A Dump is Better than a Palace filled with Paparazzi

[17:31] <PersonaGM> [4:20 AM: Arrive in Nagoya at Chubu Centrair International Airport.-
[17:31] <PersonaGM> [4:45 AM: Leave airport.-
[17:31] <PersonaGM> [5:15 AM: be spotted handling train tickets.-
[17:33] <PersonaGM> [5:25 AM: discard train tickets, hire a taxi.-
[17:34] <PersonaGM> [5:30 AM: realise the taxi driver doesn't speak English.-
[17:34] <PersonaGM> [5:31 AM: Realise the taxi driver doesn't speak Japanese.-
[17:34] <PersonaGM> [6:40 AM: Arrive at Oda Station, Katashiba.-
[17:34] <PersonaGM> [6:42 AM: be seen purchasing train tickets to Academy Station.-
[17:35] <PersonaGM> [6:43 AM: Board the train to Academy Station.-
[17:37] <PersonaGM> [7:01 AM: arrive at Satomi Road, check in to Grande Hotel Katashiba, seen by dozens of paparazzi with cameras.-
[17:37] <PersonaGM> [1:00 PM: sneak out the back and take a taxi to your actual destination, 5 Soejima Road. Notice the absolute lack of anyone with a camera.-
[17:39] <PersonaGM> [It was through this series of events that our guest arrived at 5 Soejima Road- a dorm with a head-high perimeter wall, cheap, slightly cracked white stone facade, and a bare garden.-
[17:39] <PersonaGM> [The day was starting to become much hotter, the sun wasn't letting up… But at least the street was empty and quiet.]
[17:45] * Dinah couldn't get rid of the scowl from her lips as she rounded around to her destination. What a long day. And it was only halfway through. Already, she could feel the shakes working at her fingers and her wrists and before she could stop herself, a pack of cigarettes was fished out of her pocket, jostled in just such a way that one popped out, filter up, for her to take with her lips. -
[17:47] <Dinah> "What a fuckin' dump." Her words were accompanied by the clink, click, click of a lighter starting, the flame coming to the end of her smoke. Taking a deep inhale, she flicked the top of her lighter back on and pocketed it, moving that hand back to pull the cigarette from her mouth for a trail of smoke to flow out afterward.-
[17:51] <Dinah> For a long few moments, she just stood there, enjoying her brief break from the hectic events of the day. The thought of the paparazzi from earlier made her free hand ball in a fist lightly until she simply let her nicotine calm her down. Tapping the ash off the end of it, she let out a sigh and brushed the end of it against the wall to put it out, slipping it behind her ear afterward. With a sigh, she walked ahead then, going for the entrance. No reason to stay out in the open for too long. Someone could see her.]
[17:53] <PersonaGM> [The first thing Dinah would notice on stepping past the perimeter wall was that it was high enough for her to stand at full height and not be seen from outside. Not that there would be a lot to see if she wasn't there- the courtyard was barren, except for a leafless tree.-
[17:54] <PersonaGM> [There was also a black cat with blue eyes loitering around the courtyard. It rolled over onto its back to look at her. "Meow."]
[17:58] <Dinah> Walking in, her gaze moved about the interior of the perimeter and took in all the sights…or lack thereof. It was a far cry from what she was used to, that was for sure. But hell, if it would keep the vultures away from her, then that's what mattered. She'd assumed that was the main reason for being here anyway. Eventually, her eyes stopped on the cat that was there.-
[18:00] <Dinah> "Hey, Cat." There was a slight bit more fondness in her tone speaking to the animal than there would be otherwise, though that was all she said before resuming her walk, wanting to get settled as soon as possible. If only so she could take another smoke break. A day like this required it.
[18:01] <PersonaGM> [The cat rolled out of her way and moved to follow.-
[18:01] <PersonaGM> [Fortunately, Dinah's key worked on the door. She entered-
[18:03] <PersonaGM> [The lobby of the dorm was… Characterful. The dining area and living area shared a space, that space being carpeted in dusty faded red carpet. The dining table was a long wooden one, and hosted a collection of mismatched chairs. The living area had its own collection of rummage-sale reject furniture, from lumpy loveseats to a single black recliner sitting ominously by itself. There was an old television set in the corner. The sign-in area was carpeted in off-green linoleum, and graced with a check-in desk of solid wood, which was like every other check-in desk in existence, except for the large, dense booth built into the corner of the dorm and the front and right walls.-
[18:04] <PersonaGM> [The only path between the inside and outside of the booths- not including the door- was a little slot, barely 10 inches high. Sitting in this gap was a sign-in book, bound with blue faux-leather.]
[18:09] <Dinah> "Wow." The single word was all the girl could muster at seeing the accommodations that she'd been directed to. Her allergies were flaring up at just looking at the furniture. And she didn't even have allergies. Taking a moment, she reached up and rubbed the bridge of her nose in a slight annoyance, breathing in and out a small sigh.-
[18:13] <Dinah> "It's not so bad. Better than a jail cell." She mumbled to herself and shook her head, moving toward the slot where the sign-in book was. The way it was set up didn't even bother her after looking at the rest of it. Others might question it but Dinah was running out of patience for the day, so thinking about things like that wasn't on her agenda. Flipping the book open, she grabbed the pen nearby and wrote her name in a much fancier script than someone might expect from her: 'Dinah Sarah Schreier'.
[18:13] <PersonaGM> ["Much better," said a sudden gruff voice from within the booth.]
[18:15] <Dinah> "-the hell?" She practically dropped the pen as she jumped back away from the book, her eyes darting this way and that. "Who was that?!"
[18:17] <PersonaGM> ["Miss Asahina, the caretaker of the dorm." Said the voice from the booth. It… Echoed slightly.]
[18:20] <Dinah> "Caretaker…" She glanced back over at the old, odd furniture, the TV that probably didn't even work and the general dinginess of the place. "…Right." The word drawled slightly while she sniffed and shook her head again. "Okay. Are you, uh…are you gonna come out?" Maybe she was stuck. That would explain a few things.
[18:22] <PersonaGM> ["No."]
[18:25] <Dinah> The short and simple response left Dinah reeling for a moment, the surprise fairly evident in her eyes. "Um. Okay." Clearing her throat, she was silent for another few moments until she finally broke the silence again. "So…where am I supposed to go, then?"
[18:34] <PersonaGM> [There was a pause.-
[18:34] <PersonaGM> ["It sounds like you're tired." Said Miss Asahina. "Your room is 3-B. You should go settle in and rest."-
[18:35] <PersonaGM> [A little brass key appeared in the slot, shoved out by a stick.]
[18:40] <Dinah> "You don't know the half of it, lady." Reaching over, she took the key that was pushed out and only briefly considered the stick that was used to push it out. Again, she just didn't have it in her to think about it right now. So instead, she just headed toward the stairs only to stop after a few steps.-
[18:42] <Dinah> Glancing back, she looked down at the cat that had come in with her and then over at the booth, rolling her shoulders somewhat. "A cat followed me in. I'm guessing it's a pet or something. If not, it is now. If you don't want that, then, y'know. Come out and stop us. C'mon, cat." Patting her thigh lightly to draw the animal into following her, she headed for the stairs and climbed them to get to the floor with her room.-
[18:45] <Dinah> Producing the key when she found her door, she unlocked it and walked inside, her free hand moving up to rake through her hair, which only served to mess it up from its tight, neat ponytail. Taking it out of that, she redid it with a little bit of a precise touch, frowning afterward. She still had to call her Mom. And there was everything in the world that she'd rather do before that.
[18:50] <PersonaGM> [Fortunately, there would be a bit of a surprise for Dinah on entering.-
[18:51] <PersonaGM> [Her dorm room was clean, tidy and bright. Indeed, the walls were of high quality electric-blue wallpaper, whilst the carpet looked fresh- a bright fiery red-orange. The room was well-furnished, with a large, comfortable bed; several bare bookshelves; a wall-mounted modern television; a large wooden study desk with an ergonomic office chair. There were blackout curtains of gold.]
[18:56] <Dinah> After fixing her ponytail, she got a good look around the room, which made her eyes widen slightly in surprise. "Well. How about that?" Moving to the bed, she ran a hand over the comforter on top, finding that it was very nice and soft and about as inviting as it could be. But she couldn't give in to rest just yet. Unfortunately.-
[19:03] <Dinah> Moving to her window, she drew the curtains open and lifted the window. Not for the fresh air. In fact, for just about the complete opposite. Taking the cigarette from behind her ear, she sparked it back up and leaned out the window to blow the smoke out into the air around the building. A hand reached into her pocket again, tugging her phone out to bring it up. She navigated through her contacts to bring up her Mother's entry, complete with one of her headshots as the picture instead of…well, a picture that she'd taken herself. It was fitting. With a tap of her thumb, the call went through and she brought it to her ear, taking another drag off her smoke as she waited.
[19:17] <PersonaGM> [Ring. Ring.-
[19:17] <PersonaGM> [Ring.-
[19:17] <PersonaGM> [Eventually, an answer. "There you are."]
[19:22] <Dinah> Flicking some ash off of her cigarette, Dinah just waited until she heard her mother's voice, feeling a slight wince go through her form when she actually did answer. Letting out another exhale of smoke, she sniffed and spoke back tersely. "Yeah. Here I am. Safe and sound."
[19:38] <PersonaGM> [The cat padded through her room, rubbed up against her leg slightly, then leapt up onto her desk, where it began swatting what appeared to be a Sophia Academy welcoming parcel.-
[19:38] <PersonaGM> ["Trip alright? I was expecting a call earlier."]
[19:38] <PersonaGM> [(Said Dinah's mother, not the cat)]
[19:44] <Dinah> Dinah was more than content to have the cat in her room. It wasn't Macy, her cat back home, but that was probably for the best. That cat needed to lose some weight. Right now, she couldn't pay attention to it, as she was insted focusing on talking to her mother, Lucia Broussard. Star of no less than three big-budget blockbusters hitting theaters within the next year. "Between having to dump my train tickets because I got caught by vultures, stuck with a taxi driver that could say about three words and stuck waiting for the mob to get the fuck away from the dummy location, I spent most of my day being busy. You know how it is."-
[19:45] <Dinah> The tension in her tone was hard, much like what she imagined she heard in her mother's voice as well. "But I called you. Just like I said. Didn't get kidnapped or robbed or anything. Didn't kill anyone on the way here. So, we done?"
[19:48] <PersonaGM> ["It's just late is all." Said Lucia.-
[19:48] <PersonaGM> ["… You smoking, Dinah?"]
[19:50] <Dinah> "Were you listening to my day?" It wasn't exactly a snap, though it was said with a little annoyance as she took another puff, finishing off the smoke. Brushing it against the wall to put it out, as it was almost just the filter at this point, she flicked it off after, not really caring about littering. "Of course I'm smoking. Just finished one, gonna get another. You been through your pack today already?"
[19:51] <PersonaGM> [Lucia huffed. "I'll have you know I haven't had one in hours."-
[19:51] <PersonaGM> [There was the faint sound of a spark and flame.-
[19:51] <PersonaGM> ["You know, until now. Thanks to you."]
[19:53] <Dinah> "I'm so sure." It was almost in sync, the two of them lighting up a new cigarette, as the older woman had one right around the same time that Dinah had retrieved a new one and lit it up herself.-
[19:53] <Dinah> "You're welcome."
[19:56] <PersonaGM> ["Hmf."-
[19:56] <PersonaGM> ["So how're your digs?"]
[20:00] <Dinah> Dinah was a regular smokestack, blowing out a long plume and closing her eyes as she did it. If anything could relax her, even after all she went through that day, it was this. Fresh air, a nice room, and a good couple of cigarettes.-
[20:02] <Dinah> "They're not bad." She glanced back into her room and at the cat on her desk, smirking just slightly as it played with something on it before looking back out, leaning against the windowsill. "My room, anyway. The commons area is a mess. Not one piece of furniture matches. There's a TV older than you. The dust has dust on it." Another drag, another exhale, another sigh. "Caretaker's locked herself in a box."
[20:03] <PersonaGM> ["What'd you do to her?"]
[20:05] <Dinah> "Nothing. She was like that when I got here." A hesitation and a frown later, she spoke up again. "I know I say that a lot but I mean it this time." Another beat. "I know I say -that- a lot too but, really. I didn't even get to see her."
[20:06] <PersonaGM> ["Mm-hmm." Said Lucia. "So messy dorm and your caretaker's a crazy person. Hashtag student life."-
[20:06] <PersonaGM> ["What about your dormmates?"]
[20:10] <Dinah> "Oh my god, Mom. Don't say hashtag." Her hand with her cigarette reached up, placing her wrist against her forehead in embarrassment. It moved back a second later when the second question came up, making her shrug even if her mother couldn't see that. "Dunno. Only people I met so far are box lady and this cat that's in my room. I think it's just a dorm cat. Saw it outside, brought it in. It seems like it knows the run of the place."
[20:36] <PersonaGM> ["Does it have a collar?"]
[20:40] <Dinah> Once more, she glanced back at the cat on her desk. Craning her neck a bit to look, there was none that she saw. "Nope."
[20:40] <PersonaGM> ["Is it chipped?"-
[20:41] <PersonaGM> [The cat's ears seemed untouched, except for a little notch on the outer edge of its ear. An injury, not the sign of chipping.]
[20:44] <Dinah> "Oh yeah, lemme just wave my magic phone over it to pick up on its chip signal." Rolling her eyes, she gave the cat another look, moving back inside completely save for her hand sticking outside the window with her smoke. "No, I don't think it's chipped. Don't wanna say it's a stray but I saw it outside before anything else."
[20:45] <PersonaGM> ["That sounds like a stray."]
[20:48] <Dinah> "Like I said. I think it's just a dorm cat. Probably just hangs out here all the time. Who knows, maybe box lady feeds it." Finishing off the second stick, she put it out and flicked it away much like the first, letting out a little sigh as she did. "Anyway, I called. I'm fine. I'm hanging up."
[20:49] <PersonaGM> ["Do good at school. Make friends for a change."]
[20:50] <Dinah> "For a change?" An edge crept into her voice with an iciness that could make a grown man shiver. 'Friends' was a sore subject and her mother knew that.-
[20:55] <Dinah> Huffing out through her nose while her now free hand practically slammed her window, Dinah grit her teeth for a moment. She was considering just hanging up right then and there but stopped herself just long enough to say one last thing to her. "Call dad for me. He'll wanna know I'm okay too. Except he won't bug the shit out of me over it." Shoving her thumb on the red button then, she stuffed the phone back in the pocket of her jacket and just stood there for a long few seconds, hands balled into fists.-
[20:56] <Dinah> "Bitch."-
[20:57] <Dinah> It took some time but eventually she did loosen up enough to glance back over at the cat. Patting her thigh again, the young woman went for the door then. "C'mon Cat. We're takin' a walk."
[20:58] <PersonaGM> ["Meow." The cat hurried on.]
[21:02] <Dinah> The only thing she had the presence of mind for was to make sure the key to her room was in her pocket. Closing the door after herself and the cat, she bounded down the steps again, breezing past the front desk and the weird enclosure that saw the caretaker inside. "Goin' for a walk, Box Lady. Back later."-
[21:04] <Dinah> Again, she let the cat out, making sure it was sticking with her. Closing the door, she started on her walk, pulling out her box of smokes and yanking one more out, lighting it up as she rounded the corner of the gate, walking down the empty street that the dorm sat on.-
[21:04] <Dinah> Anyone who saw her could tell the anger that bubbled under her skin. They could also tell she was trying to control it. Distract herself. There was only one thing she could think of, though. "Wonder if you got a name, Cat."
[21:07] <PersonaGM> ["Meow." The cat followed her, looking both unhurried yet also keeping up.]
[21:11] <Dinah> "I can't call you Meow. That's not a name." She stopped and frowned, looking down and trying to scoop it up in her arms. "First, let's see if you're a boy or a girl…"
[21:12] <PersonaGM> [Meow dodged out of her reach. "Mrrr."]
[21:15] <Dinah> She grunted and straightened when the cat prevented her from grabbing it. "Fine." Rolling her shoulders, she just went and started on her walk again. "I'll just call you JC. Jerk Cat. You like that, JC?"
[21:20] <PersonaGM> ["Meow." The cat seemed perfectly fine to be known by this illustrious sobriquet.-
[21:22] <PersonaGM> [Soejima Road was a blessedly quiet road. Dinah barely saw another person, much less a car. There were a few shops on the corner of Soejima and Shigenori- a fast food store, a news store, a small grocery/convenience store…]
[21:26] <Dinah> "Hrm." She looked around once the shops started coming into view, not really sure what to do. Would she turn around and go back? Go around? Well, stopping in one of them was a bit warranted, actually.-
[21:28] <Dinah> "You're gonna have to stay out here, JC. Don't think they're gonna want you inside." Making a 'stay here' gesture with he rhand, she turned into the convenience store only ot go straight to the counter. She forced a smile at the clerk as a hand dug into her pocket.-
[21:30] <Dinah> "Two packs, please." Her Japanese was quite good, even if she wasn't very conversive on the norm. Fishing out her current pack, she showed it off to show just one she wanted. The next move was getting out her wallet to pull out enough money for it. She had some back in her bag but she wanted to make sure she had a couple on hand. Seemed like she was going to need them.
[21:40] <PersonaGM> [The vendor eyed Dinah. He seemed to consider upholding the underage smoking law banning under-20s from buying tobacco.-
[21:40] <PersonaGM> [For half a second. "Here you go." He handed them over.]
[21:50] <Dinah> She'd been carded and denied a few times at home and over here, which was something she didn't want to deal with, especially right now. So it was good that there was no fuss about it. Thanking him clearly, she handed over the money and took her packs, stuffing them in her pocket and heading out. "Alright, JC. Let's get going again."
[14:03] <PersonaGM> [JC the cat followed after, looking to and fro as though curious where Dinah would head next.]
[14:10] <Dinah> When she walked out of the store, she had no real idea where to go next. Glancing from the facade of the convenience store over to the fast food place, she wondered about getting something to drink, something to snack on. She could've gotten that in the grocery but, well, that didn't cross her mind. She was focused on her cigarettes. And she wasn't about to go back in and push her luck with the guy there. She got her smokes, would he let her just keep them if he went back in?-
[14:12] <Dinah> Well, probably. But that wasn't something Dinah wanted to find out. Instead, she moved over to the fast food place and looked down to the cat. "Sorry, wait here again. I'll bring ya something." With that, she moved into the building, looking around for a menu.
[14:24] <PersonaGM> [The place was small- in some ways it was a glorified roadside stall, having mostly a counter and a backroom. There wasn't even seating.-
[14:24] <PersonaGM> [The menu sold some fairly staple quick-and-easy fare. Curry dishes. Some cheaper ramen dishes. Takoyaki, the odd sweet.]
[14:32] <Dinah> A frown settled on her face as she considered the options before her. She wasn't thinking about it for too long before she stepped forward and pulled out some cash, looking it over and then gesturing to the menu. "Takoyaki and….something to drink. Soda. Surprise me."-
[14:33] <Dinah> Her Japanese wasn't all that bad, all things considered. But she made sure to point things out as well, just in case, to make sure she got her point across. Handing over the money, she waited for her treats, suddenly feeling tha tmuch hungrier now that she knew she was going to eat something.
[14:40] <PersonaGM> [The woman at the counter was probably mid to late twenties. She looked a little tired, but the cheer in her voice when she handed Dinah her bowl seemed genuine. "Are you a student?"]
[14:43] <Dinah> "Yeah, local. Just got back from break." Nice as Dinah wanted to be to someone that didn't deserve her ire, she couldn't be too careful. Any little tip off could have a dozen guys with cameras hounding her at any given moment. So she wasn't about to mention just which school she went to. That'd make it too obvious.-
[14:45] <Dinah> All the same, this was so close by, she'd probably be here often. It might serve to make friends. "I'm not too far from here. So I'll probably be back often." Taking a bite of one of her takoyaki, she sniffed and nodded a bit. "Make that definitely."
[14:46] <PersonaGM> [The woman beamed.-
[14:46] <PersonaGM> [She also passed Dinah a little parcel of what looked like grilled fish. "This is for that cat, by the way. You're his friend?"]
[14:51] <Dinah> The gesture caught Dinah off-guard, but she took the parcel with a little surprise in her eyes. Glancing over where JC sat, she turned back to the woman. "Yeah, you could say that. Saw him at my Dorm, he's been following me."-
[14:52] <Dinah> Lifting the parcel just slightly to point it out, she continued. "Probably better for him than part of one of these. Thanks."
[14:57] <PersonaGM> [She smiled. "That cat's been here for years. He's pretty clever, and friendly too. He's kind of a local fixture."]
[15:00] <Dinah> "Huh." She looked a little thoughtful, taking another bite of takoyaki as she did. "Yeah, he does seem pretty smart. Knows what I'm saying to him anyway."-
[15:02] <Dinah> Sniffing a bit, she looked at her takoyaki and the fish, only needing her drink before she could leave. And already, she was itching to. This was pleasant but she wasn't one for hanging around too long. "Cool that you look out for him."
[15:07] <PersonaGM> [Dinah's drink was… A good ol' Doctor Pepper.-
[15:07] <PersonaGM> ["He helps out." The woman said simply. "Thank you for coming~"]
[15:12] <Dinah> If there was anything that could have made Dinah smile, it was the soda she got. Handling it happily, she nodded to the woman in thanks. "Thank you. I'll see ya later. Have a good night."-
[15:14] <Dinah> Sipping some through her straw as she walked out, she looked down at JC, stopping as soon as the door closed, frowning. "Shit. I shoulda asked her if she knew your name. Ah well. JC works."-
[15:20] <PersonaGM> [The cat picked up the chunk of fish and followed after her, its tail wagging smugly.]
[15:25] <Dinah> By the time she made it back to the dorm, she had eaten about half of her takoyaki and drank a good portion of her soda. Walking in through the lobby, she called out on her way to the stairs. "Back, Box Lady."-
[15:27] <Dinah> Breezing on by, she climbed the stairs to her room, using her key to unlock it again and move inside, waiting for JC before closing it up behind her. Dropping the parcel with the rest of the fish on her desk, she gestured for JC to go at it while she made her way to the window again, tugging it open. As before, she leaned out of it, resting on the windowsil, though this time, she was just finishing her food and drink. To start anyway. Setting the empty bowl and cup aside when she was done, she pulled out one last cigarette and lit it up, smoking it and playing on her phone all the while. It was a nice way to unwind.-
[15:29] <Dinah> But the day had to end sometime. And it wasn't a moment too soon. Walking to the door after she ditched her cig and closed her window, she opened it up and made a wave toward it. "Alright, JC. Be free. See ya tomorrow or whatever."-
[15:32] <Dinah> Waiting until he walked out the door, she closed it up behind him and moved to get ready for bed. Changing into her night clothes - basically a pair of loose shorts and a big t-shirt - she made her way to her bed, glancing over at the 'welcoming' gift or whatever it was. Something for tomorrow. For now, she just threw back her covers and crawled into bed, falling asleep practically as soon as she got herself situated.
[15:48] <PersonaGM> [Dinah felt…-
[15:49] <PersonaGM> [Like someone was in the room with her. Yet, not an intruder. Someone comforting…-
[15:51] <PersonaGM> [Degree by degree, Dinah woke. She was in her bedroom, yet it was unmistakeably different. The sheets of her bed were blue, as was the carpet. Her furniture had a blue hue to it as well. And a glowing blue light was filtering in through the cracks around her door.-
[15:51] <PersonaGM> [The world outside the window was a sea of fog…-
[15:52] <PersonaGM> [Yet one piece of furniture had changed entirely. sitting in place of her office chair was…]
[15:56] <Dinah> She grunted a little as she turned in her bed, wanting to keep her eyes closed and yet needing to open them. Looking around, she noticed just how different everything was and sat up with a bit of a start. A glance out her window showed her the fog that had her feeling a little odd. Obviously, this was a dream. But it didn't feel like it.-
[15:57] <Dinah> Stepping out of her bed cautiously, she looked to the door and then over to her desk where she practically jumped in place.-
[16:01] <Dinah> "What the hell?" It was a whisper, something of surprise, something with genuine emotion in it and yet something with a tint of anger in it. It was something she longed to see again and something she never wanted to see again. It looked simple. Just a gaming chair. Tall-back. Black leather with blue designs. A head pillow attached at the top of it and a blue cushion sitting atop the seat. It was never comfortable without that. She always complained about it until they got that cushion for it.-
[16:04] <Dinah> Now she knew she was dreaming. Because that wasn't possible. That couldn't be there. Taking a few steps toward it, Dinah bit her lip pensively and balled her hands into fists, moving the rest of the way to it. She wanted to get it out of her sight. Instead, she ended up just sitting in it. Closing her eyes, it was just like she remembered. "I always hated this fucking chair."
[16:07] <PersonaGM> [The chair was comfortable. It felt right. Familiar…-
[16:07] <PersonaGM> [Sitting on the desk in front of her, Dinah now realised, were two objects.-
[16:08] <PersonaGM> [One was the sign-in book, open to the signing-in page, albeit it was blank; a new page was there, covered with what looked at a glance to be a… Contract?-
[16:08] <PersonaGM> [The other was a blank white smartphone she'd never seen before.]
[16:15] <Dinah> Memories flooded back to Dinah's mind of all the times she'd sat in this chair. Happier memories. Memories that yet hurt to think about. And so she forced them out of her mind. By the time she opened her eyes, she saw two new things in front of her. This was a really weird dream. Instinctively, however, her hand went for the phone, picking it up to look it over. God, why did everything feel so real? It had been a longer day than she thought if she was dreaming this deep.
[16:19] <PersonaGM> [The phone was blank and empty. There was a button there to turn it on.-
[16:19] <PersonaGM> [The sign-in book's pages fluttered slightly in a breeze that didn't seem to exist.]
[16:21] <Dinah> The power button was pressed with a firm push and set down again on the desk. If it was anything like her phone, it would take about a minute to turn on fully. In that time, she turned her eyes over to the contract in the sign-in book, curious as to what in the world could be on it.
[16:29] <PersonaGM> [The contract…-
[16:30] <PersonaGM> [Later, Dinah would only be able to recall a few specific details.-
[16:31] <PersonaGM> [That the book was a chance for her to seek fulfillment, to embody her true potential and overcome her challenges, but it could only do so by empowering her ability to make decisions and choices… But at the end of the day, she and she alone took responsibility for her actions, and for the path on which she was set.-
[16:32] <PersonaGM> [The phone flickered on, slowly. It… Seemed less 'there' than it had been a moment ago. A fuzzy EULA appeared on the screen.-
[16:32] <PersonaGM> [Either way, if Dinah agreed, then all she had to do was sign her name- either into the book with the pen that appeared in her hand, or to type it into the phone.]
[16:36] <Dinah> None of it made sense. For everything real that she felt about this experience, two other things were unreal. This chair couldn't exist here in her room. The phone, the book, they couldn't be here. The fog was not something that was natural.-
[16:38] <Dinah> But the weight of the phone in her hand before she put it down. The feel of the chair under her. The floor under her feet. The chill of the air. That was all real. That she could feel. The pen appeared in her hand in a way that it couldn't have but she knew it was really there. And so she went with it. Reaching down to the contract, she signed her name exactly as fancy as she had in the book downstairs. What was the worst that could happen?
[16:40] <PersonaGM> [What indeed.-
[16:40] <PersonaGM> [The door to her room opened. At the same time, Dinah heard a door several floors above her open as well.-
[16:40] <PersonaGM> [Dinah would now see that the blue light was coming from the staircase leading upwards…]
[16:43] <Dinah> When the door opened, Dinah looked over at it and knew instinctively that she should go through it. And at first, she wanted to do nothing more than that. But she hesitated.-
[16:47] <Dinah> The chair was uncomfortable but it was comfortable. It was familiar. She never thought she'd sit in it again. Would she get the chance to do so again? She could just…linger. This was her dream. It was what she made of it. The wheels didn't move unless she turned them.-
[16:49] <Dinah> But with a sigh, she stood up and looked back at it for a moment. Turning around, she balled her fists again and went for the door and subsequently the stairs, climbing them. She'd see where this was all going. She'd see what in the hell was going on with her subconscious.
[16:50] <PersonaGM> [And so Dinah climbed.-
[16:50] <PersonaGM> [The fourth floor she didn't even register.-
[16:51] <PersonaGM> [The fifth floor, on the other hand… It looked a lot like the other floors, except that one of the rooms was open. Room 5-E was open, and the inside glowed with that bright blue light.]
[16:55] <Dinah> With each step, Dinah's nails dug into her palms a little more and a little more. Leaving that chair, she didn't want to do it. And yet she had to. That didn't make her happy about it, though. It did just the opposite. Every bit of the climb up reminded her that something was going on. The pain in her hands reminded her that this was real, even if it couldn't be.-
[16:56] <Dinah> The doorway gave her pause, as the light coming from inside was another of those…things. That couldn't be there and yet was. It didn't stop her from going in, however.
[17:05] <PersonaGM> [Within was… A room.-
[17:05] <PersonaGM> [It was obviously a room bigger on the inside than on the outside. The walls were lined utterly with bookcases that went right up to the roof… Although as far as Dinah could see, the roof was so high as to be shrouded in fog.-
[17:05] <PersonaGM> [There were many things in this room that stood out enough to be worthy of attention. There was a globe that permanently spun at a slow and steady rate, yet was completely blank. At the far end of the room was a giant printing press that worked unceasingly, churning out page after page after page, each joining a stack of pages…-
[17:05] <PersonaGM> [The floor was universally carpeted in a plush blue velvet carpet, with a blue velvet rug sitting in front of the door- a rather homely touch for such a strange place.-
[17:05] <PersonaGM> [Indeed, blue velvet seemed to be the theme. Each book in this place was covered in a blue cover, and the bookcases seemed to be blue as well.-
[17:05] <PersonaGM> [But most unusual was the sight near the back of the room. It was a study desk, large, heavy and ornate, made of wood- a rich red mahogany, rather than blue. It groaned beneath the weight of what must've been hundreds of books, each stacked neatly on top of one another to form huge great and dubious towers.-
[17:05] <PersonaGM> [Yet a space had been cleared, allowing Dinah to see the occupant of such a desk.-
[17:05] <PersonaGM> [It…-
[17:05] <PersonaGM> [Well, it was a man, albeit a man whose looks were so bizarre and frightening as to invite comparisons with goblins or fairies. He was short, yet gangly, thin and spindly. He had pale, waxy skin, and silver hair, although most of his head was bald, leaving only a fan of hair near the back. He had huge white eyes, a little bloodshot, his pupils tiny pinpoints. His eyebrows were thick, bushy, wild and set at an aggressive angle- as were his pointed, thin ears. He had a massive grin, showing perfectly square white teeth. All of this served to frame his nose, which was incredibly long and pointed, approaching nearly a foot in length at least.-
[17:05] <PersonaGM> [The man wore a neat black suit, with black leather shoes and white gloves. His seat was a high backed blue velvet desk chair.-
[17:05] <PersonaGM> [The man leaned forward, one hand resting under his chin.-
[17:06] <PersonaGM> ["It seems we are fortunate enough to have yet another guest," said the impish man, in a singsong, airy voice. He gestured to a chair in front of the desk- Dinah's chair. The same one from her room. "My name is Igor, and I am very happy to make your acquaintance. By all means, take a seat."]
[17:13] <Dinah> Dinah was already not in the mood for all of this. All those memories weighed on her head, her heart, and they tormented her in silence. Leaving behind the chair meant trying to leave behind things that she couldn't. All that frustration from the end of her break, it bubbled up in her and sought something. Some target.-
[17:14] <Dinah> The room didn't matter. The man, his appearance didn't matter. The fact that this was all…wrong. That didn't matter either.-
[17:15] <Dinah> Seeing the chair again was like a knife in her heart this time, rather than that mix of comfort and confusion. It spurred her on.-
[17:16] <Dinah> Heavy, stomping footsteps brought her forward, not to the chair itself but to the desk and her hands un-balled to slam down on the surface, hard. Leaning in, her eyes showed a burning anger in them as she stared without flinching into the man's own. "What the hell is this?!" She pointed to the chair. "Where the hell did you get that?!"
[17:34] <PersonaGM> [Igor's expression- or the tone of his voice- didn't change. He gestured at the chair with a gloved hand. "That chair belongs to you, dear guest. It goes where you want it to go. It appears as though you've brought it with you into this place."]
[17:38] <Dinah> The answer just fueled her on even further, her nails raking across the desk. "Bullshit! I don't have that chair! I didn't-" Biting back her next words, she hung her head and let out a hard exhale. "It's just a dream. It has to be."-
[17:39] <Dinah> Taking a couple hard breaths, she picked her hands up and slammed them against the table again in frustration while she straightened, turning around to go to the chair and sit.-
[17:41] <Dinah> "Fine." Her anger was still there, just muted slightly. There was something to all of this. She might as well see what it was. "Just…fine. I'm Dinah. What is this?"
[17:44] <PersonaGM> ["This place," Said Igor, gesturing around at the bizarre room, "exists between dream and reality, mind and matter. Your body is safe and sound in your bed at home, but your mind has come here, seeking something. Only those who have signed a contract can enter here, which it seems you have."-
[17:44] <PersonaGM> ["It is our duty to assist our guests."]
[17:51] <Dinah> Again, the answer didn't do anything positive for her. It was information but it was information that didn't help. Rubbing the bridge of her nose, she tried - God, did she try - to stave off the anger in her body. To sate it. Relax it. Nothing here was doing that for her, however, much less the comfort of the chair.-
[17:54] <Dinah> "Right. So it's a dream. Like I said." Leaning her head back, another sigh of annoyance left her lips, like it was just torture to be here when the reality was basically the opposite.-
[17:54] <Dinah> "Guests. Okay. Fine. Guests of what? For what?"
[17:56] <PersonaGM> ["A fine question, one of many, no doubt." Said Igor. "There have been several guests before you. Each of them have brought a card, offering hints of the future- and it is in regards to the future that we offer our services."-
[17:57] <PersonaGM> [An array of tarot cards appeared in front of Igor. Eight cards- six in a cross-like formation, whilst another two sat in a row to the side. A ninth card appeared, joining the side row.-
[17:59] <PersonaGM> [Five of the cards in the cross had been turned over. "Do you believe in fortune-telling by way of cards?"]
[18:01] <Dinah> She let out a derisive snort at the mention of 'one of many' questions that she had. That was putting it lightly. But regardless of that, he was getting to the point. Looking down at the desk now, she scooted the chair closer, frowning fairly hard as she saw the cards.-
[18:03] <Dinah> "Yes." There was a bitterness in her response. She wasn't exactly a believer by choice. "My mom buys into that pretty hard. I…" A sigh, a shake of her head. "So what do the cards say?"
[18:07] <PersonaGM> ["This reading is for all of our guests." He pointed to the middle of the cross. "Fortune reversed, in the position of your current circumstances. Reflecting that our guests are trapped by their fates, unable to muster the power to break free. They are at the mercy of the world in which they dwell."-
[18:08] <PersonaGM> ["The cause of this is the next card- Star, reversed. Suggesting that this stranding that has befallen our guests is due to them losing their guiding light, the hope that drove them and led them. Without it, they lack the clarity and unifying force to free themselves of fate."-
[18:09] <PersonaGM> ["Our first guest gave us, for the future: The Tower. Unless your situation changes- unless fate is mastered- our guests face a terrible calamity in the future…"-
[18:11] <PersonaGM> ["Our second guest gave us, as your foundation and strength: The Devil, reversed. Your strength lies in testing the world around you, rejecting easy assumptions and discarding unhealthy and corrupting bonds, keeping only that which strengthens you. Unfortunately, that power is weakened and twisted, and it would seem that you are all now bound within a net of bindings and relationships that weaken you most sadly…"-
[18:13] <PersonaGM> ["Our third guest, the one before you, gave us, as your high aspiration: Justice, reversed. Justice reflects truth and an inner ideal being made manifest, suggesting that our guests deeply desire to bring about the world that they believe is most perfect for themselves and others, maintaining balance between who they are and what the world wants from them. This too is reversed- suggesting chaos, incoherency. That you will be subjected to lies and deceit, falsehood and untrustworthy individuals… And of course, contention between others whose ideals repel your own."-
[18:13] <PersonaGM> ["Which leaves, finally, your card."]
[18:21] <Dinah> Dinah was a bit more on pins and needles when the fortune was being read than she wanted to admit. Her fingers worked at the arm rests of the chair and she waited for each new card to be mentioned. The mention of them all losing their 'guiding light' saw her eyes look away from it and another tensing of her body.-
[18:23] <Dinah> But she turned back, leveling her expression as much as she could. It was a lot of talk, things that she wasn't really paying much attention to. She got the gist, that was about it. And finally, he brought up her card. How it was 'hers', she had no idea.-
[18:23] <Dinah> "Well? What is it?"
[18:27] <PersonaGM> [Igor flipped his hand over. The card turned of its own volition.-
[18:29] <PersonaGM> [The background of the card was wavy blues, both dark and light. The foreground, however, drew the eye: black hands conjuring a black flame. Above the flame were two open eyes- and above that, an infinity symbol. This card, like most of the others, was upside down.-
[18:31] <PersonaGM> ["The Magician, reversed, in the Unconscious position. The magician is the card of potential and power, of activity and ability waiting to be unleashed, to be honed. The Unconscious position represents what dwells within our guests' subconscious, their inner desires and dreams… This combination suggests that our guests seek enlightenment and power, to be recognised for their immense talents…"-
[18:32] <PersonaGM> ["The reversal, however, suggests a denial. That our guests do not truly understand the depth of their ability. That perhaps that understanding is being kept from them."]
[18:37] <Dinah> She never did really get why her mom was into this. Why anyone was. It was just a lot of blather, a lot of lofty language saying nothing in particular for no reason in particular. And there was only one reason why she thought there was anything to it in particular.-
[18:39] <Dinah> The reveal of her card had her frown, deeper still when he talked of what it meant. What it said about her. In some ways, it hit home a little more than she wanted it to. In others, it was completely off the mark. "Power? If this whole….thing is in my head or what the hell ever you said, then we already know what I'm capable of."-
[18:41] <Dinah> Her voice dipped, her eyes sharpened. More memories. "I already know I can beat the crap out of just about everyone in front of me. I've done it. So what the hell does that mean?"
[18:42] <PersonaGM> ["Wow. You've got a lot to learn if you call that power."-
[18:42] <PersonaGM> [This voice didn't come from Igor. Instead it came from a frowning young man off to Igor's right, sitting up against the wall at a desk. The desk was heavy, wooden and ornate; on top of it lay a huge book.-
[18:44] <PersonaGM> [The young man was pale, with short, curly silver-to-silver-blonde hair and bright yellow eyes. He wore a blue robe, tied at the waist with a sash of white cloth. He'd been writing in the great book with a tremendously long quill, but he'd stopped writing in order to snap at Dinah.]
[18:51] <Dinah> The new voice made Dinah's head snap in the direction it came from and the words he spoke sparked all those feelings of anger she'd been trying to push down. Standing suddenly, she took a few threatening steps toward him, that hard look in her eyes.-
[18:52] <Dinah> "Did you say something?" She sniffed, reaching a hand up to crack her knuckles in the palm of her opposite. "Because it sounded like you said something. And if you did, that's just 'cause you're dumb enough that you can't read the damn room."-
[18:54] <Dinah> Now she was at his desk, hands on it and leaning forward as she had done to Igor's yet while that anger had been explosive, this one was more controlled. More directed. "So. One more time. Did you say something, you little shit?"
[19:00] <PersonaGM> ["Yes. Yes, I did. Let me repeat myself in the hopes that your memory will take it in," said the boy. He rose to his feet. "You don't know the first thing about what power looks like. Out of all the things you emphasise, it's something that billions of humans have done, better than you, for all history, instead of finding something that's a little more unique to you?"-
[19:01] <PersonaGM> ["If you want to come at me, you're welcome to do so, but I suggest you take a few lessons in knowing yourself first."]
[19:10] <Dinah> A hand reached out and snatched the collar of the man's robe, yanking him closer as she straightened a bit. Were he anyone else, the look in her eyes would probably scare the crap out of him, though even Dinah realized that she probably couldn't do anything to scare the man. That didn't mean she couldn't try, though. For her own peace of mind, she had to do /something/.-
[19:12] <Dinah> "I still don't really know what's going on here. But if you two know anything about me, it's that I don't take this kinda shit. But since I don't get it yet and since I've had a long damn day," she shoved him back as she let go of his robe, still staring him down. "I won't bother. Don't push it. Unless you wanna see that book of yours a whole lot closer."-
[19:14] <Dinah> Brushing her hands on her shirt, she turned around and moved back over to the chair and sat down, letting out a huff when she did. "So. Fortune told. All the other cards had somethin' to say for the…others, too. Whoever they are. 'Sat card fit in to the 'greater scheme' of shit now too?"
[19:17] <PersonaGM> [The boy shook his head ever so slowly as Dinah walked away. He returned to his seat.-
[19:20] <PersonaGM> [Igor had watched all of this calmly. When Dinah spoke to him, he continued easily, as though Dinah hadn't tried to threaten a denizen before backing off. "Of course. This fate concerns all of our guests, and so you all bring your threads to that fate, binding you all together."]
[19:24] <Dinah> She sniffed slightly at the answer, simply staring for a moment like there was something else that she was waiting on him to say. But it didn't seem anything else was coming. "Okay. So…what does it mean, though? And who are these 'guests'?"
[19:25] <PersonaGM> [Igor chuckled. "I think you'll find the answers to those questions to come quite naturally to you in your own time."-
[19:27] <PersonaGM> ["Indeed, there will be time for details later. The next time we meet, it will be your decision to come here, after what looks to be a very busy week."-
[19:28] <PersonaGM> [She felt a presence. The boy walked out from behind her chair, although she hadn't seen him leave his desk. "And for future reference? My name is William. I am the one who governs power."-
[19:28] <PersonaGM> ["Farewell, dear guest." Said Igor.-
[19:28] <PersonaGM> [Dinah would have just a few seconds to speak before her body would start falling asleep…]
[19:34] <Dinah> "In other words, you're not gonna tell me. Fine. Okay." She was still in a rather foul mood after everything and by the time Igor was saying his farewells and William was introducing herself, Dinah was just ready to go. But she couldn't help but wonder about it all. 'Next time?'-
[19:37] <Dinah> She had just thought it when her eyes closed and she felt sleep falling over her, putting a peacefulness to her features that was otherwise never there.
[19:38] <PersonaGM> […-
[19:40] <PersonaGM> [And so Dinah would sleep, a proper, deep sleep; she would have no further dreams, and wake only in the morning, to the sound of a cat batting at her door.]

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