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No title.
(2013-03-10 - 2013-04-15)
No description.
Avira Rumors spread staggeringly fast.

In today's case, there was a new monster in town as of last night and thanks to her fearsome countenance, she's attracted quite a bit of interest from the locals. In Halloween Town, the terrifying was celebrated but as uplifing as this could be to a mutate...

...circumstances had made it that Avira was much less than interested in conversing with even appreciative civillians. A large part of this included the fact that she knew she was marked. She was being followed and with her enhanced senses, she could practically smell the darkness that searched for her. Not long after her arrival, Heartless began to appear, lurking in the shadows and occasionally soaring through the air. Given the environs, the most common type that had appeared was the Search Ghost. To a visitor, they mostly blended in with the populace, at least until their emblems were noticed. The locals could not be fooled.

Being a Heartless magnet lead to more isolation, driving the distraught Dusk Princess to the large pumpkin patch/graveyard surrounding the iconic spiralling hill outside of town. She sits with her back to the hill, knees pulled to her chest, arms and wings wrapped around her. The brown fur of her face is damp with tears she's been shedding all night.
Faruja Senra Duty calls. With the recent rumors, Faruja is forced from Hati's side quite reluctantly. Leaving it to Skoll, and a few very discrete Squire friends, the Templar has left to carry out his orders: investigate the rumors in Halloween Town.

Only knowing of the place vaguely, the little post script about 'Do not cause undue harm to residents, or attempt to burn down the town' had seemed a bit odd. Until Faruja actually arrived. Several town-goers get to listen to an earful of religious ranting, at least until one rather patient and silver-tongued goblin explained that 'No, we're not all products of evil spells or witchcraft' and 'Yes, we want these heartless bastards dead too'. A pat on the back, some Goblin Ale down the hatch, and Faruja's at least managed to stick to the 'don't purge the town' bit.

The rat's mood hasn't been brightened either by his new outfit. Faruja, in the darkness, sticks out like a sore thumb thanks to the changes the Portal made. Rather than some zombie or somesuch, the short rat has sprouted long, bird-like wings with golden edges. Gone are his armor and usual silver spear, replaced with a white toga-like shirt emblazened with the symbol of Ajora, as well as a long golden spear ending in an almost axe-like radial pattern of crescent shaped blades where the three points don't stick out. His features overall have taken a slightly avian bent, fur in places looking distinctly feather-like, while his wings ominously drip blood, staining white. Above his head shines a golden halo. Despite the trying times, that has gotten a few laughs out of the locals. A few residents even sport sunglasses while around the constantly shining Templar.

How does the rat find Avira? After asking around a bit, he simply followed rumors of high concentrations of Heartless. Dispatching a few along the way like a good Church warrior, the Burmecian finds himself walking through a pumpkin patch towards the graveyard. Seems he hasn't sighted Avira just yet!
Avira Poor, poor Faruja. Surrounded by unclean spirits! Stuck searching a town where the residents make sport of harassing and frightening silly mortals! There is no St. Ajora here-citizens of Halloween Town swear allegiance to their "Pumpkin King." Religious ranting and suggestions to pass on into the light are met with snickering and giggling. Pass on?

Now why would ANYONE here want to do that?! How boring!

But they did have standards. There was a line and Heartless crossed it. The spirits of Halloween Town love to torment and tease but they had no desire to actually hurt anyone. Heartless, while scary, would actually hurt people and that's no good. It might be discomforting for Faruja to be welcomed by the citizens for his Heartless-vaniquishing ways, though.

The Burmecian will notice that as he makes his way to the graveyard, the Heartless do become less numerous. But at the same time, they seem to be following him.

A low sniffle escapes Avira's muzzle. As she breathes back in, her head suddenly unwinds from her chest and she looks upwards. That doggy nose sniffs at the air again and her fur stands up on the back of her neck. She knew that scent.

Faruja. Shifting, she rolls over and flattens herself against the curve of the hill, one hand digging its claws into the ground, the other retrieving her sheathed weapon from her back.

Her voice rings out, gruff and gravelly. "Why have you come here, templar."
Faruja Senra By the end of all of this, Faruja is going to need a large punching bag to take out his frustrations. It takes all of his self control to not try to strangle these people. Really, it's like being around a bunch of Hati's and Evja's, only without the endearing qualities.

At least they all agree on one point, and the rather peaceful (if irritating) citizen's lives being disrupted only fuels the rat's anger at the Heartless. As uncomfortable as it is, the rat finds himself feeling (begrudgingly) sorry for the locals. Time to clean house.

As the large mutate makes herself known, Faruja slams the butt of his spear to the ground. Peering over as best a five foot Templar can ever intimidate anyone, he replies with all of the authority he can muster. "My name is Temple Knight Faruja Senra of the Holy Church of Saint Ajora Glabados. I come to investigate and purge this place of its infestation of Heartless abomination. The locals tell me of a new guest in their lands. Mayhap I have found them? Fain forgive my lack of manners, but be ye friend or foe? Time is short, for the Heartless ever gather as we speak."
Avira Alas, poor tiny Faruja! In her mutation, Avira has gained at least a foot in height and thus a foot of advantage over the templar. Her increased muscle mass is also a cause for concern, no doubt, especially her now impressive back musculature built to handle her large feathered wings.

"...Faruja..." Avira rumbles from her spot, not in surprise, but in resignation. Of course her nose had told her the truth. But why had he come? Did he learn of her contact with Hades, a "god" that was an affront to the Church of Glabados? No, it sounded as if the increased Heartless presence had brought him.

"You are correct." She moves, standing atop the curling hill now, her wings spread out behind her, casting an impressive profile against the moon behind her.

"These Heartless are here because of me. Friend or foe..." her head lowers, "I don't know anymore, Faruja. I have sinnned. I have betrayed my friends, my world, those who would stand against the Shadow Lords. Though it sounds like news of this hasn't reached the Holy Church yet."

As she talks, more Heartless start to appear, rising from the graves and shambling towards the gates of the small wall that surrounds the hill and graveyard.
Faruja Senra Faruja squints up at the large furred being. One that talks as though she knows him! His previous authoritative bluster falters somewhat as he tries to place just who he's talking to. A minute of awkward silence passes from the Templar, and then...

His eye goes wide, tail flicking straight behind him. Very nearly too does he drop his weapon! "/AVIRA/!?"

The rat stares, any and all antagonism dropped as he rushes over to stand properly beside her. "What in the Lord's name do you speak of? Come now, out with it. There was the attack upon Traverse, but our agents in the town are minimal at best. Am I assume /this/ is more than mere effects of the Portal?"

At least she has a proper tail now is the first calm thought Faruja has. "Friend, Avira, for always have you been such. What circumstances have you thinking yourself a traitor?" Snort. The rat shakes his head, not at all believing the woman's capable of such! As for the Heartless? One ear flicks.

"How rude. Seems we shan't be left alone."
Avira It was a little bit funny-Avira couldn't remember if Faruja had seen her like this or not. She did know he was quite concerned for her well-being after the fall of Manhattan and fortunately received the news that she had survived. In this form it wasn't completely unknown that she was Avira. There were clues-her eyes, her voice, her scars were all still there. Those that knew the human could easily pick out the resemblence, just as Faruja does.

Much to Faruja's dismay, he will find Avira recoiling from him a little as he nears. Her eyes drop to the ground and her hands fall to her sides. The Spine is held limply in one large clawed hand. "Yes, it is me, Ser Faruja."

Her eyes close, "What you're seeing of me now is not a trick of this world, but my true form. When I had defended Manhattan, I crossed paths with a scientist that injected me with a mutating agent that turned me into this. I made a deal with Hades to regain my human the expense of working for him when he needed me."

She finally looks up at him, shame in her eyes, "Yesterday's attack is partially my fault."

As the Heartless start to approach and surround the pair, Avira's grip once more tightens on the Spine. Her tail flicks. "Tell me, how far have the rumors of me being here spread?" Between that and the Heartless, it seems she'll have to move sooner than she thinks. Unfortunate since this place was the only place she could really blend in with in this form.
Faruja Senra Faruj stops as Avira seems to recoil from him. At first, shock, followed by confusion. Listening quietly, he stands guard, frowning and clenching his jaw with increased irritation as Avira tells her tale.

A hand rubs across his face, the rat pacing as his Temper bubbles up and then over. " made a pact with that...that /devil/!? Avira, what were you /thinking!? Damnit Avira! Had you not thought to inquire as to the assistance of thy companions? Hmm!? That wretch is as untrustworthy as they come, and a Witch to boot!" Rants the ratling, glaring over at the mutate.

"How so?" Quickly asks the ratling, claws raking the dirt as his single eye bores into Avira's own. "To Mullonde itself, at the least. I know naught whether Valkyri or the rest of the Shard Seekers are aware...what of Maira and the rest? Ser Ulfang?"

He can only rant for so long, however, as the Heartless get closer. Leveling his spear, he casts a glance back to the mutate Valkyri. "...Truly, what /are/ we going to do with you Avira? There must be a way to remove this 'curse' from you without that wretch's help."
Avira And thus the reason for recoiling is revealed. Faruja's reaction is expected to be this severe since Avira has fully witnessed the extent of his zeal before. To make an unholy pact with a death god for reasons of vanity? "It's even worse than that, Faruja. This Hades is one of the Shadow Lords too."

She can't look him in the eye. She cant bare that heated look of his. "There had been a cure but it had only half worked. I was desperate. I wanted to be human again and he came to me with that deal..."

Her ears fold down like a scolded dog. No doubt Faruja has seen Skoll do this before. When she next speaks, her voice sounds tight, as if she's struggling to hold back tears. "Skoll knows what I did...I don't know if the rest of VALKYRI have heard yet. I..." the disappointed words of Skoll come back to haunt her, "...I cut them off...I cut the frequencies off..." She starts mumbling about tracking.

What do they do, though? Avira gives Faruja a helpless look before she finds herself fending off a Search Ghost that flings its chains at her. Another strikes at her and she barely deflects it away from her. Having fought alongside Avira many times before, Faruja will notice she definitely is not fighting as normal. It's as if the fire that fuels her has been put out.

Faruja himself will also find himself under assault, but on his case, they don't hold back. The first search ghost swings in, leading with his lantern, regardless of the pointed spear.
Faruja Senra A ghostly lamp swings. Faruja's light blazes, running all the hotter thanks to the pure rage flowing in his veins. Stabbing through, he quite neatly bisects the creature, running it through until it dissappears with a less than satisfying scatter of darkness.

"A Shad..." Faruja starts, finding himself unable to continue. All he can do is rage against the enemies before him, moving to try to stab into the Search Ghost threatening Avira. The tiny little Templar attempting to tank for a massive, muscled, fur-covered mutate. What a strange sight!

"Did you not desire to see the ones whom stole your world thrown down!? Damn it all! No. NO! This shall not stand! Lady Avira. Whatever you may be, never would I think thee a /coward/ nor a traitor that to all you hold dear for mere /vanity/."

Snarl! The rat's tail lashes about, the Burmecian as angry and wrathful as Avira's ever seen, if not moreso. "Turn that damnable thing on right this instant. /Tell/ them Avira. They are your friends. A coward whom flees from a chance at setting all to rights deserves all that they receive. Show to me, Avira, that you are truly whom I believe you are. Let us /fix/ this before 'tis too late." His voice is almost pleading. The thought of having to come after Avira has him shivering despite his anger.
Avira "I did!" Avira cries out, stepping backwards as Faruja steps in before her, destroying the Heartless that had been harassing her. Just as she steps backwards further, she is struck from behind and yelps. In short order she whirls and is suddenly back to back with the angry Burmecian. Although she cannot see his face, she hears the anger in his voice and she can feel him trembling with fury.

Each word feels like a dagger. "I swore VALKYRI to thwarting them. I hadn't known he was one..." her head droops, but only for a moment before Avira is forced to push off another Heartless, "We need to move." she says quickly.

For a few seconds, her hand strays to her linkpearl. She looks conflicted-she was already filled with shame for what she did.She didn't want to tell Maira but she would find out eventually. She'd find out that she kept things from the fire mage.

What kind of best friend was she?!

"They won't be friends for long." she murmurs sadly, tapping the linkpearl. She speaks into it, actually recording a message.

As the Heartless close in, fleeing up actually seems like the best option. It still seems like Faruja is the one carrying the fight right now.
Faruja Senra For a brief moment, the rat seems to deflate from all of that anger. Relief is in his voice, though it may seem odd at first. At least with this, he can make a case before his own superiors for the woman! "Then, 'twas naught but trickery of a desperate woman. Thank the Lord, you spoke as though 'twas done willfully! Sins enough as it stands!" It all rushes back quickly at the mention of fleeing.

"...Retreat? RETREAT!? I shall have you know, that until each and every one of these VILE ABOMINATIONS are..." He begins, the rat's tirade cut short as his more rational senses kick in. Perhaps the pair could fight off a number of them, if Avira were fighting in her usual high-spirited way. But this?

Faruja can't help but snort at the yelping mutate. This was pathetic. A thrust of his spear, the rat vents his rage in a column of descending holy light upon one of the Heartless.

"...Seen raw recruits fight better than this." Mutters the rat in a low voice, before he raises. "I shan't see you die today. Come, let us draw these devils away. 'Tis as if they are a hunter stalking prey."

A whistle, and a form looms! Landing hard enough to crunch one of the Heartless beneath her, the form of Arista has changed quite a bit! Now mostly white bone with skin and scales rotting off, she looks like some form of dracoliche! And an angry one at that. Faruja hopes on her back. "Come, Avira!"
Avira "I still should have known better than to trust a Lord of the Dead." Avira says bitterly, "I'm supposed to be smarter than that. I should have just accepted this form!" Though she still sounds upset at the thought of looking as she does forever.

He's ranting. Avira's happy to let him as she focuses on trying to fend off the attacking Heartless that were formerly at her back. She seems to be doing a passable job at it, but the spirit just isn't there, which is a shame since these types of Heartless wouldn't normally prove to be formidable foes.

Though familiar with Faruja's wyvern, it's nonetheless surprising to see her in her ZOMBIE form. How does she even continue to fly like that? A mystery, really. She grabs on, but she doesn't mount as Faruja does, apparently using her to get a boost upwards so she may soon take flight with her own wings.

The ghostlike Heartless start to follow, blinking in and out of existance as they get closer. Mysteriously, there seems to be a maximum height they can attain.

Avira doesn't put her weapon away and she retains her dejected look. "What of Maira..." she says quietly. "Oh Faruja. Promise you'll keep an eye on her, please? I want to say she'd forgive me for this but...I don't know. I don't know anymore."
Faruja Senra "Keep it in mind when next such beings come bearing gifts. A person's worth is in action, not in the manner of flesh and fur."

When they're finally into the air, Faruja sighs lightly. The battle barely counted for anything. The emotional toll? To know that a woman he felt so highly of would sink so low over mere /looks/? He hasn't been this tired in a long time. "Of course, Avira, of course. I shall protect her as I can, for she is a precious and innocent soul. Hardly can I say. However...mayhap if you work towards making all of this right, and continuing your mission despite, then mayhap she shall. Prove to her that you are worthy of her friendship. 'Tis difficult to mend once burnt, the bridge of friendship. Many a splinter shall draw blood in its remaking." A pause, and he glances to Avira. Cursing under his breath, he shakes his head. More than anything else, he looks dissappointed in the girl.
Avira Avira would know all about emotional exhaustion right now. "Yes that...that I shall. Maybe one day I'll accept looking like this, but I miss the mettle of my human form. Sure, I was weaker then, but all the strength I had was strength I earned." Her wings only flap occasionally now and instead are used to ride and glide upon air currents. It's a lot less tiring.

Her ears fold down. "Precious and innocent...she is an amazing friend. A wretch like me hardly deserves someone so kind...but I will do what I can because I love her."

At that pause, she looks back to Faruja and sees that look of disappointment.

Her stomach twists and she looks away. Another second later, she suddenly veers from flying beside him into flying away.
Faruja Senra Faruja vaguely ponders making a speech about hope and giving up, but now isn't the time. Instead, he simply lets her speak. In some way, she deserves it in the rat's estimation, but neither is her cruel. "Mayhap you shall. However, so 'tis possible that you shall find a true cure. Whatever the case, when next we meet, I do believe I shall be giving you an arse beating for this." Snort. He can't help but vent a little.

Faruja snarls lightly. "Self reproachment shall avail you of nothing, Avira. Move forward, and repent thy sins! For the Lord is forgiving to one whom truly seeks penance."

"She is stronger than she seems, Avira. Never underestimate the woman's strength. Yes. I think that would be best, do any and all that she would ask of you. 'Tis /Maira/ after all."

"Avira?" Calls out the rat as she starts to fly away. Kicking the draconic zombie beneath him, she steadfastly refuses to follow. "Damn you Arista..." He mutters.
Avira Angry parting words from Faruja were to be expected. Were Avira in better spirits, she might even express glee at Faruja's 'promised arse beating.' This translates to 'duel' in Avira's head, honestly. It hurts, nonetheless, to hear the stinging remarks from the zealot.

His call as she flies from him remains unanswered. She doesn't look back again, afraid to see that piercing look of disappointment upon the respected templar's face once more. He was right on all accounts and she knew what she had to do...but right now, she just wanted to curl up and cry and avoid the Heartless searching for her.

As she soars overhead, she spies an elaborate mansion with plenty of spires and peaks. Her course changes once again, gliding down to this structure so she can alight upon the roof.

With a shakey motion, she returns her weapon to the sheath upon her back. Crouching, she huddles on the rooftop and pulls her wings in tight around her. For now, there are no Heartless here...

...but how long would it be before the ones lurking around the spiral hill found her?
Riku Riku didn't know how to approach this situation when he heard about it. Traverse Town was attacked by waves of darkness and he had yet to return to the devastation and he couldn't say it wasn't because he was afraid to

be blamed somehow. He heard only bits and pieces and would try to put them in order a little later. However, he had been making a point to keep looking for rumors and surges of the heartless after the attacks. He left Archades every other day or so to track where the heartless were going. One of the very few times he was thankful for being able to hear the things in his head was knowing what they were up to. And did actually pay out.

Riku hadn't visited Halloween Town for a long time and so he was unaccustomed to the transformed nature of the portal magic here. So he has a few minutes in which he attempts to stumble around until a helpful spooky tree steadies him long enough for him to get his feet (whatever he was using as feet) under him. "Thanks." he tells the tree, and a little bit of his chagrin at trees in general flakes away as he makes his way around.

He drifts through the graveyard, following the track of the heartless towards the manor. The heartless eye him with their hungry stares for a moment and then ignore him as he circles the manor slowly. He hasn't seen Avira yet or maybe he's just absorbed in his own thoughts.
Avira Avira wasn't sure how long it would take for the Heartless to catch up. If her previous experiences with Jasmine, another individual afflicted with directed Heartless for quite some time, it wouldn't take very long. Already she is thinking out ahead, assuming that soon enough she would need to leave Halloween Town completely. Ultimately, she was less worried about Heartless finding her...

...and more worried about other people doing so instead.

Though it was all too easy to fall into the morass of her own negative thoughts right now, a part of her doesn't allow herself to completely give in to the guilt and shame she was feeling right now. Survival instinct could be to blame, which keeps her ears turned outwards and her keen nose at the ready. Riku's scent was familiar, but not enough so that she could actually put his name to it. After all, the boy had avoided her for quite some time following the fall of Manhattan.

The important thing was there was someone else here. Unfolding herself, she creeps along the rooftop, manuvering herself into a position where she can peer over the edge. It takes a few tries, but eventually she spies the silver-haired teenager lurking around the mansion.

A startled gasp escapes her and she clamps a hand over her muzzle. She knew what Will had said about Riku after both had returned, but she barely knew the boy herself. She didn't spend three months on a boat in the middle of nowhere with him so she couldn't be truly sure that he was no longer a party to the Shadow Lords. From her vantage point, she could tell he still had his control over the Heartless as they clearly were leaving him be.

Quietly, she edges back onto the roof.
Riku Riku rubbed the back of his neck and pauses, leaning up against a rusted grate with one clawed hand. He closes his eyes and very slowly sweeps his head from side to side and up and down. The heartless had become aimless again.

They were searching but they didn't really know what they were searching for or where it was. Someone had told them to go, and they had went, and they were chasing after the faint echoes of... something. He hadn't felt this for a long time. It was hard to get a bead on exactly what they were looking for, and whatever happened he didn't want the heartless getting in the way of whatever was here.

" /BEAT IT/" he growls at one of the search ghosts that hold up their lantern inquistively towards him, as if wondering if he would be good to eat. It vanishes in a puff of dark vapor, small portals appear as the heartless flee before the unspoken command that swept in the wake of Riku's grumbled words.

"Hello?" he calls out after they had gone. He opens his eyes again, blinking several times as he continues to circle the manor. He considers asking one of the trees whether they had seen anybody passing through here but the rooting around heartless, and has to stop for amoment to reacclimatize himself to the idea that he is thinking about asking a tree for directions. "..Boy my life gets strange sometimes." he mumbles to himself as he looks towards the manor.

Well, if anything he could try climbing up to the top of that house. See if he could get a better perspective on just what he was looking at. Riku approaches the west side of the manor, looking up at it speculatively as he tries to figure where to land so he didn't slide off the roof and break his neck.
Avira From where she sits, Avira hears Riku shouting at the Heartless. At that point, she can't help but peek over the edge again, watching as he drives the beasts away for now. It was some small comfort to see them go, but the giant unknown presented by Riku himself still made her nervous.

Listening, he calls out his greeting. Although Avira is silent, it's actually a moment of contemplation as to whether or not she'll answer him. Her ears flick as she hears the crunch of his foosteps around the manor and his occasional...muttering to himself. She follows.

On the west side, she heads to the edge of the house, perching there like the gargoyles of legend from her own world. Avira is undeniably visible now as she peers down at the thorny-looking Riku.

"....hello Riku." she says uneasily. "What brings you out here?"
Riku "..Avira. ..Why?" Riku blinks slowly as he looks up at the manor, tilting his head slightly and raising his eyebrows slightly. He raises a thorn hand and stops before he tries to pull it through his hair and do something undignified like getting it stuck.

"You were the one they were following." he frowns slightly, thinking that over. "I came out here because usually large concentrations of heartless usually mean bad things are happening." he looks slightly frustrated with himself.

"Except I seem to always be one step behind the curve these days. " He shifts his stance. "..Why aren't you with your friends? What happened?"
Avira That he hadn't heard what happened is a cold comfort to Avira. It meant that he probably wasn't in league with Hades and their ilk anymore. Relief is briefly seen upon the mutate's face-but only briefly before it returns to that solem resignation. "Thanks for getting rid of them." she says up front, remaining where she is upon the roof.

"Unfortunately. I am the bad thing that's happening. I messed up...did you hear about what happened to Traverse Town? Well that's a result of us trying to restore Manhattan."

She shakes her head, brows furrowing. "I had made a deal with Hades a few months ago to get rid of this mutate form in exchange for working for him. The working for him thing turned out to entail leaving with him. I refused, he told me to kill my friends and take the shards instead and turned me into this. I resisted as long as I could, but I hurt them."

Her shoulders slump. "...finally, to make things worse, according to Hades, I'm the Princess of Heart for my original world. I don't really think it's true but it would explain these Heartless."
Riku Riku stays silent for the entire explaination. He looks up at Avira for a long time, crossing his arms so that the tendrils interlock with eachother.

The portal malformed teenager stays quiet for a long time before taking a seat up against the rusted fence, slowly making his way down to sit with his knees up against his chest and his hunched back somewhat uncomfortably against the fence.

"They'll stay away. At least for awhile." He doesn't ask any other question but one. He doesn't believe or disbelieve. He doesn't judge. Riku knows perhaps a little bit about what it is to be on the other end of this particular stick and so he doesn't push. He just looks up at Avira with something like understanding.

"So what are you going to go now?"
Avira Quietly, she waits, watching him as he gauges his reaction to this whole mess. She expected....something at least, but it could be anything. Just watching him reminded her how little she really knew about this boy that Mercade and the other TDA members came to know.

As the silence stretches on a very faint involuntary whine escapes Avira. He needed to say something! Yelling. Disbelief. Snark. She'll accept snark! Anything but silent judgement or another disappointed look.

'They'll stay away. At least for a while.' "...thanks..." she repeats, tipping her head upward for a few seconds to stare out on the horizon. When she looks down, she spots that expression on her face.

"I don't know. ...the only thing I can do right now is keep running."
Riku Riku continues to stare at Avira. Not judging. Not.. anything really. He just looks thoughtful, as if he's trying to figure out just want words to say. "Okay."

he says to Avira after a long silence. "But perhaps for a few minutes I can keep them off you so you can rest. You look like you need it and.. It's the least I can do for someone who was kind to me when I needed directions." He chuckles very softly.

"When I was lost, and running myself."
Maira Rumors, rumors...Maira is actually adept at finding them, as you imagine someone with a ghost she can communicate with would be. So when she heard the message Avira had left for VALKYRI, Maira had immediately sent Uist searching for information while she tried to deal with her feelings.

First there was shock. Of course. Avira had made a deal with Hades!? The 'cure' they'd gotten hadn't actually cured her. She'd /lied/. Why would she lie? Did she not trust her? Maira would have helped. She didn't have to make that deal. They would have found a way!

Then, there is guilt. Maira hadn't been there. She should have been there, helping Traverse town, helping Avira, being by her side! Why wasn't she there? Maira isn't even entirely sure. Sometimes, she sleep walks. She woke up somewhere in the dark and had to find her way home. Kinda suspicious. Had someone lead her away?

After the guilt comes, of all things, jealousy. Avira was a princess. Her best friend is better than her at just about everything. Stronger, faster, smarter, more popular. Now she was a princess too. Bitterly, she wonders if she would always be in her shadow. Anger...

Maira had pushed that aside. Avira hadn't asked for this. She made a mistake. She was insecure just like Maira and it had lead her toward making a bad choice...and she probably needed her best friend.

Uist returned with word and they departed, not looking back.

Upon arrival in Traverse Town, Maira was in for quite a surprise. First, a costume change! She's dressed in a knee length black dress with a but of artfully torn ruffles, pink and black striped socks, black boots, lace gloves, and of course, the traditional conical witch hat. Her skin is paler, her eye makeup darker. Standard goth transformation.

What is FAR more shocking though is that Uist is visible. Uist, being fairly scary as it is, didn't have much of a transformation. He was already the ghost of a huge warrior with great wings. Not so unlike Avira.

"I'll find her," Uist tells Maira, leaving her to wander the town a little while he flies off to locate the mutate form of Avira.

While he is still ghostly, he is visible to her and Riku as he lands before Avira, his handsome features stern. Well, Maira might not be pissed at Avira, but Uist doesn't share those feelings. "So there you are," he says.
Avira As she sits there in silence, watching the boy, her muscles start to relax. Oh sure, she could be paranoid about this too-that he was just trying to lure her into a false sense of security and he'd turn on her when her back was turned. But why would he go through all that again? When he did the same with the TDA and look where it got him.

"I'd...." she says quietly, surprised to find him simply acknowledging her plans rather than questioning her no doubt misguided judgement. "I'd like that. I haven't slept."

Slowly the gears turn in her head, his words striking her as unusual, so naturally she must question them. "Kind to you, Riku? I am confused. The last time I saw you was after Will returned. I was anything but kind to you then. The rest of the TDA had to hold me back...prevent me from doing something regrettable."

Her ears flick again. It's likely pretty funny to watch them swivel and turn at each sound. "Someone's coming. I hear wings." Avira announces, looking to the sky. A moment later she stands, rearing up to her full six feet on the edge of the rooftop. Recognition comes quickly to Avira since she has had the opportunity to see this ghost before.

"Uist!" she says with uneasy surprise.
Riku Riku doesn't move from his position but his entire body tenses for a moment as he regards the winged warrior with some mild resentment and chagrin.

"What do you want?" he asks the figure in a flat voice that echoes and reverberates with that echoing overtone that has been added to his speech by the portal magic. He looks up at Avira, then back at Uist. The tendrils of his mane and body seem to twitch with uneasy irritation and his boots dig lightly into the earth.
Maira Uist stands well over six feet, unnaturally large for a man, on the bigger side for a gargoyle, though he appears to be human in appearance beside the wings. He wears his hair long, flame red, and tied with a cord. He crosses his arms and looks between Avira and Riku, eyes settling first on Riku. "Tch, settle down. I'm not here to attack anyone. Was simply looking for Avira," he says, turning to Avira then, frowning with disapproval. "Maira was worried," he tells her, that one sentence informing her how very irate that makes Uist and how much he disapproves. I'll fetch her," he says, turning then to fly back toward where he left Maira.

Maira meanwhile is sitting by the fountain talking to some zombie children, getting information about this place. A place where everyone could see Uist! How wondrous! She doesn't even care that everyone is spooky! This is great!

A few moments later, Uist appears with Maira in tow, who takes one look at Avira and flies forward to embrace her. "WHY! You didn't need to--you shouldn't have--I was--you--you--" Maira gives up and just cries.
Avira This kindness that Riku was hinting at will have to wait for a little later. Uist was here and fully visible-no doubt an effect of this particular world, where visible spirits roamed freely.

In this form, Avira can meet Uist's eyes without inclining her head too much. She only manages this for a few seconds before she lowers them in shame. "She must be." she says quietly, not stopping him as he flies off.

Avira finally comes down from the roof of the mansion, alighting on the ground nearby Riku. "...I left the VALKYRI a voice mail earlier." she says, "To explain what come clean. Faruja demanded I do as much and he was right. It's better that they heard from me-"

Suddenly, MAIRA MISSILE. Her best friend clings to her, shouting and crying. Avira tries to say something to her but words fail her, leaving only tears from the mutate.
Riku Riku slowly gets onto his feet, looking from the weeping Maira to Avira and looking distinctly uncomfortable by this sudden turn of events. This is the part of the movie in which Riku fades back into the background and sneaks off into the night.

The teenager reaches up to a place on his chest, putting the hand flat as he looks off to the side and frowns. Instead of slinking away like he would have done before, he says quietly to Uist.

"Is she always a guided missile?" with a faint trace of humor as he, for once, just rolls his eyes and stays where he is.
Maira Uist will likely return to being silent, though he is unable not to glare at Riku. He's aware of what Riku did. He's on the <goosehonk> list. Then again, Uist is generally a gigantic grump so that's a pretty darn long list.

Topped by Ivo Galvan.

As Riku speaks, Uist growls out an answer. "A guided missile for trouble. Yes."

Maira hugs Avira tightly, not put off by her mutate form. She's seen it before, grew used to it. Had fun flying with her, etc. But that really isn't the issue here, is it?

Maira eventually lets go, wiping at her cheeks as she tries to pull herself together. "W-well? Aren't you going to say anything?" she asks Avira. A voice message was one thing....she's hear now, and she thinks she probably deserves an explanation.

Also she waves to Riku, because it would be impolite not to say hello even if she is /quite/ angry with him!
Avira It was definitely time for THAT part of the movie, wasn't it? Before Avira allows her eyes to close, she does glance at Riku through the tears for a brief second, as if that would somehow convey that she really does hope he follows up on his offer.

Guided trouble missiles. It was like a hidden component to being a VALKYRI and one of the many things that had forged that near-supernatural bond between Maira and Avira.

Maira speaks again and Avira's eyes open once more, peering down at the fire mage. "...I hid it from you...I hid it from everyone. I'm sorry, Maira..."

A dejected whine escapes her. "Everything's <GOOSEHONK> and it's my fault."
Riku Riku takes this with an almost gaelic lack of concern despite having never been on a world where the word or concept was used. He also, is painfully aware of the things he has done and so anger and disfavor and hate and so forth are things he understands.

He knows how to deal with them. It's friendship he doesn't know how to deal with and right now, he has the feeling of having been transmuted, quite neatly by Maira's appearance into somewhat of a squeaky fifth wheel. (Despite there only being 4 people).

So Riku nods to Avira silently, finding someplace nearby where he can lean up against a sleeping tree and be out of the way, sitting at the gnarled base of the roots and lacing his thorned fingers together in order to listen.
Maira Maira shakes her head in disbelief. "I can't believe...I can't believe you didn't tell me. Why Avira? You...I thought you trusted me. You could have told me. I wouldn't have judged you...I would have helped you--I WILL help you Everything is not <GOOSEHONK>. We're going to fix it, okay?" she says, taking Avira by the hand.

"I-I-....there's something I need to tell you too, but first...tell me what happened, okay? What do we do now?"

Uist looks over toward Riku, frowning still. Uist is also a weird wheel here. "Hey. Want to spar?" he says to Riku then. People can actually see him here and what does he want to do? Fight.
Avira The rest of the TDA could easily go on and on about how Riku had Trouble With Friendship, couldn't they? Alas, they aren't here right now. A little earlier Avira had been wondering when the last time Mercade saw Riku was. The same time that Avira did in Traverse Town maybe during the reunion?

"Shame." Avira mutters, turning her head to the side as Maira unwinds from her and takes one of her furred, almost paw-like hands. "I don't know how, Maira. I just know they can't let them take me..." she trails off and she finally brings herself to look at Maira.

For the third time today, she explains what happened yesterday. That they were going to Merlin's house with the scroll from Mama Odie. That they thought that when she read it at midnight on Saturday they'd get an answer. That the Shadow Lords came en masse, including Hades, who had the contract upon her.

THAT was Avira's mutate cure. It was rescinded. Evja also had a similar deal and betrayed everyone and attacked. Avira hurt her friends (again! Maira would know this hasn't been the first time she's turned on people as she was unfortunate enough to get it from her in Baron.) at Hades's command and she left.

Of course, Avira's pretty upset as she delivers this. "Maira, I can't be around Traverse have to lead VALKYRI when I can't be there."
Riku Riku sighs with relief. "Please." he actually grins at Uist, which feels very weird because it takes up a lot of his entire face to grin like that, the jagged line almost reaching his ears. "ack." he says softly, rubbing his cheek with two gnarled protrusions.

"..I'm never going to get used to this place." he chuckles softly to himself as he slowly gets back to his feet. He scans around at the terrain, warily sizing up Uist and then the surroundings for a few moments. He frowns just slightly in suspicion.. and then lets it go with a faint shrug, moving over to a place not entirely cluttered by hidden roots. He listens but he pretends not to be listening. He leaves Avira and Maira to continue their conversation as he summons a black staff into his hand, leaning against it idly.

"I need more practice with this anyways."
Maira Maira didn't have the full story, so as Avira tells it, Maira takes a seat. She's pretty shocked. Evja had a deal with Hades too? Betrayal? Could no one be trusted? No, no. She could trust. She /would/ trust. She couldn't let herself go down that kind of path. Maira looks down, taking a deep breath. It is difficult. She doesn't know what to do. Especially when Avira says she must lead VALKYRI.

Maira shakes her head emphatically. "No no no...I can't lead anybody! I can't even take care of myself! Avira, you have to come back. You can't just run away.'re the princess, right? So that means you are the key to bringing back Manhattan...we just have to figure to do this. Which we will. Together."

Uist also grins, for while he doesn't exactly like Riku, the kid may grow on him by letting him hit him with a stick. This is how warriors bond. "Nice choice," he says, indicating the staff as he summons one to hand himself. "This will suit me fine," he continues, then motions for Riku to approach as he slides one foot back and adopts a strong fighting stance.
Avira Ultimately, Avira doesn't mind if Riku listens in on this. She hasn't said anything that she wouldn't say to Riku. Right now, Avira felt like total crap and was not inclined to hiding things.

Avira puts her other hand on top of Maira's and squeezes a little. "Don't say that, Maira. You've grown, I've seen it." But at the mention of the whole 'princess' thing, Avira grimaces. "...I don't know if I can come back."

Her hands go slack. "The Heartless will come again. Hades will come again." She shakes a little at the thought.
Riku Riku braces himself and then throws himself forwards a little faster than he intended, almost unbalancing as he then crouches and swings the staff upwards towards Uist's chin as he leaps onto his feet, putting all of his body weight behind the strike but pulling it just slightly because he had no actual intent to harm.

He follows up with a quick strike towards the ribs before sliding backwards, catching his foot on a gnarled root and ending in a loose backwards roll that ends up with him crouching in the dirt, slightly disoriented.

"This place sucks for footwork." he chuckles and the smile becomes slightly sad as the complaint triggers off a memory and somewhere in his mind his dad chimes him for blaming poor tools of the failure of a craftsmen. "..or maybe I'm just not used to things here." he says in soft correction.
Maira Grown or not, Maira doesn't think she's a leader. Maira's self-esteem still needs a good bit of work.

"Avira...we'll fight them! Come on, we've fought plenty of Heartless! You can't just run forever...what do we do? How do we get the spirit shard out of you? How do we use it to restore Manhattan? Just tell me and I'll help you do it. I can't just...not do anything..." she says, reaching to hug Avira again.

"I know you are really angry with yourself right now. But everyone will understand. Everyone makes can't give up. Remember what Mama Odie said? About things getting harder? Well, here it is. You have to dig deeper, she said. You've got to do this for everyone from Manhattan...and for all of us who's world's are gone and won't even come back. Just....just tell me what to do," she pleads, looking up to meet her best friend's eye. No matter what Avira has done, Avira was kind to Maira when she was lost. She was her first (living) friend. Avira had better just deal. She's stuck with Maira.

Uist's mouth curves slightly in what could be the beginning of a smile as he watches Riku approach, noting his speed. Of course, Riku looked like the type to be quick. Still, Uist is well practiced and not slow despite his size, he brings his staff up and whacks Riku's to the side with a good bit of force. Uist is a big man, and not exactly use to holding back. It had been a long time since he was solid long enough for a spar.

Uist steps forward, staff in both hands, his grip wide as he turns, jabbing with one end, spinning then jabbing with the other, delivering strikes in rapid procession. Quick, but also powerful. "How old are you?" Uist asks casually.
Avira "I..I don't want to run forever." Avira says quietly right now. "But I..." Faruja's words come back to haunt her. She was being a coward-but she had reason to, didn't she?! "But I don't know...I don't know what to do. Hades's contract needs to be removed."

There was that escape clause, sure, but activating it seemed like an insurmountable barrier right now.

Avira's pulled into a hug again, Maira getting the sensation of hugging a big furry dog. Avira's fur is pretty thick, just like her hair in human form was. "I didn't think those words were meant for /me/." Avira mumbles and then stands there awkardly, trying to think.

"Hades needs to be kept away from me. He can't know where I am." Maira's looking for a solution but Avira feels herself at a loss.
Riku Riku is pummeled quite effectively with the staff and grumbles. "THIS." /WHACK/ a small sound of pain. "This is why I hate staves." He manages to parry the next two thrusts, lashing out a leg to try and unbalance Uist as he then strikes out with the edge of the staff trying to hit them in the shoulder.

He only manages to fend off the later assault a few times and takes a few hard whacks for his troubles. His approach only shifts to being more defensive. He isn't able to manuever well in this portal form and so he simply braces himself, feet digging into the soil as he sweeps the staff around in a short circle over his head and brings it down at Uist's right collarbone.

"..Fifteen." he makes a small sound of uneasy uncertainty. "The late part of that at least.. it's complicated." he shrugs. He looks occasionally over at Avira and a few times it looks like he is going to say something, but then looks away and continues to focus on what he was doing.
Maira Maira sighs quietly. She doesn't mind fuzzy Avira. Maira likes animals...not that Avira was an animal! She's just...not put off? She knows it won't be forever. They are going to figure this out.

Maira takes a deep breath then. "Alright. We'll keep Hades away from you. We'll figure out what to do. I'm not going to give up, and neither are you. We've just got to think. I'll find the others. Angantyr, Mercade, Skoll....Tron and Katyna, the rest of VALKYRI. We'll figure this out. Don't lose hope okay?" she says, flashing Avira her most encouraging smile.

Uist nods, but doesn't go any easier on Riku. "Fifteen is old enough to be a man. It is older thanI was when I started fighting," he replies.

At the potential emergence of a clear memory, Uist winces, something inwardly triggering to make him push it back. The distraction lets Riku get through his defenses and land a solid hit on his collarbone.

Uist looks quite surprised. "Been a good long time since someone has /hit/ me," he remarks, a grin then forming. Uist brings his staff up to give Riku a not so gentle smack in the ribs if Riku isn't quick enough to guard. Then, he executes an unexpected and smooth spinning inside crescent kick aimed for Riku's head.
Avira Avira tries to manage a weak smile in this form. It looks like more grimacing or even snarling with her current facial structure. "I'm counting on all of you." she says quietly, gradually feeling a little better. She might be too distraught to think straight about this-but Maira, the rest of VALKYRI, and the TDA could instead.

At least they'll do it provided they don't HATE HER FOREVER for what she's done. Part of her fear about returning is this thought itself. What if they really didn't forgive her at all for the selfish deal she's made?

Avira squeezes Maira's hands. "I trust them too...can you tell them that, Maira?"
Riku Riku is not quick enough to guard against the smack to the ribs, having already having a full complement of bruises in that area from the last assault and not wanting to add to his collection. However, sometimes life, and painful bruises, just have to be borne. He smirks at Uist, nodding to them and rocking back on his heels(?) "..Where are you from?" he grins offhandly and winces again at the strangeness of it although slowly he is starting to acclimate a little.

"I say that only because I'm going to knock you all the way back there, if not into next week." This arrogance is stilted, as if he has left it alone for so long the tendancy to make remarks like that has started to rust. He hurt all over from being whacked, but it was a clean and uncomplicated ache and he missed it. Riku found himself missing a lot of things lately.

One thing he is more than grateful to miss however is Uist's strike up alongside his head. He collapses like a withering flower onto his back, springing up in a spring kick that launches him straight into Uist's face again as he lashes out with both feet (tightly wound up into knobbly blunted claws) to kick the warrior straight in the abdomen, flipping back off them into another rolling crouch.
Maira Maira's smile grows as she nods. "Of course I will. We'll figure this out together. Until then...stay where I can find you, or at least try, okay?

She can't help be notice how exhausted Avira looks. She probably hasn't slept at all. "You should rest Avira. I'll look after you while you sleep, don't worry," she said, patting her arm gently and encouraging her to get comfortable--somehow.

Maira looks then to watch Uist and Riku sparring. Uist is really enjoying himself, she doesn't even need to see him to know that.

Uist is indeed enjoying himself, letting out a low laugh at Riku's playful threat. The question though, he has no answer for. Uist doesn't know.

Uist smiles as Riku bends beneath his kick, surprised with his flexibility. Someone had trained him well at least. The counter is expected, and Uist brings his staff down to block the kick, his resistance oaken. He'll let Riku get back to his feet again, grinning with what would appear to be approval. "Who is your teacher?" he asks then, sweeping his staff low in a quick feint for the knees then jerking the end up quickly toward Riku's chin, stepping into the strike then shifting his weight back onto his back foot so Riku couldn't easily knock him off balance by kicking out the front leg.
Avira "I will try least stay in reach. I think I may need to revisit someone shortly for some answers." Avira says, hinting at her upcoming journey to the Bayou. She didn't want to outright say it because then word will spread and the Shadow Lords would hear and...

...and then there would be more heartbreaking encounters with her friends like this. "I haven't slept." she tells Maira, pulling away then moving to lean against the wall. Her back sinks down against it. Though the sparring between Riku and Uist is no doubt interesting to watch, she quickly falls asleep.

Time passes-hours-and Avira does not stir for a while, the mental and physical exhaustion she had accumulated commanding that she sleep for quite some time. Eventually she does stir, her furry head lifting blearily. With each passing second, she grows more active. Maira is gone, clearly off to bring news to the rest of VALKYRI and the TDA.
Riku Riku is not too far away, nursing some more bruises but otherwise looking reasonably alright.

He is sitting and leaning up against a rusted gate, looking up at the night sky absently.

He looks down when Avira starts to wake up, silently giving a small wave in acknowledgement without saying anything.
Avira Movement! Avira starts to tense but when she looks in it's direction, she sees Riku in all his thorny glory sitting there. The tenseness disappears and Avira takes her time in rousing and getting up. She's still here, Riku was keeping the Heartless away, clearly she had nothing to worry about.

Pulling her mutated body up to her taloned feet, she takes a moment to stretch. Her arms spread out, followed by her wings-she'd certainly fit in with a flock of gargoyles at this point.

"Hello Riku." she says awkwardly, rubbing her arm. "Um...thanks. I really needed that."
Riku "Believe me, I have.. an impression of the value of undisturbed sleep." he smiles somehwhat sadly at this, the cant of the ragged line of teeth that cuts across his cheek making the expression markedly sinister.

"If any shadow lords had noticed I was sending their minions on a wild goose chase, I would have woken you up. Still... it won't last forever." he looks somewhat distant for a moment and then shakes his head.

"You won't have to keep running forever." Again, he doesn't judge or try to talk her out of it. He simply tries to reassure her although he looks somewhat awkward about the attempt. He curls up a thorned fist and gently whacks the other into it with a hollow noise as he looks up at the stars again.
Avira A sympathetic smile forms along the jaws of the mutate, joining Riku's 'terrifying-looking grin' club for a few brief moments. Though the expression disappears seconds afterwards, the sympathy remains buried inside her.

"It won't." she agrees, stepping towards him. "Though part of me vainly hoped it would. Part of me hoped I could take you with me but that wouldn't be fair to you since there's clearly somewhere you've been yourself."

An eyebrow lifts. Though she fully expected that she couldn't run from these problems forever, his particular choice of wording, "'won't'?", clearly gets her attention. "You may be the first and only person that's going to accept that I will be running. Though...I think I might know why."

She stops approaching, keeping a few feet from out of respect for personal space. "I won't pry for that...but I do want to know one thing. I can understand possible sympathy but I am at a loss about that kindness you mentioned."
Riku Riku looks up at her and snorts faintly. He slowly gathers himself up, the hunched and distorted teen slowly raising up from where he was sitting.

He groans faintly, grumbling under his breath about his back still aching in sympathy to having someone fall on it before he straightens up and shakes his head.

"Well. Some people take to running to the hills.." and shrugs one shoulder, looking at Avira for a long time and then letting out a growling sigh. "..and some people run away from who they were. It's sort of difficult to explain here." he chuckles faintly.

"I doubt you would even remember, but you tried to help a young adventurer be included. There was even eggnog involved at one point, but as I understand that is sort of a seasonal thing. I've had a difficult time placing it after that."

He looks like he is fully expecting something like a punch in the nose from the expression of chagrin on his face.
Avira 'It's difficult to explain.' usually means 'I don't want to talk about it' in teenager language. "...I'll take your word for it." she says after looking at him for a long while.

Riku references her helping a young adventurer and while she no doubt has helped a number of people in her time, one did stand out to her. A young man she assumed came from her own world and was displaced after the Light of Manhattan faded. Whom she confided that she found quite a bit of herself in his situation. A kid she gave a sample of her fully-spirited eggnog around Christmas time.

"THAT WAS YOU?!" she blurts out, whirling to stare at him. After a second she storms over, grasps him by the shoulders, and shakes. "You sneaky little brat!!"
Riku Or shaking.

Yep. Shaking also works.

He laughs quietly with even more chagrin. "aggh! Sorry. Sorry!" he continues to be shaken back and forth and appears to be allowing himself to be done so as penance.

Eventually he tries to disengage from the shaking if only so that the world will stop spinning for a little bit. He chuckles, putting up his claws to fend off the mutate VALKYRI. "I.. need some time to get my head on straight. Faruja. and.. half the population of the universe wanted my head on a plate just around that time, and.." he pauses and then sighs.

"..and the less time I spend at 'home'... the better it was for me."
Avira In this form, Avira has some pretty serious strength! Riku will get the feeling that she's definitely not going all out. There could have been worse things he could have done to her in that disguise besides catching her being /nice/ to people, after all.

This does explain Sable's avoidance of clans though.

"Why though? Stealth way to get advice?" she finally lets go, but remains looking huffy at being deceived for so long. It was a shame too, she was really rooting for that kid! Then he explains that everyone wanted to kill him and...eventually, she nods. "Well that makes a painful amount of sense."

Home. She could only assume that meant wherever the Shadow Lords hung out. "So you've cut yourself off from them." It's not even a question, spoken as an observation. She doesn't ask why, she doesn't go into any lecturing over guilt. If Riku's made it to this point, he probably already made that trip...furthermore...

Avira was in no place to be giving -anyone- a high and mighty lecture right now. "In whatever you do from now, Riku, I wish you luck."
Riku Riku raises his eyebrows slightly and then chuckles faintly. "..I preferred the shaking." he waives that off with a gesture.

He takes another step away from her, opening his mouth as if he wanted to say more and then he shakes his head very minutely.

He frowns slightly and then turns away from Avira. "They'll still be wary for a bit after I leave, but you should probably get going. Goodbye, Avira." without another word he takes two steps and vanishes, a smear of darkness sealing up behind him.
Avira "...should have known you wouldn't answer that..." Avira says quietly as he waves her question off-though for that brief moment, it does look like he's going to say something.

Alas, that moment passes and he turns away.

"...I should. I'll be taking advantage of that head start." she's quiet as she too turns away from him. "Goodbye Riku."

There's a stretch of silence that follows and he vanishes in that time. When she speaks up again, she hasn't quite realized that he's just left. "...thanks."

When she peeks over her shoulder, she notices that he's gone. Without another moment's hesitation, she spreads her wings and takes off to continue her fleeing.

This scene contained 59 poses. The players who were present were: Faruja Senra, Riku, Avira, Maira