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[Gaiden] Save the Youkai Village of Kanekojima!; Closed to the chosen five
Topic Started: Aug 21 2017, 08:22 AM (1,326 Views)
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The call for help had gone out, and now, had been answered. Of course, the motley crew that was to be gathered together didn't exactly know that they were not the only ones assembled for the task, but they would learn the truth of that soon enough. After all, they had all been asked to gather at the Nature Reserve's one and only restaurant. Given what was to be asked, providing lunch was the least that could be done in compensation. Plus, it would be the chance to discuss just how exactly this was all meant to unfold. Those that arrived here would be looking for a tall woman with blue hair - familiar to those that frequented the Cute Cat Club as one Azumi. They would find her seated at a table with a decent view of the surrounding area, overrun with foliage both big and small, a couple of dodos near the window biting up bulbs from the soil.

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"You're here about the village, right?"

A simple question that would require only a simple answer, and once such an answer was given, Azumi would invite them to sit. When all five were gathered, she looked between them, with varying degrees of concern; towards the only adult of the group, her doubts seemed quite aggressive.
"I really don't like doing this. Not with children, and not with some government stooge." She vented her frustrations upfront, but after a sigh, continued. "But there's no other choice. Since the Chief refuses to make it, I had to instead."
Pulling off her right earring after fiddling with it so long, Azumi laid it down on the table, while those that had their hands on it would begin to realise that said table was beginning to vibrate.

"You already know all the stuff about the lake disappearing, so I'm not going to bother re-explaining it for you. Instead, I'm going to tell you how to fix it. That right there..." She pointed to the jewellery.
"Is a key that will grant you access to the passage that leads to the bottom of the lake. Specifically, it will unlock the door, a physical barrier that - at least generally speaking - no human could break, while you will be able to pass through the mystic barrier that prevents the passage of a youkai... or anyone with youkai blood in their veins." Azumi briefly bit her lower lip in frustration, having explained why she herself - nor any of the others, or those of the village - could do this task personally.

"Once there, you'll need to find just whatever might be blocking or otherwise preventing water from the spring coming free, and... well, deal with it. I'd say more, but for obvious reasons, none of us know what really happened down there..." Another frustrated sigh, and then, the woman looked around once more.
"Any questions?"
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"That's why this 'government stooge' is here," Takeshi remarked, the SERAPH agent is garbed for what he expects would involve rough outdoors activity in the wilds - his attire consisting of a field jacket in jungle tigerstripe camo pattern, olive drab combat trousers and military-issue jungle boots, while a brown safari hat adorned his buzz-cut head and an olive drab field pack containing his equipment and supplies rested on the floor next to his feet.

"Given the close proximity of Kanekojima with Kaneshima, anything that happens there could potentially affect the latter, so this concerns SERAPH," he continued, as Azumi removed one of her earrings, stating that this piece of jewellery serves as a key that would unlock one of the two barriers, allowing them access to the source that feeds the spring on Kanekojima that serves as the primary water source for the island's denizens.

Though from the looks of it, one could probably rule out the possibility of sabotage by external forces - whoever erected the barriers recognised the importance of the aquifer that feeds the spring, and as such as taken pains to ensure that virtually no one, human and youkai alike, can access its source without the approval of the powers that be.

"That's reassuring," the agent mused, somewhat snidely, as the bouncer of the Cute Cat Club revealed that no one knows what might be down there - since if they were to rule out external sabotage, then the only other possibility would be something going wrong on the inside. "Are there any folk tales or ancient myths from around this area though? Since those might be our next best bet at giving us some sort of clue as to what to expect down there."
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And with another instant, Zamari's world grew weirder. He didn't know much about Kanekojima before all of this and had only heard of it in passing. So, when he received an invite to the restaurant at the nature reserve he was curious. Actually, that was an understatement. While he wasn't usually one to care about animals he was at least somewhat interested to see what species occupied the islet.

After Azumi explained to the group the circumstances of the upcoming mission, Zamari glanced out the window to watch the dodos go about their business, head cradled by his hand. How was it possible that extinct creatures were inhabiting the nature reserve? It sounded like something out of a movie. Kaneshima is truly a one of a kind place. If he never enrolled at Senki Academy then he also never would have got to experience such wonders. After losing interest in the dodos he directed his attention back towards the group.

When Takeshi asked about local folktales and myths, Zamari's ears perked up. Aware of the spiritual significance of the mission he thought of the real reason he had chosen to come along. Maybe there's something in this village that will give me a better understanding of my power. Saving the village was from the get-go an afterthought. Sure he did not want to see any harm come to it or its denizens, but Zamari was the type of guy to hop on an opportunity when it presented itself. Plus he was just that desperate.

"I have a headband with a bit of a spirit infestation," Zamari said to Azumi, waiting until after Takeshi's matter was resolved. "Not really sure if it has any connection to youkai or not but do you think it'll cause any problems with the barrier?" Or later on down the road for that matter, though he wasn't all that concerned about that. Not yet.
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Tashiro was never one to wear his heart on his sleeve, so he sat at the table across from the possible youkai. He was dressed in a casual kimono and sneakers, but in his gym bag by his feet was his full set of armor, along with his bokken in case his spirit swords needed to recharge. Let no one say he was unprepared for danger.
Tashiro quietly ate his delicious burger and observed his four companions and their quest giver. Eventually, he spoke. "I have no important questions, but I would like to know, what do you think our odds of success are? And will we live to tell the tale?" He wasn't one to mince words.
Edited by Zim1718, Nov 7 2017, 05:24 AM.
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Chris
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Yuki sat a separate table right next to the group listening to their employer explain the situation in greater detail then they were told before. He didn't speak up or comment on any of this and just sat there taking it all in. Either he didn't have any questions or he couldn't figure out what to think about it all. Still, this was more productive then the festival that was being held at the school.

If he didn't hear about the situation at this village then he probably would have been bored at the festival the school was holding to celebrate their merger with the school that was destroyed a few months ago. He didn't really know much on the situation so he would have been rather clueless going to the festival. Not that he would have much use here.
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Rei sat quietly at the table with the others, listening to Azumi as she spoke. To anyone who gave him a casual glance, he was calm and attentive, sitting next to Zamari, his classmate and fellow bracer, and thinking through everything that Azumi was telling them carefully. The truth was, he was slightly distracted and disappointed, despite his best efforts to hide it and focus on the task ahead. He'd been looking forward to seeing Hibiki's performance, and his thoughts occasionally turned towards the festival, and towards the idol that he called one of his friends.

But there were more important things happening than his own desires. He'd known from the second he heard about this that he wouldn't be able to forgive himself if he didn't help where he could. And he'd been selected, so now there was nothing for it but to do his best.

He turned his attention to the earring on the table as Azumi spoke, thinking hard. He was somewhat familiar with barriers, having lived in a warded shrine most of his life, but the barrier around the shrine made exceptions for those youkai that served as familiars and for select part-youkai. If the barrier that surrounded the spring was so strong that not even those with youkai blood could get through, it was stronger than any barrier he'd personally encountered.

He frowned, resting his hand on the table and feeling the faint vibrations through the wood. That could pose a problem, although he hoped it wouldn't. He perked up as Zamari started asking about his headband, but waited politely until Tashiro had finished speaking before raising his hand, cutting in with a question of his own.

"I also have a concern," he said. "I'm a summoner. My familiars are foreign in origin, not strictly youkai but similar. Will I be able to summon them on the other side of the barrier?" As his familiars, Carbuncle and Sylph gained their physical form by drawing off of Rei's mana, his spiritual power. If he thought about it that way, he didn't think there would be too much of a problem, but he wanted to be sure.
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"'Are there any folk tales or ancient myths'," Azumi mockingly echoed, "He says, on an island home to the Rathian and Rathalos. Between us and the Kaneshima Natives, there's dozens, maybe hundreds of tales. If you mean regarding the lake though..."
She paused, glanced to one side, and shifted uncomfortably, in a way that was noticeable for a woman of her physical stature.
"There's only one story that might relate to what you might find down there, and it's vague. It is said that when our people first arrived on the island, pushed to the fringes by humans, it was difficult to endure. But one day a visitor came promising the gift of water and... that's it. It's not regarded as anything other than a small footnote in history, since it doesn't tell us anything in terms of virtues or the like."

Having answered Takeshi, the woman with blue haired turned her attentions to Zamari and Rei, each boy bringing their own concerns with regards to whether or not their abilities would be affected by the barrier.
"Honestly... I don't know. It's not like anyone alive today built the thing, and I don't think it's ever been tested that way. For the spirit, I'd guess probably not, so long as it's still mostly 'human' in nature - if it hasn't begun to change into something else. For the familiars... you'll have to find out for yourself." Azumi offered small condolences for the uncertainty and inconvenience. "I'd suggest waiting until you're beyond the barrier for sure."

Which left one question to answer, possibly the most important of all: How likely were they to succeed, if at all?
"I wasn't always good at mathematics, but to guess the odds, you kinda need to know all the variables involved. We don't." She said bluntly, tapping her finger against the table. Whether out of irritation or distraction, she seemed to forget her strength a moment, as her finger pierced the woodwork, tilting the table into the air for a moment. Catching it with her remaining 7 fingers and two thumbs, an embarrassed, slightly blushing Azumi slowly let the table back down, before looking up to catch sight of the large figure that now loomed over them all.

"...S-Sorry about the table, Ren." She meekly gave an apology, tensing up as the small giant with a helmet laughed.
"So long as you do not treat my cooking that way, Azumi, we shall be fine. I take it these are our 'heroes'?" The helmet didn't turn, but through its long slits, one could see the shimmer of amber eyes studying them. "Very well then. I'll lead them out the back."
"Thanks for this, Ren. I'd lead them in myself, but I'm already in trouble with Lady Otsuki for various absences I've taken lately... I need to get back before my break ends." Azumi excused herself, pulling her finger from the hole she had punctured into the table, and quickly making for the door.

"Well... I had make the use of my own break while I can." Ren seemed to nod, before turning and gesturing for the others to follow. He lead them through the kitchen, flipping a small sign on the wall with his name on it - presumably how he signalled that he was taking his break. From there, Ren took the group out back behind the restaurant. The large, enveloping structure of the Reserve's security fence stood tall and proud, nestled by rows of bushes on either side, presumably to provide some kind of habitat to go alongside the inorganic defenses. As Ren headed up to one bush in particular, the Dodos from earlier came running around, diving through the bush, and after a bit of rustling, emerged on the other side of the fence, retreating into the forest.

"...The day one of the tigers slips through that hole, I'm gonna be in trouble I guess." Ren admitted briefly, before ducking down to squeeze his way through himself. The thicket was such that it would be difficult to really see the hole, but reaching forward would eventually find an opening where there should have been concrete. Passing through it would eventually see them emerge just on the other side behind Ren, though the tall one was already striding forward, into the forest itself. The trumpet of elephants filled the air, amidst a cacophony of small birds chirping, rodents scurrying, and other things crawling amongst the grass.
"Sounds like one of the herds. They might be grazing near the entrance to the tunnels I want to use. If we're lucky, the predators might be on the other side of the island." Ren weakly assured his followers, as the trumpeting gave way to the low rumbling that accompanied such large creatures.

True to suspicion, a herd of about a dozen, a mix of adults, adolescents, and very young calves was ahead of them, great grey shadows in the midst of the trees. Loud and lumbering, Ren moved slowly as he approached them, signalling with one raised arm for the others to do the same.
"They're right in front of the entrance... I can't tell if they're simply waiting to move on, or gonna be going down soon. We don't want to be in the midst of that if they do. There'd be nowhere to run if they felt like stampeding." Ren cautioned, sounding as though from experience.
"We need them out of the way..."
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"Got it, so no one has ever seen what lies beyond the barriers to the lake source," Takeshi nodded. At least it explains why the source to lake was so heavily-secured - it stands to reason that perhaps, the lake that serves as the island's primary water source was not a natural occurrence.

And with that, Takeshi would follow Ren's lead as they left through the back door of the restaurant, to a section of the nature reserve's fencing - which sported a small opening that was well-hidden by the bushes. "You mean this was here the whole time?" he remarked, somewhat incredulously as Ren commented that he'd get into trouble if one of the tigers got out of the reserve through this opening.

Still, it didn't take long for their guide to lead the group to the entrance of the tunnels that would take them to the source of the lake... except for a multi-ton inconvenience; in the form of an entire herd of elephants gathered near the tunnel entrance. Needless to say, to be caught in the middle of a stampeding herd of elephants would be dangerous to say the least.

"Maybe, if we can draw their attention elsewhere..." Takeshi remarked as he observed the herd of elephants as he cautiously approached. "Like, get the herd to move to somewhere else on the island," although the agent himself had neither the powers nor skills for that, so it would most likely fall upon someone else's expertise.
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Zamari let out a sigh upon hearing that he would simply have to test his luck to see if he and the barrier would be compatible. In truth it was the answer he expected as their passage through the barrier would be unprecedented. They were going in blind with little to no information, the closest thing to an actual tip being a vague legend. Their work was cut out for them. That was something he was used to.

Zamari followed the procession behind Ren out of the restaurant. After they made their exit, he was reunited with the dodos who caught him by surprise. The sight of an extinct species right before him was going to take some getting used to. Then there was the mentioning of tigers by Ren. Less surprising to Zamari but still worthy of attention. "I survived the White Giant so a tiger shouldn't be too much trouble." He wasn't exactly serious with that statement. Each opponent he faced had to be fought differently. He had no idea whatsoever how to fight a tiger.

After following Ren into the same hole that the dodos passed through, Zamari emerged with the others to be greeted by a sound that was only familiar to him because of the local zoo. "Is there anything you don't have here?" Zamari wondered as he recognized the sound of elephants. He had the feeling that if there was something missing from the reserve that it would be the most mundane creature imaginable. An ironic scenario indeed.

"Is there anything that elephants really like that we can use to lure them away?" He doubted that an entire herd could be moved so easily. "Perhaps we should identify the leader and worry about leading him first." He theorized that the rest would then follow. As he was not an expert in elephant behavior, or even had the slightest bit of knowledge of them beyond basic observations, he had no factual evidence to support his suggestion.
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Tashiro sat silent through the remainder of the "meeting," enjoying his free meal and taking in the new information. So one of his companions might be less useful in combat. Oh well, time to move on. He stood with the others, hoisting his bag over his shoulder, and followed the others through the gap.

"If we just ask, maybe they'll move. I've heard elephants are quite intelligent." He said simply. Let no one say Tashiro gave complicated ideas when they weren't necessary. It may have been a dumb idea, but it was an idea, right?
Edited by Zim1718, Nov 7 2017, 05:24 AM.
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No one has ever been on the other side of the barrier to the lake source? That could be problematic. If on has been on the other side before then they wouldn't know what dangers were waiting for them when they reached it. They were going in completely clueless and probably under qualified. That wasn't good.

After the debriefing was said and over he would follow the rest of the group through the gap that Ren had showed them. Yuki positioned himself behind the group as they came across of group of elephants blocking their path and got a small idea. Picking up a rock, he used his magic to breath life into it. A small glow engulfed the rock for a brief second as it was changed from a rock into a small mouse. "Think this will get them to move?" He asked holding the mouse up for the group to see before offering it to Ren.
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Rei listened carefully as Azumi related the story of the spring. While it didn't sound like much, he had grown up around enough old stories to know that most of the old myths had a kernel of truth in them. He was particularly curious about the identity of the visitor, but his curiosity would have to wait, because it seemed as though they were about to start moving. While he was a little concerned that he would not be able to summon his familiars on the other side of the barrier, there was nothing for it now but to find out.

He nodded respectfully towards Azumi, following Ren and the others out the back. Rei eyed the hole in the fence warily, but didn't make a comment about it. If Ren was aware of the danger and thought that it was mostly safe, as an outsider, he hardly had a right to question that.

The elephants, however, would pose a bigger problem. They were majestic, imposing creatures. Rei didn't particularly like their chances if those elephants were to stampede. He frowned in thought, thinking back to the guide he had read on the ride over, about the creatures of Kanekojima Island. "Luring them or scaring them would probably be the easiest way," Rei said, agreeing with his companions. "Although, I'm not convinced they'll be frightened off by mice, Yuki-san," he added, giving the other boy an apologetic smile. He looked up at the group. "I've read that the Naumann elephants are prey creatures for the island's large predators. Is there any way we could mimic an approaching predator? Could that scare them enough to drive them off?"

Rei knew that his own abilities weren't capable of that kind of mimicry, but he didn't know what his companions were capable of, or what resources Ren might have that he didn't. At the very least, it was worth voicing the suggestion.
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"...That only one of you thought of a way to implement their plan by themselves..." Ren grimaced, none too pleased by the development. He looked at the offering of a mouse made from stone, took it into his large hand - that looked not entirely unlike a paw - and for a moment, considered it. Consideration very, very quickly turned to doubt, and yet, he clutched the mouse more tightly, turning towards the Elephant herd.
"But without anything that's more than a suggestion, that'll have to do. If I could just imitate the cry of a creature fearsome enough to make them flee, you think I wouldn't do that all the time?" Ren posed the rather rhetorical question, before carefully and quietly approaching the herd. In spite of his size, Ren was astonishingly light on his feet, the grass as a faint as a whisper beneath his steps, the plants brushing off of him as smooth as rain would roll from their leaves.

Then, without a word, he released the mouse into the midst of the elephants. At first, there was no response, the giant mammals seemingly paying no attention to the tiny thing at their feet. Then however, one trumpeted in protest, throwing its massive weight to one side to avoid something that, above 2 or 3 inches from the ground, was unseen. It was not a frightened sound by any means, more of a firm notice of something. The tiny white shape scampered along the ground some more, and those with keen eyes might spot it scurrying back and forth, trying to find a clear path free from the throng of titanic beasts. In doing so, it caught more and more attention from the pachyderms, which seemingly unable to precisely pinpoint just where it was, because to sidestep and stumble about, trying to avoid whatever thing was surprising them from out of nowhere. It seemed that within their minds, they had made a judgement as to what would be the simplest solution, turning to walk away, moving away from the supposed entrance.

"Alright, now." Ren called the others across as the herd moved on, leading them towards where the Elephants had just stood. They wouldn't see much at first, but then with their feet they would realise an incline slowly revealing itself beneath them. The grass and the flowers here were not rooted in the soil, but each each other, and in some instances, nothing but the air itself. Following the incline, letting gravity slowly pull them down, would bring them beneath this floral veil, and into a tunnel faintly lit by the light of fluorescent fungi, and the shimmer of gemstones in the wall.
"Here we go. Into the underground from here." Ren signalled for the others to continue following him, and should they do so, they would find it to be quite a walk, and yet noticeably, an ever downward one. Soon enough, it would feel strange, the path seemingly so level yet feeling tilted, though without other reference for what was meant to be straight up, it was hard to discern to what degree things were... off.

Any Londoner knew the experience well.

"Hands over your eyes. It can be a bit harsh as you emerge." Ren warned as they approached a literal light at the end of the tunnel, though with his helmet, he hardly moved to do the same. As they approached, the light's intensity became all the more apparent, until at last they stepped past the tunnel's reach... and emerged into what should have been impossible.
"I suppose you outsiders will want some name for it... but me? I simply consider it home." The large youkai puffed up with pride as he descended the wide slope into what was, plainly and simply, an underground jungle, lit by a ceiling utterly overgrown with fungi. One housed inside a chamber so vast, that there was a horizon to it - one to which none of them would be able to see the end.

What they would be able to see, aside of paths similar to the one on which they walked snaking up to the island above, and the bristling of trees by yet more creatures great in size, were snaking riverbeds that all led to - or should have led from - a great lake, central to this vast, subterranean cavern. Or rather, a great pit, dry as a bone in the desert. Perhaps with that, they would notice how the trees were not wholly healthy, but rather were beginning to wilt. The sea of green had an underlying smear of brown, death waiting in the wings. It was quite clear: without the lake, there would not be life here.
"...Please, save my home." Ren asked them simply, and sincerely. When their path touched the chamber floor, he led them along a rather well trodden path, eventually to what was presumably their 'door', one half shrouded in soil that had been kicked across it over the ages. There was a pattern across it, faded but possibly discernable with a more dedicated look.

"Place the key in the opening," Ren pointed to a small, triangular slot, "And then... good luck."
Once someone had placed the key, it would sink inside the lock, which then turned thrice. The door in the ground clicked, thrummed, and then slowly, parted. If the barrier on youkai was there, it was not visible to the naked eye. Then again, not much was, given the door descended into yet another dark tunnel, like a water slide without, well, the water.
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The group was able to proceed onward once the elephant herd was driven from the entrance, Takeshi wordlessly followed Ren into the underground passage; lit faintly by bioluminescent fungi and the shimmer of gemstones. Despite wearing sunglasses, the agent didn't appear to be handicapped by the darkness - although that was due to the nightvision function of his AR interface device kicking in, granting him with optics akin to nightvision goggles, heading down the tunnel towards the light source at the end.

Takeshi would squint at the sudden brightness as they arrived at their destination, briefly raising a hand over his eyes as the optics of his AR device dropped out of nightvision mode. "Wow..." the agent murmured as Ren introduced the group to his home - a jungle located within a massive cavern. True enough, one of the most distinct features of this underground realm was a lake - which had clearly seen better days, and a lot of the vegetation in this subterranean forest had clearly begun to show to consequences of a lack of water.

"You have my assurance, that we will," Takeshi nodded as Ren beseeched the group of adventurers to save his home. "Alright, here goes," the agent remarked as he removed the earring that Azumi had earlier passed to him, inserting it into the triangular slot in the stone, stepping back as it revealed another darkened tunnel leading further underground.

"Okay guys, we're heading into uncharted territory from this point on," Takeshi remarked as he removed a drab olive MX991 flashlight, or simply known as an "L-torch" from a side pouch, switching it on to provide illumination as he took the first step into the tunnel, before handing it from his neck via a lanyard strap. Listening carefully for any unusual sounds further down the tunnel, Takeshi would ease his sidearm out of its holster, cocking the pistol before releasing the safety.

"Stay put," Takeshi remarked to the rest of the group before proceeding further down the tunnel, his torch lighting the way ahead as he trained his weapon in front of him to in case any potential hostiles came into the light. After taking about ten metres down the tunnel and ensuring that the coast is clear would the agent then raise his hand to signal to the rest of the group to follow in.
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As they reached the end of the tunnel, Zamari felt his eyes start to burn. As instructed to do so by Ren, he cupped his hand over them for protection though it did not offer much. Upon their exit he was met with additional surprise. "Astounding." It was all he had to offer in way of description for the phenomenon before him. A jungle underground. Have I officially seen everything? He knew that by the end of this adventure that he would be proven wrong. He always was.

Alas they finally came upon the lake they were supposed to be saving, or at least what remained of it. The sheer size of it astonished Zamari. "There was really that much water here at one point." Something extremely peculiar had to have occurred for it all to disappear. From what he observed the absence of said water had already started to affect the surrounding plant life. If they didn't succeed then all of the organisms would start to wither. Though their experience so far had been short, Zamari had already decided that such an unfortunate outcome was unfavorable to him. This underground jungle was a place that was truly one-of-a-kind. A place he would be proud to tell everyone back home about. He was going to do everything he could to help save it.

"You have my word." Zamari vowed to Ren after he asked them to save his home. He waited along with the rest of the group as Takeshi unlocked their next passage. Another tunnel. It was what he expected but dreaded as well as he was starting to become fatigued by their constant transitioning between light and darkness. Once they were signaled to proceed by the group's sole adult, Zamari entered the tunnel in his typical chill fashion - hands in his pockets and shoulders relaxed.

Uncharted territory. He repeated Takeshi's words in his head. In a place like this that statement carried more weight. They had already seen the impossible so there was no way for them to feasibly predict what they could encounter. In keeping his hands in his pockets, Zamari was keeping a tight grip on the headband that supplied his power just in case they were quick to encounter an enemy.

"Now would be the time to develop any contingency plans," he said as he approached Takeshi, his voice low as a precaution. "Just in case of a fight." He assumed they weren't all gathered because of their diplomatic skills. If so they were screwed with him on board for he wasn't the best talker around. "I'm strictly a close-range fighter."

As they were truly heading into the unknown he wanted to know if he could depend on the others in the group. He also wanted to analyze their abilities to see where he stood among them in strength. Now wasn't the best time for measuring his strength but that was just an obsession of his. Everyone had one. At least that was what he told himself.
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Tashiro noted the calmness of the actions of this "man." Clearly he had dealt with this kind of challenge before. He remained towards the back of the group as they entered the strange new world. Instead of shielding his eyes, he narrowed them to slits as he moved them from point to point, letting his eyes adjust as rapidly as possible. "We'll do it." Was all he said as the youkai left. As the others began to move towards the entrance, Tashiro placed his bag on the ground, and unzipped it. from within, he began to don his armor, placing his helmet aside for last, and tying the leather strips around his body, locking each piece in place with ritualistic care.
In his head, he repeated a mantra of a warrior. This is not new. I have done this before. I will do it again. I will survive because I am prepared to die. This, his internal mantra, kept him calm and prepared for what he belied would certainly result in a fight.
When he was finished, he placed his helmet over his head, sliding the face mask into place. With that, a change came over him. Gone was a young man finding his place in this strange world.
Now, he was a samurai.
Miyamoto Tashiro buckled his sheaths to his side, each containing a bokken of appropriate length of a katana and wakizashi. Of course, in a real fight, those would not be drawn. His spirit was his weapon. He left the gym bag where it was, discarded in the dirt, before joining his party at the door.
"I am Miyamoto Tashiro, descendant of Miyamoto Musashi. Let us begin."
Edited by Zim1718, Nov 7 2017, 05:24 AM.
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Rei listened to Ren's assessment of the situation, nodding. He had broached the subject more to see if anyone in the group had an ability that could help, but it seemed as though Yuki's plan had worked out quite nicely. It did make him wonder if one of the summons still locked up in the grimoire could have helped, but worrying about such things was not going to get them anywhere.

He followed Ren and the others into the tunnel.

Sunlight faded as they walked down into the gloom, replaced by the eerie glow of bioluminescent fungi. Rei walked slowly, one hand on the bag that contained his grimoire. At Ren's direction, he shielded his eyes with his hand as they reached the end of the tunnel, stepping out into the brightly lit space. His eyes widened at the sight of it. That all of this was under the island seemed amazing to him, and if he had the time, he would have gladly stayed here to study the place. But the pit in the center of the space was sobering. A reminder of what they had come here to do, and who they had come here to save.

"I promise you, Ren-san, that I will do everything I can," Rei said, bowing slightly towards the large youkai before following the others around the door. As Takeshi turned on his flashlight and walked into the tunnel, Rei slid his hand into his bag, drawing out the heavy, leather-bound grimoire within. He held it in his right hand, open to a random page, like someone might hold a weapon.

When Takeshi signaled that all was well, he relaxed, lowering his arm. He followed the others into the tunnel, holding his breath as he crossed over the threshold. The barrier was a prickle against his senses, infinitely older and infinitely more subtle than that which protected his home shrine. He only hoped as he reached the other side that it made a distinction between his familiars and other youkai.

Only one way to find out.

As he approached Takeshi, Rei drew to a stop, taking a deep breath and holding his grimoire out in front of him. He closed his eyes, currents of power swirling around him like the wind as the pages of the grimoire turned, stopping on one page in particular. The symbols and characters scrawled on the page began to glow with a bright blue light, the light emanating to fill the space around Rei. As Rei held the book up, the pages began to turn again, a second page glowing with a light that was, this time, a pale green. The ground at his feet shone with light, a circle of light expanding outwards from him as he drew in a deep breath.

Rei opened his eyes, the blue light reflected in them. He drew up his free hand and brought it out to the side in a horizontal, slashing motion. "Carbuncle! Sylph!" he said, authority and command in his tone. "Come forth!"

The circle around him shattered, dividing into two pools of light, which coalesced into two separate creatures. One was a blue creature with two tails and a gemstone glowing on its forehead. The other was in the shape of a woman, a small winged faerie. At the sight of it, Rei breathed out a sigh of relief.

"It looks like my abilities work here after all," he said, to Takeshi, Zamari, and Tashiro. To Zamari, who had asked the question of abilities, he said, "As you've heard, I'm a summoner. I won't be very useful in close-ranged combat, but between my two familiars, I have a mixture of offensive and defensive spells. Sylph is able to create a shield, and Carbuncle is capable of healing, if it comes to that."

Carbuncle looked around at the others at the mention of its name, tails twitching in the air.
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The path went very deep, and very dark.

What was perhaps strangest to see about it, in the descent, was the way in which it was clearly artificial, yet... not like a path dug out from the surrounding earth. The shape was too accommodating, the slope gentle enough so as not to make one slip, for it to be the work of mother nature. The walls however were not sharp or smooth, nor were they reinforced by metal and stone. It was though it was made more by what was not filled in, rather than by what was removed. Deeper and deeper it went, until eventually, even the gentle slope levelled into an even floor. The tunnel began to widen out, until at last, it spread into a full chamber - if anyone had kept track through all the twists and turns, they might realise this placed them directly beneath the lake bed.

Or perhaps, they might notice the strange circle at the centre of it all.

A large, intricate design was engraved into the floor, filled with squares and circles in turn marked by characters made of wedges, triangles and dots. At the centre of this circle, or rather, above it, a great crystal descended from the ceiling, sparsely filled with a faded blue light. It came just shy of the floor, leaving a space so narrow one could scarcely put their finger beneath it. The lower half of the crystal was caked in something dry, and black, so old that the smell had long faded, leaving only the dusty air that had been in the tunnel too. There was something... absent in all this.

"...Oi."

A voice rang in the air, though faint enough one might mistake it for a whisper, or perhaps the sound of a discarded drinks can that one of the lads might knock with their feet in crossing the circle. The voice echoed,
"Oi."
"Oi."
"Oi."

As though seeking some kind of acknowledgement.
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Keep Calm and Cheeki Breeki
"Alright, looks like the coast is clear," Takeshi remarked as he held up his L-torch and waved the light at the group still at the entrance as a gesture for them to follow him. "Stay in a group, and keep your eyes open," he added as they proceeded down the tunnel, and the further they went down the more it became apparent that the tunnel wasn't a natural formation.

"Look at the walls, it's as if someone built this thing," Takeshi thought as he shone his torch on the walls as the made their way down the gentle slope, taking them deeper into the bowels of the earth and eventually coming into a subterranean chamber. "Huh, so this thing is right beneath the Kanekojima lake," the SERAPH agent remarked as he opened a topographic map on his HUD, a green pip indicating his position as coinciding with where the lake was positioned, leading him to the conclusion that they were right underneath it.

"One can only wonder who built this thing or how long it's been there," Takeshi mused as he checked out the key feature of this chamber - an intricate symbol in the centre of the room with a single giant crystal floating above it that emitted a faint blue light, partially caked in some black, dusty substance. The agent was about to approach the symbol when his ears picked up on a faint voice; it seemed they weren't the only ones down here!

"Everybody, back to back, in a tight circle now!" Takeshi barked an order for the group to form a tight circle formation with their backs facing the inside of their circle, the plan being to pack together in a ring so that they can share a 360° field of vision - so that they won't leave any blind spots for whoever or whatever might come at them.

The agent would release the safety on his AMT Javelina as he whispered a voice command to his AR headset. "Nightvision," and a white scan line would sweep across his shades as his optics switched to night vision, and with a swift, practiced motion would raise his sidearm, pointing it in the direction that he thought the voice seemed to be coming from.

"Identify yourself!" Takeshi ordered, his index finger going into his sidearm's trigger guard and resting against the trigger.
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Zim1718
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Tashiro's eyes were calm and collected, surveying the tunnel, not admiring the ancient handiwork, but checking for traps and the like. Not that he would be the one to take their attack, as Takeshi seemed to be the type to lead from the front, and thus take whatever attack may come from that angle. Instead, he drifted to the back, acting as a sort of rear guard against what dangers may approach from the rear.

Upon Takeshi's order, Tashiro fell into line, putting himself at the farthest back of the party, again, rear guard. But instead of drawing his swords, he simply rested both hands on the handles of his blades. In response to threats, he would, of course, draw his spirit blades. But there was no threat yet to face. So he waited. A small part of him, in the back of his head, sighed. 'why am I roped into weird crap like this?'
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