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Weather Girls

The Chrysanthemum

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a part of Weather Girls, by The_Queen.

None

The_Queen holds sovereignty over The Chrysanthemum, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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The Chrysanthemum is a part of Weather Girls.

2 Characters Here

Elise von Hresvelg [625] "Hide away from the light, the rain is the only refuge."
Winter Matsuri [625] As gentle as the falling snow.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




They took photos first, ones that would go in the newspaper. She was given a prop violin to hold, one without strings. It was strange, admittedly, but Winter did not question it. Oliver remained with her the entire time, sometimes cracking a joke to make her smile and getting promptly yelled at by the photographer. After that, they had lunch in Winter's dressing room and her makeup was touched up again. "Why would you choose to eat salad if you can have a hamburger?" Oliver laughed, "I was thinking the same thing," the woman from before came to touch up her lipstick one last time. "Alright Winter, this is it." She nodded, "I know, I'm ready." The interview would be televised across the Chrysanthemum, it had been advertised the night before and that morning. "Winter arriving to sound stage 1," she was told to wait in the wings while the lounge chairs were cleaned from the last guest.

"Nervous?" Oliver asked, hands in his pockets. "Never," Winter replied. "And next up, we have a very special interview with Winter Matsuri!" There was applause, as well as a recorded loop. The live audience was rather small, Winter thought as she strode from the wing and onto the set, taking a seat in one of the large chairs. "Ms. Matsuri, it is an honor to have you with us tonight." The lights were so bright, she thought, and warm. "It is lovely to be here," she sat up a bit straighter, aware of the eyes on her. "We all watched your performance last night, it was immaculate. Was that an original composition?" Winter nodded, "Yes, it's a song I spent many sleepless nights to bring to life." The host laughed as though she had just said something funny. "Well, you made it seem effortless! But why is that your last performance?"

"I'm returning to the Boundary," Winter replied. "Heirs cannot live on earth, it is not meant for us." Similar to Elise's dilemma, Winter would have had to return to the Boundary, albeit she could stay a bit longer than a servant could. Especially since she had a physical body. It was why Yuuki and Zoku could not always be in her head, but came and went as they pleased. It took spiritual energy to be here. "We saw you fleeing the scene yesterday with a certain Carter Grayson. Tell us, is there anything going on there?" The host winked and Winter shook her head, remaining as stoic as ever. She spotted Oliver in the wing, who was motioning for her to smile. "No, nothing going on there. I'm engaged to a lovely Heir named Zed. Carter is simply a friend, a fellow former vassal."

"Speaking of vassals, what are your thoughts on the current President? How do you feel about the shift in power?" Winter blinked, she had not been expecting a question like that. "To be frank, I don't know much about the current politics." The Host nodded, "Do you think she'll do right by this country? Are you afraid of a repeat in history?" She felt suddenly uneasy. "What do you mean?"

"Well, we all know your history." The Host laughed again, her smile suddenly unnerving. "I don't-" there was suddenly static, an overwhelmingly loud sound in her ears. Winter was sensitive to sound. "Oh, my mic has gone out." Was that what the sound was? "Standby, we're receiving interference on our channel." The lights flickered, Winter rose slowly. She bit down on her lip, her entire body shaking. She had a terrible feeling in the pit of her stomach. The lights came back on, the holo projectors all flickering to life on their own.

"Greetings Citizens of the Chrysanthemum," a woman with the lightest blonde hair and eyes the color of the rainbow smiled from wherever she was. "My name is Arke, I am the Heiress of Rainbows and currently ruling Olympia." She crossed her slender legs, wearing a white dress and a large crown. "I believe you earthlings have something that belongs to me," a photo of Winter flashed across the screen. "I'm going to kindly ask that you return her to me, or else I will unleash a wave of monsters the likes of which will destroy your pitiful city. You have until midnight tomorrow. I'll be waiting for her at the clock tower. Buh-bye," she waved, the screen going out.


"Ms. Matsuri, care to make a comment?" They were all watching her. Winter was frozen. For the first time in her life, she was nervous during a performance. "I'm afraid I have to cut this interview short," she was shaking, her hands balling into fists. "I have business to attend to," Oliver rushed across the stage, grabbing her elbow as she was peppered with questions and escorted her backstage once more. "We need to go, now." The cameras followed them, the security cameras turnning as they walked. "Do you know that woman?"

"Arke, she was Zeus's former wife and the former Heir of Rainbows." Her voice trembled, her knees felt weak.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







It was almost exactly how Elise last saw it. The portal constructor was destroyed, the sphere that housed the nexus of power was exposed and open, frayed wires all over. The bridge was cracked and frayed, the whole structure needed to be rebuilt. "Tell me what you think, to me it all looks like Greek." Ezra sat himself in a corner of the room and Elise began looking through, examining the connections, the technology. This was definitely beyond Earthly tech. Who created this? Who really was the Doctor in the end? That kind of question Elise would probably wonder for the restof her life. How did he even find a way to break through the veil? How did he know it was there at all? "This is far more brute force than mine." Elise said softly. "It was designed to punch through, while my own portal generators create gentle tears that can be mended."

Ezra nodded, clearly not understanding a word that was said in the slightest. "Well, can you make use of it?" Elise nodded, a tiny smile. "Normally I disapprove of this kind of science. But this kind of power may be exactly what we need to break through Arke's seal." Ezra grinned with approval. "That's my girl. You always find a way. How long do you think it'll take to fix it?" Elise glanced at it and wondered. "First we would have to relocate. I do not trust the military with this technology. Then, we would need to find a way to create the tools needed to repair it..." She could not estimate, this was going to be a long project without proper support and resources. "Put it in my flat." Ezra said quickly with a grin. "Put it through that weird mist ball of yours. You can do that, right?" Elise blinked. "What? I did not leave a mist ball at your flat."

Ezra smiled then, giving her a quick peck on the cheek. "You did! While we were doing it, maybe it came by accident, but I thought it was because you always wanted to come back to my place." She must have unconsciously created one during climax. How embarrassing, was she really that out of control? It felt good, it did, but Elise did not like losing control of herself. She did not like feeling as if she was no longer able to regulate her actions and feelings. It was... frightening, it was not something she was used to. Elise touched the bundle of machinery. "I apologize for the mess. I cannot ensure that this will-" She spun at the last second, sensing the glint of muzzle in the reflection of the metal of the Doctor's device. A wall of mist shot out, catching the bullets.

"Catch the Heirs! They're working for Winter, if we don't catch them we're all going to die!" The soldiers were shooting but panic was in their eyes. Ezra threw himself at Elise but she pushed him behind her, creating another shield of mist. "What are you doing." She glared, ready to strike if she needed to. "If we don't take Winter in, the apocalypse will happen again. That's what that woman said on the screen! And you'll stop us from touching Winter, so we have to-" Elise lunged forward, having having heard enough. "If you are going to stop me, I have no choice but to kill you." Spikes made of mist rose up from the floor, aiming to pierce all the soldiers in their throats when a gunshot rang out, sharp and clear.

Mercedes stood out, blowing smoke from her pistol. "Anyone willing to fight against the Heirs for humanity's independence, stand up." She spoke in a cold effective voice. "Anyone who wants to side with Arke, go over here." She glanced at Elise and shook her head. "Don't attack yet. Just stay down, Elise." Anyone that tried to fight back against Mercedes was met with an icy response. "If you don't listen to me, I can just have Elise attack you all and be done with it." So they filed accordingly. On one side, those willing to fight with Mercedes, with Winter and Elise. On the other side, those wanting to turn them in. Once everything was arranged, Mercedes pressed a button, a wall coming down. "There, now they're locked in, and no blood has to be shed." Mercedes sneered, stepping forward. Ezra looked surprised but Elise was not. "What are you... I was ready to fight you again, Mercy." Ezra scratched his head, pulling his hood down.

Mercedes gave him a grim look. "Elise and Winter fought harder than anyone to stop the apocalypse. This Arke woman wants to start it again. I won't stand for that." She shook her head. "This time, the military will fight for the Chrysanthemum, and for you. Isn't that right, everyone?" The loyalist stood in salute, determination and fear in their eyes. "Yes, captain!" They cried in unison. "Lady Elise, what is your command?" It seemed Mercedes did a good job in drilling them to obedience. Or maybe they truly were sick of Heirs trying to control humans one way or another. "First, we are to secure Winter's safety. Mercedes, contact Oliver and coordinate with him and the Slithers." Mercedes nodded, already preparing her holo. "And tell Winter to call my name. I need to reach her as quickly as possible."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




The ground vibrated around them, Oliver dragging Winter along. "Come on, we're almost at the car!" The wall of sound unfroze, Winter having to make sure that they were not followed out of the studio. It felt even colder outside, if possible. They lunged into the vehicle, Oliver hitting the gas. The hover car sped off, Oliver remaining steely. "I know you want to say something," Winter started, crossing her arms. "What does Arke mean, return you to her?" Winter shook her head. "She wants everything Zeus has. I'm assuming that includes me. She tried to have me killed before." Oliver turned pale. A car suddenly shot out in front of them, Oliver swerving. "Hang on!" Winter held onto the handles tightly as the hover car flipped. "Star dress!" She grabbed Oliver, pushing them out of the car so that they would not get crushed in oncoming traffic.

"You are surrounded! Drop the civilian and put your hands in the air!" Her heart felt frozen in her chest. "Winter," Oliver shook her. "Winter, you need to run." The scene of the bombing flashed before her eyes. It was happening again, wasn't it? "Tch, I hate humans." Oliver looked at her, surprise in his eyes. "Winter?" He asked, hesitant. "Cover your ears," he didn't hesitate. Winter held her arms out wide, "don't move or we'll shoot!" She felt power building up in her hands. "Thunder clap," when her palms met, a wall of sound exploded. She grabbed Oliver's wrist, running in the opposite direction. "Where are we going?" He asked, "I don't know, but we have to get away from here." She replied, "Winter, those people were innocent!" He wrenched his wrist out of her grip. She turned, staring at him strangely. "Winter... you've changed." He said softly. "You don't get it, do you?" Winter narrowed her eyes. "If I'm handed over to Arke, I'm as good as dead."

"Those people were just scared, Winter. You attacked them."

"I protected myself. I protected us. They're going to catch up if we don't keep running." Oliver shook his head. "You can't seriously be doing this now? How many civilians did you order killed in the attacks that the Slithers Performed? How many innocents died then?" He paled. "That's what I thought. Tch, I really do hate humans. I didn't change Oliver, you did." She took off then, leaving him behind. Oliver stood there, stunned, as though he had been slapped in the face, which he may as well have been. "Winter, wait!" But it was too late, she was already gone. Winter headed towards Carter's home, the small wings on the back of her star dress carrying her there. She landed inside of the gate and knocked on the door, but there was no one there. "He's probably still at his shoot," she had left her key in her jacket at the studio. "I'll just go in through the window," she spotted an open window on the second floor.

Elise would be back soon, Winter would wait here. Her stomach growled, she had no holo phone, no way to contact the others. Jasmine had invited her over for dinner, but she could not put Claude's family in danger. Not now. "I'll just make myself some tea," Winter decided. She walked into the kitchen, boiling the hot water. She heard something behind her, "Carter, is that you? I'm making tea, want some?" Something connected with her shoulder. Winter turned, too late. Electricity shot through her body, a taser making her fall to the ground. She spotted them through the windows, the house was surrounded. Had they followed her here? "Give up Winter Matsuri."

"No, E-" she tried to call for Elise as she was tased again. Her ears hummed and buzzed, her vision blurry as she panted. She was rolled over, her wrists cuffed behind her. She was dragged out of Carter's home and thrown into the back of an armored van, guns pointed at her. "Move an inch and we'll shoot." They threatened, but Winter couldn't hear what they were saying. Her ears were still buzzing. She could feel the vibrations of the truck beneath her as they moved, her head spinning.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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Imageβ•Ž
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







The President sipped her tea, enjoying the subtle bitter taste, like a sword against her tongue. The Chrysanthemum seemed to be on fire again but she was pitiful. For her entire Presidency so far, she has had no power, she was nothing but a puppet at the Slithers' control. She loved this city - but what could she do against Arke? The door opened and the real President stepped in, a glare clear in his eyes. "President." Oliver said, pushing his hand on the desk. There was agitation on his eyes. "There's no one else here." The President said pleasantly. "We both know you're truly the one in charge." Oliver nodded, the intentions clear on his face. "If you dare try to go against us, you know what will happen to your family." She nodded, sipping more tea. "Don't worry. I met Winter already - a good, earnest girl. She played a song of hope for our hurt and disparaged people. Arke would only bring more despair."

Oliver nodded, pulling his other hand out from his jacket pocket, empty. The President might just be a weak, useless puppet, but she was not a fool. She knew Oliver was ready to shoot her or threaten her if he thought it was necessary. "Then I'm very glad you were able to see sense." Oliver said, fire still clear in his dark eyes. "Winter was taken. My Slithers are already working on blockading the city. Mercedes has some loyalist soldiers, but we need your approval to fully mobilize all of our standby military." It was certainly an odd change. Last time, the soldiers stood against the Vassals. This time, they would be working together with those same Vassals as their allies. Oliver gave her power and this position. Why? Because no one would take him seriously if he claimed the throne himself.

As useless as the President was, she knew Oliver would never kill her. He needed her as his puppet. "But we do this my way, Oliver. This is my city. We need to limit the destruction as much as we can. The people have been hurt enough from the apocalypse, any more damage and destruction will only make it harder to rebuild. Do you agree with my only request?" Oliver hesitated, then nodded. "We'll spare as many lives as we can." He said, and the President smiled. She was weak, she was useless... but even she had a little bit of power to save even one life.

________________

The helicopter was loud as it flew in the sky. Mercedes held her holo, tapped into the radios of everyone that was working with her. "We have permission!" General Boyle said, his voice crackling into her communications. "The President has agreed to fully mobilize. Everyone willing to stand for the Chrysanthemum's freedom is ready to move out." Mercedes nodded, signalling to the pilot of the aircraft to fly closer to the clocktower, standing tall in the center of the Chrysanthemum. Military jeeps already blockaded the area, covering all the streets. Soldiers ran to the sewer caps, locking them shut with metal sheets. Snipers positioned themselves on the rooftops, ready to fire at a moment's notice. "This is Captain Edmund." Mercedes spoke, an authoritative tone to her voice. "The Lockdown Team is in position. I repeat, the Lockdown Team has the Clocktower surrounded."

But there was no sign of the enemy. Where were they hiding? Where were they waiting? They only had the manpower right now to make sure the clocktower could not be touched, but she needed more people. That was why they needed the President's approval so badly to have the res of the standing forces have the green light to move ahead. "Captain, I'm going to split us into two groups to hunt the city. We'll target specific locales of groups known to carry arms and weapons." Mercedes gave them the affirmative. While General Boyle was technically the highest ranked soldier right now, Mercedes had more expertise, so she was given temporary command for this mission. "Thank you General. Please keep a small group of military engineers at this address. There's something they need to work on."

She forwarded Ezra's home address to the General to receive. "Ensure that they are guarded at all times. Elise left instructions on how to repair it, so the engineers can begin work on that." According to what Elise said, if they wanted a chance to take the fight to Arke and oust her, returning power to Zeus as it rightfully should be, Arke would never be able to threaten the Chrysanthemum again. First they needed to protect Winter, then they needed to punch an opening for Elise and Winter to make it safely to Zed and Zeus and hopefully eliminate Arke in her own home. Suddenly, there was another call. "This is Angelina! We found footage of Winter being abducted from this address five minutes ago!" Angelina was a hacker, tapping into the city street cameras from the central of command.

"Describe the vehicle." Mercedes growled, knowing that they were on limited time now. "It's an armored vehicle. Here, I'll send the HoverTag to you so we can track it down."

________________

"Woohoo! This is a blast!" Ezra snickered as his hoverbike blasted through the sky, swerving around. They had the HoverTag now, so the coordinates were locked down on the GPS of his hoverbike. "Be careful! If you crash there will not be enough of us left to save Winter with!" He was driving recklessly, making illegal turns left and right. It was fun, but right now, excitement and thrill were the last factors on Elise's mind. "I gotta go fast or we'll never track them down. There's a reason I'm the best hoverbike racer in all of the Chrysanthemum."

Elise frowned. "Illegal races? You take part in that?" Ezra grinned, shaking his head. They did not even have the time to don their protective helmets, so their cloaks were billowing in the cold winter sky, wind ripping at their cheeks. Elise made mist goggles for them so at least they could see. "What? No, I'm just kidding. Claude and I make bets on the tracks. My favorite is U. Bolt, he's really-" Elise aimed a spike of mist to the side, a hovercar flying this high was against the law. It was dark and armored, chasing them from the sky. Only bikes were allowed this high in the sky. The spike broke through the engine and it began to fall back to the ground.

"Elise!" Oliver snarled, his voice like a knife. "They might have just been normal civilians! Try not to kill if you can help it!" When had Oliver become such a coward? His voice sounded on Ezra's holo. "I have no choice. If Winter is in danger, anyone might be a threat. Her safety is above all else to me." Did Oliver have an agreement with the President or something? Whatever, that was not for Elise to worry about. "And if they are the enemy, they all deserve death for being afraid of Arke that they would commit treason." Blaring on all the speakers around the city was the President giving her speech, directing the military forces of the city.

"All who are in my employ - work together with Mercedes and Elise, our Heir of Mercy." Her voice rang out, the message playing on repeat. "Those who are found cooperating with Arke will be found guilty of treason against the Chrysanthemum and will be given the death penalty. If are not a soldier and you are siding with Arke, then you will be found guilty of disloyalty to the Chrysanthemum and be exiled, and all of your assets seized by the State. This message will repeat until there are no more left to hear it. Please choose wisely." Then it began to play over again, like the soundtrack to the mission. "We do whatever it takes." Ezra cracked a wide roguish smile. Was it just Elise, or did Ezra love being able to fight again? "Just like old times! We won't let rules or stuffy adults stand in our way!"

Elise nudged him, rolling her eyes. "You are an adu-"

Bullets. Elise waved her arm swiftly, a sheet of mist blocking it. Two armored cars were chasing them now, but they were wise. They were staying out of range of her own mist abilities. If only she still had her rain, maybe she could do something. "Ezra, we have to lose them! Show me that you are the best driver!" Ezra grinned, revving the engine. "I'll do stunts that make them drop their pants in shock! Hold on tight, El, this one's going to be bumpy!" He swerved hard left all of a sudden, ducking through the Museum of Spirals, dodging bullet fire left and right. "Down to the slums! The streets are narrow there!" Ezra nodded, flying towards a dead end wall when suddenly he jerked upwards, doing almost a loop, then flipping around to drive in the other direction. Bullets continued to fly, but Elise was making sure they were not hitting anything.

"What's happening? Oliver's voice sparked. "The slums are the opposite direction!" Elise shook her head furiously. "We are being chased. For now, we need to find a chance to eliminate them." There was silence on the other end then. Ezra drove them right into traffic, against the flow of rush hour, dodging through the gaps to buy time. They received quite a few rude hand gestures that quickly became pictures and videos on the holo when they realized Elise the Heir, former Hresvelg and movie star, was here. Lights and city windows were shattered as they were caught in the crossfire. At least one pedestrian fell down, clutching her chest as she was hit by a ricochet, letting out a scream. One of the pursuers nearly ran into a street light and wasted time fixing their angle to keep chasing, getting farther and farther behind.

As the chase continued, Oliver's voice came back on. "Up! Mercedes's helicopter is close by. Fly to the sky and they'll cover you." Ezra nodded, grinning. "Finally you military freaks are being useful! Let's go then you idiots! Keep chasing us!" Shooting an obscene gesture at the chasers behind him Ezra took them out of the slums towards the sky, towarsd the sun. Now they were in the open air, and the bullets were getting closer and closer. "I cannot keep defending forever." Elise hissed, making another sheet of mist to catch bullets, feeling it weighing on her mind. The two armored cars continued to chase, their drivers leaning out to keep trying to shoot as Ezra dodged in every direction to stay out of the line of fire.

They were dizzyingly high in the sky, the city's buildings looking almost like buildings blocks on a children's toy set. "Don't look down, you'll get vertigo." Ezra's voice was quiet and calm. Then the whir of helicopter blades descended upon them, a shadow in the skies above. "I've got you. Go get Winter." Mercedes's cold voice sounded, the blasters on the helicopter firing slugs of energy towards the two cars, taking them out with ease. Ezra nodded. "Thanks for the assist! We've got this from here!" He looked back at the coordinates and then began chasing after the car holding Winter captive.

Over the south side of the city, by a long sprawling bridge to a manmade island, one of the research centers off the coast of the Chrysanthemum, the armored car with Winter was trying to escape. "We found them. Locking onto the target now." Ezra revved the engine, speeding them faster and close to the enemy. They noticed of course and one leaned out to begin firing back, holding a long weapon. Large explosive rockets fired out, leaving smoke trailing behind as Ezra weaved and dodged around each one. "I'm going to ram it. Protect my baby, will you?" Elise nodded, making a sheet of mist to protect the side of the hoverbike. "Give it up! We've got you now! The air force is coming after you as we speak, their fighter ships are almost ready to launch!" Ezra taunted, sticking his tongue out as he rammed the side of the car, the mist breaking the engine. Now the armored van had no hope but to fall towards the sea below them.

Elise climbed up and broke open the back door, sending herself in. The enemy, the insects, holding tasers to Winter, holding guns up at her. This was her moment. This was her perfection. This was her time and her place. There was one look in all of their eyes. Fear. "Well." A mist gun emerged in her hand, deadly and ready. "Scared?" Stunned silence as the van continued plummeting. Elise laughed. "Well, you should be." One of the grabbed at Winter desperately. "Don't move! We'll shoot!" Elise laughed again, finding this all to be humorous. "I am well aware Arke requires Winter alive." She lunged then, a spike shooting through the speaker's throat. She twisted and deflected a barrage of bullets using another enemy's body, then struck again, kicking another one out of the door. The room was filled with blood as severed body parts littered the floor of the van. Her hands went around Winter's shoulder. "You are safe now. We will take care of you."

Ezra's bike came up them as they drifted ever closer to the sea. "I got you. Help her behind me, strap her in." Elise helped Winter and secured her safely to the passenger seat. "I'll take her to Oliver's base with the Slithers." Ezra said, getting ready to leave. There was no room for three people on the bike after all. "I will be fine. Mercedes will come pick me up." Elise narrowed her eyes as other armored vans approached from the flanks. "Move quickly, there are more of them coming after us." Ezra nodded, gave her a kiss, then began to fly, whizzing past. Elise needed to distract them as she waited for Mercedes's helicopter to catch up.

The enemies opened fire, no doubt not seeing Ezra's bike as the van had caught fire, emitting smoke from the damage Elise had caused. "That is right. Come a little closer." They did, right into her range. She sent a volley of spikes out at each one, not noticing how each shot was weakning her, making it harder to think. She had used up so much energy, the extra Ezra had given her was becoming dangerously low. She could hear a helicopter coming closer, would they make it on time? The enemies began to fall towards the sea and Elise slumped over, sitting on a clean spot, devoid of blood. She held her head, nausea and dizziness becoming overwhelming. "Elise! Jump!" A voice, Mercedes, sounding so very distant. "We'll catch you!" Her mind was blank. Did she jump? The black eagle had no idea.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




Her ears were still ringing. Winter lay against the bottom of the truck, guns pointed at her from all sides. The message was clear, she did nto have to hear them to know what they were saying. If she moved, they would shoot. She waited, watching the dust specks on the bottom of the truck rise and fall. She counted the vibrations and closed her eyes. She needed to stay calm. 1...2...3... boom! Winter slid as the truck suddenly swerved, picking up speed. Now! She flicked a finger behind her, a wave of sound smashing one of them against the wall. They were frozen, caught off guard. Winter struggled, receiving a shock right to her spine. She coughed, blood smearing against the ground, her feeling as though it would beat straight out of her chest. Her body could not handle that much electricity, her organs were fragile. Even as an Heir, her human body was not invincible.

"Don't move!" Her hearing was coming back, the ringing subsiding. "Shut up!" She curled into a ball, they were frozen around her. Winter struggled, attempting to remove the cuffs that kept her hands twisted behind her back. She received another shock, her focus having slipped. She coughed up more blood, receiving another, as though to make a point. Blood dripped from her nose, her mouth filling with the taste of copper. She spit it at one of her captors, mouth full of blood. "Don't move!" Winter was kicked in the stomach. She felt a horrible sensation, pain filling her chest. She was dizzy, her head spinning. Her body twitched, she received another round of electric shocks to the base of her spine. "Stop moving!" Her vision was blurring at the edges.

Winter could not fight back, she was stuck, heavily weakened. She could tell something was wrong with her body in the way she had to heave in order to catch her breath. The armored vehicle jerked, it was picking up speed again. How logn did it take to get to the clock tower? Winter wondered as her head spun. Another steep swerve, Winter slid right into the side of the van, one of them using their foot to nudge her back to the center of their guard circle. She coughed up golden blood all over his boots. "Gross," he muttered, turning away as she groaned in pain. Her chest felt as though it were made of fire, her mouth continuing to fill with blood. She couldn't breathe, there were stars in her vision. The truck doors were suddenly thrown open, the vehicle veering off of the road. Someone lifted her up, her voice familiar. "El," Winter smiled, relieved. She coughed, blood spilling down her rumpled shirt.

She limped with Elise's support to Ezra's bike, her head spinning. "El, I-" she stopped, bending over to cough. "Don't try to speak," Ezra strapped her in right behind him. She sat sandwiched between Ezra and Elise, her head leaning on Ezra's back as he drove, her grip around him weak. "Hang in there," he pat one of her hands. He looked back at Elise, they were being chased. Winter turned, gathering up energy in her hands. "Thunder.... clap," she brought her hands together, a sound that broke the barrier carrying out behind them in combination with Elise's wave. "Winter!" She covered her mouth as she coughed, blood dripping between her fingers. Why was there so much of it? A helicopter flew overhead, Mercedes inside of it. Winter looked up, barely able to see anymore. "Elise!" Ezra caught her, throwing her up to Mercedes, who hauled Elise into the helicopter. "You next," he lifted Winter easily, throwing her.

Mercedes caught Winter by the back of her shirt, taking her inside quickly. Winter's vision reduced to needlepoint, someone called her name, telling her to hang in there. Her eyes closed, her head lolling to the side. "Shit," Ezra was the last to arrive, jumping, losing his bike to the chase. Two men pulled him up into the helicopter, flying them towards safety. "Winter? Winter!" Ezra shook her her, trying to get her to wake up. "Stop that, you're not going to help. Lay her on her side for now, we can't do anything until we get to Oli's base." Ezra nodded, laying Winter carefully on her side. He turned towards Elise, checking for a pulse. "She's dead," he went pale. "Yeah, she's dead dummy." Mercedes flicked him in the forehead. "Right, right, I forgot. My bad," he cradled Elise carefully, her head on his lap.

Oliver's house was just up ahead, the helicopter landing in the field behind it. He ran out to meet them, calm as ever. "Did you get them?" Mercedes nodded, "Yeah, but you might want to ring Julian," she carried Winter out, who had blood dripping from her mouth. "I don't know what they did, but it doesn't look good." Oliver cursed under his breath, "Come on." He pulled out a book from his book case, the entire shelf swinging aside to reveal a staircase, which illuminated as they walked down to the sub levels of the Slither's base. Ezra carried Elise, hoping that she would wake up soon. "Welcome back President Oliver," the Slithers greeted them, bowing. "Creepy," Ezra muttered, their faces concealed by their hooded cloaks. "Where's Julian?"

"Right here Oli," he popped his head out of a room. "Ezra, take Elise to room 208 to recover." Ezra nodded, disappearing down the hall. Mercedes carried Winter's limp body into the room, Julian getting to work immediately. Winter had always had a fragile human body. Ever since she was a child, she was prone to injury more often. It didn't help that several of her organs had literally been exploded by the Doc. Her ghost organs were now failing due to the amount of electricity she had taken in. "Damn," Julian took a listen, not finding anything good. "Clear the room," he ordered. This would set them back, surely, but it was a necessary delay. If Winter died, Arke would bring her wrath down upon the Chrysanthemum. Julian got to work immediately, knowing that they hadn't a minute to spare.

"How is she?" Oliver asked, having been pacing nervously. "Alive," Julian replied, "I can't be sure until she wakes-"

She was standing in the doorway, panting, clutching the blanket against her naked chest. "Winter!" Oliver and Julian, yelled in unison. "Get back in bed, you shouldn't be standing!" They both hauled her back onto the bed, Winter not resisting. "Elise," she whispered, her throat sore. "She's fine, she's with Ezra." Oliver reassured her. Winter nodded, passing out once more. "What time is it?" Julian asked, checking the respiratory machine. "Just past midnight, we have a little less than 24 hours until Arke attacks."

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







Exhaustion. Pain, like fire, seeping through her body. She writhed, whimpering, her head feeling as if she were about to implode, her head a mess. Ezra grimaced when she noticed that she came to. "How are you feeling?" He asked, looking tired himself. He was chewing on some sort of food that appeared to be protein based, a jerky. "I', jus building up my strength, dont' mind me. A man isn't supposed... to do what I just did that much. There's barely any juice left in me, El." HE shook his head bitterly. "I still feel the headache." She was coming back to now, and her body was a wreck. The throbbing stabbing pain between her legs had worsened. How desperate had Ezra gotten? "...Was I close?" The look in his eyes was enough of an answer to the question. "Winter? Is she..." Ezra nodded, a triumphant almost rebellious look in his eye. "We got her. She's here in this base."

The grey steel walls. The snake emblems on the lights. Elise knew what this was. They were back in the Underground City, where some people still lived. Now the Slithers were less seen as a crimina lterrorist organization but rather a group who serve Oliver and do his bidding, like a special branch of Enforcer. Some people set up shop. Others found it more comfortable and safe down here. If Arke were to cause a problem, a new apocalypse, would everyone try to escape to the Underground City again? "Then we should go see the others." She tried to stand but her knees were nto able to withstand her admittedly low weight. "Your old wheelchair is here." Ezra's expression was oddly tender. "Here, sit. I might have been a little too vigorous earlier."

The first thing Elise heard was the call. Oliver and the President were in frantic communications down the hall. "There are too many dead, a few civilians were hurt during the chase. I appreciate that this was an urgent situation, but at least try to preserve life as best as you can." The President chided, urging. "I know, President. But sometimes casualties are unavoidable." Oliver raised his hand at Elise to acknowledge she was awake. He seemed slightly amused to see her back in the wheelchair but it hurt even to sit, it was not as if though this was truly relief either. Oliver pointed her towards a room with a number. Ezra nodded, taking Elise in, knowing what room this was.

Winter looked almost peaceful as she lay, nothing but the steady beeping of the machine informing Elise of her friend'd survival. An old face greeted her, Julian. He was reviewing the numbers, not wanting to leave Winter's side. There was someone else, someone a little more surprising. "I appreciate you helping us." Elise said, glancing a Mercedes with a raised eyebrow. "But why? You spent so long avoiding the others." A hard look was on Mercedes's face as she stood up from Winter's side. "Maybe you two being back reminded me of something." She narrowed her eyes fiercely. "Something I shouldn't have forgotten back then." Was it friendship? Was it teamwork? Whatever it was, Mercedes was not going to divulge further.

Then a voice, just outside as the door opened. "No, Claude. You're living a good life now, you have a daughter. Stay out of it, me and the rest of us can finish the fight." Carter's mop of gelled blond hair entered the room and he broke into a smile. "Hey you guys! When I found out what was happening I rushed over as quickly as I could. Just in case you guys might need me." Ezra snickered, nudging him in the shoulder. "The only thing we need from you is to help me pay for a new bike. Four months of my salary. Four! Help a friend out, Carter!" Elise ignord their joking around and focused on the call CArter was having. It was Claude, he wanted to come join up with them here.

She shook her head. "Focus on your family. They might become targets. Jasmine and Soraya do not know the fight, they are innocent." Claude felt guilty, she knew from the look on his face. "We will be okay. I never lose." It was a lie of course. She had lost many times. Against the Doctor. Against Hades. Would it one day be permanent if she slipped up again? If she ever let herself become complacent? "Then give them hell for me. I'll stay here." Claude's voice was reluctant. "Jasmine's looking forward to another chance to cook for you two." He smiled then. "I don't know how you're still on Earth, El, but I'm glad you're there." It was a miracle, born of Ezra's lust and impatience, that they discovered this. Or more accurately, Carter did.

What sorts of weird things went through Carter's head anyways?

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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




"We're being watched," Zed said softly as she lay her head against his chest. "I know," she replied, his kisses grazing her neck. "I miss you," he was breathless. "I miss you too," she leaned up to give him a peck on the jaw. "I want to come home soon," the longer Winter stayed in the Chrysanthemum, the more she realized why she had left in the first place. It wasn't a good place, at least not for her. Sure, her friends were fine, but the rest? They had... never liked her. "You will be home soon and soon after that, we will be married." He lay back in the grass, Winter falling on top of him. She giggled as they became a tangle of limbs. "Above all else, I want you to be happy." He took her hands in his, "for us to be happy together." Winter lay her head against his chest once more, his arms warm around her.

"Do you really think this plan is going to work?" She whispered, fearful. "Of course it's going to work and then we will never have to worry about Arke again." He began to fade, the garden disappearing. "We've run out of time," he grabbed her in his arms, their kiss full of longing. After all, they had not been this far apart in a year. He faded into dust, leaving Winter with the memory of his warmth and his hands on her skin. She sighed longingly, the dream scape beginning to change now that Zed was gone. She was sitting in the kitchen of her old home, watching her Grandmother cook. It smelled wonderful, the memory of it bringing a smile to her face. A smaller Winter ran in through the door, bearing two scraped knees and the widest grin she had ever seen. When had she forgotten how to smile like that?

"Winter, my goodness! My little Winnie, what mischief did you get yourself into?" Winter held two thumbs up. "I caught a chicken!" She proudly held out two eggs, "and I got these!" Her Grandmother laughed, "and those knees. Oh, come sit here, at the table. I'll go get you a band aid." Little Winter nodded, taking a seat at the table. "You look familiar," she said, big Winter surprised that she could see her. "That's because I'm you," she said softly. Winter gave herself a long, hard inspection. "Hey, how come your chest is flat! I've been eating all of these vegetables!" Big Winter's cheeks turned bright red in response. "Well, vegetables are useless! Besides, there are more important foods on the plate, like meat." The two looked away at each other in a huff.

Winter suddenly began to tear up, looking at her smaller self. She was so innocent, so pure. She did not deserve what was going to happen to her. "What's wrong?" Little Winter asked, pushing a plate of their Grandmother's cookies towards her. "Things are just... so hard and complicated. I just wish this peace could have lasted forever." Little Winter slid off of her seat and ran to her side, placing a hand on her arm. "Hey, things get hard sometimes," she said softly. "But that doesn't mean it'll be hard forever." She grinned, "it's like Grandpa always says. After every rain storm, there's a rainbow."


Winter groaned as she opened her eyes slowly, the light far too bright. She had no idea where she was, but the room was full of people, all familiar. Winter closed one eye, squinting against the light. "You're awake!" Julian exclaimed brightly. She nodded, coughing. "Don't move around too much, your heart and lungs took a great deal of damage there kid." She was not a kid anymore. "I'm... fine," she felt like a fish on dry land. Winter coughed, rolling onto her side, blood dripping from her mouth. It stained the sheets, gold in color. "Winter, lay back," Oliver demanded of her, pushing a hand against her shoulder until she was lying once more. She hadn't even realized she had sat up. "I... just... need... to...go...back-" Carter shushed her, using a piece of tissue to wipe up the blood that leaked from the side of her mouth. If she could return to Olympia, the healers could fix her.

They could not fight Arke, not without Winter. They would not win.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







The blood of an Heir was in this room. Winter's blood, gold. Julian did not seem surprised by any of this. Despite Winter's strange physiology as an Heir Julian seemed perfectly comfortable in treating her and keeping her alive. "How do you know this stuff?" Ezra asked, giving the doctor a curious glance. Julian looked down at Winter, care in his eyes. "I had practice." He said simply. He must have worked hard to keep Winter's body safe and secure during the time she had been passed out. For a year? Two years? Until the body was stolen away by the Vassals of Snow, according to Mercy's report. Earlier when it was just Mercy and Julian the military girl had been looking at Winter tenderly, like you would to someone you thought of as a close friend. Now she was standing with her arms crossed by the far wall, trying to look aloof.

Elise was smarter than that of course, she knew better. Mercy was trying to act distant again like she had been these past two years, but the black eagle knew that she was closer to how she was two years ago, back when she was a friend now than the cold distant soldier she wanted to pretend to be. Fighting alongside them again took her back. "Do not be a stranger." Elise said quietly to Mercedes, feeling an odd affinity to her. The black eagle herself had a bad habit of distancing herself from those she cared for. "Even after we leave. The others would love to call you a friend." Mercedes turned away. "Look, she's waking." She murmured, changing the subject. Winter was in rough shape, having difficulty speaking. Nothing the healers in Olympia could not fix. If they could get there.

"We can." Elise said, updating Winter on her plan that she made. "I found the Doctor's old portal machine. It has the power to break through Arke's seal using brute force. We can use that to make an opening." She toughed Winter's hand as a show of support. "El transported it to my place for now." Ezra explained with a lazy smile, his elbow on the handle of the wheelchair. "The military engineers are using her instructions to repair it as we sit around here." Once it was ready they would send contact Oliver and get them ready for the next phase of the fight: sending Elise and Winter into the boundary. "And obviously, I'll be joining you guys into the Boundary to help fight." Elise stared at him, shaking her head. "No." She said quickly. "Of course not. You do not have your powers anymore. None of you do."

There was almost a dangerous light in Ezra's eyes. Even Carter was smiling as if he planned to do the same. "Yeah, we don't care. We aren't letting you two get all the fun parts." Carter stretched his arms behind his head. "One last fight for our team. Oliver planned on coming too. He's full of new experimental guns to try out." Elise rolled her eyes. "Allow me to look them over before using them." She was probably qualified to keep up with the R&D department, at least on a basic level. "I appreciate that we are not in this fight alone like last time." Her voice was calm but rigid, her ruby eyes fierce like knives. "But it would be safest for Winter and I to fight this last one alone." The others would die. They might face even worse fates than deaths. "You should all live long peaceful lives on Earth that we did not get a chance to enjoy."

There was an awkward silence then until the door opened. It was Oliver, with a slight frown on his face. "We have some people in the waiting room. They're dressed like cultists in white." Mercedes stiffened, her eyes widening. Oliver's expression darkened. "They call themselves the Vassals of Snow, and they said that they worship you, Winter." He played a recording on his holo of him interviewing the faithful. There were three and they stood together as they addressed Oliver and his masked Slithers. "We will join the fight to protect Her." They said in unison. "We will not let Arke take Her from us." Elise blinked, shifting her position to try and not be in pain. "Good." She said quietly. "Bodies we can use as sacrificial lambs without guilt." If they wanted to help fight and die, she had no reason to refuse. "I don't trust them. They stole her body. For all we know, they're working for Arke right now." Mercedes glowered. "Execute them. It's too dangerous to keep them around."

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




"I don't care," Ezra's hands balled into fists. "I don't care if I could die, we're not going to let you two fight this alone. Not again, not if it means we might lose you both forever." His hands were shaking, his expression no longer joking. Winter knew Elise's opinion already. "It's... fine," she coughed, Julian shushing her. "I'm coming too," Carter dabbed at the side of her mouth with a tissue once more, Winter looking up at him gratefully. Her limbs felt like led, far too heavy to lift. "Don't worry about it," he pat her head, the gesture a familiar comfort. "I'm coming too," Mercedes said suddenly. "I sat out in the last fight, I'm not going to sit by again." They all wanted to come, to fight with them. In truth, it was a relief to think that she would not have to fight against Arke without them. After all, Winter was strong against humans, but she was still the weakest Heir. Even against humans, a bit of electricity had been enough to take her out and mess up her body.

Oliver reentered the room, his holo phone showing them a video of the Vassals of Snow. It was normal for people to worship an Heir, some picked an Heir that they particularly identified with. It was not, however, normal to worship a vassal. Winter felt an uneasy, knowing that they had kidnapped her while she was asleep. No doubt, people like that would do it again. Elise thought that they could make sacrificial lambs, but Mercedes wanted to slaughter them outright. She exchanged glances with Oliver, the two of them seeming to think the same thing. "Even if they have volunteered to fight with us, they are still citizens of the Chrysanthemum and as such, deserve to be treated with the same amount of respect as everyone else. I won't just sacrifice them because they volunteered to fight." Winter nodded in agreement. What kind of Heir would she be if she didn't at least pretend to protect them?

"Sorry... El... can't... plan," she wanted to apologize for not being able to make plans with her. She wanted to explain that she had tried to call her name when things had first been going down, but just the apology had taken the wind out of her. "Winter, stop talking." Julian said, a bit more insistent this time. She nodded, her head spinning. Part of her wanted to go right back to sleep, but the other knew that it was important for her to stay awake. "We'll take care of the plans," Oliver reassured her. "You just sit back and let us carry you on our shoulders this time." She felt odd relying on others. It had been instilled in her by the Doc, that she should never rely on anyone else. That she should never trust anyone else. All of the damage he had done, Winter was still working towards undoing.

She could trust other people, albeit not as easily as when she was a child. Winter thought back to her dream, to her younger self. She had been strong for so long, she realized, that she did not know how to let go of that strength. She felt that she had needed to remain strong, or else she might let down everyone around her. So many expectations had been placed on her. She was only a child, a scared, lonely child that needed a friend. Instead, the adults around her had manipulated her. She was never allowed to have friends, everything she did had to be watched like a hawk. Even her phone and school tablet had been monitored. She never got to finish high school, but that didn't matter. She didn't need that sort of education in Olympia.

Winter looked around at the room full of people that rallied around her. That protected her, even when she had failed them. Even after she had left them without so much as saying goodbye. She had friends now, she had a fiancee now. Everything that the Doc had tried to stop her from getting, she had obtained. Now, she would fight for her freedom again. This time, against possibly the greatest foe she had ever gone up against, but she wasn't going to do it alone.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







Winter was barely able to speak. Julian was right, they needed her to heal. Still, no one made a move to leave the room to let her rest. They wanted Winter to feel a part of the discussion, they wanted to be open with her. She still had problems trusting people after all, but Elise was hoping to work on that little by little. It almost felt like the old days, though to Elise, barely months ago in her memory's timeline they were fighting the Chrysanthem and the Doctor and the President. She did not get a year of peace like Winter, or two years like the rest. In a way the black eagle felt as if she was now behind the others, making up for lost time, lost experience. Mercedes and Oliver and Ezra especially have become more competent. More able.

Yet still she did not want to risk them. Did not want to lose them. They trampled on her wishes, willing to put themselves into the crossfire to help and support them. Winter's breathing relaxed as everyone stated their intentions. Was she relieved to know that they were insisting on coming? "I will do my best to keep you all alive." Elise said softly, narrowing her eyes to slits. "...But I am not very strong. Winter is a weak Heir and she is stronger than me." Oliver looked at her then, as if trying to solve a puzzle. "How are you an Heir?" He asked. "Kazan told me Heirs could not exist on this plane. Only Winter is an exception because she returned to her mortal body. But your body was cremated a long time ago." Ezra had a funny grin on his face and Elise turned her head to look the other way, almost as if ashamed.

"Because I am not." If they were going to be allies, she was going to have to learn to be honest. "I am only a Servant of the Heir of Mercy, Kore." There was a pause and then Ezra squeezed her shoulder, a little too hurt, hitting one of the bruises he left on her from last night. "Hah." Mercedes giggled, almost like the happy high schooler she once was. "Just like you to string us along like that. Some things never change, Elise." Winter, even in her barely conscious state, did more damage to the armored vans then Elise was ever capable of. Her thunder blast was far more powerful than her little mist spikes.

Oliver was once again their leader and he made the decision on the Vassals of Snow. "We'll give them training like any other soldier. They can help protect this bunker from enemies." This was his final answer and the others would have to obey. It was almost as if he was the President himself, with the tone of authority in his voice. That was silly of course, the President was a woman after all. "Who knows? Maybe they'll end up good people." Carter's tone was relaxed again. "That would be nice." They abducted Winter once before. "We'll try and keep her away from Winter though. They won't get a chance to steal you away again." Mercedes put her foot down on that line and she would stick to it.

Then there was a strange sound. Oliver reached for his holo, grimacing. "Hacking. Someone is jacking in." Elise explained, having studied holotechnology intensively when she was younger. A voice, distorted and warbled. "We have Serenity, your Vassal friend." She was strapped to a chair, and two others were holding guns to her head in the darkness. "Serenity!" Mercedes shouted suddenly, a fire rising in her eyes. "Give us Winter. Or this girl will die." Mercedes was struggling as the speaker made his threats. Elise eyed Oliver and he nodded, already organizing a team to find the location they were holding her in. "You have two hours. Abandon Winter, or the Chrysanthemum will be destroyed by another apocalypse."

As he spoke he did not notice as Serenity wiggled out of the ropes, grabbed a gun and threw it at one of the men. She then kicked the chair, tripping the other one, then as the speaker turned Mercedes had him in a judo throw, breaking his back on the ground. "I'll send you guys the address!" She looked bruised and battered, but definitely not beaten. "Come get me, I want to help too!" Mercedes was already halfway out the door, as was Ezra. Neither Elise nor Winter were in any condition to help, but some of their best were outfitting themselves already. "Help is on the way." Oliver assured her. "Hide and stay safe, we're coming."

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




Winter was falling back to sleep, barely conscious as it was. "El," she murmured, drifting off, her chest heaving as she continued to struggle to breathe. Julian adjusted the oxygen settings on the respirator, making it easier for her. She fell back to sleep, overcome by exhaustion. Winter was glad that Elise had told the truth, there were less secrets between them now. While the others suited up to bring Serenity back, Winter was fighting her own, internal battle. She drifted in and out of sleep, wondering if Elise would be alright, as she looked as though she was in a considerable amount of pain. She opened her mouth as though to say something before thinking better of it, knowing that Julian would scold her. Instead, her eyes drifted shut once more and she fell back to sleep, this time a bit deeper. Hopefully the others would rescue Serenity and return without a scratch on them.

This was not the garden, Winter realized. There was no Zed waiting for her. Instead, she was in a magnificent bedroom, wearing chains made of gold. She bolted upright, able to leave the bed but only go so far as the middle of the room. She could not near the door or any of the tall windows. This was her parent's home, she realized, Zeus's home. "Oh, you're finally awake. We meet at last, Winter Matsuri." A blonde haired woman strolled inside, dressed in a gown that shifted colors as she walked. She had rainbow eyes that were keen and cat-like. She took a seat on the couch that was just out of Winter's reach. "Arke," Winter did not need an introduction to know who this woman was. "That's me," she grinned, her face pinched, as though the smile was unnatural. "And I've waited ever so long for us to finally get a chance to talk."

"Why are you doing this?" Winter asked, tugging on the chains. "Isn't it obvious? I want everything Zeus has. He took everything from me, so I decided to return the favor. I never knew Zeus had a daughter, not until word began to spread like wildfire." She rose, coming closer. She took Winter's face in her hands, staring into her eyes. "And my, what a spectacle you are. I think I shall keep you," she tapped Winter's nose with a finger. "I'm not just some dog you can pass ownership around to." She growled, lashing out, but Arke stepped just out of reach. "Tempermental, we'll have to correct that." She conjured a ball of light in her hand. The former Heir of Rainbows, what was she the Heir of now? Winter wasn't sure.

"I'm sure your fiancee will agree with me, no one likes a lady with a temper." Winter took a step back, "Oh don't worry! I haven't hurt him... yet. He's how I found you, after all." Winter tugged on the chains again. "Where is he?" She growled. The light in Arke's hands shifted, Zed. He was in what looked like a jail, chains holding him just off of the ground. "If you aren't careful, I might do to him what I did to Iris." She motioned with her thumb, dragging it slowly across her neck. Winter took a step back again. "You killed her?" She whispered in horror. Sure, Winter and Iris hadn't always seen eye to eye, but Winter would never wish for her to die. "Of course I killed her! I wanted what she had and she had my Zeus-y-poo." Arke grabbed Winter's face once more. "Don't worry Winnie, we're going to make a great little family. The picture of perfection." She released Winter once more, Winter sinking to the ground.

She placed her hands over Winter's mouth. "Children are meant to be seen and not heard."


Winter awoke in great amounts of pain. She looked at her wrists, as though to confirm that she was not there. No, she was in the Slither's Base. Julian looked at her, surprised. "Sorry, no pain killers. You know your liver can't take it," she nodded. "-" she squeaked, unable to speak. Winter's eyes widened as she realized what Arke had done. She had taken her voice hostage. "Your oxygen is dipping again, try to calm down."

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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







With the others out on the excursion to go and save Serenity, Elise remained in her wheelchair, waiting for them to come back. "We'll be back, El, so wait here for us. Recover your strength." She could not even walk because of the throbbing pain. "Yes, I wonder whose fault this is." She muttered crossly, narrowing her eyes unhappily. Ezra stuck his tongue out at her and followed the others, equipped with some new weapons made by Oliver's team. "Here." Julian gave her a pillow for her neck. "A neckrest would be good for the moment." He placed it around her shoulders, long and specially shaped. "Thank you." Winter had fallen asleep, dozing patiently. "Oliver gave you permission to access. Here's a holo for you to use in the meantime." Schematics, details for the new experimental weapons.

She could bide her time with this in the meantime. A small grenade to paralyze enemies, tiny and nearly invisible. Guns that fired from a battery. Formerly laser weapons needed a battery to use, emitting a charge towards the enemies. They overheated easily, so they needed to be large - too heavy for a human to handle. "I see. So this is more compact..." It was smaller now, made weaker than the mounted weapons but more portable. It could melt through normal armor made to repel and defend against ballistics and bullets. There was even an as-of-yet unreleased model of weapon, extremely large for vehicle mounts, a magnetic weapon that could shoot out electric-charged bolts. A railgun. "Too bad this is not ready for manufacturing yet..." Elise played with the numbers to try and stabilize the battery charges for the laser weapon, to make it easier for them to use without risk of overheating.

"Sorry, no painkillers. You know your liver can't take it." Julian said, and Elise looked over, snapping out of her stupor. She had spent the last few hours working on the holo Julian had given her. "Winter? Good evening." She gave her a little smile, feeling a little bit better than before. Silence. Winter looked to be in pain, she opened her mouth silently. Something seemed to be wrong. Why was Winter panicking? "Is it pain?" She narrowed her eyes, prodding Winter's foot through the sheets. No sound. This was worrisome. "Julian, her voice is gone. She is mute." As an Heir, Winter could access the Boundary, or something close to it. "...Winter, was it Arke?"

Letting her answer, she handed the holo over to Winter. "You remember how to use one of these, at least." This would let her communicate with others for now, or at least once she had enough strength in her arms and fingers to be able to use it. There were voices down in the halls. A slightly banged up Serenity was carried into the room, the other former Vassals returning triumphantly. "We have Serenity! We're back!" Elise quickly scanned them as they entered the room, making noise. A few scratches, bruises, Serenity was smiling despite blood on her forehead. A bullet graze? "Winter seems unable to speak, and Elise is overworking herself." Julian explained. "Welcome back. Let me examine you all, but be quiet for the patients."

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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




Winter looked up at Julian, trying to explain. The most she could make were squeaking sounds, but it sounded more as though she was gasping for air. Elise seemed to figure it out quickly, pinching the bottom of Winter's foot. She jumped in pain, unable to so much as yelp. "Elise! Don't do that! Winter shouldn't be moving around," Julian scolded. Winter nodded as Elise drew her conclusion, Arke had taken her voice. How? Winter didn't know. Elise handed her the holo, which for now, would allow Winter to communicate with them. She was scared, admittedly. Arke was strong, much stronger than Winter had originally anticipated. What if they couldn't fight her? What if they all died trying? Winter did not want her friends to die. Winter did not want them to come to the Boundary, only to be killed. She had been the one to say it was a good idea. Their death would be on her hands. Winter did not think that she could live with that kind of guilt.

The door burst open, Julian shushing them as Serenity entered. She looked a bit banged up, but no worse for wear. How long had Winter been asleep? How much time had they lost? Arke would unleash a wave of monsters on them if they didn't act soon. She glanced at the edge of the holo screen. It was 5 AM, none of them had gotten any rest last night. Well, except Winter who had been passed out for the last... who knows how long. "-" she managed to squeak. Julian updated them on the situation, Oliver looking at Winter in concern. "What happened?" He asked, his brow furrowing. "Elise, did something go down while we were gone?" The base should have been secure, Oliver was probably wondering. Arke, Winter typed slowly. Every little move made her feel out of breath.

"Okay, that's enough of that," Julian took the holo pad from her. "You should be resting, use this opportunity to to heal." He handed the holo pad back to Elise and went to take a look at Serenity, who seemed happy despite the fact that she was bruised and banged up. Winter lay back in bed, feeling tired again. She was afraid of falling back to sleep. Arke had Zed and Zeus now, the two strongest Heirs had fallen to her. She had killed Iris, Winter's step mother. Suddenly Winter felt sick. She gestured to Oliver, who seemed to understand and brought a bucket for her. She pulled the oxygen mask off of her face, heaving. Carter leaned over to dab at her mouth, gold dripping down it again. She pulled the oxygen mask back on, gasping for air by the time she was done. It was awful, the only other time she had felt this bad was between transplants, waiting for the organs being grown in a lab to be fully developed.

"How long until the portal is ready?" Carter asked, snacking on beef jerky that Ezra shared with him. Why had they all congregated in here when there was a perfectly good meeting room right down the hall? "There, you're good to go." He pat Serenity's arm, having bandaged her shoulder. "Elise, that's your department." Oliver directed the question to her, "How long until we're set for take off?" Winter needed to get to the Healers as soon as possible if she wanted to stand a fighting chance against Arke. She closed her eyes, too scared to fall back to sleep, but too tired to stay awake. What was she to do? Someone pat her head. She opened her eyes to squint up at Carter, who seemed to have sense her unease.

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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







There was no time to sit around and wait. Winter was in dire straights, her voice gone and her internals in a mess, if the constant regurgitation of blood was of any indication. How much longer did they have? "Oliver... I must go and bring the Doctor's portal here." It was still in Ezra's flat, but it was not safe to bring Winter out there again. Ezra stiffened suddenly, his hand tightening on the handles. "No, that's too dangerous. We can have the engineers bring it here." He glowered, shaking his head. Elise shot him a withering look, ruby eyes a sharp glare, like a hawk's fierce stare. "You do not need to be overprotective of me." Her tone was harsh, piercing Ezra's words like a wet cloth. "I can move in and out faster than anyone here because of my abilities."

She could travel through the mist to the ball she left at Ezra's house. As long as she also deposited a ball here at the Slither's base, she could go back and forth the same way a normal person could go between rooms using a door. "I approve of it. As long as you're fast, you'll be fine. We have our engineers and a squadron of soldiers on standby if anything were to happen." Oliver said, dismissing Ezra's concerns. "The truth is, the faster we can get going, the better chance we'll have against Arke." He had a bit of a smile, reaching for his holo. "There's still a few things we need to do before we go. Serenity, why don't you and Carter rest up with Winter for now? You two took a few hits in the last fight." He motioned for Ezra and Elise and Mercedes to follow him out of the room to let the others have a chance to recuperate. "Hey, I barely got hurt, I'm fine!" Carter countered, crossing his arms. "One of the rebels hit you on the head with his rifle, you may have a concussion." Mercedes retorted, stepping out of the room.

Oliver lead them to another room then, where some of the engineers had something to show for their work. "Here we have special bullets. Julian gave us Winter's blood that was collected, and we were able to make a new weapon." Strange, almost gold bullets, capable to be loaded into a handgun. This was not going to work with the plasma guns, so they would need to bring conventional arms as well. "Is this an anti-Heir weapon?" She asked pointedly, guessing what reason there would be for something like this. Would Winter approve of this? She could only wonder. "Yes. This can do a lot of damage to Heirs, if the math is correct. But we can't take too much blood from Winter, so we only have enough bullets for each of us to shoot once." Oliver explained, showing them an array of small sidearms, looking very inconspicuous. Black and little, easily concealed. "We use this on Arke, and anyone else we have to. This is the equalizer." There were four guns and Oliver handed one to each of them.

"Well, I'll make use of this." Mercedes said, pocketing it with a smile. Oliver's choice made sense - those present here were the best shots. They were the ones he could best trust to not waste the specially made bullets. "When the time comes, we need to shoot them all at once at Arke. As long as we all land our shots, it should be enough to weaken her for Elise to finish the job." So Elise was going to be given the job of executing Arke. "Winter would do it better." If possible, it would be most symbolic for Winter to be the one to bring an end to things. It would also prove to the residents that Winter was just as capable and worthy as Zed to take over Iris's role as the female ruler of Olympia. "You chose right, Oliver." Ezra bore an arrogant grin, almost as if he had de-aged a few years back to his teenaged self. "There's no group better at the task." Elise quietly shifted her weight, then put her gun in a pocket on the inside lining of her cloak, silently thanking Claude for the foresight of including this in the design.

The next few hours passed by quickly. Elise went quickly to Ezra's flat after leaving behind a mist ball at the Underground City. She then moved the entirety of the Doctor's Portal Bridge from his flat to her home, after Oliver testified her identity to the soldiers on guard at the site. Then she worked tirelessly with Carter and Ezra offering her drinks to help the engineers finish repairing the device, who followed her every word as if they were gospel. Finally, with a loud hum, and with vibrations rocking the walls of the secured room near the bottom of the Underground City, the portal opened. It shattered the rainbow seal, leaving a wide open hole to traverse through. "Three hours left until Arke sends the apocalypse." Elise said quietly, looking solemnly at the entrance to the Boundary. "Let's go. You needed to get to the Healers in Olympia, didn't you?" Serenity was standing near Winter, supporting her as best as she could. Elise was tired - she had been working on the Portal Bridge so Ezra never had a chance to refill her life energy from the battle. Hopefully she would last until the end. "Looks just like that time." Ezra's voice was oddly quiet. No doubt he was remembering being drugged into incapacitation and being pushed through to the other side.

"This time your physical bodies are going through. Elise changed the settings. You'll be bringing all of your gear and clothes on you. Any injuries you take are very real, so be careful." Julian was seeing them off, looking weary. The President was present as well, she had arrived a few hours ago with an armed guard. "Fight well for the Chrysanthemum." She gave them a salute. "And make it back safely. Winter, Elise, you two are safe to return whenever you want to. We'll welcome you both with open arms." Elise was not sure she ever would. She needed to be left in the past. She did not want Ezra to have to grieve for her a second time. "Are we ready? Then let's go." Oliver stepped through first, determination in every step.

....

Elise had set up the Portal Bridge to take them to the Underworld where she would be able to group up with Hades and Kore and help retake Olympia with their assistance. "Hades and Kore are trustworthy. They will fight with..." She blinked, looking around. The Sentinal Tower was empty. It smelled of golden ichor, fresh. What happened? "Didn't you say we were going to meet up with your people here, Elise?" Oliver's voice was sharp as he gripped her shoulder. She nodded, mouth in a firm line. "Let us keep searching." Her plan revolved around coordinating with them as allies. But after scouring the entire tower, one thing became evident. There was a struggle. There was blood everywhere.

"There's only one answer." Mercedes dusted her hands, eyes narrowed. "Arke got here first, expecting Elise to try this." Serenity looked over at the black eagle, a worried look in her eyes. "What's the plan now?" She asked. "There were supposed to be Healers here too, weren't there?" Elise did not know. She had no plan. She had no idea what to do next. But she knew the others were counting on her. They trusted her to be the one to plot their way to victory, along the bright clear line. "First, Winter. Does the holo still work here? Can you still communicate with us?" She pointed towards a wall and had Ezra push her over, grabbing at a book. "If not, you can write using this." She dug around the shelves for a quill and ink to write with.

"El, take a look." Oliver pointed to the window. They were on the top floor of the Sentinel Tower. To the north, across the horizon, they could see it. Olympia was bright, surrounded by what looked like a cage made of rainbow bars. It was a beacon. It was a challenge. "She is daring us to try. She knows we are here." She had to think, she had to stay ahead. Still, there was one idea she was desperately trying to avoid. One idea she did not want to resort to. "Winter. If you need to be able to fight... you can let me kill you." Her words were hard, reluctant. She did not want to say it. Everyone was painfully silent as they listened to her every syllable. "It will only be your physical body. As Kore's Servant, I can help transition your soul to that of a full Heir." The other Heirs did not have bodies that worked on the Near Shore. As long as she did this carefully, Winter would be free of the trappings and burdens of the physical form, and will be pure here on the Boundary, at full strength.

But she would never be able to return to Earth again.

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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




Carter sat with her while Serenity napped. He held one of her hands in his own, the room oddly quiet aside from the beeping of the respirator. Even if Julian tried, he could not help Winter anymore than he already had. She was losing blood, no doubt internally, from the way she kept coughing it up. "It's gonna be alright," Carter tried to soothe, rubbing his thumb over the back of her hand. If she had stayed on earth, would she have ended up with Carter... or Oliver? Winter wasn't sure. She knew both of them had been pinning for her. Maybe her soul mate had never been on earth after all, but waiting for her in the Boundary. She had prefered living there to earth anyhow. Earth had always been... scaring for her. She had only a handful of good memories. The short time she had spent in the Boundary had given her many more.

"You can go to sleep if you want to, I'll be right here." Winter shook her head. She used her finger to write a word in his palm. "Afraid? You're afraid to fall asleep?" She nodded. "Well then, I'll guard your dreams!" He posed as though he were a faithful night. Winter coughed, feigning a weak smile. "Just rest," she nodded, closing her eyes and falling back to sleep. He sat beside her, just like he promised, not letting go of her hand. Every so often, he wiped the spot beside her mouth that dribbled with blood. Winter awoke when the others returned, Elise's new and improved portal machine ready. "Time to go," Serenity helped her dress into a shirt that was far too big on her and Ezra lifted her. They were all dressed in impressive combat gear while she was wearing an oversized tee shirt and hospital socks. Some Heir she was.

"This is it," they walked through the portal. Winter could feel the change immediately. She closed her eyes as her head spun, landing in the sentinal tower. This was Elise's home? She looked around, coughing violently. Blood spattered on Ezra's shirt. She looked up apollogetically. He shook his head, "don't worry about it." She nodded, leaning her head against his chest. Their plans went south almost immediately. There was a golden cage surrounding Olympia, no one could get in or out. "Um, guys-" Ezra started, gesturing. Winter was glowing. She was being summoned, a ritual to summon an Heir that had official business inside of Olympia from anywhere in the Boundary. Winter looked between them, feeling panicked. She could not stop it, even if she had access to her full power.

Elise could kill her, but would it stop the summons? Winter didn't know. She didn't know if she was ready to die, if she was ready to give up earth completely. She spent too long thinking and before she knew it, she was gone. "Dammit!" She heard Ezra yell before disappearing completely. Winter closed her eyes, her head throbbing. She felt sick to her stomach. "Winter!" Zed's voice yelled as she reappeared somewhere new. Within the throne room. Her head snapped up, the little action making her cough, blood spattering on the ground. "Winter!" Chains rattled as he attempted to run to her, stopping just a few inches short from the length. "Well, well." Arke's heels clicked on the marble ground. "It seems you brought an entire party with you Ms. Winter," there was blood dripping from the side of her mouth. She attempted to push herself up, her elbows trembling.

"Did you really think a ragtag group of former vassals and one of the weakest Heir's in Olympia could kill me?" She grabbed Winter by the hair, pulling her up off of the ground. "Stop it!" Zed yelled, "let her go!" She turned towards him, a keen smile on her face. "Fine," she released Winter, allowing her to drop to the ground. She vomitted blood at Arke's feet. "You-" Arke turned around, pointing to a guard standing at the door. "Gather the healers. I'm not going to let my wonderful daughter die yet." She turned towards another guard, "And you, round up the rifraf waiting in that tower." Winter was pulled up by one of the guards and dragged out of the throne room. "Winter!" Zed yelled after her, she looked up at him, giving him a smile, hoping that he could tell what she was trying to say.

The healing pool was warm as the water washed over her, glowing. She could feel the pain in her chest melt away, her physical body healed. The water bubbled around her, the bubbling only stopping once the pain had completely gone. She rose to the surface, a healer handing her a towel. "Lady Winter, how are you feeling?" She asked, before realizing. "Oh, right. Nevermind." Winter took the towel, wrapping it around herself. Elise had left a mistball in Zed's home. If she could transport everyone there, Winter might be able to figure out a way to meet them. Did Elise remember that she had left a mist ball there so she could transport between the Underworld and Winter's home?

She was escorted back to Zeus's home, which was where Arke had made herself at home. She was locked in the room she had seen in her dream, where Arke had taken her voice away. "Oh, you're back." She was waiting there for her. Winter stiffened, the aura of power coming off of her intimidating. "Don't worry, I didn't harm a hair on your Zed-y-poo's head, just like I promised." She stroked Winter's hair, who was wearing a bathrobe given to her by the Healer's. "I'm rounding up your friends as we speak too. Thank you for bringing them to me, Winter." Winter jerked away from her, but Arke grabbed her face. "Iris was right, you really aren't Heir material. I could demote you back to a human-" Winter's eyes widened in fear. "But I won't. We'll make an Heir out of you yet." She reached up, Arke smiling as Winter flicked her in the forehead. Arke's expression changed as she was flung across the room.

"You little b*tch!" She rose, her nose bleeding, but seeming otherwise unaffected. Winter placed her hands out, Arke moving in a blur. She grabbed both of Winter's hands, pulling them behind her. She let out a silent cry of pain, falling to her knees as Arke struck her in the back of the head. "Weak! You are far too weak!" She grabbed Winter's head once more, placing her hands over her eyes. "And since you decided to act out, you're going to be punished. Bad children get grounded." The light began to fade from her eyes as her vision was taken. Winter reached out, crying out silently, panicked. First her voice, now her sight. She fell to her knees, reaching out in front of her, grabbing Arke's foot. "You can have it back when you learn to behave." She kicked her foot away, the door slamming shut behind her with the resounding click of a lock.

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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







It happened again. Over and over again, Winter would end up in a position of needing rescue. Elise sighed, glad for one thing. Their enemies were nothing if not predictable. In the end it was all the same - they had delivered Winter right to Arke's doorstep. Her legs did not work, her body had reverted to a state similar to her last moment of life. A poisoned spine, with useless unfeeling legs. "Dammit, she outplayed us at every turn." Oliver grit his teeth. They were all stunned. What could they do at this point? There was nothing left that was available to them. At first she felt despair. "What do we do, El? Please tell me you have a plan." They were all counting on her. They were all relying that she would be the one to find a miracle solution to save Winter, save Olympia, and take down Arke once and for all.

Well, she had one. But they were not going to like it. "Arke knows we are here. She would not let loose ends live." She explained quickly, wishing that her legs would work properly. They hung onto every word like desperate children wanting their mother. "Then we have to fight back." Oliver declared, hardening his voice to try to dispell the fear, the sadness. "We can't save Winter if we're dead." Elise nodded, keeping her face stony and expressionless. She had to be the perfect actress. This time, not even Ezra was allowed to see through the facade. From the window they already saw it - Servants were attacking the base of the Sentinel Tower, making their move against them. All sorts of creatures, with rainbow collars on their throats. Enslaved, controlled. Arke's little puppets were climbing the tower, flooding everything.

"They're coming. Everyone, get in position. We have to defend this tower before trying anything for Olympia." Oliver ordered, Ezra of course not removing his hands from the handles of the wheelchair. They were all ready for battle. "These are Servants. They will be as strong as me, but not as experienced with combat." The Boundary was usually a place where Servants did not have to fight. They would not know the full extent of their powers, not like how Elise did. Furthermore, they were all enslaved. Like this, they were not capable of higher level strategy and planning. "As long as we are smart, we will be able to defeat them." Her cold confidence was enough to relax the others. Serenty was almost cheerful again, wiping her tears away. "Then let's do this!" She declared, in a rallying cry. "You never change, always the cheerleader." Mercedes shook her head, guns all ready to strike.

Could they win? Elise did not know. And she was not going to take the chance. As the Servants broke in, of varying shapes and features and limbs, the black eagle revealed her true colors. "Kore!" She cried, taking a gamble. In rainbow chains, the Heir of Mercy appeared. The chains faded away, melting, almost as if they could not work outside of Olympa. "You figured it out! My cute little Servant." Kore looked almost beautiful, starved and bruised and badly beaten. Elise nodded, accepting the hug. Even the attacking Servants were stunned with her arrival. Kore must have placed a mist ball inside of her the same way she did for Winter. "This is my Tower. I will have all you Servants leave immediately." Kore waved her arm, a wave of power knocking the enemies back. And those behind began to cower, while others charged forward, their bodies moving against their will.

One. Two. Three. And her own, four. The others, distracted by Kore's arrival, lost their guns and Elise pocketed each one. The bright clear line from point A to point B. The fastest and most efficient method to save the day was clear in her mind. It was the only option available to her, and the only one Arke would not anticipate. "See you later." Elise whispered and sent herself to Zed's palace, to what was once the storage room in Olympia. She could not bring the others with her, but she only needed their guns, her wits, and her bravery. Or was it recklessness? Coughing, she fell to her knees, feeling pain surge through them. She could walk again. She was mobile once more. The black eagle took a moment to steady herself, realizing the reality of the situation. She was alone, in a city full of enemies. But perhaps this desperation was where she was at her strongest.

Around the room was an assortment of devices. A myriad of strange objects. "Just in case you'll need them when you come home." Written on each of the tools and contraptions, one letter at a time per object. There were many - but she would not need each one. "Svarog." Elise could only hope the friendly bull was still alive. No doubt he too, tried to fight back. Stuffing a handful of the smaller devices into the pockets lining her cloak, she held one last device in her hand. Based on the design, she had an idea about what this did. And later, when she limped out onto the streets, unseen by any of the patrolling Servants, Elise knew it worked. She was now invisible as she held the hook-shaped rod. With a pained sigh, the black eagle walked alone to what was once Zeus's palace.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




She reached out in front of her, taking hesitant steps forward. Everything was dark, even though it was daylight outside. The bathrobe slipped down her shoulder, she tripped, falling into something. A table maybe? "Lady Winter!" A servant cried, the door opening the moment she fell. "You musn't strain yourself," she guided Winter over to a seat. "Here," she pushed a cup into her hands. "I'm sure you must be famished," it was true, Winter was starving. She drank, allowing the servant to dress her and hand her biscuits to nibble on while she worked through her hair. "Don't worry, I'm sure if you behave, then Lady Arke will restore your sight." She tried to reassure her, leaving Winter once more. She heard the door close behind her and rose, hesitant. Winter stomped on the floor, sending power through her foot. She could not see, in the real sense, but she could "see" the position of objects on the floor. She figured it out while tapping her foot on the ground.

Like this, Winter could find her way around the room. Winter stomped her foot again, directly in front of her was the table. Behind her, was a couch. She moved between the two, slowly, trying to find her way to the door. The walls were more difficult, they were all around her, closed. She reached out in front of her, encountering the first one. A window! Winter pushed her hand against the wall, attempting to find a latch. There! She pulled it open, the window swinging open. She nearly fell out. Winter wasn't sure what floor she was on, or how far of a drop it was down. She sat on the ledge, debating if this was suicide or not. If she died, would anyone ever know? "What are you doing?" A voice behind her came. Winter made the decision in that moment, pushing off and leaping. She hoped there was a bush beneath her, she prayed as her stomach dropped and a rush of cold hit her. A lake, she had landed in the lake that led to a waterfall.

This was not good. She tried to swim up, but which way was up? Her lungs burned, crying for air. Something grabbed her from the middle, hauling her upwards. They broke the surface, Winter gasping and coughing for air. "I got you," an unfamiliar voice said as he swam them towards the shore. Once it was shallow enough, Winter stood on her own feet. He held her hand, tugging Winter in the direction of safety. "Another escapee from Arke's place?" Winter nodded, "What's your name?" She reached out, he handed her his hand and she spelled it out for him. "Ah, so you're the Little Lady Winter?" She could feel the heat in her cheeks, but nodded to confirm. "My name is Marcel, I'm a friend of Zed's." Marcel? Winter smiled, Zed had spoken fondly of him. "I was on my way to try and bust Zed out, but I'm sure he'd be happier if you were safe."

"He didn't say anything about you being... you know..." he trailed off. Winter wrote another word into his hand, "Arke did this to you?" She nodded. She could hear the frown in his voice. "Well, don't worry, it can probably be reversed then. Come on, let's get you somewhere safe." He took her hand, she wondered how she was going to tell the others that she was alright. "Put your hands up Marcel!" Two voices suddenly shouted. "Sh*t, Winter, hang back." He released her hand. She reached out in front of her, but he was already gone. She stepped back, pushing her foot into the ground. The sound waves carried, seeing for her. They were surrounded. She turned around, stretching her arms out and bringing them together in a thunderous clap. Marcel whistled, her was beside her again. "That was impressive," he lifted her up. "We're moving too slowly though, no doubt Arke's people heard that clap of yours."

Would Elise have heard it? Had she remembered the mist ball in Zed's house? Winter hoped so. She hoped that it would lead Elise to them. They traveled quickly, the wind blowing through her hair. Winter held on tight, terrified since she could not see. "Don't worry, I'm the Heir of Messengers." She could hear the grin in his voice, "so we can travel as fast as the wind." They landed, Marcel placing Winter on her feet. She stomped a foot down, trying to get a bearing for the landscape. "Clever," Marcel admired, "very clever." Someone was running towards them, she could feel the vibration in the ground. "Winter!" Yuuki wrapped her up in his arms, bringing them to the entrance of a house. They were on the edge of Olympia, far away from the gates.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







There were many who called Elise something of a prodigy. There were others who thought she was near omniscient. Those were usually the ones she trapped in corners and threatened until there was nothing left for them to bleed. What was she really? The black eagle did not know. She left Zed's palace behind, still finding it eerie how empty and barren it was. Once, it was full of life. Now, even the gardens were trampled on, the flowers wilted and dead. Nothing was as it was supposed to be. It almost made her laugh. Who would have thought after so many Heirs lost to Arke and her power, that in the end, one Servant would be what took her down? The theaters would make jokes about Arke for the generations to come, mocking her for losing to a Servant of all things.

She was like a shadow, clinging to the hook-shaped rod, making sure she was undetectable. There was something she had to do above else, but it depended on her gamble. The truth was, the black eagle was neither smart nor a genius. She was just very good at gambling. She used context clues and hints to make guesses, and she so far was simply lucky each time things went according to plan. If her gamble about Arke was correct, then she would come out on top. But if things did not work out, she would be yet another victim to fall at her hands. She smiled grimly, slipping past the guards, flattening herself through the doors as they opened them to let what appeared to be a search party out. She waited for this moment, glad that a very specific sound drew their attention. "Hurry up, or Arke's going to kill us." The satyr muttered, leading the armed guards. "We have to find that Winter Heir fast." They were already galloping, unaware they had allowed someone to slip right past the front doors.

Step one complete. Infiltration was a success. Her heart was pounding, more and more. If things went well, if only this worked out as planned. Were the others safe? Did Kore protect them in the Underworld? She shook her head as she crept through the golden halls in secret. There was no time to worry about that. Focus. Focus on the mission at hand. With hope, this would be the last time she would have to take a gamble like this. With hope, things would become peaceful by the end. Taking a wild guess, Elise headed downwards, down the spiral stairs in the center of what was once Zeus's palace, descending into the depths. Her head was aching but she reached the bottom, the dungeons. Here all of Zeus's loyalists and allies would be locked up. She needed to find Zeus - he was the most important of all to reach. She spotted a few familiar faces, Ame whimpering into Neptune's shoulder, Chikyu and Zoku playing with cards...

She found Hades and slipped next to him, as close to the bars as possible. "Where is Zeus." She wrote into his arm with her finger, startling him. "What are you looking at, Hades, get back in your cell." Angus growled, poking him with a pitchfork. Hades snarled, his horns bright with anger. "Once Zeus breaks out of the cemetary, you'll regret siding with Arke." Angus laughed, rubbing his nose. "Zeus has probably gone insane already. Poor guy has to watch his wife'd corpse rot, unburied. Give it up, Hades, you and your kind have failed. It's a new age now." What an idiot, Elise thought. How much of a fool do you need to be to fall for that? Well, that was all she needed. She gently lifted the key from Angus's waist and slipped it through the bars as he bragged about his victory.

"Wait for the signal." Elise drew the words onto Hades's arm. He nodded and turned away to make it less obvious he had been communicating with someone. One job done, Elise snuck her way back up the spiral staircase. She needed to find one last thing now before reaching for Zeus. Something very important that she could not leave without. Winter was safe and out of the palace for now. No doubt Arke's people were in pursuit. This would make this very easy. She studied this of course, when Hades warned her about Arke. She had a feeling she knew exaclty where to find the golden treasure. So outside of Arke's personal quarters Elise found two guards and threw a rock at one. "Hey, what the heck, why did you hit me?" The two Servants began fighting, allowing Elise to slip right in.

Arke was not here. Was she out on the field? There was a golden box by the bedside. Elise opened it gently, finding two rainbow rings. She slipped one on, feeling sight beyond her own. Sight outside of the palace, an unknown ally holding her by the hand, high in the sky. "How dirty, Arke..." The black eagle whispered, removing the ring of Winter's sight from her finger. Should she break the sight ring? Or would it be dangerous? Would it make it impossible to return? No, she would not take that gamble. She would wait for now. Next she put the other ring on. "Zed." She whispered, Winter's voice coming out of her mouth. A smile rose. This was exactly what she needed. She created mist replicas of the rings and placed them back in the golden box, pocketing the real ones.

Voices outside the door. She would not be able to escape through that way. She needed to go get Zeus and Zed now. But if she returned to Zed's palace would she be able to sneak back into Zeus's palace a second time? It would be very difficult, and she did not feel safe leaving a mist ball behind. That would be a signal to Arke that she had been here, it would be too dangerous. A window. She could jump down to the gardens. It was a long fall, but it was her only hope. With a leap of faith, Elise left Arke's room, clinging to the hook-shaped rod.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




Yuuki led her to a couch, where Winter sat, tapping her foot to get a feel for the room. "I'm sorry I couldn't reopen the portal for you. As you can tell, a lot has happened since you went to earth." Winter nodded, she forgave him. "How much did Arke take?" Yuuki asked, but he was talking to Marcel. "It seems like she's mute and blind. I found her in the river." Yuuki nodded, "That's why you're all wet." He wrapped a towel around her, attempting to dry her off. "You should've seen her fight Arke's goones, you picked a tough one Yuuki." Marcel was making tea, Winter could see his feet shuffling off as she tapped her foot. Yuuki looked down, grinning. "So that's what you're doing. You're feeling the room, aren't you?" She nodded. Yuuki had taught her how to use her power, after all. They had figured it out together. No doubt it was easy for him to piece together this much.

"Did you find Zed?" Yuuki asked, changing the subject. He released Winter from his towel wrath, now that she was dry. "No, I kind of got distracted when I saw someone flailing in the river." Marcel brought over tea for them, "here, you're probably thirsty." He placed a cup in her hand. "Sugar?" She held up two fingers, he placed two sugar cubes inside, giving it a quick stir for her. She took a sip, taking care not to spill. Was it smart to entrust a blind girl with a cup of hot tea? Probably not, but Winter was careful. Whenever her body underwent healing, she became starving. Healing used the body's energy, after all. "They're going to find us soon, we can't hide here forever. Especially now that Winter's here." Yuuki noted, "I know. I've been trying to rally up some villagers, but one mention of Arke's name and they sh*t themselves in fear and run away."

Winter didn't blame them. If Arke could take people's senses, then who knows what else she was capable of? "Winter, do you think you can fight?" Yuuki asked. She hesitated, swallowing hard. Winter nodded, she could fight against Arke, but winning was another question. Winter reached for Yuuki, nearly spilling tea. "Whoa! Careful there!" He grabbed the cup from her and gave her his hand. "Others?" He asked as she spelled it out. She nodded, "They're here? The other vassals?" Winter nodded again, squeezing his hand. "Where?" He was patient as she wrote each letter on his palm. "The Sentinel. That's outside of Olympia, they have no way of getting in."

"Unless-" Marcel interjected. "Unless?" Yuuki narrowed his eyes, "We steal the key." He looked back at Winter, a plan already forming in his head. "We use Winter as bait, get the key, and break open the gate. If we bust the cage open, Arke will come out of her hiding place. One of us will be in position to loose the other Heirs. Then, all chaos will break out. It'll be all of us against one of her." Winter reached forward, Yuuki taking her arm. "What's wrong?" He asked as she stood. She turned around, pointing towards the door. "Someone is outside?" Winter nodded, she could feel the vibrations of footsteps outside of the house. "They probably followed us here." Marcel rose as the window broke, Arke's people had found them. "Put your hands behind your back!"

Yuuki flung up a wall of ice to protect them, grabbing Winter and lifting her. He jumped out the back window, the broken glass scratching at them. Marcel followed, giving them the finger. "I guess we're gonna do this plan a bit faster than we thought!" He grinned, lifting Yuuki up by the back of the shirt, who held Winter tightly against him. Winter tried to gain her bearings, only to realize that there was nothing around them. They were in the air again and she dizzily felt in front of her. "It's okay," Yuuki reassured her. "We're flying," she nodded, barely able to hear him over the wind. "Almost there!" Marcel informed them, "once we get close, we'll drop Winter in front!"

Drop her they did. Close enough to the ground, of course, but high enough where she still experienced a rush in her stomach. She fell to the ground, rolling in the grass. Winter rose quickly, running her foot across the ground and reaching in front of her. There was a path behind her. "Hey! There she is!" She turned, she had to be the distraction while Marcel and Yuuki unlocked the gate. Winter gathered up power in her hands, forming a thunder clap. A wave of sound came down, knocking out several of Arke's goones.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







Crack! She landed on the ground with a painful sound. It was only thanks to one of Svarog's gifts - a strange box with a feather symbol on it - that protected her from being detected, that kept the sound from going out and being heard by anyone else. With the hook-shaped rod and the feather square, she was invisible, and she was unhearable. A perfect combination. Elise felt pain shoot up her left leg, she must have made a mistake when landing, failing the roll at the end to absorb the impact of the jump. "Hurts." She whispered to herself, hobbling even more slowly now than before. She had to keep going though, she had no choice. All she knew is that she had to keep moving forward. Was her leg split open?

"Keep... moving forward." She dragged her bad leg with her, gnawing on her lip enough to split it open. How bad was her leg? Did she even want to look? She was lucky that she did not bleed anymore, instead leaving a trail of nearly invisible mist with each step. It was fine, she thought. Blood was far easier to notice. Blood was far easier to detect and then her plan would be ruined. Kore would no doubt be calling her cute right now for how hard she was working. Maybe Zeus would finally respect, her would that be funny? Iris was dead - it was unfortunate. She knew Winter was hoping to one day earn her respect and love as a surrogate mother. What was she thinking? She needed to find the internal graveyard where rulers of Olympia are put to rest after their tenure.

That was when she saw it, with just a glance. Outside, the golden bars entrapping the entirety of the city began to vanish. Disappearing is if made of sugar and dropped into a river. "Winter, you are insane." Elise shook her head, a feeling of pride welling through her. Somehow that girl just never stopped fighting, never gave up until her last breath. "You take care of the fight out there. I will handle matters here." She said, pretending that Winter could hear her. One leg forward. Then the other leg. She continued this until she heard the sound of sobbing. It was faint, almost silent, but she heard it nonetheless. She crept closer, seeing once again, two guards by the door to the cemetary room. She threw a small ball at them - it exploded, releasing a gas that put them right to sleep. Another of Svarog's toys to save the day. With that, the black eagle made her way to Zeus's domain.

A pile of bones was on the ground, unburied, unmarked. Behind the bones was a large tree, and on the large tree were four golden nails, stabbing through the victim's wrists and palms, trapping and pinning them to the tree. Golden ichor blood dripped slowly to the grass, intermingling with the gold already littering the bones. Zeus was crying quietly. He had no hope left, a proud man, broken and turned into this. Elise moved closer, her heart ice cold against the man. She reached for the nails when she was stunned by a voice. "No, human." Zeus's voice was very faint, like a mouse's whisper. How did he see her? Was it - it had to be the electricity she was giving off thanks to Svarog's inventions. "If you remove them, they will explode and you will die." He coughed, but his tone was steady. "I do not want my daughter to lose her closest friend a second time."

Elise put the feathered box away then, needing to speak with Zeus. "Hades has the key and can free the others." She replied, glaring hard at Zeus. "He will break free with the others with the signal. I intended for you to be that signal." Why did Zeus sound so defeated? So pathetic? Where did Winter get her fighting spirit from? Was it from her mother? "She already lowered the cage. The way is open for our allies to enter. Arke will be trapped by enemies from both sides." She narrowed her eyes. "Even if we die. This has to be done to stop Arke. The explosion will be enough of a signal for Hades to move." She picked up the feathered box again, returning to silence. Zeus closed his eyes, sighing. "I cannot stop you, human. But please find another way."

Elise reached for the first nail, using mist to strengthen her arms, pulling it out. She heard the sound of a pin being released and the explosion went off, Zeus letting out a cry of pain as his hand went flying, giving off another explosion where the second nail landed. Elise fell to the ground, hissing in pain as she felt her face being scorched, her palms burned. But now she had an idea. Zeus was in terrible straights. And Elise was not going to let Winter lose her father after only a year of happiness. Elise lost a father once - she hoped to spare Winter that pain. Just in case that was not enough for Hades, she worked on the other hand, the black eagle having an idea now. She released both at once, then created a blanket of mist as strong as possible, covering the blanket with her own body, trying to cushion Zeus from the explosion as much as she could.

Pain burst through her chest, her stomach, as she landed on the ground, on her back. She assessed her wounds, the mist laying all over the room. Bad. Very bad. Fatal? No, not yet. It was becoming harder to think now but Zeus fell to the grassy mound below, panting hard. Elise crawled over to a wall, panting, waiting. Now she placed the sight ring on her finger. All she had to do now was wait. Wait until Winter's eyes showed her where Arke was.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




"Hey, you can stop fighting so hard. We're here now," Oliver's voice carried from the open gates. "I'm here too!" Kore chimed, having marched in with the rest of them. Winter smiled, releasing three enemies she had caught in vibrating air. Ezra shot at them, the sound of the gun far too loud. With her sight gone, her hearing was sensitive. "Winter can't see," Yuuki explained to them quickly. "Arke took her sight," he stood beside her, revealing himself now that he had opened the gate. Marcel had run off to Arke's fortress to free the rest of the Heirs while they caused a commotion here. "That b*tch did what?" Carter's hands balled into fists. "I'm Yuuki, by the way. Winter's former retainer." He flung his arms around her, hugging her from behind. Winter flicked him in the forehead, trying to get him to let go. They were still in the middle of a fight.

There were more of them coming, Winter could feel their thunderous footsteps. She turned, "There's more of them coming! Everyone get ready!" Yuuki announced, able to read Winter like a book. He had spent several years in her head, after all. Oliver barked orders, they lined up, their weapons doing little to penetrate the armor of the enemy. Winter knelt down, placing her hands on the ground. She could feel it much better now, the vibrations. "Hang on!" Yuuki announced as Winter sent a wave through the ground, knocking them off of their feet. "Even blind, I wouldn't want to fight you." Ezra pat her shoulder. Winter looked up at him, Yuuki turning her head slightly so that she was actually looking at him. "Come on, let's go kick some rainbow butt." Something exploded in the distance. "That must be Marcel telling us to come."

"Hey, Winter, you can ride on my back, it'll be faster like that." She nodded, Oliver assisting her onto Carter's back. He carried her, their group running towards Zeus's former home, where Arke had stationed herself. A fight had broken out, Marcel was battling a guard, he had never made it into the holding cells. Then what was that explosion? Guards filed out, Arke laughing. "Did you really think that would work?" She asked, standing on a platform a bit behind where her little army was spilling out. Carter placed her down, Winter able to tell immediately that they were surrounded. "Give Winter to me and I'll spare your little human lives." Yuuki stepped in front of her, blocking her from sight. "Fine," Arke sneered, "have it your way. Kill them," where were the other Heirs? "Sorry guys!" Marcel grunted, "I should have been inside already, but they saw me coming!"

Arke froze, the smile slowly fading from her face. The air around her had grown heavy, it tickled. "What is this?" She asked, her movements sluggish. "What are you doing?" Winter had an expression of concentration, Arke was strong, just vibrating the air around her would not be enough to stop her. She laughed, "All of that work just for this?" She asked. She blinded the others, bending the light so that their bullets missed their target. "So pitiful," Winter clapped her hands together, Arke's smile fading as her ears hummed. "Little brat," she aimed two fingers in Winter's direction. Winter could not see it, the rainbow bolt that struck her through the chest. She coughed, falling to her knees. "Winter!"

It was on the wrong side of her chest, Arke had not been trying to kill her, but to incapacitate her. Someone grabbed her, which one was it? She reached up to touch their face and figure it out. "It's me, it's Oliver. Hang on," he produced what was probably a hanky, trying to stop the bleeding. "Oh don't worry, that isn't enough to kill her!" Arke laughed, "but your shield is gone. Now, you can either hand Winter over and live, or die trying to fig-" the doors suddenly swung open. The other Heirs that had opposed Arke came streaming out of the house. "Winter!" She smiled as she heard his voice. Oliver grabbed her protectively. "Who are you?" He asked the human boy. "Oliver, I'm her friend." He replied, narrowing his eyes. "Who are you?"

"My name is Zed, I am Winter's fiancee." Oliver's eyes widened, as Winter smiled, laughing soundlessly and coughing. "Hey, I'm here." Zed took her in his arms. She leaned her head against his chest, he was warm. "Give up Arke," Hades said, sounding strong as he stood before her. "You cannot fight all of us."

"Oh?" She laughed, "I rounded you all up in those cells once, you think I can't do it again?"

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







Her mind felt as if it were being scorched by flames as she tried to focus and tune in one what was happening with Winter. Through her eyes she could see, but those same eyes were not really focusing or looking around with much accuracy. A breath of relief - it seemed the others were able to get to safety. Kore had lead them out of the Sentinel Tower and towards Olympia. Did they trust Elise and Winter, or was it simply their only viable option? A faint smile was on her face as she watched everyone take care of Winter, treating her with kindness. Yuuki was here too, the only of the former Heirs to still be free, to still be in the fight. She coughed, feeling weak and sick. It broke her focus and the sight ring slipped off her finger, bringing her back to the cemetary where fallen Heirs slept under the soil and grass.

There was a lot of commotion. Movement around. The sounds of combat. Yet Elise had not the energy to cry out, to call to them. Stay quiet, she thought to herself as she put a hand on her chest, feeling a liquid mist oozing out. The sooner they reached the battle with Arke, the better. Like this, Elise would only slow them down and make them worry. Then there was a primal fear. What if no one ever found her? What if she was stuck here under the invisibility effect, never to be seen or heard? The black eagle tried to shift her weight to stand, but she had spent all of her energy. Without help, time was limited. She helped save Olympia. She freed everyone and gave them a fighting chance. She got to see everyone one last time. She even made sure Winter would not lose her father. Was it worth it? Did her life and death matter? Would anyone notice?

Zeus was hard at work, silently grunting as he toiled. One hand was gone, but with his other he dug. He scratched against the ground, making a hole with all of his strength. He was giving Iris a grave. For as harsh and unforgiving Iris was, there was no doubt something tender and kind about her. Why else did Zeus love her so much? Why else was he grieving? Still, if he wanted, he could easily use his powers and make a grave quickly and efficiency. Why was he wasting time like this? He could join the others against Arke, but was instead tending to Iris in his sorrow. Was he afraid Elise would die from the recoil if he forced a hole with his lightning powers? "Human, are you still here?" Zeus's voice was stronger when he finished burying Iris's remains. Elise nodded, but she could not be seen. "Yes." Weak, breathless, pathetic. Like a scream in space that could not be heard by anyone.

He reached for her then, sensing where she was. Could he feel her electrolytes? Zeus pulled at the air so Elise attempted to hand him the hook-shaped rod, shuffling it into his one hand. Suddenly Zeus vanished as if he never existed and Elise was once again visible to the eye. The rod fell to the ground as Zeus no doubt understood what was going on. "Never has there been a Servant who gave their life to protect Heirs like this. It is rare for a human to have this kind of bravery." Bravery? She shook her head, it was nothing like that. "Desperation." She murmured, feeling dizzy and disoriented. "...No choice. Fight or die. I chose to fight." She was trembling as she leaned against the wall, her limbs feeling like twigs with no power or substance, her head weak and hopeless.

"Should we survive this, you and your friends will be rewarded." Zeus sat back down. It was clear he was in no condition to join the fight. He was pale, sickly, his pallor was ungainly. He was thinner than at the banquet. There was no strength in him either. "Survive." Elise begged, reaching for the two rings, fumbling a few times before she was able to secure her grip. "Winter needs a father." There was something she still had to do. Arke was in vision now, laughing as she was surrounded. Was there still an ace up her sleeve? Elise would make sure she never had a chance to use it. The black eagle prepared her weapons, loading the four special bullets into the chamber of a single gun, then wore the voice ring.

"Elise." She called out her name and felt a door open. She sent herself through the door and rematerialized at Winter's side, surprising everyone who saw her. Her cloak was billowing around her, and Elise hoped it hid the injuries. "Take these." Elise slid the rings back onto Winter's fingers. "Eyes. Voice. Your father... is alive." She then turned back to face Arke, a new surge of adrenaline in her system. Somehow, she had the strength to stand. There was no need for words as Arke raised her arm to attack. "Of course it's you. You're the one that Doctor was always so afraid of." Arke sneered, an attack at the ready. Four shots rang out then, and Arke was stunned.

And then she screamed, falling to the ground. Elise lunged forward with lethal intent, ready to finish Arke off before she had a chance to recover, throwing the gun to the side. "No! Stop her!" Arke screamed, her Servants scrambling to try and defend her, but Ezra, Hades, and Kore all blockaded them, freeing the path to the enemy. And then she fell, her legs no longer able to support her body, the mist spike landing just a few inches away from Arke's throat. She shivered on the ground, a feeling of resignation. It was okay. Even if she died, it was fine. Arke's attack was ready and she swung her arm, a rainbow blast shooting out. Elise turned back, wanting to look Ezra in the eye one last-

But she was not hurt. She did not feel the pain at all. She blinked, opening her eyes. Where was Ezra? Why was his shoe sizzling, next to her? Why was there a scar on the ground of blood and ashes? Why was Carter screaming, Serenity falling to her knees? Oliver dropping his gun in shock, Mercedes running forward in full sprint? Arke was hyperventilating, the bullets having severely damaged her. Golden blood was pouring from her like a waterfall and she stumbled, falling to her knees, clutching at her wounds. Elise held some of the ash in her hand, unable to understand what had happened, hugging it to her chest, the cloak falling from her shoulders. "See you soon?" She wondered, the pain of all of her wounds feeling almost distant from her now. Was any of it real, anyways?

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




Winter heard her voice, but did not speak. They all looked at her, just as confused as she was. Suddenly, Elise materialized as if from nowhere, cape blazing, gun in hand. Winter could not see this, of course and while the others had clarification, she sat there, quite literally, in the dark. "It's Elise," Zed whispered, holding her tightly, as though he never wanted to let go. She nodded, feeling something placed in her hands. Two... rings?" Elise walked away without expaining and Zed put them on, placing a hand over Winter's eyes and then her mouth. She blinked as her vision was returned and coughed as her voice came back. "El," Winter's vision was still watery, adjusting. She could see her walk away, looking as cool as ever with her cape of mist billowing behind her. A shot rang out, Arke crying as she was struck. Winter stuggled in Zed's arms, wanting to be released. "Put me down, I have to help." She coughed, blood stemming from the wound in her shoulder. "No, you've done enough Winter." He said softly, kissing her hand.

Her vision had returned, she could see them all now. All of her friends,standing protecting Elise from the rush of Arke's servants. "Zed, I have to help." Zed shook his head and gestured to Yuuki. He made a sweeping motion, a tree growing in an instant. "Watch her," he placed Winter down against the tree, her shoulder aching now that the shock and adrenaline were wearing off. "Zed, no." Yuuki nodded, standing beside her. "It's alright, you can stop fighting. The others will take care of it now." His voice was soft as Zed strode away from them. She screamed when Ezra was struck down, unable to do anything but watch. "You've done enough," Zed said gently to Elise. "We'll take it from here." They had stepped in a moment too late. Winter could hear Arke's screams, but did not watch as Zed finished the job. From where she lay, a tree began to grow, its arms twisting upwards towards the sky. Winter passed out after that, her nose dripping with golden blood.

"Are you awake?" Someone asked, touching her arm. "Oh! She's awake! Winter's awake!" She could hear Serenity's gleeful cry. Winter looked around in confusion as her eyes opened, her room in Zed's house. "Siri," Winter sat upright, the pain in her shoulder gone. "How long have I been asleep for?" Serenity's eyes were red and swollen, had she been crying? "About three days," she admitted. "The Healers said you really overdid it." She nodded, figuring that may have been the case. Her body was not fully healing from the previous wounds and then, taking in another large one had pushed her over the edge. The door swung open, the others tumbling inside, surrounding her bed. "Ahem," Zed coughed behind them. They stepped out of the way for him as Winter laughed. He plopped onto the bed beside her, kissing her gently.

"Where are Elise and Ezra?" Winter looked around the room for them, which grew awfully quiet. "Elise is with Kore, she was badly wounded and Ezra... he jumped in front of Elise to protect her and was killed instantly." Winter fell back against the pillows, the memory of it returning to her. Ezra had been reduced to nothing but ash. Tears welled up in her eyes as his stupid smile filled her vision, the two of them fighting monsters in the Boundary, partners in crime. Zed hugged her against him as she cried. "Can you guys give us some privacy please?" He asked, "We'll be back Winter," Carter promised. What were they still doing in the Boundary? She wondered in the back of her mind. "It's gonna be alright," Zed murmured into her hair, stroking her back as she sobbed.

Of course, there was no time to really rest. Now that she was awake, there was work to be done. Zeus had been waiting for her to wake up too. As soon as she did, word was sent to him and he came for a visit. His arm had been returned the same way Winter's leg had been healed. The Healers here could truly fix any wound with the Heir of Healing on their side. "Lady Winter, your Father is here to see you. Would you like me to help you get dressed?" Nemia asked, poking her head into the room. "Yes, thank you Nemia." Zed left her to prepare, Winter dressing in typical Olympian attire. Zed came to get her once she was ready, the two of them holding hands as they walked to the garden, where Zeus was waiting. "Winter," he rose from his seat when he saw her, hugging her in relief. "Hi Dad," they sat at the table, Nemia serving them tea. "I'll leave you two," Zed offered, going to check to make sure that the others were not upturning the house.

"Irirs is-" Winter nodded. "I know," he placed a hand over her own. "Your friend, the human," he said quietly. "She was willing to sacrifice her own life for us. She told me to live, for your sake." Winter smiled, "That sounds like Elise," she said wistfully. "Yes, quite a... curious creature. Your other friends," he gestured to the house, where you could hear Carter laughing. Were they spying on them? "I would like to grant the humans Heirship, but I want you to present it to them." Winter's eyes widened, "After all, Zed is nearly ready to take control of Olympia. You are expected to rule by his side, once you are married."

"When will the coorination be?" She asked, suddenly nervous. "Right after the wedding."

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







"Why, Ezra? You said you liked me."

A woman, dressed scantily, begging at the lawn. Ezra looked at her with a shrug, turning his head away. "Hey, you were good once or twice, but I don't think I love you that much." He went back to his cooler, fishing a bottle of beer from the container. "Hey, be happy. We got to do it, and it was great. But it was never anything more than that, you know?" The woman began to cry, sobbing, throwing rocks at him. He caught them easily, shaking his head as she ran away in tears. "Girls, they're all crazy." He rolled his eyes, sitting down on the ground. "None of them are as good as her. I should stop trying." Elise saw of course. Ezra had hated many many women in his lifetime. But each time he would turn them down.

"Eventually you'll find someone, don't worry about it. Is that my beer?" Claude opened the door to let him in. Ezra nodded, grinning. "Well, that chick was following me home, she's really crazy. I tried to get here to avoid her but she still chased after me." He shook his head derisively, shaking the beer bottle with pride. "You have good taste though, man. I'm glad you don't like those rich boy wines, but you go for the real stuff." Claude smiled, closing the front door behind him. "Maybe I know my audience well. Drink up, dinner will be ready soon." Ezra licked his lips, nodding. "Persian again? I won't ever say no to Jasmine's food. You're lucky you had me, you know?" Elise saw. It was Ezra who found her first, flirting with her incessently. Jasmine never wanted him, though. She had eyes for none other than Claude, even a year ago. And eventually Claude came to like her too.

Claude sat Ezra down, groaning. "You know she's pregnant, right? She was sick all morning. I'm cooking today, and she's relaxing in bed." Ezra made a face then, standing up. "I don't want your food, all you make are the same sandwiches. God, you guys don't know how lucky you had it with all your gourmet food." Claude made a mock-pained face. "But Jasmine likes my cooking." Ezra put his shoes back on, ready to leave. "She'll say that about anything you make. Chick's crazy for you, dude." Claude's expression changed as he saw Ezra step out the door. "Ezra." Claude called out. "Elise wouldn't want you to wallow like this. Carter and Oliver don't notice it, but I do. You're still spiraling." Ezra grinned bitterly, turning his head away from Claude. "Elise is dead. She can't want anything. So I can do what I want, I don't have to follow your rules or expectations of me."


Elise saw enough. Her stomach sank, already knowing what this meant. Ezra, while the man she loved, was always very far from a saint. He dabbled with women. Lied, cheated, played with their hearts. He lashed out at his friends and acted out against authority. He was far from a good person. If Elise wanted to take her job serously, she would have to place him in Hell. "Why did Kore give me this job?" She sighed, rubbing her head. She glanced around, almost wishing Ezra were here somehow. Of course he was not. He never would be again. "Normally this is not my area..." She only judged those who appealed sentences. But now she was the preliminary judge for Ezra specifically.

"This would never work in court. I am too close to the case." She was ready to stamp Ezra's soul with the Sinner's mark when she sighed again, her stomach feeling even sicker. It was her job to take her job seriously. To do whatever it was she needed to do. To be unbiased and true to the rules. But how could she sentence the man who saved and loved her with all of his heart into hell? How could she past him that fate? "But the rules.." Ezra was a sinner, through and through. According to the rules he needed to serve time. "Go reincarnate." Elise said softly, knowing she was betraying her benfactors. "Go and live a new, better life." She rubbed at her eyes, glad no one was here to -

Kore was glaring at her, fury on her face. "You broke the rules. Someone like you would never break the rules. You're just so cute, Elise, how could you?!" Was Kore watching her this whole time? Was this some kind of setup? Elise frowned. "I did as you expected me to do." Still Kore felt the need to continue the act. "You betrayed me! I'm firing you and disqualifying your judgment! I will do what I want with this soul and there's nothing you can do about it!" So Kore threw Elise softly out the window, letting her land on her wheelchair, already waiting and ready for her. About five minutes later Ezra was blinking, confused, standing next to her, hand on the wheelchair. "El? What? Wait, I thought I was waiting in line, and then some harpies grabbed me..."

Elise sighed. "You made me lose my job. Now put some clothes on, we must return to Olympia." She hid a smile, facing forward for Ezra to not see and mock her. Kore was far kinder than anyone gave her credit for, but she was a terrible actor.

_________

"And that is how Ezra came back to life." Elise said for the sixth time to Winter and Carter, the latter of whom started laughing. "I still can't believe it. It't just so great! We all thought he was dead for good!" Ezra grinned, a bold look on his face. "See, El? Not even death can keep me from getting my hands on you!" Elise rolled her eyes, then turned to Winter. "When Zeus picked us up on the way to Olympia, he said you had something you wanted to tell everyone. What was it?" Carter looked over at her, curiosity filling his eyes. It was definitely important if Zeus mentioned it, but what could it be?

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




"What Heirships should I grant them?" Winter asked, but Zeus only leaned back in his seat, taking a logn sip from his tea. "That is up for you to decide," he replied at last. "What if I choose wrong?" Winter had never had to make such an important decision before. Zeus leaned across the table, placing a hand on top of her own. "You'll make the right choice, I know you Winter. You never choose wrong," he laughed, "just like your mother. So spunky and tenacious," there was a twinkle in his eye. "I really did love your Mother," his fingers intertwined with hers. "She was the light of my life and now, my stars, you are my light." Winter began to tear up, "I'm sorry." He rose from his seat, taking her into his arms and rocking her back and forth. She had never had a father figure in her life, not until now. His embrace was warm, he smelled like ash and pine, reminding Winter of summers with her Grandparents. "You've been through so much at such a young age," he admired. "You are truly strong."

They parted ways after that, Winter finishing her tea alone in the garden, relishing the rare moment of silence before Serenity came to find her. "Hey Winnie," she smiled, sitting down and picking up a biscuit. "Hey Siri," Winter smiled. "So what are you all still doing here? Why haven't you all gone back?" Serenity jerked a thumb over her shoulder, gesturing for Winter to follow her. They walked down the hallways of Zed's home. Would they stay here once they were married? Winter wondered. Serenity stopped in front of a familiar door, the workshop. Winter pushed it open, finding the portal generator smashed into several pieces. So this was why Yuuki had been unable to open the gate? "Once we came in... there was no way out." Winter nodded, "I'm sure once Elise-I mean, I'm sure ocne Elise feels up to it, she can make a new one." Could she? Winter hoped so.

"Lady Winter!" Nemia called, out of breath. "Elise is here to see you," Winter nodded. She glanced at Serenity, wondering what the emergency was. The others had all gathered in the parlor, lounging on the couches. "Hello everyone," Winter's eyes widened as she spotted Ezra, looking oddly whole. She could have sworn- the memory of it flashed behind her eyes. "Ezra," she ran towards him, he lifted her up, spinning her in a circle. "You're alive!" She hugged Elise too, "I'm glad you're okay." Winter had been worried about her friend, of course. "But what are you two doing here? Oh, I have good news too, once you explain yourselves." She sat down on the love seat as Elise strapped in to retell the story.

Winter listened to Elise's tale, on the edge of her seat the entire time. "I'm so glad both of you are okay. I'm sorry about your job El," that must have been harsh, considering it was probably Elise's first time actually working. Elise asked Winter what her news was and Winter wondered how she was supposed to say this. "Zeus and I were talking-" Oliver suddenly stopped her. "You call your Dad by his name?" Her cheeks turned pink. "W-well, we never really established what I should call him." Mercedes shushed him, "Go on." She had been so quiet this entire time, it was almost easy to forget that Mercedes was even there. Winter shook her head, trying to get back on track. "Anyway, Zeus and I were talking," she rose. "And for all of your considerable examples of bravery and your willingness to put your lives on the line for Olympia, if you choose to accept it, you will be granted Heir status."

"So what does that mean?" Carter asked, "it means you would be free to live here, in Olympia, should you choose to accept, you would never have to leave." They had all already earned their places in Olympia. "It's only if you want to, of course and I can tell you what you would be the Heir of before you accept. You can even think over it for a little bit, so there's no need to make a decision right now." Serenity rose her hand, "I accept." They all looked at her as though she had two heads. "It's not like I have much on earth anyhow. My best friends all live here now." She admitted, since Ezra was now dead. Winter nodded, "Serenity, for showing courage in battle, you will be granted the title as Heir of the Dawn." Serenity grinned, hiding her smile behind her hands.

"Oh, I love it! I love it so much!" She rose, bounding over to hug Winter. "I accept!" She glowed a golden glow, which faded slowly. "Wow... I feel so strange, lighter, somehow." Winter smiled, "I'm glad you're staying with us." Ezra bound over then. "My turn," Winter nodded. "Ezra, for sacrificing yourself for your comrades, you have been granted title as the Heir of Courage." Ezra grinned, pumping a fist in the air. "I accept!" He turned to Elise, "you're gonna accept one, right?" He asked.