Steven Universe, Fuu Hououji, Kasagami Araki, Sailor Mars


Library Island }}

OOC - IC Date:

1/26/2019 - 04/19/2014

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Library Island +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
  Beneath the skyscraper of Infinity, a mirror of water stretches, in which     
  the tower floats amidst the sky. This is Delta Lake, and offset from its      
  center point is a gritty spot of land called Library Island, separated from   
  the shore by a broad bridge. The eponymous library appears considerably       
  older than the sparkling-new Institute; a Meiji-era Neoclassical complex the  
  size of a large warehouse, its stolid exterior belies strangeness within.     
  Infinity may well be the only school in Japan where students need gym         
  uniforms to access library stacks.                                            
  Oh, the above-ground levels are sane enough, even if they exchange Infinitys  
  hypermodern aesthetic for an Escher-like array of overlapping staircases and  
  dizzying bookshelves. The basement levels, of which there are many, are a     
  different story. The shelves become more and more chaotic; there is a logic   
  to it, but it is beyond reach. Stacks of books begin to threaten to topple    
  on unwary visitors, until the library abandons all pretense of not trying to  
  kill you, and begins to feature arrow traps, spring-loaded books, and         
  boulders that run down the rows. In places, the floor falls away, leaving no  
  choice but to walk on top of bookshelves. They say in the lower floors,       
  there are monsters that attack unwary seekers. Some, but not all, can be      
  appeased if you have the correct filing number on hand for the book you       
  need. Getting to the filing system to get that is, itself, an adventure.      
  Infinity being what it is, it naturally has a student club dedicated to the   
  library's mysteries; indeed, the Library Exploration Society is officially    
  sanctioned by the school to regulate anyone attempting to go in. They have    
  the only even nearly complete map of the facility locked up in its club       
  room, right next to the free climbing gear. Even their map has huge pockets   
  unfilled, however, marked with that old explorer's adage: Here, there be      
<Pose Tracker> Akko Kagari [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

The Magic Program at Infinity Institute has a storied history, but part of their task isn't merely teaching students how to use magic. It also involves the time-tested "Practical," dating back to the Luna Nova School for Aspiring Witches. After Luna Nova was folded into Infinity a couple of decades ago, that tradition has continued with the Library Island.

Thus, at the entrance to one of the doors leading into the dungeons under the island (for let it be called what it is), a large collection of students have gathered.

At the head of them is Ursula Callistis. The blue-haired teacher is wearing her tall witch's hat, glasses, and robes; she has dressed the part for the students of the Magic Program and the Sister Schools students who have come along.

"Okay, everyone!" she says. "This is to test your critical thinking, problem solving, and... um..." Her face scrunches up. "...other skills! Inside, you'll find a dungeon that's tricky and meant to push you to your limits! And if you're in the Magic Program... there will be monsters! So your job is to go down as far as you can..."

She beams, as she stands up straighter. Light glimmers off her glasses. "...and find a treasure, then bring it back!"

Lotte Janson stands towards the back, and looks nervous, as she clutches her lamp. The blonde-haired young witch looks to the side, at the older girl roped into going with them. "Thank you for helping, Ohzora-san. We could really use the guidance. I think Akko, too, is--"

Which is when the bright, fiery aura around Akko Kagari nearly knocks Lotte onto her feet. Akko's fists are clenched as she leans forward, grinning. "We've got to find the coolest treasure ever and show that Diana what's what!"



The rubber soles of Akko's boots leave skidmarks in their wake as the short, brown-haired girl literally skids to a stop. Deep inside of the Library Island's dungeon, many of the intrepid explorers have come face-to-face with a true blue danger. A massive, brown-furred minotaur stands towering over two girls cowering -- and one girl standing strong -- behind a dome of pink light, protecting them from the furious blows of the minotaur.

"Get away from them!" Akko calls, before she spins her wand in her hand, and lifts it. A little bolt of pink light explodes from the tip of the wand -- and catches the minotaur in the shoulder. It turns, looking back at her, and its eyes glow red.

Akko laughs nervously, taking a step backward. "I-I, um, think you're... just supposed to eat grass, you know!" she yells. "You're an herbivore!"

The ground rattles under her feet, and all the way out into the hallway, as the minotaur roars its bestial fury. Out in the hallway, a few others are rushing to this newest room. At the head of them is Lotte.

"I... think Akko is in trouble!"

<Pose Tracker> Diana Cavendish [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

~Earlier, on the surface level~

Hannah and Barbara are sniggering as they look at the trio of Akko, Lotte, and Sucy, whereas Diana looks disinterested, focused only on what comes ahead.

At least until Yumi Ohzora steps up to assist them.

Diana watches her for a time, before finally seeming to give in to whatever she is thinking, and approach with measured, dignified steps. She doesn't even address Akko, Sucy, or Lotte.

"Ohzora-senpai." She says with a cool air of politeness. "There's no need for you to trouble yourself with this practical." Yumi can perhaps hear it. The word 'trouble' is so easily exchanged with 'strain'. There is nothing in her words that appears to be bullying her, if anything she attempts to be trying to spare her feelings.

"A witch as accomplished as you has nothing she needs to prove here. Besides..."

And now her eyes do fall upon Akko in particular.

"... I am concerned some people might think to rely upon your talents thoughtlessly." Smoothly she returns her gaze to Yumi, "Please consider asking Ursula-sensei for an exemption. I will back you up of course."

She does not wait for a response, however, and turns towards the assignment ahead. The two girls flanking her however do look back at Akko, giving her triumphant looks.


~Later, On the 22nd level~


There's a flash of light, and all that's left behind is the charred ash of giant arachnid like monster's corpse, Diana pointing her wand at it.

Hannah and Barbara look utterly terrified as Diana's wand tip retracts and she places it back into the sash around her waist. The first girl, Hannah comes up to Diana's side, pleading, "Diana we should start heading back."

And Barbara joins her, with a conciliatory gesture, "I agree. You see we've already obtained some nice treasures." Jutting a hand into her pack as she takes stock, "Mythril Mail, Galvorn knife, and Sylmaril ring!"

Diana didn't appear to even be listening until that moment, as she exhales softly, and remarks, "Those are all common items. Noone would consider them to be treasures of any worth."

Now the two girls are joining hands, shivering in fear, "But it's so dangerous here..." "... we can't go on any longer."

Diana turns around to face them, not looking angry, simply disappointed perhaps. "There is nothing to be afraid of. I have taken responsibility for the protection of both of you." One of them still adds."...but."

Diana pauses for just a moment then says quietly, "I thought the two of you had more faith in my magic than anyone else."

The two girls abruptly look like they've seen a ghost. "D-Duh-Duh-Diana!"

"What's wrong?"

"A cow...!"

Diana lofts a singular eyebrow, oblivious to the looming shadow rising over her. "A cow...?"

The two girls are now clinging to each other and pointing as one of them squeaks back, "A cow...!"

Diana turns around to look...


~Now, 22nd level~

Diana Cavendish is known as the pride of Infinity's Magic Program, and right now she's proving it as her protection field holds up to the Minotaur, the last line of defense protecting Hannah and Barbara from being torn asunder.

The last thing she expects is rescue. After all, this was a competition between students, and she expects to take care of this on her own. Which is why the appearance of a certain witch takes her completely off-guard.

"Akko! What is that girl thinking!?"

Her shock only consumes her for a moment before she starts to take advantage of the distraction, her protection field swirling out of existence. "... here's my chance."

Raising her wand high, "Come my indestructible guardians!" Rusted suits of armor and skeletons strewn about bear many antique blades, at her command a golden aura appears over each of them, as they float aloft, forming ranks overhead.

"In the name of Cavendish! Be my blades and strike down my enemies!"

Magic pulses throughout them, sparkling as she weaves her spell. "Fineltina la Serana!" As she finishes the incantation, all of them rush the Minotaur's exposed back as one, all of the blades embedding themselves into it terribly, as if he were going to become the next corpse on the floor. For just a split second he freezes, then turns around to howl murder at Diana Cavendish.

"Akko! Leave! You're just going to get in everyone's way!"

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


"It's fine," Yumi answers Lotte with a little shake of her head, smiling. "It's--" Yumi pauses, when Akko shows her... enthusiasm. "Ah, that's..."

The sweatdrop is practically visible before Diana actually approaches her, Yumi starting to step forward. "Don't worry so much--"

She pauses, and looks to Diana. Naturally, she knows Diana... or rather, Diana's family, mostly. Even at differing years, there's no way Yumi wouldn't recognize her--though with her reputation, it might be assumed she forgot. Some people think she's like that. However:

Yumi hears 'trouble.' Yumi hears 'strain' even though it's not really said. She remembers the year she did this one. And with Diana looking at her, Yumi continues to stare right back, pink eyes casual. But she just turns right around before Yumi can say anything, leaving the older girl staring right after. Her gray hair ruffles lightly as if in some wind.

"...Maybe Mother has a point," Yumi mutters to herself, and starts forward.


"A MINOTAUR?" Yumi asks, in the sort of expression that could also be 'what, now???' or 'oh, come on!'

"I don't think it cares what you think its diet is supposed to be!" Yumi informs Akko. But it gets into chaos quickly; Yumi doesn't conjure any barriers at all, she just dives down to the side, wincing at the bruises she'll get from the fall inevitably. "Don't turn down help when you need it!" Yumi calls to Diana, and then scowls, looking straight up at the monster. "This..."

Yumi breathes in, "Breathing, sighing, silent, still--"

A black aura begins to form about the older apprentice's hands as she lifts them, "Feel here now a graveyard's chill!"

Students at the Infinity Magic Program are not supposed to know curses like that--but it courses from Yumi's hand, rushing to the monster and seeking to make it weaker, infirm, scared--

Nevermind that it looks vaguely horrific until it gets there.

<Pose Tracker> Sucy Manbavaran [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.


Sucy Manbavaran looks smug because this entire Ohzora thing is her idea. (Citation needed, but at least plausible.) With an upper classwoman helping them out, even if it's only a little, they're going to stomp. And stomping means a margin for error, which means she can go to that shopping arcade in Osaka and score some -

Her head turns as Diana speaks to Ohzora. Sucy looks at the two wingwomen for Diana and gives them a dirty look, although to give those two their credit, they may not be able to take it as much different from the normal look she gives them. She holds her peace throughout the exchange.


"Yeah, probably," Sucy answers Lotte.

Sucy has seemed phlegmatic about the entire thing as she emerged with Lotte and Yumi, and had hung back behind them as she watched the great creature. When Yumi casts her spell, she says quietly, "Oh good," and reaches into the sleeve of her robe before slouching forwards. She doesn't dive out of the way.

"Sucy!!" Lotte says, in fear at her roommate's apparent sucy-cidal recklessness for her own safety even as the minotaur wheels. Sucy herself says, slightly louder than usual, "Hey, Mr. Cow."

When the great beast reels on her and releases a bellow of challenge filled with the funk of forty thousand(?) years, Sucy produces a small bottle from inside of her robe. It has an Art Nouveau skull on it. She grips the stopper, says, "Open wide," and:

It is good for her dignity that Hannah and Barbara are on the other side of the minotaur because Sucy has just discovered that the stopper of this potion phial is completely stuck. While she does not, exactly, recoil in fear, she opts to throw the entire thing down the minotaur's gullet and backpedals swiftly, saying as she does, "Now we just have to not die until it"

The rest of Sucy's statement is drowned out in another furious bellow. Sucy's lips thin and pull back, her eyes turning towards Yumi and Akko in about equal measure as she produces her wand.

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.


Rei Hino is not, of course, a magic student. She doesn't even go to Infinity! But she is known - as a spiritually-sensitive individual, at least - to her community, and though she has no personal affiliation with the Magic Association or any of their ilk...

... it's possible a string or two is pulled now and then.

It's Rei who's here today, of course, in the Ohtori middle-school uniform which would see her peers giving her suspicious glances. Perhaps Sailor Mars would have more luck with the monsters rumoured to dwell underneath the island, but unlike her supernatural aptitude as a miko, that is a secret. Her ofuda are secure in a pocket, because she would hardly come to such a place unprepared.

She sees Diana step forward - the way she engages Yumi. It's subtle, but not subtle enough, and Rei frowns as she sees the grey-haired girl's expression. Her brow arcs upwards as she sees but does not quite hear Yumi muttering, in the wake of it. "Yumi-chan..." Rei trails off, quietly.

She glances back over to Akko, who seems to have the right idea.

Honestly, who would act like that?!

(Don't answer that.)

... AND NOW:

"... there's trouble!" Rei barks, out of nowhere, as she turns away from a tower of books which would bring a tear to Ami Mizuno's eye. This trouble is encapsulated perfectly as she rounds a corner, and, suddenly: Minotaur!!

She's been a boon in finding interesting things for their expedition, but this new discovery might be more Kasagami's idea of interesting than their guide, Fuu Hououji's. Akko tries her best to confront the minotaur, and Diana, to her paltry credit, doesn't miss a beat before she sticks a pin in the problem.

(Several pins; also the pins are swords.)

And there's Yumi, and Rei has to bristle as she casts what is no doubt one of her curses. Sucy steps forward to offer her own rebuttal, which...

Well, let's just say it's very concerning that sleepy-looking girl is right in front of the monster after that. It has a lot of teeth.

"Don't even think about it!" Rei snaps at it, as it opens its great jaws to roar retribution. She produces one of those paper-slips from her pocket, and gestures over them in the nine cuts, chanting a mantra: "rin, pyou, tou, sha, kai, jin, retsu, zai -- zen!"

With that she storms forward to leap up and slap that ofuda right... well, she was aiming for the eyes, but it's very large, so even as she jumps up she ends up slapping it right on that broad nose-ring instead. The binding magics are designed to constrain evil, of course, but they've been known to daze other creatures. And Usagi.

To her credit, despite getting right up into the beastie's face, she has the sense to scamper back afterwards.

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


"A what?! Awesome! I'm like, half magic stuff! I am super qualified for this program!" A rotund little boy around thirteen years old states happily. In fact, he had never been to Infinity before but on a quick stop-by one time for a Cooking Club event. He didn't get a good look around. But now, having heard of a literal MAGIC PROGRAM, little Steven Universe had to be there!

Because even if it was mistaken for parlor tricks like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, or releasing doves out of your sleeve would still really appeal to him! It was a win-win situation!

So, among the crowd he stood, assembled before their delve. He listens politely, intently as the leaders of the program speak! "W-Wait, theres like, actual treasure down there?!" the boy beams. He has experience in stumbling upon and dislodging important treasures and relics!

Things typically don't go well afterward but he gets it done! "This is gonna be super cool!"


"Was I on the ceiling earlier? I felt like I was on the ceiling."

Steven, being possibly one of the youngest here, has been assigned to stick very close to his group. And while the other group has all sorts of sorcery at their command, the boy knows his group well and what they can do! Except possibly Rei, she's kinda mysterious!

Thusfar he has managed to not need his shield, though the contents of his Cheeseburger Backpack have come in handy more than once! Someone clearly packed it well, knowing what was needed on a mission! He even has a rope and grappling hook for some reason. Who has stuff like that laying around?!

"Oh wow, like right out of my dads pen and paper game from the 80s!" Steven calls out, having now seen the monster proper. "Y-Yeah!" Get 'em!" he cheers those moving into action!

After all, every dungeon group needs a support, right?

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


Familiarity breeds contempt ... or so the saying goes. However, Fuu's membership in the Library Island Exploration Club has taught her that there's at least one exception to that old saying, and Library Island itself is it. Every time she ventures into the depths of the island, the experience is different - whether it's just a mapping expedition, or a rescue party for somebody who didn't come back from the lower stacks in a reasonable time, or a combination thereof. Thankfully, mapping is a lot more common.

Fuu isn't quite as heavily geared as she might be for this trip; rather than the large backpack she prefers for these sojourns, she's carrying a smaller pack which can share back space with a quiver and a bow, while a first-aid kit and a coil of rope are hitched to her belt. One of the pack's straps has a light clipped to it, as well.

"I wonder," Fuu asides to her teammates, "will the monsters simply turn aside and ignore us if they happen upon individuals who aren't in the magic program?" It's mostly a rhetorical question - she's not bringing bow and arrows along for show, after all - but she's hoping not to need the glove-jewel tucked away in her pocket. The Wind Knight's presence on this trip is merely a contingency plan if mundane means won't suffice.


What exactly constitutes a suitable treasure for this trip? There are books, there are relics, there are indeed monsters - not that Fuu considers the last of those "treasures" so much as "obstacles"; she'd still rather not test whether they'll ignore students not in the magic program ... but when the minotaur's roar rings out and its bull-headed form looms in the corridor, Fuu doesn't waste time trying to test her conjecture; she just unslings her bow and pulls an arrow from her quiver, nocking the latter to the former's string. She bides her time as she aims, giving Rei time to complete her chant and plant her ofuda on the minotaur's nose-ring ... and then the arrow flies.

It's not the traditional bow she uses on the archery team, of course; *that* stays in the dojo when they aren't going to an exhibition or competition. It's not the bow she makes use of as a Magic Knight; she can't use that without transforming.

But it's a good, serviceable bow, stout enough to send an arrow flying dozens of yards while pliable enough for a regular schoolgirl's use - and in Fuu's hands, accurate enough to plant said arrow in the minotaur's shoulder with little trouble.

... assuming, of course, that its hide isn't so tough that the arrow simply bounces off. But if it does, that should still provide a distraction that the beleaguered witches can capitalize on.


Either way, Fuu quickly readies a second arrow. "So your father's into RPGs as well, Steven-san?" she wonders while she's getting ready for her next shot.

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

~Earlier, surface level~

It seems this particular unusual outing for the Sister Schools has attracted quite a name! Ohtori High Student Council President Kasagami Araki escaped a mountain of Student Council Business in order to come along. And she looks way, way too happy about the fact they're all going into a monster infested dungeon.

Kasagami has her nodachi out already, the young woman keeping a few extra steps away from aspiring Witches and sister schools students as safety demands. Her coat is draped over her, a backpack over one shoulder. Her family sword gleams, polished, sharpened and ready. The spine of her blade tap-tap-taps on her shoulder, held casually yet every movement she makes bleeding training and dedication to her family's traditional art. There's a shine in her eye and a confident grin to her. Her body is a coiled spring, Kasagami itching to put her family's talents to work.

The exchange among teacher, Cavendish, and to the group containing the most curious little witch is noted. Only once Akko is off like a shot with friends in tow, leaving coat fluttering and Kassie's Student Council Approved fabulous hair swaying amidst light sparkles does she comment.

There's a laugh in her words. She decides, already, that she likes this Akko Kagari. "Well, it's heartening to see that there's enthusiasm in Infinity! Ursula-sensei, Infinity does the Sister Schools proud! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for this unique opportunity to make use of our more esoteric skills!" It's the exact sort of thing a good President would say to a teacher at an event like this. The joy and near-giddy tone however, is not normal.

Then again, the Duelist isn't exactly a bastion of normality. She turns to the group she's found herself in, winks, and then her hard boots are eating up space. Kassie seems to want to take point. Exactly where a sword is best found, after all.

"...This is going to be so much fun!" She mutters to herself as she starts the descent.

~Now, 22nd level~

Kasagami turns out to be completely unshy about looting. Her backpack is already turning into a small armory, and a few levels up she shamelessly gushed about a book currently inhabiting one of her coat's inner pockets. Something about 'Kojiro-dono' and swords. Her attention is firmly pulled to the minotaur that has two girls cowering, and the multiple Little Witches admirably fending the thing off. In particular, Diana's sword-plunging draws a keen eye while Yumi's darkness gets a wary one.

"Magic really is amazing! Skill and tenacity against a monster like that! Ahhh, we're so lucky! Let's not let the Infinity students hog all the fun though!" Kasagami offers to her more unusual group of psychic, bubble paladin, wind archer, and sword-King. Her 'best friend' Rei lights up with ofuda, earning an impressed whistle. The swordswoman takes a second to deposit her blade backpack on the ground. With a second's pause to ensure any arrows, mist, stabbing flying swords, and ofuda aren't at risk with her presence, she's striding directly over to the creature in confident and measured steps.

A grin has inched it's way onto her mouth. The Duelist's sword is held in both hands as she levers it up in a high-stance that's angled more and more to the diagonal. A nod to her group, putting a little bit of trust in them. Fuu, Rei, and Steven are people she genuinely trusts, and so she has no fear they'll hit her.

Just before she gets into optimal range of the long sword that's been passed down to her, she kicks forward with the back of her heel. Less a charge, and more a lunge, the long-legged girl settles her weight and balance on the front foot. Torso rotated to better allow her to put her all into her strike, moments before her blow she sucks in a breath. Her fingers and arms are deceptively loose around her sword's handle, until she moves to slash. They tighten in an instant, gloves creaking and muscles rippling beneath the military-cut Student Council uniform she proudly wears.

Her execution and form are as perfect as it is brutal. Twisting her torso, swinging in a wide arc, Kasagami moves along with the sword. It's an extention of her arms, the young woman's dropping of the sword putting strength and weight behind it for leverage and power.

"Taste the blade of the Araki Family, monster! YAAAAAH!" Howls Kasagami in a war cry, aiming to carve diagonally, neck and down the chest. She's retreating, instead stepping to the side even as she's using her blade's motion as more momentum to get back into a high stance.

She's in a good mood. Rei, it seems, was right. Interest very piqued in the worst, or perhaps best, way.

<Pose Tracker> Akko Kagari [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

"M-Mind your own business, Diana!" Akko snaps back at her, with a huff. She folds her arms and looks away, pointedly; it might be that a hint of truth is to her words, and that stung her deeper than she would care to admit.

She looks back up at Yumi, though -- and blinks. "Ah... huh? Ohzora? I--um--"

She hesitates, though, before she takes off with a little hop, to catch up with her -- and, in short order, she pushes ahead of her, because she is scared of little.

Ursula glances at them -- and then back to Kasagami. She nods her head, cheerfully, with that trademark small smile. "You're welcome, Araki-san. Please, have fun down there!"


Akko takes a step back -- and another, quicker nervous step back. The blades that Diana summoned are just sticking out of the minotaur, without felling it. "N-No way... Diana, Barbara, Hannah, you all better run! I don't think--"

She turns the wand back on it. Another little bead of pink light runs up the length of it, glowing a little brightly for a moment.

The bolt of light from it slams into the minotaur, doing nothing to it. However, she hears the shout from Yumi behind her. She turns her head, eyes wide when she meets hers -- and then whips her head back around, to see the way that the skin grows taut, the muscles contract, and its vitality appears to wither. The minotaur stumbles under the weight of the curse.

And then the vial enters its mouth... but the stopper is not broken. It catches behind its teeth, as it bellows furiously one more time.

And then a blessed slip of paper slaps onto, and wraps around, the nose ring. The minotaur reels backward, eyes spinning--

"You have great timing!" Akko calls back to Rei, Fuu, Kasgami, and Steven as they burst into the room. Fuu's arrow, tragically, just digs into the flesh but doesn't seem to pain it. That flesh, it winds up, is thick. Thick enough to turn aside a blade, as Kasagami finds. Her sword reacts more like a butter knife against a rubber shoe sole.

It digs in, but fittingly. But, then, against its jaw, Kasagami feels something: a crinkle. Glass cracking.

The minotaur's eyes widen.

And then smoke erupts. The minotaur stumbles back, as Kassie's blow shatters the vial -- and acid begins to eat away from it from within. The minotaur collapses -- its jaw falls before the rest of its body -- and bone is visible, as skin and muscle slough away.

The minotaur slams to the ground...

...and then melts apart entirely, before a circular hole is cut into the very floor. Across the way, too, a door is knocked open -- and something dingy and dusty shines from within. Akko stares, for the moment, at the remains of the minotaur.

"Gross," she says. "Super, super gross!"

But, then she looks up. Her eyes narrow, as there is a little ping of light from behind the opened door.

<Pose Tracker> Diana Cavendish [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

"Their protection is my responsibility. You should redirect your concern to someone who needs it, such as yourself." Diana calmly scolds Akko, even in the midst of battle.

However then it is over, as the Minotaur abruptly melts a hole into the floor.

Diana glowers at the aftereffects of Sucy's poison, raising the tip of her wand. The air around her subtly shifts, carrying the fumes away from her. "Well done." She offers without complaint, for Diana despises taking all the credit when it does not belong solely to her. Though perhaps she spreads the credit around unequally amongst the girls involved.

Barbara declares, "W-Well now that that's taken care of, it's time to go." Diana instead looks at the dripping portal in the floor, declaring, "It seems like we can descend from here." The two girls make a noise of complaint, "Wait you want to keep going!?" "Let's stop Diana!"

Diana looks sideways at them, then at Akko's group, "If you're frightened, then you can assist in escorting Akko back to the surface."

Now she looks at Akko in particular, her gaze sharp with reproval, "What were you thinking? Rushing in without a plan, with only the most rudimentary spells at your disposal. Your actions have only proven you don't have the necessary discipline to rise any higher in this program until you seriously reassess your priorities."

Placing a small bristle attachment on the head of her wand, it shines blue. "I'm going on ahead. Please think of what's best for Akko and see her out of here. It's far too dangerous for her to go any further."

Without further remark, she makes a short hop into the pit, the broom like attachment causing her fall to slow, and her way ahead to be lit. The two girls place similar attachments on their wands, "W-Wait up!"

And leap in after her. "Don't leave us with her Diana!"



Touching down lightly on the ground, Diana shakes off the attachment, her wand taking on a violet hue instead which lights up the cavernous rock like formations surrounding them, a lattice of natural rock that doesn't even look like library island. The two girls landing with her fret, "Are we even allowed to be down this deep!?"

Diana suddenly points her wand at a dark shadow. To the shape of a sinister Iron Maiden, wrapped with sealing ofuda. Its grim helmed visage bearing two glowing red orbs. "An iron maiden?"

Hannah and Barbara are hugging each other in fright, "A torture chamber!" "It must have bloodletted hundreds of witches!"

Diana looks it up and down with a cool sort of discernment. "The examiners are simply trying to intimidate us. The seals indicate that it is safeguarding something truly precious."

Raising up her wand, it flares with a magical light, "I will reveal it!" The sealing talismans all disintegrate with ease, which appears to further back up her theory that this is part of the exam.

The Iron Maiden opens from the middle, revealing a two sickly yellowed eyes. The creature takes a single step out, as the two girls squeal and hide behind Diana.

Diana stares at the thing and remarks, "Is that it?"

It's a tiny lizard like creature, crimson of scale, only as tall as her mid-calf, it's toothy piranha like maw would be intimidating except it looks like it could hardly break skin. It makes a little whine, then hisses at them.

Hannah and Barbara start to laugh. "All of that just to contain this tiny thing?" "He's trying to threaten us!"

Hannah produces her wand, and electricity arcs from her wand, "Time for your punishment!" The creature spasms pitifully under her assault, taking a step back before making a little howl of pain at her. Barbara follows, "I guess that wasn't enough!" And a small orb of flame rockets from the tip of her wand at the creature.

This time it opens its maw wide and... swallows the spell as if it were a treat. It's belly distending as it gorges on it, as it then rises up on its hindlegs, walking towards the two in a bipedal manner.

"Playtime is over!" The two line up a shot together, as the creature greedily opens its mouth. They channel a violet stream of flame together. Diana simply watches, expression pensive, a finger against her chin.

Suddenly her expression changes, as if she had a sudden epiphany. "NO! STOP! Don't use magic!"

Smoke explodes outwards throughout the room, engulfing the three girls completely.

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

Yumi Ohzora had nothing* to do with Rei's invitation* at all*.

Diana isn't wrong, of course. Yumi's already passed this test. But... Yumi has a little thing about causing herself 'trouble.' Which is of course how she ended up here. Here, which gets crowded quickly, and that doesn't seem at all like a bad thing to her.

Akko's spells hit--but Yumi watches as her curse hits home, feels the way the minotaur ahead begins to wither and smirks in a way that is entirely unlike the calm, easygoing girl she usually seems to be. Once the smoke erupts--

"Heh," Yumi says, all calmness again. "Hey, Rei-san," Yumi breathes in greeting, and leans against a nearby wall with one hand.

"That was a good potion," she says to Sucy, but she finds herself glancing at the hole--

And to Diana. Of course Cavendish would go on ahead, and of course she'd have lectures to do. It's true that Yumi had to exert herself a bit more with the unexpected issue, but...

"...I don't like their chances," Yumi says. Then she pauses. "I mean the other two. Cavendish is probably fine. If anybody can handle it down there, it's her."

Then to Akko, "Hey--" She stops, thinks, and shakes her head. "...Yeah, that's kinda gross," Yumi guesses, though she considers, and then looks left, looks right, and, probably just behind Sucy, kneels down at the goop to nudge some into a vial. This could be good stuff!

"...it's true that things are going to get trickier from here," Yumi tells Akko, "And we got lucky with that one with everybody coming. But, it's up to you--I'll back you up either way. That's why I'm here, right?"

Ignore the fact that she's still breathing a little hard... or the part where when she puts the vial away she fishes out an inhaler. It's fine, it'll only take her a second.

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

"Yeah, it's got a spooky demon-y lookin' face on it! Its a little too complicated, but he said he used it to mellow out with friends on weekends," the boy elaborates toward Fuu on the topic of tabletop games.

Everyone lashes out against the monster minotaur, and in the end it turns in to a puddle of... well, best not to think of it, really! "Oh that was aaaaaawesome!" the boy exclaims with stars in his eyes! "Oh I wanna do spells and stuff! It looks so cool!" From his backpack, he pulls out... a wand of his own! "Yeah, all sorts of cool spells!"

The boy waves the wand all over the place in a blur. THere is no telling what he may be casting...!

He stops and alters the top of it. And puts it to his mouth.

Oh wait.

It is just a pixie stick. Whew.

The boy claps with his hands toward his team excitedly! With Kassie's sword, Fuu's bow, and Rei's... uh. "Hey Rei?" Steven asks. "What was that papery thing you did?"

Steven turns and furrows a brow toward Diana, but doesn't say anything until she is gone. "Hey, uh... I think you were brave, if it helps anyway!" he says, trying to encourage her. Perhaps it was reckless, but wow, that was quite the tear-down.

<Pose Tracker> Sucy Manbavaran [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

The demise of the minotaur is NOT looked-away-from by its ultimate author. "Guess I made it a little too strong," says Sucy, who seems to have no visible regrets.

She gives Kasagami a clear thumbs-up.

("Are they the Sister Schools people?" she asks Lotte. "Yes... though Hououji goes here," Lotte replies, nodding once to the Magic Knight; Lotte herself is looking a little green. Sucy continues to ask, "If they find treasure, that's on our score, right?")

Then Diana gives her a slight complement, but any positive feelings are rapidly diffused as Diana proceeds to chew out Akko. Then she gears up with her wand and descends, which Sucy tracks with her eyes, potentially jealous of the mini broom style.

She lights up her wand, possibly on general principles, and then looks at --


"Hey kid," she asks him. "You don't have a broom in your cheeseburger, do ya?"

Sucy looks at Akko then, and now she actually does smile without showing her (filed?) teeth.

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

Rather than seeming disheartened by the ineffectiveness of her arrow, Fuu simply slips the second shaft back into her quiver and slings the bow behind her again, replying to Steven, "Does he still have the books with him? Did he bring them along to Tokyo? My English might not quite be up to that level, but I should love to take a look - it was tabletop role-playing games which planted the seeds for the video RPGs that we play now, after all. So if nothing else, there's historical interest to be considered." She smiles, inclining her head to Steven, then heads over to see if the used arrow can be used again.

"Are the rest of you all right?" she asks Akko's group with a friendly smile. "That was ..." She glances at the puddle of former minotaur. "... impressive."

That's probably not the first word which came to her mind, but Fuu does have a tendency to err on the side of politeness, especially when she can tell the truth while doing so.

"I haven't heard of minotaurs at this level of the catacombs," Fuu continues, "so that was probably something of a fluke. But the library's interior *is* subject to change, as they say, without notice. That's why the Exploration Club has to keep updating our maps every so often. As for treasure ..."

She pauses, looking over at Kasagami, then back at Sucy. "You'd have to ask Ursula-sensei when we get back to the surface. And you might have to discuss the question with Kasagami-san as well; I wouldn't presume to speak for her. At any rate ..."

Her attention shifts to - "Akko-san, was it? If you want to venture further, I'm happy to help make sure you come back relatively intact - although if I think we're going further than is safe, I *will* speak up. And if we run into more minotaurs, I'm likely to make that call all the faster ... *if* you're inclined to listen," she admits with a good-natured smile. "I can't exactly tie you up and sling you over my shoulder, after all - but more importantly, you know your capabilities better than I do."

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Rei has excellent timing. As she gets out of the Minotaur Exclusion Zone, Fuu and Kasagami step in to offer their own points: one, an arrow launched over the distance, and another, the end of a blade.

It turns out that in chemistry, sometimes things need to be agitated before they explode, and this metaphor has nothing to do with anyone.

"What on..." Rei has to gape as the minotaur literally melts to nothing, bones and all. "That's disgusting!" She grimaces, in agreement with Akko, waving a hand in front of her face. She puffs out a sigh, though, looking over to Sucy. "But it sure was effective."

Speaking of effectiveness, Steven's asking about her own methods. Rei smiles to him, warm. "They're called ofuda," she explains, without a shred of testiness. "They're holy talismans which call on the power of the gods to protect us from evil." In exactly the same way a pixie stick protects him from getting hungry.

"Hey, Yumi-chan," Rei replies, still trying on behalf of that girl who seems to have problems wrapped around her like the many layers she's wearing underneath her uniform. (She is completely unaware of the complete lack* of involvement Yumi had in pulling those strings to get the shrine maiden here today.) Maybe she'd go further, if not for:

Diana Cavendish.

"What is your problem?!" Rei demands, angrily, after Diana lays into Akko -- and disappears down the hole. "At least she was brave enough to try something!" She yells, after her, gesturing with a curled hand. That hand comes up to brush her hair back over her shoulder, shaking the raven-black sheet back in frustration. "Don't let her talk to you like that," she frowns, as she turns back to Akko and her group. "Like Fuu-chan says, we'd be happy to come with you."

She turns to look at Kasagami, and her smile is all teeth. "Right, President?"

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

With the pixie stick still poking out of his mouth, the boy turns to Sucy. "Huh? Oh, maybe??? Pearl packed it! Lemme look." The boy unzips his pack, and starts really rooting around in there. Towels, snacks, drinks, a second rope, a bunch of Ranger Guys, something that looks akin to some kind of hourglass artifact tha tis broken, a good handful of sand... "Oh! Well, kinda?"

The boy holds up at hairbrush. "Its kinda like a broom for hair!" he says helpfully. Sadly, nothing that is an actual broom.

A look to Fuu. "Yeah! I'll ask him when I see him today! He doesn't get to play it too often any more so I bet he would lend them out!" "Oooooh, ofuda? That sounds really important!" the boy cheers toward Rei. "You threw it all cool-like, kinda like a shuriken...!" Was she a ninja?! ...Probably not.

The boy digs around a bit more. A collapsible pole and duct tape comes out. "I have an idea!" Steven says, looking at the hairbrush as well. A little bit of handywork and Steven has cobble together some kind of jury-rigged broom, kinda?! More loke an extended hairbrush, but hey, you work with what you got!

"Can this work?"

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

Even when it becomes obvious that she won't be having the minotaur's head as she'd desired, Kasagami doesn't relent. That thick skin and muscle vastly outdoes even her own. Trained and self-subjected as she is to the way of blade and absurd athletics, she's still only human. She bares down harder with leverage (balanced nicely out with the creature's sheer size), arrogance, and a good teenage helping of pure spite.

Crinkle. Both brows rise for a second. Smoke follows. She's no witch, but some small ounce of sense decides to hammer it's way into her skull. Grip tightening, she wrenches out her blade from the grip of flesh with visible effort. The jaw falls, and everything clicks into place. Once step back, to the side, and her sword's angle changes.

Then Sucy's potion takes effect. The tip of her blade hovers, only to lightly swing backwards as Kassie smoothly rests the length of her weapon across her shoulders in rest. Her good eye travels the length, an inspection of it's health quick but thorough. Satisfied, she has a front row samurai's seat to what the mushwitch is capable of.

A final breath to let all the stored up tension go, and the Duelist is as relaxed as she ever is. Her head tilts just a moment. Well! Her expression seems to say. Luckily she's not squeemish.

Infinity Politics play out, and down goes Diana and her two minions. Good eye peering down, she doesn't follow. Steven is the one with grappling hooks, and she swears she can smell more swords around here. Plus she's fairly certain the ropes the young man has won't plunge that deep into the darkness. Her depth perception is extremely suspect though. Her boot taps along the edge. It really, really is tempting to just leap though.

So she contents herself with stepping back, whistling, and admiring Sucy's work. A brief glance is given to Yumi. Concern cuts her scarred face for a second, but the President doesn't voice it.

With her free hand, she dips into an overly exaggerated bow to Sucy. What a gentlelady! "'Too strong' doesn't exist, in my humble opinion! The stronger the better. ...Looks like I'm still far from perfect in the art of swordsmanship."

The calls of 'gross' and 'disgusting' simply have Kassie chuckling. Her own look tot he dissolving minotaur is best described as morbid curiousity. Looks to the potion's maker are increasingly shades of wary respect.

Stepping out of Yumi's way, there's a cloth in her free hand. Cleaning her blade from errant potion-or-Minotaur sweat, she's lost to her own musing for a moment. She can feel her Mother's eyes on her in the back of her head, the deceased woman's voice in her own self-criticism. Could she have cut cleaner, stronger, more force? Questions swirl.

Fuu and Rei do a good job of breaking her from her inner thoughts. "Honestly? As much as I love a good competition, I'm much more interested in what's down here." She motions vaguely to her backpack as well as the minotaur-hole. Smile!

"Keep drowning me in priceless weapons and the beauty of the past, and we'll call it even!" She might be teasing here. She's keeping those swords if she has any say in it!

Rei digs in. Kassie obliges. "Akko-chan, right? It's true. This place is dangerous, you look like the reckless type who'd lean on action more than planning..."

A pause, as she kettles to Akko's pot.

"But I think that the leaders of Japan, as our Sister Schools intend to make, need to have a healthy dose of those willing to toss caution, life, and limb to the wind in the name of ambition and dreams! Akko Kagari!" She turns, tossing her coat behind her to point at the Little Witch.

"Rei-chan is correct. If you have the bravery, the will, the sheer audacity to challege skill with tenacity...I'm with such towering dreams! The peerless swordsmanship of the Araki Family is at your side!" Announces Kassie with far too much drama.

Steven has her glancing over. Her gaze then peeks back to the twin groups gathered. "We have a cunning and inventive group of talented individuals here, too."

<Pose Tracker> Akko Kagari [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

"You--" Akko's face gets red with anger at Diana. "I'm going to be an awesome, amazing witch one day, like--" She starts to say the rest, but comes up short -- cut off by a chunk of ceiling dislodging and smashing down next to her. The rock cracks apart in two, and she sighs. She watches as Diana, Hannah, and Barbara descend down through the hole in the floor.

The witch's shoulders stay slumped for a moment. Then, finally, she turns her head to Yumi. There is a moment's hesitation, before a bright smile breaks across her face, and she nods. "No way am I giving up! So what if we have to take the long way down! It just means we'll get more treasure on the way!"

She smiles back at Sucy, pumping her fist, before she wheels to face the other newcomers. A friend of Yumi's? And, she thinks, Fuu Hououji. Kasagami Araki is an unknown quantity to her, but she likes her style.

She brightens at the offer for help from Rei, Fuu, and Kassie. Her eyes widen a little, big red eyes shining -- and then she grins, bobbing her head once. "Th-thanks, everyone! You're all great! I wanna go down there, but first--"

She looks at the door. "...I something shiny!"

There is a cloud of dust, as she bolts through the door. The room inside is filled with junk: rusted and pitted armor, broken weapons, and coins that have tarnished beyond any value. Dust and debris fill it, and Akko slams into the pile of debris, digging with her arms in a way not all that unlike a dog.

"I swear I saw it, it's--"

The ground rumbles.

She starts to slide. "Uuuuh--"

And then a deafening ROAR, which puts the minotaur's to shame, echoes up through the hole. There is a leathery beat of wings, before a massive black dragon, with red along its top, rises out of it. It turns, eyes ablaze with crimson, and bellows out another roar.

Then, it opens its mouth -- and blasts a hole in the ceiling with a giant gout of flame. The fire rips through the ceiling and the wall of the next room -- and a rush of rubble and debris comes falling away, before Akko rolls. She has her hands gripped around something buried in the debris.

She also has a rusted helmet atop her head, and her eyes are blinking. "A DRAGON!?" she yells, as the thing begins to lift higher.

Then, she yanks something from the debris, and brandishes it up at the dragon: a length of smooth, polished wood with seven glimmering gems.

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

Fuu's first thought at the rumbling ground is that they should probably at least regroup and try *not* to get separated, especially if the catacombs are about to start dynamically updating their layout. Again.

Her second thought, accompanying the roar of the black dragon - and for that matter, the *arrival* of the black dragon - is that yes, this is probably more than dangerous enough and heading for the surface seems like it's probably in order. Preferably before anyone gets prematurely cremated.

Her third thought, as fire tears a new passageway through wall and ceiling, is that this is no longer something that Fuu Hououji can actually deal with and it's time to take advantage of the glove-jewel she's been carrying around in her pocket. Fortunately, things are about chaotic enough at the moment that running for cover with a yelp of surprised fear would constitute a totally understandable response from practically every schoolgirl Fuu knows ... with perhaps a couple of exceptions, one of whom was over there with her nodachi the last time Fuu looked *but even then*.

Fuu's invocation goes unheard thanks to the disruption of architecture; a moment later, the Wind Knight dodges around some falling debris and calls out, "Winds of Admonishment!" in an attempt to at least contain the dragon's rampage a *little* bit. She's sort of used to seeing powerful enemies break loose from this spell again, but she still makes the effort - every little bit helps.

Except when it doesn't.

Like now. The dragon doesn't even have to 'break loose,' the Winds of Admonishment just unravel even faster than the Magic Knight of Wind cast them.

"How big was that dragon when it came up?" she calls out (she isn't squeaking, she just pitched her voice higher to stand out against the rumble of - okay yeah she's squeaking a bit) while trying to dodge a draconic appendage which would have used *her* to remodel another chunk of the nearby catacombs, blunt-object-style.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Wind Knight!
<Pose Tracker> Diana Cavendish [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

A smaller shape slides through the smoke erupts from the smoke, pursuing the dragon with a certain determination. Her platinum blonde hair and her entire uniform look positively singed as she flies on a broomstick after it in a debris evading spiral. "If it gets any bigger it'll become unmanageable!"

She almost doesn't notice the others in the room however.. Akko's yell of 'A DRAGON' alerts her.

"Akko!? Everyone!? You're still down here!?" Instead of sounding irritated, she seems frantic as she hears Fuu's spell chant and she shouts, "No! Don't use magic on it!" The girl commands almost desperately. ... but she's just a moment too late. "Just evacuate!"

She then flies out past the dragon and races past unto the top floor. The entirely island is experiencing a terrible tremor, rocky debris falling about.

There, Professor Ursula has created a magical pink megaphone which distorts as she calls into it like it were an actual mouth, amplifying her shout multiple times over as she tries to bring order to the chaos of panicking students, "Emergency Escape! Everyone! Run out of the building! Do not attempt to slay the dragon!"

Ursula then calls out to the girl on broomstick, waving a hand, "Diana!" The girl breaks off from her path and flies down to the ground so hard that the bristles of her broom kick up dust on braking. "Sensei!" Ursula immediately takes command of the situation. "We have a problem. The ancient dragon has awakened. I will stop him here, and coordinate an evacuation - please lend me your support."

Diana, clutching her broomstick nervously, opens her mouth, "Sensei. I... I need to tell you that... it was... it was..."

Ursula however doesn't seem to notice her effort, instead speculating, "I wonder who in the world could have broken the seal."

Suddenly Diana is utterly speechless, as if suddenly the weight of her shame had truly settled upon her. Everyone expects so much of her, so for her to betray their trust like this... it was unquestionable.

The only thing to do was to take responsibility. She had to. "... it was..." It comes out as a whisper.

Swallowing, there's an anxious repetition to it...

"... it was..."

Diana never thought the word 'me' would be so difficult to utter.

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

"Potions can get gross," Yumi offers Rei helpfully. She does not at all seem bothered by this, naturally. "It's true though--cool work with the talismans." She smiles at the return greeting, and... indeed, she's definitely wearing layers today, too. A thicker undershirt peeks out at her collar; green tights are definitely not regulation for anything except maybe 'night visibility'.

Also after a quick use the inhaler goes right back away.

"...You're a pretty unique person, huh?" Yumi asks kasagami. Then she looks over Steven's... creation, so to speak, and--

"I'm pretty sure they don't count against you," Yumi offers Sucy. "Like I don't. 'Cause they're not being graded. ...Probably. You never really know."

Pause. "Anyway don't bee too hard on Diana," Yumi says to the others. "It's true that going in without a plan is really dangerous--we're all still students, but we should be looking about how we can improve. Like..." Yumi realizes Akko has already moved towards the shiny thing, and quickly shifts in that direction, or at least, about as quickly as she tends to go. "Hey, uh, you should be careful. If you cut yourself on all that rust you're going to give yourself tetanus or something--"

Rumble. Rumble rumble. As Akko yells, Yumi turns and stares. "What the f--"

The sound of Akko with the wooden object and the flap of the dragon's wings cut off whatever Yumi was going to say, as she looks up. She should... go. She should really leave. She can feel her legs turning to jelly already. But--

--But the warning not to use magic comes just in time as Yumi realizes it's only getting bigger. "Oh, no, it's one of--"

"Come on!" Yumi calls to the others. "Get out of here!" Yumi knows her role here as a student sent along to help--and it's not encouraging people to stick around. "Get moving!"

But... they can't move fast enough with it going, and she can't use magic, so--

"Crap crap crap," she mutters, and breathes in, turning to the ruined junk around Akko. She calls, "Rot! Rust! Turn to dust!"

Some of the junk obliges her, and Yumi rushes behind it, looking up at the dragon. "This is... a bad idea, but--"

She stands by Akko. "I'll cover you--get out of here, okay?"

At that, Yumi puts both hands down and mutters, "Um, um... Pile of... Oh, forget it--"

She throws a little burst of magic straight for the ground, not for the dragon, and throws up her arm as the force propels the dust up into the air to give them a little cover, and... maybe get into the dragon's eyes. She assumes that in the process Akko will start running like she told her. Naturally.

<Pose Tracker> Sucy Manbavaran [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

Rei gets grinned at when she gives her opinion of the Death* Potion.

"That's bull, but I'll buy it," Sucy tells Fuu, probably for the joy of her own wit. She then looks back to Steven, who produces -A semi-credible approximation of a broom.

And offers it!

"I was gonna swap you a card saver ball for it. Wow," she says, advancing and weighing the improvised broom.

To Kasagami, Sucy says, "Thanks, but you're wrong. If that batch was much stronger even treated glass couldn't hold it. But the rest of it's stable, probably."

Her head turns to look towards Akko but there is instead a vaguely Akko-shaped dust cloud. "Oh," she says, "that works." She drifts in that direction, calling ahead once the contents are revealed, "This place is a trap, Akko, we're not gonna get a good score with all this old garba"

Sucy freezes, mouth slightly open, as something roars behind them.

When it comes barrelling out, Sucy thrusts the improvised broom in front of her and reaches over to grip Steven's upper arm in the princess zone, flipping him onto the back with the authority of an older sister before jog-jog-jog-"dangit TIA FREYRE" and there is a sparking gutter of blue-green light and the broom takes off!


"Hold on," she tells Steven, "we're not gonna get much speed but - AKKO! GET OUTTA THE WAY!"

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

She might be braver, but when she sidetracks their quest to go search out something shiny, Rei can really see the resemblance between Akko and certain other girls who will remain unnamed here.

"We have plenty of shiny things..." Rei trails off, with a hapless little sigh as she presses fingers to temple. "Honestly, even Phobos and Deimos have more restraint," she mutters to herself.


"Where did my bracelet go?" Wonders a girl who has come to pray. "I just put it down a second ago..."

In a great old tree, Phobos proudly holds up a shiny gold bracelet in her beak. Deimos cocks her head down towards the girl wandering underneath their branch. 'Caw!' Phobos crows, and in the process of opening her beak drops the jewelry down, right onto the girl's head.

"-- oh! The gods really must be listening to me!" She cries, eyes shining.

Phobos fluffs up her feathers and shuffles on her perch, while Deimos shakes herself out from beak to tailtip.

Sure, let's say they have more restraint.


Like, for example, a dragon.

Rei hears it before she sees it, and feels it before she hears it. "W-what?" She asks, as she stumbles, looking over to Fuu in alarm. "What's going --"

Here wings beat to bring a brute to bear, and Rei finds herself staring at something much larger than a minotaur. "Oh," she says, stunned for crucial moments as those jaws open. Speaking of a lot of teeth, here's a nice solid row of them.

An awful lot of fire, too.

Well, at least it makes the decision fairly obvious. Something like a minotaur, they could handle on their own. A dragon?

Rei ducks behind a long slab of rooftop, fallen to the ground in such a way that it creates a wedge between room and wall. She raises a pen -- "Mars Power, Make Up-!!" -- and a little more fire is easy to overlook, in the scheme of things.

Let's hope that Rei made it out safely, because she's disappeared. On the bright side, leaping out from the debris is one of the Sailor Senshi, Sailor Mars, ribbon fluttering as her heels make contact with the ground again.

The Wind Knight has the right idea, she decides, and brings her fingertips together - which is about when Diana crashes in, telling them not to cast magic. "We have to do something!" Sailor Mars snaps, and brings her hands up in front of her - "FIRE SOUL!"

The broad spiral of flame careens towards the dragon... and...


Oh, look at that, spitefully dismissing the girl who annoyed her actually didn't work out very well.

She grimaces as she looks at the way the dragon only grows larger, and grasps at the side of her head as she shakes it wildly. "Augh--!! How are we supposed to stop that thing if we can't fight it?!" Sailor Mars leaps up the debris, as she tries to follow in the wake of the dragon's destruction. "We can't just let that thing get out--!"

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like it's too keen to listen to direction right now. Tokyo has terrible luck with monsters.

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

Even with the turn of events of Akko getting dressed down by someone else, She seems to be perking up! "Hey, maybe you're jsut having an off day or something!" Any small amount of encouragement may help. A look to Kassie as he stands there with that odd creation of his. "You never know if I need to brush someone's hair six feet away!" is said, only half-joking. Still, a hole lay before them. How to get down? It seems Sucy has an idea! "Oh what is a card saver ball? Sounds neat!" he adds, though he wasn't gonna charge for the makeshift broom.

And then a real-life dragon appears. "Th-That's in dad's game books too!" he calls toward Fuu, pointing toward it! Debris begins to rain down from it blasting the roof so fiercely as to make it convulse and collapse! "We gotta get out of here!" he calls out! Large structure chunks come down, and Steven brings to bear his shield out of reflex to block it!

THe boy is suddenly snatched by Sucy, and over to the broom, which suddenly begins to gai naltitude! "Whoah, my hairvrush is flying! Awesome!" he says, quickly getting a good grop on this odd flying work of magic. The boy holds his shield out to the side with a spare hand. "Got it! I'll try to block stuff falling! Also dragon breath maybe???" he says, horribly hoping that doesn't happen.

Though another excerpt of the game book says knights block dragon's breath with magic shields that resist it. So he sounds pretty qualified to do so! He just lacks a really cool helmet and cape.

Note to self: gain cool helmet and cape.

COMBAT: Steven Universe transforms into Serious Steven!
COMBAT: Rei Hino transforms into Sailor Mars!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Akko desires to be a great witch. Kassie's look to her is both scathing in it's judgement and yet with a certain amount of growing fondness for the reckless little witch with so much desire. The lack of talent is a mark against her. The fact that it doesn't seem to slow her down events that right back up to juuust enough to keep her interest.

Akko Kagari is very much interesting, no matter how Kassie slices it.

Doubly so as the girl rushes for loot. All of the Presidential mask gets a lovely crack as she devolves into a good, honest laugh. Not mocking or for show, simply a girl enjoying the earnest rush of this curious witch. "Akko-chan! Keep doing that, and I'll start calling you 'Magpie-chan'!" Well, she's still a jerk. It's meant with love.

A quick glance finds the weapons in the treasure room to be far beneath her own exacting standards. Instead she's hauled her mini-armory-pack upon her shoulder. A few steps away from that hole, she paces and generally plays guard. Her free hand often touches her newfound pieces of metal with a decadent stroke. What treasures!

Sucy has her briefly distracted on philosophy of strength. "So, a sword too keen to be held by a sheath? Ruining the definition of 'sword' itself? ...Mmm." It's problematic, as Kassie quickly warps words to fit her blade-focused mind. She even seems troubled as she rejects the logical conclusions Sucy's potion work implies.

Before she can delve too far, though, up comes the dragon. Her ears ring and threaten to bleed, but that's not what has Kassie truly moving. The dust kicks up from the creature's emergence. Out of sheer instinct, she gathers her magic. The ring on her finger briefly shines, and she pulls her longcoat tighter about her shoulders. There's a brief scent of roses about her. It's a subtle shift, but an important one as Kasagami is obscured by dust, only to return as the Crimson Rose Duelist.

Up goes the dragon. Kassie follows in a blink. Despite the warnings from those such as Ursula and Diana, she's not thinking right now. Her head is blank for a split second, as propelled in a gush of magical speed and strength, she lashes out almost mechanically for the dragon with her sword. A reflected sword, as much phantasm as real, traces and slices at an opposing angle with just as much force.

It's a single-handed strike though. This is because her right arm has seized up. The smoke of the dragon's fire that which first got her throwing herself away from the grand beast before fight-or-flight kicked in. Cold terror has taken over her body, old memories ripping her heart keenly.

A sound follows her. It's a scream, the voice too familiar, as it came from her own mouth. Fear blunts the impact of her strike from what it would be otherwise.

The magic will only fuel the creature's growth, and her thoughtless attack leaving her vulnerable. And to think, Kassie might covet the title of 'dragonslayer' were circumstances different.

<Pose Tracker> Akko Kagari [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

The Wind Knight unleashes a tried and true spell upon the dragon...

The dragon swells up; more than that, it visibly strengthens. Some of the black spikes on its back grow longer, and sharper, when the Knight's spell is absorbed into it. A split second later, Sailor Mars's swirl of flame does the same; rather than burn it, it is drank into its very body. Kasagami's blade bites -- but does not bite through, yet. The first strike chips at the scales. The dragon opens its massive jaw and roars again, the wind of it shaking all of them.

Akko's eyes lift, as she spots Diana flying by. "Diana!" she calls out, after her -- but there is nothing else to be done for it. Her eyes drift back, to the dragon, and her hands cling tighter to the rod in her hands.

In the face of the dragon, and the danger to all of these people, she forgets she holds it for one moment.

She looks at Yumi; her darker red eyes meet her senpai's pink eyes for a moment, before she looks back up at the dragon. Then, she looks at what she holds. "This is... Chariot's..."

She is not running.

The dust makes the dragon thrash, hard, to one side. It smashes into the wall -- and another chunk of debris slams down. She yelps and jumps -- before she looks up to see Sucy flying for her. With a squeak she drops down flat to the ground, and Steven and Sucy fly right over her head.

Dust blocks the dragon's eyes. It roars, again, and slams into the wall with its body, sending cracks up through the dungeon's wall. Great, terrible wings beat, though, and it keeps airborne. Its mouth opens, flame gathering and growing. It blasts, mercifully, not into Steven's shield. It punches another hole through the whole ceiling -- and then daylight pours down, impossibly, below.

The dragon flies up, wind buffeting thgem, and then breaks out into the skies over Infinity Institute. Its next roar is more distant.

Akko pops back up. "Shiny Rod!" she calls out. She holds it above her head. "Turn into an awesome super broom! Cali! Fragi! Listic! Expiala! DOCIOUS!"

The Shiny Rod does not so much as glimmer.

Akko's eyebrow twitches. "We--we have to go up after it! If it goes for the Sorcery Stone, up at the top of the tower, then... with that much magic, it..."

"Akko!" Lotte calls out. The blonde-haired girl swings to a stop, as if braking, next to her. "Hop on!"

Akko does so; she grips the Shiny Rod even tighter, and sucks in a breath. "...Come on, everyone! And--wait where did all those people go!?"

"We'll worry about it later, Akko!" Lotte answers.

<Pose Tracker> Diana Cavendish [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

"Whatever you're trying to tell me, it can wait until later. Right now we have to prioritize the safety of the students." Professor Ursula finally preempts Diana. And Diana squeaks in relief, "Ruh-Right!" And Professor Ursula continues, "I'm going to attempt to bait it away using magic. You take charge of evacuating the students."

Diana suddenly straightens up, and then slowly climbs astride the broom. "Sensei." And then suddenly her broom rockets off the ground at high speed. "Allow me to take charge of leading it away." Ursula seems shocked, as she's never seen Diana do anything other than what was asked of her, "Eh!? Diana! Stop! I can't allow you to risk yourself!"

Diana does not seem to hear her. She had to take responsibility. Since she'd been placed in charge of seeing the students safe, she could more directly play a role by leading it off.

Which is when Akko and Lotte pass overhead. And Ursula's eyes are caught by- "Seven stars?" She whispers, "I never thought-" And then she mounts her own broom, tailing just behind them, "Akko! Do me a favor and beat the dragon to the stone!" As she knows the rod will know what to do when it gets there. "Quickly!" Before her eyes are drawn forward at Diana, "Oh what is that girl thinking?!"

Diana meanwhile, who has flown just ahead of a gap in Library Island into the daylight, is holding up her wand high into a massive pink haze of energy surrounding it. She's flying dangerously close to the dragon, and around it, trying to taunt and tease it with the spell. Narrowly missing its jaws trying to chomp down on her wand and her arm, she zips just ahead.

"Come on- this is what you want right? Follow me!"

This even works for a short while, as the dragon flaps its massive wings and surges towards, its massive body gliding across the sky after her - providing all the Magical Girls with a gap to fly higher.

Unfortunately after a moment, it's flight slows, and it abruptly turns around.

The more massive source of magical energy will not be denied after all.

And the Sorceror's Stone is the only thing that will sate its hunger.

"No-no-no!" Diana rapidly waves her wand back and forth like a glowstick at a concert, complaining to herself. "Why did it have to be a dragon attracted only to raw magical power?!"

It's fair though. She can't blame it for wanting what any budding young woman should want.

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

"...Definitely unique," Yumi answers, but Kasagami does get a laugh out of her. She feels a bit better despite the situation.

And Yumi can appreciate shiny things, sure. But they're... far out of her mind, by now. She wonders if Rei is all right, when she looks around and doesn't see her. She also wonders if she's going to be all right, as she throws out her dusty offensive--

Sailor Mars is here!? Yumi has time to be shocked by that truth just long enough to notice that Akko--Akko isn't running.

"Akko, are--" her heart's in her throat, watching the smaller girl, but Akko charges forward with an item of clear power, and... it... It doesn't do much. Yumi blinks at her. "Are you sure--"

Akko and Lotte are both gone in moments, leaving Yumi to watch the dragon punch through the ceiling. "Oh, no," Yumi murmurs, catching onto exactly the same worry. If only she could fly, like the others. If--

"I'm going to regret this," Yumi tells herself, absolutely sure that it's true... and then spots a student tripping over her own broom trying to run back to safety. Yumi makes the call immediately, runs for the girl. "Hey--" She helps her up--but...

...Also takes her broom. "Just take cover, okay? I've gotta borrow this!"


Yumi takes the broom, puts it before herself, and focuses. "Okay... Tia Freyre!" There's a sputter and a spark, nothing happens. "Levitate!" It starts to shift--but doesn't quite. Then Yumi scowls, "By the line of witches black, upon the ground you'll turn your back!!"

That works, and with a dark pulse of power, the broom starts to rise--and rises fast. Yumi scrambles to stay on, and it shoots upward. It's... a little unconventional, but--

The older girl soars upward after Akko and Lotte, and for that matter after Diana. "Akko!" Yumi calls, and looks to Diane, seeing her try, and... frowns. Then she shoots right up--her control is not... great.

But she soars into the sky, ending up beside Diana. "I--see what you're--" Yumi huffs. She's... still out of breath from running. "Come on, I'll try with you!"

Pink light in the air is quickly joined by black, as Yumi tries the same thing. And yet...

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

This broom moves! Perhaps not as hast as an actual broom-- how do you measure broom speed, anyway?! "Look out!" he calls along with Sucy as they nearly run Akko over. "Sorry!" he calls back. Not that he is driving. The Dragon feeds on the powers used against it, and only grows more powerful. Another breath or two, and it has pierced upward into daylight. Not good!"

"We gotta give chase! Where is the gear shift on a broom?!" he asks Sucy.

The chase is given as quickly as possible! "Th-this may be a bad time to mention I don't have much I can do from a broom, heh heh..." the boy mentions aloud. "But uh, if it eats magic, I have seen enough saturday morning cartoons to know you gotta either use something else, or do the comical thing where you overfeed it and it pops like a balloon!"

The boy thinks aloud, the glinting sunlight gives him an idea as his eyes adjust. "Its been forever since he has seen light! Maybe if I just..." The boy fumbles a hand into his backpack. A few things fall out, but he does eventually pull something out. It looks like aluminum foil? "Pearl, thank you for packign the strangest stuff. Even if it was a camping trip."

Some tears of tape and foil later, and his shield is coated in aluminum! "Hey, you shoulda brought a pair of sunglasses, buddy!"

And so Steven begins angling that reflective surface at the dragon's eyes.

A good way to make it angry for sure. Also not attacking other people.

Also possibly making Sucy angry.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mars [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

One would think the dragon's roar would be the most horrific noise coming out of this whole mess, but no.

... it's Kasagami.

She's screaming.

Sailor Mars leaps out of the way of crumbling debris, but she's not running away from the thrashing dragon, because there's someone else trying to mindlessly chip away at its scaly hide. "Kasagami-san, no!" She cries, as she wraps her arms around her from behind to escape the threat range of that blade, and leaps away with the both of them before those broad spikes (let's gloss over the way Mars contributed to them) can dislodge a section of ceiling over the place they were just a moment ago.

Away they sail, and when Sailor Mars touches down on ground again she doesn't let go of Kasagami. She embraces her firmly, with the sort of strong pressure which digs in past panic. "Listen to me," she says, and her voice is just as sure. "I'm the Guardian of Fire, Sailor Mars. This is my domain... and I won't let it hurt you. You're safe with me. Just calm down." She takes a gamble on speaking Kasagami's language. Either it will be reassuring, or... well, she can't possibly make her worse.

She'll be wary, just in case she's wrong. Again.

On the other hand, Sailor Mars's efforts with the dragon have definitely made the situation more dire. Akko has dire things to say about what will happen if that carp swims up the waterfall; it's already a venerable beast, even without the nexus of magic a 'Sorcerer's Stone' must be.

She looks up at the ascending dragon; back down to the hurting Kasagami.

Hers isn't the only scared voice echoing out from the library. And with brooms being kidnapped --

Sailor Mars comes in front of Kasagami, careful of her blade, and grasps her shoulders. "Kasagami-san," she says, and she is still enunciating clearly and calmly, like she's talking to a spooked animal. Without giving the game away: "You know what your position is. There are girls here who are scattered in the library, and they need someone! Don't worry about what's going on up there - focus on them."

Mars turns, looking to their guide. "Wind Knight, can you go with her?" Just in case she shuts down again. She has faith in the Wind Knight's ability to be a calming presence -- much more than her own efforts, anyway. With that, she takes a step back, another, and smiles reassuringly. "We'll take care of everything else!"

Though who knows how they'll do it, she thinks.

Kasagami will be a liability if that dragon blasts her again, so it makes sense to keep her down here. Never mind that it's kinder.

From wreckage-point to wreckage-point Sailor Mars leaps up through the direct path the dragon has wrought. When her heels touch down aboveground, she comes to a distinct issue which has crept underneath this entire expedition: in the words of Steven's father's books, she's Divine, not Arcane. Sailor Mars cannot, in this or any other universe, just ride a broom.

She briefly considers trying it anyway and just as quickly dismisses the idea.

Phobos and Deimos are too far away to ask for help -- but Sailor Mars is familiar with fighting over a distance. And even at a distance, she can see the bright glint of foil over Steven Universe's shield.

The sun is just a really intense fire, if you really think about it.

(Just don't tell Ami she thought that.)

Sailor Mars brings her hands up in meditation, again, face knitting in concentration. "FIRE... SOUL!" She cries, as another ball of flame spirals out. This one, however, doesn't go for the dragon -- not directly. It's angling to circle in the air, at a convenient angle for Steven to catch the light and reflect it back.

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

Even amidst the terror seizing her heart, the fact that her family sword bites into the dragon's scales just slightly leads to a spark of briefly guttering hope in the girl. Kasagami latches onto it firmly and inexorably even as the dragon's wings pump. Her coat and hair whip about hard enough that her hairties are tossed away. The longcoat eternally flares behind her, dark locks billowing out only to end in dark crimson, expressive tips. That second roar leaves her completely unable to hear for a moment.

The back of her blade kisses the heel of Kasagami's boot. Her trim, athletic body hauls back as the dragon thrashes into the dungeon. Up onto the tip of her toe, she even jumps just slightly to prepare. Actions befitting a Duelist dedicated to the sword in mind and heart. Yet it's the strike and follow through that pauses damningly.

Both hands grip tighter, greedily. And then she's hammering towards that little weakness in armor again, and again, and again. Not, necessarily, effectively either. Her form and accuracy is unerring, but the heart simply isn't into it. Up, up, strike strike. Flight is dead, fight is being recklessly pursued.

Sailor Mars wraps her arms around Kasagami's midsection. In other circumstances she'd be shamed, but now is not the time that she can ponder such things. They sail away, and Kassie's body relaxes in a way that's like a puppet snapped of it's strings. From sheer, horror-fueled reckless force, to a measure of safety away from that which threatens to scour her once again.

Her good eye peers back to Sailor Mars. The confident, seemingly fearless mein has melted through sheer heat. A tear streaks down her fair cheek, visible against the mark of hot sweat much of the rest of her is indulging in.

Her sword-wielding arm is still high in the air, though. She's torn away by Rei in those comforting arms, as the Sailor of Mars declares her dominion over fire. That gaze hardens momentarily. Rather than bleed away the fear, Kassie is gazing at her beautiful, mysterious fender of the flame.

Mars tells her to be calm. Her raised sword-arm goes from 'steel bar' to 'sheer hard orichalcum' such that her glove creaks and rips.

This time there's no phantasm. Her parting strike is all magic-enhanced muscle. A wild slash that is a crimson-tinted wide arc that might threaten to hit even Mars if she isn't tight enough in her protection to Kasagami.

She lets out less a war cry now, and more an aggressive sob. Her hand's seizing relaxes just enough that she can half-sword her blade. She won't strike again.

At least her stance might make a good shield for the more mundane witches. She whispers to mars.

"Fire just consumes everything. It can't protect!" Mutters the Duelist. Only by taking in a breath does she keep from devolving into tears. Dark hair perked by crimson is a wonderful veil to hide her shame with.

Her breath falls, at first fast, but Mars doesn't stop speaking. She takes the time to grasp, to speak clearly. And reminds her of her position and purpose.

It's both a cooling dump of water on scalded skin and a slap in the face curled up at once. Good and bad eyes tear open at once. Little lives at risk. Families threatened to be torn in half, just like hers.

Sailor Mars burns her straight to the core. "Win! Lose and I'll cut you myself!" She offers with a snarl, but there's no bite to it. Her hand grips her blade harder, a single lapse in skill leading to a light crimson as glove is cut. Kassie, away from the source of her current terror, finally finds resolve once more.

And purpose. Blade held up, her voice bellows out with only a crack from exhaustion.

Right to the crowd of little witches. "BEHIND ME! Not one step more!" She tries to physically impede any who get to close to the aerial battle. Her glare is twice as cutting, but miniscule against what she feels inside.

<Pose Tracker> Akko Kagari [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

"I--I'll do my best, Professooooooooooooor!"

Akko's voice is extended, as Lotte makes her broom fly straight up into the air. It arcs up, to a nearly ninetey degree angle, with all of the others -- and surges forward, into the open, blue sky.

Where the dragon is. At first, the dragon's jaws whip around -- snapping sharply at Diana's arm. The beast misses, though the wind of those jaws is a mighty thing indeed. However, its eyes flare red a moment later. Diana cries out -- as the dragon turns, rushing up the length of the tower, and towards the distant top of the tower.

Until bright, Sailor Mars-crafted fire light shines in its eyes, courtesy of Steven's aluminum-wrapped shield.

The dragon lets out a piercing shriek and slams into the side of Infinity Institute. Panes of glass crack in a long series up the side of the tower. Bits of cracked concrete, some chips of metal, and even a few glass shards go raining down after, but the dragon is slowed down for a moment. It pushes off, finally -- leaving two small craters in Infinity's facade.

That falling debris crashes down -- onto clear ground, smashing into the earth ahead of Kasagami Araki, and the crowd of students she kept from rushing to get a good view.

"YEAH! That's the idea!" Akko calls to Steven. "Senpai! Sucy! Can--can all of you do some more to slow it down!?" Akko yells, though her voice is almost lost to the whipping winds around them. "Maybe if we confuse it or throw something in its way, or--something! I'm going to go for... get me higher, Lotte!"

"I-I have so many reservations, Akko!"

But Lotte lifts higher, and high -- and then Akko yells, crying out wordlessly as she jumps off Lotte's broom. That action prompts a wordless shout from Lotte. But Akko grabs onto the very top of Infinity Institute's roof. It is a flat thing, with a set of Roman columns in a circle -- around a large, central pillar that turns into a radio antenna.

Akko scurries forward, and then lunges at the Sorcery Stone. She pries it from that central column, skidding away -- roof gravel shifting under her feet as she does.

She holds it like an American football, and drops into a roll. She skids to a stop, at the edge of the building's roof. The huge radio antenna at the top of the tower sways with the dragon's beating wings, and Akko finds herself coming face to face with the dragon in all of its might. Her eyes widen, as she looks down to see its jaws opening.

Fire gathers in the opened mouth; her heart lurches in her throat; her hands grab the stone and the rod tightly.

And her eyes meet, however briefly, Sailor Mars's. "CATCH!" she yells, before she hucks the Sorcery Stone towards the Sailor Senshi. It goes flying -- sailing over the massive gout of flame just as it erupts from the dragon's snout, ready to consume her.

Akko's eyes widen, as the reflection of bright flame fills them.

<Pose Tracker> Diana Cavendish [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Ursula Callistis mostly seems to be holding her own competently. There's no doubt about that. However - there's a gasp as a piece of debris that's far too large begins to fall on the path towards a student far below, and she interposes herself! Raising her wand high to create a violet barrier. The debris strikes it solidly. The barrier breaks.

The teacher plummets downwards with a shriek.

It is impossible to hear over the din of battle...

"Vega Varulus!"


"Ohzora-senpai! Please don't trouble yourself! This is my responsibility!" Diana calls out breathlessly, as she takes off after the dragon. "Besides its sensed the Sorceror's Stone now!" She doesn't explain further, as she understands that Yumi will get the implications. Neither of them, even combined, have enough magic to entice it enough that it would distract it from an artifact that's a veritable wellspring of arcane power.

Her grip on her broom is white knuckled as she tries to close in on the tower as fast as she can muster, she can't beat the dragon back, but she has set records for fastest time on a school approved broomstick. As she flies back, she doesn't try to engage the dragon, instead she skims the outside of the tower in a vertical line, weaving to try to avoid the debris.

There's a small gasp from her as a falling rock the size of her comes too close...

And clips the tip of her witch's hat, sending it falling off her head, her platinum hair spilling out behind her.

If that dragon eats the Sorceror's stone then... it would mean part of the Infinity Magic Program would have to shut down. And it would be all her fault.

As she reaches the gap at the top of the tower where she knows it is, she wills the broom to brake hard and- "Akko!?"

Why is she here!? Why are they all here!?

"Of all the-" Is she throwing the Sorceror's Stone!? "-be careful with that!"

The sight of it being airborne causes her to gasp, as she nearly wills her broom in that direction.

However... responsibility means just that. The dragon looms over Akko. And Diana has to prioritize. One of the students, or the stone.

"Anselow Airo!"

It's not a choice she even hesitates to make. Green fire erupts from her wand, soaring over the head of the dragon to strike a Gargoyle statue. There's a rumbling noise as stone shifts, scraping as it unfastens itself from its pedestal.

It then starts to tilt.

Diana ceases maintaining the spell just as it topples off the edge.

The now inert statue falls...

...directly onto the wyrm's head, smashing into it in a solid blow. The creature's neck dips as the statue shatters into pieces, preventing its maw from clamping down on Akko as it's forcibly slammed to the ground. Just momentarily stunning the magic eating beast with raw brute force.

"-Akko run!" It sounds irritated, but perhaps there's a desperate note of a plea heard. "There's nothing more you can do against it!"

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

The light-reflecting shield seems to be working pretty well as a distraction! "I-I wouldn't get too close if I were you!" he suggest toward Sucy, but she probably knows what she is doing. She is obviously some kind of magic caster! Is it kosher to call someone a witch if they actually really are? Or is it still an offensive insult?

"I'll do what I can!" the boy calls back to Akko. "You can do it! Just believe!" he calls enthusiastically. Akko makes the move toward some kind of artifact, the thing they want to keep from the dragon. "Look oooout!" the boy shouts, the dragon ready to unleash an inferno upon her.

Thankfully another spellcaster has her back, and stuns the dragon with a weighty statue! ...Was it jsut alive for a second? Let's just overlook that for now. "That was super cool!" he calls to Diana. The stone is passed toward Sailor Mars, and the boy only hopes she can catch it! "Yumi!" he calls from his broom toward her on her own. "We gotta distract it! Can you tie it up somehow? We have to get it to lose sight of Sailor Mars!"

If they can disorient it and turn it around enough, it might lose track of her! The boy continues to shine that shiny surface of his toward its eyes and hope for the best as they maneuver around the battlefield!

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

Slow it down--that's so, so much easier said than done. Yumi could try more curses, but against something that strong? Even if it wouldn't just eat her power outright--

"I respect that!" Yumi calls back to Diana, because immediately she understands. She doesn't know all the details, can't account for everything... But she knows that kind of responsibility when she sees it. And with that knowledge--

Yumi takes off after, "But they're my responsibility!" she counters, because she didn't come down into the labyrinth on a whim. She is, however, not nearly as fast on a broom as Diana--much of her work is spent controlling it, and anyone who looks closely can see how sickly and anemic the broom has become already. So Yumi has time to see Diana approaching, and she shifts to the opposite side of this face of the tower, far away. "This isn't--"

Akko throws it. Yumi's eyes widen, but seeing the dragon so close--"No!"

Diana saves her. Yumi lets out a breath of relief, and then banks hard on her broom as she realizes she's about to hit debris herself, spinning almost wildly. Down there, the rocks are falling on people already--

"I can't!" Yumi calls to Steven. "If I use magic, it'll just--" She pauses. "Wait--" Yumi tries to balance and digs through her bag immediately, fishing out after a moment--She

A bottle of water. It's not much, but she--not trusting her aim--shoots above the dragon and just... drops it for its head, right above the eyes albeit not that close vertically, and as soon as it gets close she zots it with a word under her breath that is very very much inappopriate for a proper young lady indeed. Hopefully Steven can't hear her.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mars [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sailor Mars steps out of range of Kasagami's wild slash; it's not a difficult thing to dodge, and somehow that just makes it hurt all the more. Fire consumes. "I know," she answers that pain, quietly. "I know."

War, and fire, and passion; they are volatile things, yes, and make poor shelter.

But sometimes the best defence is a good offence, and that's where Sailor Mars has always stepped in, just as she steps in now to tell Kasagami what she has to do. And when she steps away again, and Kasagami demands they triumph, she nods to her. Even without a solution, she has no intention of giving up.

Maybe on her own, she'd have no answer to the problem, but she's not alone. There are people here for her to play off - and by the same token, she's here to support them. Akko seems to fall on this realisation soon after she falls onto the tower - though Sailor Mars only catches sight of her as she slides to the edge. "Akko-!!" She cries, though there's nothing she can do, from down here.

And then, rapidly, it turns out there is something she can do.

Oh, not for Akko -- though thankfully Diana is there to save her from those jaws which bite. But Akko bids her to catch, and, well, Sailor Mars doesn't have secret skills in volleyball, but she's the Senshi they have on hand. She can't afford to look back and worry for the debris which slams back through that giant hole to threaten Kasagami and the Wind Knight; she just has to trust them.

Just like Akko is trusting her.

Sailor Mars backs up as the Sorcerer's Stone sails down, and catches it about her chest, both arms wrapping protectively around it. The force it has generated on its path downwards staggers her, but she would never drop something so precious. "Okay," she huffs, hands covering the stone as if she could hide it just like that. "Got it!" She's not speaking quietly, but it might still be hard to hear from up there. It's an artifact of great power -- but it's not the sort of power Sailor Mars needs to use. In this way, she's a perfect target to hold it.

Of course, if Sailor Mars has the Sorcerer's Stone...

... that means...

Sailor Mars yelps as she realises her precarious position, and starts running.

<Pose Tracker> Akko Kagari [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.


Akko exclaims her name and says it as a question at the same time. She starts to run -- it seems like, for a precious moment, that she might be doing precisely what Diana asked. It is a precious, but fleeting moment.

Because her feet skid, and she holds out the Shiny Rod in front of her. Gravel falls off the side; a couple pieces fall until they bounce off one of the barriers far below.

The dragon starts to wheel around -- it shoots into a dive for the Sorcery Stone, and then Yumi's bottled water smashes over its eyes. It screams again, water splashing as the plastic breaks, and for one key moment, it is blinded. This keeps it from, simply, diving down to gobble up Rei as she turns and runs.

Akko stares down at it, her eyes wide with concern. She should, she knows, leap down. But, instead, she realizes. She has to put her faith in the one thing she always put her faith into. She looks at the smooth, polished rod with its seven little gems. "Shiny Rod... please! Please, help me save them!"

BGM Change: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9Z1c2u-CHY

Akko runs, then -- and not away. She jumps off the side of the tower and goes flying down. The seven little gems begin to light up, one after the other, with brilliant aquamarine light that trails after. The dragon shakes its head, water droplets flying from its eyes. It starts to turn its head down.

Akko closes her eyes, clutching the Shiny Rod as she falls. Her feet slam into its snout. She bounces off, and then flies up into the air. "Noctu..."

The dragon turns its head up, to look at her. The creature opens its mouth and roars as Akko falls. "...Orfei Aude..."

And that aquamarine light erupts along the length of the Shiny Rod. It expands; the wood blossoms outward into a huge long bow, with a bowstring of that same aquamarine energy -- which Akko pulls back. "...Fraetor!" she cries. An arrow of energy appears.

And the dragon ROARS again. The glass behind Akko shatters into a hundred thousand spiderweb cracks.


Akko looses the arrow -- and it plunges into the dragon's mouth. The dragon's mouth clamps shut, as if to eat it -- and then its eyes bulge. The inside of it glows -- before the center of the dragon balloons outward, then explodes apart in a huge shower of aquamarine fireworks.

"Yay!" Akko cheers. Then, she looks down, at the ground -- and realizes she is in freefall. "WAAAAAAAAAAAAH I DIDN'T THINK THIS THROOOOOUGH!"

<Pose Tracker> Diana Cavendish [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

"I..." Diana seems about to protest. However she finds any protest inadequate. Biting back her pride, she simply answers Yumi with a simple, "As you say." In acceptance, knowing what duty and responsibility should mean to any heir of a witch household, she has no argument. "Please help her safeguard the stone." Diana nods towards Sailor Mars. However then she quickly adds, "And please try to get her to do it in a way that has a modicum of respect for our traditions!"

However the dragon has recovered. And starts diving towards the Stone. And Akko- jumps-!?

"Have you lost your mind!? Akko!"

Diana swings her broom around, starting to dive after her - knowing the girl can't even ride a broom! Much less save herself without one.

What is she doing? The air whips through Diana's hair as she watches the seven gems of the Shiny Rod shine like stars. The incantation.

She remembers it.

It feels almost nostalgic.

Gasping, the witch heir covers her eyes as the rod changes into a bow. "It can't... be..."

She whispers, watching as the power of the shiny arc overwhelms the magic eating wyrm.

Perhaps for a singular moment, she thinks Akko is safe, because if she managed that...


Diana spins around, before nosediving in a plummet so fast that she breaks all of her speed records, outstretching an arm to grasp Akko's wrist mid-fall.

The sudden lurch of weight tests her arm, as she'd be pulled off her broom outright if not for the sudden motion of her crossing her legs to lock them around it and wrapping her free wrist around the broom's length to grasp it with her fingers, her teeth chatter as she takes the snapping recoil of the impact.

"You never do."

The comment sounds like a sigh of relief from Diana. The girl panting, as her arm strains, and she wills her broom to start making the descent since she doubts she'll be able to pull Akko up outright. "... Don't thank me. I'm simply performing my duty towards safeguarding a fellow student."

There's a pause, then a moment passes, then two, then three.

"By the way..." Diana gives Akko a peculiar look of disbelief, "... how did you know how to use the Shiny Arc?"

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

Yumi nods once to Diana; she doesn't have to explain. They both get it. Families, right? It's like Rei said. So Yumi notices the near-retort, and she accepts the request. "...Yeaaaah that's a thing. All right--"

Yumi looks to Akko in the air, eyes widening. She'd been ready to move, to divide the labor some, but suddenly Akko is using the Rod; suddenly it blossoms, brilliant light shining outward. Yumi stares as the dragon's mouth clamp's shut; as it explodes. ...As she starts falling. Diana's much faster than Yumi, who simply isn't strong enough to catch Akko even if she made it in time. But she gets her--she gets her, and Yumi suppresses a little laugh, half of it relief... and starts sailing down. She speeds her way through--

Shortly she's right beside Sailor Mars, hovering. "Hey, nice catch," Yumi says, obviously not recognizing this girl as anyone but the great Sailor Mars. Obviously. "But ah..." She lifts a hand to the back of her neck, glancing sidelong, awkward. "The uh..."

"The Sorcerer's Stone is uhhh..." Pause. "It's not a basketball, y'know...?"

"I mean, you were great! But--" She extends a hand. "I can get it to the teachers. ...Thank you, really." She smiles.

...And at this point the borrowed broom finally snaps, having apparently managed to rot through while Yumi was riding it. Unceremoniously she hits the ground, shins-first. "Ah--"


<Pose Tracker> Akko Kagari [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

Akko goes falling and yelling -- and is surprised in the extreme when she feels the sharp tug of Diana's hand about her wrist. She looks up, blinking her eyes a few times. "D-Diana...!"

It sounds, for once, happy.

"Well... all right," she says. She accepts the help -- once the broom lowers, she begins to climb her way onto the back of it. She still wobbles -- and then she tilts her head. "Uh? Well, I'm kind of Shiny Chariot's biggest fan, and I guess it just sort of came to me, so--"

A beat.

Akko's eyes blink, slowly, a couple of times. "Hey. Wait. How did you know about the Shiny Arc? Are you--" She leans in closer to Diana, and grins. "--a fan, too!?"

<Pose Tracker> Diana Cavendish [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Diana's cheeks suddenly pinken at the accusation. "No way!"

She looks away as the two fly together, obviously embarrassed. "I just... heard about it somewhere. In my studies."

She's silent for a second or two before she blurts out, "I know a lot about peculiar kinds of magic okay!?"


In the distance, the bright red of Ursula Callistis' hair changes back to violet as her glamour takes affect, placing her witch's hat back upon her head, she watches the two bicker. And smiles.

...Diana isn't the only one being affected by nostalgia right now."

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mars [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sailor Mars will have plenty of respect for your traditions when there isn't a rock of massive power flying right at her face, Diana!!

Thanks to Yumi's quick thinking, Sailor Mars is not, in fact, turned into a dragon's dinner. She hears the chant, above, and cannot stop herself from glancing up -- there she finds the dragon captivated by Akko, and the Rod which becomes a bow of massive power.

"Come on," she whispers, as Akko pulls the bowstring back. Even holding the nexus of power which is the Sorcerer's Stone, Sailor Mars can tell how much energy is being held back by that tension.

It's enough to overwhelm it whole.

Sailor Mars's face lights up with the fireworks -- only to be chased by alarm. "No, Akko-san!" She cries, but there are witches on brooms, and one of them is swift enough to catch her.

The other, of course, is Yumi.

Sailor Mars's cheeks colour as Yumi points out that their sacred stone is not a ball, and she holds it out, flipping her hair over her shoulder with a flick of her chin. "Fine - take it!" She's too busy with the gesture to see the broom crumbling underneath her, until there's that one final crack. Sailor Mars looks back, in surprise. "What --"

She fixes the crumbled remains of the broom with a skeptical expression. "Do they always do that," she asks, the question flat.


Okay, now she steps in to offer a gloved hand to pull Yumi up, the other still holding the Sorcerer's Stone. She'll hand it over when Yumi isn't vertically challenged.