Port Island - Paulownia Mall

Just beyond the bridge connecting the mainland to the artificial island this part of town is named for, Paulownia Mall is a small but happening place at nearly all times of the day. It is renowned for its convenience in stark contrast to how small the mall is, and is a popular hangout spot for just about everyone.
Circular in shape with a clean reflective floor, while the walls give off the appearance of an old, humble establishment built from wood. It is bright all times of the day thanks to lightning above every store entrance. The Chagall Cafe appeals to those with sophisticated tastes in coffee, where the Game Panic arcade, Power Records music store, and Mandragora karaoke studio are all hits with the teenage crowd. Be Blue V is a very successful jewelry chain. Aohige Pharmacy keeps Satomi Tadashi at bay with its Saturday sales. Shinshoudo Antiques has an odd air to it, as it is rumored that it may deal more than just the namesake. Club Escapade provides a more grown-up place for relaxation at night. A helpful police station is on hand, but if you have the right connections, it can offer arms and armor.
Recently, someone has been dumping a small fortune into the three fountains strewn within the mall. Nobody is sure as to where all this money is coming from. The fountains are so saturated with coins that it is impossible to tell what the bottom of the fountains look like.

"Umm..." Farah trails off, fumbling with her drawing supplies as she attempts to stand. Things do not go well as there is suddenly a fumble of equipment and charcoal and colored pencils go flying around the food court at Paulowina Mall. "Aieee! Tom-san let me buy those!" She says, cursing softly in Arabic. Farah gets down on her knees, scrabbling under the chair frantically.

Arabic huh? Yeah she knew of that language, but she didn't speak it. Knew some words though, but it wasn't in any way enough to understand the girl. Her stay in the middle east had been pleasantly short. Much like with africa, it was a place she'd never visit again if it was avoidable.

"Uhm is something wrong Newman-san?" Azusa tilts her head slightly and looks for whatever it is that Farah is searching for.

Takahisa Kandori has spent a lot of time in malls recently. He is seated in the cafe, at his table, reading a newspaper and eating tomato soup with crackers. Munching down a mouthfull, the businessman turns his handsome face to the light and has a whispered mental conversation with his "friend". Time to start the magic. He looks down the length of the wall, studying the features and the happy, calm people. He won't be using the DVA System this time, but the crafted persona in its artificial shell - hidden under the floor of the mall and armed in advance- will work to terrorize everyone.

Those who stand their ground and fight have power enough to do so, and are worthy of study. In Kandori's pocket is a camera - a special camera capable of recording Persona and Shadows. He'd get his story.

Hand over his head, Kandori snaps his fingers once, then turns a page of the paper.

The effects are subtle. Everyone in the mall hears an annoying but not painful ringing in their right ear that will not resolve - and one third of the flourescent lights dim by twenty watts.

Only two weeks in and Fumiya Watanabe is already sick of school. As soon as today's classes and duties ended he bolted out of Yasogami like a bat out of hell, and got on the first train to Port Island. He just didn't feel like spending his free time in Inaba this weekend, he wanted the big city experience.

So upon arriving the first thing he did, after letting his folks know he'd be crashing there for the night, was hit up the Karaoke Bar at Paulownia Mall. He even managed to belt out a few songs before being nudged aside by several groups of high schoolers arriving at once. You can't swing solo against those odds. So he exits the karaoke parlor, hands in his pockets, and nearly slips as he finishes walking down the steps. He bends down to pick up the offending object which nearly sent him flying. A pink coloring pencil? With a shrug he slips it in his pocket, and turns to head to the mall's exit when the power seems to fluctuate. Fumiya casts his gaze towards the ceiling, adjusting his sunglasses with his finger. He just left the Karaoke parlor, so he doesn't immediately notice the ringing.

Lucky for everyone involved he doesn't immediately notice Azusa either. He'd be making for the exit /much/ faster otherwise.

Once again, the Rival Blazing Arcana Fighters IV machines in the Game Panic arcade knew their master. None had been able to dethrone the initials of S.H. from the top score rankings, and no challenger had ever been able to topple that lofty pinnacle.

Feeling rather pleased with herself, Shiori strolled towards the food court. All that excitement had left her a little peckish; a snack might be in order.

The weird ringing sound did make her stop. Shiori often heard odd things, many of them due to the sound-based nature of her Persona, spotter-type. This... kind of felt like it, but not really.


Well, Port Island seemed to be full of Persona-users, and Shadow-Possessed as well if what Azusa said was true. As long as they didn't actually try to blow up the mall or something, Shiori would probably be willing to let them be.

"Magnusson-san let me borrow some money until I got it changed over..." Farah says, chasing down her purple colored pencil past the Game Panic arcade. She spots, a bit further down, Fumiya picking up her pink one. She blinks at his outfit for a few minutes, covering her eyes. Owww, the neon, it hurts. She looks back at Shiori as she bends down next to her to get a black one. "My apologies." She says with a hasty bow.

The annoying ringing in her ear makes her pause, rubbing it slightly, shaking her head as she hobbles after Fumiya. "My pink pencil ..." She says, hastily, not well aware of his gender, otherwise she'd probably let him /keep it/.

"... Magnusson-san? Tom Magnusson-san you mean?" Says Azusa as she follows Farah. Of course she hadn't expected what she saw next. Fumiya -and- Shiori! She remember the former from that time when she blew him off that oni's bike and the latter was an ally. Wasn't she?

The sound of an annoying ringing then catches her attention and leads it away from Farah. The sudden dimming of the light alongside it makes her raise an eyebrow. "Are you hearing that as well Newman-san...?"

She looks around the mall, but can't really see a source for the strange events, but then again maybe she's just being paranoid? It wouldn't be the first time she was, but given the events so far, could anyone really blame her?

Shiori said it.

The floor in the middle of the plaza bursts open. It explodes upward under a fountain. It's all Shiori's fault for tempting fate. Fate sits in the food court when the screaming begins. It takes people a few seconds, and then the ringing is in both ears. Kandori can feel the emotions of those in the mall, through his connection with the Great Deceiving Beast Of A Thousand Faces, and he feels their happiness, their optimism, their embarassment and their concern. Then he feels their fear.

The explosion is more noise than force, no one will be knocked over by this unless they are exceedingly clumsy.

But the explosion has left nothing in its wake, except - now, the sound of heavy breathing can be heard RIGHT BEHIND every person in the mall. The doors slam shut, locking anyone inside inside with a strange impermeable energy field.

And the breathing goes on as the fountain smokes and lies in two pieces. There are two huge footprints in the middle of the fountain's spreading water pool.

A beat.

Panic ensues.

Fumiya is about ready to walk away with said coloring pencil until Farah starts to catch up to him. Fumiya will not commit Grand Theft Crayola todaay, it seems. "Oh is it yours, babe?" Fumiya asks, turning around. He says this before getting a look at Farah, but he can tell it's a chick's voice so that's good enough for him. "Hey sorry, the darn thing nearly made me slip at the foot of the stairs there, I was just gonna toss it in the trash." This excuse might work better if he didn't pass a trash bin between here and there.

Any further excuses on his end are immediately cut short by the blast from the center of the mall. Fumiya yelps in surprise along with most of the people here. As he is lacking any supernatural powers right now he sees as much as the average civilian does. It takes a few moments before his knowledge of the supernatural returns to his mind, and he starts to suspect that he got caught in the middle of one of these crazy Shadow things. So is Fumiya /on the case/ like any good wannabe Scoobie would be?

Heeeeellll no. He's looking for the nearest exit like the rest of the frantic shoppers. Every man for himself!

Shiori blinked at Farah, as she tried to remember where she had seen the other woman before. "It's no problem, er..."

And /then/ Farah's companion registered in her vision.

"Shimegi-san-" Shiori clapped her hands over her mouth. "I mean, er, Satoh-san? What are you doing here- no, wait, that's probably not right, it's just a shopping trip. Er. Wait. I-I need to think about this. I'm sorry, I-"


"Oh no," Shiori muttered. Please, Fumiya, please, /please/ don't hit on Azusa, it will only end in tears and blood, quite possibly tears of blood...

The explosion under the mall was almost a welcome distraction, although Shiori very quickly squashed that thought for being horrible and uncharitable. Shiori easily kept her balance, only to immediately wish she had gotten knocked out or something, as the sound of heavy breathing RIGHT BEHIND HER made her flesh creep, and the doors around the mall slammed shut.

"Oh /no/."

"Don't call me babe!" Farah trills, cheeks flushed red. "Magnusson-san would be mad, I'm his!" She then claps a hand over her mouth at that admission. Then there's a /explosion/. Already. On day three of being in Japan. Farah closes her eyes. Looks up at the ceiling of the mall. "..." And curses rather fluently and inventively in Arabic. Does Shiori get it yet?

Farah takes her pink colored pencil, backing away from the mass mob to the doors and exits, backing away from the amount of men and people crowding her. She's starting to panic, herself, hands gripping and then releasing the hard grip on her pencil.

This was certainly not exactly what she had expected today. She was already starting to miss the soothing aura of the shrine as this just seemed to agitate her. It didn't frighten her as one might expect, but then again after she'd been attacked so many times, it'd a little bit more than this to make her afraid.

"What the...? What is going on here?" Says she as she notices the people around her starting to panic. The sound of something breathing behind her didn't really help that much either. There had also been the sound of something exploding, but she hadn't been looking that way before after the fact. This situation was, to put it mildly, rather confusing.

"Hibiki-san? What is going on?" For some reason her thoughts drifted to the Dark Hour. Given this was port island, it was perhaps a bit too easy to lay the blame on that phenomenon. Then again it was fairly obvious that this couldn't be that. For one people hadn't turned into coffins...

The doors are covered in confused young men with hero repelling powers. Seriously, play Persona 1, this happens.

Takahisa Kandori is positioned in the cafe, and he is not panicking. But he's been cloaked by his Friend. Said friend is very busy building a shadow entity. Shadows are to the Haunter what normal humans are to gods. The being is not specialized, it has one thing going for it - power over life and death, creation and destructions. The breathing suddenly stops as phase three begins.

The mall is shrinking. If people are running away, or if they are standing their ground, the plaza in the middle of the mall is getting closer and closer to them - as if the whole mall were collapsing toward a specific event horizon with the footprints in the water at the centre. Everyone's shoes will be damp before long.

Kandori looks down the length of the mall, smiling and tracing one finger over his mouth. He activates his phone's video record function, and focuses it on the middle of the area. Only Kandori isn't being pulled in. In fact, from close to the middle of the mall, it is impossible to see him.

It's impossible to see a lot of things. For example:

Now, no one can be seen except the self. Each person sees none of the others, nor hears them, nor perceives them in tactile fashion. And the middle of the mall, with those massive feet in the water, with the broken fountain, with the breathing renewed- just gets nearer.

The exit! Sweet beautiful exit! Oh how Fumiya loves those doors more than ever right now! He loves their texture, he loves their color, and he loves how they're running away from him. Wait... wait no, that's not right. Doors don't get farther away as you run towards them, what is this? Bizarro land?

Fumiya's attempts to gain traction and close the distance to the doors ultimately prove futile he instead opts to try moving away from the fountain with the ominous giant footprints in it. This also proves to be a waste of his time and energy, but it certainly doesn't stop him from keeping it up. He's being drawn into the center of the mall like it were some kind of sucky black hole. You know, like white rappers.

A strained, desperate yelp escapes Fumiya's mouth, but luckly by this point he's been deposited in what appears to be his own little pocket reality and no one heard it. Except for maybe the puppet master if he's keeping tabs on such things, and if so he can feel free to get a chuckle out of it.

"Oh man..." He says to himself. "...oh man..." He repeats. And for good measure, "Oh man... oh man..." With the 'oh mans' out of his system he turns his attention to that horrid breathing sensation and gets a chill down his spine. He is /so/ not ready to fight monsters yet.

"I have /no idea/, Shimegi-san," Shiori replied to Azusa, too distracted to remember using the false name. The mention of Tom finally triggered the necessary memory of where Shiori had seen Farah before. However, it wasn't like Shiori could tell Farah that she had seen her face in a photograph in a police station inside a television dimension.

"Please don't panic, this sort of thing is... um, I suppose it's not normal. It's definitely not normal. But, er, it's not the first time we've had something like this happen, although generally not in broad daylight like this, or figuratively broad daylight..."

The world disappeared.

Shiori stared blankly for a moment, before realizing that the world was (probably) still around; the /people/ disappeared. Well, Shiori was already pretty sure that this was all some spooky supernatural thing...

... except it didn't /feel/ like any of the spooky supernatural stuff she had encountered before. Not a Persona, not a Shadow. Not a monster doppelganger, not a forgotten god, not a ghost...

Come to think of it, Shiori had encountered a /lot/ of spooky supernatural stuff since she moved to Port Island. This was just one more to add to the list, assuming she survived long enough to find out what it was.

"Hallo? Anyone? Shimegi-san? Watanabe-san? Uh, Tom-san's friend? Is anyone there... can anyone hear me?"

Shiori tried to stay away from the set of footprints where the fountain used to be, but it looked like this weird dimension which she had been stuck inside (after the Dark Hour and the TV World, this was not an unreasonable assumption) was not letting her do so. It was more than a little unnerving to see the footprints appear before the being responsible could fill them in.

Shiori's hand remained near her Evoker pouch. Now if only that incredibly distracting /breathing/ would let up for a while.

"Um ... well ..." Farah stutters. She falls quiet as reality warps, and she's now alone. Oh god. Oh god. Oh dear. Where'd Shiori go? At that, Farah really really wished Tom-san was here. "This is not normal." She repeats to herself. Her grip on her coloring pencils makes her knuckles white, even as she backs up towards a window to a shop in the 'mall'.

The feeling of someone breathing down her neck, even with her back against a wall, does not do anything good for her either. Jumpy Farah is Jumpy, and Nervous Farah has Panic Attacks.

"If you're talking about that phenomenon that happens after midnight, I'm well aware of it. I've seen it already." Replies Azusa to Shiori. She doesn't comment on the fact that she uses her real name though. Then something happens...

Everyone had suddenly disappeared into the thin air! This didn't seem to make a whole lot of sense, not even to her. Another strange phenomenon in Port Island was however not surprising in the slightest. This was however starting to get pretty damn creepy.

"Hibiki-san? Newman-san? Can any of you hear me?" Azusa yells out, but receives no reply. That wasn't the strangest thing though. Why did it look like she was getting closer to the center despite going the other way? Weird just didn't seem strong enough to cover this.

Abruptly, the breathing stops. Then, the footprints fill themselves in. This is odd because what appears does not, in an accepted sense, have feet. It's cloaked. It's massive, some twenty feet in height. It has a skull for a face, and a scythe slung across its back. It has a sword at its waist. Each person would think they were standing against this alone, if they were to look around and use just their vision. Everyone receives a slightly different vision of the entity. For example, while Azusa and Farah would see the standard issue reaper in a black cloak with sword and scythe, Fumiya would just see what looks like a simple zombie. It grunts and shambles in a circle, nonthreatening. Either the Haunter in Darkness has made up its mind that he's not good enough to try and cope with a full on reaper and give Kandori information, or the fates are smiling on Fumiya. He can handle one zombie, right?

Shiori sees something like the truth. Nothing can penetrate the shroud protecting Kandori's true identity, save a few limited things or cunning policework - but Shiori does not see a full size reaper. Instead, she observes (under the ghostly shadow of the original form), a narrow, blade-straight warrior with a sword at his belt, a scythe over his back, and a cowl of darkness surrounding him. Shiori can see the truth clearer than the others, and she might be even less happy because whatever this is, it doesn't register as a shadow. It DOES have a power level of over 8000 though.

Then the "isolation" fades, and those who know each other can see each other. Except Fumiya. He's in a room - with a zombie.

The only thing keeping Fumiya from totally losing his mind is everything he has learned about the supernatural so far. Granted it's not very MUCH, but it's surprising what the human mind can cope with when it can attatch a tangible explanation on unreal events. Of course this doesn't help him with his immediate problem: He's never gone ghost-busting before.

Fumiya keeps his fists clenched in order to keep his hands from shaking too much. As the apparition begins to take form his eyes dart around looking for the exits, even though he has a sneaking suspicion it won't do him any good. And then... /and then/....


Fumiya stares at the shambling cadaver for a few moments, turning his head slightly like a bird trying to get a better look at something. This... this seems managable. Maybe? Surely he can take down one zombie. It's not even a ghost! It's just a zombie. Something he can smack with his own two fists. Well, if he's going to do this he's going to do this right.

Fumiya pulls his earbuds out of his pocket, and mashes play on his walkman. Conveniently it's on the proper track and everything! Tapping his foot he tilts his head while keeping his gaze on the zombie. And he twitches.

//It's after midnight, and something evil's lurking in the daaaaark...//

On the one hand, big scary reaper, looking quite grim.

On the other hand, there was /something/ under that image (illusion? But things that were illusive could still hurt you, as the Shadows proved), and it was perhaps even more scary in its more human-like form than any classical reaper could be.

Shiori backed away as much as she could, which was, unfortunately, not very far. Through the mists of terror, she registered the return of Azusa and Farah. And, to her mild consternation, nobody else.

"Um. Hallo again, Shimegi-san. Tom-san's friend. Um. Does anyone know what happened to Watanabe-san? And, er..." Swallow. "Does anyone know how we can get away from this thing?"

For some reason, Shiori had not drawn her Evoker yet. Could it be Farah's presence? Can't let mundanes see you shooting yourself in the head, after all.

(But if Farah was here, facing the reaper thing, /was/ she mundane? And didn't Shiori summon her Persona before without using her Evoker?)

Goosebumps scatter across her dark skin. Farahs' hands go from her pencil, which she sticks behind one ear, to a long scar on one arm, stroking it. Her eyes are on the reaper with sword and scythe, body tensed. Before she was a deer about to flee. Now she's a momma bear whose cubs have been threatened.

She's no mundane. But she won't be the first to evoke her Persona, although her eyes are dark, gaze fixed on him as she looks back at Shiori. "I'm Farah." She says, softly. "Farah Newman." Her eyes go back to the Reaper. She hisses a soft word.


What is that thing? A shadow? Or someone shadow-possessed? The latter was the most likely given the shadows couldn't venture outside of the dark hour, but she could of course be wrong about that given that no one bothered explaining these things to her.

The creatures form reminds her of the grim reaper. A popular creature in fiction and used as the personification of death if she remembered correctly. Granted it normally just had a scyte and not a scythe plus a sword. Guess this one belonged in the overkill cathegory.

"Huh the grim reaper? Never seen a shadow like that before." Says she to herself as her body begins to twist and alter it's shape until it becomes nothing but air. The air that her body now consists of, has a sickly green and black colour, making her fairly easy to see. Her eyes have become serpentine and her body is now more sleek than it normally is. The miko outfit she was wearing seems to have remained on this form of hers, though it is part of her form as it were.

Then suddenly the illusion that was separating them finally vanishes and she can see the others again. Where was that Fumiya though? Ah well he was probably not important anyway.

"Sorry can't help there Hibiki-san." Replies Azusa in her now somewhat ethereal voice. It seems that this form of hers doesn't really allow for a normal human voice. "And knowing my luck, we'll have to destroy it."

"Huh so you know what a shadow is huh? Interesting." Azusa turns her gaze towards Farah for a few seconds, but quickly turns it back towards the grim reaper.

The zombie turns to face Fumiya, and its head begins to bob. It lets out the long feeding groan of the undead and waves its arms from side to side. Its eyes are as empty as its soul, but its feet had rhythym once. The gauntlet has been cast.

The zombie exists in its own world with Fumiya, and slowly, it changes. In response to his confidence, it grows more assured. Bone and sinew knit back together, it morphs, and then, suddenly, rolling on the tips of its toes, it spins around and extends its arms full length, snapping its fingers. It's taking on something of Fumiya's personality and Kandori's influencing flamboyance.

Kandori is no longer seated at his table reading the paper - where he really is is probably nebulous.

Shiori gets given a nod by the swordsman, who knows he can be seen. He neither draws his blade nor advances. In a swordsman made of darkness, a too-white smile is the only sign of mood - and this one's mood is expressed in a sarcastic smirk and tilt of the head.

The reaper confronting Azusa and Farah laughs harshly. "Shadows are mere inferior darknesses, parts of the greater whole but failures nonetheless. I am the darkness which needs no light to define itself. And you will die as - in a thousand other dimensions, others die right now. You can see your friends, but no one else. They are..."

The creature pauses, and the lights dim further. "Delicious." It licks its lips, an odd thing for a skull to do.

Shiori, despite being able to see the other two, does not hear this, and instead hears the swordsman speak in a rich, mellow, charming voice: "Well then? Let us see what you have to come to your aid."

Oho. The zombie dances. Fumiya is, actually, quite surprised. He never really expected this to work, but he's not about to look a gift horse in the mouth. And he's certainly not about to let himself be out-danced by a zombie. Even if it's becoming gradually more awesome.

Fumiya spins in unison with the zombie, because these things /need/ to be coordinated, and finishes with a double-snap of his own. With his foot still tapping, he takes a few steps forward and does a zombie-shake. He's trying to go by the video as much as he can. While he has it all but memorized, his memory is still a little unreliable due to the unshakable primal fear of 'oh crap shadows zombies chaos AAAHHHH' still echoing in his mind.

For a kid nearly scared out of his wits, he's putting on a pretty good Thriller, all things considered. But is the zombie up to the task? Or, at the very least, will he be distracted long enough for Fumiya to either take it out, figure out a way to escape, or wait it out?

It talked?

Well, it looked humanoid, and in Shiori's experience, the more humanoid Shadows tended to be fairly intelligent. They also tended to be really, really painful, which was something Shiori did not wish to think about right now.

"C-can we talk about this, please? Um, I, er, I don't have anything you could want, and neither do any of us, so if you could just let us go..." That never worked, but it was always worth a try. Ever the eternal optimist, Shiori Hibiki.

What Shiori had to come to her aid... did it mean her Persona? It probably didn't mean the rest of SEES, what with the doors being shut and the entire place shifted to another dimension. Shiori did not want to give it the satisfaction of getting what it wanted, but she could not see any other choice in the matter.

"Uh." Shiori glanced at her companions. "Fight or run?"

"You are not the Shadow of the Darkness, but the Darkness itself." Farah says. She moves slowly, every step painful because of old injuries. She is moving towards Shiori, no card, no Evoker. She gives a look at Azusa. "Shadowed, like her." A look back at at Shiori. "I can't promise I can help either way." She warns, her eyes darkening.

"Where is the other boy? We can't leave without him..." As much as Farah really, really dislikes men, she can't leave someone behind - she really can't. She's shivering slightly, brows furrowed.

Darkness? So it's something otherwordly then. Perhaps like that Philemon from her dream? Yeah she still remembered that bit, but nah he couldn't be the same as this thing. It wasn't important anyway. The creatures remark felt oddly insulting somehow though.

"Say what you want. This shadow will send you back from whence you came." Azusa raises her hand and the air around her body begins to swirl violently. "You'll find that ending me is anything but easy." A confidence she'd earned the right to have by now. After all she's survived shadows, insane psycho sniper ladies, persona summoners and other shadow-possessed.

"I'd say the answer to your question would be to fight Hibiki-san." Replies Azusa when she hears Shiori's question. "Unless you can open the doors somehow, I doubt we have any other choice."

"If you need time to check it out then allow me to do something about it Shiori." The sharp violent wind that's been building up around her now suddenly shoots straight towards the strange reaper. Azusa then quickly positions herself between it and the others. She doesn't care what this thing is. She won't let it hurt them.

COMBAT: Azusa Shimegi misses Takahisa Kandori with her Garula attack.

"Every moment you delay will make you weaker.", says the ethereal swordsman Shiori is confronting. The vision of the reaper over it vanishes, visible only to Farah and Azusa now. The swordsman, alone, places a hand on its weapon. "We can wait forever. We HAVE waited forever. But every moment I yet live, more of the others in this place will die... and then, rising from below the swordsman, come the sounds of those who CANNOT be seen, the other inhabitants of the mall shifted one dimension over. Screaming. The swordsman's non-sword-hand (the sword hand being on the sheathed hilt) rises and shoots a dark wave at just Shiori. The other two would see this as a blast from the Reaper's scythe, which has been drawn.

Farah goes ignored for the moment, perhaps out of her DESIRE to be ignored, it seems the scenery here is psychotrophic and knows what is expected of it. The air is getting darker, graves are shooting up from the ground, ice is covering the doors.

Then Azusa. The wind fires, but it washes uselessly over the reaper, robe re-knitting itself after being torn by winds. Then it raises the scythe and makes a single slashing swing calculated to hit the shadowed entity which shot the windy bloom of power.


The zombie looks at Fumiya and opens its mouth. What comes out is not a groan. "Wut you dancing so crazy for?" says a cold groaning voice. A diamond appears above its head. The diamond has four motes of color at the corners - red, blue, yellow, orange. It becomes a little bit more red. EGO BATTLE, GO.

COMBAT: Takahisa Kandori hits Azusa Shimegi with his Slash Attack - Sword attack.
COMBAT: Takahisa Kandori hits Shiori Hibiki with his Shibaboo attack.

Shiori shut her eyes tightly for a moment, hands over her ears, as the screams from the other ("real"?) dimension entered theirs. Even the mystical attack, making Shiori's limbs feel heavier and sluggish, passed almost unnoticed compared to that.

With a small cry, Shiori forced herself to face reality once more.

"You don't /have/ to do this!" she shouted. "They've done /nothing/ to you, and they have /nothing/ you want! Leave them alone, and face us instead!"

Azusa missed her wind attack, and Shiori blinked. Wait, could it be... "There's /something else/ under the illusion of the reaper," Shiori informed them. "That's the real target! I can guide you to it!"

COMBAT: Shiori Hibiki hits Shiori Hibiki with her Listen To Me attack.
COMBAT: Shiori Hibiki has been healed.
COMBAT: Shiori Hibiki hits Azusa Shimegi with her Listen To Me attack.
COMBAT: Azusa Shimegi has been healed.
COMBAT: The Luck Up status effect has been added to Azusa Shimegi.
COMBAT: Shiori Hibiki hits Farah Newman with her Listen To Me attack.
COMBAT: Farah Newman has been healed.

Meanwhile at the REAL scene indeed!

Fumiya is more than a little surprised that the zombie spoke. Rather, that it spoke any other word besides 'brains', because 'brains' just seemed to be the only vocabulary that zombies knew, from his experience anyway! Not that he's ever seen a real zombie before, but he's seen a lot of movies.

He tries to compose himself as quickly as he can, as not to lose face in front of the.. er.. zombie. "Me? What are you dancing so lame for?" To illustrate his point Fumiya engages in an entirely exaggerated take on the Thriller Dance, most of which looks like he's just flailing his limbs but this is due to him still ironing out his nerves. The whole zombie speaking thing threw him for another loop.

"Listen zombie-bro, if you're gonna be a zombie and dance there's only one way to do it. You got me?"

I art thou. Thou art I. Not to rip off, it's as true as it can get. Farah is seriously annoyed at this point. She hears' what Shiori says, even as she approaches the healer. "Thanks!" She says, gritting her teeth. Lets' make it more expensive to play, here, huh? "What said he?" She whispers to herself. Next to her, through sheer willpower alone, appears a young maiden, in dripping wet, white clothes, seaweed over herself.

"Don't you know it's foolish?" Farah asks. Ophelia floats there briefly. Farahs' words are echoed in the watery whisper of the Persona, assaulting the 'reapers' ears with the mystical whisper.

COMBAT: Farah Newman hits Takahisa Kandori with her Foolish Whisper attack.
COMBAT: The Magic Cost Up status effect has been added to Takahisa Kandori.

Azusa doesn't dodge the attack in time, but fortunately for her it simply goes straight through and at first she believes it won't harm her. However it seems the 'reaper' has decided to prove her wrong as just a few seconds after the scythe has passed through, a sharp pain grips her body. It seems that there are to this thing that what the eyes tell.

Somewhere deep in her inner darkness, the real shadow of her soul yearns to be released, to not be constrained by the fake appearance it's taken on. For now however it seems to remain at that.

"Hm that didn't work, but this most certainly will..." Mumbles Azusa to herself and lifts her right hand up in the air, causing the air around it to spin and be sent out towards Farah and Shiori, empowering their speed.

COMBAT: Azusa Shimegi hits Shiori Hibiki with her Masukukaja attack.
COMBAT: Shiori Hibiki has been healed.
COMBAT: Azusa Shimegi hits Azusa Shimegi with her Masukukaja attack.
COMBAT: Azusa Shimegi has been healed.
COMBAT: Azusa Shimegi hits Farah Newman with her Masukukaja attack.
COMBAT: Farah Newman has been healed.

Fumiya used PERSUADE - Zombie Eager up.

"So you can show me how to do it?" The zombie says, gnashing its teeth. Then: "Well, okay, but can I have a taste? Just a little taste of your essence?" It gnashes more hungrily and moves up closer. The yellow part of the gem's glow is now as large as the red part. Apparently it wants something of Fumiya. It becomes stronger-looking, groaning and knitting more sinew. Its clothes are in a better state of repair now too. What's going on here?


Then comes Shiori's Guidance. A creature born of darkness knows that lighting the way is bad. Watching closely, the creature that is the swordsman shakes its head. "Couldn't leave well enough alone? Very well. You will all burn together. For opposing a GOD!" And the blade is drawn.

While only Shiori would see it, she'd see a lot. The blade is not a silvery steel weapon, but a black hot burning flame with a metal hilt. It burns a line on the air, and looks deadly, but it is the ACT of drawing it which is most terrifying. The whole mall changes and shifts. The lights don't grow dimmer because there are no fluourescent lights any more - just candles, in lanterns. The walls are wood-panelled or made of logs in places, the floors are dirt and blood and sweat. The air is alive with the sound of ancient battle song from a dining hall nearby, and the clink of steel. This is an older time of war and bloodshed. And then, flames. Flames burn on the walls. It burns all the time here, Shiori might know.

Azusa and Farah would see the same, but it would seem to come as the reaper draws its rather larger blade, echoing the smaller, blade straight swordsman. The result is the same. The air tastes of rust, the darkness flares, and pain shoots through anyone unwary enough to be in the way of that darkness wave. This isn't good, and that's just from /drawing/ the sword.

COMBAT: Takahisa Kandori hits Shiori Hibiki with his Eternal Black attack.

COMBAT: Takahisa Kandori hits Azusa Shimegi with his Eternal Black attack.
COMBAT: Takahisa Kandori critically hits Farah Newman with his Eternal Black attack.
COMBAT: Takahisa Kandori hits Shiori Hibiki with his Massacre attack.
COMBAT: Takahisa Kandori misses Azusa Shimegi with his Massacre attack.
COMBAT: Takahisa Kandori misses Farah Newman with his Massacre attack.

"Hey whoa." Fumiya abruptly states as the zombie starts to shamble towards him. Though maybe shamble isn't the right word anymore, that thing is looking less and less zombie-esque. Fumiya quickly backs up a few paces, raising his hands defensively. He's not quite ready to try and clobber this zombie one yet, it needs to be distracted for him to have any chance. Here he was hoping the zombie would get caught up in an impromptu dance number. It's just another thing that works in the movies.

"You get nothing straight off, got it? You gotta earn your... whatever." He didn't like the sound of that word 'essence'. He didn't want the zombie to sample /anything/ of his. "You gotta satisfy me first, we'll see how well you can pull off the Thriller, got it?" Fumiya asks, hoping that it does indeed get it. Or at least gets enough of it to start being distracted again.

"First you want us to attack you, then you complain when we do," Shiori muttered under her breath.

The mere drawing of the sword caused... quite a lot of pain, actually. Shiori staggered as her surroundings changed into medieval times, the waves of darkness making her nauseous. And of course, the sharp pain of a blade slash. What /was/ it with people attacking her with slashing?

"Ugh..." Shiori supported herself against the wall. "This is... not good." She shook her head of wooziness. "Pheme! Aid us, heal us of our wounds!"

Shiori's Persona emerged, a winged woman dressed in robes, the upper half of her face shrouded in a thick veil, but her wings covered in peacock-like feathers with eyes that searched about, seeking to know everything, at every time. A cloud of whispers and murmurs surrounded the Persona, as she opened her mouth to sing a song that could not be heard, save in the soul.

COMBAT: Shiori Hibiki hits Shiori Hibiki with her Healing Wave attack.
COMBAT: Shiori Hibiki has been healed.
COMBAT: Shiori Hibiki hits Azusa Shimegi with her Healing Wave attack.
COMBAT: Azusa Shimegi has been healed.
COMBAT: Shiori Hibiki hits Farah Newman with her Healing Wave attack.
COMBAT: Farah Newman has been healed.

Congratulations Shiori, Azusa. You both just offically found out Farah's a Persona User and what her Persona is way ahead of Tom. Not that she really cares at this point, the taste of rust heavy in her mouth. Darkness waves - but Farah is darkness too. She is the moon that hangs in the night, the stars that twinkle the only thing that make her world right. Her shine of power is yet seen through, even as Farah grits her teeth.

"Ophelia! Aid me, make the world twist under his feet!" Farah turns slightly as the Persona claps her hands once, the earth rumbling underneath the feet of the 'reaper'. Ophelia died in the earth, and both she and Farah have their souls buried in it! Farah herself is silent.

COMBAT: Farah Newman critically hits Takahisa Kandori with her Terazi attack.

Eventually her shadowy air form is utterly torn apart from the inside and Azusa emerges in her true form. The form known as Meroe the lamia. Unlike the other form, it appears to be just as fleshy as a human. Instead of legs, there is a 25-30 feet long tail covered in green and black scales. The black scales in particular seems to form some sort of runic and symmetric pattern across the length of it. Her upper torso on the other hand seems to remain purely human. Her eyes are however still serpentine much like in that other form. The gentle warm breeze that before was only interrupted by a venomous breeze every now and then has changed completely. Now it's dark and sinister, carrying the scent of a serpent.

Azusa doesn't seem to have registered the pain from whatever it was that the reaper had done. It probably got lost when her other form erupted and she became who she really is.

Azusa lifts her left hand and aims the open palm towards the enemy. This time a much fiercer wind begins to swirl chaotically around her and as the others keeps it busy for a few moments, she allows the wind to build up before she finally sends it straight towards the big monster.

COMBAT: Azusa Shimegi hits Takahisa Kandori with her Garudyne attack.

The zombie rears up at that, the redness of the gem increasing. "WHAT! I may be rotten, but I'm a demon. We are superior to man. If you want my spell card, want my power? YOU BETTER DO WHAT I SAY. Now give me a bite." Flash. Flash. Flash.

The gem's red part is flashing now. The zombie advances on Fumiya with determination, but it isn't closing more than about six feet away. Spread arms, groaning, and it's bleeding now - a hole in its chest is bleeding darkness, making the floor near Fumiya and the zombie, as Fumiya fights alone in his brutal struggle, turn black.

"Oh, I want you to attack me, but I want you to do it ineffectively and fail. If you begin to succeed I will begin to kill you faster." The swordsman advances on Shiori, who can see its true visage. The two are in a world where only she can see the true position, though she can of course see the Reaper also if she wants to. The reaper spreads its cloak, revealing darkness and stars beneath. Out of this winking blackness comes a wave of something shimmering. THAT'S NO STARS! It's a space sword. Hundreds of swords shoot out of the black hole beneath that cloak, aimed for Farah and her Persona, and aimed for the shadow-formed Azusa. But they're weaker. In fact, they're far less aimed at the physical. These blades are a hellish and unparalelled force - designed to sever the links between Persona user and persona.

This is not aimed at Shiori though, because even as she fires off a healing wave, the Dark Swordsman is too close to not be hit by its own ally's attack. Having had a chance to study it, Shiori might have realized that the reaper isn't "not real", it's just less real than the swordsman it conceals. The winged woman is given a slight respectful (?) nod from the dark swordsman as he advances.

The blade-holder even falls back a little when a massive spike of earth hits the reaper, apparently they share pain. The reaper is rended by the rumbling spike. The wind from Azusa's morphed non-shadow form rends and tears, sending some of the darkness of the big reaper off into the dark. But still it floats there, ominous, firing swords and darkness until the wind passes, and the cloak falls.

Now, back at the swordsman: He raises the blade with a flourish representing supreme skill in blade use. And then, almost lazily and contemptuously, he executes a legendary maneuver. Dashing in low, he spins high with the blade held parallel to his body, trying to split both woman and persona from toe to head in a rising slash. The move known only as the

COMBAT: Takahisa Kandori hits Shiori Hibiki with his Wolf Fang attack.
COMBAT: Takahisa Kandori hits Azusa Shimegi with his Massacre attack.
COMBAT: Takahisa Kandori hits Farah Newman with his Massacre attack.

Somehow it did not surprise Shiori that Farah was also a Persona-user. It /did/ conjure up a minor flash of irritation, though: if Tom knew someone with a Persona back in England, then why did he bother asking Shiori all those questions, thus getting Shiori into all sorts of trouble with SEES?

At least Shiori hadn't taken out her Evoker yet. It was abundantly clear by now that she did not actually need it. (But why did she carry it around, then?)

Shiori tried not to make herself as much of a target as Azusa, which did not help much when the swordsman took advantage of their proximity to deliver a brutal slice. Pheme's mouth opened in a silent (oddly enough) scream, while Shiori's cry of pain was quite audible.

"/Always/ with the cutting," she whined, tears in her eyes. "/Why/?"

As though in response to Shiori's question, Pheme reached out, attempting to touch the swordsman, through the real-enough illusion of the reaper.

COMBAT: Shiori Hibiki hits Takahisa Kandori with her Spirit Drain attack.
COMBAT: Shiori Hibiki drains life from Takahisa Kandori with her Spirit Drain attack.

The zombie is becoming less and less agreeable. Fumiya bites his lower lip. This started out so well too, what with the dancing and... well just that really. This played out much differently in his head. He's probably just going to have to try and beat it. Though he's not keen on the idea of pummeling it with his fists just yet, especially since this thing seems to want to take a bite out of him. Fumiya is hesitant to just hand it his fists on a silver platter. But he doesn't have a dagger or any other kind of weapon.

Though.. did that thing just say it was rotten? As in not very durable?

Clutching something in his pocket, Fumiya decides to take a chance. "Alright gruesome, if you want a piece of me...." Putting pressure on one foot for just a moment, Fumiya springs forward, an object clutched in his right hand. Swinging his fist back he rams said object into the forehead of the zombie, specifically on that flashing red 'THIS IS MY WEAK SPOT' gem. At least that's what Fumiya is hoping it is. The object he used was Farah's pink coloring pencil. Not a powerful weapon by any means, but it's at least sharp(ish). Normally a pencil would need a hell of a lot of force to hope to do damage to a human skull, but Fumiya's putting his hopes in the whole 'rotten' thing.

Though he doesn't waste any time withdrawing his hand, he's not foolish. He abandons the pencil though, sorry Farah!

Farah frowns. Why does she have a feeling that somewhere in the Port Island-verse, someone used something she owned? She pauses, head in the air, then she sword comes out, and if there's anything that Farah truly hates, it is sword or knives, next to men. The cuts appear on the same spots on both Ophelia and Farah, Farah falling to her knees in pain, letting out a soft groan. She really is annoyed at this point. Like. Really annoyed, but also in a whole lot of pain.

"Oph...elia ...." She manages to gasp out. "... everyone ... dies..." Her Persona clearly understands, as the watery grave'd girl points at the illusion and true Persona underneath it. Rocks come out of nowhere, falling on him. Rocks fall, everyone dies. See? Teehee. Also, Um, Coma. Shiori. Just. Coma. ANd he doesn't know yet.

COMBAT: Farah Newman hits Takahisa Kandori with her Rock Fall attack.

Now that Azusa has access to Meroe's form, she has an excellent shield in the form of her tail and she doesn't hesitate to raise her tail to protect herself. Though it stings heavily, her tail blocking the attack in this manner is far better than her torso being hit by it.

The air around her now begins to swirl around her, forming a sort of miniature hurricane with her in the middle. The moving air gains a sickly green and black colour as it picks up in speed. Eventually it explodes in all directions, causing a poisonous cloud to lie itself thickly in the air.

COMBAT: Azusa Shimegi hits Takahisa Kandori with her Grand Miasma attack.

The zombie looks up, frowning. Then it reaches up and takes out the coloring pencil, which had sunk into its brain with a watery squish. It looks at Fumiya. It... smiles? "I ALWAYS WANTED ONE OF DESE! Tank you. I'll tell you a secret. Come closer."

The zombie, apparently not having registered Fumiya's actions as a threat, beckons the crazy dancing pencil stabber closer. His eyes sparkle. The gem has turned yellow in its entirety now. What could this be? A secret?!?

Farah's assault works quite well on the reaper. The blast of rock weakens it, making the area less hospitable and making it harder for the illusion to hold together. That by itself is not so bad, but the Reaper appears to take exception. It tilts its head to one side and says "Burn, then." in a voice like the death of universes. It parts its cloak once more, and sends flames coruscating over the floor in jets toward Farah and Azusa. But then Azusa has something to say about this. Poison covers the thing. Just like when Shirou used poison on the Haunter In Darkness, it seems to react badly. Death has trouble with a bit TOO MUCH poison, so extra is not good. It roils and burns, but does not fall, sending more flame out.


The swordsman is touched, and sighs. It seems to be a sigh of pleasure or elation. The touch hurts, but the swordsman leans into it, making sure that Pheme gets as much energy as possible. Then... when Pheme tries to take her hand away, the swordsman tries to hold it to him, forcing the Persona to absorb MORE of his energy. "Careful what you wish for, girl." He's forcing more and more energy into the persona, and if that works - well, some parts may be toxic. The essence of darkness would flow into the persona and assert one word with all their might via the drained energy: Die. This might be more than they bargained for, if Pheme doesn't stop her drain quickly. But still, the swordsman has a large dripping wound now.

COMBAT: Takahisa Kandori hits Azusa Shimegi with his Maragion attack.
COMBAT: Takahisa Kandori hits Farah Newman with his Maragion attack.
COMBAT: Takahisa Kandori misses Shiori Hibiki with his Deathtika attack.

Fortunately, Pheme was a lot more competent at this sort of thing than her user, and with a flap of her wings, she managed to break free of the swordsman's grasp. Shiori quickly put some distance between the swordsman and herself, trying not to stagger from her wounds.

"Who /are/ you?" she asked, an odd undercurrent in her voice. "What do you /want/?"

COMBAT: Shiori Hibiki hits Takahisa Kandori with her Full Analysis attack.

Damn. In his hurry to try and take the zombie out, Fumiya forgot that most undead things don't exactly need their own brains all that much. Maybe the zombie needs to be decapitated, but Fumiya doesn't have the tools for that. Nor the stomach, really.

He's about ready to dive into Plan B: Massive Pummeling, when the zombie startles him yet again by not being at all upset at being stabbed in the head. Fumiya notes the shift in color in the gem, information that would probably mean a lot more to him if he knew what to expect from each color. He's relieved, at least, it's not red since red is almost always a bad color for anything to glow. Fumiya's eyes narrow, and he slowly inches towards the zombie, but stopping short before even getting in arm's reach.

"Ain't no one else around, zombie-bro. I can't get much closer anyway, uh, sensitive hearing. It's like the opposite of going deaf, I hear stuff too loudly. So you can say it from there just fine." That's about as blatant a lie as he's ever told, but it was the best he could think of.

Fire does not hurt that badly, but it still makes the dripping-wet Ophelia flinch. Farah flinches alongside her, struggling with her control to keep the personae link opened, struggling with her own willpower. He's dealt with earth spikes. He's had rocks fall on top of him, and he's still not dead. Farah staggers to her feet, throat crisped. Her gaze goes to the being there.

"Rocks fall. Spikes come. Earth stands. Power is." She looks at Ophelia. The earth rumbles, even as spikes appear from the floor, an earthquake centers on the being, and rocks fall on his head.

COMBAT: Farah Newman hits Takahisa Kandori with her Teradyne attack.

The fire based spell doesn't seem to harm Azusa. Infact she seems to rather enjoy the extra heat. After all lamia are serpent demonesses. Heat is something they enjoy quite a bit. It's cold that's anathema to them.

"You'll have to do better than fire." Says Azusa as she prepares a spell of her own. Once again, the air around her begins to swirl violently and much like before, she unleashes it straight on her foe.

COMBAT: Azusa Shimegi misses Takahisa Kandori with her Garudyne attack.

The zombie cocks its head. "What are you talking about? They're all around you. Bleeding, screaming. You can't see them? You're standing in one of them." It smiles that yellow grin at Fumiya. "Alright, I'll come closer...." With surprising speed, it's standing next to the dancing crazy guy, and the zombie says, in a raspy voice: "This is the story - of how I died.

It happened... in East Inaba." The zombie goes on, tears of blood falling from its eyes. "That was my birthplace and I grew up there. It's where I'd run and play. But then one day I got in a fight, and then kidnappers carted me off at night. I wound up here, around seven or eight and-"

Then it tries to bite Fumiya's head off. SPOONY ZOMBIES.


Shiori manages to get a good look underneath. But due to the energy her Persona grabbed, it's not a look at a face, it's a look at a whole person.

An intellect, massive, comprehensive, cunning, without emotion or fear or reservation. A mind capable of great or terrible things, which has not ever adopted conventional social mores. A darkness, nudging it. The edge of a blade, hours spent training, days, weeks, months, years. The edge of a word, the power of the right word in the right place. A cunning, sharklike perception of the world, a hedonistic desire to toss off one's clothes and run screaming naked into the woods. All of this manifests itself in that vision, a flash of images, scent, sound, taste, sensation. All at once. Then it's gone. In that moment at least, Shiori sees the whole of the thing. Then its energies try to escape, a reprise of what happened a moment ago, but in reverse.

Back at the illusionary reaper. The creature is hit by Farah's declarative earthen assault. Rock staples the thing in place, and it squirms. But it lucks out, because the winds that come break the rocks without hurting the reaper. IT swirls up, and then speaks in a voice like a death rattle to Farah and Azusa: "You humans and your hubris. Incarnate with such power, you plumb the depths, soar the skies, bridge distance with devices and artifice and word and deed. You ignore time. Well, time's devices present their bill."

No one in the modern world can totally avoid microwaves, cell phones, airplans, and other devices which give out tiny amounts of radiation. This radiation is largely able to pass unnoticed precisely because it is so miniscule. The reaper waves his hand, and the energies get very excited very quickly - trying to tear themselves out of persona and handler alike in both cases with atomic force. Cancer strike for the win?

COMBAT: Takahisa Kandori misses Shiori Hibiki with his Deathtika attack.
COMBAT: Takahisa Kandori hits Azusa Shimegi with his Megido attack.
COMBAT: Takahisa Kandori misses Farah Newman with his Megido attack.

Shiori blinked, as the rush of images and concept and thoughts flowed into her from the power of her Persona.

"All I wanted was a name," she mumbled. "Maybe that's not what that ability is for, since that /never/ works."

Pheme flapped her wings once again, apparently apropos of nothing. The sudden movement made Shiori stumble, distracting her from the second attempt for the swordsman-reaper to inflict DEATH upon her.

Shiori tried to concentrate. First things first: help the others.

"Hang in there!"

COMBAT: Shiori Hibiki hits Shiori Hibiki with her Healing Wave attack.
COMBAT: Shiori Hibiki hits Azusa Shimegi with her Healing Wave attack.
COMBAT: Shiori Hibiki hits Farah Newman with her Healing Wave attack.

Farah smiles at Ophelia. Ophelia smiles back. Radiation? What is that? For some reason, they aren't exactly effected by the radiation-based attack. However, it's time to bring out her final big gun of the night. Farah draws a paintbrush from somewhere. One that has been used. Yellow paint is dried on it. She starts literally painting the air. What she paints, Ophelia takes, and forces it through in an attack.

The glow of the yellow sun, mixed with the brightness of the moon. There is a pause as Farah creates her own reality. The reality where the sun and moon are together, forever. Where there aren't crazy Shadowy-Persona things trying to kill her and her 'friends'. Where, indeed, there is silence, and peace. Farah forces her angry emotions, her depression through it, causing a mind-melting distraction attack. Hey, you. Don't pay attention to anyone else. Pay attention to the other person who can truly manipulate reality.

COMBAT: Farah Newman hits Takahisa Kandori with her Gate of Dreams attack.

The zombie's story is chilling. Let alone the way it just darted at Fumiya. The youth's posture straightens in surprise as the zombie starts to tell its tale. The fact that it was set in Inaba only made things worse, considering it's where Fumiya currently lives (and oddly misses dearly right now).

The fact that Fumiya was so wound up by the story is the only thing that saves him when the zombie goes to help himself to the buffet. The slightest movement would've made him jump. And jump he does, back a few feet away from the gnashing teeth. His heart racing, Fumiya begins to feel the fear that any normal person would after all this. It almost overtakes him entirely, if not for one thing that manages to drown it out.

(Calm down dammit! I know about this supernatural stuff, I can take it! I'm not going to prove Thora right by blowing this now. I'll show em all.) He repeats this thought to himself, cracking his knuckles to try and keep himself preoccupied while keeping an eye on the zombie. It may be a shambler, but it can move quickly when it wants to. But so can Fumiya, and right now the 80s kid is willing to bet on his own agility over the zombie's.

It's pretty much the only thing he has left at this point.

Clenching his fists he sizes the zombie up once more. With the fight or flight rush starting to kick in, Fumiya opts for 'fight', and dashes at the zombie letting the metal studs on his gloves leave their impression with a few swift punches; punches that stay very far from the zombie's mouth. Headshots won't matter if the zombie doesn't have a brain to work with anyway, so right now Fumiya tries to disable limbs or otherwise destroy its balance.

"Don't compare me to humans!" Hisses Azusa. She's long since stopped believing she's a human. Humans do not turn into monsters after all. She was one once, but not anymore.

The next attack is much worse than the fire spell. The fire spell wasn't very noticeable, but this on the other hand very much is. This one hurts like hell, but she still manages to stand strong.

"Don't worry about me Hibiki-san! Worry about yourself!" Replies Azusa to the younger girl. After all she can take care of herself without problems. It's the girl she's worried about.

Azusa opens her mouth and bares her fangs as she launches herself straight forward towards the enemy, using her tail as a springcoil of sorts. If she succeeds, she'll sink her fangs deep into it and drain it's strength.

COMBAT: Azusa Shimegi critically hits Takahisa Kandori with her Bloody Feast attack.

Fumiya hits only empty air. The zombie turns around and shambles away into the darkness. Suddenly, Fumiya can see everyone else in the mall. The reaper vanishes, the onslaught of Farah's attack effecting it in the process. It doesn't strike out, just dissipates. Somewhere, a camera phone gets the whole thing on tape. This is a remarkable camera, in that it can take accurate footage. The camera is stowed. Meanwhile, in plain sight, the swordsman nods, dripping blood and darkness from various wounds. Then, it fades into the floor. The fountain flows back together in a rising cloud of dust.

The fountain is restored. Farah, Azusa (who lashes the reaper illusion in half as it vanishes into bright oblivion before Farah's attack and watches Shiori healing her friends). The swordsman whips his sword through the air as he vanishes into the floor, and sheaths it.

The doors crack open, allowing people to leave, because - there are people.

The swordsman was bluffing, or lying, or something, because not only are all of the mall people back, they're unharmed. They comment on having lost about an hour of time, but people just explain it away as "being later than it was".

The air DOES still hold the taste of rust. But reality punched them back.

Two things remain. A small, folded envelope in invitation style is lying on the floor where the swordsman was, with Shiori's full name on it. And a card, with an image of a zombie on it that sparkles with power, lies at Fumiya's feet. Unfortunately, you need two cards to make a Persona. The card looks slightly rotten.

In the food court, Takahisa Kandori drinks his espresso and reviews footage of what must be an awesome action movie, on his cell phone.

Well that wasn't quite as expected, but then again this was Port Island. It was sort of par for the course or some such. However she was still in shadow form and people were reappearing. Crap.

Azusa quickly reverts back to her rather innocent Ritsuko Satoh self before anyone has a chance to get a good look. So much for buying snacks. This had not been a good idea at all.

Having no reason to stay, Azusa quickly sneaks away in the confusion. She didn't even bother to say goodbye, but then again considering how most people tended to react around her, she'd rather just get back to the shrine and start doing some regular work.

Shiori stared at the invitation envelope as though it was a snake.

And then perhaps remembering that Azusa was right beside her anyway, Shiori bent down to pick the envelope up.

She opened it. Read its contents.


"I knew that already," she muttered. Sub voce commentary appeared to be the primary way Shiori gave vent to her true feelings.

How had whoever it was known her name, anyway?

Shiori stuffed the envelope and note into her pockets, wincing noticeably. "We... probably should go somewhere else, Shimegi-san, Newman-san." She looked mournfully at her dress, now with slashes where none had been before. "Our injuries may be a little difficult to explain."

Best not to bleed all over the mall floor.

Take this you undead freeeeaaaaaaaaak! Yaaaaaaaaaah! Puncha-puncha-puncha!

Fumiya was overcome with too much of an adrenaline rush to notice the zombie shambling away from him. He was preoccupied with trying not to die in a horrible fashion. It's about the time reality reboots itself back to normal that he finally stops. Good thing too because everyone in the mall would've seen him punching the air like a lunatic.

As it stands, anyone would just see him with one fist extended, as if posting for cosplay picture or something.

With his racing heart slowing down, Fumiya nervously glances around him, seeing civilians back, and the other people who were present. The babe from earlier and Shiori, and some other chick he doesn't immediately recognize. Very slowly lowering his arms, as if he doesn't quite trust what he's seeing, he sighs and damn near falls to his knees. The only thing stopping him from doing that when he glances down is the sight of the zombie card.

He hesitates, but reaches down to pick it up. Rotten though it might be, he decides to pocket it. Maybe he can use this to get some answers from someone, somehow, someway. He's not really thinking straight.

So he turns to a bench and just plops down on it.

What's Tom doing at a mall? What shouldn't Tom be doing in the mall! It's a welcome reprieve after a morning of dodging the hell out of more social bullets than he could count. Of course, there's also something about sitting on a bench and watching as people just... -materialize- out of nothing that's just ten steps more than Tom is ready to call sane. Is this what it's like when people explode out of the dark hour?


Tom Squints.

That one there. Is that...? He rises, white as a sheet. The detective whips his coat off of his shoulders and rushes to the newly-back-in-reality group. Shiori, Neon Hair, snake and-- Farah!?

Oh God, please be okay!

Fumiya tries very hard not to be seen shaking because that's what /wusses/ would do. Though he's finding it more and more attractive to just leave the mall right now. He wanted to have a good night on the town, but after all that he thinks he'll just head back to his parent's place, maybe sleep in his little brother's room.

...because he has nightmares so often and Fumiya occasionally does that to make /him/ feel better, obviously.

Standing up to head to the exit he nearly walks into Farah. He manages to compose himself just enough to put on a smirk, and he shakes his head. "Zombie took it. Sorry." That's the most explanation she's going to get out of him since he's on his way out.

"Don't worry, Newman-san," Shiori said tiredly. Now that the battle was over, the adrenaline rush had faded, and Shiori was aching /all over/, to say nothing of the wounds from that sword. "Tom-san tends to turn up sooner or later. It is not difficult to see him."

She attempted to bow, succeeding only slightly. "Um. I forgot if I introduced myself earlier. I'm Shiori Hibiki, first-year at Gekkoukan High School. I, er, I'm acquainted with Tom-san." In the sense that Tom got her into trouble, got her into /even more/ trouble, gave her chocolates to make up for that trouble, and then Speedoed her. All of which was probably not a good idea to reveal to Farah right at this moment.

"... okay then." Farah says simply. Fumiya gets put in the Book of Men That May Be Ok. He's lagging behind Yoshiro though. The sad thing is, mostly, Farah is perfectly happy with that explanation - because at this point, zombies would be LESS EVIL THAN WHAT JUST HAPPENED. Even zombies dancing Thriller. Farah sticks her yellow-encrusted paintbrush back in a skirt pocket.

"A pleasure, Hibiki-san." Farah says, lightly. Tom got Farah into trouble. Tom is dating Farah, Tom knows every inch of scars on her, and Farah doesn't mind seeing tom in a Speedo. The last part would be an amusing reveal. "... he does, huh?" Not aware he's coming right her way, even as she wobbles, squinting at her knees. "Ow."