2023-05-14: MGLN SeekerS: Road Trip 2.5

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Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha SeekerS: Road Trip 2.5

A grim conclusion to a dreamtime journey.


Signum Yagami, Fate Testarossa, Endo Naoki, Mikoto Minagi, Kyouka Okazaki, Setsuna Higashi, Ashen Knight, Umbral Knight, Azure Knight, Argent Knight, Vermillion Knight, Ebon Knight, Palatinate Knight, Auric Knight, Radiant Knight


Harlaown-Testarossa Apartment/Ancient Belka

OOC - IC Date:

5/14/2023 - 03/08/2016

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa transforms into Youma Form Ebon Knight!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi transforms into Youma Form Vermillion Knight!
COMBAT: Kyouka Okazaki transforms into Youma Form Ashen Knight!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki transforms into Barrier Jacket Zerstörer!
<Pose Tracker> Signum Yagami [None] has posed.

The Azure Knight quails. Terror. Shame. She is a coward in the end. The rest of them are right, even if one may allow that it is not a sporting thing.

They stand in a bleak place now, where once was beauty. The Magnetic Prism; a record, linked to records, to hold the story of a world in the subtle interweavings of metal and energy. She won it, in a ruined place.

Why is it so wrong with the Pillar of Cephiro to --

-- because she looks at us, the Azure Knight thinks, and defies us, and when I look at her face I think of --

The Ashen Knight moves forwards and Argent stands away and the Azure Knight can only turn her head away, one hand forming a thin fist.

I have already failed, she thinks.

At least my failure rests only within me, she tells herself to herself, and perhaps in time she might convince herself.

Why does she have to look so much like --

-- does she truly look like her? the Azure Knight wonders.

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

"What of my convictions?" The Ebon Knight echoes Ashen, as if in disbelief at being challenged, "You would dare? My devotion to our Queen, to Holy Belka is absolute. Do not presume to lecture me on 'conviction' when you speak platitudes and wring your hands over childish morality. Offering half-measures do greater insult to our fallen sons and daughters, for you only empower our enemy by allowing grief to stay your hand by what needs be done."

Beneath her helm, her eyes bore into Argent, "When I have sown every last fallow field with the blood of our enemies, then shall you know the strength of my conviction."

The Queen calls for silence, and just like that, Ebon is silent. And just like that, she listens. It is a tale she knows well. She recounts it anyway, with memories of her older sister within them all.

The Pillar's naivete is met with the rebuke of their Queen, and Ebon does not flinch. The ring is raised, so too does she know what's coming.

When the rapier is drawn by Ashen, when it meets the Argent Knight, "You have lost your mind." Her scythe materializes, and with a tap-

<Twilit Blades>

-ephemeral blades of violet magic form from triangles overhead, raining down to attempt to pin the Ashen Knight into place, and prevent escape, as she advances further.

"And forgotten your oath. My Queen, you need only say the word."

Apparently far less understanding than Argent, she moves forward, like an Executioner ready to perform her duty.

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has used Twilit Blades on Kyouka Okazaki.
COMBAT: Signum Yagami transforms into Youma Form Azure Knight!
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

When the Ashen Knight draws her rapier and strikes out toward Auric the Umbral Knight's visage grows dark. His leaden eyes follow the arc of the blade, all the way until it strikes against the interposing Argent.

The Umbral Knight's fingers clasp tight around the hilt of his weapon, the heavy blade that rests always at his side. There's a faint scraping noise as the wide edge of the weapon glides across the floor below, inching forward in preparation.

Yet the Ebon Knight too intervenes, raining down violet light on her errant sister-in-arms. Umbral's eyes move across the circle of knights, seeking any more sign of protest. And when the Ebon Knight requests the Queen's order, the Umbral Knight too patiently awaits a sentence from their righteous ruler.

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

It is a burden, Argent says, they must bear. And she is a jewel, Ebon insists. But the Radiant Knight agrees with her flaming heart, sees what she struggles to say. The Ashen Knight and the Azure Knight bargain...

But it is the Umbral Knight's words which echo loudest in the Vermillion Knight's head: both their responsibility, and their right.

The Vermillion Knight winces, when Auric's elbow digs into the Princess from behind. A second time, when she names her kidnapping so. "Belkans are not tyrants," she says, to that pillar of a Princess -- or, perhaps, to herself. "We are..." protecting you, she wants to say, but for the way her voice dies in her throat.

Be quiet, or the enemy will hear you.

... the Queen is speaking.

And the Vermillion Knight flinches a third time, as that Princess who commanded her is evoked. She wonders, in the silence of herself, where the doom lies.

She convinced Talasta to offer up their beating heart. Was it kinder to prove herself than to simply take it? She told herself it was so. A gentler thing. Perhaps that was the real pantomime performance, laid across the steel.

Can Belka truly accept this? Still her question hangs, in the air. It spins, lightly, like another of those baubles they've fetched. How many?

"Yh--" Vermillion gasps, as the Ashen Knight draws her rapier, and a flash of gold sees the Argent between them. She calls it realistic, the thing they have done. Of course, the Ashen Knight needs help. She looks to the Umbral Knight, first; she sees his stoic readiness. He will do what he must, for his Queen. As should she.

Her gauntlet grasps by her chest, and she looks away, even as the other Knights fall to action. Her lips part; nothing comes out.


(Is this just the torment of flame, this indecision..?)

Here she meets the Azure Knight's averted gaze, each a mirror of the other. They are frozen, and why does she freeze? She is heat, boiling and boiling over. Something makes sense, in an ego-dystonic sort of way. It's awful. She wants to --

"Stop!" The Vermillion Knight hears herself cry out, as she finds her arbalest in her hands. The Queen placed the Device there -- when she came to her as a teenager, barely grown, family lost to her. When the Umbral Knight brought here there.

She finds that she winches back the crank, and those magic arrows launch into one of the Ebon Knight's ephemeral blades, to give the Ashen Knight a bare sliver of an escape route.

"... this way!" The Vermillion Knight cries, bids her to flee, as she fires a blinding arrow upwards in a flash-bang of bright distraction.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi covers Kyouka Okazaki for Fate Testarossa's attack, Twilit Blades, taking it upon herself instead!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi counters 7 Fatigue damage from Fate Testarossa's Twilit Blades, taking 20 Fatigue damage!  Mikoto Minagi's
Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!  Diversion, Stun, and Trap applied to Mikoto Minagi!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi's counterattack, Searing Flash, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Fate Testarossa!  
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

Everything seems to be happening in slow motion.

Before the Queen has said anything, done anything, in reaction or response to the Ashen Knight's treacherousu attack on the Auric Knight--

--the Argent Knight has leapt in to defend Auric, taking Ashen's aggress onto herself--

--the Ebon Knight sends a binding down towards Ashen--

--and the Vermillion Knight shoots the violet blades away. This comes at a cost, however; several reorient in midair, sharp and decisive 270-degree angles that are not dissimilar to a modern day Fate Testarossa's homing rotations, and pin her down instead. She's able to get the flash bang spell off before that happens, but will not so easily be able to heed her own advice to flee, slowed (though not stopped) by the spell--

--still, slowed is enough.

Each of these Knights is a legendary warrior. A champion of their people. Their duels are decided by the slightest of mistakes -- and this is no duel.

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

Everything happens very fast, all of it punctuated with a bright burst of light that floods through the room. The Umbral Knight averts his eyes, shutting them closed tight and tilting his head away in vain attempt to keep the burning illumination from leaving him blind. When he raises his head again there's still the disoriented afterimage, a photocopy of the scene burned disorientingly onto his retina.

The knight's head swivels toward the source of the arrow, the Vermillion Knight. In the Umbral Knight's watery gaze there's something there that hadn't been before: disappointment. Pain, almost. Though many in this room had earned his admirationfrom loyal Ebon to steadfast Ardentthere is only one whose betrayal would cause such a wound.

But there wasn't time to dwell on that.

Finally the Umbral Knight straightened, rising from respectful kneel and dragging his Device with him. With a low him the weapon begins to bleed cosmic fire, venting purple-black energy that engulfs the whole of the blade. Oversized as it is, in the hands of the Umbral Knight it looks natural. A weapon made for him.

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

Everything happens very fast, all of it punctuated with a bright burst of light that floods through the room. The Umbral Knight averts his eyes, shutting them closed tight and tilting his head away in vain attempt to keep the burning illumination from leaving him blind. When he raises his head again there's still the disoriented afterimage, a photocopy of the scene burned disorientingly onto his retina.

The knight's head swivels toward the source of the arrow, the Vermillion Knight. In the Umbral Knight's watery gaze there's something there that hadn't been before: disappointment. Pain, almost. Though many in this room had earned his admirationfrom loyal Ebon to steadfast Ardentthere is only one whose betrayal would cause such a wound.

But there wasn't time to dwell.

Finally the Umbral Knight straightened, rising from respectful kneel and dragging his Device with him. With a low him the weapon begins to bleed cosmic fire, venting purple-black energy that engulfs the whole of the blade. Oversized as it is, in the hands of the Umbral Knight it looks natural. A weapon made for him.

A weapon now pointed toward the Ashen Knight as he advances.

"Do it." He suggests. "Run."

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

In a way, his choice is easy: Palatinate stays with the Princess, which means he stays with the Queen (and, now, with Argent). To do otherwise would be to betray the very heart of everything they are. But his weapon is in hand, now, a pair of arcane bracelets, and should the Princess twitch away, or Ashen twitch TOWARDS, there is no doubt that arcane energies will intercept.

The Princess hesitates.

Auric does not; she leaps not at Ashen but over her, over Vermillion, over them both. And now, she guards the door. Her mighty warhammer was drawn in flight, and her reputation does more than precede her. She has saved the lives of both women countless times with her ability to hold a position for an unreasonably long period. There will be no getting past her. If Ebon had only pinned Vermillion with one less blade, perhaps she could have been quick enough. If Ashen hadn't been so far into the room. But no; there will be no escape.

It is possible, given her expression -- betrayal and rage warring for space on her ruddy cheeks -- that Auric wants them to run a lot more than Umbral does. That she wants them to TRY.

But it seems the Queen does not.

Her eyes flicker over the bound Vermillion, then the unbound but two-knights-away Ashen.

And finally over to Azure.

Her hand is frozen in midair. She could touch the Princess with it, and banish her from this realm to whatever safety is promised in another, but she doesn't.

"So, then," she says, curiously. "Is this the limit of your loyalty? A lie by omission is no less a lie." And action, by inaction... is no less an action.

But she shakes her head, slightly, and gazes upon Ashen and Vermillion like a disappointed mother.

"We have known you since you were raw. How proud We were, of how finely you honed yourselves in Our service. And in Our daughter's. She loved you more in her way than We can in Ours, so for her sake and in her memory, We will give you a chance, and a choice."

It might feel better if her words were intense, but they are distant, almost absent. She has retreated into the greatest formalities of the Belkan language. Whatever she claims about family ties, to get through the next few seconds it is her crown that she uses to survive, mentally, emotionally.

"Place the Princess' hand upon Our own--" sealing her fate, "--save Cephiro from the Enemy, and live on as a Knight of Belka. Elsewise We have little doubt our remaining Knights will demonstrate what it is that Belka does to traitors under the law."

The sentence is always death.

<Pose Tracker> Kyouka Okazaki [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Ashen acts to try and spar the Pillar--no, to save a girl's life--and was prepared to strike at a fellow night, as unthinkable as it may be. But it does not make the decision any less painful to instead have injured Argent when she intervened, taking the brunt of her strike.

Then she speaks of loss--of losing a home, a thing she never properly had until finding her place among her brethren. "We have all suffered loss, Argent," she says softly, sadly, and leaves it at that.

Ebon makes her move, and as Ashen twists, brings her rapier up to parry the entrapping spell, it is Vermillion who finally comes to her aid, deflecting the attack and providing a distraction. She could run, certainly, but then what? She would run away from the life she is trying to save, and this would be all for naught.

Or it may be for naught regardless--Umbral trains his sword on her, and Auric blocks the door. She only had the barest of chances acting by surprise, to dare hope that she could make an escape, that her action might cause others to reflect and take action, but now?

She has seen their skill in battle. With so many arrayed against her and Vermillion, now all aware of her intentions...

"I must apologize, Princess. Though I thought to spare your life, it seems I have acted far, far too late." She looks to their queen. "I beseech you. Do not make a martyr of this girl. To do so will turn others against our cause when we could unite them instead. As our Princess united all of us against our foe."

She lifts her rapier, ice surging along its length and then shattering, sharpening her blade's edge. "I shall not give quarter. If you would take my life, it shall be the most grueling work you will ever do."

She had hoped, one day, to return to that monastery. But perhaps this is a more fitting end for a knight.

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

Argent is silent, through the discussions of the others. She does not move to pursue those who would run, and perhaps that is because of her injury. She is silent, looking up and through each of them. Through the Azure Knight, who does not move. Through the Ebon Knight, and the conviction that resides there. To the Umbral Knight, who prepraes... and through Vermillion, always like her--

This, perhaps, is the hardest, of this moment. But the Queen is merciful. The Queen is kind.

Argent looks down again, and begins to rise to her feet, with some difficulty, and her only answer to the requirement is to extend her hand. Within it rests her single-bladed axe now, in a flash of brilliant silver light.

"...Better any loss," the Argent Knight says, "Than total loss."

"Do not make us do this," she says, and it is not the Queen she asks for forebearance.

"We have," Argent says to the Ashen Knight. "And now we suffer more. ...We will all do as we must."

"I will ask that you are remembered for your deeds in Belka's service, and not this final failure," she intones. She is still wounded--but she will do her duty. When the Ashen Knight prepares herself...

The Argent Knight lifts that axe, single-bladed and impossibly sharp. "..."

She swings, and Belkan triangles radiate from her and her Device. "Cipher Crusade!"

They surge forward, to batter at defenses, to trip up, to make weaker.

...She is not fighting alone, after all.

COMBAT: Cure Passion has used Cipher Crusade on Kyouka Okazaki.
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

"Vermillion!?" Even the Ebon Knight seems shocked by this betrayal. How could this happen!? And yet that outburst, becomes a sort of cold resolve a moment later. As she bids her to flee, as the arrow deflects a number of her blades with that arrow to a different target.

"You always were a soft heart." The Knight states... as she steps forward, scythe in hand, "Allow me to relieve you of your burdens. You've suffered enough."

She is perhaps not without mercy, but that mercy is still a grave, a sleep, an end.

The Auric Knight blocks their escape, as is her duty. And Ebon stands beside Vermillion, at the ready. The Queen speaks.

She speaks, and Ebon stands at the ready, but she does say to Vermillion, "What shall it be? Shall I relieve you of your bonds, or your life?"

Ashen however, speaks her end, and Ebon's gaze hardens, "Bewitched by a pretty maid. What an ignominious end for a Knight of Belka that you would spit upon the Queen's mercy with futile defiance."

Argent takes it upon herself to deal with Ashen. And in her words... temperance, but still action. She can at least accept this. Still though, Ebon waits, with the edge of her Scythe at the ready near Vermillion. "We would all have your answer Vermillion. May you possess greater wisdom than she."

COIN FLIP: Signum Yagami flips a coin. It lands on heads!
<Pose Tracker> Signum Yagami [None] has posed.

They strike their blows and they move and there is treason and betrayal alike and the Queen has looked upon her and spoken her judgment and the Azure Knight--

(A portion of Signum, sleeping far away, has watched this as one might watch a samurai film. It has that tension to it; that thrill and that tautness, drawing through the abdomen before it becomes intolerable and everything ends in a rain of blades and blood. And yet it does not feel much like that. An analogy, much as how a shaped heap of sand is called a 'castle,' and yet, of course, it is not where one would wish to stand guard.)

(But it is not the same, is it? Samurai films, however rooted in the history of this kingdom of 'Japan' with its pleasant aesthetics and four seasons, are stories. This is not a story.)

(But what will the Azure Knight do?)

-- speaks, quietly, "My queen..."

She takes a wrenching step forwards. The Azure Knight was perhaps never the most renowned of her peers, although not the weakest, either; but this is total uncertainty written in her motions, in her guard, in her stance. She has one hand reaching towards the hilt of her sword but it does not draw.

Not yet.

(Signum wonders, to herself, if the loathing, the self-doubt that she has seen with a certain wonder and a glimmer - no, several - of sympathy, may be something other than what she had thought. Perhaps the failure the Azure Knight hates in herself is softness.)

(And once, Signum thinks, I...?)

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

It is the nature of the Knight to sacrifice; the Vermillion Knight clears the Ashen's way, and finds herself bound, in turn. She slows; she stops. One too many blades, and she knows how strong they are. She will accept being taken instead. Except --

Except the way is barred, and the Ashen Knight cannot (will not) flee.

And the Umbral Knight's disappointment is a wound to her, just the same. It is carved and soon forced OPEN, as the Queen addresses them with such distance. "I..."

Traitor, the words echoes, in her mind.

Her friends -- her friends -- they don't want to destroy her. It would be so easy, to turn her back on her horror. She could make it up to him. To them! Her soft heart can still, surely, be tempered.

She looks to the Princess; she looks to the Queen's ring.

"I will do this for Belka," she says, voice ragged. "My Queen."

At strain, she adds, eyes squeezing shut for a pained moment: "I'm sorry."

Is she apologising to the Ashen Knight? The Azure Knight? The Radiant Knight? Herself? Surely she must be -- she's leaving them abandoned, to serve her Queen.

Even as the Ashen Knight promises to fight to the last, the Vermillion Knight submits. She steps forward, and grasps the Princess's wrist.

Meets her eyes, just the once. One long, lingering moment. 'I'm sorry,' perhaps. 'It's better this way.' Or maybe just: '... trust me.'

She doesn't expect her to, though. She will drag her, if she must, the rest of the way. "My Queen," she says, deferent.

It's a slow-motion horror, the way she brings one to meet the other --

-- until her right hand, carrying the Princess's, has almost met the Queen's --

-- and she releases her, and her left grasps the Queen's hand as she drives a pinpoint gauntlet strike into that ring itself. She's looking to destroy that wretched jewel in a single targeted blow.

She was apologising, but not to them.

She will do this, for Belka.

She will be a traitor, and destroy the tools of their tyranny.

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

The gauntlet comes to a grinding halt just precious inches from the ring. It must be agonizing, to be so close to the end of the universe. Just one inch more could have saved a thousand worlds glittering in the darkness.

The Umbral Knight's hand gently turns Vermillion's hand aside.

In front of their queen the two knights now stand, the towering figure of the Umbral Knight holding steadfast above the smaller Vermillion. Side by side, like so many times before. Like a time, long ago, when the Umbral Knight had brought before his majesty a lost child seeking purpose.

Bent low, head bowed close to hers, he speaks:

"That's enough." He reproaches her gently.

His hand draws the younger woman into a gentle embrace. Protective, almost. Comforting. Fraternal. The rest of the world, the Ashen Knight's pledge, the Argent and Ebon, the wavering Azure, none of it matters now.

"That's enough."

With a somber finality the Umbral Knight draws his sword out of Vermillion's chest, removing it in one jarring motion from the point of vicious impact made when they came together.


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

The Queen is steady, steely as ever, when Ashen denies her. But she gasps when Vermillion betrays her.

This level of treachery -- of dishonor -- was beyond her expectations. How quickly and totally one she cared for has fallen, in the name of a single life.

One single star among the uncountable million millions, the galaxy of peoples her daughter dreamed of saving.

But though she does not understand why -- why her circle of trusted followers has fallen so quickly and so totally -- she does understand this:

The ring... is damaged.

It glitters with not the light of her magic but of a greater cosmos; where Stern glows black-violet, this shines a soft and lovely gray-golden. The stuff that stars are made of, perhaps. A glittering and gentle dust.

It's... leaking.

"No," whispers the Queen through terror-white lips. Then again, more loudly, recomposing.

"My Knights, hear me," she declares, as the gray light spills down her hand like the blood down Vermillion's chest. Where it touches her flesh it flickers and becomes translucent. "What has been done here cannot be undone but in the flesh. Her dream... her dream is in danger. The Enemy will find... everything... everything you have ever saved, and once they have consumed it there will be no second chance. I," no royal We, no time for pretention, "Am going now... I will stem the flood, before it is too late."

She is flickering like a dying flame, the last nub of wax fueling a guttering candle.

"Seek me out -- use the Pericosmic Array -- nothing is beyond its sight --"

And then she's gone.

Where she had been, a thunderclap as air collapses in to fill the void. And then a louder explosion--

--no, it's a scream, the Auric Knight is screaming, and her warhammer whistles through the air with such speed that it sounds sharp even though its head is the opposite, rending, tearing reality itself--

--and then everyone wakes up.

Lindy and the others have laid blankets over the group, since it's still chilly at night, and they await with green tea. Not all of it has been polluted with milk and sugar, too.

"Let's warm you up," Shamal says.

"Look," Hayate adds.

Two more lacuna, filled with an intricate and unique arcane rune. "We have four now..."

Lindy smiles. "Exactly enough for a coordinate in timespace."