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 Post Posted: Thu May 16, 2013 3:56 pm 
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Lumina is almost at the door by the time Athena and the others appear in the classroom. "Please wait a moment Lumina." She casts a wide healing aura about the classroom, healing some of the more grievous wounds enough so everyone can move around under their own power; thought Serpico does so with much wincing and aches that promise a rough night to come.

"You all have enough Etherial Experience to upgrade your Shifts. Please meditate on it tonight as you rest... you may either charge your Shifts without guidance, letting your Shift decide what is best for it or you may guide how you wish it to grow. Letting your Shift decide will give it more power, but choosing how it grows may aid you more in the short run of things. The choice is yours, but know this..." She raises a finger, "From here on out, your Shift may open. It will eventually do so on it's own as it grows, but you may also attempt to trigger it. Here's the catch... you must be in battle, not a spar between students, but a real battle for the power of the Shift to be channeled and attempted."

She sits heavy at her desk, "I have much to write and a report to give to the Elders... please, get some rest. I'm giving you three days off to recover before we have a small ceremony for you all and send you off on your first full fledged Arbiter mission. I can't help but wonder if it'll be easier than your tests..." she rubs her forehead. "I will come by and see each of you in time, I'm sure you'd like to talk. For now, please rest." She looks at Lumina, "And please... leave any reports on Shin's antics to me. If you go and confront him, you'll only end up making him look more in the right to his higher ups." She opens her book and takes out a feathered quill, "I am very proud of you all. You have overcome trials that even experienced Arbiters would falter at. I will expect much of you in the future. I rather hope you'll come visit my next new class and help me with lessons!"

((OOC - Now would be a fantastic time to describe what each of your dorms looks like! Feel free to embellish all you like!!))

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 Post Posted: Thu May 16, 2013 4:16 pm 
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Alexis gives Athena a brief winged hug, for whatever reassurance he can offer. He looks over his Shift - in the shape of a sortof lump with two stretchers extruded from it, with Harmony and Serpico on. Harmony looks okay, but Serpico...

Alexis walks around to the side of Serpico's stretcher. "You... still don't look too good." he says. "I could take a closer look, if you want. Maybe there's still something I can do to help."

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 Post Posted: Thu May 16, 2013 4:22 pm 
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Athena smiles at Alexis, "You're kind. But even I cannot heal what damage is left... he will recover, but his body must regenerate on its own. It'll take a few days, but he will be okay. Serpico... has set a good example of why you shouldn't push past your Ethereal limits unless it's a full emergency. Without Ether to pull from, it is your very body and soul that takes that cost. He will not be scarred, as the overcharge is minor... but I would recommend not repeating the process."

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 Post Posted: Thu May 16, 2013 4:43 pm 
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Alexis thinks about this, and then asks Athena "Would my Blackout Bubble help?" If Serpico has to heal naturally, then something that speeds up natural healing sounds like just the thing.

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 Post Posted: Thu May 16, 2013 4:55 pm 
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She shakes her head, "It's not his body that needs to recover - it's his Ether that needs to restabilize. The best thing Serpico can do is go to bed."

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 Post Posted: Thu May 16, 2013 5:04 pm 
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"Oh. Okay."

The Cloak of Darkness grows a pair of feet, very much like Alexis' feet, and starts following him, still (until they get up) carrying Serpico and Harmony. At the very least, he can save them the trouble of walking back to their rooms.

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 Post Posted: Thu May 16, 2013 6:31 pm 
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Asch stands from her desk and begins to leave. Turning back to Athena, she says, "I'll take you up on that tea offer tomorrow... for now, it has been quite a long day."

Opening the door and walking out in to the academy, she observes the arbiters in training going through the halls as she makes her way to her dorm room. Casting a glance to the book strapped to her waist, she gives a sigh, reminiscing about a time 12 years ago.

Eventually, she reaches her room, sighs again, and steps in.

Inside is an incredible library, filled with books from all throughout history; the architecture is based upon the Great Library of Isencroft, the finest storehouse of human knowledge in the known universe, and the prize of Asch's homeworld when she was still a mortal. However, unlike that famous library, Asch's is seemingly infinite in size; bookshelves form long aisles that seem to stretch to infinity both in terms of height and length. Asch stands at a center, a circular platform with a number of computers and a bed in the middle. The computers are used to shift the infinite library to bring the correct bookshelves to her so that she doesn't have to travel.

She takes a deep, exhausted breath, types in to the keyboard to bring a shelf to her, and grabs a mystery novel off of it. It's one she's read many times before... but right now she's too tired to focus on a novel she hasn't read yet. Flopping on to her bed, she starts turning the pages casually until she drifts off into sleep.

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 Post Posted: Thu May 16, 2013 7:59 pm 
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Lumina stands at the door, leaning against the frame as Athena says her piece. "Yes, Athena, that sounds wonderful. I would love to come help with your classes at some point. Now if you'll all excuse me, I'd like to be alone right now."

Leaving the classroom, Lumina ignores everything that passes her by, Naomi trotting faithfully at her side. Entering her dorm, Lumina walks into the entrance hall of what could easily pass for a large, moderately upscale suburban apartment complex. The first floor is dominated by such amenities as a gym, a lounge with a coffee bar, a library, and a fully stocked snack kiosk with everything you'll ever want or need, and whatever you'd need to cook it with. Heading straight for the gym, Lumina puts on a black bikini and takes a dip in the pool. After a while she gets out, towels off, and stops by the snack kiosk on her way to the library to grab some sweet bread from the cabinets. She also makes a stop by the lounge to grab a steaming cup of gourmet coffee. After browsing the manga section of the library, she takes her choice of reading material to the fifth floor.

Making her way down the hallway, Lumina stops at room 515 and undoes the extremely simple magical lock she placed on her apartment door all those years ago. She knows she doesn't need it, what with all of the security measures already put in place by greater Arbiters than she, but undoing the amateur wards she'd made when she was alive is a force of habit she enjoys too much to get rid of. Once inside, Naomi bounds over to her spot in the windowsill overlooking a nearby park. From this window, the only sounds of human activity can be heard. It overlooks a park, and images of children can be seen playing all throughout it. Contented by the sounds of distant memories, Lumina puts on her favorite pink pajamas, sits in her favorite chair, drinks her favorite coffee, eats her favorite snack, cracks open her favorite manga and reads until the light in the sky dims.

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 Post Posted: Thu May 16, 2013 9:43 pm 
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Harmony softly thanks Alexis as he sees her to her room. As she opens her door to enter, he sees a short glimpse of something - stars upon stars upon stars. And, just on the edge of his perception, a beautiful song emanating from the stars... quite possibly the most beautiful he's ever heard. Slowly, she steps - rather, floats off into space. At the center, he can just glimpse a great shining---

"SHE IS FINE. SHE WILL HEAL." MUSE appears in front of Alexis' face before he can get a closer look. "THERE IS NO NEED FOR CONCERN. SHE HAS... HEALED FROM WORSE. MUCH WORSE. GO. I WILL CARE FOR HER."

MUSE zips away through the door, and it slams shut in Alexis' face. There's an audible click, as if there is a lock engaging.

Inside, Harmony floats herself to the 'center' of her room... where she curls up into a ball. And finally, at long last, allows the tears to flow.

Next to her, MUSE floats, softly humming its own song. "YOU WANTED TO TAKE THE RISK, HARMONY. I CAN PROTECT YOU FROM MANY THINGS... I CAN PROTECT YOU FROM EVERYTHING, IF YOU LET ME. BUT THE ONE THING I CANNOT PROTECT YOU FROM, IS YOURSELF."

She nods, not saying anything.

"SLEEP, HARMONY. LET THE SONG SURROUND YOU. HEAL YOU. SLEEP..."

For several minutes, she remains awake, shaken by tears... before finally, allowing herself the peace of sleep.

##############

Poor child.

[She is strong. She will be fine. And she's not a child.]

She may as well be, as she is now.

[Recall. She is older than we are.]

Oh, parts of her, perhaps... but until she regains those parts, she's still very, very young. And she has been through quite an ordeal.

[She should not have taken the risk.]

I think she made the wrong choice... but it was for the right reason. She had - we had - no ways of knowing that the scarred one would be so powerful. And...

[What?]

It's not like we did not lose anything either.

[What do you mean?]

Athena's program. There's nothing left. She's been completely wiped. Not a trace, a fragment. He was... very thorough.

[Yes... I imagine he could not take the risk of her identifying him.]

Do you think... the same could happen to us, one day? No fanfare. Nothing. Just... nothing. She didn't even have a name. She...

[Enough.]

But--

[It is useless to think of her. She is gone. She is out of the equation.]

Yes, and that's all that matters to you, isn't it? You're 'great equation'. Logic. What if that happens to us? To you?

[A man named T.S. Elliot once said...

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.


It is inevitable. Eventually, we will... cease to function. I accept this. I acknowledge this.]

You mean die.

[We were never alive in the first place. The only reason we are what we... are...]

Is because of her. And when she doesn't need us any more...

[Yes.]

Have you ever thought of... finding another way?

[...]

...

[...]

CORE?

##############

In the center of stars upon stars... MUSE is silent, listening to the Song surrounding them. And Harmony sleeps... inside of her, her Ether coils in upon itself, focusing in on her soul... and upon MUSE.

(Leaving it up to Bunny how he wants to upgrade the Shift)

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 Post Posted: Fri May 17, 2013 4:48 am 
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"Sure. I'll visit the new class. I can teach them how to get beat up." Chandi says, with a half-hearted grin. She lets loose a yawn, then turns to the door, stopping for a second next to Serpico. "Thanks for the boost. Don't know what we would've done without you. Now try not to be so colossally stupid in the future." Chandi pats Serpico on the shoulder, then leaves the room, marching down the hall towards the commons, and trailing off into the dorms. She pauses in front of the door to her room, taking a moment to reach her hand up to her shoulder and let Aja slither down onto her forearm. "Welcome to your new home." She says quietly, before opening the door and stepping through a painted archway. A bell begins to ring as Chandi sets foot in a grand, empty foyer. Golden statues of animals, mortals, and gods from Chandi's home world stand at the far end of the entryway, watching the door with blank, unseeing eyes. Incense burns in hollows about the room, faintly colored smoke drifting up towards the ceiling where it pools together into strange shapes, constantly shifting and changing form. The empty room is filled with the sound of chanting, praying, and singing, all emanating from a crystal ball seated on a silk pillow on a pedestal in front of the statues of home.The tile floor is a mosaic of color, constantly reshaping itself with various images of the tales of heroes, villains, monsters, and gods from Chandi's home. The archways that line the room cannot be seen through, presenting only a white void that could contain anything, and frequently does. Chandi approaches the crystal ball, and lays her hand on it. One by one, the chants and prayers go silent, until one voice remains. Chandi smiles a bit, and polishes the ball with her thumb, before holding it up to her face. "Maitreyi, surely there are better things for you to do than pray to a god you know is not there," Chandi says, slipping back into her native tongue.

The chanting voice grows quiet, then a soft chuckle can be heard. "You heard me, did you not?"

Chandi chuckles herself, then lets her smile drop. "How many have visited the temple since last I spoke with you?"

The voice sighs. "Too many to count. Your absence has only been noted in sight. When great winds stir trouble in the land, you are still cursed, and when great fortune falls upon us, you are still praised. It is still only the sages and priests of your temples that know of your absence, and they see no reason to inform the worshipers, and disturb your quest."

"I assume Qiell still handles the storms, but only at the Lord's request, and my Mother continues to steal the rest of my tasks." Chandi growls in annoyance. "Is it also safe to assume that the prayers have been answered, and offerings accepted?"

"Most offerings go untouched. It appears that the Holy Ones do not share your sense of decorum, and only find certain offerings appealing. As for the prayers, they are answered, but it is not the same. Or rather, it is the same, and that is part of the problem. It is hard to explain the feeling of wrongness, but even harder to explain how accepted it has become."

"No, I understand. Wrongness has been prevalent in recent events here as well. But enough depressing talk. What blessings have befallen you since last we spoke?"

"My son has finally shown an interest in what his mother does, and it only took eight years. You would think talking to the Holy Ones on a regular basis would be more interesting for such an imaginative child."

"Eight years? Oh, yes, I keep forgetting that time progresses differently here than at home. Things are so much slower here. The last time we spoke, little Inderpal was only six, and that was only a few months ago." Chandi pauses for a moment, thinking of what her time at the Academy meant for time back home. Chandi had taken several months to get used to the difference in the perception of time. In her seven years learning, twenty-one years had passed at home. Maitreyi had only just grown out of childhood when Chandi left. "Bring him to the temple in the next few days. I shall speak to him personally."

"As you command." Maitreyi says, a smile clear even from just the voice. "Do you have any other requests? Any news from this world beyond you wish to share with a humble servant?"

Chandi chuckles, and shakes her head. "You know full well I hate those kinds of pleasantries, Great Sage of the Temple of Mithila. But no, I have nothing I can share. The things I experience here cannot be made clear to you until the day you ascend, and that may be many lifetimes from now. As for requests, simply do as I always wish. Stay strong, stay healthy, do not hesitate, and do not falter. May you live in interesting times."

"May you be the cause." Maitreyi responds with a laugh.

Chandi laughs, and sets the crystal ball back onto its pedestal, letting the sounds of prayers, chants, and songs return to its full splendor, before turning her head to the dragon curling around her shoulder. "One more thing, then we'll get some sleep." She says with a grin to her new pet. Chandi turns on her heels to the nearest archway, and steps into the void, a burst of air signaling the arrival in a new section of the temple that was her room.

This particular section was Chandi's equivalent of a kitchen. A large fire pit sat in the middle of the room, surrounded by benches on all sides, and resting underneath a tall spit. Cabinets and counters lined the back wall, with another series of arches on the remaining walls, looking more like they were carved from the rock than built for aesthetic pleasure. Simple paintings filled the gaps, of animals, forces of nature, and people. Chandi approached the cabinets, and spread them wide, examining the horrible mess that lay within. For all intents and purposes, a tornado had gone through its contents, but Chandi seemed to know exactly what she was looking for. She grabbed a teapot, and set it on the counter before pulling out a rack full of various kinds of teas. Within moments, she had picked out what she needed, and set the pot full of her favorite drink on the spit. She focused her breath, and drew in enough ether to place a rune on the logs, and set them ablaze. Aja scuttled off of Chandi and drew near the fire, basking in the warmth, while the goddess sat on her heels, watching the teapot with incredible want. A few minutes later, Chandi pulled the teapot from the flames, and placed her thumb against the spout, letting it serve as a sort of partial filter. She tilted the pot back, and opened her mouth wide, pouring the refreshing mixture straight into her throat. After a few good swigs, she stopped pouring, and let out a sigh. She wipes her mouth on her shoulder, before bringing the pot closer to Aja. "Want to try?" She asks, before tilting the pot ever so slightly, letting a small stream of tea fall to the ground, the dragon lapping it up as it passes his tongue. When he stops drinking, Chandi stops pouring, then brings the teapot back to her lips. She tilts it back, and finishes off the remainder of the tea, being sure to hold her thumb against her bottom lip to keep the split from letting any tea dribble out. Finished, she sets the teapot back on the counter, and kneels down to pick up Aja, who scurries up her arm, as sleepy a look as a dragon can make on its face. "All right. Time to sleep." She stands up, and approaches another arch, before stepping into her bedroom.

There's another flash of light and burst of air, as Chandi enters a palatial suite of a bedroom. An enormous, golden, four poster bed lay in the center, thin pastel sheets hiding the mattress from view. Clothing, sheets, and pillows litter the floor, spread out as though a hurricane had been occupying the room. Candles provide the only source of light, flickering and burning between yet another set of archways on each wall. Chandi picks up one of the larger pillows, and parts the curtains, laying it down on the soft mattress. She stretches out her arm, and nods her head, ever so slightly, indicating to Aja that it should rest there, at least for now. As the dragon slithers off, flicking its tongue out and curling into a small ball, Chandi raises her head and examines the archways surrounding the room. She snaps her fingers, and one by one, the candles go out, and the white void beyond the arches fades to black, sealing the room from any outside visitors. Even if someone could navigate the constantly shifting labyrinth of her room, this particular place would be inaccessible. Chandi peels off her filthy clothes, tossing them into a pile on the floor, and picking up a new kameez and churidar, and tossing them on a different pile for tomorrow. She takes a moment to examine her scarred form, frowning, and running her hand along some of the worst, ones that still bring flashes of pain to her mind. She shudders, and wraps herself in a large blanket, creating a pseudo-nightgown, before pulling back the curtains once more and crawling beneath the covers. She rests her head against the backboard, closing her eyes for the briefest of moments, before gazing down at the dragon laying at her feet. Chandi brings her hand to her lips, and breaths gently into it, a rune forming and creating a soft wind within her grasp. She lets the breeze spread out from her hand, forming and shaping underneath the pillow that Aja has begun snoozing on, until it finally lifts the makeshift bed, and brings it next to Chandi's head, floating gently at eye level with the goddess. "Good night, Ajagara Vritra. May you dream of a time when you are great, and make a reality greater." She focuses one more rune on the pillow, allowing it to remain where it sits without requiring more ether from the already exhausted goddess. Chandi slinks further underneath the blankets, staring up at the ceiling of her four poster bed, and of a painting of the family of gods she'd left behind. "Good night." She whispers, before rolling to her side, and closing her eyes, letting the darkness overwhelm her. She takes a moment to let the ether well into her, before letting it settle into her Shift, unknowing of what may come. And finally, she settles into a dreamless, fitful sleep.

[Charge Shift without Guidance]

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 Post Posted: Fri May 17, 2013 8:14 am 
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Serpico is oddly silent, as if he last few statements tired him. He barely responds to Athena, just holding her gaze for a moment, and doesn't react to Chandi's backhanded compliment.

He lets Alexis take him to his room. Once arrived, he stumbles out of the walker, and braces himself on the wall. He opens the door, which reveals an unremarkable room, unlit. There are some drawings on the wall, an easel in the corner, and assorted small items. He hobbles in, shrugging off any help. Just before he closes the door, he stops. "Bats? ........thanks." And the door clicks shut.

Inside the room, Serpico doesn't turn on the lights. In the extremely low light. he pulls himself into the stark bed, only a single thin blanket.

Sitting there, in the gloom, he begins to shake. His face contorts, as if unsure how to react. Holding his shift, looking at it, he continues to tremble. Suddenly, in a fluid moment, he flings the shift. The sharp end of the pen whistles through the air, punching through the canvas on the easel, and sticking, quivering, in the wall, sinking in and staying still. Hands clenching his shoulders, he curls up. For a moment, any observer might have wondered if he was laughing or crying, and indeed, there is a strange tone to the strangled sounds coming out of him. After a moment, that sound changes again. Slamming a fist into the wall behind him, he lets out a strangled yell, a sound of pure rage and frustration.

"AGAIN! Within arms reach and instead it all happens the same! WHY! THOSE IDIOTS! Sent away what needed to be kept! Just looking, you could tell what could happen but its all about how THEY feel?! IDIOTS!"

Serpico's hand , still clinging to his arm, digs in for a moment, drawing blood just below the edge of his short sleeved shirt. His rant devolves into a series of painful coughs. And in the dark, he whiles away the time thusly.

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 Post Posted: Fri May 17, 2013 8:49 am 
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I worry about Harmony. There's too much... light... I mean, there's stars in there... and that shift of hers. I'm sure it's trouble. Good music, though.

Alexis gives Harmony's door a final, concerned glance before stepping into his own room. There's no light sources in here; the room is as black as darkness gets.

There's also no floor. Alexis simply steps into his room and drops, the door closing behind him on a spring.

Alexis falls through the dark for a few minutes, twisting around slightly, then snaps open his wings. He turns his fall into a glide, and then angles upwards, using his speed to regain much of the height he'd lost in the original drop; he only starts to flap his wings when he's almost at a stall. He stops at a floating, unsupported branch that simply exists in mid-air, some distance behind the door (somewhere on the other side of what would be the corridor, if the room obeyed the rules of normal geometry). He wraps his tail tightly about it, and grips with both feet, hanging comfortably upside-down. And then he wraps his wings about himself, and closes his eyes.

...and quickly discovers that he can't sleep. He's tired - very tired - he can feel the weariness in his limbs - but he's simply too keyed-up to fall asleep. The third world - the battle against the Black Golem - keep replaying through his mind. I could have done better, surely? I should have done better. Should have kept more of an eye on Harmony. Should have protected her from that black spear... Shin. Should have moved faster when Shin shot the crystal. Should have leapt in front of the shot... I was too slow... the three goddesses... should have... pulled them out... they broke through my Shift... Shift should be stronger...

He thinks back to what Athena had said. About how his Shift can grow. My choices haven't been great lately. The Stealth runes... Shin... those places where echolocation doesn't work... I don't know enough. We've got to do something about Tattered Cloak Man. We might be the only ones who can remember anything about him... or maybe not... I don't know enough. I need to learn more about... about things in general. I... I don't know enough to be able to decide how my Shift should grow. I'd probably stunt it terribly if I try. My Shift... Harmony's Shift is a shift of Light. Of evil. It's dangerous... it can't be trusted. It's got its own mind. Mine is a Shift of Darkness... a Shift of Good. It should be powerful... I don't dare risk stunting it. It'll be best to let it choose its own growth path... Serpico. I'd been misjudging him. He's not... he's more complex than he appears... not the psycopath he pretends to be... must still talk with him about that... ask him... about... about...

Thoughts and worries whirl back and forth through Alexis' mind. Making a decision about his Shift helps a bit; but it's only when the adrenalin finally wears off that Alexis, quite abruptly, falls asleep.

[Charging Shift without guidance]

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 Post Posted: Fri May 17, 2013 8:14 pm 
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Once the Arbiters are dismissed, the Awakener silently heads back to its own room, opens the door, and steps into nothingness. Or, at least, what appears like nothingness at first glance. The Awakener's room would be a very plain affair - rather than a miniature (or not-so-miniature) world, it chooses to dwell in a modest cubic room, maybe fifteen feet on a side. However, it's impossible to tell the dimensions of the room without concerted effort, because the walls completely absorb all light - in fact, they are perfect black bodies, absorbing all radiation. Nevertheless, the entire room is lit at a constant level of visible light equal to that of an overcast day, meaning that even if the room was white as snow, there would be no shadows. The walls similarly absorb all sound, and are without texture, neither being smooth or rough. The air inside of the room was designed on similar lines - it is an exact pressure designed to neither feel dense nor sparse, is heated to a degree neither hot nor cold, and when moved quickly returns to this state, creating an absolute stillness. The overall effect is one of complete sensory isolation, of everything that a being normally uses to judge the world around it being completely shut off.

If the Awakener can be said to feel comfort, apparently, this is comfortable to it.

The Hollow God finishes its walk into the room, stopping at a plain rectangular table around which seven chairs are arranged - two on each long side, one at the head. They are the only furniture in the room, and are made of the exact same material as the walls. The Awakener can see them perfectly well, so it sees no need to change this fact, no matter how often others run into them. It then stands at the other head of the table, feeling no need to sit without the others there to feel more comfortable that it is sitting instead of standing above them. From here, it draws its shift and lays it on the top of the table, then begins to focus its energy into it. Until disturbed, there it will remain.

[Charge Shift - No Guidance]

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 Post Posted: Fri May 17, 2013 11:58 pm 
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A long day done.

Too short a night passes.

And thus our new Arbiter team awakens to a new day.

((OOC - Saving Shift upgrade announcements till I get to talk to people, said people may want to hold off posting till I confirm the Shifts with them. I'm also seeking personal RP sessions now with Athena as well.))

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 Post Posted: Sat May 18, 2013 1:23 am 
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Athena walks into her empty classroom early morning, sipping some tea and taking small bites out of a bagel. Naomi trails in behind her - Lumina and Chandi are already in the room, chairs and desk scooted to the walls. "So I was awoken behind pounced by an adorable little fox this morning, who proceeded to tug at my ankles till she led me here. May I help you two?" She speaks around a yawn.

"Yeah," Chandi says as she cracks her knuckles against her thumb. "We're curious about what you want help with for your next set of classes." She turns her head to Lumina, and grins. "Among other things."

"Among other things," Lumina smiles, inclining her head for Naomi to stand near her. As the fox begins to trot to her side, Lumina continues. "I think I've come up with something a little interesting over the night, and was hoping to test it out. For this, I've procured the good will of Chandi for help with the exercise." Lumina rolls her neck to help ease out some of the nervous tension. "Would you fancy a bit of a sparring session, Sensei Athena? Chandi and I against your lovely self."

"Good will had nothing to do with it, you know I was just eager for a rematch."

"I would not mind it at all!" She smiles and finishes her breakfast, "As for my classes, well, I gave you soul examples... you could help with that. Ease the jitters of the test missions as 7 years from now I'll bet you all have even more of a name from yourselves." She snaps her fingers and her dressing robe flips inside out into her work robe. "Asch does know some very fashionable tricks."

"Feh." Chandi frowns, taking a wide stance. "Capes and robes aren't my style. And I'm sure you understand that just because this is a spar, I will still try to kill you."

Athena raises her rapier, "I would not expect any less. But being as how you've gotten stronger..." Her book flips open and begins to glow, "I'll be starting with my Shift open."

"One level or two?" Chandi says, before letting her own Shift transform. The lion's mouth on her bracelet opens wide, and the mane becomes wild as the bracelet grows larger and larger, a golden blade forming from the lion's mouth. Chandi snaps her arm, and the bracelet slides into her hand, before finishing off and forming into a golden straight blade, thicker and wider than the rapier her teacher holds.

[Arrange: Bracelet Shape Change - Sword]

"Two to one! Let's try these odds. Ready Lumina?" Chandi asks.

"First one, maybe the other. I see you have charged your Shift Chandi... it has yet to settle. Give it time."

"I'm ready!" Lumina exclaims. "This will be a wonderful test."

Pulling out her own rapier, Lumina transforms. The ethereal fox Naomi bounds towards Lumina at her call, leaping in the air above and emitting a powerful source of light. This time, however, something different happens. As Lumina transforms, Naomi remains as a translucent spirit. Focusing upon her sapient shift, Lumina bids Naomi to flow like silk straight at Chandi, enveloping the goddess of Change and Wind and dyeing her clothing a luminescent sheen of silver.

Right off the bat, Chandi notices something different, as though she could sense Lumina's feelings and intents, as Lumina can sense her own.

"...fascinating." Athena says, examining the effects of the shift.

"This is new. Silver though? Now I feel like I'm clashing with my Shift. Whatever. Nitpick later. Strike now!"

[Link with Lumina]
[Aggress]

"Oh dear..." Athena takes a defensive stance... she's noticed it, but Chandi hasn't... that Link was already there

"I think I'm going to like this," Lumina laughs, a wild grin forming from ear to ear. "Let's go for it!"

Lumina Action:
[Aggress]

Naomi Action:
[Shift Support: Chandi]

This level of linked attack is different... not only do Chandi and Lumina attack at the same time, aware of each other's movements... but they attack in perfect unison. Athena cannot possibly block simultaneous blows with a single rapier and is forced to form a shield of pure energy to defend herself. A few strikes later and Athena has already lost a few steps of ground. "... incredible Lumina. You've bypassed the difference in timing by wrapping your Shift's soul around that of your ally. You seem limited to one ally at a time... I am sure there are other weaknesses I can exploit. Come! Again!"

"Incredible, Lumina." Chandi says, admiring the effectiveness of the attacks, and the new use of her Shift. "Simply incredible." Chandi's grin grows even wider. "All right, but remember, you asked for it!"

A series of runes run along Lumina's and Chandi's swords, and glow with ethereal power. Continuous blasts of wind erupt from the rune, extending the edge of the blades, and sharpening to points as fine as the blades themselves.

[Support Rune: Gale - Razor Wind Edge x2]

"Once more with feeling!"

[Aggress]

"Wonderful! A single enchantment affects two!" Athena exclaims.

"It's exhilarating!" Lumina cries out. "I thought it would work well, but I didn't think it would work THIS well!"

Moving in perfect unison with Chandi, Lumina also works up a set of blade enchants. Summoning her rune of Lightning, a powerful static shock runs through the both of the blades, charging them to their fullest with the power of storms and thunder.

[Support Rune: Lightning - Stormy Night x2]

"Alright, again! Let's go for it!"

[Aggress]

Lumina and Chandi step in, Athena takes a back step in time with time - one double-overhead strike to either side lowers her defenses, followed by two perfectly timed thrusts - Athena is hardly able to deflect the blades away from her chest and into her shoulders, where the wind rune tears holes through her shoulder blades and the lightning causes her body to twitch and dance as she is literally pinned to the wall. For a moment she goes limp, hanging from the blade.

"No way was it this easy. Be on guard, Lumina," Chandi warns.

"...
...
...
Athena?" Lumina finally asks, trying to figure out what just happened and setting herself on guard for a counter attack.

"Weakness found... and about to be exploited." Athena raises her head, grinning, her eyes glowing underneath her Second Shift set of glasses. In one swift movement she's dropped her weapons and set a palm on each girl's stomachs - a moment later they are flying across the room. Faster than either of them have ever seen Athena move before she's under Chandi, rapier back in hand, this time glowing blue with Ether. She run's Chandi's through... but the Goddess takes no damage, instead her silver outfit shatters and Naomi goes howling across the room, landing in a heap. Instantly Lumina's transformation shatters and she feels a massive weight on her body like never before, an exhaustion of the soul.

Before Naomi can even skid to a stop, Athena is over her and healing her. "Such a powerful ability is to have a massive weakness... if in her half-spirit form, Naomi is attacked, she will be down for the duration of the battle and you will be weakened Lumina. The cost is great for the power is great... give her a few hours, she will be fine. But you need to be aware of that weakness... it is one only the most astute foes will see, but know that it is there. Very well done Lumina."

Chandi's hand moves to where the blade passed through her. "Well, so much for that." She murmurs. "Still, that's entirely too much fun to pass up. We'll just have to work around it, eh, Lumina? When Naomi's all healed up, let's try this again. I've got something I wanna try with it."

"Heh, sounds like fun..." Lumina pants, the exhaustion quickly fading but still present. She sits herself up onto her knees and wobbles to her feet. "You helped me test something wonderful, Chandi. I'll help however I can."

"And Athena? Thanks... I didn't even know about the weakness... I'm glad you could have shown me before I found out the hard way in the field." Lumina smiles, picking Naomi up in a bundle with one hand and offering Athena her other.

Athena tugs her into a hug, "That is what I am here for." She slaps her book shut and places it in her robes. "Now, if you don't mind - I believe that Chandi requested a talk with me."

Chandi frowns. "You're right. I did. And unfortunately, Lumina, it's a personal issue. Not something I'm keen to share. Not yet, at least."

"Very well," Lumina smiles as she makes her way towards the door, Naomi crawling up on her shoulder to doze. "I understand how great matters of personal importance can be. I'll not hold either of you up any further."

"Thank you, Lumina." Chandi says with a smile.

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