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/qst/ - Quests

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The pencil slides over my scalp, and grinds against an existing notch in the door frame.
"Nope." The person holding the pencil sighs, "You still haven't grown even a single centimeter."

I feel my face curl into a pout. I thought for certain that I had grown this week: I ate my veggies, ran every single day, and even did my stretches! What else could I have done?!
Nothing, that's what.

My name is Itsukuma Masami. Most people just call me "Masami". I'm a thirteen year old girl living in a giant mansion with my mother, and all of the people I consider my sisters. Together, we are the Itsukuma family, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

"My turn."
One of my sisters hands me the pencil, and then takes her place along the same door frame.

I check her feet to make sure she's not standing on her tiptoes, and then draw a line right at the top of her head. The pencil hits the same groove familiar to her, and then I sigh.
"Nope, sorry Kaori." I frown.

This is Kaori, my closest sister. She's a self-conscious girl with blonde pigtails, and is a little spoiled. She makes a similar face to the one I just made, and takes a look at the notch on the wall.

"So that means, over the past year neither of us have grown a single centimeter." Kaori crosses her arms.
I frown to match her expression.

"Masami, I was thinking about this and-" Kaori is about to ask the same question she's asked every time, "Do you think we're not growing because we're not.. people- MPFH!"
Immediately, my hand reaches out and cups it over Kaori's mouth.

"No, don't even say that." I furrow my brow.

I don't want to entertain the idea, but technically Kaori is correct. I'm not REALLY 'people'. I'm a little different from most people that I know. Kaori is the same way, and so is everyone else of the Itsukuma family. None of us are really like anyone else.
I don't like thinking about it, but it's the truth. We weren't born, but created. My sisters were also created, and so was my mother. Despite that, we try to pretend that we're simply a normal family, and don't bring it up. Even mentioning the name 'Priestess' or 'Magician' is enough to make the room feel cold.

Maybe this isn't a healthy way to treat the family secret, but it's what works. As far as anyone is concerned, we're a normal family made of normal 'people'.

"Masami, I understand how you feel about it, but people are going to start noticing that we're not growing eventually." Kaori seems genuinely worried. "Have you seen Aiko? She's up five centimeters to me, and almost eight to you. That's not even mentioning growth in her-"

To illustrate her next point, Kaori places her hands several centimeters away from her chest.
"Aren't you worried about that, Masami? Being the smallest girl in your class?"

>"It's true Aiko has.. grown, but that's not my concern!"
>"You're just overreacting. There's not enough proof!"
>..Fine, I'll go talk about this with Mom.
>Get mad about it like I always do and leave the room.
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Hello, and welcome back!

>What is Card Priestess Masami?
Card Priestess Masami is a quest that ran from 2014-2016. I promised another continuation sometime in the future, and now we have one!

You can read the archives, here:

>What kind of quest is it?
It's a light magical girl quest played completely straight. I think the tags in the archive say it best.

>How many threads will this be?
I expect this particular continuation to only last one or two threads.

>Where can I find quick information on any of these characters?
The pastebin page!

>Where can I find your twitter account?

Enjoy the thread, and feel free to comment or question about anything!
>>"You're just overreacting. There's not enough proof!"
>>..Fine, I'll go talk about this with Mom.
Holy crap, I remember this. Wasn't expecting an OVA. Was one of the quests that inspired me to get into QMing.

>"It's true Aiko has.. grown, but that's not my concern!"
Hey, nice to see you're not dead
>"You're just overreacting. There's not enough proof!"
>Get mad about it like I always do and leave the room.
It's good to be seen!
I'm glad there's still interest in this!
It has been a while.
Hey there, can't stick around for long but just thought I'd say I still adore this quest and I look forward to reading this thread later.
Thank you! I hope you enjoy it! It will probably be up for a week or so, so you'll get plenty of time to participate.
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"It's true Aiko has.." I think about how much more shapely Aiko has become in the last few months. She's starting to resemble her mother in a lot of ways. "-grown, but that's not my concern. Why are you ogling Aiko, anyway?"

"..I'm not ogling Masami, are you trying to dodge this question again?" Kaori peers at me with her eyebrows cocked.

"You're just overreacting, really!" I take that defensive tone that I usually take on when confronted, "There's no proof that we're not growing just because Aiko is growing quickly. Maybe we're just late bloomers and she's some kind of mutant!" I smile, that's a great comeback.

"If she's some kind of mutant, then why has Maeda also started to grow in that way?" Kaori gives me an inquisitive look. "Face it Masami, all the girls we know are starting to grow, and we still look twelve years old."
"It's just temporary! There's really no reason to want to rush these things. Our body are just developing at their own pace, that's all."

Kaori, just like every other time, points out the same fact.
"Masami, all of our sisters aren't growing either, doesn't that concern you?"

Slowly, her finger runs down the door frame where all of my family members have also charted their height.

Way below the adults is the the first notch belonging to the tallest kid, which belongs to Amarante. Who is our biggest sister.
The second notch is Melissa, also known as the former secretary of Fortune. She's really smart
Third is Kaori's notch, of which houses a single strand of blonde hair which caught on a splinter.
Fourth is, well, me.
Fifth on the wall is the pencil mark for the twins in my family, Julie and Haruko. They're inseparable, but also kind of annoying.
Sixth is the always aloof Cirrus. She's only a few centimeters shorter than me.
And shortest in the family is, as always, Emillion. He's still not happy that he's the shortest.

"Isn't this a little alarming? None of us have grown even a little. I know Emillion has been complaining about how hard it is to practice his fencing when the sword is almost as tall as he is."
"Kaori, I don't know what to say other than 'We'll get over it'. It's not my fault that we haven't grown as fast as we would have liked. Maybe it's a poor diet, maybe we're just going to be short. Who knows! I don't know how this works. We haven't even covered genetics in school!"

"I'm not blaming you, Masami. I'm saying-"
"No! No, no. We always fight when we have this talk; and I'm too tired for that now. I'm going to go watch TV."

Kaori groans, "..Fine, have fun."

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You try to walk out of the room without stomping your feet. This happens every time for the past month that you've been measuring your height. You really only noticed this problem after your birthday a few weeks ago where Mom measured you against that very door, and commented about how you hadn't changed one bit.
Ever since then, you've been feeling a sense of dread.

You walk into the living room, and notice Emillion sitting on the couch. Mom is in the kitchen with your eldest brother, making lunch for the family.

>Go help Mom with lunch.
>Sit on the couch with the little guy.
>Whoops! Don't call him the little guy, he hates that.
>No, you need something to take your mind off of this.
>Go outside, see how everyone else is spending their short break from school.
>Sit on the couch with the little guy.
>Whoops! Don't call him the little guy, he hates that.
>>Sit on the couch with the little guy.
>>Whoops! Don't call him the little guy, he hates that.
Ooh, Just had my first POV Error in quite some time. It's hard getting back in the swing of things!
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Okay, I'm going to turn my mind away from anything that might even remotely remind me of that struggle I'm having with Kaori. Instead, I'll just turn my brain off using the old fashioned method.
With television!

Sometimes, the old ways are always the best.

I take a seat next to Emillion; who has also taken this route. His face looks nothing short of comatose. He leans his head lazily against the arm of the couch, and has one leg splayed over the back. The little guy always looks cute when he's not-
Oh! right. I'm not supposed to call him 'the little guy' anymore. He talked to me about that.
I take a seat on the other end of the couch and let it slowly mold me into a Masami-putty. I feel myself sigh as I watch the news.

Great, more foggy weather is coming to Japan. Not to mention rain later this week; which means the later part of my vacation might be spent indoors with Kaori. Which means more arguments, and that means.
No, no; I'm doing it again. This is television time, of which isn't to be spent thinking about problems I'm having with family members.

My head lulls over to the side to meet Emillion, whose eyes have met mine. I smile at him.
"Hey little-"
"-late to be watching TV, huh?" I laugh, uncomfortably.

Emillion doesn't look like he bought that excuse at all. He sits up and presses his face against his hand.
"Have you been arguing with Magici-" He coughs, "-with Kaori again?"

Yes, we've had a talk with Emillion about using our 'real' names. I'm not Priestess anymore and Kaori isn't Magician anymore. Those are the names a very hateful man gave us, and they went away with him.
More importantly-
"..Yes, yes I have." I feel myself grumbling, "How did you know?"

"You've been doing this every day for the last week." Emillion clicks the television off, rudely. I was watching that. "You argue with your sister, then you come here and wait for me to say something so you can stand up and go outside."

"What! I haven't been doing that."
"Yes you have." Emillion lazily flops back down onto the couch. "If something is bothering you, you should really just talk about it with someone."

"Nothing is bothering me! Why would you think that?"

He sits back up, and gives me the evil eye.
"I hope you are aware that you are the worst liar on Earth, Masami."

"That wasn't a bad lie!"
"If it wasn't a bad lie, then why did you just admit that it was a lie?" Emillion smirks, slightly.

"I don't get what you're saying." I frown.

"My point is, if you keep hiding it, then you're just going to have worse and worse fights with Kaori until something bad happens. You should talk about it with someone now."

>..Okay but only if you can keep it a secret.
>But who do I tell?!
>You're right, I'll go tell a friend about this, not a family member.
>You're saying I should tell Mom, right?
>But who do I tell?!
>You're saying I should tell Mom, right?

Hi Heart. Just dropping by to say I'm happy to see you're still around. Looking forward to reading this later, sadly I can't stick around on account of the time.

>You're saying I should tell Mom, right?
Pretty sure telling Mom was always the right choice!
Thank you!
Also next part almost done.
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"You're saying that I should tell Mom, right?"
"I'm saying that you should quit acting like a lost puppy and tell someone. I don't even care who you tell anymore."

"But then who do I tell?!"
"I can't answer that for you." Emillion frowns, "I'm just saying that you need to tell someone before this eats you up. It's hard even living in the same house with you two bickering as much as you are, now. You're almost as bad as the twins."

"No, Kaori and I are NOT as bad as the twins!" I feel myself frown.
"Oh yeah? The twins are outside playing four-square together with the other girls and you're in here moping about some dumb question that your sister has probably already figured out anyway. You're worse than them, if anything."

"That's just not true."
"If it's not true, prove me wrong. Go talk about it with your sister instead of avoiding her."

"Why not?"

"Because if I talk with her about it, she'll act like she won and rub it in my face."
"Kaori has never done that to you."

"Well I don't want to give her the opportunity!"
"Then tell Mom, then."

"Fine, you know what, maybe I will."

I stand up from the couch and trudge into the kitchen. Mom is just finishing putting something in the oven. She always overthinks these lunch things. When will she learn that a sandwich is enough to make anyone happy?

"Izumi, I have the brownies ready." My oldest brother takes off his oven mitts. He still hasn't learned to call Mom 'Mom'.
"Put them in, then." Mom smiles at my brother. She rubs her head and then turns toward me.

"Oh! Sweetie!" She gives you a light hug.
"Hey Mom." I return the hug, "Can I talk to you about something?"
My big brother realizes that it's probably something personal, and leaves the kitchen so we can talk.

"Sure, what's up?"
"Mom, have I stopped growing?"

"I don't think you have, dear." She rubs my head, "Now, try not to worry about it."
"That.. doesn't seem very convincing, Mom."

"You just need to give yourself a little bit of time. I was your age, once. Then I grew up just fine!" Mom smiles. She's the same way I am, so I guess she would know if she grew up or not.
"Did you stay at the same height for as long as I have?"

"Well, no, but that's probably just a fluke. You shouldn't lose sleep over it."
I blink. "Okay, thanks Mom."

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She's definitely avoiding my question. I'm starting to think that I'm not the only one who is having that fear. I know Emillion is anxious about it, because he was hoping to grow back into his swords someday. I'm not acting quite right myself, either. Plus, that wasn't very convincing, nor did it put any of my fears to rest.
Okay, I'm going to go talk with someone about it directly.

I open the door and step outside. Immediately, I notice a white bolt move across the yard and make a beeline straight for me.

Oh no.
"No! No! No! Down girl, down-"

I'm immediately tackled to the ground. My assailant starts licking my face and wagging her tail excitedly.

"..Hey Oracle." I resign to my fate as puppy chow. My hand rubs her head, and she seems more than eager to lick it back. "I could tell you, but you probably wouldn't have any good answers for me."

Oracle is Kaori's dog, after all. Although, she's always just as excited to see me as she is to see Kaori.

>Okay, let's get serious.
>Go find Aiko, ask her what you should do.
>Maeda, perhaps? She's like your big sister.
>Oh! You already have a big sister, you should go find Amarante.
>Oh! You already have a big sister, you should go find Amarante.
>Oh! You already have a big sister, you should go find Amarante.
Writing last post of the night, but thankfully this is /qst/ and this thread is guaranteed to stay up for a week or so. So I'll leave us off on a story post and pick it back up tomorrow when I get back in. Writing!
>Go find Aiko, ask her what you should do.
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It's too bad I can't just talk this over with my older sister. Especially considering that she IS the problem that I'm having right now.
I let the dog lick my hand some more before sitting up. I don't like admitting it, but playing with the dog takes my mind off of it more than anything else could. It's like she's a fluffy ball of hope and energy.
If only her owner was the same way.

I just remembered something! I DO have a bigger sister that I ask!
That's right; Amarante. She's used to be Emillion's sister, but now she's mine too!

Not just that, she's at the library doing that homework that I've been putting off. Aiko said she would also be there today. I can ask both of them at the same time!

I gently push Oracle off of me, and stand up.
"Now Oracle, I'm going to the library, you stay here, okay?"

Oracle whines slightly, but then sits on her hind legs.
I rub her head, and her tail responds in kind.
"Good girl!" I smile at her. "I'll be back!"

I turn around and head off toward the library. I get a passing glimpse of the twins, Mir, and Cirrus playing four-square. I say "playing", but the twins are just arguing over the rules while Mir and Cirrus draw on the sidewalk with chalk.
I am NOT as bad as the twins. Not yet, at least.


I step past the school gates and make a beeline for the two-story building behind it.
Usually, I don't come here. I like studying in my room more than studying someplace other than my room. Aiko and Maeda insist that studying here is better. They keep telling me that the best way to study is to get away from distraction.
I think Maeda really only does it to get away from her brother, but what do I know.

The doors open automatically, and I step inside the freezing cold building. Why is this building kept so cold?
Immediately, I see Aiko on the other side of the room.

"Aiko!" I call out to my best friend.
"Oh, Masami!" She stands up, and I immediately remember why I came by. She's not much taller than me, but it's enough for me to notice her obviously staring downward at me.

Much like how I'm probably staring at her chest. Her much more obvious chest. She makes an example of it by coming over and hugging me.

"Did you finally decide to get that homework out of the way?" Aiko holds me by the shoulders.
"What? No, I have days to finish it."

"..Those days are going to go by sooner than you think, Masami."
"Oh it's fine." I pay my friend on the shoulder, "I'm really just here to ask you and Amarante for some advice. Have you seen her?"

"She's on the second floor, but I don't think she's doing her homework." Aiko blinks, "She said she had some studying to do for a club she was thinking of forming."
"Let's go find her right now. It's important."

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Aiko shows me up the flight of stairs to the library's study hall. Sure enough, there she is occupying the largest table in the gallery. He seems enthralled with whatever she's been into.

"Oh! Masami!" She slams a book she was reading shut as I approach. "What brings you here?"

"Okay, Aiko, Amarante, I need some advice." You sit down next to your big sister, "Have you both noticed that I haven't been growing?"

"I have." Aiko is quick to respond.
"I've noticed that I haven't been growing." Amarante slides the book to the side, "But I'm tall enough, so that's okay."

"But I'm not tall enough! Isn't that a problem?" I pout, "Look how beautiful and shapely Aiko has become, and I still look twelve years old."
"I- I'm not that shapely." Aiko blushes, she tries hiding it with her hand.

"Well, what do you want to do about it?"
"Do you think that maybe, aging is something that, cards like ourselves can't do?" I ask the magic question, and can feel the butterflies in my stomach.

Amarante and Aiko both ponder that mystery. At the end, Amarante just shrugs.
"I don't know. Maybe you shouldn't worry about it?"

>That's not a very good answer!
>Do you know someone who might know?
>Why shouldn't I worry?
>Kaori and Emillion seem worried, isn't that enough?
And with that, I'll see you in the morning.
Omigod it's happening!

>That's not a very good answer!
>Why shouldn't I worry?
>Do you know someone who might know?
>Do you know someone who might know?
>Kaori and Emillion seem worried, isn't that enough?
>That's not a very good answer!
>Kaori and Emillion seem worried, isn't that enough?

Everyone is as adorable as I remember, it's great.
>That's not a very good answer!
>Why shouldn't I worry?
>Kaori and Emillion seem worried, isn't that enough?
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"That's not a very good answer!" I slide one of the books on the table toward me, "How am I supposed to just 'not worry about it'?"
What are with these books? They're all about occultism.

Amarante grabs the book I just slid away from her and gradually pulls it back.
"What I'm saying is that there's no use in worrying about it. I know it's hard to get used to, but I don't think its worth spending your vacation hoping that someone just has some magic answer to what seems like a personal problem. If it bothers you so much, go visit a doctor or something."
"What am I going to tell a doctor?!" This is getting too strange, "'Hello I was made from a magic card and I'm not sure if I'm aging anymore'? How would that sound!?"

"Well, it would at least be something. I don't even know if Mom would have an answer for you. No one else seems too worried about it, yet. Besides, I think you're my cute little sister."
She reaches out her hand and rubs my hair as she normally does. She only gets to do that because she's the tallest!

Oh no, Aiko! Not you, too! Get your hand out of my hair!

I push the rude mitts trying to rough up my scalp away, and continue.
"It's not like I'm the only one worried about it! Emillion and Kaori seem worried too! Isn't that enough?"
"Well.." Amarante looks down at the table, "I knew about Emillion, he's terrible at hiding secrets. I didn't know about Kaori."

"That's exactly the problem, though! Kaori and I have been arguing almost every day after I take my height, and I'm sick of it! She keeps insisting that there's something wrong and I should be doing something about it."
"It must not bother her that much, then." Amarante stretches her arms, "If it were that important, she would be doing something about it herself."

"So what do I do?"
"Well, no one is being hurt, right?"

"I don't think so."
"And it's not really an emergency, right?"

"Then don't worry about it, we'll take care of it when we get there." Amarante tries moving her hand back to my head, but I swat it away. "When it becomes a big enough problem, then I'm sure Mom will step in."

"I, guess that makes sense."
"Great!" Amarante gives a surprise attack and rubs my head for just a moment, but I swat it away. "So, do you want to study? You only have a few days before school starts again."

No, no you really don't want to study.

>..But I'll study anyway.
>Later, I'm still not convinced.
>No, I should go apologize to Kaori.
>Forget that, I'm going to go do something fun.
>No, I should go apologize to Kaori.
>Later, I'm still not convinced.
Masami isn't stubborn, she's just, er, firm willed. I'm sure nobody would ever call her stubborn really.
>>..But I'll study anyway.
>No, I should go apologize to Kaori.
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"Well, I guess I should stay and get this done."
"That's the spirit." Amarante gathers up her collection of weird books, and motions to Aiko. "You two should go get your schoolbooks, I'm willing to help you both out."

Wait! No! This is what she wants!
I'm not going to let this deter me, "Actually first, I think I need to go apologize to someone." You stand up from your chair.

"Mm, fine." Amarante leans back in her chair, "Just don't let this eat you up, okay? I think you have more important things to be focusing on, such as school and the cooking club."

"Right, right, I know. I've been falling behind." I grumble, "I'm just not great at it, okay?"
"You'd be better if you practiced. How do you expect to know how to bake if you can't even make bread rise?" Amarante seems a little exhausted by that question.

"You can't make bread rise?!" Aiko picked up on that quick, "AH- HAHAHAHAHAH, MASAMI SAY THAT'S NOT TRUE!"
"I can make it rise a little!" I pout.

"You have too little patience. You always open the oven before anything is done, and burn things by ignoring them too long. You need to practice." Amarante thinks she's giving me advice, but she's really just embarrassing me!
"T-that's enough, I'll be good at that when the time comes."

"You could be good at it right now, just go to school, put on an apron, and try not to burn it down."
"On second thought." Aiko is trying to keep from grinning, "You should practice with Izumi present, first."

What is that supposed to mean?!
"I'll be back to study in a few, but right now I think I need to take a walk." I huff, and turn around toward the stairwell.

Behind me, Aiko catches up, "Wait, wait, I was just kidding. You want to stay and study, right?"

I wait until I'm at bottom of the stairs before telling Aiko the true reason for leaving.
"Later, I'm still not really convinced." I sigh, "Sis is right, in that I shouldn't be letting it eat me up. At the same time; I need to at least apologize to Kaori. I'll be back in a few."
"Well, I'm not going to say anything, but you're letting it eat you up." Aiko puts her hand on my shoulder, "I think apologizing to Kaori is fine, but don't let it ruin your vacation. If you're arguing with her, then it's time to realize that you've gone far enough."

"Thanks Aiko."
I give her a light hug before heading out the door. Maybe Sis is right. At the same time, I'm not one to just let something go because someone told me to. I'm going to keep on this until I feel at the very least like I've done everything I can do.
Arms crossed.

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I make the fifteen or so minute walk back home. The whole way I'm dreading exactly what I'm going to say to Kaori.
"Yes, Kaori, just like those other times, you were right."
No, that sounds too sarcastic. I can't do that.

"Kaori, I'm sorry for being so stubborn."
What am I talking about? I'm not stubborn!

"Kaori, Oracle's coat looks nice, have you been brushing her?"
No! That's just talking about the dog. That's not even an apology!

"Kaori, I'm sorry for yelling, can you please just tell me what you think and what we should do?"

Hey! That actually doesn't sound bad! That sounds like something resembling an apology, even!
Yeah, I can work with that.

My turn off the sidewalk, into the driveway. Immediately, that little white bolt starts moving across the lawn once more.
Except, it doesn't seem to have the same energy that she normally has.

"Oracle? What's wrong, girl?" I lean down to meet the dog's nose as it sniffs my hand.
Gently, she whimpers.

"Aw, Oracle, I was only gone for a few minutes. What's the matter?"
Of course the dog can't actually tell me what the matter is.

I pat Oracle on the head, and walk in the door. Immediately, I'm treated to the twins having another argument.
"That's because I won!" Julie scowls at her mirror image.
"No, I won! It was in the rules when we started!" Haruko makes the exact same expression.

I decide to slowly sneak away with hopes of neither of them noticing me. Quietly, I make my way up the stairs, and stand in front of my room.
There's that sticky note on the door that simply reads 'napping'. Kaori and I started putting that on our door so no one else could interrupt naptime.

Mom suggested that the solution to this was for Kaori to move out of my room and sleep in her own room, but Kaori shut that down quick. She likes living in my room, it seems.
Which is fine, but right now I have business more important than sleeping.

"Kaori." I knock once, "I'm coming in."
I unlock the straight-edge lock with my fingernail, and walk inside.

That's when something hits me.
Kaori's not in our bed.

The blankets are tucked like someone WAS laying there, but she's not laying there now.
Furthermore, the door was locked from the inside.

"Kaori?" I say, with confusion.

Check the window, Nope! That's locked from the inside, too.
Okay, now about under the bed? Nope, no Kaori.

Well, she has to have been here. Her clothes are draped on the dresser, and she never sleeps with a shirt on. So what did she do? Leave the room without a shirt?

Something doesn't add up, here. Oh! There's Emillion.

"H-hey, little gu-"
"-Emillio, where did Kaori go?"

He gives you a strange look, and asks-
"Isn't she in there? She said she was going to take a nap."

>Remain calm, she probably just snuck out, somehow.
>Grab Emillion by the shoulders and panic.
>Grab Emillion by the shoulders and panic.
I might wait for a second vote and then start writing.
>Grab Emillion by the shoulders and panic.
>Grab Emillion by the shoulders and panic.

I can't believe this actually came back.
Panic is always the best option
When in doubt: Panic, followed by mooooom!
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Emillion's words take a second for me to process. My stomach starts to feel heavy, and my head starts to spin.

Slowly, I lean down to Emillion's height, and grab him by the shoulders.
"Can you say that again?" I focus rather intently on his face.

"Uh.. Kaori showed up in the kitchen looking for you, and then told us that she was going to go lay down."
"Did you see her go in this room?"

"Well, no, but I heard the door shut."
"Did you see her leave this house?"

"No, I can't say I have. I haven't seen her since she said that she was going to take a nap."

Worry, worry, worry.

"C-calm down, don't start doing this." Emillion removes my hands from his shoulders. "She probably just stepped out or something."

"O-okay?! You need to calm down!"

"I clearly don't!" Poor Emillion tries to push me off of him, but finds his arms too short to do the trick. "H-how about this, Masami! I'll go downstairs and look in all the rooms down there, and you check outside. Sound good?!"

Y-yes! A search plan! A plan! Something I can follow which will eventually lead me to Kaori!
"Great! Great, and be sure to tell Mom, okay?"
"R-right, right, I'll do that Masami. J-Just please let go of my shoulders!"

I suddenly realize that I've been holding onto Emillion with nothing short of a death grip this entire time. I release him, and he rubs his right shoulder with a tired groan.

Quickly, I speed down the stairs and out the door.
"Kaori!" I yell. No response, but it does seem to get Oracle's attention.

I start searching any place that Kaori would go if she was stressed out. The roof, the tree, the neighbor's house?
Quickly, I rush around the house and start scouring the garden. Nope, no sign of Kaori here.

Darn it, what to do, what to do. I'm running out of places to look, and Emillion hasn't come out and told me that he found her, yet!
My stomach finds a new pit to sink into.

Is it possible that Kaori was.. kidnapped?
Snatched from her room?
From MY room?!

No, no, no, no. I'm starting to jump to conclusions here.
Oracle, no, not now, I can't play now.

The dog whimpers, biting at my hand slightly.

"Oracle, what is it? What do you-"
Oracle has something in her mouth. Gently, I take it from her.

It's a single white hair tie. More importantly, it's KAORI's hair tie!

"..Where did you find this?"

Oracle turns around and starts walking around the side of the house. She picks a spot near the garage, and then stops.
She starts pawing the ground, sniffing the grass. Suddenly, she starts barking! Barking at nothing!

"What is it, girl?"
There's nothing there. It's just a flat patch of grass with no distinguishing marks, or anything.

What is going on?

>Use a card
>Time to call Mom.
>This is wasting my time
>Go check on Emillion.
>I have to think, what is someplace that I wouldn't be able to see with my eyes?
I need to sleep, see you in the morning
>I have to think, what is someplace that I wouldn't be able to see with my eyes?
>Use a card
>I have to think, what is someplace that I wouldn't be able to see with my eyes?
Trust the dog, it may well be the most capable person in the household.
>I have to think, what is someplace that I wouldn't be able to see with my eyes?
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Oracle keeps pawing at the ground, and barking at thin air.
I kneel down and look at the grass she seems to be pawing at. I don't see anything different about the ground, nor do I see anything changed or different back here. No holes, no digging besides what the dog has already done, and there's nothing on the ground.

So, what is Oracle trying to tell me?
Oracle seems to be getting more and more desperate. She alternates between barking at the air and digging a small hole in the ground. She sniffs at the grass, and then whimpers slightly.
I wish I could speak dog.

I have to put the rest of this puzzle together myself. I'm a smart girl; I can use my mind! What is something that I can't see that would make Oracle behave this way?

Smell? Maybe. If Oracle is trying to tell me that Kaori was here, then she would have also known where Kaori went from here.
Sound? I don't hear anything, and it's the wrong angle to the road and the neighbors for any sound to come through.

I walk across the grass one more time, and am sure to crawl on my hands and knees to inspect every blade of grass. If even one blade is bent over slightly; I stop and examine it. Still, I have nothing.

Oracle has taken to just staring at me. It's almost as if she's getting frustrated with my inability to see something obvious to her.
Okay, so where else could Kaori have-

A thought hits me.
There's a place that I haven't been in a very long time. A world that runs parallel to ours. When Mom was still working at Fortune; I spent some time learning the ins and outs of that place, and used its power as my own.
Of course, I don't really go there often. Why would I? It's a vast world filled with emptiness. Sure, it has some advantages if you're strong enough at manipulating it. I still don't use its power much anymore. I prefer to use the cards, because those are of my own creation.

I haven't done this in a while, but it's still worth trying. I close my eyes, and picture reality itself washing over me like a river. With a brief lapse in concentration; I fall through.

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My eyes open, and the familiar ringing in my ears comes back. I almost forgot the feeling. It's like coming back to an old home.
At the same time, I hate thinking of it that way. An old home. It's an awful place where monsters are born. It is NOT my home.

Next to me stands the sheer white wall of the house. Our house has a presence here, as it allows Mom to manipulate and change it without having to do things like clean or redecorate. That's one handy thing I'll give this place, is that it cuts choretime in half.

I turn around to look in the distance, and am immediately confronted with another wall.
Strange, this place should extend outward into the distance. Instead, I find myself face-to-face with a corner.
Looking around me, I'm surrounded by walls! Walls on every side! What is going on? This place should be completely devoid, but it's almost like someone has been building something here!

I take a closer look at where Oracle was barking, and notice that there's a door hidden on the wall straight across from where I came in.
This is getting weird. I hoist myself up onto the wall and pull myself onto its edge. I need to see what's going on.
Searching in every direction, I'm suddenly aware of what I have stepped into.

"A labyrinth?" I say, with disbelief. In almost all directions, walls snake and move at 90 degree angles all the way into the horizon.
The other world has become nothing short of a maze!

>Time to get walking.
>Search around, Oracle seems to have noticed something here.
>Go get Mom!
>Go get Oracle and have her help me through the maze.
>Okay, time for to use a card.
>Go get Oracle and have her help me through the maze.
This could never backfire.
>Search around, Oracle seems to have noticed something here.
>Okay, time for to use a card.
Maybe looking at the maze from higher up would help.
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I need to search around a little. Oracle definitely thinks there's something here that might lead to Kaori.
I don't know how she knows, but she's a dog. Dogs have really good senses about this sort of thing, right?

I walk through the door and continue inside of the maze. I am so glad that the other world decided to turn into a maze instead of something like a math test. Mazes are easy, they're puzzles that kids are meant to solve in their free time.
All anyone has to do to beat any maze is keep their hand on one side of it. They'll take some time getting there, but they will eventually explore the whole thing.

The maze turns up ahead, and I follow my hand around the corner. There's another left turn in a fork in the maze; so I eagerly continue on the trail.

With this, I'll have this whole thing solved in no-time!
There's one more left turn in this branch as I'm taken back around to a white wall that extends outward quite some way. Instead of following it, I notice that there's another turn on the left. That's when I make.. a.. left.. turn?

Oh my god.
"I'VE GONE IN A CIRCLE!" I yell to nothing, and nobody. "How is that possible?! I thought this was an unbeatable strategy!"

I jump back on the wall and survey my surroundings.
Oh no.
This isn't any ordinary maze. This is a maze made of lots of little interconnecting mazes! I can't use the left-hand trick to solve it, because I'll just go in circles!

No! No, no, no, NO!

I jump off the wall, and sigh.
"I think I need a little help."



"Okay girl!" I pick up the still-confused dog. The transit from real-world back to the other world has probably confused her quite a bit, but I'm still optimistic.
"Go on, find Kaori!" I set Oracle down, and she immediately starts sniffing the floor. She emits a light whimper, and starts to trot across the hallways of the maze.

"Wait up!" I yell, trying to keep up behind her.

Oracle bobs and weaves between the hallways like it's the most natural thing in the world to her. She has something locked in her sights, and appears to be homing in straight on it.

I round a corner, and notice something unusual.

It's a.. cell? A pure white cell with white bars hangs in the air.
"WOOF!" Oracle barks at the strange structure.

"Oracle?" I hear a faint voice from within. A figure approaches the bars from within the cell. "MASAMI?!"

"KAORI!" I immediately rush toward the bars, and try to rip them off with my hands. My eyes meet Kaori's.
She's been crying.
A lot.

"KAORI I'M SO SORRY!" I grab her through the bars, and give her a strong hug. I can feel her tears soaking into my sleeve. "How did this even happen?!"
"I went to take a nap, had a weird dream and.. woke up here." Kaori tries to hide her face so I can't see her eyes. "J-just get me out of here, okay?!"

"Right! just, um."

>Use a card to smash the bars!
>Use a card to call for help.
>Go tell Mom right away.
>W-what kind of dream?
>Try to take Kaori out of here, back to the real world.
>W-what kind of dream?
>Use Belle to smash the bars!
>W-what kind of dream?
>Try to take Kaori out of here, back to the real world.

Didn't we un-card Belle?
>Didn't we un-card Belle?
I do not recall such a thng happening, but it has been quite a long time.
>Use a card to smash the bars!
>W-what kind of dream?
Will start writing in a few, I'm just leaving for work, now.
>Didn't we un-card Belle?
Nope, none of the cards that Masami has made have been un-carded. Only the ones she got from Fortune's monsters.
Rolled 76 (1d100)

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"Wh-" I feel a cold chill down my spine, "What kind of dream did you have?"
"Does it matter? Just get me out!" Kaori is getting impatient.

"I-I just thought, aren't dreams kind of your, 'thing'? What kind of dream would you consider 'weird'?"
"I don't want to talk about it right now!" Kaori frowns, but I tell she's clearly unnerved. "Just do that thing you do where you make everything right again, okay?"

"That's not really what I do."
"Just do it!"

I reach into my pocket and take out the only card I know that's strong enough to have some effect on the other world.
"Belle, I know I mostly use you to cheat at P.E., but this is serious." I take the card out of my pocket and look at it. "Give me a hand, please."

I focus on Belle, and feel her wash over me. Her heavy armor adorns my shoulders, and her sword finds its way to my hands.

"Kaori, don't move." I notice the razor-sharp shards resting on the floor, and notice something else about Kaori, "Where are your clothes? Or your shoes?"
"I don't sleep in my clothes, or my shoes!" She looks almost offended that I would ask that question.

It wasn't something that I drew much attention to, but she's only wearing a simple pair of panties. No shoes, nothing.
"Kaori, stand back and cover your eyes."

She nods, and slinks to the back of her cell. I approach the bars, and pull my sword into a mighty baseball swing!
Here we go,
"One.. Two.."
I breathe in slowly.

Belle's sword whistles through the air as I put my shoulders, back, and every bit of concentration into freeing my sister. The sword collides with the white bars!


I wait for the pieces of the bars to finish their chattering on the ground before I give instruction to Kaori.

"Kaori, take my hand." I walk into the cell, and stretch my hand out.
She takes my hand, and I lift her up into a princess carry. Maybe like this, I can lift her over the fragments at the entrance.

"WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!" Oracle starts barking like crazy. I freeze for a moment, and start to understand what she's hearing.

Slowly, behind me, the glass is starting to crack and splinter once more!
Immediately, I leap backwards and cradle Kaori's head at my chest! Kaori shrieks at the sudden and violent moment, and I just narrowly clear the bars of the cell!

Wait, the bars of the cell?
I land outside of the prison, and watch as the bars I had JUST shattered quickly reform at my feet. The parts of the bars lift up from the floor and quickly slot into place like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle!
Within the blink of an eye; the bars have regrown back to their original position.

Kaori keeps hugging me around my shoulders, and I can feel her bare body shivering. A gasp leaves my lips when I realize something: If Oracle hadn't started barking, I would have been trapped in there too.

"T-this wasn't meant to keep you in." I say to Kaori, "This was meant to trap me in there with you!"

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I set Kaori down and take off Belle's cloak. Gently, I wrap it around her shoulders. We both follow Oracle back to the 'entrance' or whatever you can call this maze. The whole time I can practically feel the distraught aura leaving her body.
Or maybe I'm just feeling her body heat. It's hard to tell when she's not wearing clothes.

"Good girl, Oracle." Kaori seems quick to thank her little white dog.
"Yeah, thanks Oracle. You really saved the day, there." I scratch her behind the ear.

"Do you really think that was meant to trap you instead of me?"
"I can't think of any reason they would reform as quick as they did." I feel myself glancing over my shoulder occasionally. "Someone had to be watching us. How would they have known to try regrowing the bars the second I walked into the cell?"

"Don't even suggest that." Kaori clutches the cape closer to herself, "I'm scared enough as it is; I don't need to be thinking about someone watching me."

"You said you had a weird dream. What was it about?" I pull the cape back over her shoulder.
"I don't even know if I can describe it." Kaori seems weary.

"T-try your best!"
"I remember this dream about jellyfish, and then manta rays, and then toasters, cars, a wall of books, then weird shapes, weird symbols, some kind of occult thing. I couldn't control it at all and all this stuff just happened for reasons I didn't understand."

"Aren't dreams kind of.. your thing?" I can't think of a better way to describe Kaori's magic. She can normally control her dreams, the dreams of other people, even pull people into one big dream.
"I know, Masami. That's what's so scary about it. I remember trying to lucid dream and everything just got weirder. It's like something just sort-of, wasn't working."

"Did you see anything else?"
Kaori takes a second, thinking about my suggestion.

"I remember some figure hugging me, and combing my hair."
"W-was it a scary figure?"

"No, actually. It was a familiar one. Then again, nothing about that dream was familiar, so it probably doesn't mean anything."

That doesn't help at all.

Oracle stops at the same place that I came in at. I grab Kaori's hand, and pick Oracle up with my free hand.
"B-by the way, Kaori. I haven't done this in a while. So if we come out near the outside of the house, I'm sorry."
"W-what?! You better put us both back in our room so I can get some clothes on! I don't want the neighbors seeing me naked!"

I didn't even think about that. I put some extra care into this jump, and concentrate.


I feel Kaori almost immediately let go of my hand as our room comes into view. I'm unsure why, but then I hear Kaori.

"ORACLE! NO! GET OFF THE BED!" Kaori immediately grabs her by the collar. The dog resists, instead insisting that she stay right where Kaori sleeps.

>It's fine, let her stay.
>Maybe she should be in our room tonight.
>Forget that, let's go tell Mom right now!
>Hold on, let's not tell anyone.
>Maybe she should be in our room tonight.
>Forget that, let's go tell Mom right now!
Doggo seems like a good warning system for further shenanigans.
>Forget that, let's go tell Mom right now!
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"I think she's just worried about you, Kaori."
"She can be worried while off our bed, you know!"

"Oh! That's a thought!" I have an idea! "Oracle was able to find you when bad things happened. Maybe she can stay in here with us tonight?"
"Well for one, she'll probably jump on our bed in the middle of the night." Kaori frowns, "and for two, there's no way Mom is going to let that happen."

I cross my arms, and pout. "We need to go tell her about this right away. Let's do that and then worry about Oracle."
"Great, we'll-"

I step out of the room and into the hallway, and realize Kaori is following me.
"..Sis, aren't you going to put on some clothes?"
"Hmm? Well it's just Mom, so what does it matter?"

"Put on your dress, at least."
"Fine, fine." Kaori walks back in the room.

You both go downstairs and realize that Emillion has now extended the search to some of the other family members. Mom appears to be searching somewhere in the cabinets of the kitchen.

"Mom!" I yell. She turns around and immediately gasps.
"KAORI! WHERE DID-" Mom realizes how excitable and girlish she sounded just now. She tones it down and tries putting on her best stern tough-mom voice. "Kaori! Where did you go, young lady! You better have a good reason for making us all hunt around like this!"

You're not very imposing, Mom.

"We do, really." Kaori sighs, pulling at her dress a bit. "Can we talk about this in private? It's kind of important, and a secret."
Mom tells big bro to go make some tea, and she takes us aside into the other room.

I can hear Emillion following along behind us. He apparently doesn't understand the meaning of the word 'secret'. I don't say anything about it.

"Now." Mom sits down on the chair in a more private room attached to the kitchen. "What happened?"

Kaori explains the story about how she went to take a nap, had a bunch of weird dreams that she couldn't control, and woke up in the other world. Then she described Oracle finding her, and you rescuing her. I can see her blush slightly at having to mention me saving her.

"Do you remember anything about the dream?"
"Just some.. weird stuff, cars, books, a symbol."

"A symbol?"
"Yeah, I saw it a couple of times."

"Can you draw it?"
Kaori takes a pad of paper, and starts outlining the shape of whatever it was she saw. She draws something resembling an 'o' with an accent to it.
"Sort of like that, I guess."

"I've never seen that one." Mom picks up the pad, examining it closely.

You hear Emillion gulp behind you.
"What?" I ask him.

"Kaori, don't you recognize that?" Emillion seems a little alarmed at its presence, like he wants to go screaming out of the room. "That's the master's sigil! The chairman had that on his ring!"

Kaori stops, and her face goes blank.
"..That's Dad's sigil? Why would I see it in my dream?"

>Looks like I gotta go beat up an old man.
>Hold on, calm down.
>Would anyone else know about this mark?
>Any magic monsters?
>Looks like I gotta go beat up an old man.
I'm having a splitting headache, so I am off to bed. Will continue tomorrow!
>Would anyone else know about this mark?
Has the chairman really not learned anything?
>Hold on, calm down.
>Would anyone else know about this mark?

Gotta love Kaori the secret exhibitionist.
>pull my sword into a mighty baseball swing!
Disgusting. Masami seriously needs some sword training.

>Looks like I gotta go beat up an old man.
>Would anyone else know about this mark?
Damn, guess I missed this starting. Oh well.
It's an open secret to her family at this point.

Going to start writing soon.
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I feel the gears in my head spin. They slip slightly before coming to one inescapable conclusion.

"Looks like I'm gonna have to beat up an old man." I feel my lips curl downward, "Again."

"No! Wait! Masami! You can't beat him up again, he barely survived the first time you did!" Kaori seems genuinely concerned.
"Sure I can." I cross my arms.

"Masami, Kaori." Emillion interrupts us, "The chairman isn't even in the country."
Kaori blinks, "How do you know that?"

"I got a postcard from the clown about a week ago." Emillion huffs, "It was mailed to the master's mansion. It was a picture of her, Tower, and the Chairman. I think they were in Europe someplace."

"Europe?" Mom seem puzzled.
"Could he mess with Kaori from the other side of the planet?" I feel uneasy. I'm hoping his influence isn't that strong.

"I don't think so. At the very least, I don't think he would waste his time doing so." Emillion crosses his arms.
"Does anyone else know about that sigil?" Kaori seems almost relieved.

"Just the surviving monsters who lived in his home. So there's you, and I. Amarante, and-" Emillion blinks. "There's THAT guy, but-."

"What guy?" I feel a sense of dread.
"You mean Othello?" Kaori seems skeptical. "I don't think it's him."

"Who's Othello?"

"He was one of the guards at dad's mansion." Emillion tilts his head back. "Him, along with Amarante and I; I think the three of us are the last surviving guards that the Chairman had."

"Why didn't he come here?" Mom seems more worried about this guy than any of us here.
"He didn't turn like we did. He's still a monster." Emillion seems uncomfortable talking about it, "He stayed back at the mansion, said he wanted to wait for master to come back."

"He's still there?!" Kaori blinks.
"What's his ability?" I focus on the task at hand. "Can he make people stop aging or kidnap them from their dreams?"

"No, he's just a big guy with an axe." Emillion seems just as confused as you are.

"Well, we should go talk to him." Mom sighs, "I don't want to, but it's probably worth at least asking him about it."
"It might not be anything. That doesn't seem like something he would do. He would be more akin to tear down the wall of the house and take me from my bedroom." Kaori seems confused.

"I have another suggestion." A new voice seems to have been listening in on us.

I turn around and notice that Amarante has come home from the library, and she has decided to take it upon herself to eavesdrop.

"I thought you were at the library." Emillion frowns.
"I was, but then Masami didn't come back to study, and I wanted to scold her."

"I had a good reason!"
"What's the suggestion, honey?" Mom defuses the situation.

"We all take a nap, and see if it comes back."

"That seems.. kind of risky." Kaori shivers.
"True, but we can find out who is doing it that way."

>I think we should question this monster, first.
>So we're taking a nap to set a trap?
>I don't know, I'm fine with whatever.
Kaori's husband will be a lucky guy.

I think we should question this monster, first.
>I think we should question this monster, first.
>I think we should question this monster, first.
It may not lead anywhere but it's worth a try.

Considering to get that position he'd have to survive some thorough grillings from the family, he would have to be.
>Kaori's husband will be a lucky guy.
I agree!
>Considering to get that position he'd have to survive some thorough grillings from the family, he would have to be.
Oh, you could not imagine. Neither could I.

Although, fun fact, the idea of Kaori and Masami getting boyfriends was floated at the beginning of the quest and promptly shot down. I wish I could play with the idea, but I understand that I couldn't do the sheer magic shenanigans involved justice.

Anyway, writing!
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Although I have been thinking about it and about the difficulty that having an invisible sibling could cause for poor Kaori and Masami's future romantic relationships.

>Next post almost done.
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"I think we should question this monster, first." I feel myself lost in thought, "It may not go anywhere, but it's worth a try."
"Fine with me." Amarante stretches her arms, "I'm still gonna go nap, though."

"I don't think that's a good idea." Kaori adjusts her voice.
"Sis." Emillion huffs, "You just heard the kidnapping story. Do you want to take your chances?"

"Oh I'll be fine, I can handle myself." Amarante completely ignores Emillion's warnings, and heads out of the room.
"What is wrong with her?" Emillion lays his head against the table, "She doesn't care about anything. She thinks everything is just going to be the same and that she can live in the moment."

"She's always been like that." Kaori tries comforting her brother.
"In either case, can we get going before it gets any later? I don't want to be seriously afraid to go to bed tonight." I didn't want to say it, but I did want to nap a little.

"I agree." Emillion stands up from his chair.
"I'm going, too." Kaori also stands up, "If Dad's involved, I want to be involved, too."

"Do you three need me to drive you, there?" Mom offers a helping hand.

"No, no, I'll just jump us there." You make sure you have your cards with you, and gather your three siblings together. "I think if what's-his-name is really watching us, then driving there by car might be dangerous."

"Okay, call me if anything happens." Mom doesn't seem very accepting, but she doesn't do anything to stop us.

Gently, I think about the Chairman's mansion, off in the distance. I think about how empty it must be, and for a second; a part of me considers how lonely it is to live there all by yourself. Or to even live there with things that could never care for me.



My eyes dart open, and I find myself in the overgrown courtyard of the mansion. The Chairman's mansion. Or, as Kaori puts it-
"It's hard to come back here." Kaori sighs.

"I know, I know it is." Emillion steps away from your grip. "I don't want to think of it as 'home', either."
"But, still. That's what it is, right?" Kaori takes a step, matting some weeds beneath her feet. "This is home, after all."

"Kaori, no. Don't say that." I scold my sister. "This is NOT home. This is just the place you used to live."
"I know that, but-"

"Masami, it's really hard to not think of this as home. We grew up here. It's the place I was born."

"Yeah, and it's an empty, haunted mansion now." I retort with what I think is a good comeback.

"Think of how lonely Othello must be." Kaori gazes at the bent fencing. "Living here, all by yourself, no one to talk to, waiting for someone who probably doesn't remember that he exists."
"I offered him the chance to come live with us." Emillion kicks over a broken wind-vane. "but he said he couldn't. He wanted to be here to greet the Chairman when he came back."

"If he comes back."

>Okay, enough being sad.
>How are we going in?
>Rush the front door?
>Through the roof?
>I can make ANOTHER hole in the place.
>How are we going in?
>Rush the front door?
>Magical Girl breach and clear
>Not thinking about Mir's own difficulties in her future romantic relationships.

>Okay, enough being sad.
>How are we going in?
>Okay, enough being sad.
>Rush the front door?

So many shenanigans, too much cuteness.

Invisible dating - could be cute, spooky or even kinky, but definitely not easy either way.
>>Not thinking about Mir's own difficulties in her future romantic relationships.
I could barely imagine.
-Maybe a combo of all three, even.
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"Okay, enough being sad." Even I can only cry so much, "Let's get in there!"

"I don't have a key anymore." Kaori sighs.
"I think there's still the entrance around the back-"

"Stop, wait!" A thought hits my mind.
If this really IS the cause of our problems as of late, then there's no reason to think that he might not be in there waiting for us!

"We're going through the front door." I say, with certainty.

"Straight through the front door." I take Belle out, and feel her vestments cover me. "We're going to rush it, if we have to!"
"Masami, why?" Kaori grabs my shoulder, "It's just Othello!"

"Right, but what if he's in there waiting for us? If we're taking him by surprise, then I want it to make the most of it! Come on! Let's go!"

"I think you're taking this too seriously!"

Kaori thinks I'M taking this too seriously?!
"Kaori, you were kidnapped." I helpfully remind her as I approach the front door, "What could be more serious than that?"

"Well, not busting down the front door of the mansion, serious!"

I pay little attention to her words, and instead charge headlong straight inside!
Oh, the door was unlocked.

It opens with little to no resistance, and I nearly fall flat on my face as I burst inside.
I regain my composure, and then start searching around for something that might resemble a monster.

Emillion wasn't kidding; this place looks bare. It wasn't this deserted the last time I was here. Now, there's nothing on the walls, nothing along the hallways. It looks as clean as it can be, but I'm almost certain that it has some self-cleaning properties just like my house does. With it being magic, and all.

My siblings casually stroll inside without any of the care I'm taking to this operation. They immediately give away my stealthy approach.
"Hello? Is anyone here?"

They both step into the hallway and look around for any signs of life. Kaori sighs, and Emillions groans.
"Even the carpet is gone." Kaori frowns.
"I don't even understand, where did it all go?" Emillion crosses his arms. "No one has been in here.. except for Othello. Were there burglars?"
"I don't think burglars would steal old carpet or pictures of people they don't know." Kaori looks at a place where a picture was clearly against the wall. "I think the mansion is just..going away without anyone to tend to it."

"That's sad."

I don't think it's sad, so I don't say anything.

We continue down the hallways of empty pictures and missing flooring. Slowly, the hallways start to appear populated again, the walls have portraits of scary figures on them, and the floors have fine Persian rugs, and brilliant tiling.

We enter the, uh, 'throne room'. Why does Kaori like this Chairman guy so much? He has a throne room! What a jerk.

In the corner sits a single, solitary statue standing at attention. Kaori and Emillion immediately recognize the figure.

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"OTHELLO!" Emillion seems more surprised at the state of his friend than Kaori. Kaori seems more, uncomfortable, seeing the armored knight in the corner.

It's true, the knight standing in the corner appears dilapidated and rusted into a shell. A layer of corrosion covers what was probably a shiny bronze exterior at one point.

Hey, I DO know this guy! He was here when I was called out a year ago to help Emillion after he 'turned'! Huh, he was a lot shinier, back then.

The figure tries to move, much to my surprise. It makes a hideous creak as it does so.
"Oh my god, are you okay?!"

The statue only groans in response.
"Emillion.." It sighs, "What are you doing here? Is Master back?"

"No! No he is not! What are YOU doing here? Your armor is covered in holes, your face is missing its mask! Where did your face go?!"
"I lost it." It replies, simply and curtly. "Can you leave me be, now?"

>No, we came to ask some questions.
>Like why is the mansion disappearing?
>Why are you still here?
>Oh for crying out- Do we have to take this thing home, too?
>No, we came to ask some questions.
>Like why is the mansion disappearing?
>What do you know about labyrinths?
He doesn't seem like a very likely culprit now.
>No, we came to ask some questions.
>Like why is the mansion disappearing?
>Oh for crying out- Do we have to take this thing home, too?
The Masami interview technique, ask all the questions!
>No, we came to ask some questions.
>Like why is the mansion disappearing?
>Why are you still here?
>Oh for crying out- Do we have to take this thing home, too?
>No, we came to ask some questions.
>Like why is the mansion disappearing?
All three you say? Hmmm...
Man thinking lewd thoughts about Mir just feels wrong in a way that thinking lewd thoughts about Kaori doesn't.
Mir is more innocent and impressionable, so it makes sense.
The idea of using her power to cheat at school or watch people when they're showering hasn't even crossed her mind.

>starting to write.
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"No, we came to ask some questions." I put on the strongest face that I can.

The monster creaks, and you can almost hear it sighing.
"What kind of questions do you seek of me?"


The iron statue is silent for a minute. Kaori and Emillion stare at me like I just asked the dumbest question, ever.
"No, no I have not." The monster creaks slightly at his words.

I'm not convinced.
"Okay, well, why are you still here?"

He takes a minute to answer, but then says something incredibly stupid.
"I'm waiting for the chairman to return. He could be home any minute now."

Kaori sighs, and Emillion pats his friend on the shoulder.
"Are we done here, Masami? I hate seeing him like this."
"You said that the last time, Emillion." The monster replies, "I can assure you that I will maintain my post until further notice."
Even those stubborn words cause Emillion to sigh.

"Are we gonna have to take you home, too?" I frown, "I want to get mad at you because you're probably the last monster left, but you're just so stubborn and you're acting so pitiable."

"This is my home." It replies, "I'm happy here, please leave me to it."

"If this is your home, why is it just disappearing?!" I raise what I think is a very good point, "Why are parts of this mansion just.. going away? Why are you rusting? I didn't know you guys even rusted!"

"Just like everything else, the mansion is aging." The monster replies, "As things age, they break. Then it's up to someone to fix them. No one is around to fix it anymore, so it's disappearing, and will one day vanish."

"Not everything is that way! Where are people who used to fix it?"

"She's no longer here." The monster is starting to make me feel uneasy, "She was the person who made this place ageless, resisted the march of time. You should ask her yourself if you want to know why she let this place disappear. Or ask her brother why they left."

"Wha-" Emillion pouts, "We left because there was nothing here for us! Look at this dump. The Master is gone, the place is disappearing, and you're waiting for someone who doesn't even remember that you exist!"

What did that monster just say?

I try to stop Emillion from ranting at the steel statue, and ask a question about something that he mentioned.
"Wait, wait, Emillion, Monster-man, what do you mean by 'She was the person who made this place ageless'? What does that mean?"

"Didn't your dear 'brother' or 'sister' tell you?" The monster is getting sarcastic, and it's making me mad. "Emillion's sister is timeless. She was the reason that the master, and the master before him, could live as long as they could. Her power is to literally stop the effects of time."

"So?! What does this have to do with anything!?" Emillion huffs.

>Wait. Amarante?!
>Why didn't you tell me about this, Emillion?!
>You're lying, monsterman!
>Stay calm, I'm sure there's a good reason for this.
>Wait. Amarante?!
>So I can't grow up because of her?
>Why didn't you tell me about this, Emillion?!
>Wait. Amarante?!
>Why didn't you tell me about this, Emillion?!
>Wait. Amarante?!
>Why didn't you tell me about this, Emillion?!
>>So I can't grow up because of her?
Well, you couldn't blame her if that were the case - little sisters are the best. Though it might be a tad unethical to keep them little against their will.
She might even be doing it unintentionally.
"Wait, Amarante? Are you talking about big sis?!" I exclaim.
"If that's what you call her, sure." The monster remains still, "She was Master's favorite. She kept the mansion organized, and kept his servants young and fit."

"I can't grow up because of her?!" I feel a little betrayed that I didn't know about this sooner.
"That would be up to her discretion, Priestess." Oh, how I hate that name.

"Masami, please, we're trying to figure out who kidnapped Kaori." Emillion seems dismissive.

"And YOU!" I huff, "Why didn't you tell me about this, Emillion?!"
"W- You're not having enough faith in my sister. If she was going to use her magic on us, surely she would have told us, right?"

"Well, who else could it be!?" I can feel my face turning red, "None of us have grown in a year, and apparently you knew about this all along!"
"I knew she could do that, but there's no way she would do it!"

"You two, please." Kaori adjusts her voice, "try to focus and not bicker."

"I'm not bickering!"
"Neither am I!"

"You're all very loud, can you keep it down?" Even the monster is getting tired of this.

"Listen, we need to go talk to Amarante first." Kaori crosses her arms, "I don't think she would be the person who kidnapped me, and we're not sure if she's even doing that aging thing intentionally or not."

"Yeah! My sister wouldn't just keep us small if she didn't mean to!" Emillion seems like he's happy to have won this argument.

"Fine, let's go talk to her." I cross my arms, "but first-"
I turn toward the monster one last time, and ask the question that I really don't want to ask.

"Do you want to come live someplace where-"
"Stop." He states, simply. "I've made my choice. I will wait for master."

Kaori and Emillion seem a little saddened by the monster's answer.
Maybe I should, as well. Unfortunately, I have too many questions on my mind to think about it at the moment.

"I'll come back in a week." Emillion whispers to Kaori, "Maybe I can convince him to come back with us."
"You two, take my hand." You don't even acknowledge that.
Kaori and Emillion gently grasp each of your hands. You can feel Emillion turn back to look at his friend before vanishing.



I feel mad.
No, I feel worse than mad.

I feel like someone who I could have trusted has been keeping the biggest secret from me ever.
I don't even know how to feel about that. I'm numb to the idea at the moment.

We take a step into the front yard of our house. I look at the door, and just think of all the things I want to tell Amarante.
Well, first and foremost is 'How could you?!'.

"Masami, wait." I feel Emillion put his hand on my shoulder, "What are you going to do, exactly? You're not going to go in there and throw wild accusations at my sister, are you?"

>..No, I'm going to tell Mom and let her throw accusations at my sister.
>I don't know what I'm going to do.
>I'm going to go to my room and cry about it, first.
>I don't know what I'm going to do.
>No, I'm just going to ask her a very pointed question.
>No, I'm just going to ask her a very pointed question.
Activate grumpmode!

I like this, though I do wonder how much Masami's idea of pointed questions would actually differ from wild accusations.
>I don't know what I'm going to do.

This one's nice too!
>I don't know what I'm going to do.
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"I don't know what I'm going to do." I groan. "I don't feel right just coming out and accusing her."
"At the very least try to go easy, okay?" Kaori scolds me, lightly. "I know how you approach things, and you're not very subtle and lack any kind of tact whatsoever."

What is that supposed to mean?!
"Are you saying that I lack tact?!"

Why are these two staring at me like that?!
"I can't even tell if you're being sarcastic." Emillion sighs.

"Fine, I won't go throwing around wild accusations. I'm just going to go in there, and ask a question."
"That's good."

"I'm just going to ask her a really pointed question."

I gallantly approach the door, and fling it open. I find Mom looking like she's getting ready to go somewhere.

"Mom, where's Amarante?"
"Sleeping upstairs, did you find anything out from the monster?"

"Yeah, I found out everything I wanted to know." I huff, "I think Amarante has some things she wants to tell us."

I stride past Mom and straight upstairs. I approach the door to her room, and rudely knock on the door.
"Sis!" I yell, "I'm coming in!"

My hand grasps the doorknob, and then I press onward into the room.
"Amarante, we need to talk."

No response.

The bed is nice and made-up. It's like no one has even slept in it. There's not a single indentation in the blankets or the sheets.
"Oh no." I whisper.

Emillion comes up the stairs and enters the room behind me, "What?! SIS? Sis, what's wrong?!"
He scans the room for a moment, and then turns to me with a very angry stare.

"What did you do?!"
"I didn't do anything! I just opened the door!"

"Did you kidnap my sister?!"
"What?" I'm absolutely dumbfounded that Emillion would even ask that, "No! I just got here!"

"Will you two stop?" Kaori walks in behind Emillion, "Amarante clearly isn't here, let's see if we can find anything about where she may have gone."

Emillion huffs, and starts searching the right side of the room. Kaori and I start searching on the desks and in the closet. Most of everything in here belongs to her; If she left, then she is traveling light.

I turn over a box, and a bunch of cosmetic items fall out. I bend down and start picking up each of the tiny glass vials, and marvel at how many different shades of pink and red exist. More shades than I realized was possible.

"Sis, why?" I hear Emillion say something. That makes me stop and turn toward him.
"Find anything?"

Emillion doesn't respond, but what I can see are tiny tears forming at his eyes.

"Hey, little gu-"
"-Emillion, what's wrong?"

I walk up behind him, and notice that he's peeled the blankets on the bed back, and is holding a note.

The note simply reads, "Emillion, I'm sorry. I hope you grow up to be strong without me."

That's all it says.
A few teardrops stain the sheet of paper as Emillion hunches over it.

>Hug your brother.
>Okay, Now it's time to tell Mom.
>Start crying?
>I hate it when I have to go drag sisters back home.
>Hug your brother.
>Okay, Now it's time to tell Mom.
>Hug your brother.
>Okay, Now it's time to tell Mom.
You'd think people would get how counterproductive this kind of thing is where Masami is concerned.
>Hug your brother.
>Okay, Now it's time to tell Mom.
To be fair, she hasn't been a subject of Masami's tenacity, yet.

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Emillion's hands start to shake, and slowly crumple the note from our sister. His sobbing intensifies, and you can start to hear the first sign of whimpering from my brother as his shoulders start to sag.
"..Why?" Emillion manages to say one more thing before a sniffle overtakes him.

I wouldn't be lying if I said that there was a stone in my stomach, either. That sinking feeling slowly overtakes my composure, and I find myself sinking onto Emillion's back.
My arms wrap around his shoulders, and I find myself pulling my little brother closer to my heart.

He completely loses his will to fight back the tears at this point, and starts to wail.
Kaori turns around from the desk, and rushes to our side. She takes one glance at the letter, and clasps Emillion's hand.

"Why?" Emillion states, once more, "Does she just hate me? Am I that bad of a brother?"

"No, don't say that." Kaori remains composed while we cuddle into a crying mess. "She's just having a conflict of conscious. All we have to do is find her and talk to her."

"She left because of me, because of- us." Emillion sinks down onto the bed, and I follow closely behind. He seeks out the refuge of the pillow to hide his reddened face.

"I'm going to get her back." I pull him slightly closer, "Sisters don't get to run away around here, it's like a rule."
"You can say that again." Kaori says, sarcastically.

"What if she doesn't want to come back?" Emillion is still trying to argue, "What if I scared her off for good?!"

"Kaori." I try to give as simple of an instruction as I can, "Go get Mom."


Emillion has flipped over in my arms, and is now hugging me with the full intensity that only the littlest sibling could give. I cradle his head against my shoulder. Somehow, in just the few minutes we've been laying here, he's managed to completely soak the sleeve of my shirt with his tears.

Mom sits in the only chair in the room, and looks over the letter.
"And you found this in here?"
"Just now, yeah." Kaori tries to stand in for me, as I currently have my hands full. "I think it was under the blankets of the bed."

Emillion presses his head even further into my neck. I wish I could say something to make him feel better, but who am I to tell someone else to stop crying.
Especially when it comes to siblings. Siblings are a special case for my entire family, it seems.

"So that was an hour ago. She couldn't have gone very far in an hour. I'll call the police department and ask if they can put out a notice." This seems to make sense to Mom for some reason.

"I don't think that's going to work." Kaori crosses her arms, "If you want my opinion, she built the labyrinth in the other world. I think that would be the best place to start looking."

"Why would she do that?" Mom seems as confused as we are.

>Any ideas for searching the labyrinth in the other world?
>We're going to go look there anyway.
>Mom, take Emillion.
>Let's go back to the mansion, maybe she went 'home'.
>Any ideas for searching the labyrinth in the other world?
Hmm. Kaori is being weird, although Amarante might be in there whether she built the labyrinth or not.
>We're going to go look there anyway.
>Let's go back to the mansion, maybe she went 'home'.
>Any ideas for searching the labyrinth in the other world?
>We're going to go look there anyway.
Having problems posting next post, one sec.
Okay, I hate doing this, but its not letting me upload images for some reason despite working fine earlier. Instead it just says "upload failed" with no error. Thanks 4chan!
So story posts may be imageless until I can get this sorted out.
"Well, Kaori. Any ideas for searching the other world?"
"Not really, no." Kaori frowns, "Oh! I do have an idea! Oracle!"

I gently shift, and try not to push Emillion too far away.
"That's right. Oracle found you earlier in the other world. He navigated the labyrinth as if it wasn't there. We could use her to find Amarante on the other side."

"How do you know she's there?" I hear a mumbled voice coming from my chest. Emillion slowly pulls away from me, "This is just a guess based on a weird thing that happened. You don't know if she actually went there!"

"Well-" I start to sympathize with his concern.
"It's the best lead we have." Kaori crosses her arms, "If she's not there, we'll just have to look elsewhere."

"That's right!" I second my sister, "Maybe we could look at the mansion next. She may have tried to go 'home'."
Emillion frowns, and instead buries his head back into my chest.

"I'll take Emillion." Mom stands up, and gently picks up the crying mess from the bed. "You can go look for Amarante."
"Thanks, Mom." I stand up from the bed. Kaori gives Emillion a light hug.
"We'll find her, little guy." Kaori gives her little brother a light kiss.

"D-don't call me that."

We leave the room, and immediately walk outside to fetch Oracle.

Oracle seems confused, finding herself back in this sheer-white world. She takes an interest in Amarante's handbag that we brought over, just so she could know the scent.

"Woh." Kaori gasps.
"Yeah, I didn't expect this."

The other world, which was recently filled with a labyrinth, is now completely clean again! The winding maze that stretches into oblivion has completely vanished. As has the cell that once housed Kaori.
It's like it just, vanished.

"I'm getting kind of creeped out, but.. at the very least this means that she probably isn't here."
"I agree, let's-"

"Woof!" Oracle suddenly looks at something off in the distance. I can't see it, but it's definitely got Oracle's attention.
"What is it?"

Suddenly, she takes off!
"Hey! Wait up!"

We quickly run behind her as she seems to be making a straight line directly toward the horizon. The whole time she seems like she has found something that she sees which we can't.

She skids to a stop, and starts sniffing a perfectly featureless point in this entire featureless world. She starts pawing the ground.
"What is it, girl?" Kaori kneels down next to Oracle, and tries to inspect whatever it is Oracle can see.
"..I think she is sensing something that we can't see." I remember her doing the same thing outside the house, "This is how she was acting when you were captured earlier."

"So, what do we do?"
"Take my hand." I grab Kaori's hand, and wrap my hand around Oracle's collar. With some concentration; I feel myself falling back into the real world.
"Number 41." A calm lady's voice sounds out over an intercom, "Boarding, station twelve."
A mass of people march by where we came in at. They appear to be approaching a yellow line off in the distance.

"Where is this?" I blink.
"It's a bus terminal, Masami." Kaori notices the massive vehicles parked just outside the station. "It's the one in our town, even."

Oracle barks, and makes her way through the crowd once more.
"Wait!" Kaori tries to grab her, but she slips her collar and continues on.

We follow the little white dog around the crowds of people, and toward one of the terminals.
She starts cautiously inspecting all of the passengers at this particular terminal. She sniffs her handbags, and walks between the rows of seats.
Suddenly, she jumps on someone who is sitting down in one of the seats!

"Oracle!" Kaori scolds her dog, "Down! Don't do that!"
"Hey, we're sorry about-"

I approach the figure who Oracle is assaulting with her licks, and hear her say something under her breath.
"(No! Stop, Go away! Not here!)"

I pick the dog up, and the realization hits me.
She tries burying her head in a magazine; some kind of way to divert suspicion. I pull it down, and she blushes.
"Hi.." Is all she says.

>What are you doing here?
>Where are you going?
>Time for pointed questions
>Like why weren't you letting us age?
>Why the labyrinth?
>What are you doing here?
>Where are you going?
A different kind of pointed questions, so we can build up to the proper level of scolding for making the little guy cry.
>What are you doing here?
>Where are you going?
>What are you doing here?
>Where are you going?
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"Hi big sis." I try to act casual, like I'm not about to start with a flurry of pointed questions, "What are you doing?"

She doesn't seem to be able to make eye contact with me. Instead, she sighs and looks toward the dog.
"I'm running away from home." Amarante lets her jacket loosely hang off her shoulders.

"Why are you running away from home?" Kaori continues with the follow-up.

Amarante doesn't respond, instead she hugs her jacket a little closer to herself.
"Because I've done something that can't be forgiven."

I can already take a guess as to what, but I have a more important question on that thought.
"So, where are you going?"

"Someplace far away."

Kaori has another good follow-up question; "Where will you live?"
"The streets, I guess."

"But-" This is starting to become too much, "Who will you live with?"
"I'll be alone." Amarante doesn't seem the least bit sad, "But I've been alone before, it's not so bad."

If anything, the person she's making sad is me.

"Why would you do that?" Kaori rightfully scowls, "You have a place to live."

"I don't want to live there anymore." She states, her voice confident.
"Okay, why?"

"I told you; I think I've done something to make people uncomfortable and-" Amarante gulps, "I don't want to face Mom."

"Is this about the aging thing?" I cut straight to the point.
"That's one of them, yes."

Kaori takes it from me, and goes straight for the magic question.
"Okay, but did you make us quit aging?"

There's some hesitation, but she responds without waivering.
"Yes, I did."

"I thought I was doing you a favor." Amarante kneads the edge of her dress, "It didn't dawn on me how, evil, I was until recently. So I decided to just leave."

"I don't think you're evil."
"Neither do I."

"Well I FEEL evil." She states. "I was hoping you would have quit checking your heights, and I could have just pretended that nothing happened. Then you found out, and I decided to just run."

"I have one last question." Kaori gulps, "Why did you think you were doing us a favor?"

She takes a moment to answer this one.
"I know it seems weird, but I didn't want our family to disappear."

"Why would our family disappear?" I'm really confused.

"Because, once things age, they can never go back." Amarante seems confident in this answer. "Once our family grow up, they will never go back to being children again. I know that from experience."
"This is going to seem selfish, but-" She stares wistfully at the ceiling, "I just didn't want time to take you both away from me, like it had everything else."

>What do you mean by that?
>'everything else'?
>Why does it matter if I'm a kid?
>That's nice, can we go home now?
>Maybe I should let Kaori talk.
>What do you mean by that?
>everything else'?
Nee-chan is kind of a drama queen but she's a good girl really.
>Why does it matter if I'm a kid?
>Maybe I should let Kaori talk.
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"What do you mean by that?" I'm confused at what big sis is trying to say, "What do you mean 'everything else'?"

Amarante looks toward you, and you suddenly realize that her eyes are getting a little misty.
Oh no, this is going to be a huge cryfest soon, isn't it?

"I don't think myself or Emillion have ever told anyone what my true age is." She looks into my eyes, and sighs. "As of a week ago, I officially became three-hundred years old."

"Uh, happy birthday?"
"Wait, three-hundred years?!" Even Kaori is a little shocked by this, "Why didn't you tell me?!"

"It was a secret of ours, Emillion and I." Amarante leans her head back, "I was created by the great-grandfather of the person we know as the Chairman. If you wish, you may even call me by my given name-'The Sun'." She smiles, softly.

"You still didn't explain something, sis. Why does it matter if I'm still a kid?"

"My former master created me to keep him, and his children, as youthful for as long as a person could possibly be." Amarante sighs, "In my many years, I've watched so many young faces grow old, and disappear from my life."

Uh oh, she's starting to tear up.

"This is the first time in my life that I felt as if I was truly happy." She gulps, "I never really had a family before I met Emillion. This past year of my life shines brighter than every year that has come before it. I didn't want it to end so soon, with so many wonderful younger brothers and sisters at my side. Soon, you will find boyfriends and girlfriends to take my place, and you'll be gone."

I still don't really get it, but then again I guess I'm not 300 years old.

"Amarante." Kaori steps in for her own line of questioning.
"Call me The Sun, please."

Kaori frowns visibly.
"No, I'm not doing that." Atta-girl, Kaori. "Why didn't you tell us that this is what you wanted? All you had to do was say to us 'By the way, I can keep you at your age', and maybe some of us would have gone for it when we were like, 16 and were tall and busty."
Glad to know where Kaori's priorities stand.

"I don't think you would have." Amarante is just as stubborn as I am. "Growing old is a curse that all people share, but no one realizes this until it's too late to change it. In a blink of your eye, your childhood will be over, and there would be no going back. I feel that, my power exists to let others make the most of the time they do have, and I wanted to share it with my family."

"Number 42." A voice off in the distance takes me out of the mood.

"Well, I guess you can explain all that to Mom, then." I cross my arms. "Let's go home, and I'm sure you can tell Mom and Emillion all about it."

"I'm not going home." She stands up, as does everyone else on this row, "In fact, that is my boarding number. It's time for us to part ways, my loving sister."

>You don't get how this works.
>You're not the first sister I would have to drag home.
>Can you at least come explain it to your brother?
>Why do you have to leave?
>You don't get how this works.
>Can you at least come explain it to your brother?
>You're not the first sister I would have to drag home.
>Why do you have to leave?
>Can you at least come explain it to your brother?
Kaori has right priorities, by the way.
>You don't get how this works.
>You're not the first sister I would have to drag home.

Nah, flat is justice.
Have you seen Kaori's illustrations? She's not flat already, so might as well go all the way.
It's true, Kaori has a proud, developing chest.
Masami is flat as a board, though.

Going to start writing!
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"So what, you're just going to leave? You're not even going to explain to your family why you're leaving? All you told Emillion is that you hope he grows up!" Kaori is mad, now.

"At the very least come back and explain to him why you're leaving!"
"I can't do that. I don't want his last memory of me to be of a manipulating monster. If I just disappear, then his last memory of me will be a happy one. That's how all last meetings should be." Amarante smiles.
"I think he would prefer to have more memories than having a happy last memory!" Kaori crosses her arms. "How would you even know if you don't ask him!?"

Amarante is seemingly ignoring us, "He'll understand why I did this in time."

She doesn't expect me to grab her by the sleeve.
"You don't get how this works." I furrow my brow, "You wouldn't be the first sister that I would have to drag back home."
"Doubtfully the last, either." Kaori, you're not helping!

"Masami, I'm really happy that you care enough to come find me, and that you care enough to try to stop me from leaving."
"Great, so lets-"

"Which is why I'm sorry that I have to do this."
"No-" I reach into my pocket, and can feel Belle stir. "It's why I'm sorry that I have to do this-"


Wait, what the heck just happened?
Within the blink of an eye; Kaori and I find ourselves standing in the other world. Its sheen reflection creating a brilliant glow off the bars in front of us.
Wait! The bars in front of us?!

"HEY!" I yell.
"Again?!" Kaori seems baffled.

It's true, Kaori and I find ourselves back in a familiar place. A prison cell which seems suspended in the other world. Only this time, we're both on the inside, looking out.
We're not alone here, either. Amarante stands outside.

"I'm sorry I have to do this." Amarante seems worried, "This one will vanish in about twenty minutes like the last prison, and then you can go home. Don't try to break the bars again, I didn't realize that they shatter like glass, and I don't want you to cut yourselves."

"Hey!What do you think Mom is going to do when she realizes you've skipped town?" I grip the bars, with fury.
"Please, don't concern yourselves with me."

Amarante gently leans through the bars, and give me a kiss on the forehead. She does the same with Kaori, and then picks her bags up.
"I love you both, have a wonderful life."
"Wait!" Kaori yells.

Too late, Amarante already vanished into thin air.
"I'm not taking this!" I reach into my pocket, but then realize something.
My cards are gone!

"What?!" I shout, and then notice something about ten feet away from me.
There's an even tinier prison, a replica of this one. Inside, are about six or seven decorative cards locked away in a cell.

"Oh that's dumb!" I shout, crossing my arms.
"Well, now what?"

>We wait, I guess.
>I'M NOT TAKING THAT! I'll think of something!
>Make a new card on the fly?
>Call out to my cards!
>Wait, I got some cell phone reception
>Where did Oracle go? Call out to her!
>I'M NOT TAKING THAT! I'll think of something!
>Call out to my cards!
We ain't takin' that shit from anyone, even our nee-chan.
>I'M NOT TAKING THAT! I'll think of something!
>Wait, I got some cell phone reception
>Where did Oracle go? Call out to her!
Rolled 35, 83, 88, 40 = 246 (4d100)

Hey, ignore these!
Aw, no 100s. no special surprises for you today
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"What do you mean, 'now what?'" I echo my sister's concern, "I'll tell you what, I'M NOT TAKING THAT!" I pace around the cell, "I'll think of something!"

"We could just wait it out." Kaori unhelpfully suggests, "Twenty minutes isn't that long; I doubt the bus could leave the city in twenty minutes."

"No, I refuse to take this laying down."

"Because that will mean she got what she wanted, and that's me out of her hair for a while." I try to search my pockets for anything that might be helpful for my current situation, "And her being right and getting rest isn't what we need right now. I need to be persistent, more than ever!"
"At least you recognize how stubborn you can be."

"It works, and that's all that matters." I fish around in my pocket, until I feel something else square. "Oh! My phone, let's see if I can get a signal."

I look on the screen, and sure enough! It still has a signal. I forgot that you can still pick up a faint signal here on your phone.
I tap the tile with Mom's face on it, and then put it to speaker.

"Masami, thank god!" Mom sounds like she's been worrying about me, again. "What did you find?"
"I found Amarante." I huff into the phone, "Listen, you need to get down to the bus station right now, bring Emillion. How long will it take you if you leave right now?"

"Uh, the bus station? About five minutes if I drive fast."
"Do that, Amarante is about to leave."

There's a pause on the other line.
"AMARANTE IS ABOUT TO DO WHAT?" I hear a much younger, much more immature voice ring out over the line.
"Emillion! Calm down, I'm going to stop her. I just need you and Mom to come to terminal 42 at the bus station, okay?"

"What are you doing right now, why haven't you stopped her!?"
"I'm trapped in a-"

"WE-" Kaori interjects, "Hit a small hangup, and she's getting away. Let us deal with this, just focus on getting to the station."

"Right! I'll be right there!" Mom audibly stands up from wherever she was sitting.

There's a click, and Kaori and I are left alone in this prison.
"Well, that's done, but what about the cell?" Kaori raises an interesting point.
"Oh, that's easy. I'll just teleport us out."

I take Kaori's hand, and try to concentrate.
..And concentrate.
And.. concentrate?

It's not working.
"Never mind." I sigh.

This thing with the cards is SO frustrating. They're right there! If I had some kind of extension or..
I've done this before!
The cards aren't mine because they're cards. They're things I made! Maybe..

"Kaori, I need you to call out for Oracle." I kneel down, and reach out for the cards.

"Just trust me!"

"Uh, okay." Kaori adjusts her voice, "ORACLE! CAN YOU HEAR ME?! HERE GIRL!"

While she's doing that, I reach my hand out, and try to grasp for the cards in the cell.

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My hand extends as far past the bars as my shoulder will let me. Slowly, I start to concentrate.

"ORACLE! HERE GIRL!" Kaori yells once more.

I try to ignore her and instead focus on the cards. I was right, these cards are my own creation. Therefore, they should listen to me, right? Why should a simple thing like distance stop them from returning to me?

"..Masami, what are you doing?" Kaori stops calling for Oracle, and instead focuses on you, "Are you trying to do that thing from that movie we watched? You don't have psychic powers."

"I have something better, Kaori!" I keep trying to focus on the cards.
Deep down, I call out to them.

"W-" Kaori blinks, "One of them just moved."

No, Kaori is wrong.
TWO of them just moved.

I keep focusing on those two. On the cards that heard my cry.
Slowly, I feel them starting to react. To recognize that I need their help.

One of the cards bursts from the cell, and flies in an arc straight toward my hand!
I catch it, and suddenly realize that one card had actually brought ANOTHER card along with it!

"Wow." Kaori seems awestruck, "I guess you really are psychic."
"No, not really." I eye the two cards.

The two cards that responded to me the most? Amber; the twin card, and the flying card that I crafted a long time ago.

That's interesting, maybe they're more.. connected to me than the other cards.
"Kaori, stand back." I push my sister to the back of the cell. "Keep calling for Oracle, we'll need her in a minute."

I focus on the card, and feel myself step into Amber's shoes. Or, at least, I feel one of myself step into Amber's shoes.
"That's still scary." Kaori remarks, as she witnesses your clone.

Indeed, this card's special power is to make a copy of myself, created entirely from my shadow. A black doppelganger stands before me, but most importantly, she's standing outside of the cell.
"Do you hear Oracle?" I try to focus on the task at hand.

Kaori closes her eyes, and then responds.
"Yes.. She's standing in the bus station still, in one of the stairwells. She's barking at nothing."
"Is anyone around her?"


I concentrate once more about returning to the real world. I know it won't work for me, because I'm inside the cell.
My double, however, immediately transports herself back to the real world. With some manipulation, I have Amber bend down and pick up Oracle.

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Much to the dog's surprise. The tiny puppy tries desperately to escape the shadowy monster who just ensnared it. Quickly, I bring both of them back to the other world.

"YIP! YIP! YIP! YIP!" It yelps as Amber sets down the struggling puppy.
"Oracle!" Kaori puts her hand out, "Good girl! Good girl."

"Oracle, I need you to do something." I hide Amber for a moment, and point toward the smaller prison. "I need you to go fetch those two other cards. Can you do that?!"

Oracle seems confused for a moment, but then slowly slinks over to the opposite cell. She sniffs the cards, and grabs them in her mouth before returning them to me.

"Good girl!" Kaori grabs her by the ears and starts scratching them.
Quickly, I put a combination of both Amber and Belle on.

This time, the duplicate of myself is wearing Belle's armament as well.
"Stand back, I'm going to do this more carefully, so the bars don't shatter."

I grab onto the bars of the prison, along with my duplicate. With some pulling and pushing, we're able to break the bars off one-by-one until we're both completely free.

We step out of the cell, and I quickly bring us back to the real world. I hope Mom and Emillion are there, because there's something I have to do.


"Be sure to stow your bags overhead, and ask for assistance when removing them during our trip." A dull voice gives banal instruction from the speakers above the seats.

"This is it." Amarante stares out the window of the bus. The street ahead blocked by other vehicles waiting to leave their terminal.
Softly, Amarante can feel a sigh leaving her lips.

She tries to lean her head back, and get some rest. Unfortunately, she can feel no such rest coming to her. The seat is uncomfortable, the outside is loud, and even if all was peaceful; she couldn't think of a way to rest after what she just did.

There's a set of footsteps slowly approaching her seat. She looks up, expecting the stewardess, but instead catches something else.
"That was fast." Amarante blinks.

"I'm hard to keep still. Ask my teachers." I stand above her seat with my arms crossed. "Are you ready to do some explaining, now?"

"I've already explained it."

"I don't mean explaining it to me, sis." I huff, "I mean explaining it to him."

I point out the window, and direct her gaze to Emillion standing in the terminal. He seems absolutely distraught, and his hugging Oracle with a rather tight grip.

>Now, are you going to get off and go visit him.
>Or will I have to bring him in here?
>This isn't a choice, by the way.
>Now, are you going to get off and go visit him.
>Or will I have to bring him in here?
>Do you really think you're making him happy right now?
>Now, are you going to get off and go visit him.
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"I don't need to see this." Amarante immediately stands up, but finds herself stopped.
"I think you do." I'm not very tall, but I'm menacing enough to keep her from leaving her chair. "Look at your little brother for what might be the last time. Do you really think you're making him happy right now?"

Amarante slowly turns her head, and gazes out the window. Emillion is still clutching Oracle into a hug. He's not crying right now, but I can still see his reddened cheeks. I told him that Amarante was somewhere around here, but didn't tell him that she was on this bus. I knew that he would just run on board and start crying the moment he found out.
I don't want to do that to the little gu- DARN IT, NOT AGAIN. I didn't want to do that to my brother. Right now, I think Amarante can still change her mind on her own will. That's what I want, most of all.

Emillion starts to look sullen; as if he's going to burst into tears once again. Mom walks up behind him, and hugs him around his shoulder.
"Do you see, now?" I sit down next to Amarante, and then hug her in a similar manner. "We're a family because we care for each other. You can never do something unforgivable to Emillion. Even if you leave right now; Emillion will always remember and love you. And I know that you will feel the same for him."

"How can I face him, though? How can I face Mom?" Amarante sighs, "I don't even know what to say."

"Sis, what you say to your brother isn't important." I lean my head against her shoulder, "He's already forgiven you. What you say at this point is just the courtesy of admitting that you made a mistake."

"What would you even say?"
"I'm glad you asked!" I smile at her, "I've already thought about this question earlier today! How about something like 'Emillion, I'm sorry for leaving, can you please just tell me what you think and what we should do?'"

"That.. doesn't sound bad."
"It doesn't have to sound good. I doubt he cares what you say at this point."

Emillion has set Oracle down, and is how hugging Mom. I didn't tell him to put on a show, but the fact that he's doing it really helps my argument.

"Passengers, fasten your seatbelts and secure your belongings, we will be departing shortly." The dull voice over the intercom warns us.

"Now's your chance, Amarante. I'm not letting you leave without him saying goodbye to you. Now, are you going to get off and go visit him, or will I have to bring him on board?"

Amarante watches her brother for a few more seconds. There's a light hiss as the bus readies its hydraulics for the long trip ahead.
Suddenly, Amarante presses the red button on her right console. There's a sharp buzzing at the front of the bus.
She stands up, and then grabs her bags from the overhead storage. Slowly, I stand up behind her and follow her off the bus.

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It takes less than a second for Emillion to spot Amarante as she steps off the platform. He starts sprinting toward her, and finishes with a leap right into her arms just as the doors shut behind us.

"Sis.." He bawls into her chest, "I'm sorry, I really am."
"W-." Amarante starts to say something, but is interrupted by her brother.

"I should have listened." Emillion sniffles, "I should have been there for you, and I wasn't. Can you please, please forgive me?"

Huh, strange. Amarante is shivering.
Oh no. She's not shivering.

Slowly, she falls to her knees, and embraces her brother. For the first time since.. ever, really. Tears are streaming down her cheeks.

I need to look away, otherwise I'll start crying, too.
"Masami." Kaori walks up behind me, "You're crying."
"N-No I'm not!" I wipe away some wetness from the corners of my eye, "I-it was just dusty in the bus, that's all!"

Kaori giggles, and draws me into a hug. Lightly, she whispers a 'Thank you'.

Oh god, I really am going to cry.

>Nope, hold it back.
>Try to hide it.
>Time to go before it really does happen.
>Forget it, cry all out.
>Nope, hold it back.
>Try to hide it.

Masami may not have physically grown, but she's totally a big girl who barely cries at all now. Totally!
>Nope, hold it back.
>Try to hide it.
Folks, sorry for only one post today, I will update in the morning when I am certain that I'm not coming down with something.
Thankfully we're only on page 9, so the thread has a good few days left in it.
>Nope, hold it back.
>Time to go before it really does happen.
>>Nope, hold it back.
>>Try to hide it.
>Cry all out.
>Try to hide it.
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No, no. Don't cry here. I'm a grown girl now. Well, technically I'm not, but I'm a year older and a year tougher.
I barely cry anymore.

"It's okay, Masami." Kaori hugs me tighter. "I know you want to cry, so just do it."
"N-no, nope!" I try to fight it, "I'm perfectly composed, and not at all going to cry."

Kaori reaches up to my cheek, and wipes away another tear. She wraps her arms around me, and pulls me into a hug.
I can fight the tears.

Except when I can't. Which is when Kaori decides to press my head on her shoulder. That's when I feel myself really starting to bawl.
I'm not crying, though.
These are just tears flowing from my eyes, and onto Kaori's sleeve where no one will see them. That's where they belong.

Quickly, I adjust my voice and stand upright.
"B-but!" I try to keep my voice from cracking, "I'm glad Amarante did run away."

I turn around to watch her embracing Emillion. I think I can watch this now, without bursting into tears.
"You're still crying, Masami."
"N-No I'm not!"

Kaori holds back a laugh, but then pulls at my shoulder.
"You did a good thing today, Masami. Thank you."

"Kaori, I have a question, were you serious about waiting until we were 'tall and busty', earlier?"

Kaori blinks, and acts as if I should already know the question.
"Well, yeah."
"I guess that's something for us to discuss as a family in five or six years."

"I think you'll come around on the idea." Kaori smiles.

"I don't think it's that simple, but I guess now isn't the time to talk about it." I sigh.


We drive home from the bus station, and gather everyone for a special talk. The whole family gathers in the living room. Each one has a different take on what Amarante has told them so far.
"So that's why we haven't been growing?" Mir blinks.

"Pretty much, I didn't want things to change, so I thought this would be better for everyone."

There's an uncomfortable air of silence that washes over everyone. Each person seems unsure of what to say or if they should be the first to say it.

Each person except the most childish in the room.
"That's AWESOME!" Cirrus is beaming with joy, "Can you keep me from getting heavier? I want to stay light and springy!"
"A better way to keep yourself light is to quit eating so many sweets." Emillion smirks, slightly.

This prompts a death-stare from Cirrus aimed directly at my brother.

"Uh, Amarante?" Julie speaks up, she seems to have something on her mind, "Can you keep my twin young and let me age another year or two? I want to be taller than her."
"No!" Haruko pouts, "Make ME tall and HER young!"

"It doesn't work that way." Kaori frowns at her, "It just makes you stop growing, doesn't make you taller."

"Can we choose when to stop growing, though?" Melissa crosses her arms. "Like, all of us?"

>Yes, but don't do that.
>Sure, maybe.
>No, all of us should grow up like a normal person to be happy and not abuse magic to look pretty.
>At least don't use it very much.
>No, all of us should grow up like a normal person to be happy and not abuse magic to look pretty.
>At least don't use it very much.
Changing and growing is part of life, and part of being family.
>Yes, but don't do that.
>At least don't use it very much.
>Sure, of course!

First, it's every person's right to shoose for themselves.
Second, being forever young is awesome. Don't listen to the faggots spewing shit about "Death being a part of life"
I really like it when the same question prompts totally different answers. It means people are seriously thinking about my quest, and that makes me feel like I'm doing something right.

I'm still dead tired, but thankfully not sick. I'm going to leave this open to get some more responses. I'm still writing, but I'm writing very slowly. We're high enough on the catalog where autosage doesn't concern us at this time.

Also, everyone who stuck with me this long, be sure to tune in at the end of the thread if you're just skimming through, because I have an announcement to make!
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"No, well!- Yes, but don't do that. Well, maybe! Sure, of course, if you want to."
Oh, I should stop talking.

"Listen." Thank you, Kaori. "It's everyone's right to choose for themselves what they want to do with it. That's a life decision that you would have to make, and you shouldn't rely on your sister to give the answer for you."

That's a good answer, Kaori! Well done!
"That being said." Kaori continues, "Sure! Of course anyone can if they want to. If you stop aging at the right time, then being young forever would be a great idea!"
"I know, right!? Cirrus' eyes seem to sparkle.

"Wait! Wait!" I try to stop my sister, "What about this whole 'aging is a part of life' thing?! Isn't that true, too?"
"Yeah, but if you do that too long, you grow old and you can't go back." Kaori crosses her arms, "No offense, Mom."

"W-" Mom is taken aback, "Kaori! I'm not THAT old!"
Mom is pretty old.

"Kaori, I think that's the wrong way to think about it. Sure, it's everyone's choice, but we shouldn't just abuse magic to be pretty. We should grow up like a normal, healthy person just like everyone else we know!"
"So? What if we don't? No harm in bending the rules a little." Kaori, no. "Being ageless would be awesome! Hey sis, can you do that to Mom right now?"

"What are you trying to imply, Kaori?!"

"Can we talk about this some other time?" Amarante stops this discussion dead in its tracks, "It's getting late, and I don't want to think about it anymore. I just wanted everyone here to know what was happening, and that I'm sorry."

"I agree. I think this is probably a bad time to talk about it." Mom concurs, "We're NOT going to be discussing someone's age, and it's up to Amarante if she is going to make someone young. I think that's a conversation you should have with her in private and not in front of the whole family."
"Thank you, Mom." I cross my arms.

"But also, Amarante." Mom turns a glare to your sister, "No using magic on people without their knowledge, even if you think you're helping them."
"Yes, Mom." Amarante sighs.

"Now let's all have dinner and put this discussion away for another time. Tonight is rice and dumplings."

Of course we're not going to just stop talking about something because Mom told us to. We sit at the dinner table as Amarante and Mom help prepare dinner. The whole time, we're naturally discussing the most important topic at hand in hushed whispers.

"Do you think it's like, immortality?" Julie asks.
"I don't think so." Kaori frowns, "All magic is finite, I just think its.. living a really long time."

"Could we could really grow up to be tall and busty, Kaori?" Julie also has her priorities straight.
"I don't see why not, and we would stay there, too!"

>I think abusing magic for our benefit is wrong.
>Please don't mention how I use my cards to cheat at school.
>I think it's perfectly okay.
>..I don't know, I'm not convinced.
>Forget it- what will be, will be.
>I think it's perfectly okay.
>..I don't know, I'm not convinced.
>It doesn't matter until we're older.
>Forget it- what will be, will be.

Masami has brained enough today, and everyone has a point, even the ones who want to lose JUSTICE.
But bustiness IS justice, anon.
No anon, just no. Flat is JUSTICE.
Bustiness is what happens when your loli goes bad.
Your taste is bad and you should feel bad.
Believe in your own justice.

Also we are falling faster than expected so I'm writing the last post. Feel free to contribute anyone who wants to say something!

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"I don't know, I'm not convinced." I sigh. "I mean, I THINK it's perfectly okay, but I also think that it's wrong to abuse magic that way."

"And I think that I want to be light and springy!" Cirrus unhelpfully remarks.
This fries some kind of circuit that I wasn't even aware existed in my brain. I can feel the gears grind to a halt as I lay my head down on the table.

"Forget it- What will be, will be." My head feels heavy, am I more tired than I thought? "It doesn't matter until we're older anyway."

"Well, not unless someone wants to stay at this age." Kaori concurs, "-but I agree, we're too young to be having this conversation just yet."

"But what about-"
"Just eat less, Cirrus." Even the usually-quiet Melissa is pointing this out, "That's the fastest way to get lighter."

"I'm not fat." Cirrus pouts.

"Do you think we'll upset Amarante if we grow old?" Emillion asks a question that I wish he wouldn't. "I don't want to make her sad."

"Emillion." My head is still against the table, "I've brained enough for one day. Why don't you ask her that question, later? I can't tell you how she'll think."
"Besides, she can't be mad at you for growing up. That's your decision." Kaori agrees.

That shuts down that line of discussion. Dinner passes by relatively quietly after that.

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We check the hallway to make sure no one is in it. Quickly, we make our way across the hallway and into our room.

"Okay! It's all yours." I yell downstairs. Kaori and I walk out of the shower, and I shut the door behind us.
Kaori brought up a good point when we were bathing. Why would we want to grow up at all if being young means that things get to stay exactly as they are.
To tell the truth, I still haven't thought of a good reason yet.

We step into our room and shut the door behind us. Quickly, Kaori tosses me a towel to dry my hair with.

"Hey Kaori." I take the towel off of my head, "I have an answer for you."
"Mm, what is it?" Kaori slips on a simple pair of underwear from the drawer, and starts brushing her hair.

"I was thinking, are we really living if everything just remains the same forever?"

Kaori pulls a tangle from her blonde locks. She sets the hairbrush down, and turns to me.
"I think we just need to go to bed." She frowns, her damp hair falls down on her body at her straightening it. "But first, put on some clothes."

I sigh, letting the answer sit in my mind. I take some plain, white panties from the drawer and put them on, and then crawl into bed. I've taken to sleeping the same way that my sister sleeps, no pajamas or anything else. I guess bad habits are communicable, but it does feel much better to sleep this way.

Kaori turns off the light, and then crawls into bed next to me. Gently, I can feel her grab me behind my neck and pull me closer to herself.
She usually does this when she can't sleep, so I'm used to it.


"I know you want to grow up to be, er, 'busty'. But if it were up to you, would you want me to stay young?"

A moment of silence passes, and Kaori responds by pulling me closer to herself. It's to the point where I can barely breathe.
"I would love you no matter what age you were, sis."

"..Thank you."

"But on the other hand, if you stayed the same age, I could pull you closer to my heart. Like this."
She squeezes me a bit tighter. While she does feel warm; I can also feel her heart right next to my ear.

I don't really have a counterargument, and I can't say that I don't like the feeling, but-
"..We should think about it more, later."

"And we will, I'm sure. We're not old enough to say 'no' just yet." Kaori sighs and presses her cheek against my head, "Good night, Masami."
"Good night, Sis."

>Thread End.
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Everyone, thanks for reading my silly OVA to my silly magical girl story.
I really like writing CPM!

Please let me know what you think, and if I should do more OVAs in the future!

Give me a few minutes, and I'll post that big announcement I had in mind!
Okay! Big announcement!

I am gearing up to write another quest!
That's right. I got permission from someone to write a redux version of the very quest that got me writing in the first place.

I don't want to spoil the surprise, but I will say that it's a quest that will have the same tone as CPM, and it's another Magical Girl quest!
Not related to CPM in the least, though.

Expect that to be ready in the next few weeks.

Thanks again for reading my thread, and reading any future quests I may make. Keep up with me for announcements on my twitter accounts.

If anything changes with my schedule, I'll let you know!

Until next time!
Thanks for running.
Thanks for writing!

I adore CPM, and I'd love to see more OVAs like this, it was a silly burst of pure fun and I really can't say thank you enough for it.

A Magical girl quest in the same tone as CPM you say? I'm trying to think of what it might be a redux of, but whatever it is, count me in.
Thanks for reading!
And I really can't say thank you enough for sticking with me this long.

And of course I think I'm going to write more OVAs in the future, I'm just not sure when. This one took a little longer than I would have liked. I would like this to be something that happens every few months.

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