2021-02-21 - This Way To Magical Knight Show

From Battle Fantasia MUSH
Jump to: navigation, search
This Way To Magical Knight Show

Caldina lures Fuu and some of her friends into Rayearth, and a trap.


Fuu Hououji, Eri Shimanouchi, Mikoto Minagi, Mami Tomoe, Niramo Umokeshi

GM: Pink Moon Stick


Awayuki Shopping Mall

OOC - IC Date:

2/12/2021 - 11/02/2015

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

"Puu puu pupupu puuu~"

Mokona, the tiny white, pink and red fluffy mascot who ISN'T an extraterrestrial farmer of female emotion -- probably -- just WILL NOT LEAVE FUU ALONE until she follows him... wherever he's going.

It turns out to be the mall.

There are lots of good reasons to go to the third floor of the mall today:

  • An AFTER-HALLOWEEN CANDY SALE which has wisely colocated itself next to the arcade; it has something of a flea market feel, with individual stalls set up in the broad thoroughfare, each one specializing in a particular kind of holiday treat.
  • Early Christmas Shopping at the jewelry store nearby; not for the faint of heart or light of wallet. Nevertheless, there are enticing deals for those who can clear a certain minimum bar of affluence -- and romance.
  • Overstock Celebration! at the electronics store across the way; a well-promoted, bargain-basement deal on motherboards, graphics cards, and other computer parts.

Although the mall's a ring around an atrium, the branch that leads off to these places, like a ray from the sun, feels endless today. Endless possibilities, endless savings, endless excitement.

Though there's also the matter of the sign stuck to one of the support pillars, a fat red arrow pointing even further down the hall, away from the main ring. ===> Underneath, a message is emblazoned:


Mokona's into it, pointing with both ears in the same direction like another two arrows. Which is interesting, since there's no particular sense, historically, that the monosyllabic little fluffball knows how to read. "Puu-puuuu!"

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Just how Mokona manages not to draw mundane attention in his bounding around has always perplexed Fuu, and his insistance today on directing Fuu to the mall draws that question back to the forefront of her thoughts for much of the sojourn into the mall proper. As long as nobody goes, "Look at the talking marshmallow-bunny!" or the like, though, she's not going to worry too much.

She was, in fact, hoping for an excuse to drop by the mall anyway. Not so much because of the overstock sale at the electronics store (although she could certainly trawl for upgrades - if not for herself, then for the Infinity Computer Club) or the post-Halloween candy sale, just looking around.

At least, up until she sees the sign for the "Magical Knight Show." THAT gets Fuu to stop and stare, barely keeping her mouth closed except to murmur, "Is this what you were worried about, Mokona-san ... ?"

It's probably a silly question; she's never known Mokona to *worry* about much of anything. But the fact that Mokona led her to this point, and the boldness of the sign with its arrow, prompts the bespectacled blonde to proceed down the hall, her pace cautious, her senses on alert - and her left hand close to the pocket where her glove-jewel rests, ever ready in case of need.

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"I know this isn't my finest hour."

A bespectacled girl says to a small vendor at the clearance Halloween candy sale.

"So please... while I know this is a bit unconventional to do this..." Pause. "...now." She amends.

Wearing a light green jacket over a black pleated blouse and a vintage looking green skirt... wearing a pair of dark leggings and pumps to match... Eri Shimanouchi suddenly holds up a burlap sack, of the kind that might have been once used to carry around topsoil. Using her hands to keep the folded edge open.

"I'm going to have to ask you to fill the sack."

No. This isn't a stickup. After all... she explains in short order.

"My senpai has a fondness for... ah..."

She clears her throat, and smiles, despite all odds managing to maintain some amount of dignity...

"...your... product."

Eri's currently standing in front of the candy stand that has every variety of Halloween exclusive pocky available.

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

Mikoto is, of course, here for the candy. Of all the wisdoms she has gleaned from Mai Tokiha, this one is most applicable, today: always buy what you need when it's on sale.

Here she bounces along in vague orbit of one Eri Shimanouchi, having invited herself along as soon as she heard the words 'cheap candy', and arguably not until the second beat of that phrase. She has in an arm a pumpkin-shaped bucket she brought right at the start, and is cheerfully filling it with delicious snacks.

She's snagged some ramune candies, caramel pudding kit-kats, and delicious puku puku tai fish, amongst a dozen other candies habitual to the holiday. It's when she's at the front of the flea market, securing some pre-packaged cookies, that her gaze happens to fall on the support pillar of the ring.

"...?" Mikoto manages to verbalise a question mark, as her eyes focus on the lettering. (She's good at reading from a distance.) This sounds like a short grunt, coupled with a head-tilt and a parting of the lips.

"Huh," she remarks, to herself, as she goes to pay for her candy. And so she goes to find Eri and her stick-up - wait, it's not a stick-up? - only to tug on the hem of her shirt, insistently.

"Hey, Eri! There's magic knight show back there! Let's go watch her!" Mikoto...

... who only really knows one Magic Knight well...

... may be slightly confused on the matter of what the Magical Knight Show is.

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

Mami Tomoe is one of those here in the mall today! Dressed not in uniform but in a nice yellow-white ensemble with a brown jacket, the bedrilled girl would have good reason to consider the candy sale, naturally. Less so to consider the electronics store. She can... probably use a computer. One assumes. No, Mami is here looking at jewelry at the moment, and not for herself. Nothing has quite caught her eye for the purpose she has in mind yet, though many things have caught her interest to be sure. Mami is a girl who can very much appreciate pretty things, even if some of them are rather impractical for her budget. And just now...

"Hmmm," covalizes, eyeing a particular case at the moment as she peers at the gemstone on one. She has not noticed a certain talking marshmallow bunny, or the presence of a few friends here yet. But she may in time. After all...

...The candy section is probably on her list.

<Pose Tracker> Niramo Umokeshi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Niramo happily hums to herself as she leaves the the colorful autumn colored behind her. It's clear that she's certainly proud about something with a spring in her step and looking like she doesn't have a care in the world. Of course, that likely has to do with the numberous purple and orange bags poking haphazardly out of a buldging bookbag. The zipper has long since retreated back as far as it possibly could, unable to face the frightening hoard within.

It's as Niramo sets the bookbag down on top of an empty table and takes a seat that a sudden cough gets her attention. "Huh?" The tops of several confection-filled bags sway before Takk manages to break his head free of the plastic canopy, the Kwami examining his immediate surroundings with a stone face before looking Niramo directly in the eyes. "Do you have anything to say about this onslaught of gluttony?"

The ravenette raises an eyebrow before she examines her bookbag a little more closely and spots the issue after a moment. "You're right. I should had gotten the cotten candy instead of the candy corn."

Takk starts to sputter at how brazen Niramo doesn't care about the large amount of candy, but she just smiles and takes a look around the mall while ignoring her fairy friend. Sure, she's a little broke now, but all that sugary goods was worth not being able to afford lunch! Why have a slice of pizza when you can have a caramel bar?

It's during this visual tour that Niramo spots the arrowed sign that was proclaiming the Magical Knight show and frowns. The sign itself is fine but it seems a little bland compared to the other sale signs proudly displaying their message. There wasn't even showtime listings!...then again, neither was prices for tickets. "Takk, I know I promised I would head home soon, but I want to check something out first...Takk?"

It's only then that Niramo realizes that the Kwami hasn't been delivering a rant that she might have ignored. Instead, Takk has taken it upon himself to get back at Niramo where it hurts, if the soft munching was any indication.

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

Mokona circles Fuu's heels enthusiastically -- if he were a puppy with a leash, this would be a meet-cute setup in a romcom. But he is neither a puppy nor easily leashed, so the most she has to do is step carefully, at least until he bolts off down the hall.

It's endless, in a mall-world sort of way. One store fades into the next in a gentle montage of consumerist spectacle, until there isn't much telling them apart; there is only the glitter and the shine and the sweet-smelling air...

Hey, what?

But it is so. Down this primrose path, candy and popcorn alike yield their dominance over the aromascape to a freshness wholly unlike anything in Tokyo. Even landscapes like Ueno Park can't hope to compare. Perhaps there's been a major breakthrough in air freshening technology. Either way, it's extremely pleasant, in a big-skies, gentle-breeze, waving-grasses, slightly-spicy-musk-of-wildlife sort of way.

More signs beckon Fuu and any of her companions onwards.

They say things like:






Mokona is getting more excited by the minute, bouncing and rolling all over the place. He's vibrating so hard with enthusiasm that he might sprain something.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Has she even been down this particular route before? Fuu doesn't spend as much time mall-crawling as some of her peers do, but Awayuki is close enough that she'd like to think she remembers the layout - and there are usually directories and maps to refer to. She continues onwards, mindful not to trip over her excitable marshmallow companion, idly wondering if Hikaru or Umi will turn up to assist ...

Then she realizes that normal mall smells have given way to the sweet scent of the wilderness, and she actually stops in her tracks - briefly, at least; a bump from Mokona spurs her back into motion, increasingly focused on the question of what may wait ahead. "I believe, as Dorothy-san once put it, that we are not in Kansas any more ..."

<Pose Tracker> Niramo Umokeshi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

There may have been a little delay in searching for the Magical Knight show due to a small argument over who has first rights over candy and which were off limits, but Niramo is heading down the hallway that the sign indicated with a slightly lighter bag. The theft of candy is only a minor annoyance, only because Takk did need a little more space for himself.

The search for the show is like a miniture adventure in itself, with colorful signs about the show acting like a trail of breadcrumbs, which helps considering how off the main fairway the ravenette was. It's after a bit during this search that Niramo notes just how clean the air smells, like she was somehow in the countryside yet cleaner still? Was there some sort of new air fresher the mall was using to mask the stale popcorn smell?

It's after moving around a corner that Niramo spots Fuu with...a supercharged rabbit in tow? A little surprised but deciding not to make a big deal out of it, Niramo waves a hand above her hand and waves to the blonde. "Fuu-san, are you looking for the show too?"

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Eri isn't as ashamed of herself as she seems, as she forks over the payment. At a discount, a burlap sack full of pockey sticks comes within budget. "Huh? Magic Knight show?" That name certainly is one that makes her think for a moment but...

"... sure. I'm done anyway. Not like I can take anymore on the train." Ultimately, if it makes Mikoto happy, who cares about whatever she might associate the words with? As she hoists the sack over her shoulder and goes in that direction, perhaps creating an odd sight as she walks by the candy store.

En route though, her brow furrows and she says, "Wait, did you say watch her?" As if there were a certain delayed processing caused by her quick acceptance of the destination.

By then though, the stores have already flew away in a spetacle of glitter and shine. To a more pleasant scent to he Gardener's nose. "Oh." There's a faint smile by her lip, "Well... this is nice."

Yes, she's still carrying the sack, as she passes by one sign. Then to another. Then to another. Her eyes focus onto Fuu, as if to ask if this was her doing... as Mikoto did say 'her' before she then looks down to Mokona in his puppy laps around Fuu's heels.

"So who's this guy?"

Without a word, she opens up her sack, and crinkles open a package. Offering Mokona a Halloween Strawberry flavored pockey stick without even asking if it's fine to do that. She's far too used to gluttonous magical mascots to even question the idea that it might not be accepted.

"Are you here for the dragons?" She asks with a wry kind of tone, seemingly not too fussed about the magical circumstances of their arrival and just having a good time.

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

"Yup! That's called 'knowing your limits!' No one can eat all the candy. Not even us." Mikoto probably doesn't mean her and Eri, given the mismatch between their eating habits, but she might be invoking a certain other red-head in her category association instead.

(Not even the red-head Mikoto is usually playing associations with in her head, even. Eri has her own red-head. Well, that's her imouto for you.)

"Uh-huh! It's gotta be, right?" Off bounds Mikoto, calling that answer after her. When her path crosses with one Mami Tomoe on approach to snacks, she enthuses, excited: "There's magic knight show! Let's go see!"

The fact that she is cruelly denying Mami her path to cheap candy doesn't really cross her mind, because now Mikoto is excited about a new thing, so obviously Mami is just as excited. Right? That's how this works, right?

(She also doesn't bother with greetings or small talk, but that's probably just Mikoto. Surely Mami knows how Mikoto works by now.)

Mikoto doesn't spend an awful lot of time in malls -- the last time she was in Awayuki, she was wearing more magenta than she is now, and it was altogether a much more miserable and poorly-lit experience even if she was talking to Mai -- so she really has no clue whether the Mall is supposed to smell like this. Just generally, though, this isn't the sort of scent she'd associate with 'inside'.

Sniff sniff, it becomes obvious Mikoto can tell the difference, even before she says anything, because her nose keeps twitching and she keeps looking this way and that for the open window. She does not find the window, but she does see plenty of signs assuring them they're going the wrong way.

And, eventually: one Fuu Hououji, evidently not performing. A noise of confusion rumbles through her throat, before she bounds up to her. "Fuu, Fuu! What's show? What's show?" Eagerly, Mikoto presumes that of course Fuu knows what's going on here, but at least she has the presence of mind not to say the words 'Wind Knight' out loud while her very normal friend Niramo is right there.

(Mikoto must have missed her because she successfully completed her candy haul already.)

Luckily, Eri is here to teach Mikoto the correct method of mascot greeting, and so she extends to Mokona a pre-packaged cookie, the thing atop her candy stack. It's caramel-flavoured, probably, like everything else in halloween.

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

Mami almost misses the whole thing, it seems! But Mikoto catches her--and Mami blinks her way once, before saying, "Ah, all right!" She is not sure what the magic knight show is exactly, but it does sound nice. And frankly she's kind of glad to be included.

So as she walks up she notes Fuu there, and Eri...

And a lovely smell as they go. Freshness... What on earth is it? Obviously it's something, and Mami hurries along to catch up with the group. She considers the signs thoughtfully. And then Mokona.

And when Niramo asks about the show, "It does seem that there's something unusual here, doesn't it?" ...She wants to know what it is. But also...

"Ah," she says. "Is that all..." Mami pauses, as she looks at Eri.

"Nevermind," she says, shaking her head. "Of course it is."

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Misty Mountains Cold - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pyy_FIYE7EE

When Fuu pauses and looks back, the mall is gone.

She -- and the others behind her, mostly caught up -- are in a vast, gloomy space. Enormous gems are pressed into the raw stone walls, just waiting to be pickaxed to freedom and profit by industrious dwarves. Curious molds and mushrooms grow wherever they can. The ground is a broken, unformed thing.

The last of the freshness fades. The smell of the cave is no less alien.

Behind the group, there is a juncture of tunnels and passages that give no hint of where they came from.

Before the group, sitting on a stone outcropping, one leg hanging off, one knee bent, elbow to knee, chin to palm, is a woman with fluffy pink hair in a high ponytail, wearing a whole lot of round red gems -- hairpiece, earrings, brooches, cloak clasp -- that honestly look a lot like the one in Mokona's forehead. Besides the flowing red cloak, she's in a black bodice and leggings, the dark skin of her midriff bared.

Her blue eyes are amused.

"Welcome!" she proclaims, showmanlike. "Welcome back to Cephiro, Magic Knight... and friends!"

Mokona, completely unconcerned, focuses on squirreling away Eri's pocky into his body as quickly as possible.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"You could say that, Niramo-san," Fuu replies with a wry smile. "My first thought was that maybe there was a new circle of cosplaying magical-girl fans, but at this point -" She gestures along the hall they've been following. "- I'm not quite so certain any more." And then there's Eri - and Fuu has to check her stride again, as Mokona zeroes in on the offered snacks. "Ah, you haven't met Mokona-san before?"

The other Magic Knights might not be in evidence at the moment, but the knowledge that she's not alone in this oddity buoys Fuu's spirits. "Normally," she replies to Mikoto, "it'd be a stage performance of some kind. Under *these* circumstnaces, I'm not so sure ..." She looks around one more time, inclining her head to Mami with a friendly smile - then looking around *again*, wondering when they wound up in a cave system, before her attention settles on the lady sitting there. "I'm afraid you have the advantage of us, miss ... ?"

In spite of her confusion (whether feigned or actual - hint: it's not COMPLETELY feigned), Fuu smiles to the stranger and offers a polite bow, easing her left hand into the pocket of her knee-length skirt. It's not going to stay as subtle as she'd like, but it gets her hand that much closer to her glove-jewel ...

Because if, as the woman just intimated, they're in Cephiro? She's going to need it.

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The transformation into raw stone walls and glowing walls... well, it's less pleasant, but the musty atmosphere doesn't make it un-pleasant. Just different. Though she does wish she'd worn a different pair of shoes...

Mokona, for what it's worth, gets the rest of that single package. She has enough to spare. "No need to hold back with this pack. Just... spare my sack." Before she cants her head Fuu's way, "Nope. Where have you been hiding him?" Before then repeating, "Mokona... lovely to meet you."

There's a twinkle in her eye as Mami asks that question and she straightens back up, without any visible strain. It's not like candy weighs that much, even at this quantity, "Not asking a question you know the answer to?" Before she then leans over to whisper with only the faintest tease, "Not all of us can bake like you..."

Yet even her tease is still a compliment isn't it?

And yet, that woman certainly commands attention. Eri slow blinks at the declaration they're in 'Cephiro'. She doesn't precisely know where that is, or what that is, other than from stray comments by various members of Dark Fall she's fought. Yet it hardly sounds like a place in Tokyo.

"I'm guessing this means we're all performing in the Magic Knight show." She asides to Mikoto, like she's still whispering in class so as not to interrupt this mystery woman before introductions are even made. Yet it's still easily overheard by everyone.

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

"There's no stage," Mikoto points out to Fuu, entirely innocent. It can't be a stage performance without a stage, can it?

... well, Mikoto doesn't know what a Dorothy is, or even, really, what a Kansas is, but Mikoto knows what it's like to suddenly be in a different realm from the one she started in. "We're somewhere else now," Mikoto answers Mami, plainly. "... so, the rules are probably different."

Sniff sniff, sniff sniff, she half-turns, and then half-turns again, which is to say she turns all the way around, but with a pause in the middle for orientation's sake. Back around, and she tilts her head, at the woman all in jewels. "Ce...phiro?"

A beat, and she points to the woman's rock. "... that a stage?" She asks, looking back to Fuu for an explanation. Even if Mikoto isn't the sort of person to refer to her purely by her title these days, Fuu is still the foremost Magic Knight in Mikoto's mind.

But Fuu doesn't seem to know who she is. Luckily, Eri helpfully explains that they're all the performance, and Mikoto's eyes light up with an affirmative grunt.

Sniff sniff, sniff sniff, and over that uneven ground Mikoto scurries over, to investigate one of those mushrooms. There are too many gems in these walls, so she isn't too worried; but everything smells so different here, and she can't help but go and poke at it.

<Pose Tracker> Niramo Umokeshi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

It appears that Niramo isn't the only one in the search of the knights who can cast magic. Eri is already sharing her sugar bounty with the energetic bunny, but Niramo already has one magical creature to feed, even if he doesn't have a sweet tooth. Not that Mokona goes without a treat from her, a small handful of swedish fish if he was interested. "Maybe, though i'm just curious what the show is all about."

Speaking of which... "Hey Mikoto-san! And...uh, hello there, sorry for not saying hi to your friends earlier. I'm Niramo." The Juuban girl might have seen Eri and Mami in passing, but she wasn't quite sure. Best to be polite just in case! "And it does seem a little weird, yeah. I just thought I was being silly for wanting to see it for myself."

"I thought the same here! The last group was really popular, so it wouldn't surprise me if another group were going to show up. Maybe they have...better...props?" Niramo trails off as she realizes that they're no longer in a hallway made of manmade glass and steel, but now carved rock and gleaming embedded gems. "...oh. This is...different." However it was done, suddendly finding yourself in a hall filled with dwarves mining away can leave you a little off step.

Just the sounds of Cephiro sounds foreign and mysterious, far from the cityscape of Tokyo. Hopefully not too far to return. Feeling it would be rude to just ignore the gleaming woman, Niramo offers a quick and polite eastern bow, trying to get a feeling for their host. "And greetings to you. I...never been to Cephiro, but I thank you for your welcome."

Niramo readjusts her footing and tries to see what she can without moving her eyes away from the mountain lady. Things might be getting a little dangerous soon...

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

"Quite," Mami replies to Eri. "Oh, no complaints, except maybe that I haven't made it over to the candy yet myself..." And Niramo gets a smile and a, "My name is Mami Tomoe. It's nice to meet you!"

It was an ordinary enough day; Mami was curious, but only curious. But the vast, gloomy space into which she has apparently stepped gets her attention. In passing she nods back to Fuu, with a smile of her own that is brief but sincere, as she focuses again on the strange area. She finds no hint of whence she came, but seees a woman before her, with... many gems. Red.

"Thank you," Mami replies, because that's the polite thing to do when you're welcomed even if she wasn't expecting to travel to another world today. She nods then to Mikoto, who said that things are probably different. This is... almost definitely the case. She is accustomed to feeding certain mascots herself but doesn't do so at the moment--instead she is focused on the woman there before them. She waits for whatever comes next, apparently patient enough.

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Dragonstrike NES Theme - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZ_RKZLqg3Y

'I'm afraid you have the advantage of us,' Fuu inquires, as to a name.

"Honey, you have no idea," Caldina replies earnestly, still not getting up. "See, I don't much like it when Lord Zagato makes Ascot do his dirty work," she explains, comfortably. "He's just a kid. But the job needs doing, and someone's got to do it."

Sniff, sniff. Mikoto's nose approaches a mushroom that's glowing lightly green. But, as though she crossed some invisible line, it abruptly switches to purple... and the whole cap sneezes!

Fungal motes of some variety poof up all around her. A moment later, Mikoto is sacked out, snoring.

"Mind the flora," Caldina remarks. "Though if I were you, I'd be more worried about the fauna. I may have bent the truth a little to get you here... but I told you no lies."

She fades, becoming translucent--

--even as a shadow falls across the group from behind--

--something very large, and the source of that spicy-musk, fading IN.

The creature -- very dark green, with scales that shine brightly with both hardness and sharpness -- raises its neck to its full, considerable height -- head nearly scraping the top of the vast cave -- and inhales.

There's only a split second to act--!

"I'm surprised you didn't ask why I brought you to Cephiro," Caldina's voice commentates, from nowhere in particular. "It was for a reason. After all..."

Here there be dragons.

COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick transforms into Dragon!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Mention of 'Lord Zagato' is all it takes for Fuu to dispense with the subtleties and pull her glove-jewel on. The woman knew she was a Magic Knight in any case - which is par for the course, it seems, with Zagato's servants. First Alcyone, then Ascot, and now whoever this is.

Mikoto wanders into a mushroom's range, and before Fuu can try to intervene or even call a warning, the spores engulf Mikoto, bestowing on her an abruptly peaceful sleep. That may be the most peace any of the girls from Earth get for a while, too, given the dragon.

"And this is why I don't worry about my secret identity," Fuu states resignedly before raising her left arm, and her voice. "Belief becomes power ... Winds, guide me!!" The familiar green whirlwind rises about her at that invocation, civilian clothes - jacket and skirt and blouse and tights - all replaced upon her body by what seems like the Infinity Middle girls' uniform of three years past ... but not. The blazer and skirt are a bold green, but more importantly, she sports visible armor over the old uniform. Breastplate, backplate, and shoulder pauldrons guard her torso; a bracer clads her right forearm, while boots replace the sneakers she'd been wearing. The Cephiran armor is nearly white, with golden trim and green jewels adorning it, matching the colorset of her glove-jewel - and then the jewel shines brighter, a flare of light leaping out as the whirlwind subsides, and the length of Fuu's Escudo sword materializing in her right hand as her now-booted feet settle once more on the cave floor.

"I'm not sure if this dragon will breathe fire or something more exotic," the Magic Knight of Wind warns her allies, "but stay agile, spread out as the surroundings allow, and attack from a distance if you can! - And try to keep Mikoto-san safe!"

They can't risk getting too close to the mushrooms, as was already demonstrated; a corner of the Wind Knight's mind wonders if the dragon could be lured into drugging itself, but it would probably take a lot more fungi. So the Wind Knight simply leaps - defying her own advice, it seems, as she attempts to slash at the wyrm's wing. She's not going to linger in close range to the dragon, but she's already latched onto one certainty like a mental life-preserver: The group CAN win.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Wind Knight!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Sword Strike on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto's sudden slumber is concerning. But then, so is talk of Lord Zagato, and the job that needs doing. Mami's eyes narrow. She is suddenly no longer as concerned with being polite as she was when she decided not to ask--

Instead as she watches Caldina fade, she whirls around to face the shadow, her Soul Gem shimmering into being on her suddenly upraised palm. Mami throws it upward, and as it goes waves of golden light fall down over her; in an instant's twirl she is dressed for battle, yellow and black and white as always, the flower pin at her hat gleaming in the dark as much as any gem in the walls.

The Puella Magi throws out her hand and ribbons whip forward to try to cut off the dragon's breath if she can, golden bright and clinging. Her knees bend already--in the next moment, she'll leap towards Mikoto... but that's the next moment.

"I thought I'd be polite to start!"

This is all she has time to say as she moves, but she can hear Fuu as she does.

COMBAT: Mami Tomoe transforms into Puella Mami!
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Velare on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"We can always make another pass once we get back." Eri says idly to Mami, though she's making it under the assumption that they'll have no reason to have to run to the station. Who can really say when one is visiting someplace magical and unfamiliar?

Before she then nods Niramo's way, "Hello. I presume you're here for the show too?" As she looks her over for a moment, "You're right that I'm Mikoto's friend... though perhaps that's understating things a smidge." And shifting into greeting her, "Eri Shimanouchi. I'm a first year at Ohtori High School."

Though the woman starts explaining things, that start to make Eri just vaguely suspicious. She's heard of Lord Zagato before, and the way she talks about Ascot like he's a little kid makes her start to try and guess the underpinnings of her stake in this... "Are you like, this kid's oneesan or something?" Though whether she means that in the literal sense is perhaps not something she clarifies...

As Mikoto sniffs around though, Eri finds her attention drawn over to her... "Is something..." And then a big big shadow falls over her from behind. "... the... matter..." And Eri stands stock still for a moment.

And then she dares to look. Even now being a veteran magical girl herself, that first sight of the dragon makes a single bead of cold sweat break out on her forehead as it inhales, and Caldina taunts them.

A gem spins up in her hand, as she pivots into a gleaming transformation that starts from the tips of her fingers and starts slipping over both her upper body, and lower body at the same time in a line of green that seems to transform her form as it goes. Taking off her glasses, they vanish into her hand, as it's replaced by a gem adorned barrette on the right side of her bob cut. With a tug, out comes a braided length of three thorned vines, attached to a notched wooden handle.

It's madness perhaps not to get out of the way, or perhaps she thinks she won't make it. Instead she lashes out with the whip. As the flickering length flicks sideways past its head in what feels like a blind shot. And with her other hand... she places her fingers on the whip and pulls it taut. Suddenly, as if limited by the movement, the trajectory of the whip slashes sideways to with a thunderous snap upon impact if it smash into its snout or eye.

The strategy is simple, she doesn't think she has time to get out of the way, so she wants its head to rear upwards from a strike to a sensitive spot... just before it unleashes any killing blast of... well she presumes flame? But Fuu's strategy advice causes her to wonder.

And then she'd start to run, as she immediately tries to seek cover from whatever happens next. "She just had to lure us into a cave!" Eri grouses to Mikoto and Mami, as if mad at herself for her complacency...

... not too mad, Mokona was pretty cute.

COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi transforms into Puella Magi Eri!
COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi has used Gardener's Trick on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Niramo Umokeshi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Niramo was already a little wary due to how suddenly she and the others were pulled away from Tokyo., her muscles tight while still trying to appear calm under the surface. Alarm bells start to ring out when a Lord and dirty work is mentioned, and Niramo jumps as the sound of spores flying everywhere and soft snoring can be heard. "Mikoto-san!"

The ruby-clad woman starts to fade away and the ever-present darkness only grows deeper still as a new form appears behind them. Having a giant creature preparing to attack from the rear is already bad enough, but when that creature is so legendary that they are still commonly used in stories and games as an almighty force few should recond with?

It's enough to make anyone start to worry.

A sudden burst of wind is the answering call against the dragon, and a remembered glove is worn and gleaming armor forms around Fuu. As a small part of her is connecting the dots between Fuu and the Wind Knight, the rest of Niramo's mind is realizing that they're swiftly running out of time. Wincing slightly as she spots Takk fly up out of her book bag and not seeing any decent cover in sight, the ravenette hopes that the dragon is going to be a good enough distraction. "Can't exactly help it...Takk, Tail Sprout!"

Niramo's body is cloaked in brilliant light for a moment before her attire shifts into that of Sourisi's tan bodysuit and domino mask. Pulling her tonfa free of their calf clasps and sending them twirling in the air towards the dragon, the Miraculous Ninja calls out loud enough that everyone could hear. "I can get her to safety if nothing else! Let's just make sure this fight doesn't drag on!"

Her aim may be hurried but she's certain trying to go for the massive green snout. It's hard to inhale when your nose is suddendly clogged up!

COMBAT: Niramo Umokeshi transforms into Sourisi!
COMBAT: Sourisi has used Crashing Tooth on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 3 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Sword Strike, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon Stick's Block
and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 6 Fatigue damage from Mami Tomoe's Velare, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Mami Tomoe is Psyched!  Pink
Moon Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to brace Eri Shimanouchi's Gardener's Trick, taking 33 Fatigue damage!  Exhausted applied to Pink
Moon Stick!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to brace Sourisi's Crashing Tooth, taking 27 Fatigue damage!  
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

"For what it's worth, kiddo," Caldina replies to Fuu from wherever she's hanging out invisibly, "I didn't actually know which one of you was the Magic Knight until just now. I just figured that if I put a bunch of Cephiran magic out as bait, that one was bound to show up."

No one needs to see her gesture at Mokona -- her voice does it well enough. Mokona scratches behind his ear with a paw, then bounces behind the group into a decently well-defended position. He winds up curling up on top of Mikoto. Whether this is for her safety or his is an open question.

"And yeah," she adds, as to Eri's inquiry. "Closest thing to family he's got, whatever he claims about those critters of his." She seems unoffended by her own observation of Ascot's loyalties to others more than her. "You can call me Caldina-oneesan if you want."

Also there is a dragon.

Preventing it from breathing in this cave is, undoubtedly, a VERY GOOD IDEA, so it's nice that three out of four magical girls silently agree to make it a priority. As though they'd planned it, Mami sends her ribbons out to close the dragon's snout -- Eri slashes it with her whip -- and Sourisi plugs a nostril entirely with her tonfa. Which, kinda gross. But there's no dragon snot on it when it's returned to her a moment later with a *POP*. Rather, it is heavily singed.

In that moment, there's a great globular build-up of pressure visible along the dragon's neck. Rising, rising... it has only one release, and jets out of the single open nostril like a tightly compressed laser rather than a broader breath weapon. The dragon, which made an agonized sound from all this mistreatment BEFORE it had to sneeze out its flame, was in no particular condition to aim. Thus: bolt of plasmic death at ceiling.

Rocks fall, everyone dies.

Just kidding~

Save for half damage~!

But rocks do fall, and it is no minor thing -- the sky suddenly feels very far away, and death in this subterranean otherworld very very near. The group will have to contend with that next. Except for Fuu, who rushed right in to slash at a furled wing. Her blade did a little damage -- it does well in Cephiro, of course it does, it is of this place in a way that even she is not. And now she's up close and personal, behind the curtain of destabilized cave ceiling with the beast itself. Perfect for a little one-on-one time.

Its maw dripping with wounds from thorn-deep whips and too-tight ribbons, it descends to try to swallow her whole.

COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies on Sourisi.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies on Eri Shimanouchi.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used DRAGONSTRIKE! on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji fails to dodge Pink Moon Stick's DRAGONSTRIKE!, taking 46 Fatigue damage!  Trap applied to Fuu Hououji!  
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe braces 13 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies, taking 20 Fatigue damage!  Mami
Tomoe's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi perfectly braces 34 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies, taking 0 Fatigue
damage!  Critical Brace!  Eri Shimanouchi's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Sourisi braces 18 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies, taking 27 Fatigue damage!  
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Proximity to the dragon has advantages and disadvantages. In the "advantage" column, its bulk protects the Wind Knight from the falling debris resulting from that half-stifled gout of fire - but right next to that, in the "disadvantage" column, is that she's well inside the dragon's melee reach, and not fast enough to get *out* of reach before it decides to make a snack of her. Or a meal. It doesn't much matter to the Magic Knight of Wind how filling she is if she gets digested; being chewed up will just hurt a lot faster (but probably be over quicker).

So she "bites" back. Not literally, of course - her teeth would barely be noticeable unless she latched onto something REALLY sensitive, and anything that can breathe fire probably has impressively tough mouth-innards. But her sword? That should do *nicely* - and as the dragon compensates for her attempt to fling herself away, its tongue is as big a target as she could ever hope for.

And if all else fails, having a sword embedded in the inside of the dragon's mouth should keep her from actually getting *swallowed*. So the Wind Knight drives her sword in as deep as it'll go and hangs on tightly to the hilt; if she manages to get enough leverage to twist the blade in the wound, all the better.

Next step: getting out of the dragon's mouth. Assuming it doesn't solve that for her due to stabbings in its mouth.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Unorthodox Swordplay on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Another pass by the candy would be nice. Mami briefly thinks about it in the midst of battle, but now that they're fighting, she can't really afford to keep her mind on such treats. Those are now hopefully for later. She does not join in the conversation much more at first. Instead, as the three of them work to prevent a great blast of fire...

Mami watches the flame that hits the ceiling and quickly realizes what she needs to do. Finishing her leap towards now Mikoto and Mokona, Mami throws up her arms to shield herself and certain unconscious and/or marshmallowy individuals, and is very forcefully acquainted with not being able to see the sky at all. She looks up when the dust clears her vision at first at least and--

There's Fuu. "We have to hurry!" Fuu in the dragon's mouth is not ideal, to say the least. So Mami shifts to the side, looking for a good angle--and finding it. She puts out her hand and concentrates, calling up her sparkling magic to bring out in bursts of color a set of some nine rifles arranged in a curve around the dragon's stomach. She's pretty sure Fuu is still in its mouth, so this is probably the best way to go.

"You'll forgive us if we aren't touched by your familial ties at the moment." She closes her hand into a fist, and the rifles fire all at once with glorious golden report.

COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Tiro Circle on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Eri's sudden run becomes a skidding stop as the density of the rock fall becomes too much for her to ignore. And too much for her to evade.

"Nah." She answers Caldina on actually calling her that.

Suddenly twisting, she sends her whip upwards, trying to pulverize one rock after another, smashing them into smaller as they fall. Turning and spinning as it's whirling lengths snap into the air again and again as she tries to reduce each boulder into a size that won't kill her.

Showered by smaller rocks and dusts, she huffs, a bit breathless, "But I do respect you standing by him."

If there's any motive she understands... it's loyalty to someone that isn't linked to you by blood.

Shaking the dust out of her hair, she looks at the wounded dragon and...

... it sure is large isn't it? And as it snaps down towards Fuu her eyes widen. And at Mami's call, she realizes that her eyes do not deceive her and how dire the situation has become...


Eri decides to leap up on a boulder that wasn't pulverize, and well... try to remedy the matter. Flicking her whip out, with each snap she's already circling her hand overhead to start the motion to hit it again. Each becoming a blurring snap as the braided tendril separates into three.

And she aims to strike it again, and again, trying to smack it on the flanks, to snake under and tap its underbelly. The base of its neck. As she tries to pepper it with uncomfortable blow after blow.

Her strategy is... make the dragon nauseous enough that suddenly it doesn't want a meal after all.

COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi has used Ephemeral Dance on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

The dragon will have complaints about her methods, but the dragon also isn't the one who can be burned alive with a jet of molten flame. Catching the wooden fastball with a quick leap and shaking the damaged weapon several times to put out any remaining cinders, she notices that quick teamwork with the others is mildly successful. A critical success wouldn't have caused part of the ceiling to start caving in and send quite a few boulders down. "See, this is why you have suppo-ah!"

A rather solid piece of granite lands right on top of Sourisi and it's only by shielding herself with her tonfa that Sourisi doesn't leave a full body imprint of herself in the rock. Brought down to one knee and grunting with effort, she shoves the boulder aside just in time to see the Wind Knight about to be the next meal on the menu. "Breeze-san!"

Jumping on top of the nearest boulder and leaping from one rock to another, the mouse-clad girl charges headlong towards the dragon. Rushing towards a creature that's trying to swallow a friend is foolhardy but Sourisi's more concerned about stopping the attempt. "On it!"

Leaping off the last pile of rubble, Sourisi leaps over the head and lands on top of the serpentine neck. The green scales are too smooth to stay there too long, but she starts to beat both of the tonfa along the sides of the throat like a massive drum, hoping that this will make it too difficult for Fuu to be eaten. "You get her out of your mouth right now!"

COMBAT: Sourisi has used Mouse Flurry on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick partially dodges 4 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Unorthodox Swordplay, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  Pink
Moon Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick decisively counters 27 Fatigue damage from Mami Tomoe's Tiro Circle, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon
Stick's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick's counterattack, Dragonhide, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Mami Tomoe!  
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick neatly dodges 24 Fatigue damage from Sourisi's Mouse Flurry, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Sourisi is Psyched!
Pink Moon Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 12 Fatigue damage from Eri Shimanouchi's Ephemeral Dance, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon
Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

"Yeah," Caldina says agreeably, as to Mami's failure to be touched by her feelings. "It's cool. Though actually I'm just here to capture the Magic Knight? Criminal of the realm and whatever. So it's really nothing personal." She sounds not-terribly-optimistic as to the possibility of Mami and Eri bailing on Fuu, but at least raises the point.

The dragon's mouth is two things: wet and hot. Neither is in a pleasant way. Its saliva isn't corrosive or anything, but it is EVERYWHERE. And the ichor raised by Fuu's stabbing of its tongue doesn't exactly improve the environment.

The heat, though, is a serious concern. Her strategy is a good one -- the hilt of her sword an excellent hand-hold against going further inside the dragon's digestive system. And with Sourisi forcing the beast to constrict its throat away from her tonfa, there's really no chance she'll slide deeper down and deeper in. In the end the temperature problem is solved for her, as the dragon solves its own problem:

  • hcccccck*
  • ptoo*

Fuu goes flying out the mouth, straight at Sourisi, a gooey but mostly unmasticated projectile.

Mami meanwhile discovers that this dragon has an unexpectedly well-plated stomach. It was a decent guess, as weak spots go, but not the one; she raises a storm of golden sparks against those astonishingly tough scales, but little else. Eri, similarly, has trouble getting much traction, no matter where she seems to whip. And she also has trouble STANDING; she's focused on the dragon rather than the rock when it happens, but she kind of falls through it, tumbling onto Mami, nearby.

And the dragon -- empty-mouthed, and momentarily unthreatened close up -- has a moment to plant its talons in the earth and inhale...

COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used No One Spits Like Drag On on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used No One Spits Like Drag On on Sourisi.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Shaky Ground on Eri Shimanouchi.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Eri-lous Accident on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Sourisi fails to dodge Pink Moon Stick's No One Spits Like Drag On, taking 33 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe dodges 6 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Eri-lous Accident, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Mami
Tomoe's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi dodges 20 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Shaky Ground, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Eri Shimanouchi's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  Diversion applied to Eri Shimanouchi!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji perfectly braces 30 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's No One Spits Like Drag On, taking 0 Fatigue damage!
Critical Brace!  Fuu Hououji's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Fortunately (or not), the angle the Wind Knight's sword was at is quite amenable to sliding loose when the dragon spits her out - and all things considered, she's okay with that. What the Magic Knight of Wind *isn't* okay with is being used to strike down one of her own allies ... not that she can do very much to protect Sourisi, short of dismissing her sword so neither of them get cut by accident in the process.

That said? The Wind Knight sticks her own landing rather well, even doing a brief hint of a gymnast's dismount pose before she reaches down to Sourisi, offering the mousy Miraculous-user a hand up. "I'm sorry about that, Sourisi-san. Are you all ri--"

Her attention snaps back to the dragon as it begins breathing in. That's either a very large sweatdrop or an uncannily cohesive glob of draconic saliva on the back of the Wind Knight's blonde hair.

"WINDS OF ADMONISHMENT!!!!" she calls out at the top of her lungs, and if her voice is pitched higher than usual in desperation ... well, there's a REASON for that, and it's called 'breath weapon'. The Winds of Protection would probably be better, but she can't protect the entire group at once; trying to clamp the dragon's muzzle shut with a binding whirlwind really is the best option she's got at the moment, and if she can put enough english on it to make the dragon point its snout *somewhere else* before it exhales, anything that puts the imminent flaming breath further away from the magical girls kind of has to be a good thing.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Admonishment on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

The Wind Knight is a criminal? That sounds like a story made completely out of lies to Sourisi. "There's no way she's a criminal. She's one of the most couragous people I know, so that tells me your Lord is pretty corrupt!"

The blows against the neck keep bouncing off hardened scales, but Sourisi wasn't hoping to magically cut through the beast's neck. It's irritating enough that the dragon actually turned around to glare right at her! "Wait...what are you-"

A slimy missile that is the Wind Knight is sent flying into Sourisi, knocking the air out of the ravenette and to the rocky ground below. Gasping as she remembers how to breathe, she nods her head and reaches out for the hand. "Y-yeah. I had wor-...no no no!" The dragon was getting ready to breathe fire again?! Just one nostril stream of flames caused a cave in. No way she's letting the full force be unleashed!

Standing upright, the Miraculous Ninja quickly flicks the tail of her suit against the unsinged tonfa, creating a golden chain. "How about you just shut it?!" Throwing the tonfa over the dragon's snout, Sourisi tugs on the chain to make it loop around and hopefully locking away that mouth.

COMBAT: Sourisi has used Tail Snag on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Eri certainly doesn't commit to abandoning Fuu. In the past? Maybeeee she'd have been tempted, but the two have mostly managed to patch things up ever since the world changed. Even back then though, she'd have had an instinct towards not letting Dark Fall have their way. "But it's real personal to you if we stop you, and your 'otouto' gets punished." Eri says instead. While she isn't exactly openly sympathetic to her cause, she at least tries to be understanding.

Fuu gets spat out at Sourisi and Eri winces at the thought of what Fuu's covered in, "Live strong... Magic Knight." As if it were her own way of saying 'Hang in there despite being covered in that.'

Eri whips again and again, frustration showing on her brow, until... the ground gives way.

She's not certain what happened. It's just, one moment she was standing there, and the next she was falling. She assumes that the dragon shook the cave.

Either way though, she twists in mid-air to try to break her fall...

... and break her fall she does, on Mami Tomoe, as the two girls are knocked over in a pile. "Hi." Eri says, pained, but with a sense of lightness as she gets up first, and reaches down a hand to try to pull Mami up, giving her an apologetic look. "...was in the neighborhood and thought I'd... drop on by..."

She sounds genuinely embarrassed.

Before she then looks over to Sourisi and the Magic Knight... "At least those two didn't see it."

Getting ahold of her whip, she brings her hand down the length, as a glimmer of green traces through it. And suddenly the thorns elongate, thinning out as each becomes like a stiletto sliver. Longer... and that much sharper. And when the three lengths lash out at the dragon, and try to snap against its hide...

... it may look so much like some terrible, toothy maw, in how those thorns on impact would try to slip into the narrow gaps between scales, like so many daggers.

"I mean... she's a criminal to Dark Fall..." Eri asides to Sourisi, as if trying to point out that that's a net positive.

COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi has used Aerating Edge on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"As long as it's nothing personal," Mami replies to Caldina, and notably does not bail on Fuu. The audience, even an enemy audience, is something she appreciates on a certain level. But there are things about this fight that she definitely does not appreciate. The first, of course... Is the ceiling's habit of falling.

But second is definitely the powerfully tough scales on the dragon's stomach. Mami frowns as she can't quite get there, but then instead of continuing on her progression of assaults, Mami is interrupted.

There goes an Eri, and Mami hits the ground ahead of her, unable to get out of the way in time. She hits the ground noisily, the cavern making the sound even louder including the little 'oof' of surprise and Eri-catching. A few things happen in this space.

Mami spends as absolutely little time as possible considering where Fuu just was. But instead, she looks to Eri and--"Hi," she answers with almost a laugh, taking Eri's hand. "Well, it's nice to see you," she answers, rising and looking down past Eri's shoulder back towards the dragon again. "That's an upside," Mami agrees with Eri, as she too moves into motion.

Once up, Mami looks with some relief to see Fuu undigested, and considers her next move very, very briefly. The dragon is starting to breathe in, which leaves Mami with a very scarce time to do something about it. The dragon is likely wise to her initial trick by now--so there's another she can do. While it's focusing on preparing its offense...

Mami pulls a rifle from the air and points at one of its nostrils, a second as she jumps back at its lips, a third at its eye, a fourth at a joint--Mami tries over the course of a flurry of dancing shots whatever she can think of that might be more vulnerable than the plated scales of the dragon's stomach, whirling with the report of her guns as she does and focusing on how she's going to try to defend if that mouth opens.

"So what did she do, exactly?"

COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Tiro Flourish on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick partially dodges 4 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Winds of Admonishment, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  Fuu
Hououji is Psyched!  Pink Moon Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick cleanly braces 0 Fatigue damage from Sourisi's Tail Snag, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon Stick's
Block and Parry abilities activate!  Trap applied to Pink Moon Stick!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick perfectly counters 69 Fatigue damage from Eri Shimanouchi's Aerating Edge, taking 0 Fatigue damage!
Critical Hit!  Critical Counter!  Pink Moon Stick's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick's counterattack, Dragonhide, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Eri Shimanouchi!  
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to dodge Mami Tomoe's Tiro Flourish, taking 33 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Mami Tomoe is
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

"I didn't ask," Caldina replies to Mami's query, and Sourisi's statement, in another way. "Lord Zagato doesn't take questions." Eri's comment confuses her. "Never heard of any Dark Fall, though?"

Fuu and Sourisi cooperate to bind the snout shut; winds swirl and chain binds, and between them they get the job done. That means that this time, the gradually-disgorged pressurized flame shoots out two nostrils -- oh, nope, Mami just shot up one of them and THAT'S an ichorous, snotty explosion -- it's one again.

More rocks; a shaft of sunlight, also. And dust, dust, so much dust.

It transpires in the midst of all this debris, which reduces visibility to basically zero, that Eri's knives skittered off the dragon's hide much like Mami's bullets had moments before -- and that Mami's half-dozen trick shots found their marks, finally. That nostril, and the mouth, and the eye, and the joint between wing and back. All of them are dripping goo and misery.

And the dragon, espying that there is little ceiling left, launches itself against it -- HARD -- trusting that it will survive the rocks better than its foes, and also that it will then be able to leave.

Any survivors of this second rockfall are left with a choice: let it leave, or try to take it down -- and risk it resuming fight, rather than flight?

COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies on Sourisi.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe neatly dodges 48 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies, taking 12 Fatigue damage!
Critical Hit!  Mami Tomoe's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Sourisi fails to brace Pink Moon Stick's Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies, taking 45 Fatigue damage!  Sourisi is unable to keep
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji partially dodges 9 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies, taking 35 Fatigue damage!
Fuu Hououji's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

With howling winds and gleaming chains, the dragon's maw is contained. Mami's focused fire on several key weak points is enough to reduce the fire breath to just another stream of flames again. It drills against the roof and natural light starts to slip in from the world above, and Sourisi feels heartened by this fact. "No secondhand fires please!"

Eri's comment is enough to make Sourisi freeze and eye the magi with a look that makes it clear she wasn't to argue that fact. "Well...you're not wrong about that."

Then there's quite a large amount of dust in the air, making it nearly impossible to see around her clearly. What she did see makes her feel a little bad about the dragon, but it has to be on the ropes by now!

Dispelling the chain, Sourisi starts to twirl the singed tonfa around in her hand and letting it pick up speed. That is before the tunnel starts to shake violently as the dragon throws itself against the ceiling in a bid to escape. Bracing herself in place to stay upright, this leaves the Mouse unfortunately unable to see or protect herself from another boulder.

The granite slab shifts a few times before going completely still.

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

"I see." Mami has no particular retort for Caldina's words, though an advantage of her presence is someone's around to answer questions at all instead of only fire and death ahead of them. Mami will have to take what she's gotten--since the fight is if anything intensifying.

When more fire crashes out into the rocks, Mami notes the sunlight, and considers her angle--that's going to have to be where she fires from, if she wants to avoid bringing the whole place down on them. Which means she should get up there as soon as she can. This is her thought, anyway, as her bullets find homes in the dragon's powerful form.

She is forced to come up with a new plan as she spots the dragon launching upward, eyes widening for an instant as she recognizes that she has to move. Move she does; whirling out of the way of one giant boulder and then another, the Golden Queen is able to evade the largest of the rocks--and is merely pelted with sharp scattered stone and dusty clouds instead, coughing once as she hits the ground again. But the tunnel's shaking...

Mami looks around, and spots where Sourisi was, and presumably still is. If it were only her in danger that would still be enough not to prolong this if they can manage it.

So Mami stands up straighter and focuses, looking around in case their invisible enemy is still nearby. "Everyone?" Mami checks in. For her part, she's inclined to let the dragon fly where it will, as long as it's 'away'.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

That really is a lot of rocks coming down from the cavern's ceiling - and the Wind Knight has to scramble to try and stay out from under the heaviest, biggest, and worst of them, unable to focus even for the split-second that it takes to draw her sword. By the time the rubble has finished settling, she has a plethora of bruises that she'll need to try and heal - but she's still on her feet.

And she wastes little time in turning her attention to the boulder that just landed on Sourisi. "It's a bit rich, Caldina-san," the Wind Knight points out as she labors to try and move the slab. "Presumably, Zagato is the one who declared us criminals ... yet we were summoned to right the wrong *he* did - by kidnapping Princess Emeraude. Then again, if you're working for him - I suppose he wouldn't tell you anything - that would anger a Cephiran native, would he ... ?"

If the hole is big enough for the dragon to make good its escape, the Magic Knight of Wind is inclined to *let* the dragon flee. This has not been going terribly well, and while she's more worried about her allies than her foes, mention of Ascot *has* reminded her of the boy who calls monsters 'friends' - and seems to mean it, for all that he'd been throwing his 'friends' into battle.

As for *her* friends? She wants to get them all home, as close to 'safe and sound' as circumstances allow.

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

Mikoto yaaawns, and turns over in her nap, grabbing Mokona as if it were the most normal thing in the world and hugging the mascot like a stuffed toy as she shifts in her sleep.

A rock falls at the point they would have been a moment earlier.

Did she plan that, or is she just... just that... like that?

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

"...kidnapped?" repeats Caldina, incredulously.

It's chaos; the dust, the rocks, the dragon -- who, given the opportunity, lets out a terrific screech and vanishes into the widening sky.

But something about it... isn't quite right.

In much the same way that Eri kind of fell through a rock she tried to stand on -- Sourisi's mind twitches beneath the weight of a killing stone, but her body... keeps on living. Keeps on beating. There's nothing on top of her at all. Fuu finds her hands passing through nothing.

And then -- gradually -- the rocks fade. And the cave... changes. Not a cave at all, but a canyon. Was there always sky, and the dragon, desperate to escape, simply flew up? The mushrooms are real enough, but the gems are not.

There is no labyrinth beyond the dragon's blockage, only a straight-line path down a ravine, back the way they came. And it transpires that it's only a few more footsteps before some invisible line is crossed, and one finds oneself back in the mall, and out of Cephiro. Notably, not in the 'endless' hallway, but at the very back of the darkened arcade.

It's a one-way trip this time.

But other than pumping adrenaline and lingering questions...

...it's over. For now.