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Author Topic: The Circle of Three [CONCLUSION: 28: Ascension]  (Read 50827 times)

Offline g4rfield

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Re: The Circle of Three [4: The Three]
« Reply #20 on: November 01, 2007, 11:33:27 PM »
The Circle Inner bath house!  :shocked: Some questions answered some don't. For example, why is it that in most TakaGaki pairing fic, it's always Risa who fall in love with Ai? Maybe you can enlighten me a bit.  :grin: Other than that, I'll wait until the audition. Go Rokun write more chapters!!! [crack whip] *I'm such a slave driver*  XD

Offline mode107

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Re: The Circle of Three [4: The Three]
« Reply #21 on: November 02, 2007, 02:06:22 AM »
Quote
“I know,” Ai said stoically. And she did know of all the girls other than herself who had gone to that room and not resurfaced until the next morning.
  :shakeit: 

lol, I'm sorry, I've always wanted to use that. It's  nice that you gave us the bg info on the two. So Miki's coming back? sweeeet. I have a feeling she might feel a bit jealous if she sees TakaGaki together, kinda in that 'you dont really care' way, but then you still have those feelings deep inside.

and c'mon Ai, just go for Gaki  :P

I wanna be in the private bath! :bath: :tantrum:
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Offline chibilolli

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Re: The Circle of Three [4: The Three]
« Reply #22 on: November 06, 2007, 11:03:23 PM »
Great chapter. It was nice to find out more about the circle members. Now I want to know about the Skull members.

Reina and Miya FTW :heart:

Offline rokun

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Re: The Circle of Three [5: Audition]
« Reply #23 on: November 09, 2007, 01:04:49 AM »
Another chapter for you guys for the weekend. ^_^ For the first time in a while, this is the longest chapter I've ever written... It may not be quite to Estrea's extreme-ness yet, but at 9k words there's still a lot going on. :lol: I feel like I put a good bit into it, and although it was hard I'm happy with the result. I'm not getting many responses yet, but I hope maybe this will cause some more people to chime in. ^___^ I'd be thrilled if someone commented on quite a few of the different things that go on here... Anyway! Here you go! It's audition time. :twisted:


Chapter 5 – Audition

Reina walked through the moonless darkness, doing her best to act as if she wasn’t afraid of the night since of course as Captain of the Skulls she couldn’t be. However, even if she betrayed any sign of fright or cowardice, nobody would see her because good girls of Seishin didn’t walk by themselves out-of-doors in the middle of the night.

She was trying her best, but it was hard, especially after she’d seen what the Circle was capable of the night before. They’d even put some curse on her to make her unable to tell anyone what she’d seen. It was the little one that did it; it had to have been! She looked at her and did… something. That has to be it… Reina kept telling herself. She was not just going crazy.

Then again, it also didn’t help that as she walked through the night to the cave, she heard more rustling noises in the trees around her than there should have been. It’s just some animal running through the trees trying to find food, she told herself. Or else it’s just the wind. Either way, it was nothing to worry about.

She wasn’t crazy about even coming out here tonight, although walks in the dark like this were nothing new to her. There was just some kind of mood to the night; something she sensed. She couldn’t pinpoint it, but something just seemed wrong with it. She had no choice though since she now led the Skulls. It was her duty to meet the Master and prepare for the Okai girl’s audition.

Eventually the blackness ahead fell into an even deeper darkness, and she knew she was nearing her goal. She barely realized that her feet picked up to walk just a little more quickly at the sight, but as the gaping maw of the cave reared ahead of her she was almost at a run… until a figure jumped out at her from what must have been atop a rock. She couldn’t help a shrill cry, and before she could stop herself hopped a step back.

“Well, I know I’m a terrifying sight, but seriously Reina… screaming…?” an older girl said as she leered in front of her.

Reina felt like her heart was going to beat out of her chest, but she tried her best to calm herself down. She couldn’t afford to look this pathetic in front of… “Mikitty…?” she asked, peering up at the face that was becoming more recognizable by the second.

“In the flesh,” the girl said, grinning.

You’re the Master now?” Reina asked, completely flummoxed. The girl had just graduated!

“Yeah,” Miki said, looking off into space and adopting a frown for some reason. “Ohtani-san didn’t want to do it anymore, and they like to keep someone young in the position because of the…” she looked around the area they stood, “…responsibilities it comes with.”

“But Ohtani-sama was so old!” Reina exclaimed.

“Hey!” Miki said quickly with a sour look. “Watch your mouth! She’s only a few years older than me!” And she cuffed Reina on the side of the head without too much force.

As Reina turned back to her, rubbing her cheek, she mumbled, “As long as you don’t start going along and saying I should call you Fujimoto-sama…”

Miki grinned again. “Of course not, little buddy!” This time she wrapped an arm tightly around Reina’s neck as if in some twisted friendly embrace and pulled her toward the cave entrance. “That’s another reason they like to keep someone young in this position. They like to have the current captain and master on somewhat equal footing since they share a lot of duties when they come together. Did you ever hear me call Masae ‘Ohtani-sama’?”

“Well… no,” Reina admitted. Come to think of it, she never had. Reina always thought that was just due to Miki’s badass-ness, so this was definitely a new piece of information. She no longer held Miki on a pedestal that was quite as high as it used to be. Wait, did that mean…?

“Yes, that’s right,” Miki said, and Reina for the first time noticed the girl was grinning at her with a sparkle in her eye. “You do the same with me and it will… improve your authority.” She was now grinning very widely, and Reina realized she was doing the same. “So!” Miki said, breaking away from Reina’s gaze and looking around again. “A new audition! How exciting! I know Kusumi managed to pass, but I hope this new girl does a, er, better job…” She sighed as she thought about Reina’s housemate.

“I thought you liked her!” Reina said, bristling. “If it were up to me, there’s no way I would have let her join…”

“But it wasn’t up to you,” Miki said briskly. “The vote is just a formality, you know, to try to get a consensus, since that’s best for us all. If a girl passes the audition though, no matter how well, she’s in. Not everyone might be happy with it, but if she passes, then it means there’s at least something in her making her worthy of being a Skull.” She peered into Reina’s face as if trying to draw something out of it. “Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed anything remarkable about her yet?”

“Well…” Reina said hesitantly. She still didn’t like the girl, but she supposed she’d gotten used to her since she was all she had for company lately except for Miyabi. Then she thought of the times when Koharu seemed to be thinking more than she let on. “Maybe…”

“See!” Miki said as if the issue was settled. “There you go, she’s still new. I’m sure as time goes on she’ll prove herself even more to all of you. Not everyone’s an anomaly like you or Miyakko, you know.”

Reina hesitated again wondering if she should be offended by the girl’s statement, but couldn’t do so long before Miki went on in that one-track mind of hers. “So, this audition! It’s so exciting, isn’t it?! Aside from Kusumi’s a few months ago, we haven’t had one in… over a year, no? Since Maihacchi joined. Of course things were quite active before then with you and Miyakko.”

“How’s Maihacchi doing, by the way?” Reina said quickly, eager to not get into the subject of join dates. “Surely you’ve been keeping up with her.”

“Of course!” Miki said, giving her a frown. “I wouldn’t be a very good Skullmaster if I didn’t keep track of our members. She is still a member, of course!” She apparently felt it necessary to point that out, although Reina didn’t see the need. Once a Skull, always a Skull. It was a motto of sorts. Well, if they used such silly things as mottos.

Miki adopted a vexed face before continuing. “However, the school she transferred to has no tradition at all, and there’s no Skulls chapter there. That’s not surprising, of course,” she added hastily. “Very few schools are as long-standing as Seishin – none that I know of, actually – and any that survived the Restoration were necessarily quite separate from Seishin, and the Skulls are an institution rather unique to here…”

Reina stared at the girl, who still held her in a headlock, as she seemed to become lost in reminiscence of some kind. She obviously had a lot to learn as Captain. “And so Maihacchi…” she said, trying to prod the girl in that direction again.

Miki seemed to snap out of her reverie and spoke quickly again. “Oh yes, of course. She’s doing fine, and we’re even trying to work with her to start up a chapter at her new school. We would have preferred someone with a bit more… experience… but any Skull should be capable of it.”

“I sure hope Koharu never transfers then…” Reina said with a sour face before realizing what had really come out of her mouth. “I can’t believe I just said that…”

Miki tapped her on the side of the head again. “As Captain, you really need to get over whatever issue there is between you. You can’t lead with that kind of attitude.” She looked back at the dark entrance to the cave. “Now, about this audition.” Reina finally realized that perhaps she wasn’t the one trying to keep the conversation focused, and decided to finally keep quiet. “Who’s the unlucky girl?”

“A second year,” Reina said, still frowning at nothing. “Okai… Chisato, I believe.”

Miki gave a low whistle through her teeth. “Just become a second year and granted an audition, eh? That’s pretty impressive. Of course, she still has to pass, and even if she did she wouldn’t hold a candle to you and our Miyakko…” Reina’s face darkened, and the older girl looked into it. “I take it you weren’t the one who invited her?”

“No,” Reina said quietly.

“Didn’t think so,” Miki responded casually.

Reina looked up at her, her emotion now dancing in her eyes. “What’s that supposed to mean? I’m not good enough to recruit for auditions?”

“I’m not saying that,” Miki said, and she finally released her hold on Reina’s neck, which she quickly rubbed to ease her muscles. “I just know you’re a little touchy about girls challenging your standing.”

Reina felt like she was struck by a blow at that. The girl had noticed what went on between her and Miyabi? “I…” she began, but became unable to continue. If she thought that way about her, why did she ever select her as captain?

Miki was giving her a very intense look, a small smile gracing her lips. “You think I didn’t notice your little feuds?” This time Reina really did begin to feel a little offended by the girl’s choice of words. They bit at each other a lot as Skulls, but she was the Captain now! This girl had chosen her! “I chose you partly for your seniority, yes. But true Skulls rarely become close with anyone out of a general distrust of the status quo. Miyakko has a lot of talent and potential, yes, but she’s a bit too… open-minded as well. Tell me. Has she found a girlfriend yet?”

Reina blinked at her senpai, startled at the question. “Um… no…” Miki continued to look at her expectantly though, and she finally found herself capable of thought. “Well, apparently she’s got her eye on a second year or two.”

“Ahh…” Miki said, nodding wisely. “You can count on this: before long, she’ll have herself a girlfriend. If not one of those you say she’s got an eye on, someone else. But it’ll happen.”

Reina kept staring at her, slightly confused. “But… Mikitty…” she tried her best not to trip over her words. Why was it so hard to talk about this anymore? “You had all kinds of girls. What’s so special about her getting one?”

“The fact that she’ll get one,” Miki responded, giving her that intense look again. “True, I indulged in certain…” she grinned, “pleasures… but I could never become attached. Such is the typical Skull’s life. Don’t get me wrong,” she said, responding to a look apparently of mutual pity that Reina tried to quickly erase from her face. “I don’t desire anything more. Because…” she said, looking carefully at Reina to make sure she heard her. “That’s the point.”

Reina fell into thought for a moment. The girl was right, she supposed. Reina herself even felt no need to have someone to count on or be attached to, whether a lover or a friend. But Miyabi… did…? She’d have to be more attentive to the girl’s attitudes from now on.

“Miyakko might be Captain some day,” Miki said in a more relaxed voice now. “She is a year behind you after all, and you could always transfer.” She gave her a dagger look as if to say she’d better not, though. “But the Skulls need to be wary of everyone, and so need a leader that is.”

Well, Reina understood now. Still, she didn’t know if she was supremely thrilled by the revelation. “Speaking of girlfriends and being wary…” Reina began hesitantly. “One of your old flings is now part of the Circle.”

This time it was Miki’s turn to blink. “From Nakazawa?” she asked. Reina nodded. “…Who?”

“Takahashi,” Reina replied.

As if she was imitating Reina’s earlier emotions, Miki’s face darkened now as well. “Oh really?” Suddenly she broke into a shrill laugh. “Ai-chan in the Circle, huh? Really? Good for her. I couldn’t see it in her.”

Reina nodded again, and as if her voice was spurred on by itself, she added, “And there’s more. Last night, the Circle, they… did stuff. Takahashi threw me across the room somehow, and the little one messed with my head to where…” She snapped her mouth shut, eyes wide at what had come out of her mouth. “Where I couldn’t tell anyone about it…”

Miki’s eyes widened too as Reina spoke, until it seemed she was almost struck speechless too. “You… you saw it too?” she asked, and for perhaps the first time ever Reina heard fear in the girl’s voice.

“Too?” Reina asked intently. “What do you mean?”

Miki’s mouth was working, but it didn’t seem like any words would come out. Eventually she gathered herself though to say in a quiet voice, “I haven’t been able to talk freely about this… ever…”

“Me neither…” Reina said carefully. “You don’t suppose… they did the same thing to both of us, and whatever it was doesn’t work between us for that same reason?”

Miki wrapped her arm around Reina again, though this time it was just around her shoulders in what was really no more than a friendly gesture. “We have a lot to talk about, Reina. Okai, right? Is she bringing friends?”

“Probably,” Reina said, still reeling from their mutual realization. Maybe she wasn’t going crazy after all… She came back into focus momentarily though. “Her friends are the ones I told you that Miya was interested in.”

Miki was silent a moment as if she saw something in Reina’s words that she couldn’t herself. “It sounds like an interesting night.” She looked back at the cave. “Come. Let’s talk while we prepare.”

Reina now felt much more tentative about the audition tomorrow night. Somehow she thought it would mean more than the test of a second year wanting to join the Skulls. As she and Miki walked toward the cave, her eyes were drawn to the brush around them, having thought she saw something shining from within. When she properly looked though, she caught sign of nothing except the movement of some of the foliage as if an animal was bounding through it and away. Putting the evidence of the glowing spots and what might have caused that much disturbance together, she wondered if there might not be any coyotes or wolves around. The area around Seishin was fairly wild, after all. The thought left her mind though when the two of them entered the cave’s dark interior.



“Are you really sure you want to do this?” Airi asked her friend for what seemed like the hundredth time. She couldn’t deny there was a certain… charm… to the Skulls, but she still couldn’t believe Chisato of all people wanted to do that to herself. She was just always so happy… and energetic…

At another resolved nod from her friend, she sighed. “I swear though, Chisa. If I ever find tobacco around our room…” The other girl gave her a cute glare, but didn’t respond.

It was eleven-thirty on Sunday night, and although both girls were tired, they marched out through the empty Matsuura lounge toward the eventual goal of the cave that was just beyond some of the woods to the east of the school. Airi didn’t really think she wanted to do this at all, but she wanted even more to support her friend as best she could, and just could not turn her down. Besides, Natsuyaki at least didn’t seem to be that bad a person. Well, when she wasn’t trying to constantly bully her around that was. She wished the girl would at least actually remember her name…

When they left the house, as they walked along the path to the woods they saw a figure walking quickly up toward them. Airi pulled Chisato to a stop, although the other girl seemed reluctant to do so in her eagerness to get to her audition, and they waited as the girl came into view. Before long though, Airi felt she could have sighed in relief.

“Hey, Okai, Toothpick,” she said, nodding at each of the girls in turn. Airi narrowed her eyes.

“It’s Airi,” she said in a low voice. “Ai. Ri. Not too hard to remember.”

“Love is never logical,” Natsuyaki said in response, looking levelly at her, and Airi stared in befuddlement. “Like I said before. What a sickeningly cute name.” She looked at the two girls again. “It’s just the two of you here?”

“Yes…” Chisato said, furrowing her brow as if confused by the question.

Natsuyaki stared at her for a moment with her head slightly cocked before giving Airi a short glance and turning back to the auditionee. “Are you ready?” she asked her.

This time, as if she was waiting for the question, Chisato nodded without hesitation. “Yes, Natsuyaki-san.”

“Good,” the other girl responded, and looked the two girls up and down. “You’ve brought nothing with you. That’s good too.” Then she suddenly started walking down the path. “You two going to join me?” she asked, and with a quick look at Airi, Chisato jumped ahead to keep up.

Airi herself felt like throwing up her arms, but instead just followed her friend. “What are you getting me into, Chisa?” she growled into her friend’s ear when she caught up. The shorter girl just gave her a smile and shrugged.

They walked through the woods in silence for the most part, Natsuyaki keeping up a brisk pace before slowing down when Airi estimated they were about halfway through.

“You know the Skulls have accepted only two new members in the past two years,” she told them casually. “I hope you’re ready. I hear the Captain and Master have prepared something especially fun for you.”

The two younger girls exchanged glances. “I’m ready for whatever you can throw at me,” Chisato said in a small but challenging voice.

Natsuyaki looked over at her and smiled. “That’s a good attitude you have there. Be careful about being too proud so soon though. Even if you pass and are able to join, you’ll have a long road ahead of you before you’ll be more than fresh meat in the Skulls.”

“Tell me,” Airi said, sidling up toward Natsuyaki and breaking in. “What is really up with you guys? You act all cool and talk like you’re all yankiis or something, but times like this you seem just like any other girl.”

Natsuyaki kept the smile on her face and shifted her cool gaze toward Airi, who for some reason felt warm beneath it. “You tell me,” she said. “Are you going to like having a friend who beats up other girls as a hobby? You remind me of a choirgirl like that new Nakazawa head is. You ever even broken a school rule?”

Airi looked nervously over at Chisato, who kept her gaze carefully away from her and on the path ahead.

“I didn’t think so,” the Skull continued. “You’re in for a rude awakening tonight I think. I wonder how well you really know your friend. Or am I mistaken?” she asked, this time directing it at Chisato. “You keep this company. Do you really have what it takes to be a Skull?”

“Yes, I do,” Chisato said between gritted teeth, still not turning her head. Airi also noticed her fists were clenched at her sides. She couldn’t help staring a bit herself. She’d never heard Chisato talk like this. True she wasn’t as into school and keeping up a clean image as Airi or even Risako, but she was far from a delinquent. If she passed tonight, was that what she would become?

“I see,” Natsuyaki said, looking forward as well. “Then there must be something special about you, toothpick.”

“It’s Airi…” she responded in almost a resigned whisper, trying to hide a blush she felt for some reason.

“Oh, I need to tell you about your task tonight,” the Skull said, and Chisato suddenly perked her ears eagerly. “You’ll be going into the cave to fetch a real skull. We’ll tell you more when you arrive, but basically, if you find the skull you pass. If you don’t, or if something happens to it, you fail.”

Chisato finally looked up at her, a little anxiously. “That’s all I have to do? Find a… skull?”

“Don’t sound so scared of it,” Natsuyaki responded. “Do you think you can call yourself a Skull if you can’t even handle a real one?”

Chisato’s eyes sank back down. “No… I guess not.”

“And yes, that’s it,” the other girl said. “Like I said, we’ll tell you more when…”

Trailing off, the older girl suddenly stopped and looked around them. Chisato and Airi did too, and they almost unconsciously gathered toward their guide, looking around nervously themselves.

“Something’s wrong…” Natsuyaki said.

Airi could feel her heart beating in her ears, her senses straining to their max in this quiet night. She didn’t know what she was trying to catch, but if Natsuyaki had heard or seen something, and thought it was something to be concerned with, she thought she probably should be too. She could hear the trees swaying and perhaps some brush being swept past in the distance, though that could have been only the wind.

“What?” she asked in a high whisper. “What is it?”

“I don’t know…” their guide responded. “Hey, you two wait here. I’ll go check it out.” Then, before Chisato or Airi could respond, she strode off the path into the trees and soon disappeared.

Airi’s eyes widened, now becoming terrified at being left alone while their older companion went to research something that apparently was enough of a threat to cause her to investigate it. As minutes dragged on, she moved closer to Chisato, to where eventually the two girls held hands tightly between them as they squeezed together, looking around wildly.

“Where do you suppose she is?” Chisato asked quickly. “You don’t… You don’t think this is part of the test, do you?”

“What?” Airi said, momentary startlement calming her nerves slightly. “Of course it wouldn’t be! Your audition is at the cave. Plus, Natsuyaki-san and the other Skulls would want to make sure you’re not cheating or something, since you could do anything unsupervised out here.”

“I’m not sure…” Chisato began, but cut off when they heard movement from behind them. Airi barely had time to react before something flashed beside her and her friend fell to the ground, her hand going limp as Airi kept it clutched tightly.

“Chisato!” Airi cried, and tried to spin to see what had hit her before she herself keeled forward in sharp pain as something hit her own head, and then all she could do was try to keep hold of her friend’s hand with quickly numbing fingers while the darkness of the moonless night pressed in around her.



“Ow…” Chisato said, groggily opening her eyes to find she was lying on the ground. Sitting up unsteadily, she rubbed her head while trying to remember how she ended up here. She was out in the woods for some reason, but she didn’t recognize the location until she turned around and saw the gaping maw of a cave right behind her.

“Give me a break…” she said, and did her best to stand. After some initial wobbling she managed to steady herself, and peered into the darkness of the hole. It wasn’t a huge opening, but since she wasn’t the tallest person she would be able to get into it easily. It was about twice her length any way around.

She’d been here before of course. Most girls new to Seishin who had any sort of adventurous spirit about them made the trip through these woods to stare in awe at the place which was said to be haunted. She’d never seen any evidence of it herself, but Airi for one was convinced there was something unnatural in it. She’d even had to drag her out here the one time she wanted her to see it, and the girl hadn’t returned since. Until now, perhaps.

She looked around her again. That’s right. Airi was with her when… something… happened, and the next thing she knew she was at this place which was strangely exactly where she was heading for. “I’m gonna kill Miss Natsuyaki Miyabi when I get my hands on her…” she grumbled, and dusted herself off.

Whatever Airi thought, this obviously had to be part of her “audition”. Only, the girl had been right about one thing. Why weren’t the Skulls around and watching her every move? She didn’t even know what she was supposed to do. She peered around at her surroundings before turning back to the cave entrance. “Well, I guess I should go inside and see what happens,” she told herself.

As she took a step forward, she heard a rustling in the trees around her. At first she thought it might be the wind, but when she saw light reflecting off two almost pinpricks just above a bush, she shouted out, “That’s right! I’m catching on to your stupid game! I’ll prove to you I have what it takes!”

Then, as if the apparent audience gave her extra motivation, she walked confidently into the cave without a backward glance. The passage narrowed and widened as she walked along, but she took it all in stride. Unlike her friend, Chisato cherished adventure and what might lay hidden and unseen. She’d been into the cave before, and alone as well since most others were too scared of the stories to try it – except for Airi of course who just thought the whole idea of ‘adventure’ was ridiculous – but as she kept walking, she realized she hadn’t yet gone quite this deep in.

After walking a few minutes and totally immersing herself in this underground world, with only the sound of dripping from the damp roof to entertain her, she thought she heard something else break the silence. At first she thought it was a draft from some crack ahead that led to the surface, but when she stopped and listened more closely, it sounded more like a high-pitched voice.

She began running ahead and toward the sound until she started to pant, and then stopped to see what she could catch of it now. When her panting and heartbeat pounding in her ears slowed, her eyes widened at what she heard.

“Chiii~saaaa~!” came a shrill voice from somewhere much deeper than she already was. “Heeee~lp me!”

Recognizing the voice to be Airi’s, she now began running even harder down the twisting passageway. She was no longer sure this was all part of the audition. Why would they kidnap Airi? They didn’t even know that she’d be coming. It was her audition! She suddenly regretted getting her friend involved.

“Airi!!” she shouted in a voice that fell dead against the claustrophobic walls. Weren’t places like this supposed to echo?

“I’ll find you,” she said under her breath as she ran. “I swear…”

Suddenly around one turn she came upon a wall in front of her, and stopped with a skid. A dead end? It couldn’t be. Airi’s voice was still coming from ahead of her. She studied the wall closely, illuminated as it was by some phosphorescent fungus or other, and saw that there was just darkness at the bottom of it. She could see the rest of the wall, but at the bottom it looked like nothing existed.

She stepped closer to it, but when only a few steps away, she felt her foot splash into what was probably an inch of standing water. “You’ve got to be kidding me…” she said, and knelt down to peer at the ground.

Sure enough, there was a pool of water leading up to the wall that had looked like a dead end. Taking another careful step forward, she felt the water rise over her shoe and soak her foot, but it was actually pleasantly cool, so she really didn’t mind much.

“Help~!” She heard Airi’s voice, a bit stronger now, coming from just above where the water stood. It appeared she’d have to take a little swim to get to wherever her friend was trapped. Sudden thoughts of Airi drowning fueled her on, and she felt her way carefully ahead.

She knew this wasn’t going to be easy from the beginning, but as she became wetter and wetter, she realized this was going to be an even longer night than she thought she’d bargained for.

...

“Aiiiiriiii~!” echoed a soft voice from somewhere ahead of the girl it named. Airi stared at the cliff above her, from which it seemed the voice came, and fought a bit more at the ropes that bound her.

“This is not making me think more highly of you, you know!” she told the girls surrounding her in a voice that she supposed was more furious a few minutes ago not long after she’d woken up. “If anything happens to Chisa…”

“Oh, I’m sure she’ll be fine,” Tanaka said, scraping a knife along her fingernails. “And if she’s got what it takes to be in the Skulls, she’ll be even more than that. Don’t you have any faith in your friend?”

“Ugh!” Airi burst out, disgusted, and the girls around her laughed.

“She’s quite the little firecracker, isn’t she?” Fujimoto asked from beside Reina. She peered curiously at Airi as if she’d not seen anything of her like before. Airi herself certainly must have stared almost as much when she first saw the girl here. She’d hoped to never see her again in her life, and now here she turned up at a time that, to her, almost could not have been worse.

“Choirgirl you said, Miya? She’s nothing compared to my Ai-chan.” Tanaka’s mouth turned up in a smirk at that, though Kusumi, standing a bit behind the others, looked a little frightened at the topic. The whole time they’d been here the Nakazawa girl appeared as if she was totally out of place among the rest of them. At least they weren’t chewing that filthy tobacco this time. She supposed that wasn’t exactly proper spelunking gear.

Natsuyaki, in response to Fujimoto’s jibe, just looked at Airi with narrowed eyes. She’d been doing that almost constantly since she woke up and started fussing at them, and for some reason Airi didn’t like it one bit.

“I don’t know who this ‘Ai-chan’ is, but if she’s any sort of good person, I’d be proud to be told I’m like her!” Airi said, raising her chin at the four girls surrounding her.

The Skulls exchanged glances with each other. “Why Suzuki,” Fujimoto began. “Don’t you know? Ai-chan – you might know her better as Takahashi – is one of your new great leaders.”

This time Airi really did just stare at them. The new head of Nakazawa? They sure were talking about her with nothing amounting to the respect normally due the Circle… She shook her head. It must just have been because she was new.

“Is she?” Airi asked. She tried to keep the weakness caused by the new information out of her voice, but failed. “Well then I should be proud you’re comparing me to her.”

The four girls looked among each other again. “I wouldn’t be so sure about that,” Tanaka said, and for some reason the two other current Skulls frowned over at her and she lowered her eyes. Fujimoto seemed to be uncomfortable too. What was going on there?

“Well!” the recently graduated Skull said. “I think it’s time we should be going. You have our directions down, right?” she asked Airi.

“I understand what it is you asked me to do,” Airi said in a tight voice. “But I’m not sure I want to do it.”

In response, Tanaka shrugged. “Do what you like,” she said. “But remember, if you don’t follow what we said, your friend fails her audition, and I doubt she’d be happy with you for causing that, would she?”

Airi ground her teeth at the girl’s words. She was right; Chisato wouldn’t be happy with her about that, and she had come along to support her after all. Still, she wasn’t happy that these girls were putting them through this.

Fujimoto grabbed at the rope hanging off the side of the ledge Airi’s chair was perched on. “Well, depending on how your friend does, one way or another I’ll see you on the other side.”

“I’d rather hope not…” Airi responded with a growl.

“Ouch!” Fujimoto mocked, holding a hand to her heart. “You wound me with your words. Where’s all that hate from, little sister?”

“I’m not your sister!” Airi spat. “And you should know quite well where it comes from!”

Fujimoto grinned. “Oh yeah, the little ordeal involving you and the Great Yajima.” She shrugged and for some reason gave a glance toward a stone-faced Natsuyaki. “It wasn’t my fault you decided to jump in the bath with her.” Airi felt her face blush as the girls around her snickered. “Adieu,” the girl told her with a salute and a nod of her head, and jumped off the ledge, sliding down the rope out of sight.

“I want you to know, I’m rooting my hardest for your little friend,” Tanaka said, grasping for the rope herself. “I really am. You don’t know how lonely it gets sometimes with just these two knuckleheads for company.” She grinned at Airi, but she noticed her eyes stray toward Natsuyaki as well. “I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of you, no matter what happens tonight.” Then with a nod, after handing her knife to Natsuyaki she slid down the rope herself.

“I just want you to know…” Kusumi repeated, and became the third to grab onto the rope. “Oh screw it,” she said. “I don’t care how you two do. I’m happy being the youngest and cutest.” And with a quick mocking smile, she slid down after the others.

“You’ll have to forgive her…” Natsuyaki said, stepping around to face Airi. “She’s still new after all.” She leaned in close to Airi’s ear, making her feel slightly uncomfortable in her helpless position. “And between the two of us, she’s also an idiot.” Then she leaned back again, grinning.

“I’m actually amazed you all managed to get into this school,” Airi said, giving the girl a glare.

“Careful now,” Natsuyaki said, examining the knife. “Your friend will be one of us soon enough, you know, and you don’t think she’s an idiot, do you?”

If she passes your stupid audition,” Airi shot back, nonplussed.

The older girl just smiled. “Oh, she will.” Her gaze didn’t falter as she studied Airi’s face. “They’re right,” she said. “You are kind of cute, especially all tied up like that.”

Airi suddenly felt her entire body flush with heat at the girl’s words, and she also became very anxious about her current situation. “Um…” she began. “I…”

“Oh don’t worry,” Natsuyaki said, grabbing onto the hanging rope. “Even though I probably should, I won’t take advantage of your condition or anything.” Despite the uncomfortable feeling, Airi couldn’t pull her eyes away from the Skull’s.

“Um…” Airi said. “Thank you…”

“Don’t mention it,” the other girl responded, creeping to the edge and laying her knife as high as she could reach up the rope. “However… I’d watch yourself in the halls from now on,” she said with a grin, and Airi gasped as with one stroke she cut through the rope above her, and both her and the rope fell out of sight.

She listened carefully, but didn’t hear anything from below. Then she mentally chided herself for even worrying about the other girl. Who cared what happened to a Skull? The less of them, the better off the school was, as far as she was concerned. “Your friend will be one of us soon enough, you know.” Natsuyaki’s voice reverberated through her mind, and she sighed. She wondered yet again what she was getting herself into, but for some reason the truth of it seemed to hit her much harder now.

Now that the cave had become silent, she looked up at the cliff again and the rope that angled toward it and lay somewhere atop it out of sight. Well, she’d gone this far, she might as well keep it going. For Chisato’s sake… she thought.

“Chisa!” she yelled again. “Help me!!!” There was no response, but from the cry before she knew the girl must be coming. It was apparently now time to wait.

While doing so, she vaguely wondered where the Skulls went. They made no sound after vanishing down that rope. Did they just have nothing more to say? That seemed unlikely since she was now getting to know them better. Did they run off somewhere? She didn’t want to think of the other, more likely reason: that it was a long way down.

She didn’t know where she was or how she got there, except that apparently she was in the cave past the woods. After being knocked out earlier she’d just woken in the chair to the unpleasant sight of Fujimoto’s face. Quickly she had decided there were much better ways of coming back into consciousness.

“…Airi?” she heard a weary voice call from above. Breaking quickly out of her reverie, she looked up to see Chisato apparently on her hands and knees peering over the cliff’s edge.

“Chisa!” she said, excitement bubbling up inside of her. “You made it!” She squinted her eyes for a better look at the girl, and for some reason it appeared her hair was sticking to the side of her head like it was wet or something. What had the girl been doing?

Chisato kept looking down, but Airi noticed her eyes flicker to her side for some reason, as if something from the wall beside her was catching her attention. “Are you all right?” she asked hesitantly.

“Yeah!” Airi responded. “I was just…” she caught herself quickly. “I mean, er, the Circle ambushed us in the woods. They seemed to know where we were going, and apparently didn’t like it very much. They kidnapped me and tied me up in here… I didn’t expect you to come after me though…”

She hated lying to her friend, but there was no other way. The girl would be much less happy with her if she’d told her the truth. “Of course I would come after you, Osuzu!” Chisa said, apparently trying to inject some playfulness into her voice. She sounded almost too weary to be capable of it though. Plus, whatever it was to Airi’s side seemed to keep distracting her. “You’re silly.”

“Well…” Airi responded, wondering if the girl was ever going to come rescue her. “I am stuck deep in a cave somewhere…”

“Right…” Chisato said, but now she seemed completely distracted and barely even looked at Airi anymore.

“What is it?!” Airi demanded in the nicest voice she could, unable to stand it any longer. “You’ve come this far. Are you going to help me? You can probably get down here on that rope up there.”

Chisato blinked and looked at Airi almost as if she’d forgotten about her, and then glanced over to the rope. “Yeah, probably…” she said, and looked back down. “Um…” she began, and seemed to be uncomfortable with continuing.

“Yes…?” Airi said. She had a feeling the girl was not doing well in her audition being this dense.

“Well,” Chisato said, her eyes straying to the side again. “It’s just that… there’s a skull in a chamber just like yours a few meters away from you...”

Airi stared at her. The girls from earlier definitely had not told her about that little part of the deal. She opened her mouth to tell Chisato everything, but stopped short, grinding her teeth. It was all a set-up. They knew what they were doing. The problem was they had told her that if for some reason Chisato didn’t swing down on that rope to save her, there was no easy way to get to her ledge, and it might be days before anyone could set her free. They assured her she had nothing to worry about though… Man, she hated those girls.

“But…” Airi said, in a voice that was really quite genuinely pleading. “I need you to help me… I don’t want to be stuck here forever!”

Chisato stood up and walked over to the rope. After picking it up, she stared down at Airi, then moved her eyes as if she was scanning the wall. “Hang on, Osuzu,” she said tenderly, and fed some of the rope through her hands, peering closely between it and the wall in front of her. Airi felt suspense building constantly within her. The girl had to find the right length of the rope to use to jump down; that was right. She would be down momentarily…

Then, giving a slight nod, her friend gripped the rope tightly in her hands and shuffled toward the edge, concentrating downward, before jumping off. Airi’s heart seemed to fly up into her throat in excitement until… Chisato vanished from sight past the wall to her left.

“Chisa!!!” she screamed, but received no response. Sure that her friend had given up on her and sacrificed her for her stupid ambition, she began crying, unable to stop. She heard scuffling from what she knew must be the hollow beside her, but she didn’t care. Chisato had made her choice; she’d be stuck here for days. Her terror rose as she thought of the classes she would miss. Her grades would never recover!

When she had nearly completely succumbed to her own personal pit of despair, the scratching from the wall outside her cubby became louder, and she blinked through her tears trying to see ahead of her. There was no hope, but what else had she to do?

As such, she almost didn’t register when Chisato came crawling around the wall, grasping her rope tightly in her free hand, and almost collapsed right in front of Airi. A skull that was threaded through the rope just above Chisato’s head stared through its empty orbs straight into Airi’s face.

“Chi…” she began, trying to catch her breath. “Chisa…?”

Her friend looked up at her, her face covered in sweat and dust showing a concerned expression. Now that Airi got a closer look, she also saw that the girl was completely soaked almost from head to toe. Only the top of her head seemed to be spared from whatever she had been doused with.

“What’s wrong?” Chisato said, stumbling up and over to her friend. “Did something happen?”

“I thought…” Airi sniffed, unbelievingly. “I thought you had left me here…”

Chisato’s face suddenly became stricken with pain and scandalized. “Of course not! How could I do that to you? You’re my best friend!” Her tired fingers fumbled at the ropes holding Airi to the chair as she tried to untie them. Eventually she succeeded, and squeaked as Airi nearly jumped up at her to give her a tight hug.

“I’m sorry…” she said, still sniffing. “I’m such a baby… I should have trusted you more…”

When she felt Chisato awkwardly patting her back, she pulled away slightly to look into her face. “Yes,” the girl said with what breath she had left. “You should have.” Then her mouth slowly turned into a grin, causing Airi to smile and laugh too.

“But you know…” Airi said, her sniffling finally clearing up. “You look like hell…”

Chisato laughed at that too, raising her hand to scratch at the back of her head in embarrassment. “Yeah,” she responded. “I kind of feel like that too.”

“So…” Airi said. “Do you think we can get down now? They said there was an exit below…”

“They did?” Chisato asked sharply, then looked down and to the side, grumbling to herself. “Would have been nice if they told me that before I swam, crawled and jumped my way here from the main entrance…”

“Come on,” Airi said looking up at the skull, now excited about what would happen when they showed up not too much the worse for wear at wherever the four girls were waiting. She wrapped her arm around Chisato’s waist and pulled her over to the rope. “That was brilliant you know, what you did with the skull.”

“I know,” Chisato said, grinning, and Airi smiled at the sparkle she saw in her friend’s eye. “It actually makes me disappointed in them though… If it weren’t for the Circle interfering, it wouldn’t have been much of a test.” Airi just grinned as they swung out from the ledge and slid down the rope.

Upon reaching the bottom, there was a very obvious slope up toward a glow that could only be the exit they’d mentioned. Weary as both of them were – Chisato because of whatever she went through to get there, and Airi from numbness after being knocked out and tied to a chair for who knew how long – they ran toward it, and eventually burst out once again into the night air. Moonless though it might have been, it was still considerably brighter than the place they had just left. The Skulls had left candles around Airi’s ledges, but in general the only light came from that glowing fungus that seemed to be everywhere.

Chisato laughed at being back in the fresh air again, but Airi was looking around wildly, trying to discern where the Skulls were hiding. She didn’t have to look long though before four figures strode out from behind some trees. She looked steadily at them, but Chisato didn’t notice them for a few seconds. When she did, she squinted as if unsure whether she believed what she saw.

“Congratulations,” Fujimoto said, raising a flashlight to her face. She flashed it between the two girls and to the skull Chisato held in her hand. “You have both your skull and your friend. I’d say you’ve passed our audition with flying colors! Don’t you?” she looked around at the three younger girls beside her, who looked at Chisato with varying expressions. All, however, seemed very interested. Airi wondered how many of them actually thought Chisato would pull it off. Seeing Natsuyaki’s face, she knew that girl apparently hadn’t lied about her expectations. She wondered how she could be so confident in them.

Wearing a stern look, Tanaka nodded. “Quite impressive…” she said, what seemed a bit reluctantly. “In good time too. I can’t say anything but ‘yes’.”

Airi looked at her friend, grinning. Chisato was staring among them all with wide eyes, apparently still in a bit of disbelief.

“Of course a ‘yes’ from me,” Natsuyaki said casually. “I chose her, after all.” Fujimoto nodded at her response and looked to the third current Skull.

Kusumi seemed very reluctant to say anything, but finally grudgingly mumbled, “’Yes’ from me too… She’s obviously got what it takes…”

“Well that does it!” Fujimoto said, and stepped forward to wrap her arm around Chisato, hugging the small girl to her side. Chisato gave Airi an uncertain smile. Airi’s smile had completely vanished when Fujimoto stepped up to her friend. Well, the girl no longer went to this school. Surely she wouldn’t be here long.

Fujimoto looked over to her. “Your friend is quite something,” she said, giving Chisato a pat on the arm. “Are you sure you don’t want to audition too? I see quite a bit of potential in you as well, even if you aren’t quite as… adventurous… as your friend. Chisato, right?” she asked, looking back at the new Skull. Chisato nodded, a bit hesitantly. “Yo Rei-chan,” she called over to the captain. “What should we call her now?”

“Hmm…” Tanaka said, stepping toward the three of them as well.

“How about Okacchan?” Kusumi said, coming up to join Tanaka. “That sounds pretty cool.”

“Okacchan…” Tanaka said, bringing her hand to her chin as if pondering it. “Yeah, that could work.” Chisato just beamed around at all of them, even Fujimoto this time.

Also despite Fujimoto, Airi found herself smiling at her friend’s happiness. It truly did seem this was what she wanted, and she was glad she could be a part of it. She looked over at Natsuyaki – Miyabi, she decided she’d call her from now on; the girl had told her to do it in fact, but she hadn’t been comfortable enough with it until now – who was still standing back from the rest. Despite all of their attention on Chisato, she was just gazing at Airi, who saw a smile come to her face when she noticed Airi looking at her. This of course caused Airi to blush again, but the hot rush that suddenly jolted through her body wasn’t caused by the blush this time.

Amid the trees behind Miyabi, she saw twin glowing points that led a dark form as it bounded out of its hiding place. She tried to cry out in warning, but the shadow was too fast, and Miyabi went down in a tangle of fangs and guttural growls.

She finally found her voice at seeing the girl being viciously mauled, and screamed the loudest she thought she ever had. She heard muffled swearing from behind her, and footsteps hurrying in the direction of the attack.

Apparently hearing their approach, the beast swiped its maw up to look with its beady glowing eyes at the other girls – ‘beast’ was the only word Airi could think of to describe it; it looked like a large dog, but with teeth that looked like they could shred a cow and sticky hair that was falling out in patches – and once again quicker than they could react, jumped over at them.

This time Airi wasn’t the only one screaming, but Fujimoto and Tanaka did their best to fight with the thing. They did the best they could at least while trying to avoid being sliced by either its teeth or its abnormally long claws. Airi felt herself bowled over to the side at another of its leaps and tried to crawl away, but within seconds its growls faded away, and she looked up to see it hurdling down the path, sticking its snout up into the air to give a shrill howl, before it disappeared into the darkness, the howls the only remaining trace of its existence.

Almost feeling afraid to, Airi looked back at the other girls. Tanaka was holding her arm, which was bleeding around her fingers, and Fujimoto was limping along, apparently trying to run after the animal. “You’d better run, you damned bastard!” she shouted after it. “Nothing does this to my girls!!!”

Kusumi just sat crying and rocking with her knees pulled tightly into her chest, but Chisato ran up to Airi to make sure she was all right. Sweat and dirt-streaked as she still was, she now seemed in the best shape of them all. “Are you okay?” she asked quickly.

“Yeah…” Airi began, trying to reorient herself. “Yes. I just got the wind knocked out of me.” Her eyes still felt pried wide open at the horrible sight. The horrible… “Miyabi!!!” she yelled, and turned to look at what looked like a pile of clothes lying motionless toward the trees.

Chisato held her back, looking warily at the first victim. “I… I don’t think you should go over there, Osuzu…” Airi started crying again.

The others had now caught onto their surroundings, and although Fujimoto still limped along the path, Tanaka walked slowly over to where Miyabi lay. Kneeling down, her face drawn in horror, Airi saw her begin crying herself. “No… no!” she cried. “Miyakko… I can’t believe this… Miyakko…!” As she leaned fully over the fallen girl, gripping her clothes tightly as she wept into them, Airi finally tore herself away from her friend. She only made it about halfway though before falling to the ground in her own shock and anguish.

Offline mode107

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Re: The Circle of Three [5: Audition]
« Reply #24 on: November 09, 2007, 02:19:03 AM »
Wha?! is Miyabi dead?! :OMG:

So Miki's back now? Hopefully Ai avoids her, and not give in to her charms.
 
It's nice seeing Airi becoming a little friendly towards the Skulls now. At first I thought that she was going to lose Chisato as a friend if she were to join the Skulls, but now it doesn't really like like that. 

So Airi blushing at Miya :heart:  maybe a possible Airi-Miyabi-Maimi-Risako,uh, love rectangle in the future?  :kekeke:
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Offline Amarghetta

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Re: The Circle of Three [5: Audition]
« Reply #25 on: November 09, 2007, 03:35:35 AM »
Werewolf Miya maybe?
 :shock:

Offline g4rfield

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Re: The Circle of Three [5: Audition]
« Reply #26 on: November 09, 2007, 04:00:00 AM »
Yeah!!! new Chapter....new looooong chapter!! I would enjoy commenting on this one.  :D Got several points to address. How I love to poke and prod and analyze your stories to the bottom.  :grin:

1. The arrival of Fujimoto-sama
So she had the same spell done to her by the Circle people. Interesting. I wonder if Yossy knows about it or had it done to her too. And....Ohtani as the old master??? I should've guessed! Reina and Miki discussed  Miyabi and how she is the only Skull who felt the need of an attachment. Girlfriend instead of a fling or one night stand and maybe friends too. I wonder why is this common among the skulls. I mean the need to be a lone wolf, is there any reason behind it or just simply people with the same characteristics happen to group together because they recognize the vibe and that's how Skull became. Of course I had no doubt Miki sees this in Reina thus choosing her to be the Captain.  So Miya is an exception huh?

2. The audition
It was interesting the way you choose to have Airi to be the one to lie to Okai. I mean no doubt this is to serve an angle somewhere down the line. Probably a problem between the two will start when Okai finds out the truth, but I digress. So Risako didn't show up in this chapter. Why? I thought they both were to support Okai and be there during the audition? I got a little confused myself, reading the paragraph about Okai going back and forth on what seemed to be a tight tunnel, to retrieve the skull and get Airi. I can only imagines that the cave have two ends. The opening is in the low ground and where Airi was captived was the high ground. So Okai had to hike and probably climb up to where the 2 tunels were. Wow, she sure is athletic. Where does the exit end up though? I mean which part of the wood?

3. The Beast
It didn't say that Miya was dead. She was mauled, yes, and her clothes torn but nothing being said about her being dead. So my conclusion is the girls was shocked, full of adrenaline and failed to check Miya's pulse thus asumming that she's dead while she probably just unconscious and lost a lot of blood as well. My bet is in the middle of their hysteria either Airi or Miki will notice Miya is actually still alive. *cross fingers and pray* Don't want Miya to be dead while there is some unexplored love angle to be explore.  :grin: If she met an unfortunate end however, the author better start praying I never found where he lives.  :twisted:

4. Airi's feeling
She seemed to be taken to Miya quite a lot in this chapter what with all the blushings. If Miki notices that later on, there will be some teasings, provided she stayed within the school for whatever reason. Heh. There's also Airi's doubt about Okai. She sees what her best friend is capable of and therefore got a little frightened to see the side she had never seen before. Which is understandable. She just need to have faith that Okai won't change for the worse. Judging from the way Okai pull through with her audition, she definitely values her friends as much as the Skull. My question is, for how long will be she able to continue juggling these 2 very different attitudes before the confusion finally starts eating her from the inside.

You want review, you got one. Hope I managed to address all of the different things you put into this chapter.  ;)
« Last Edit: November 09, 2007, 04:04:52 AM by g4rfield »

Offline JFC

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Re: The Circle of Three [5: Audition]
« Reply #27 on: November 09, 2007, 05:54:03 AM »
Quote
this is the longest chapter I've ever written... It may not be quite to Estrea's extreme-ness yet, but at 9k words there's still a lot going on.
:mon blood:



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Reina walked through the moonless darkness, doing her best to act as if she wasn’t afraid of the night since of course as Captain of the Skulls she couldn’t be. However, even if she betrayed any sign of fright or cowardice, nobody would see her because good girls of Seishin didn’t walk by themselves out-of-doors in the middle of the night.

She was trying her best, but it was hard, especially after she’d seen what the Circle was capable of the night before. They’d even put some curse on her to make her unable to tell anyone what she’d seen. It was the little one that did it; it had to have been! She looked at her and did… something. That has to be it… Reina kept telling herself. She was not just going crazy.

Then again, it also didn’t help that as she walked through the night to the cave, she heard more rustling noises in the trees around her than there should have been. It’s just some animal running through the trees trying to find food, she told herself. Or else it’s just the wind. Either way, it was nothing to worry about.
So the current leader of The Skulls is scared of the dark? 

...

Maybe just a wee bit ironic? :P



Quote
She had no choice though since she now led the Skulls. It was her duty to meet the Master and prepare for the Okai girl’s audition.
So I take it the Master is higher up on the hierarchy, eh? Probably the person that auditioners have to impress if they want to get it.  It's going to be interesting to see what the audition process is like.

Incidentally, if Yuko wasn't already the namesake for one of the houses she'd fit the role really well. :)



Quote
She barely realized that her feet picked up to walk just a little more quickly at the sight, but as the gaping maw of the cave reared ahead of her she was almost at a run… until a figure jumped out at her from what must have been atop a rock. She couldn’t help a shrill cry, and before she could stop herself hopped a step back.

“Well, I know I’m a terrifying sight, but seriously Reina… screaming…?” an older girl said as she leered in front of her.

Reina felt like her heart was going to beat out of her chest, but she tried her best to calm herself down. She couldn’t afford to look this pathetic in front of… “Mikitty…?” she asked, peering up at the face that was becoming more recognizable by the second.

“In the flesh,” the girl said, grinning.
Nice one Miki-sama! :lol:

Wait a sec, what's she doing here? Hasn't it been established that she graduated from the school?



Quote
“You’re the Master now?” Reina asked, completely flummoxed. The girl had just graduated!

“Yeah,” Miki said, looking off into space and adopting a frown for some reason. “Ohtani-san didn’t want to do it anymore, and they like to keep someone young in the position because of the…” she looked around the area they stood, “…responsibilities it comes with.”
Miki-sama's the Master! :shocked:

Hmmm...responsibilities? Wonder what she means by that? :dunno:



Quote
They like to have the current captain and master on somewhat equal footing since they share a lot of duties when they come together. Did you ever hear me call Masae ‘Ohtani-sama’?”
Makes sense when you put it that way. If the two of them can think on relatively the same wavelengths it probably makes planning and doing Skull activities a lot easier.



Quote
“The vote is just a formality, you know, to try to get a consensus, since that’s best for us all. If a girl passes the audition though, no matter how well, she’s in. Not everyone might be happy with it, but if she passes, then it means there’s at least something in her making her worthy of being a Skull.”
Interesting...so even if they don't like an auditioner, so long as she actually passes she's pretty much guaranteed a spot. Considering their dwindling numbers at this point in time that's probably not such a bad thing.



Quote
“How’s Maihacchi doing, by the way?” Reina said quickly, eager to not get into the subject of join dates. “Surely you’ve been keeping up with her.”

...

“Oh yes, of course. She’s doing fine, and we’re even trying to work with her to start up a chapter at her new school.
So Maiha's at a new school now? If so, starting up a new chapter sounds like a good idea. At the very least they'd have more girls from which to find potential new members.


Quote
We would have preferred someone with a bit more… experience… but any Skull should be capable of it.”

“I sure hope Koharu never transfers then…” Reina said with a sour face before realizing what had really come out of her mouth. “I can’t believe I just said that…”
:kekeke:



Quote
“One of your old flings is now part of the Circle.”

This time it was Miki’s turn to blink. “From Nakazawa?” she asked. Reina nodded. “…Who?”

“Takahashi,” Reina replied.
Now if Miki is really the player that she's been portrayed to be, it'll be really interesting to see how she reacts to THIS bit of news. :D



Quote
As if she was imitating Reina’s earlier emotions, Miki’s face darkened now as well. “Oh really?” Suddenly she broke into a shrill laugh. “Ai-chan in the Circle, huh? Really? Good for her. I couldn’t see it in her.”
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm...so first she was sort of
 :badluck:
and then she's suddenly  :wahaha: ?

The latter seems a little bit forced to me, as if she's trying to make it look like she's unconcerned, where in fact she actually IS.



Quote
“And there’s more. Last night, the Circle, they… did stuff. Takahashi threw me across the room somehow, and the little one messed with my head to where…” She snapped her mouth shut, eyes wide at what had come out of her mouth. “Where I couldn’t tell anyone about it…”

Miki’s eyes widened too as Reina spoke, until it seemed she was almost struck speechless too. “You… you saw it too?” she asked, and for perhaps the first time ever Reina heard fear in the girl’s voice.
Whoa, the Circle did the same voodoo trick on Miki-sama that they did to Reina? :O

Could be part of the way that they try to keep The Skulls "in check".



Quote
Miki’s mouth was working, but it didn’t seem like any words would come out. Eventually she gathered herself though to say in a quiet voice, “I haven’t been able to talk freely about this… ever…”

“Me neither…” Reina said carefully. “You don’t suppose… they did the same thing to both of us, and whatever it was doesn’t work between us for that same reason?”
Perhaps the curse is such that it's just meant to ensure that only the current captain of The Skulls knows of the secret powers of the Circle members. If you think about it, it makes sense. It definitely wouldn't do anyone any good if word got out amongst the rest of the student populous, let alone their parents, that there's a hidden coven of girls with supernatural powers running loose on campus.



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“Are you really sure you want to do this?” Airi asked her friend for what seemed like the hundredth time. She couldn’t deny there was a certain… charm… to the Skulls, but she still couldn’t believe Chisato of all people wanted to do that to herself. She was just always so happy… and energetic…
Actually, yeah, why DOES Chisato want to join the Skulls anyway? O_o



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They walked through the woods in silence for the most part, Natsuyaki keeping up a brisk pace before slowing down when Airi estimated they were about halfway through.

“You know the Skulls have accepted only two new members in the past two years,” she told them casually. “I hope you’re ready.
That could be part of the reason why there are so few of them right now. :mon sweat:



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I hear the Captain and Master have prepared something especially fun for you.”
Considering that it's Miki AND Reina plotting together? Yeah, should be interesting to say the least. :twisted:



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The two younger girls exchanged glances. “I’m ready for whatever you can throw at me,” Chisato said in a small but challenging voice.
Confidence is good, but Chisato still needs to stay on her toes.



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“Oh, I need to tell you about your task tonight,” the Skull said, and Chisato suddenly perked her ears eagerly. “You’ll be going into the cave to fetch a real skull. We’ll tell you more when you arrive, but basically, if you find the skull you pass. If you don’t, or if something happens to it, you fail.”

Chisato finally looked up at her, a little anxiously. “That’s all I have to do? Find a… skull?”
Seems easy enough, but considering what's at stake there's undoubtedly more to it than just simply finding it.



Quote
Trailing off, the older girl suddenly stopped and looked around them. Chisato and Airi did too, and they almost unconsciously gathered toward their guide, looking around nervously themselves.

“Something’s wrong…” Natsuyaki said.

...

“What?” she asked in a high whisper. “What is it?”

“I don’t know…” their guide responded. “Hey, you two wait here. I’ll go check it out.” Then, before Chisato or Airi could respond, she strode off the path into the trees and soon disappeared.
My guess is, either this really is unexpected like Miyabi said....OR it's part of the audition process. Can't have a member of the Skulls panic during a situation like this now, can we? : :kekeke:



Quote
Airi barely had time to react before something flashed beside her and her friend fell to the ground, her hand going limp as Airi kept it clutched tightly.

“Chisato!” Airi cried, and tried to spin to see what had hit her before she herself keeled forward in sharp pain as something hit her own head, and then all she could do was try to keep hold of her friend’s hand with quickly numbing fingers while the darkness of the moonless night pressed in around her.
WTF they were knocked unconscious? WHO'S THERE??? :OMG:

...

Quote
“Ow…” Chisato said, groggily opening her eyes to find she was lying on the ground. Sitting up unsteadily, she rubbed her head while trying to remember how she ended up here. She was out in the woods for some reason, but she didn’t recognize the location until she turned around and saw the gaping maw of a cave right behind her.
But, she and Airi weren't anywhere near the mouth of the cave yet.  So who was it that carried and left her there?



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She peered around at her surroundings before turning back to the cave entrance. “Well, I guess I should go inside and see what happens,” she told herself.
Ummm...before she enters the cave, just wondering here...where's Airi?



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As she took a step forward, she heard a rustling in the trees around her. At first she thought it might be the wind, but when she saw light reflecting off two almost pinpricks just above a bush, she shouted out, “That’s right! I’m catching on to your stupid game! I’ll prove to you I have what it takes!”
Perhaps they HAVE been watching her all this time after all.



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After walking a few minutes and totally immersing herself in this underground world, with only the sound of dripping from the damp roof to entertain her, she thought she heard something else break the silence.

...

When her panting and heartbeat pounding in her ears slowed, her eyes widened at what she heard.

“Chiii~saaaa~!” came a shrill voice from somewhere much deeper than she already was. “Heeee~lp me!”
AIRI!!!  :scared:



Quote
“Help~!” She heard Airi’s voice, a bit stronger now, coming from just above where the water stood. It appeared she’d have to take a little swim to get to wherever her friend was trapped. Sudden thoughts of Airi drowning fueled her on, and she felt her way carefully ahead.

She knew this wasn’t going to be easy from the beginning, but as she became wetter and wetter, she realized this was going to be an even longer night than she thought she’d bargained for.
Well, to get into the Skulls, she couldn't have actually expected it to be a walk in the park.  :roll:

...

Quote
“Aiiiiriiii~!” echoed a soft voice from somewhere ahead of the girl it named. Airi stared at the cliff above her, from which it seemed the voice came, and fought a bit more at the ropes that bound her.

“This is not making me think more highly of you, you know!” she told the girls surrounding her in a voice that she supposed was more furious a few minutes ago not long after she’d woken up. “If anything happens to Chisa…”

“Oh, I’m sure she’ll be fine,” Tanaka said, scraping a knife along her fingernails. “And if she’s got what it takes to be in the Skulls, she’ll be even more than that.
So then...the skull that Miyabi mentioned that Chisato has to find...is Airi's?  :stunned:  Well, Miyabi never said anything about it coming from a skeleton, huh?

So then, the audition is to see if Chisato is brave enough to face the unknown in order to save Airi?   It must be to see how deeply her convictions are and to see how loyal and committed she is. Makes sense that the Skulls would want to make sure that their members could be counted upon to help/bail each other out.



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“Why Suzuki,” Fujimoto began. “Don’t you know? Ai-chan – you might know her better as Takahashi – is one of your new great leaders.”

This time Airi really did just stare at them. The new head of Nakazawa?

...

“Is she?” Airi asked. She tried to keep the weakness caused by the new information out of her voice, but failed. “Well then I should be proud you’re comparing me to her.”
Would Airi be saying that if she new of Aichan's powers or of what types of stuff the Circle does, I wonder?



Quote
“Well!” the recently graduated Skull said. “I think it’s time we should be going. You have our directions down, right?” she asked Airi.

“I understand what it is you asked me to do,” Airi said in a tight voice. “But I’m not sure I want to do it.”

In response, Tanaka shrugged. “Do what you like,” she said. “But remember, if you don’t follow what we said, your friend fails her audition, and I doubt she’d be happy with you for causing that, would she?”
So now they're coerced Airi into playing a role in Chisato's audition?  That seems somewhat odd that they'd do that. But knowing how important this apparently is to her friend, I find it hard to believe that Airi would deliberately mess things up for her now.



Quote
Fujimoto grabbed at the rope hanging off the side of the ledge Airi’s chair was perched on. “Well, depending on how your friend does, one way or another I’ll see you on the other side.”
Airi's tied to a chair that's perched on a ledge?!?!?  :mon scare:  What the hell did they plan here?



Quote
“I want you to know, I’m rooting my hardest for your little friend,” Tanaka said, grasping for the rope herself. “I really am. You don’t know how lonely it gets sometimes with just these two knuckleheads for company.”
:whistle:



Quote
“Careful now,” Natsuyaki said, examining the knife. “Your friend will be one of us soon enough, you know, and you don’t think she’s an idiot, do you?”

“If she passes your stupid audition,” Airi shot back, nonplussed.

The older girl just smiled. “Oh, she will.” Her gaze didn’t falter as she studied Airi’s face. “They’re right,” she said. “You are kind of cute, especially all tied up like that.”

Airi suddenly felt her entire body flush with heat at the girl’s words, and she also became very anxious about her current situation.
Boy, Miki sure called it.  8)



Quote
Airi gasped as with one stroke she cut through the rope above her, and both her and the rope fell out of sight.
Wait a sec...exactly how high up are they?



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“…Airi?” she heard a weary voice call from above. Breaking quickly out of her reverie, she looked up to see Chisato apparently on her hands and knees peering over the cliff’s edge.

“Chisa!” she said, excitement bubbling up inside of her. “You made it!”
YAY she found her!  :w00t:  Now all she has to do is get her out of that chair and off the ledge.



Quote
“I was just…” she caught herself quickly. “I mean, er, the Circle ambushed us in the woods. They seemed to know where we were going, and apparently didn’t like it very much. They kidnapped me and tied me up in here… I didn’t expect you to come after me though…”
Ah, so Airi's role in this is to start planting the proverbial seeds of distrust of the Circle.  Considering their adversarial history together, it makes sense that they'd want to make sure all Skull members share that particular mindset.



Quote
“Of course I would come after you, Osuzu!” Chisa said, apparently trying to inject some playfulness into her voice. She sounded almost too weary to be capable of it though. Plus, whatever it was to Airi’s side seemed to keep distracting her.
Could it be that same mysterious thing that Chisato was talking to right before she entered the cave?



Quote
“Well…” Airi responded, wondering if the girl was ever going to come rescue her. “I am stuck deep in a cave somewhere…”

“Right…” Chisato said, but now she seemed completely distracted and barely even looked at Airi anymore.

“What is it?!” Airi demanded in the nicest voice she could, unable to stand it any longer. “You’ve come this far. Are you going to help me? You can probably get down here on that rope up there.”

Chisato blinked and looked at Airi almost as if she’d forgotten about her, and then glanced over to the rope. “Yeah, probably…” she said, and looked back down. “Um…” she began, and seemed to be uncomfortable with continuing.

“Yes…?” Airi said. She had a feeling the girl was not doing well in her audition being this dense.

“Well,” Chisato said, her eyes straying to the side again. “It’s just that… there’s a skull in a chamber just like yours a few meters away from you...”
Ooooooooooooooooooooooooh...THAT'S the test!  :mon star:  The situation is probably set up to appear that Chisato has to make a choice between saving Airi and going for the Skull to pass the audition.  If this is the case...what's going to happen once she makes her choice?


Quote
her friend gripped the rope tightly in her hands and shuffled toward the edge, concentrating downward, before jumping off. Airi’s heart seemed to fly up into her throat in excitement until… Chisato vanished from sight past the wall to her left.
Looks like she made her choice.



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She heard scuffling from what she knew must be the hollow beside her, but she didn’t care. Chisato had made her choice; she’d be stuck here for days. Her terror rose as she thought of the classes she would miss. Her grades would never recover!
So now here's Airi, stuck on a cliff, tied to a chair...and she's worried about her grades?   :bleed eyes:



Quote
As such, she almost didn’t register when Chisato came crawling around the wall, grasping her rope tightly in her free hand, and almost collapsed right in front of Airi. A skull that was threaded through the rope just above Chisato’s head stared through its empty orbs straight into Airi’s face.
Hah? She repelled to the chamber with the skull, grabbed it, then scaled the rock cliff to get to Airi?  :mon huh:

That's impressive.  :pimp:



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“I thought…” Airi sniffed, unbelievingly. “I thought you had left me here…”

Chisato’s face suddenly became stricken with pain and scandalized. “Of course not! How could I do that to you? You’re my best friend!” Her tired fingers fumbled at the ropes holding Airi to the chair as she tried to untie them. Eventually she succeeded, and squeaked as Airi nearly jumped up at her to give her a tight hug.
Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww... :nya:



Quote
“That was brilliant you know, what you did with the skull.”

“I know,” Chisato said, grinning, and Airi smiled at the sparkle she saw in her friend’s eye. “It actually makes me disappointed in them though… If it weren’t for the Circle interfering, it wouldn’t have been much of a test.”
Now, assuming that Chisato has passed and is going to be welcomed into the Skulls, the next question is...If, in the future, Chisato finds out that the Skulls made Airi lie to her and that the Circle had nothing to do with what happened, would she remain with the Skulls?  :hehehe:



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“Congratulations,” Fujimoto said, raising a flashlight to her face. She flashed it between the two girls and to the skull Chisato held in her hand. “You have both your skull and your friend. I’d say you’ve passed our audition with flying colors!
Praise from Miki-sama herself! Hard to beat that. :thumbsup



Quote
Wearing a stern look, Tanaka nodded. “Quite impressive…” she said, what seemed a bit reluctantly. “In good time too. I can’t say anything but ‘yes’.”

Airi looked at her friend, grinning. Chisato was staring among them all with wide eyes, apparently still in a bit of disbelief.

“Of course a ‘yes’ from me,” Natsuyaki said casually. “I chose her, after all.” Fujimoto nodded at her response and looked to the third current Skull.

Kusumi seemed very reluctant to say anything, but finally grudgingly mumbled, “’Yes’ from me too… She’s obviously got what it takes…”
And it's a unanimous vote.

Welcome to the Skulls Chisato.  :mon thumb:



Quote
Airi’s smile had completely vanished when Fujimoto stepped up to her friend. Well, the girl no longer went to this school. Surely she wouldn’t be here long.

Fujimoto looked over to her. “Your friend is quite something,” she said, giving Chisato a pat on the arm. “Are you sure you don’t want to audition too? I see quite a bit of potential in you as well, even if you aren’t quite as… adventurous… as your friend. Chisato, right?”
Did Miki just invite Airi to audition for the Skulls?  :mon spit:


Quote
She looked over at Natsuyaki

...

Despite all of their attention on Chisato, she was just gazing at Airi, who saw a smile come to her face when she noticed Airi looking at her. This of course caused Airi to blush again, but the hot rush that suddenly jolted through her body wasn’t caused by the blush this time.
Don't tell me Airi has some special abilities too?



Quote
Amid the trees behind Miyabi, she saw twin glowing points that led a dark form as it bounded out of its hiding place. She tried to cry out in warning, but the shadow was too fast, and Miyabi went down in a tangle of fangs and guttural growls.

She finally found her voice at seeing the girl being viciously mauled, and screamed the loudest she thought she ever had. She heard muffled swearing from behind her, and footsteps hurrying in the direction of the attack.

Apparently hearing their approach, the beast swiped its maw up to look with its beady glowing eyes at the other girls – ‘beast’ was the only word Airi could think of to describe it; it looked like a large dog, but with teeth that looked like they could shred a cow and sticky hair that was falling out in patches – and once again quicker than they could react, jumped over at them.
EHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!  :shock: :shock: :shock:

WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED?!?!?  :temper:



Quote
Airi felt herself bowled over to the side at another of its leaps and tried to crawl away, but within seconds its growls faded away, and she looked up to see it hurdling down the path, sticking its snout up into the air to give a shrill howl, before it disappeared into the darkness, the howls the only remaining trace of its existence.

Almost feeling afraid to, Airi looked back at the other girls. Tanaka was holding her arm, which was bleeding around her fingers, and Fujimoto was limping along, apparently trying to run after the animal. “You’d better run, you damned bastard!” she shouted after it. “Nothing does this to my girls!!!”
From the description...it sounds like...werewolves?

Could this be the reason why Chisato keep having that feeling that they were being watched before? If these, in fact, ARE werewolves, then the next thing to ask is... WHO are they? Unless the school is located within a town/city, then these werewolves have to be people (either students or teachers) FROM their school! It could be anyone, even the 3 Circle members themselves (maybe like a side effect of gaining their powers).



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Her eyes still felt pried wide open at the horrible sight. The horrible… “Miyabi!!!” she yelled, and turned to look at what looked like a pile of clothes lying motionless toward the trees.

Chisato held her back, looking warily at the first victim. “I… I don’t think you should go over there, Osuzu…” Airi started crying again.
MIYABI NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!  :frustrated: :frustrated: :frustrated:

JPH!P :heart:'s Fushigidane, ChrNo, Jab & marimari. Always.

Offline rokun

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Re: The Circle of Three [4: The Three]
« Reply #28 on: November 09, 2007, 06:33:35 PM »
Yaay! :nya: Thank you for all your comments! That makes me happy! :D And welcome JFC and Amarghetta to this thread! :mon heh: Well, you did your part, so I should do mine too! If you haven't commented yet, don't feel discouraged about still doing so. There's just a lot to respond to already!

First, I'll start by going back a chapter...

The Circle Inner bath house!  :shocked: Some questions answered some don't. For example, why is it that in most TakaGaki pairing fic, it's always Risa who fall in love with Ai? Maybe you can enlighten me a bit.  :grin: Other than that, I'll wait until the audition. Go Rokun write more chapters!!! [crack whip] *I'm such a slave driver*  XD
:lol: Don't ask me! Lol. This is just what works out in this story for me. Maybe Risa being the younger and people thinking she's a more er... genuine? girl, she chooses her love while Ai is too busy with other things (or other girls)? In this specific one, Ai is a central character (and at least at first, intended to be the MOST central to the plot, though as my plot develops I dunno if that'll stay quite the same... lol), and so I'm trying to give her layers. Having her just in love with Gaki and that being all there was to it would be pretty boring if it was that way throughout the whole story. ^_^ I enjoy her connection with Miki...

Now, onto this chapter!

Quote from: modesta107
maybe a possible Airi-Miyabi-Maimi-Risako,uh, love rectangle in the future?
Hmmm, you know what? That's looking more likely as time goes on...  XD

g4rfield point 1: In response to your questions about what it takes to be a Skull, we know by now that both the Skulls and the Circle have been around for nearly as long as the school has (up to 2000 years ago), right? There's lore in there that explains their relationship and thus the Skulls' distrust of the status quo, but just not all of it has come out yet. :) I'll just say for now... what's going on between the two groups is much, much bigger than just the school...

pt. 2: I debated how to handle Risako in this chapter. The key in this as far as I see it is that so far in all their interactions, Miyabi has been somewhat of an unreliable narrator. She's seen the three of them together and assumed they were all the closest friends. And it's true to an extent - Airi feels close bonds with them both. However, this being Chisato's audition, she doesn't have the close relationship with Risako yet, and with Risako not being from their House... there really just wasn't any thought of inviting her along. So she didn't come :) if to Miya's slight disappointment... but as you saw, she seemed to get over it...

Also, about the cave, I'm sorry if it was a little confusing. I've rarely written about an experience like this (nothing like it at all since CotD), so I probably didn't do the best job of putting it into words. The cave from the place Chisato entered it is basically a long tunnel, probably carved by water over history, all of which is left is what Chisato encountered and had to wade through deeper in the cave. After getting through that little bottleneck, the cave opened into areas with larger chambers, such as where Airi was held captive in, and which made the main part of the cave deep inside the hills. There are likely many passages to the surface branching out from these chambers, one of which the Skulls, Airi and Chisato used to get back into the woods (in a more secluded spot not as easily accessible from the school - hence why non-Skulls didn't know about it). Skulls have had centuries to explore the area around the school and find out all its secrets...

Pt. 3: I won't say whether Miyabi is dead at this point, but she was definitely torn up a good bit... That's what freaked Airi out so much, because she was witness to virtually the whole thing. The good news is you'll find out what's up with her right at the beginning of the next chapter. :)

Pt. 4: Airi does seem somewhat taken with Miya, doesn't she? As far as I was concerned, you could see something at least would happen between them ever since they started arguing with each other almost right after they meant about things like Airi's name. ^_^ I won't promise that's how it'll end up though... The relationships between many of these girls are going to get quite complicated... As for Chisato, I wonder how much of Airi's doubt of her was just caused by being tied up helpless deep inside a dark cave...

Quote from: JFC
Incidentally, if Yuko wasn't already the namesake for one of the houses she'd fit the role really well.
You know, once I started establishing the Skulls hierarchy I thought of that. :lol: However, she's already got a bigger part to play...

Quote from: JFC
Actually, yeah, why DOES Chisato want to join the Skulls anyway? O_o
The way I see it, aside from needing someone to connect Airi with the Skulls (not wanting her to join herself at this time) :lol:, as you saw in the short insight into Chisato's character this chapter, she's a more adventurous type, and she believes the Skulls might be able to give her that type of thrill she craves since nothing else at the school really is. Also, hanging out with girls like Airi and Risako, she wants to separate herself a little from that "good girl" or "good student" image they (especially Airi) exemplify. For once, she wants to try to walk on the dangerous side of life...

Quote from: JFC
Would Airi be saying that if she new of Aichan's powers or of what types of stuff the Circle does, I wonder?
I wonder that too. :) Although, we still don't really know what the real agenda of the Circle or even the Skulls is... And really, I don't think even they themselves know yet (remember the line from Maimi about "The headmaster says this is going to be a special time for us" or some such?).

Aaaannndd... I just had to quote this:
Quote from: JFC
Could this be the reason why Chisato keep having that feeling that they were being watched before? If these, in fact, ARE werewolves, then the next thing to ask is... WHO are they? Unless the school is located within a town/city, then these werewolves have to be people (either students or teachers) FROM their school! It could be anyone, even the 3 Circle members themselves (maybe like a side effect of gaining their powers).
There's definitely something going on this night beyond Chisato's audition... or maybe it was caused by Chisato's audition? Notice all the references to the "moonless" night? Now, who can we think of that has some relation to the moon? I'm probably making this too obvious, but I thought someone would already catch on to the little hints spread around the chapters so far :lol: Guess I'm subtler than I realize >.> Also... since my actual writing isn't catching up to my views of the characters, I thought I should prod it forward a little bit more. :lol: Look for some revelations in the next chapter...

Again, thanks for all the :heart:. ^____^ It makes me want to make my next chapters at an even higher level!! Dang, I almost wrote a whole other chapter of backstory right here...
« Last Edit: November 09, 2007, 06:41:44 PM by rokun »

Offline iacus

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Re: The Circle of Three [5: Audition]
« Reply #29 on: November 09, 2007, 09:50:25 PM »
Now, who can we think of that has some relation to the moon?

Quote
Goto of the Moon
:D

“I’ll keep myself under control,” Ai muttered, affronted at how these girls thought they needed to take care of her and watch her every step.

Looks like someone wasn't able to keep themselves under control. But why? Was it the sight of Mikitty that did it, or was it some kind of supernatural force that was released when Okai passed the audition?
I'm going to guess right now that Airi will somehow use her and Miya's connection (No, not their love connection. Their
"lightning bolt" connection) to save Miya's life.
EDIT: Oops, I forgot that the Goto house head was Saki, not Takahashi. :-[  Makes you wonder if Aichan knows about the attack or not though.  Also, I wonder if the whole independent attitude from the skulls is a new development or if it's a tradition that dates back to when the skulls first formed.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2007, 04:03:09 AM by iacus »

Offline mode107

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Re: The Circle of Three [5: Audition]
« Reply #30 on: November 09, 2007, 11:00:51 PM »
I forgot to throw Erika into the mix for a possible love pentegon XD
"Under the beautiful blue sky"

Offline rokun

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Re: The Circle of Three [6: Awakenings]
« Reply #31 on: November 16, 2007, 12:34:35 AM »
Well, I'm getting kind of back to my weekly updating, aren't I? :lol: Um, well this chapter's just about as long as the last one, so I hope you can enjoy it too. I went through a few revisions of it in order to try and get just the right amount of detail... I hope it comes across well.

What will happen to Miyabi??? Is she dead??? Tune in below to find out...


Chapter 6 – Awakenings

Miyabi found herself in a very dark and cold place, and she didn’t know how she got there. The last thing she remembered was smiling at the toothpick girl when she’d looked at her. That was, aside from the excruciating pain and coldness she’d felt right after that. There was also the feeling of something large and hairy atop her. She hadn’t liked that feeling at all.

The place she was in now was completely different though. She tried to look around, but realized that she couldn’t see anything. It just felt like she was… there. There, and yet nowhere. Then suddenly she felt like something warm infused her whole being, and her vision, such as it could be called, became flooded with a luminescence she couldn’t shut her eyes to.

At first she was scared, but soon the brilliance became very pleasant and she wanted to feel it completely overwhelm her. She now knew that somehow she was inside her own mind, but that it was opened to her in a way she’d never imagined before. In it she saw visions of things she had no experience with. She saw the school on fire, blazing as brightly as the sun. She saw bricks being laid in a structure that stood in its spot, while three women dressed in long flowing robes looked on. For a second Miyabi thought one of the women, a petite long-haired one, looked over at her and even recognized her.

Then the visions faded, and the warmth flowing through her felt like it was becoming colder. With the cold, the darkness and pain were returning. No! She wanted the light back! But it was all slipping away. Anything she felt also seemed like it was slipping away. Was she dying?

“Miyakko!!”

She heard her name as a cry in the distance. She tried to latch onto the voice, but the excruciating pain threatened to completely engulf her. Now she wanted nothing more than for it to end.

However, it didn’t. Instead, it began fading once again. This time though, she didn’t fall into some brilliant realm of apparent fantasy within her mind. She felt dull throbbing all over as her senses quickly began returning to her. Before long she was able to feel her limbs and even tried to move one. Then, she opened her eyes to a world that was still dark with rain actually beginning to fall onto and around her. Yet even so, in its reality it was much more vivid than what she’d been staring at before the pain returned.

She realized someone was leaning over her crying and murmuring her name. There were also whispers and whimpers from beyond the increasingly muddy bed she lay in. Her eyes, quickly again, regained their focus, and she realized a girl was staring down at her, her own eyes moist with tears mixing with the rain sliding around her face.

“Rei-chan?” Miyabi asked from her stupor, finding her voice.

The girl atop her blinked in her tears and hurriedly wiped them off, apparently at first unable to see through them. “Mi…” she began. “Miya…?” Finding their focus, her eyes now became wide as if she was seeing a ghost.

Miyabi tried to sit up, resting her weight on her elbows at first, and blinked as she looked around her. Not far away from them, the Okai girl had her head down as she whispered something to a taller girl that looked like Suzuki kneeling on the ground with her head down also. Airi, she corrected herself, wanting to continue the closer relationship she felt was developing between them. That was who she’d been looking at before the pain started. And then…

“What’s going on?” Miyabi asked, returning her gaze to a still terrified-looking Reina.

“Y… you…” Reina spluttered, apparently having lost her ability to speak for the moment.

“I what?” Miyabi asked, and she craned her neck to look through the rain past the captain. Kusumi was sobbing into her knees for some reason. That’s right, they had just finished Okai’s audition. Then where was… “Where’s Mikitty?”

Reina just stared at her in response.

“If somebody doesn’t start speaking normally to me, I’m going to get mad,” Miyabi said, eyes narrowing while raising her voice slightly.

This time she was loud enough that Okai looked up at her, and after a momentary surprised glance prodded at the girl beneath her, who began stirring a little more. When she looked up and saw Miyabi staring back at her, she blinked too. “Nats… Miyabi?”

“Ok, that’s it,” Miyabi said, and shoving their captain hard off of her, making her tumble and fall on her back with a small splash, she jumped to her feet. Finally able to focus on herself she began straightening her clothes that were quickly becoming damp, when she noticed they were wet with something other than water. Dabbing it and holding a bit of the mysterious substance up to her eyes, she growled. “Who bled on me?” she asked in an accusing tone.

“It was you…” Reina said, finally seeming to regain some of her sense. Now, Miyabi had always held a certain respect for their captain, but the girl’s groveling right now was nigh appalling. “You were bleeding. And…”

“Well I’m not bleeding right now,” Miyabi said, her mind drifting back to her experiences inside her head. “So you can stop with all the talk about it.”

Suddenly, she was knocked backward by a crazed monkey. She staggered, but upon regaining her bearings found Airi holding her in an impossibly tight hug. “Hey hey now,” she said quickly and dangerously. “None of that. I don’t do random hugs.” The girl didn’t budge. “…That means you can stop that now.”

She tried prying the girl from around her, but to no avail. The second year was surprisingly strong; there weren’t many girls she couldn’t push around as she liked. In fact, Reina was the only one she knew. Then again, aside from their regular fodder, she didn’t come into contact with many…

Eventually though Airi released her, a euphoric expression on her face. “You’re all right!” she said, beaming at Miyabi. Then something seemed to come over her, and she looked anxiously around her at Reina and Okai, who just stared at the couple. Reina dropped her eyes and her face broke into a smirk, while Okai just looked at her friend as if she’d never seen her before. At least the rain was letting up.

“Oi,” Miyabi said in Reina’s direction. “Don’t look at me like that. Don’t think that being Captain spares you from getting beat down.”

“Oh, I’m under no illusions…” Reina said amusedly, and turned to apparently attend to a still-cowering Koharu.

Thankfully Airi pulled away from her but instead now looked at her in horror. For some reason this irritated Miyabi more. So the girl hugged her as if there was no tomorrow, and now was terrified of her again?

“I’m…” the young girl began. “I’m sorry… I don’t know what came over me.” And she quickly turned and ran to her friend, pausing next to her, still turned away from Miyabi. Okai patted her tentatively on the back. That was right. Miyabi should be calling her Okacchan now.

By this time Reina had also somehow corralled Koharu, although there was still no sight of Miki, and with the girl still shaking next to her, Reina walked back toward Miyabi. “This is kind of weird though,” Reina said. “I saw you. You were nearly torn to pieces. I… well, I lost control for a minute…” Yeah, Miyabi thought. You turned into a big crybaby is what it was... She smirked. She couldn’t wait to see how she could play around with that.

“…And the next thing I knew,” the Captain continued, “You sat up and called my name.”

“So what?” Miyabi asked. “I guess I must have miraculously healed.”

“That’s some kind of recovery…” Reina said.

“She’s right,” came another voice. Miyabi turned and found Airi looking back at her again. “I didn’t get the best look at you…” she said slowly, “But what I saw after that… wolf thing… attacked you… You were just a pile of tangled parts. You weren’t human anymore…”

Miyabi stared at her a moment before barking a laugh. “Tangled parts?” She looked at Okai. “You’ve got a strange one there, Okacchan.” The addressed girl smiled nervously.

However, Miyabi was not a stupid girl, no matter what she might let on. As strange as it seemed, what two of these girls had seen could not be complete illusion. There was some wolf thing as Airi put it? Come to think of it, she knew she’d heard something in the woods earlier other than them, and with an involuntary shudder she quickly tried to hide, she remembered the large hairy thing she’d felt atop her.

Still, finding out whatever it was that attacked her probably wouldn’t explain how she survived the encounter. She wondered if it had anything to do with the white light she saw. Had she died? Did she almost go to the world beyond? She shivered again at the thought. Something must have caused it. Well, she was always one to experiment, and she’d survived almost being ripped apart, hadn’t she? She looked up into the trees until she caught sight of what looked like a sturdy bough and focused on it.

The next thing she knew she felt nauseous, and her feet curled in her shoes as they were no longer flat on the ground. She threw out a hand to steady herself, and it rested against the rough bark of a tree trunk. She stared at it a second before looking down several meters to where girls still stood on the ground below.

“…Miya?” Reina asked, her eyes searching around the clearing. Airi looked like she was becoming frightened again.

“I…” Miyabi began weakly, but the sickness overcame her and she lost her footing, plummeting through branches that slapped hard against her before the ground hit her like deadweight and she felt pain that seemed almost as bad as when she was nearly torn apart by an animal.

“Miyabi!” Airi gasped, and she leaned down toward her. “Are… are you all right?”

Miyabi tried to talk, but nothing came out. She couldn’t move, and the pain in her back was slowly turning to numbness. “I…” she finally managed to breathe. “I think my back broke…”

This time there was no descent into white light. There were no visions. There was just the pain, and the terror of quickly becoming unable to move or feel nearly any part of her body below her neck.

“Help…” she rasped again. “Help me…”

Airi stared at her before beginning to wail. “This is too much!” she screamed. “Too much!” And she jumped up from Miyabi, running off in some direction, not even minding the puddles she splashed through. From the rhythm of the splashing sounds from those puddles, it appeared someone followed her.

“Miyabi…?” Reina said, coming up with a wide-eyed Koharu trailing behind. “You’re really… not okay, aren’t you?”

Miyabi closed and opened her eyes very slowly, still unable to make more than such short, slow movements, and even that through what seemed a dense fog. It wasn’t helped by the fact that the rain was beginning to fall again right into the face she didn’t have the capability to shield from it.

Reina’s expression became tight again and she began breathing heavily. “You’re an idiot, you know that?!” she said. “You can’t leave me alone here! You go off and you… you…” She looked up through the raindrops into the tree Miyabi fell from as if unable to find her words. Then she clutched Miyabi’s arm tightly, her eyes tearing up. “You idiot… You idiot…” she repeated, closing her eyes and squeezing Miyabi’s arm tighter.

Such a gesture did no good of course since Miyabi couldn’t feel her extremities, but oddly she began to feel a warm feeling flow through her again, and soon she did notice a sharp squeeze around her arm as if it had come out of a deep sleep. She swallowed as feeling returned to the rest of her body, and she felt pain again. It dulled quickly though, just as before.

“You idiot… You idiot…” Reina was still repeating, up until when Miyabi reached up and flipped her over, pinning her to the ground beneath her and eliciting a short yelp from Koharu. Reina’s eyes widened beneath the bangs plastered by the rain to her forehead as she breathed quickly in shock, staring up at her.

“It’s you!” Miyabi said between clenched teeth. “You’re the one healing me! What are you doing?”

“I…” Reina began. “I don’t know. I didn’t do anything! I just didn’t want to see you like that, and…”

“And I got better,” Miyabi said, raising herself from the girl. As the two took seated positions and stared at each other, Miyabi grinned. “Cute trick you got there.”

“I…” Reina started, her mouth apparently still dry. “I could say the same of you. What was that you went and did there? How did you get into that tree?”

“I don’t know…” Miyabi said, looking back up into its branches. Then she looked back at Reina. “But it was cool,” she said, her grin widening even further.

“Yeah… I guess so…” Reina said. “Much better than me just being able to heal you at least…” she grumbled.

“What are you talking about?!” Miyabi asked, scandalized. “You just saved my life! Twice!”

Reina gave her a skeptical look in return. “And the cool part is…?”

With a growl as she narrowed her eyes Miyabi pounced on the cross-legged girl, and they rolled around playfully wrestling in the dirt while thunder rumbled around them until Miyabi had her pinned again. “You know,” Miyabi said, taking her small victory for granted, “This is really going to put the Skulls on the map… I mean, we apparently have some kind of powers! You with your healing and me with my…” She looked up thoughtfully. “You know, I’m not really sure what it is I do yet…”

At a cough from behind, the two girls craned their necks to see Koharu watching them anxiously, completely soaked just like them. “Um… excuse me? I’m glad to see you two are having fun and all, but…” Her eyes flickered back and forth between the two girls, apparently nervous at their position. “I feel kind of left out…”

“Oh do you?” Miyabi asked with a smirk, and then she had a sudden idea. She looked at Reina, who after a second seemed to understand and smiled and nodded back. “I wonder what else we can do to make her feel uncomfortable…” Miyabi said in a sultry voice, looking into Reina’s eyes.

“I couldn’t say…” Reina said as if trying to think of something.

Then, Miyabi leaned quickly down and kissed the older girl hard on the mouth, writhing up against her as if she needed her more than anything. Reina responded just as aggressively as thunder rolled and lightning flashed in increasing bursts, a cyclonic wind even coming up around them, and after a minute or so the two girls separated. Grinning into each others’ eyes again for a moment, they looked back at Koharu, who stood frozen, staring between the two girls and the sky.

However, it wasn’t long before her eyes slowly narrowed and she stuck out her bottom lip. “That’s not funny, you two!” she scolded, and turned away. “Where’d the other two and Mikitty go, by the way?”

Looking back at Reina Miyabi shrugged, still with a smirk, and slid off her, getting to her feet. As Reina rose too and straightened her non-regulation seifuku, which seemed pointless since she was nearly caked with dirt and blood by this point, she murmured softly into Miyabi’s ear. “That Suzuki chick is a lucky girl. Although, if you attack her like that sometime, you’ll probably smother the poor thing.” Miyabi gave a blush at that, although she wasn’t sure whether that was from embarrassment or anger at the girl’s never-ending teasing.

“Speaking of…” Reina continued. “Koha’s right. Where’d they run off to?”

“Don’t ask me,” Miyabi said, straightening her skirt. “I was a little paralyzed at the time.” For that, she received a hard poke in the side. She refrained from assaulting the older girl once again.

“Well,” Reina said. “I guess we might as well head back to the school. That’s probably where they went, and we’ve gotta gather our new Skull and give her a proper initiation after all. I also would love to talk with the Master.”

“New Skull…” Miyabi said, dropping into thought and ignoring the part about Mikitty for the moment. “Y’know that’s nice, but with what’s just happened with you and me we’re gonna have to test her to see if she’s anything special too.”

“Doubt it,” Reina said curtly. “You and I are at least close in years. I don’t know how we’re able to do… whatever it is we’re doing, but what are the chances a second year is the same?”

“True,” Miyabi said as they began walking down the path back to school, Koharu falling in at their sides, apparently wanting to talk but unsure what to say. At least it had stopped storming. “How ‘bout her?” she asked, jabbing a finger in their companion’s direction. “Should we throw her off a roof or something to see what she can do?”

Koharu’s eyes widened at that. “Excuse me! If that’s what it’ll take, I’d prefer never to find out whether or not I’m a freak like you!”

“Freak?” Miyabi asked, tasting the word in her mouth. “You do realize that as a Skull you’re already a ‘freak’, right?” That shut the girl up nicely. “Whaddya think, Rei-chan? Maybe we could just toss a hair dryer into her bath or something. …Rei-chan?”

She looked over at the girl to see that she was just staring off into space as if trapped in a world within her own mind. She reached over and slapped her cheek, causing the girl to glare back at her. “Don’t tell me you’re seeing a bright white light,” Miyabi stated slyly.

“No,” Reina said, curtly again. Then her lips curled up into a smile. “I look forward to running into our friendly Circle again though…” Miyabi looked curiously at her, unsure what to think of the girl bringing up this certain subject. What did the Circle have to do with anything? Did this have something to do with the other night?

She thought back to it again. This time, it felt like she burst through some kind of veil within her head and faces swam into her mind’s eye. Aha! She knew other girls had been there! When she took a closer look at the faces though she recognized them easily, and when the memory of Reina flying across the room for no apparent reason appeared, she felt an odd emotion – fear. Well, what had she to worry about now? She’d just nearly died and been completely paralyzed. Surely it couldn’t get much worse than that.

On the spur of the moment she looked over at Reina, who still seemed lost in thought as they walked, a smile on her face. There was something different in the way Miyabi studied the girl this time though – this time, Miyabi understood the smile.



They eventually made it back to the school, and although there was no sign of Miki, they ran into Suzuki and Okai not far from House Matsuura. Suzuki seemed quite at a loss when she saw Miyabi walking around as if nothing had happened, but after the Goto girl chidingly told them that apparently Reina could heal anything, at least as far as she was concerned, the second year quieted down and just gave the two of them odd glances. It was enough to make Reina’s skin crawl.

She explained that they had to appropriate Okai for her initiation into the Skulls, and informed Suzuki that unless she wanted to audition too she’d have to run off back to her house until her friend caught up with her. When Reina patted her shoulder with a grin while telling her of all the reasons to audition, she felt a strong shock rip through her, and her eyes widened, seeing the same expression come across Suzuki’s face. Then she looked over at Miyabi.

“What is it?” the girl asked with a frown.

Reina looked back at Suzuki, who cast wary glances among the two older Skulls. “What it is…” Reina began, and Suzuki looked to her, a difficult to decipher look in her face, but at least clearly one that informed Reina not to tell everyone about what they’d apparently both just felt. “…is I think this girl is somehow destined to join us.” Relief came over the young girl’s face. “I mean, her friend’s already here, and another of us is already halfway under her skirt…” This time when the second year’s eyes widened she blushed profusely, and Reina smiled, looking over at a glaring Miyabi.

“I’ll tell you,” Reina said, leaning close to Suzuki’s ear and whispering into it. “She’s quite the hellion despite her prissy appearance. You could even do anything you wanted to her,” she continued, her grin widening. “And I bet you wouldn’t ever want more…”

“Excuse me!” Suzuki said in a high brisk voice, backing away from Reina as if she had the plague. “I think you’re right. I must be going now.” She bowed quickly at the three Skulls and gave a short smile to her friend. “I… have homework to do.” Then she scurried off toward her house and through the door.

“Such a polite girl,” Reina said, tapping her chin. “None of that better have rubbed off on you, Okacchan.” She turned to the other young girl, who puffed out her chest. “Can’t have anything like that in the Skulls.”

“That’s one of the reasons I wanted to join you,” she responded vehemently. “I don’t want to fit in like everyone else.”

“Good to know…” Reina said, and cast her eyes around the other Skulls.

“What were you telling her?” Miyabi asked, her brows still furrowed.

Reina shrugged nonchalantly. “Oh, just about what awaits her in her future happy life as a Skull! What else?” Miyabi didn’t seem convinced.

“So what’s next?” Okai asked eagerly.

“Well aren’t you the spunky one,” Reina said, gesturing to the others to follow her on the way toward House Nakazawa. “The first thing you need to learn is to relax. Do you think we’re as easygoing as we are because we’re uptight all the time? You’re set for life now, so there’s no need to worry too much about silly things like homework.” Okai tried to open her mouth, but Reina plowed on despite it.

“That doesn’t mean you should shirk it all of course – you have to do enough to be allowed to stay at the school after all – but the main thing is to not stress about it. We’re about… fun…” She gave Miyabi a look at that to which she responded with a raised eyebrow. “But most Skulls don’t have a future lying in the academic realm.”

“Look who’s talking…” Miyabi said quietly, and Reina gave her a quick glare.

“Miyakko and I happen to do well enough,” she explained. “But don’t feel like you have to hold yourself to our standards. I mean, look at Koha over there,” she said, nodding to the girl who grimaced in response. “She’s barely hanging on, and things couldn’t be better.” Reina knew that with the sarcasm she couldn’t keep out of her voice, there was no way the girl could believe her. Well, she’d learn it all in time.

“All that’s fine,” Okai said impatiently. “But what about freedom and adventure? That’s why I joined you.”

“There’ll be plenty of that,” Miyabi said, giving another look to Reina. “We don’t have anything planned at the moment, but this coming week we’ll start kicking it into high gear.”

“Your first assignment,” Reina broke in, annoyed at the girl’s interruption. She looked up and down Chisato’s perfect navy blue school uniform, although while many girls wore skirts she wore a short pair of c-ute capris. “…aside from a trip to the Skulls’ fashion boutique… is to find a poor helpless girl this next week and bully her in some way. You’ve gotta start establishing a Skull’s reputation and separating yourself from your friend there.”

“But I like Airin…” she responded uncertainly. “And she’s my roommate, so it’s not like I can just stay away from her anyway.”

“There’s no need for that,” Reina said. She paused a moment as she remembered the shock she felt when the two of them touched. First her and Miyabi when they met, and then Miyabi and the girl, and now her and the girl. Although, even though she didn’t know what her interaction with Miyabi was, the shock Reina felt upon touching her was much stronger than when her and Miyabi met those years ago. In any case, something was most definitely fishy. Before going on, she poked Okai to see what would happen, although nothing did other than the girl frowning at her. “I have a feeling all of us will be seeing a good bit of her in the future.”

“There’s no way she’s going to want to join the Skulls,” Okai said quickly, rubbing the portion of her arm Reina just poked. “She hates you guys.”

Reina stopped in her tracks, a shadow falling over her face, but before she could talk Miyabi spoke up with a voice calmer than what she would have used. “You’re one of us now,” she said, walking over to Okai and looking her directly in the eyes. She also laid a hand hard on the younger girl’s shoulder. “You shouldn’t speak of the Skulls as if it’s something separate. It’s what you are now. I don’t think she hates you, and that only has to improve her image of us in general. You’re Okacchan now, remember?” Reina couldn’t stop a smirk coming to her face again as she looked at the two. She didn’t think Okai was the only reason anymore that Suzuki might have a better view of them…

“Right…” Okai said a trifle hesitantly. “I’m a little worried about that too though. I hope she doesn’t start thinking too much less of me...”

“It’ll be all right,” Reina said, walking up to them too and pushing Miyabi aside a little. She was the Captain. It was her job to console a fellow Skull if she needed it. Of course, the key phrase there was if she needed it…

“While it’s true Skulls don’t really have friends outside our little ‘circle’, like I said before…” She gave Miyabi a slight grin before continuing. The girl apparently had decided to start ignoring her when she did this. That only made her grin wider. “I have a feeling she’s irrevocably tied to us now.”

“If you say so…” Chisato responded, and Miyabi finally let her go, but not before giving her shoulder a bit of a squeeze.

“Guys…!” she heard Koharu burst out insistently, and when Reina turned to the girl another voice shouted out from back along the path.

“Ai! Saki! Here they are!”

This time she spun on her heel, automatically crouching in a defensive posture. She recognized that voice, and immediately didn’t like what it might portend.

Yajima Maimi ran down the dark wet path toward them, and almost right away Reina saw Takahashi and Shimizu emerge behind her. She glanced over to see Miyabi grimly awaiting their arrival too. The other two girls just seemed confused about what was going on, although Koharu with her experience did seem a little anxious. Well, maybe this was as good a time as any to start showing Okai the ropes. However, with her newfound knowledge, Reina was a bit more worried than usual at this encounter.

While still several paces away Yajima stopped cold, and Reina could tell she was staring at Miyabi. “What’s the problem now? Are you actually going to enforce the unwritten rule about being out in the middle of the night?”

“How are you here?” the Circle member asked in a demanding yet slightly dazed voice.

Reina stared between her and Miyabi, who crouched even lower. “What are you talking about?” she demanded herself. “Were you watching us? If so, then we now definitely have a problem. There’s no way I’m letting you track my girls twenty-four hours a day.”

Thunder began to rumble in the distance as Yajima shifted her gaze to look at Reina as if she was an annoying bug that she wouldn’t even bother to squash beneath her shoe. To her side, Reina caught Takahashi glancing up at the sky curiously. Shimizu just stood silently behind them as if trying to make herself invisible. Refocusing on Yajima, she thought she caught the girl’s eyes flashing red for a moment. It must have been a trick of the night.

We are the Heads of this school,” Yajima said evenly. “So we’ll keep track of whoever we want.”

“No,” Reina growled loudly. “You won’t.”

“Why shouldn’t I be here?” Miyabi said, momentarily diffusing the ire quickly forming between the two apparent leaders of their respective groups. “This is my school as much as it is yours.”

“But you were—“ Yajima began, but Shimizu stepped up and raised a hand to lay on her shoulder.

“I may have been mistaken in what I thought I… saw,” the small girl said in a low, calm voice. “Either way, she’s here right now, so there’s nothing really to be said about that anymore.”

After giving her fellow Circle member a fierce gaze for a time, during which Reina exchanged glances with Miyabi, the Head of Matsuura continued, “You’re right. It’s good that we don’t have to deal with the consequences anymore.”

Reina looked hard at the girl amid the increasing thunder and activity in the sky above. What was she talking about? If something happened to one of the students at Seishin, she supposed the Circle would be responsible in some way, but with how they talked about it and learned about it so quickly, this seemed like something more… personal.

“Do you know something about what attacked us?” Reina asked in a low and dangerous voice, her agitation not lessening. At her words, thunder clashed what seemed like directly above them.

Yajima looked back at her. “Something attacked you?” she asked in what Reina guessed what was supposed to be an innocent voice.

“Yes,” she responded. “Miyakko almost died. If it wasn’t for me, she would have.”

This time Yajima’s eyes narrowed, and despite Shimizu tugging on her sleeve and Takahashi giving her furtive glances, she shot back, “If not for you? What did you do?”

“That’s none of your business,” Reina replied, and looked around at her girls. Miyabi was looking at her, and at her glance nodded her support. Koharu still looked a bit nervous though, and Chisato just looked stunned. Reina cracked a smile at that. Yes, Okacchan, she thought. Nobody messes with the Skulls.

“Maimi…” Takahashi said, finally speaking up. “Something’s wrong here.” She glanced again at the sky while she spoke.

“Tell me!” Yajima demanded again, ignoring the newest Circle member and keeping her furious gaze fixed on Reina. Reina’s own snapped back to her as crackling lightning above lit their battlefield in a haunting glow.

“Yajima-san…” Takahashi said again, more insistently this time, but the Matsuura girl threw up her arm, fingers splayed, and Reina’s mood quickly turned to astonishment as a ball of something that flickered and glowed brilliantly formed and quickly increased in size in front of her hand.

“Reina!” Came a voice from another part of the clearing. “No!” Reina recognized the voice of Miki, but she couldn’t take her eyes off the fireball in Yajima’s hand that was now the size of her head. Shimizu backed quickly away, looking up at the brilliance warily as Reina could tell by the fresh illumination of her face, but Yajima’s attention didn’t shift from her.

“I’ve had about enough of you!” Yajima growled, and pitching her hand forward, threw the ball directly at a bewildered Reina.

“No!!!” came a yell from her side, and out of her periphery she caught sight of Miyabi stepping forward. Just then, when the fireball was halfway to her, it seemed to implode in midflight, and the clearing fell back into darkness again. This time it was deeper though, since the sudden light had forced their eyes to adjust quickly.

When she could see again though, Reina caught the three across from them all staring at Miyabi, who was glaring back, wide-eyed and breathing heavily. Koharu and Chisato both had fallen on their knees to the ground, stupefied and silent.

The tension continued uneasily for perhaps a minute, before Shimizu stepped back up to Yajima. “This isn’t the time,” she said quietly beside the girl’s ear. “I think we all,” she continued, glancing over at Takahashi, “need to discuss our observations from tonight.”

“No,” Reina said, finally finding her voice after nearly getting incinerated. At first though, the other girls didn’t look at her. “Everybody saw that, right?” she asked, looking around at her girls. Miyabi nodded grimly, and she could tell from the vacant expressions of the other two that they apparently had seen as well. She’d expected the same from Miyabi, so the girl’s lack of surprise now caught her off guard.

“Saw what?” Shimizu asked casually, and Reina felt her eyes drawn again to the small girl’s.

“No!” Miyabi said again. “You’re not messing with our minds again!” she snapped.

When she spoke, Shimizu fell back from Yajima as if hit by a blow, and she blinked her eyes groggily. The fog Reina had felt appear momentarily within her mind cleared up immediately, and while it left she thought she saw a red glow in Shimizu’s eyes as well. Even though her mind was clouded, this time she knew there was no doubt about it. She looked over at Miyabi. “What’s going on, Miya?” she asked carefully.

“What’s going on,” Miyabi said, stepping closer to the Circle, who backed a step away and started looking like they wanted to back away even further, “Is that I think I’m finally beginning to understand what’s happening to me.” Reina didn’t know exactly what the girl was talking about, but if it helped them put the Circle in their place finally she was all for it.

“Don’t come any closer!” Yajima warned, though Reina thought she began sounding a little desperate. “Ai-chan! Stop her!” she ordered, looking at the Nakazawa seventh year.

However, Takahashi just looked up at the sky again, where clouds still roiled amid vicious-looking thunder and lightning. “I don’t know if that’s such a good—“ she began, but Yajima cut her off again.

“Now!” she commanded. “Or Saki will make you!”

Shimizu gave the girl a look when she said her name that seemed to imply she wasn’t sure if she wanted anything to do with making Takahashi do anything, but she looked back at the older girl, who was becoming nervous.

“Okay…” she said, and she looked back into the sky.

Reina wondered what she was doing until thunder began booming even louder, and lightning suddenly began jabbing down into the woods nearby, occasional loud booms signifying trees that had likely been struck down. Then Reina, along with the other Skulls, looked up nervously too.


“Control!” Yajima said, becoming anxious too. “You need to learn control!”

“I know!” Takahashi responded. “But that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you! There’s something else!”

Then, looking up into the impending maelstrom, Reina finally began to understand too. She hadn’t really thought about the difference before, but ever since the other night her senses became more attuned to her surroundings, especially when she walked out in the woods. It felt like she could sense all the life around her, and for some reason she just hadn’t paid attention before.

She looked down at Miyabi, who still stared up. Aside from seeing the girl, she could feel her life, as if it was some tangible force emanating from her. Although for some reason it came stronger from Miyabi, she could feel it from the other girls too.

However, when she looked at the Circle, even though their life forces shone almost as strong as Miyabi’s, they flickered, almost as if something was fighting within them. When she looked back to the sky she could feel the churning clouds, and even the thunder and the lightning. In a way, it seemed to mirror herself. She thought back to the rest of the night. It had rained when she cried. It stormed strongest when she was angry, as it was now when she faced her enemies. For some reason there was no doubt about it anymore – she couldn’t even necessarily explain why, but she knew these girls were her enemies, in a way that went far beyond the rivalry between Skulls and Circle.

Lightning still shot almost chaotically down around them, but now that she understood it, she became calm and reached out to it. “No,” she said, drawing glances from a few of the girls around her. She looked at Takahashi, who still stared fixedly up into the sky. “This is my storm,” she told the girl calmly, and she finally caught her attention. “You’ve no business with it.” With the girl’s attention brought back to her, the lightning stopped flashing, and even the thunder’s rumble seemed to fade slightly.

Takahashi’s eyes widened as she looked into Reina’s calm face, and she glanced between it and the sky above. “What?” Yajima asked. “What is it?”

“…Now is not the time,” Shimizu insisted once again. “We should go.”

Yajima looked furiously back at Reina, and then at each of the other Skull members in turn, even Koharu and Chisato. It seemed she wanted to say something else, or rather yell it, but instead after the glances she just turned on her heel and stalked off, the other girls catching up behind. Shimizu followed her nonchalantly, yet obviously eager to be away from that scene, but Takahashi spared a few glances back at Reina and up at the sky.

Miyabi moved as if to follow them, but Reina said quickly, “Don’t.” The girl stopped, and when she looked back at her she continued. “Shimizu’s right. We’re good for now, and just need to think about what’s happened.” After a second, Miyabi nodded and fell back in with her.

Sighing, Reina turned and smiled at the other two girls. “Please,” she said in a cheerful voice. “Stand up and join us.” The two girls just stared at her. Reina decided to change her tack, and made her face become stern. “You two are Skulls, aren’t you!? You can’t let something like this faze you!” Then, giving each other glances, they both stumbled to their feet.

Reina heard a low whistle from behind her and glanced back to see Miki limping up. “That was some kind of show you put on there,” she said, looking very interestedly between Reina and Miyabi. “Can’t say I’ve ever seen the like.”

“And where were you when we all nearly got killed?” Reina asked in an angry voice. Thunder rumbled behind her, and Miki shook her head.

“Tsk tsk,” she said. “I don’t think we can have you losing your temper again.” She smiled. “Besides, why do you think I’d want to get involved in something as dangerous-looking as that?”

“You know something about it, don’t you?” Reina asked quickly, jumping on an intuition.

Miki fell silent a moment. “Maybe,” she said. “But I assure you, I couldn’t repeat what you just did.”

“If you’re hiding anything from us…” Miyabi said in a threatening voice. Miki frowned at her. Regular Skull members weren’t supposed to speak to the Master like that.

“All I know,” Miki said slowly. “Is that the Skulls were formed with the idea that someday, the True Blood would come to Seishin.” The other girls looked on quietly as they considered her words. Reina had no idea what that might mean though. “It doesn’t go into much detail about what the True Blood are, but since they’re ‘coming to Seishin’, it’s guessed that they’re students. It also doesn’t say anything about what they’re supposed to do… except that they have the ability to ‘alter the stars’.”

“Alter the stars?” Koharu asked. Reina, although pleased with the girl’s regained speaking abilities, didn’t really want her involved in this moment. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Well…” Miki began, though a bit unsteadily. “One of the possible meanings of ‘seishin’ is literally ‘stars’, or at least ‘celestial objects’. Of course we don’t know what the founders meant since it’s written in kana, but that could mean the True Blood could affect some kind of change on the school.”

“Or…” Reina said, hoping for more with their newfound abilities than just something dealing with the school. “It could mean literally doing something to the stars, couldn’t it?”

Miki hesitated a moment before responding, and she also began limping again toward House Nakazawa. The other Skulls followed. “There’s an expression,” she said. “Where ‘alter the stars’ means to change one’s destiny. It’s not specific though, so there’s no telling whose destiny will be changed.”

“Like it could mean anything to begin with,” Miyabi said in an annoyed voice. “’Change your destiny’. What kind of destiny are we supposed to have anyway? We’re just students at Seishin.”

Skulls at Seishin,” Miki corrected. “However, I don’t know,” she admitted with a shrug. “Unless it means your destiny as a Skull, or perhaps the destiny of someone as a Circle member.” The girls were quiet at that.

“You’re not really too helpful,” Reina said skeptically. “You know that?” In response, Miki gave a toothy smile.

“So who are these True Blood?” Miyabi asked. “Since you mention them at this time, I take it you mean it could be us. Or perhaps the Circle…”

“Perhaps,” Miki responded wisely. “I think you’re going to need to find out though.”

“Us?” Chisato asked, speaking up for the first time. “How are we supposed to find out about anything like that?”

“Well I certainly can’t do it,” Miki replied. “I’ll be gone by sunrise, after all.”

“That’s okay,” Reina said. “We can handle it.”

“I’m sure you can,” Miki said with a warm smile, and patted Reina on the back. “So now that you all know, what are you going to do about the Circle?”

The girls all looked at each other. “Well, maybe it’s our destiny to find out,” Miyabi said with a grin and nearly tangible sarcasm. The other girls sighed, and Reina poked her in the side. “Ow…” the girl said as if not really meaning it.

The whole time they walked along, Reina felt a presence paralleling them from the woods along the side. She wasn’t sure it would mean anything, but after poking Miyabi she caught the slightest glimmer of yellow eyes peering out from the brush. Watch all you want… she thought to herself. Though, you now know not to mess idly with my Skulls… As if to accentuate her point, a small whirling dervish of air sprang up nearby and blew past them toward the eyes, which disappeared at its approach. As they continued walking and the dervish dissipated, Reina’s mouth turned up in a smile signifying satisfaction she’d not felt in a long time.

Offline g4rfield

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Re: The Circle of Three [6: Awakenings]
« Reply #32 on: November 16, 2007, 01:42:58 AM »
wedge.  :grin: *reading now*
Ok, comment time! I'm as always, positively enthralled by this chapter. Finally some answers, Miyabi is not dead (now I don't have to hunt rokun down)  :twisted: She's just almost dead. Thanks to Reina, all is well again. At first I didn't know why the powers suddenly got so apparent like that. I guess it takes a really bad situation to maximize a talent that lays dormant to turn it into a really powerful weapon. We know that there's an underlying of magic beneath Reina, Miya and Airi, but to see Reina heal the badly torn Miya, twice, and pull out a heavy storm, lightning, the whole nine yards....is kind of shocking. Miya herself seemed to have teleportation...ummm... can it be called magic? ESP maybe. Anyway, the yellow eyes, I would go with most people here and say it's werewolves. Miya got bitten, so she has a potential to go wolfy on a full moon.  :grin:

Now we see the Circle as less powerful than the Skulls. Is there gonna be revolution inside the school soon?  :w00t:

The one thing that I just found a bit disturbing is Reina. First, I have the feeling that she could turn really really evil after she finds out 'bout her newfound power. Second, don't you think that she's warm up to it fast, like she's able to control it and everything, her understanding of her new power seems to surpassed even Miyabi. I don't even know if Miya can even measure up everybody's power like Reina does. I think Ai-chan knows what Reina is capable of from that short 'meeting'. Just not the full extent maybe.

 
« Last Edit: November 16, 2007, 06:11:53 AM by g4rfield »

Offline mode107

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Re: The Circle of Three [6: Awakenings]
« Reply #33 on: November 16, 2007, 02:37:22 AM »
Woah, this was a confusing chapter. It had nothing to do with how you wrote it, I was just so much for me to remember, which is good because I like long chapters :P

Well for one thing, it's good  Miyabi is alive and well. Maybe now she might  also be able to turn into a werewolf on a night of a full moon?  :lol:

And Maimi being circle member, I didn't expect her to threaten Reina and charge up a fireball(was it?) to hit Reina. How was she going to explain herself to the headmaster if she were to actually hurt Reina? Bad Maimi!  :angry:  :wub:
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Offline JFC

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Re: The Circle of Three [6: Awakenings]
« Reply #34 on: November 16, 2007, 05:18:51 AM »
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Miyabi found herself in a very dark and cold place, and she didn’t know how she got there. The last thing she remembered was smiling at the toothpick girl when she’d looked at her. That was, aside from the excruciating pain and coldness she’d felt right after that. There was also the feeling of something large and hairy atop her. She hadn’t liked that feeling at all.
She probably didn't even realize what hit her.



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She saw bricks being laid in a structure that stood in its spot, while three women dressed in long flowing robes looked on. For a second Miyabi thought one of the women, a petite long-haired one, looked over at her and even recognized her.
The three original women that the school Houses were named after?



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Then the visions faded, and the warmth flowing through her felt like it was becoming colder. With the cold, the darkness and pain were returning. No! She wanted the light back! But it was all slipping away. Anything she felt also seemed like it was slipping away. Was she dying?
FIGHT MIYABI!!! FIGHT!!! :pleeese:



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She realized someone was leaning over her crying and murmuring her name. There were also whispers and whimpers from beyond the increasingly muddy bed she lay in. Her eyes, quickly again, regained their focus, and she realized a girl was staring down at her, her own eyes moist with tears mixing with the rain sliding around her face.

“Rei-chan?” Miyabi asked from her stupor, finding her voice.
SHE LIVES!!! :w00t:



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Miyabi tried to sit up, resting her weight on her elbows at first, and blinked as she looked around her.

...

“What’s going on?” Miyabi asked, returning her gaze to a still terrified-looking Reina.

“Y… you…” Reina spluttered, apparently having lost her ability to speak for the moment.
Considering what she just went through, trying to sit up isn't the best thing for Miyabi to be doing right now.  Too much movement right now could worsen the injuries she's suffered.



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Then where was… “Where’s Mikitty?”

Reina just stared at her in response.

“If somebody doesn’t start speaking normally to me, I’m going to get mad,” Miyabi said, eyes narrowing while raising her voice slightly.
Strange...Miyabi sounds rather well for someone who just got viciously mauled. :?

And where IS Miki? Did she go off to get help?



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“Ok, that’s it,” Miyabi said, and shoving their captain hard off of her, making her tumble and fall on her back with a small splash, she jumped to her feet. Finally able to focus on herself she began straightening her clothes that were quickly becoming damp, when she noticed they were wet with something other than water. Dabbing it and holding a bit of the mysterious substance up to her eyes, she growled. “Who bled on me?” she asked in an accusing tone.
She got up? But...how? She SHOULD be in massive amounts of pain, not to mention probably REALLY lightheaded from the loss of blood.  :stunned:



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“It was you…” Reina said, finally seeming to regain some of her sense. Now, Miyabi had always held a certain respect for their captain, but the girl’s groveling right now was nigh appalling. “You were bleeding. And…”

“Well I’m not bleeding right now,” Miyabi said, her mind drifting back to her experiences inside her head. “So you can stop with all the talk about it.”

Suddenly, she was knocked backward by a crazed monkey. She staggered, but upon regaining her bearings found Airi holding her in an impossibly tight hug. “Hey hey now,” she said quickly and dangerously. “None of that. I don’t do random hugs.” The girl didn’t budge. “…That means you can stop that now.”
As awkward as this may be, isn't this sort of what Miyabi wanted in the first place? To get closer to Airi?  Maybe it's just the fact that they're with the others...making her feel a little self-conscious.  :P

That still doesn't explain though why she's up on her feet when logic says that she should be barely conscious.



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“I’m sorry… I don’t know what came over me.” And she quickly turned and ran to her friend, pausing next to her, still turned away from Miyabi. Okai patted her tentatively on the back.
Ooooooooooooooo...maybe Airi feels something similar to what Miyabi feels?  :love:



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Miyabi should be calling her Okacchan now.
Okacchan? Someone could misunderstand that and think Miyabi was calling her "mommy". XD



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Reina walked back toward Miyabi. “This is kind of weird though,” Reina said. “I saw you. You were nearly torn to pieces. I… well, I lost control for a minute…” Yeah, Miyabi thought. You turned into a big crybaby is what it was... She smirked. She couldn’t wait to see how she could play around with that.
Miyabi = :kekeke:
Reina =  :mon sweat:



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“…And the next thing I knew,” the Captain continued, “You sat up and called my name.”

“So what?” Miyabi asked. “I guess I must have miraculously healed.”

“That’s some kind of recovery…” Reina said.
It's like Miyabi has some sort of healing powers (like Wolverine from the X-Men franchise). If this is actually the case, could it be that there are MORE students at this school who also have powers? Perhaps it's NOT just The Circle that has them.  :mon unsure:



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She looked up into the trees until she caught sight of what looked like a sturdy bough and focused on it.

The next thing she knew she felt nauseous, and her feet curled in her shoes as they were no longer flat on the ground. She threw out a hand to steady herself, and it rested against the rough bark of a tree trunk. She stared at it a second before looking down several meters to where girls still stood on the ground below.
Whoa...Miyabi can levitate? :o  Well, it WAS said that the original three woman that the Houses were named after were supposedly witches, and that they found a way to pass on their powers to the subsequent generations of House members, right?  Looks like Miyabi somehow managed to "tap into" those powers.



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“I…” Miyabi began weakly, but the sickness overcame her and she lost her footing, plummeting through branches that slapped hard against her before the ground hit her like deadweight and she felt pain that seemed almost as bad as when she was nearly torn apart by an animal.
Well, she's still new at this, after all. Levitating herself that high probably wasn't the smartest thing to try for her first time out. 



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Miyabi tried to talk, but nothing came out. She couldn’t move, and the pain in her back was slowly turning to numbness. “I…” she finally managed to breathe. “I think my back broke…”

This time there was no descent into white light. There were no visions. There was just the pain, and the terror of quickly becoming unable to move or feel nearly any part of her body below her neck.

“Help…” she rasped again. “Help me…”
Oh shit.  :mon scare:



Quote
Reina’s expression became tight again and she began breathing heavily. “You’re an idiot, you know that?!” she said. “You can’t leave me alone here! You go off and you… you…” She looked up through the raindrops into the tree Miyabi fell from as if unable to find her words. Then she clutched Miyabi’s arm tightly, her eyes tearing up. “You idiot… You idiot…” she repeated, closing her eyes and squeezing Miyabi’s arm tighter.

Such a gesture did no good of course since Miyabi couldn’t feel her extremities, but oddly she began to feel a warm feeling flow through her again, and soon she did notice a sharp squeeze around her arm as if it had come out of a deep sleep. She swallowed as feeling returned to the rest of her body, and she felt pain again. It dulled quickly though, just as before.

“You idiot… You idiot…” Reina was still repeating, up until when Miyabi reached up and flipped her over, pinning her to the ground beneath her and eliciting a short yelp from Koharu. Reina’s eyes widened beneath the bangs plastered by the rain to her forehead as she breathed quickly in shock, staring up at her.

“It’s you!” Miyabi said between clenched teeth. “You’re the one healing me! What are you doing?”

“I…” Reina began. “I don’t know. I didn’t do anything! I just didn’t want to see you like that, and…”

“And I got better,” Miyabi said, raising herself from the girl.
REINA'S THE HEALER!!! :w00t:

...

Hmmm...so does that mean that Koharu has a power too? Or maybe Miki?



Quote
“You know,” Miyabi said, taking her small victory for granted, “This is really going to put the Skulls on the map… I mean, we apparently have some kind of powers! You with your healing and me with my…” She looked up thoughtfully. “You know, I’m not really sure what it is I do yet…”
We could be looking at the beginnings of some type of mystic witch battle between The Circle and The Skulls. :O



Quote
“New Skull…” Miyabi said, dropping into thought and ignoring the part about Mikitty for the moment. “Y’know that’s nice, but with what’s just happened with you and me we’re gonna have to test her to see if she’s anything special too.”

“Doubt it,” Reina said curtly. “You and I are at least close in years. I don’t know how we’re able to do… whatever it is we’re doing, but what are the chances a second year is the same?”
Oh don't get too ahead of yourself Reina. Considering all the weirdness that's already happened, in all likelihood ANYTHING can be possible.



Quote
“Should we throw her off a roof or something to see what she can do?”

Koharu’s eyes widened at that. “Excuse me! If that’s what it’ll take, I’d prefer never to find out whether or not I’m a freak like you!”
Poor Koharu. :lol:



Quote
“I look forward to running into our friendly Circle again though…” Miyabi looked curiously at her, unsure what to think of the girl bringing up this certain subject. What did the Circle have to do with anything? Did this have something to do with the other night?
Well DUH! Reina's obviously thinking "payback".



Quote
They eventually made it back to the school, and although there was no sign of Miki, they ran into Suzuki and Okai not far from House Matsuura.
Ah, nice to know the two of them made it back okay. :)

...

NOW WHERE THE HELL IS MIKI???  :pig huh:



Quote
She explained that they had to appropriate Okai for her initiation into the Skulls, and informed Suzuki that unless she wanted to audition too she’d have to run off back to her house until her friend caught up with her. When Reina patted her shoulder with a grin while telling her of all the reasons to audition, she felt a strong shock rip through her, and her eyes widened, seeing the same expression come across Suzuki’s face. Then she looked over at Miyabi.

“What is it?” the girl asked with a frown.

Reina looked back at Suzuki, who cast wary glances among the two older Skulls. “What it is…” Reina began, and Suzuki looked to her, a difficult to decipher look in her face, but at least clearly one that informed Reina not to tell everyone about what they’d apparently both just felt. “…is I think this girl is somehow destined to join us.”
Well, whaddaya know...EVERYONE just seems to be full of surprises tonight.  :shocked:



Quote
“The first thing you need to learn is to relax. Do you think we’re as easygoing as we are because we’re uptight all the time? You’re set for life now, so there’s no need to worry too much about silly things like homework.” Okai tried to open her mouth, but Reina plowed on despite it.

“That doesn’t mean you should shirk it all of course – you have to do enough to be allowed to stay at the school after all – but the main thing is to not stress about it. We’re about… fun…”

...

I mean, look at Koha over there,” she said, nodding to the girl who grimaced in response. “She’s barely hanging on, and things couldn’t be better.”
Oh BURN!  XD



Quote
You’ve gotta start establishing a Skull’s reputation and separating yourself from your friend there.”

“But I like Airin…” she responded uncertainly. “And she’s my roommate, so it’s not like I can just stay away from her anyway.”

“There’s no need for that,” Reina said. She paused a moment as she remembered the shock she felt when the two of them touched. First her and Miyabi when they met, and then Miyabi and the girl, and now her and the girl. Although, even though she didn’t know what her interaction with Miyabi was, the shock Reina felt upon touching her was much stronger than when her and Miyabi met those years ago.
Almost looks as if another power/ability that the girls have is a sort of "sixth sense" that lets them know when another person with similar abilities is near.  If that's the case, logic would dictate that under these circumstances, the stronger the shock, the more potential power. That could certainly explain Reina's sudden interest in getting Airi to join The Skulls.



Quote
“Ai! Saki! Here they are!”

This time she spun on her heel, automatically crouching in a defensive posture. She recognized that voice, and immediately didn’t like what it might portend.

Yajima Maimi ran down the dark wet path toward them, and almost right away Reina saw Takahashi and Shimizu emerge behind her.
The Circle members? What are they doing out this time of night?  This has the potential to turn REALLY bad, REALLY quick, particularly with Reina's and Miyabi's newly-discovered powers.  :scared:



Quote
While still several paces away Yajima stopped cold, and Reina could tell she was staring at Miyabi.

...

“How are you here?” the Circle member asked in a demanding yet slightly dazed voice.
That's a rather odd thing to ask.



Quote
“I may have been mistaken in what I thought I… saw,” the small girl said in a low, calm voice. “Either way, she’s here right now, so there’s nothing really to be said about that anymore.”
What, they thought they saw Miyabi somewhere? By the sounds of it, it would have to be somewhere that's a fair distance away, or it was somewhere that she shouldn't have been able to get away from.



Quote
“Do you know something about what attacked us?” Reina asked in a low and dangerous voice, her agitation not lessening. At her words, thunder clashed what seemed like directly above them.

Yajima looked back at her. “Something attacked you?” she asked in what Reina guessed what was supposed to be an innocent voice.

“Yes,” she responded. “Miyakko almost died. If it wasn’t for me, she would have.”
Hmmm...if they're being honest in their reactions, then it looks like The Circle had no knowledge of the existence of that wolf-creature.



Quote
“Maimi…” Takahashi said, finally speaking up. “Something’s wrong here.” She glanced again at the sky while she spoke.

“Tell me!” Yajima demanded again, ignoring the newest Circle member and keeping her furious gaze fixed on Reina. Reina’s own snapped back to her as crackling lightning above lit their battlefield in a haunting glow.
Question now is...is the change in weather affecting the girls (specifically Maimi), or are the girls affecting/changing the weather?



Quote
“Reina!” Came a voice from another part of the clearing. “No!” Reina recognized the voice of Miki, but she couldn’t take her eyes off the fireball in Yajima’s hand that was now the size of her head. Shimizu backed quickly away, looking up at the brilliance warily as Reina could tell by the fresh illumination of her face, but Yajima’s attention didn’t shift from her.
Okay, NOW Miki shows up again? Where's she been???



Quote
“I’ve had about enough of you!” Yajima growled, and pitching her hand forward, threw the ball directly at a bewildered Reina.
Maimi seems to be taking this thing between The Circle and The Skulls a LOT more seriously than the others (even Reina) are.  I mean, rivalry is one thing, but to actually strike out with an attack like this? Is everything alright with Maimi?  :k-crazy:



Quote
“No!!!” came a yell from her side, and out of her periphery she caught sight of Miyabi stepping forward. Just then, when the fireball was halfway to her, it seemed to implode in midflight, and the clearing fell back into darkness again. This time it was deeper though, since the sudden light had forced their eyes to adjust quickly.

When she could see again though, Reina caught the three across from them all staring at Miyabi, who was glaring back, wide-eyed and breathing heavily. Koharu and Chisato both had fallen on their knees to the ground, stupefied and silent.
The Skulls protect their own.

Looks like Miyabi's powers aren't limited to just levitating.



Quote
The tension continued uneasily for perhaps a minute, before Shimizu stepped back up to Yajima. “This isn’t the time,” she said quietly beside the girl’s ear. “I think we all,” she continued, glancing over at Takahashi, “need to discuss our observations from tonight.”
But...WHAT observations? What did The Circle see? Why were they surprised to see Miyabi there?



Quote
“Don’t come any closer!” Yajima warned, though Reina thought she began sounding a little desperate. “Ai-chan! Stop her!” she ordered, looking at the Nakazawa seventh year.

However, Takahashi just looked up at the sky again, where clouds still roiled amid vicious-looking thunder and lightning. “I don’t know if that’s such a good—“ she began, but Yajima cut her off again.

“Now!” she commanded. “Or Saki will make you!”
Maimi's sounding almost paranoid here. I mean, why does she seem to be so scared of Miyabi? Whatever the reason, she's obviously so spooked that she wants Aichan to use her powers to force her back the same way she threw them around at the chamber a few chapters back.



Quote
Reina wondered what she was doing until thunder began booming even louder, and lightning suddenly began jabbing down into the woods nearby, occasional loud booms signifying trees that had likely been struck down. Then Reina, along with the other Skulls, looked up nervously too.


“Control!” Yajima said, becoming anxious too. “You need to learn control!”

“I know!” Takahashi responded. “But that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you! There’s something else!”
Okay, so the changes in the weather are NOT the girls' doing? If so...what's causing it?



Quote
Then, looking up into the impending maelstrom, Reina finally began to understand too. She hadn’t really thought about the difference before, but ever since the other night her senses became more attuned to her surroundings, especially when she walked out in the woods. It felt like she could sense all the life around her, and for some reason she just hadn’t paid attention before.

...

It had rained when she cried. It stormed strongest when she was angry, as it was now when she faced her enemies. For some reason there was no doubt about it anymore – she couldn’t even necessarily explain why, but she knew these girls were her enemies, in a way that went far beyond the rivalry between Skulls and Circle.

Lightning still shot almost chaotically down around them, but now that she understood it, she became calm and reached out to it. “No,” she said, drawing glances from a few of the girls around her. She looked at Takahashi, who still stared fixedly up into the sky. “This is my storm,” she told the girl calmly, and she finally caught her attention. “You’ve no business with it.” With the girl’s attention brought back to her, the lightning stopped flashing, and even the thunder’s rumble seemed to fade slightly.
So...not only does Reina have healing powers, but SHE'S the one who's been affecting the weather??? :OMG:



Quote
Takahashi’s eyes widened as she looked into Reina’s calm face, and she glanced between it and the sky above. “What?” Yajima asked. “What is it?”

“…Now is not the time,” Shimizu insisted once again. “We should go.”
Obviously discovering that they were no longer the only ones with powers has been a bit of a shock to them. The Circle no longer has the advantage as both groups now have demonstrated that they have mystical powers.Now they're going to have to reconsider the way that they deal with and treat them.

Ummm...by the way...with all the standing around and yapping that both sides just did, shouldn't Miki have reached them by now? 



Quote
Reina heard a low whistle from behind her and glanced back to see Miki limping up. “That was some kind of show you put on there,” she said, looking very interestedly between Reina and Miyabi. “Can’t say I’ve ever seen the like.”
She's limping? Why? I don't remember anything about her injuring herself before or during Chisato's initiation test.



Quote
“All I know,” Miki said slowly. “Is that the Skulls were formed with the idea that someday, the True Blood would come to Seishin.” The other girls looked on quietly as they considered her words. Reina had no idea what that might mean though. “It doesn’t go into much detail about what the True Blood are, but since they’re ‘coming to Seishin’, it’s guessed that they’re students. It also doesn’t say anything about what they’re supposed to do… except that they have the ability to ‘alter the stars’.”
Huh? The "True Blood"? This must have something to do with their newly found powers...but what exactly is the connection?  Also, how exactly does Miki know all of this, but the others apparently don't?



Quote
The whole time they walked along, Reina felt a presence paralleling them from the woods along the side. She wasn’t sure it would mean anything, but after poking Miyabi she caught the slightest glimmer of yellow eyes peering out from the brush.
The wolf creature?


Dammit that was long. My eyes hurt and I'm all dizzy.  :mon ko:
« Last Edit: November 16, 2007, 05:20:23 AM by JFC »

JPH!P :heart:'s Fushigidane, ChrNo, Jab & marimari. Always.

Offline rokun

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Re: The Circle of Three [6: Awakenings]
« Reply #35 on: November 16, 2007, 04:26:55 PM »
Ok, I wanted to post something fairly quickly here in response to things so far...

Sorry if some people were confused by the length. Some people like long chapters and some don't, and I just felt with the last two that the chapters each had kind of a flow throughout... But then, with how this split almost down the middle somewhat decently when perspective switched from Miyabi to Reina, splitting into two parts might not have been too bad. In fact, when writing it I got confused by whose perspective the beginning of the second part was from! :lol:

So, I'll say that if you haven't read it yet you may want to think about not going through it all in one sitting. Stopping at the "..." wouldn't hurt too much. ^_^

Now, another thing I wanted to say.

My stories are getting increasingly long and detailed, as this one is already through just six chapters, and it's my intention in this to build everything up slowly. I love all the guesses you're making :heart:, and am very glad there's so much variety. My aim is to give only hints about what's actually going on as the girls find things out themselves. You're kind of learning at the same pace they are (and in general they're not starting from a large knowledge base!). I hope this adds a sense of mystery and seeming chaos to it, but there really is an underlying logic to it all that hopefully will come together piece by piece; hence the title of this chapter - Awakenings. This is when two of the girls first are "awakened" to the roots of their potential. When making guesses, just make sure you take everything into account.

For example, in case it's not as clear as I mean it to be, remember the title of the story.  Three is a very significant number here. We know of the three Circle members and that they have some sort of powers, and you might even guess that they're very integral to the main plot of this story since the title basically names them (note - that plot hasn't been broached yet necessarily aside from references such as "the headmaster says it's a special year" for them). There are three founders of the school. At the very beginning of chapter one, remember the folklore lesson? There's a reason it starts out that way. There are three that compose the "celestial trinity" - the Sun, Moon and Tempest. You know how the Circle is related to them. Perhaps other girls... mirror them in a way?

There's an awful convenient lineup House by House. Maimi of Matsuura (the Sun), Saki of Goto (the Moon), Ai of Nakazawa (the Tempest). Now in this chapter we have Miyabi of Goto... and Reina of Nakazawa. Something's missing, no? :P I think most of you have already guessed it (it's not exactly subtle who the major characters are after all), but the girls just haven't quite put it together yet. :) Miki's the only one with some advance knowledge because of the information she's privy to as Skullmaster. And you're also right about a trigger to them realizing their power. Maybe not all triggers have been pulled yet...

I've already said too much, but I can't help myself to add: I can't wait until the last girl of the Sun comes to "light". ;)

Offline g4rfield

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Re: The Circle of Three [6: Awakenings]
« Reply #36 on: November 16, 2007, 04:50:39 PM »
Don't worry about the chapters being long rokun. As I've said before, I like them long.  :grin: Keep in mind tho' that not every time people (read:me) read those chapters are at a time where they're well rested. For example, last night when I read it at 3 AM my time, I barely got enough sleep as it is, but it's beside the point, heh, what I meant is, forgive me if I missed a point or two.
Quote from: rokun
Stopping at the "..." wouldn't hurt too much. ^_^
Ummm....well....I didn't stop, but I think it's pretty obvious that first perspective is Miyabi and second is Reina...right?

Quote from: rokun
I've already said too much, but I can't help myself to add: I can't wait until the last girl of the Sun comes to "light". ;)
I begin to sound like a broken record but I will maintain my opinion, that girl shall be Airi.  :yep: What her power is....hmmm....was there any hint yet? I don't seem to recall any. Maybe when something REALLY bad happened to Miya, she'll be awaken? I mean the last time she got attacked by that 'thing', Airi and Miya are not exactly involved, so the next time when the bond between them is stronger, maybe this will be one of the triggers to cause another awakening eh?
So, my guess, key 1 to awakening: Someone close to the 3 got hurt/die. Doesn't movies usually use this formula too? Like Buffy for example....Tara got shot = Evil Willow emerged. Just sayin'...... ;)

Offline Kreuz_Asakura

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Re: The Circle of Three [6: Awakenings]
« Reply #37 on: November 16, 2007, 06:23:25 PM »
Well, well, this is getting really exciting... and just ike g4rfield I think is Airi why?
Quote
There are three that compose the "celestial trinity" - the Sun, Moon and Tempest. You know how the Circle is related to them. Perhaps other girls... mirror them in a way?
This really make me think
-Ai-chan and Reina are from the same House ---> Nakazawa, who represents the Tempest
It looks like they have the same kind of powers (Ai thinking it was storm when it was Reina's storm and all that)
-Then we have Saki and Miyabi of Goto ---> Moon
Looks like they have some kind of psychic powers.... and the fact Saki represents the moon make think if she was the one who attacked Miya in a wolf form ??? Maybe Miya could do it too?
-We have Yayima, she's from Matsuura house ---> Airi is from Matsuura House too
Matsuura represent the Sun, that could explain that fireball she created
-Looks like the Skulls could feel this connection, at least this happened with Reina and Miyabi, both felt it the same with Airi
-Airi has a strong character
So, yeah... I really think is Airi

Offline chibilolli

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Re: The Circle of Three [6: Awakenings]
« Reply #38 on: November 27, 2007, 10:56:41 AM »
Um...I thought I'd commented on this story more but obviously I haven't. Sorry Rokun, I blame...um...I dunno. Anyway...

These last two chapters were fantastic. I don't think they're too long. They're a perfect length. The audition chapter kinda reminded me of the Goonies but without all the boobie traps etc. When I was reading it I was picturing that in my head (Such a great cheesy film).

I was a bit shocked when Miyabi got mauled but I had a feeling you wouldn't kill off one of the main characters in that short amount of time. Miya having the power to heal herself is WIN, but obviously it has to be done when another member with powers is near her. Or am I reading that wrong (maybe I should've re-read the last chapter before I commented). Then Reina having the power to control the weather, to some extent. That's really cool.

I can't wait for the last person to be discovered. I think we all know who it is but I still can't wait to see how its going to be done.

UPDATE NOW!!! (oops, you've started me off now) :lol:

P.S - Miya kissing Reina :heart: :oops: (my two overall favourites out of the whole of H!P. But we know Miya has another person on her mind)

Offline iacus

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Re: The Circle of Three [6: Awakenings]
« Reply #39 on: November 28, 2007, 03:26:33 AM »
So, if is Airi the second sun girl to have powers, how will she us them? She's not a Skull, so she doesn't have any sort of feud with the Circle. . . Oh wait, the Circle is going to try and kill her aren't they?

“All I know,” Miki said slowly. “Is that the Skulls were formed with the idea that someday, the True Blood would come to Seishin.”

This is probably way too early for speculation, but does this imply that the Circle somehow took over the school way back in the past? And that the Skulls were set up by the survivors to fight back againsist the Circle?
« Last Edit: November 28, 2007, 03:28:01 AM by iacus »

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