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[10:50] <PersonaGM> [Sunday, the 29th of April, around midday time.-
[10:57] <PersonaGM> [As the residents of 5 Soejima had settled into their sunday routines, they would suddenly and rudely be interrupted by Roy, calling them up to the library at the top of the dorm. "We're going on an expedition. It's time to show you another face of the metaverse. Get ready, we're going to sneak into the school."-
[10:59] <PersonaGM> ['Sneaking into the school' sounded edgy, cool, maybe even a little dangerous, but the truth was that since Sophia Academy was also a university, most of the grounds were open anyway at all times of the week, so they mostly just walked in through the front gates. It was anticlimactic.-
[11:00] <PersonaGM> [Roy's route would prove to be a familiar one: he was leading them to the old temple-school at the far, eastern end of the grounds, where the flat land gave way to hills.-
[11:00] <PersonaGM> [The temple-school looked dilapidated as ever.-
[11:01] <PersonaGM> [Adrien was already waiting there, rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet, looking excited.-
[11:05] <PersonaGM> [Roy came to a stop outside of the temple-school's main building. His tome-phone appeared in front of him and began slowly rotating in the air.-
[11:06] <PersonaGM> [As it did so, the image of a white tree flared to life on the screen, mirrored a second later by a white floating light in the doorway. The light expanded to fill the door frame, a glowing white portal at the top of the steps.-
[11:06] <PersonaGM> ["Follow me." Said Roy. He stepped through the portal.-
[11:30] <PersonaGM> [As they entered the portal, the light around them would distort. The steps behind them seemed to last forever- until they didn't, and all there was around them was an endless expanse of dirty tiles, the solid foundation on which the mouldering temple sat.-
[11:31] <PersonaGM> [Then the light shifted again; the sound of tinkling water filled their ears.-
[11:31] <PersonaGM> [They were in a library.-
[11:34] <PersonaGM> [It was a grandiose, palatal building, obvious even from the inside, with floors of rose sandstone and walls of smooth, clean white marble- obscured in almost every way by the colossal bookcases that hugged the walls. The bookcases of white wood stretched in every direction and were stuffed full of books, each unique- some were bright reds and oranges, others were dark blue, grey, white or black; some were thick, stuffed tomes, whilst others were slim little booklets.-
[11:34] <PersonaGM> [Between the top of the bookcase and the library roof were crystal windows, letting in a warm, orange sunlight, like the light of dawn, or dusk.-
[11:37] <PersonaGM> [The corridor they were in was ruler-straight. In one direction, it branched off into a four-way intersection. In the other direction was a wide room, a dome of crystal set above their heads. In the very middle of the room was a fountain, full of water the colour of a rich, deep dark red wine.-
[11:38] <PersonaGM> [There were no bookcases in this room; instead the walls were bounded by countless doors, almost all of which were heavily bound with chains and strong ribbons. The only exceptions were the door leading to the rest of the library- and another door that was already open, leading to the outside of the temple-school.-
[11:38] <PersonaGM> [Roy walked into this domed room, and then turned to face him. "Welcome, everyone, to the Library of Alexandria."]
[11:45] <Hideki> "It's… big," Hideki remarked, turning around a few times. He'd followed along without protest until now, more curious than annoyed about being pulled away from a promising nap. He could always sleep later, after all. "Are we the only ones here?"
[11:45] <Sachiko> Sachiko appeared to be trying to look everywhere at once. It was a little too restrained to be a gawk, but not by much.
[11:46] <Dinah> Dinah was still sore and, most of all, annoyed from the previous day, so the idea that they were going out again wasn't exactly a happy one. Even if they were going to break into the school. Nonetheless, she stepped downstairs and followed everyone else out, placing a cigarette in her mouth that lit up as soon as she closed her lips.-
[11:47] <Dinah> By the time they were there, the cigarette was over with, thankfully, simply discarded and smashed out before the walked in. Even when they walked in, however, her expression didn't change much except for a brow to lift as she glanced around at the expansive interior. "What's with the fountain?"
[11:48] * Ai …sniffed briefly, having seemed to be acting sick still, but thankfully just barely at this point. She stayed FAR away from Dinah's smoke when she could, and was more or less acting way more restrained than normal. … …on arrival at the library, she. She stared to the various parts of it. The ceiling, the bookcases, the rooms. She noted too, the… just. Yes the fountain of vaguely blood-like stuff. "… …Is this the hub area then? Wh-why
[11:48] * Ai didn't we come here sooner? Or is this not … r-really like our base or…"
[11:49] <PersonaGM> ["I didn't want to overwhelm y'all." Said Roy. "And the Library can be pretty… Overwhelming. It's safe, though."-
[11:50] <PersonaGM> [He leapt up on top of the fountain, atop a statue of a nude woman bearing a small globe, covered in words that no one really understood. "This is just water."-
[11:54] <PersonaGM> ["Did you know that the colour blue is a pretty controversial colour in history?" Said Roy. "A word meaning 'blue' doesn't really show up in much of ancient historical texts, with the exception of the Egyptians, who could make blue dyes and cosmetics. Even here in Japan, the word 'aoi' can mean blue or green depending on context."-
[11:56] <PersonaGM> ["In fact, there's suggestions that we didn't really 'see' blue very well for a long time, and in some cultures, people can struggle to tell blue and green apart." Roy took a moment to scratch at his chin with his hind leg.-
[11:57] <PersonaGM> ["But for those cultures with a strong understanding of a word meaning blue, telling blue and green apart is easy. Language informs how we think and see the world, words inform how we see the world."-
[11:57] <PersonaGM> ["The Greek storyteller, Homer, doesn't use the word blue to describe the sea. He describes it as being 'wine-dark'."-
[11:58] <PersonaGM> ["It's just water. But in this one context, you're not seeing the world through your own language. You're seeing it as the ancients did."]
[12:00] * Ai …petulantly raised her hand. "Th… that's nice and all but it's rather danger-…responsey… that it isn't more a deep purple or somewhere between blue and green, but red…" Ai sighed, and just wandered along. "…Mnn. I'll just get lectured." Cough.
[12:02] <Sachiko> "Ok, but what's this place for?" Sachiko asked. She was frowning in concentration. "It feels… central?"
[12:02] <Dinah> "So…it's red because they didn't say it was blue in the past. Okay." She frowned a little at that and then just shrugged.
[12:03] <Hideki> "If you're still suspicious, you could always taste it," Hideki grinned.
[12:04] <PersonaGM> ["Well I thought it was a cool talk, Roy." Said Adrien. "Real dramatic, and a teachable moment."-
[12:04] * Sachiko chuckled.
[12:04] <PersonaGM> ["Thank you, Adrien." Said Roy irritably. He leapt off the woman statue. "I mean that, since-"-
[12:04] <PersonaGM> ["But why is she holding the wikipedia logo?" Asked Adrien, frowning.-
[12:04] <PersonaGM> ["…"-
[12:05] * Ai gave Hideki a dirty look. "It was o-on principle. Don't grin at me like that." …She sniffed up again, and just… stared at Hideki a bit unusually grumpily, even a bit killing-intent-ish. …Well, the second part passed eventually.
[12:05] <PersonaGM> ["So Ai is basically right." Said Roy quickly. "This place is essentially going to act as a base camp for us from now on when it comes to entering the Sea."-
[12:05] <PersonaGM> ["In the greater scheme of things, the Library sits between the waking world, and the Sea. It's like a firewall, keeping all the bad stuff out and soaking up the excess miasma."]
[12:10] * Hideki made an even sillier face at Ai before withdrawing and looking around at the library again. "No wonder it's so massive. This place has an important job!"
[12:12] <Ai> 'I… indeed. And I shudder to imagine actually being too c-close to the … miasma dam. Whatever shape it takes."
[12:14] <Sachiko> "What's the metaphor?"
[12:14] <PersonaGM> ["For the dam?"]
[12:15] * Sachiko shook her head, then paused. "Well, kind of. These places run on metaphor, so why a library and not a dam?"
[12:16] <PersonaGM> ["Well…" Roy fumbled for a moment.-
[12:16] <PersonaGM> ["… Okay. So you saw all those books out there, right?"]
[12:17] * Sachiko nodded.
[12:18] <PersonaGM> ["Each book represents a person." Said Roy. "One book for every person who has ever lived and thought."-
[12:19] <Dinah> "I saw a few pamphlet sized ones out there. One of them had to be Adrien's."
[12:20] <PersonaGM> ["I wouldn't mind if it was pamphlet size, so long as it sat on top of yours, Dinah." Said Adrien cheerfully.-
[12:21] <PersonaGM> ["…Recorded in each book is the sum of that individual's knowledge, thoughts, personality." Said Roy. "Written in a language unique to them- it can't be read by us. But in essence, this place is the sum of all human knowledge."-
[12:23] <PersonaGM> ["This place is a library because it's first and foremost a storehouse of knowledge, and that knowledge is people." Said Roy. "The library doesn't exactly block miasma… It filters it. It draws miasma in and then dissipates it across all of its books. Each book is linked to a human being, and in this way, miasma feeds into the human psyche. But it's small and manageable, and the miasma helps with imagination, potential and dreams… Ideally."-
[12:24] <PersonaGM> ["In times like this, though, the sea surges, and the Library struggles to properly spread it all out. That makes it harder for everyone to control themselves, and makes humanity as a whole more susceptible to whatever weird shit the Sea is doing."]
[12:27] * Ai quietly listened, trying to ignore the jabs about sizes of books and the likely. "…So. …Just. In general, mass insanity on a low scale, th… then higher as the surge gets worse, unless we can stop some of the worst inciters." Beat. "Llllike that stupid Asaka Archetype out there."
[12:31] <PersonaGM> ["Exactly." Said Roy. "Archetypes make for a direct link between sea and human, bypassing the Library entirely. That means they act as a gateway for miasma to enter the real world."]
[12:37] <Hideki> "Sounds serious. Could there be multiple Archetypes at the same time?"
[12:38] <Ai> "…I d-don't see why not…" Ai said, with a frown.
[12:39] <PersonaGM> ["There could be, but it's rare. Archetypes feed on attention, and usually there's only enough for one."]
[12:41] <Sachiko> "What happens when one turns up outside Katashiba, then?"
[12:42] <PersonaGM> ["They… Don't, usually." Said Roy. "Katashiba is… I guess you could say it's a bit of a weak spot between the waking world and the Sea of Chaos. That's why attention makes archetypes here, but doesn't do anything near as drastic elsewhere."]
[12:42] * Ai opened her mouth and widened her eyes a bit when Sachiko said that. …Must've been on her mind too.
[12:44] <Sachiko> "Hm," Sachiko murmured.
[12:44] <Ai> "I knew it. And I'd ask 'but why'. And we'd get … don't know, or some other … odd answer." A sigh. "…Is nose guy here, for that matter?" Ai can't stop thinking about him.
[12:45] <PersonaGM> ["I don't know." Said Roy. "He… Might be, whoever he is. This seems like kind of the place."-
[12:46] <PersonaGM> ["The reason I brought us here today is that I want to use this place- the Portos, they call it- to take us to the Shadow Market. Pixie gave us a thing, and I want to know what the, er… 'experts' think it is."-
[12:46] <PersonaGM> [At that mention, one of the doors suddenly unlocked and swung open, revealing a glowing pinkish portal of light. If one squinted, they could make out shapes, which looked vaguely like a mall.]
[12:47] <Ai> "S-so psychologically reactive!" Ai said, jumping a bit at the noise of the door opening. "And a mall! With shadows? … F…fff…" She was suddenly thinking of something and flushing brightly.
[12:47] <Dinah> "Can we get some cool shit here at the Shadow Market? Somethin' we can use to fight with?"
[12:49] <PersonaGM> ["Noice." Said Adrien, patting Ai on the head. "Don't do anything your big brother Adrien wouldn't do."-
[12:50] <PersonaGM> ["It's entirely possible." Said Roy. "But one rule for now: stay close to me until we meet the boss. This place isn't hostile, but it can be… Dangerous."]
[12:51] <Sachiko> "Got it," Sachiko said, hands in her coat pockets.
[12:51] * Ai slightly whimpered at Adrien's pat. "That's a weird list to work off…" But she heard Roy even more clearer, already moving as if to flank him in the rearguard. "…I. Know what that means, y… yeah."
[12:52] <PersonaGM> ["Let's go."-
[13:05] <PersonaGM> [They stepped into the middle of a main street.-
[13:07] <PersonaGM> [It was all at once familiar and unfamiliar. For starters, the road had signage- stop signs, turn signs, even zebra crossings. There were shops on both sides, and crowds going from shop to shop. From restaurants and sideroad carts came delicious smells of rich foods, spicy foods, hot and cold foods. There was music all around them, loud and melodious and cheerful.-
[13:08] <PersonaGM> [In more ways than one, it felt as though they were in the middle of Katashiba's Oda Station district.-
[13:11] <PersonaGM> [But as they looked around, they would notice that the road signage was in an unfamiliar language, and that at several points the zebra crossings would stand up and walk around, revealing themselves to actually be zebras. The nearest roadside cart was dishing out ramen, but the proprietor was a large, muscular green creature with a hundred arms around its stretched face. Nearby was a busker, a tall, slim, beautiful Indian woman with pale light blue skin and dark blue hair, streams of water floating around her as she played on a flute. A disinterested demon, sitting on a floating toilet seat, passed her by and threw a few scraps of smoky black coinage into a rice bowl sitting in front of her.-
[13:14] <PersonaGM> [A trio of tall fairies resembling Pixie, but more glam rock, came out of a nearby bistro, complaining loudly about how the wait service had been half a second late with their femme brulees, and were shooed away by the maitre d'- who happened to be a tall armoured woman holding her severed head in one hand and a guest book in the other.-
[13:15] <PersonaGM> [As they took all this in, they would hear a loud guttural -honk- behind them.-
[13:16] <PersonaGM> [Looming over them was a large turtle-like, draconian creature that growled at them in French accented english, "Get off the damn road already!"-
[13:18] <PersonaGM> [The creature lumbered past them, whilst its passenger- a mermaid- clenched her hands at them and bowed in apology.-
[13:19] <PersonaGM> ["Damned kids these days don't even know the way of the road anymore. It's a shame. A damn shame. Back in my day, they weren't always up to mischief. It pains an old fella's heart it does…" Muttered the monster as it wandered off, nearly bowling over a kappa trying to cross the street. "Hey, I'm walking here!"]
[13:19] <PersonaGM> ["So this is the Shadow Market." said Roy, quickly jumping onto the sidewalk.]
[13:24] * Hideki already had his cellphone tome out, and was peering around gleefully. "Let's take pictures of everything!"
[13:25] * Sachiko was grinning, looking similarly thrilled. She kept her phone pocketed, though.
[13:25] <Dinah> The whole area was weird and Dinah didn't really know where to stop or start with it. She almost wanted to yell at the people complaining to them, though kept it under her hat for now. Instead, she glanced at Hideki, frowning somewhat. "Might not be the best idea. Besides, with the way these places are, would pictures even turn out or keep?"
[13:27] * Ai similarly wasn't desperate to take pictures, and … sort of whined at being yelled at, cowering at the area of the sidewalk Roy landed on. In fact… The wonder and awe in Ai's eyes… existed? But were also masked by a sense of tension and fear. "S… so loud… and it's hard to tell what's going to hurt you and what's not. E-even felt this in Akiba so… it's not even on it being Shadows. O-overstimulated…" She complained, actually taking
[13:27] * Ai her phone out as if to … to actually just fidget at it, opening and flipping pages of her log app.
[13:32] <Hideki> "Hmm. Test photo, then." Hideki trained his phone on the crowd. "If it works, maybe we could take a lot more later."
[13:33] <PersonaGM> ["H-Hold on-"-
[13:33] <PersonaGM> [Snap! The photo was took and stored in his tome phone.-
[13:34] <PersonaGM> ["Hey, who's this asshole?" Came a new voice, one that instantly set Dinah's hair on end. Emerging from the crowd of individuals, most of whom ignored Hideki (and at least one of which actively posed in a way that made the picture M-rated), were a posse of tall, furry figures with large vibrant rainbow-coloured moth wings.-
[13:34] <PersonaGM> [Mothmen.-
[13:34] <PersonaGM> [Wearing leather jackets!-
[13:34] <PersonaGM> ["You think you can just come in here and take pictures of the Mothmen gang, punk?" Said the lead mothman, whose head fur was shaped into a grand pompadour.]
[13:35] <Ai> "I am pretty sure he was not thinking in the slightest, dude… sir… man…!" Ai suddenly barked out, whether this was a good idea or not.
[13:36] <PersonaGM> ["Dude sir mothman to you, babe."]
[13:37] <Dinah> Dinah set her jaw, one of her hands slowly closing in a fist while she turned to look at the group of them. "You guys might as well step off. We're not here to mess with you."
[13:38] <Sachiko> "Not a great place to start a fight, Dinah," Sachiko said quietly.
[13:40] * Hideki shot Ai a sullen look before stepping forward. "I didn't think there'd be a problem, since everyone in the shot looked so cool," he said. "If there is, well, I can just delete the picture. How's that?"
[13:41] <Dinah> "Nobody's starting a fight here. Just telling them we're not here to mess with them."
[13:41] * Sachiko shrugged and took a step back.
[13:42] * Ai slowly nodded, even as she remained in the rearguard. The nod looked deferent. "Indeed. Just goin' to shops and places like anyone. Shopping…~" It. It was a sad attempt at a cheery-sing-song, due to how intimidated she was.
[13:43] <PersonaGM> ["Yeah, delete it." Said the Mothman boss. "And I'll step wherever I wanna step. I'll let you guys off this time, but watch yourselves next time. Wouldn't wanna send y'all home to your mammas in a cocoon." He tipped his pompadour(???) at Ai. "Enjoy the mall, doll."-
[13:43] <PersonaGM> [With that, the Mothmen sauntered off, making wisecracks about Hideki as they went. ("Motherfucker thinks he can get a picture of the Mothmen gang?!" "Wait til Bigfoot hears about this asshole!" "Awwww shit, nothing Bigfoot hates more than cameras!")]
[13:46] * Sachiko shook her head slowly, then glanced at Ai. "You alright?"
[13:49] <Ai> "I… a-actually am! Just intimidated a bit." She said, nodding. "Aaaand trying to help fast-talk… us… o-ou…" She stopped. Pulled up her arm to her face. "Eeee-chuu!" …A sneeze. "Er. Fast-talk us out of this. S-some of it was acting."
[13:50] <Hideki> "Did pretty well," Hideki remarked, starting longingly at the picture on his phone. "Thanks for that."
[13:50] <Ai> But then she turned to Hideki. "Bad Hidecchin. Learn impulse control, or you're next in Yoshino-sensei's remedial social-and-tactical school enrollment." With a bit of a… jokey-yet-still-miffed tone.
[13:51] <Ai> "B-but yeah. I'll have your back still."
[13:51] <PersonaGM> ["D… Does this mean you're not taking anymore pictures?" Asked a nearby nymph, who was halfway out of her chemise.]
[13:52] * Ai suddenly was unable to continue the bro-and/or-sis act. Just froze up.
[13:53] <Hideki> "…" -
[13:55] <Hideki> Hideki smiled cheerfully at the nymph. "Well, if it's a solo pic, with no more Mothmen around, I don't see the harm~"
[13:56] <Ai> "Y… y-y-y-yeah it's… they specifically… d-don't like pictures I… I guess." Ai was trembling.
[13:56] <Sachiko> The gold lenses made it hard to tell who Sachiko was watching specifically, but the slight headshake as she turned back towards the busker suggested it was… pretty much everyone.
[13:57] <PersonaGM> ["Hideki. Dude. Don't take nudes of other women. You have a girlfriend." Said Adrien.]
[13:59] <Ai> "…Oh! That! …Crap, that. It was appropriate before fidelity entered…" She … turned to Hideki. Then Adrien. Then the nymph,.. and then Roy, deciding to just Disengage for her own safety.
[13:59] <Dinah> "Are you just saying that so you can take a picture instead?"
[14:00] <PersonaGM> ["So what if I am? I'm single, it's fine." Said Adrien.]
[14:01] * Ai got tempted to interact again, but mostly … by bowing apologetically to the nymph. As if on the boys' behalf.
[14:02] * Hideki sighed in defeat. "You're right. Committed relationship. Delacour, it's up to you."
[14:02] <PersonaGM> ["Got it! Work the camera, baby!" Said Adrien, lifting the phone up towards the nymph. "C'mon Yoshino, you should get in on this too."-
[14:02] <Sachiko> "I knew your date was a lie."
[14:03] <PersonaGM> ["It wasn't a lie, it just turns out she was an awful person." Said Adrien smoothly.-
[14:03] <Ai> "Is consent s-still in play! Sh-shouldn't we still get going?!" …She says, with phone pointed and hand dangling over the screen ready to hit the button
[14:03] <Sachiko> "I bet."
[14:03] <Dinah> "So she was perfect for you?"
[14:03] <PersonaGM> ["Go fuck a mothman, Dinah, seriously." Said Adrien, taking a few pictures and stowing them away.-
[14:03] <Ai> …Click. Ai ran out of patience. "Thank you, ma'am, for posing. I'm to assume this is fun?"
[14:04] <PersonaGM> ["But of course!" Said the nymph. "Who doesn't like having their picture taken?"-
[14:04] * Sachiko had edged a little closer to Roy. "So can we leave them, or what's the procedure here?"
[14:05] <PersonaGM> ["I'm fuckin' gonna in a minute." Said Roy. "Ai was right, before she went all 21st century pervert on a 3rd century BCE entity- we should go introduce ourselves to the boss before we get in any more trouble."-
[14:06] <PersonaGM> ["Come on." Said Adrien. "I'm coming, I'm coming. I wasn't serious about the pictures. It was ironic. I was taking off Hideki. They were satirical."-
[14:06] <PersonaGM> ["Satyrs?! Where?!" Shouted the nymph, who turned and fled into the crowd.-
[14:06] <PersonaGM> ["… Let's go." Said Roy, walking down the road, toward a great green palace set against a dark, sunless pink sky.-
[14:07] * Ai was… actually smiling, bowing again, and … trying to get back into marching formation. In fact, Sachiko might notice Ai sidling behind her as if to… as if to enter JRPG party line formation. "It seemed to fit her behavior at the t…" Pause. "Yes. L-let's go, party leader." She was actually fishing for her earbuds. Maybe listening to actual overworld music from a JRPG would keep her from doing something else stupid.
[14:14] * Hideki grumbled a bit, but fell into line as they all started to drift away. He at least had the good sense to put his phone away for now.
[14:15] <PersonaGM> […-
[14:21] <PersonaGM> [The crowds thinned out as they came closer to the palace, but the Shadows that lingered in this section of the Market were often greater and more striking in the aura of power they gave off. There were some 'close encounters'- Ai would find herself transfixed by a soaring eagle in the sky that shone like the sun, gleaming like gold, long enough for her to get in the way of a skull-faced matador, who physically picked her up and put her to one side. Sachiko would at one point find herself in a very dark alley way, a pair of massive shining rubies the only source of light… Until a stream of fire from nowhere illuminated that she was, in fact, staring at the eyes of a grand western dragon.-
[14:23] <PersonaGM> [Nonetheless, they would arrive at the foot of the palace, unharmed.-
[14:24] <PersonaGM> [The steps of the palace were hewn of gently glowing malachite, smooth to the touch. At the very top were a pair of great gates made of gold, in which had been engraved a pair of cows.-
[14:25] <PersonaGM> [There was only one guard- a large, slumbering bengal tiger. As they approached, the tiger's eyes opened, and its fur burst into flames.-
[14:26] <PersonaGM> ["Roy Griffin." Said the tiger, in a stern, feminine voice. "You've brought guests. New humans?"-
[14:27] <PersonaGM> ["That's right, Lady Gdon." Said Roy, bowing- although as a cat it looked like he was stretching. "I've brought them to see the master of the Shadow Market."-
[14:27] <PersonaGM> ["Good. He'll be pleased to meet new humans." The doors swung open, seemingly of their own accord. "Welcome to the Sublime Palace."-
[14:28] * Ai was, a bit, standing in awe, and subconsciously bowed slightly.
[14:38] <PersonaGM> [They entered. The palace was cool, the air refreshing, and the noise in here was organised and rhythmic. Shadows went to and fro, with purpose, but in an unhurried, relaxed way, weaving their way between tall walls of jade green and gold.-
[14:39] <PersonaGM> [Many of them bore little peacock feathers on their lapels, like badges. Every so often, they would cross paths with a beautiful woman, leading happy, well-fed cows. Each time, the women would sing, giggle at the sight of the party, then hurry away.-
[14:39] <PersonaGM> [Throughout the halls, they would hear music, cheerful music, warm music, built around the constant, lulling refrain of a sweet flute…-
[14:42] <PersonaGM> [Eventually they would come to some kind of audience hall, although no throne sat here- instead a towering statue sat before them, literally sitting with legs folded. The statue depicted a fit, youthful, happy looking hindu deity with bright green skin, wearing silky gold trousers and possessing long, glossy black hair- made of jade, thread of gold and obsidian respectively.-
[14:42] <PersonaGM> [Hanging above the statue, suspended from the roof by a long golden rope, was a terracotta container, the contents a mystery.-
[14:42] <PersonaGM> [Nothing seemed to happen-
[14:43] <PersonaGM> [Then the statue boomed in a great voice, "ANNOUNCE YOURSELVES."]
[14:48] * Ai …stumbled back with a cry of shock at the sudden timing of the boom… And looked at Roy first, before… "I… I am Yoshino Ai. I'm Ai. …W-with… These others. To meet and… uh. Hello, it is an honor to meet you." She fidgeted with her fingers, after that. Why did she feel compelled to go first?! …Because she reacted in shock and thought it'd count as a reply, she realized. But. But but…! Di-did she do it right?
[14:52] <Sachiko> "I guess I'm one of the others," Sachiko said, giving the statue a formal bow. "Sachiko Kurata, pleased to meet you."
[14:54] <Hideki> "Hideki Nakajima. Thanks for seeing us today!"
[14:55] <Dinah> The whole place was rather crazy to look at, from the different inhabitants to the locales and yet Dinah kept her feelings in check. They were here for one thing and one thing only, so getting excited wasn't really necessary. Besides, it was hard to get excited about anything with Adrien so near. When they were in the audience chamber and the Statue boomed at them, she just crossed
[14:55] <Dinah> her arms as the others spoke up first. "Dinah Sarah Schreier."
[14:55] <PersonaGM> ["Roy Griffin." Said Roy.-
[14:56] <PersonaGM> ["Adrien Louis Delacour, the wild card." Said Adrien.-
[14:58] <Sachiko> A very quiet 'ugh' from Sachiko.
[14:58] <PersonaGM> ["Ugh yourself." Said Adrien quietly.-
[15:00] <PersonaGM> ["WHY HAVE YOU COME?"-
[15:00] <PersonaGM> ["I wanted to show you something. I don't know what it is, and maybe you do?" Said Roy.-
[15:01] <PersonaGM> [Roy opened a little bag around his neck.-
[15:01] <PersonaGM> [… It was empty.-
[15:01] <PersonaGM> [It was at this moment that the others would notice… Things missing.-
[15:01] <PersonaGM> [Dinah's cigarettes? Gone.-
[15:03] <PersonaGM> [Sachiko's real phone? Gone.-
[15:04] <PersonaGM> [A little scrap of paper, on which Reiko had written down her home address and given to Ai? … Gone.-
[15:04] <PersonaGM> [Hideki's underpants? Gone.-
[15:04] <PersonaGM> [Adrien's wallet… Gone.]
[15:05] * Ai … felt like something was wrong, and … when she saw that empty bag. "…Is there some property to the Market I'll need explained, or were we robbed at some point on the way, o-or…?"
[15:06] <Sachiko> Sachiko's lips were drawn into a tight line. "The mothmen or the flasher, maybe…"
[15:07] <Dinah> Her hand rest in her empty pocket as a snarl crossed her lips. "I'll fuckin' kill 'em."
[15:08] <Hideki> "I really hope it was the flasher. Either way, I am horrified and impressed." Hideki shifted awkwardly, adjusting his pants a bit.
[15:08] <PersonaGM> ["There's no way. We didn't even bump into anyone." Said Adrien, checking his pockets over and over.-
[15:09] <PersonaGM> [A moment later…-
[15:09] <PersonaGM> [Hideki felt a box of cigarettes slide down his trouser leg.-
[15:09] <PersonaGM> [Ai suddenly found herself clutching Hideki's underpants.-
[15:10] <PersonaGM> [Sachiko had in her hand Adrien's wallet, stuffed full of money.-
[15:10] <PersonaGM> [Dinah was clutching a piece of paper with an address on it.-
[15:10] <PersonaGM> [And Adrien had in his hand Sachiko's phone.-
[15:10] <PersonaGM> [Roy got nothing.-
[15:11] <PersonaGM> [Instead, the little glowing sphere was sitting on the statue's leg. "YOU SHOULD SEE YOUR FACES. YOU ARE ALL SO MAD. IT IS HILARIOUS. HA HA HA."]
[15:18] <Ai> "…I'm more l-like afraid, sir, if we must be clear." Ai said. And… just threw Hideki's underpants at him without any hesitation. …Her aim is really good. Her target was his head.
[15:18] <Ai> …She had a look of disgust on her face, now. Visceral.
[15:18] * Sachiko sighed heavily. She held out the wallet to Adrien, and when he took it she just kept her hand there expectantly until she got her phone back.
[15:19] <Ai> …Oh and Ai was looking over to Dinah now. Trying to cancel the look of disgust.
[15:19] <PersonaGM> [Adrien took his wallet back and handed Sachiko back her phone. "Cute phone."]
[15:19] * Hideki wordlessly shook the box out of his pants and examined it where it lay on the ground for a moment… before the underwear attack. "Mmph! Hey!!"
[15:21] <Dinah> Dinah looked down at the box of cigarettes, frowning hard and looking to Hideki. "You owe me a new box."
[15:22] * Ai then… s-started wiggling. "D… Dinah. You have the shuffled item of m-mine. Can I… please have it."
[15:23] <Dinah> "Huh?" She pulled out the paper and shrugged, holding it out without much interest. "Oh, sure."
[15:23] * Ai gingerly took it, and bowed. "Thanks…!"
[15:24] * Hideki peeled his own pair of boxers from his face, and frowned. "Why do I have to pay it back when it's not my fault? Besides, it's not like they aren't still good!"
[15:25] <Dinah> "They were in your pants. That's the answer to both your questions."
[15:25] <PersonaGM> ["They probably smell." Said Adrien.]
[15:26] <Ai> "If it's any consolation, Dinah, I had to hold what was in those pants."
[15:26] * Sachiko pocketed her phone and waited, though she did seem to peer at the scrap of paper Dinah handed back to Ai.
[15:27] <Hideki> "They're cigarettes. Of course they smell." He tucked his boxers into his back pocket with as much dignity as he could muster.
[15:27] * Ai may have briefly allowed a view of it while she bantered and fidgeted, but it was soon disappearing into a pocket.
[15:30] <PersonaGM> ["This is all very funny." Said Roy irritably. "But this is important."-
[15:32] <PersonaGM> [At that moment, the glowing orb shot from the statue's lap and smacked into the terracotta container hanging from the roof. It rattled and tilted over, spraying a stream of warm butter onto Roy.-
[15:32] <PersonaGM> ["Agh- oh god it's everywhere" Roy rolled over onto his back.-
[15:32] <PersonaGM> ["Why are you like this every time"-
[15:32] <PersonaGM> [A laugh.-
[15:32] <PersonaGM> [Sitting on the statue's knee was a teenage boy.-
[15:39] <PersonaGM> [He was beautiful, perfectly proportioned in every way. He had brown skin and vibrant blue hair that fell about his face like waves, or the wings of an eagle. His eyes were silver and sparkling, and his mouth was small, soft-looking and fell naturally into a smile. He wore a pair of brown, tight pants that fell to his knees; from the knee onwards he wore a pair of leather, heeled boots. On his slim chest he wore an orange collared shirt, framing the bright red ascot tucked into the middle. Over this he wore a green (or was it blue?) tailcoat, decorated with wheels and buttons. Atop his lovely head he wore a matching blue fedora, in which sat a golden clip; emerging from the clip was a long rainbow peacock feather.-
[15:39] <PersonaGM> [A golden flute twirled between his fingers.-
[15:41] <PersonaGM> ["Hello, everybody." He said, laughing. "It's a joy to meet you all. Truly, I haven't had this much fun in ages, watching you all amble up my street. Tangling with Mothmen, flirting with nymphs- you all remind me of myself. Or perhaps it's the other way around?"-
[15:41] <PersonaGM> ["Sometimes being a Shadow is hard work." Said the boy. "Especially when you're so wise and introspective."]
[15:50] * Sachiko had knelt down next to Roy and begun to try and wipe off the butter with the edge of her coat, a process she didn't seem all that enthusiastic about.
[15:51] <PersonaGM> [… Just as Adrien blasted him with water, which only served to drench both Roy and Sachiko.]
[15:54] * Ai was trying her best to be out of the blast radius - harderr when the butter came (but she was, uh, not the target)… easier when the water did. "…S… so it is. Best I can tell - p-pardon my speaking on the behalf of our more … experienced member - but. Humans stir this place in ways shadows cannot, of course, so why wouldn't it be interesting, ne?" She bowed her head slightly. …Had to assume some kind of divinity, maybe, was his
[15:54] * Ai 'identity' as a Shadow. "…Of course, yes, that gem's the main point."
[15:54] * Sachiko gave him Adrien truly murderous look, and for a moment the outline of Faust shimmered into view around her like a heat haze before slipping out of view again as she looked away.
[15:54] <Sachiko> [gave Adrien*]
[15:55] <PersonaGM> [Adrien had the good decency to look ashamed.]
[15:58] <Dinah> Sighing, Dinah flicked her wrist, summoning a small flame to help them dry off in a situation that was awfully familiar. The boy seemed completely out of her interest aside from the curiosity she had about this artifact or whatever it was that they were having inspected. Her mind was elsewhere, mostly on the fact that she'd have to wait until they got back to have another cigarette.
[15:58] <Dinah> Which wasn't what she wanted at all.
[16:02] <Sachiko> Her coat had taken most of the blast, so Sachiko stripped it off as she stood and left it spread out next to Dinah's flame. "Any chance you'll tell us what it is?" Sachiko asked the boy, nodding towards the orb.
[16:02] <Hideki> A little relieved that someone else was on the receiving end of the water attack this time, Hideki simply folded his arms and watched. Was this teenage god going to explain the glowing marble or not?
[16:05] * Ai actually seemed to pout a bit as she noticed the sort of '500% done' look the team was giving. …Then again she wasn't soaked.
[16:06] <PersonaGM> ["Indeed indeed." The boy held up the gem to the light. He eyed Sachiko and Ai in turn, nodding once at Ai's words, before turning back to the party as a whole. "This, dear humans, is a fragment of possibility. Every Shadow possesses within ourselves a concentrated heart of possibility… The greater the Shadow, the more powerful the effects. Those big boys, the Archetypes, why, they drop whole eggs of possibility, with which you could enact miracles."-
[16:08] <PersonaGM> ["With such an egg, you could change your identity, make yourself fabulously wealthy or attractive, change the flow of days, unlock amazing new discoveries… Even potentially bring back the dead." The boy's eyes sparkled with warmth.-
[16:09] <PersonaGM> ["But they need to be given willingly. And this little fragment can't do anything close to that." Said the boy. "But there is something you can do with it, something that will benefit all of you greatly."-
[16:10] <PersonaGM> ["One moment." He put his flute to his lips and played. Within a moment, Sachiko and Roy were spotlessly clean, and Dinah, perhaps entirely unwelcomely, felt her craving for a cigarette suddenly vanish.]
[16:16] <Sachiko> … Sachiko looked distinctly uneasy, even before the magic flute music began. She folded her arms and watched silently for now.
[16:21] <Dinah> There was a difference between a craving and a want, so while it was welcome that she didn't feel the need for a cigarette, but she definitely still wanted one, if just because she wanted to calm her nerves and get away from all of this eventually. Dismissing her flame then, as it was unnecessary, she crossed her arms and frowned. "What did you do?"
[16:22] <Ai> "…I hope it wasn't using the shard already. I'm fairly confident it wasn't…?" Ai noted. "…I'd just have to assume some power he possesses." She looked to the boy in askance.
[16:23] <PersonaGM> ["Just one of my many fine tricks." He flicked the orb up with the tip of his flute. "I can use this little gem to grant you all a boon you will find extremely helpful… Indeed, perhaps a boon of seismic importance."-
[16:24] <PersonaGM> ["But I will do this only on one condition: you all, as a group, have one collective opportunity to guess who I am. If you guess right, then I will grant you your boon."]
[16:25] * Ai instantly raised her hand. "Confirming: Collective as in, among all of us only one reply? And how can we make clear the difference between a final answer, and deliberations?"
[16:26] <PersonaGM> ["Collective indeed, meaning that you all, as a group, may submit one answer on behalf of all of you. And that answer must be prefaced with the words: 'We Declare Your Name To Be'…"]
[16:26] * Sachiko looked at Roy. "Wait, don't you know…?"
[16:27] <PersonaGM> ["… It was part of the deal I made with him." Said Roy. "I can't tell you guys what his name is until he introduces himself fully."]
[16:28] <Ai> "…Well then." Ai said, and started to think. She was carefully looking over his guise, thinking of…
[16:29] <Sachiko> "Oh," Sachiko said, visibly annoyed with herself.
[16:29] <PersonaGM> ["Haha, our mentor landlord guy made a deal with the mysterious powerful shadow dude. Cool cool cool cool." Said Adrien.]
[16:30] <Dinah> "If you're looking to me for suggestions, you're looking in the wrong place." Dinah said with a little bit of a shrug.
[16:31] <Ai> "Given our mentor landord guy is also a ca… cat-shaped human, I'm sure weirder things have happened." Ai complained. "Also mysterious and powerful or not, he seems friendly, in a 'reasonable tolerance zone for potential tricksters or other divinities' sort of way." A quick glance to the boy. "No offense to be given, of course. Cultural gap. …If culture is even…" She muttered, shaking her head.
[16:31] <PersonaGM> ["Yes yes, Dinah, we get it, your contribution is valued, and every day that passes wherein you occupy a team slot is another day I wonder what madman brought this party together." Muttered Adrien.]
[16:31] <PersonaGM> ["No problem." Said the boy.]
[16:31] <Sachiko> "Who knows myth and folklore?" Sachiko asked. "It's not really my strongest suit."
[16:32] <Ai> "Nose guy did, pretty sure."
[16:32] <Sachiko> "Not important right now."
[16:32] <Hideki> "Yeah, can we focus so we don't lose this game?"
[16:32] <Dinah> "Do you want me to keep track of our guesses? I can just smash Adrien's face against the ground and write them in his blood."
[16:32] <PersonaGM> ["You could fucking try, you poser."]
[16:33] <Dinah> "It gets more and more tempting every time you open your mouth."
[16:33] * Sachiko massaged the tiny portion of her temples not hidden by her mask. "Everyone can shut the hell up for a moment and focus on the damn question."
[16:33] * Ai shook her head. "I don't know myth and folklore that well, but I know pop culture? And… Hindu figures in like, anime and stuff, sorta look like that. So maybe in that kinda area?"
[16:34] <Sachiko> "That's something," Sachiko said, returning to her normal tone of voice. "Adrien? You got anything?"
[16:36] <PersonaGM> [Adrien tore his gaze away from Dinah to look over at Sachiko. "… Nothing concrete. It feels like I should, though. I think Ai is right, hinduism is correct. But that doesn't narrow it down that much. Maybe the environment has clues. Music, girls leading cows, I dunno…"]
[16:37] <Hideki> "The flute might be a clue," Hideki pointed out. "Anyone who specifically plays one?"
[16:37] <Ai> "…Golden flute." Ai suddenly said. "That's a really re- Yes! Yes!"
[16:37] <PersonaGM> [The boy waved the flute happily.]
[16:41] * Ai nodded. "…So yeah, other clues. Statue. Jar of butter. Playful demeanor. Trickster figure? …C-can we get google in here? Is that allowed even if physically possible?" …Ai you madwoman.
[16:42] <PersonaGM> [Roy whined.]
[17:05] <Ai> And then Ai turned to Adrien. "Wait. Wait wait. … …I. I played FGO a few weeks before the gacha hurt my soul!" She exclaimed, suddenly moving closer to Adrien. "M-mythic figures! heroes! There's not many in it but… and with some animes…" She started muttering names. Karna, Rama, Krishna… While she started to look to Adrien, knowing he had made some good insights. "Jam with me on this. You remember anything?"
[17:07] <PersonaGM> ["Uhhhhhh. Karna's more militaristic, isn't he? And doesn't Rama have a bow?"]
[17:10] <Ai> "Shit, you're right. …Oh god yeah, fucking 'Launcher' wouldn't be smirking with a flute." Ai. Ai please. "…You remember though. And-and-and wait. The butter. The BUTTER!" Ai exclaimed loudly, flailing her arms. "The butter is the solution to everything, EVERYTHING. Trickster, stealing… STEALING BUTTER FROM MILKMAIDS!" She sounded so hype! -
[17:10] <Ai> And then nodded her head. "…Krishna, then. Eh, Adri?"
[17:10] <PersonaGM> ["Yeah. I can't think of anyone else. Krishna is my vote. It's also Dinah's vote."]
[17:11] <Ai> "Don't take this moment away from me with that." Pooout.
[17:11] <Dinah> "If Ai is so confident, then yes, it is my vote. Don't talk for me, though."
[17:11] <Sachiko> "I trust the logic," Sachiko said. She'd seemed happy to stay quiet once people had started dealing with the topic at hand.
[17:11] <Ai> "Hideki!" Ai said, pointing her finger. "DO YOU DISPUTE THE CLAIM?"
[17:12] <Hideki> "Why would I? Go nuts."
[17:13] <Ai> …She actually jumped with a little 'yatta-imas~'. Before turning to Roy, briefly. "And I know you're bound by code not to. So… Uh." -
[17:14] * Ai breathed in, sharply. Drew her stance back, so the tabard dangling from her skirt shifted with her pivot. Honestly, it looked like she might draw her bow or something. Instead? …Right hand straightened her glasses. Then POINTED at the boy with all dramatic fervor. Behind the obfuscation of her masklike glasses, You could sense her eyes were alive with fire. -
[17:15] <Ai> "We Declare Your Name To Be Krishna!" It is as if you could hear the Phoenix Wright music in her head.
[17:18] <PersonaGM> [The boy was still for a moment.-
[17:19] <PersonaGM> [Then he played a happy, short tune on his flute.-
[17:20] <PersonaGM> ["Correct." He grinned and leapt to his feet. "I am Krishna, the living avatar of Vishnu the godhead made manifest."-
[17:22] <PersonaGM> ["And welcome, all of you, to the Shadow Market, my little slice of heaven." He laughed happily. "The Shadows of my land have been waiting for new humans for a long time."-
[17:23] <PersonaGM> ["From now on, you are all welcome to explore the Shadow Market as you see fit, and to engage in commerce with the locals. There are many boons to be had here, should you know how to pay for them. Indeed, in this place, every Shadow may have something to offer you… Including myself."-
[17:24] <PersonaGM> ["But you have paid me, this time, in entertainment." He held the fragment of possibility in front of himself, and with a simple twist of the wrist, shattered it into four pieces. Each piece flew over their heads, before sinking into the tomes of Ai, Dinah, Hideki and Sachiko.-
[17:25] <PersonaGM> ["You should take a look at those marvellous scraps of divine bark you carry with you. Something truly massive has happened."]
[17:26] <Ai> And … Ai being how she was, she was immediately credulous. Exiting her DRAMATIC POSE, she flicked her wrist and called it to her in its… proper tomely form.
[17:28] * Sachiko drew her Tome from one of Faust's portals, letting it rest in midair ahead of her. She flipped it open, obviously curious.
[17:28] <PersonaGM> [They would find, in their 'Persona' section… Their major, iconic Personas, and below those, the smaller Personae that had curiously manifested with them. But now there was a 2nd minor Persona for each of the four.]
[17:29] <Ai> And Ai's brow raised. "…So after Justice… Hermit…" She looked up at Krishna with a smile. …But then to Roy. As if deeply questioning.
[17:34] <Hideki> "So, everytime we get a glowing marble, we can potentially get more of these," Hideki muttered thoughtfully after drawing out his own tome and peering at the changes.
[17:37] <PersonaGM> ["Potentially. For a price, in future."]
[17:37] <Sachiko> "What sort of price?"
[17:38] * Ai remained silent, still looking at Roy with a 'isn't this a big fucking deal' look.
[17:38] <PersonaGM> [Roy was also silent.-
[17:40] <PersonaGM> ["Money, at least the way humans think of it, has no value here." Said Krishna. "Half of us can just conjure money out of nowhere! That's not how you run an economy."-
[17:42] <PersonaGM> ["There's only one thing in this place that we Shadows can't manufacture… Human experience." He said, chuckling. "It is like food for us, expanding our horizons and making us more powerful. Shadows thus demand experiences, but naturally… Humans are hard to find."-
[17:44] <PersonaGM> ["But much like how Shadows have to willingly give up their fragments of possibility, so too do humans have to willingly give up their experiences. If you exchange your memories, the metaphysical sweat of your brow, the little parts of you that aren't important, or maybe the parts that are… Then Shadows will give you what you seek, and in turn will trade those experiences to other Shadows. In time, your experiences circulate throughout the entire economy and become a fabric of this place."-
[17:44] <PersonaGM> ["And you will always be in high demand, because there's always a need to introduce new cash into this economy."]
[17:47] <Ai> "…Does. Does that mean…" Ai said, in a small voice. "This circulation also means our experiences will shape the market quite literally, rather than in a metaphorical economy sense…?"
[17:48] <PersonaGM> ["No doubt you recognised some of the buildings in the Market? They mirror the malls of your world, of your city, because they are built on the memories and experiences of those who came before you."]
[17:48] <Sachiko> Sachiko's whole posture got increasingly closed off as this process was detailed. She gave Roy a long look.
[17:49] <PersonaGM> [Roy sighed. "Krishna's making it sound kind of evil, but honestly I've lived for years off of this place by trading away my experiences of watching, like… Daytime television. Shadows are dumb."]
[17:50] <Dinah> Dinah crossed her arms, frowning heavily as she processed the information they were tossing around. "We're literally giving up memories, though? Like…we won't be able to remember that shit anymore at all?"
[17:51] * Ai nodded to both. "S… so essentially like. Any concept, memory, that's original to … experience. Since this is the subconscious, or one 'nation' of it. So it only gets debris, residual concepts." Ai thought. "… Yeah. It. It must be like. Like…" She wiggled her hands. "Like if I remember a… a feeling of deja-vu at eating a sandwich I thought I once made months ago… that's an original experience. Sandwiches! Who'd think of the memory of
[17:51] * Ai the sandwich that doesn't exist…"
[17:52] <PersonaGM> ["You would not, no. Once you part with the memory, you part with it." Said Krishna. "Although there's nothing stopping you from buying it back later."-
[17:52] <PersonaGM> [("Out of curiosity, do you still watch Gladiator, Roy?")-
[17:52] <PersonaGM> [("No.")-
[17:52] <PersonaGM> [("Hm.")]
[17:53] <Hideki> "All we have to do is make sure they aren't super meaningful memories, and that's even if we buy into this system. Which… no one said we absolutely had to."
[17:54] <Ai> "Aye, nobody did." Ai said. "…And honestly at this point… uh. Not to be rude but I could've guessed who is the most and least squicked out by this before anyone opened their mouths." She said with a… a rather neutral tone actually? Wasn't really upset or smug.
[17:55] <PersonaGM> ["No, you don't." Said Krishna. "I understand why the system may make you feel uncomfortable, but that is simply how it is down here. In the realm of possibility, the only thing we're short of is imagination and pure living."]
[17:55] <PersonaGM> ["Also I'm gonna step in and say something something Dinah can trade away her memories of me before she says it." Said Adrien.]
[17:56] <Ai> "And when we start mockingly predicting one another we bond!" Ai said happily… before… sort of sighing. "In… an awkward and… possibly hurtful way."
[17:57] * Ai opened her mouth to add something. Closed it.
[18:01] <Sachiko> "Ok," Sachiko said finally. She bowed to Krishna again, a little stiffer this time. "Thank you for the information."
[18:03] <PersonaGM> ["You're welcome." Said Krishna. "Now, this has been most fun, but perhaps we should leave it here for now." He laughed. "It's time for the gopi to bathe, after all."]
[18:04] <Hideki> "What's a gopi?" Hideki whispered to Adrien.
[18:05] <PersonaGM> ["Cowherding girls." Murmured Adrien.]
[18:05] <Hideki> "…"
[18:06] <PersonaGM> […]

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