Takamagahara - Finding Amaterasu Pt 6 - Shadow Princess


preston_icon.jpg haldor_icon.jpg maia_icon.jpg

Scene Title Shadow Princess
Synopsis Haldor and Preston save babies! 400 Babies! Maia falls for Mikaboshi's trap and ends up destroying the palace.

It was the middle of the night when Maia finally talked with her mother and received this request from her. The sound of shuffling feet can be heard down the hallway as she heads back towards her and Haldor's room where there's a sleeping Drake on the floor.

He's all wriggly, barking just a little but he's asleep. awww, the cute cuddly wuddly puppy is dreaming about something, and Maia can't help but giggle at the site. Still, she starts to crawl back into bed to place a soft kiss on Haldor's cheek as she speaks in hushed tones.

"Hal.. wake up. Mom wants me to babynap my younger sister."

Preston and Godric excused themselves from the meeting-which they had stumbled upon largely due to the the blood content in the proto-viking's alcoholstream having reached a level conducive to consciousness in time to see the not-so-comatose sun goddess steal her daughter away for a late night plotting session. Of course, by now he's convinced that's exactly what Amaterasu wanted to happen so he's sitting in one of the indoor gardens of the palace waiting for the others, and trying to name the Overworld constellations. Astronomy was never his strong suit in the first place, so he's convinced the stars are aligned differently.

"I've been awake since you left," remarks Haldor in a very quiet tone of voice.

For all you know, Drake could be dreaming about killing Titanspawn and feasting upon their fetid, rotten, evil innards while Haldor and Maia do that victory pose like in Sin City when the guy claims the lead prostitute after defeating Michael Clarke Duncan and his crew. Wait a second. Henri Thibbedeaux looks a lot like Michael Clarke Duncan. Maybe Drake is dreaming like that. That's a damned creepy thought.

"… Babynap?"

"Akemi, a one year old is being taken care of by Uncle Tsuki-yomi. Mom doesn't like that. She was us to raise her till she gets her powers back.."

Maia looks towards Haldor tentatively. She knows that having a baby around the house will definitely change the dynamic, so she peers to gauge his reaction.

"Akemi? Isn't that a supposedly classic manga?"

Haldor pauses a moment, rubbing his chin with one hand.

"No, that's Akira. Akemi. Akemi. Isn't that that video game that won critical acclaim for being generally awesome? It was based on the Amatsukami mythos too…"

Again Haldor pauses. He rubs his chin some more before rolling over to peer at Maia.

"That was Okami. Wasn't there an Akemi in Xena? I think there was an Akemi in Xena. Is your little sister going to be like that Akemi?"

While he counts the stars, Preston also considers the task set before him by the sun goddess. Lure the wayward Scion back to the light, in more ways than one? That doesn't /sound/ difficult. In any case it's rather important, considering what he's seen of the ones who let themselves fall. Godric's ears perk, and the sudden motion distracts the Aesir from his musings. Without a word both of them get up and head back into the hall in search of their companions.

Face meet palm. Palm meet face. That's what's going on as Haldor starts his little musing session as Maia can't help but gigglea bit at his antics. Silly Vikings are silly. She beams and leans in to steal a quick kiss on the cheek as she sits next to him and grins wryly.

"How she turns out is dependent on us for now. Her dad is dead,and mom isn't exactly in any shape to take care of a child. A Scion growing up in an Overworld will be odd, and mom doesn't want someone who has no sense of the 'real world'. So uh.. yeah..she's one year old and we need to babynap her. Then we can head backto New York before heading to Terra which totally means we'll need a babysitter for babies can't go to Titan Realms."

Haldor sighs and sits up on the bed. Fortunately he is still dressed - NO FANSERVICE FOR YOU YOUNG FEMALE READERS OF THE MANGA - but he sighs and leans his head back against the wall. Or is that the edge of the panel for this page? Either way, Haldor's head leans back and his spikey hair gets all weird looking because it is pressed against something.

"Saving the universe is a lot more complicated than the Fantastic Four make it seem."

"True," Preston chimes in from the doorway. He's not in the room, but Godric has peeked around to look in at them. "They have the Fantasticar. Maybe that's what you guys are missing, a spiffy superhero space car." He knocks, belatedly and unnecessarily, and then peeks in. "I'm ready to go when you guys are."

Awww, no fanservice! Maia is slightly saddened by that. Still, she wrinkles her nose and lets out a hearty laugh as she follows after Haldor while scooping up the still dreaming Drake in her arms.

"Come on, you know you want to take care of a baby scion.." she says teasingly. "So shall we?"

"Yeah, yeah. I'm coming."

Haldor springs to his feet, grabbing his silksteel hoody and pulling it on as he makes his way toward the door. Just before the door he stoops to scoop up Johanssen and shoulder the shield while looking toward Maia and Preston, one red eyebrow arched.

"I just want to know how I went from being the Demi-Ás of Battle to Pan-Mythos Babysitter."

And then Haldor pauses, one eyebrow arching as he looks around suspiciously. He probably even shoots the reader a trademark, arched eyebrow look of mild confusion.

"Huh. Ás of Battle. That sounds kinda cool."

Preston says, "Think of it this way," Preston offers with a mirth he can afford because he's not the one getting conscripted into child-rearing, "you get to nurture /and/ destroy. You're broadening your portfolio." As Haldor draws nearer he belatedly agrees with his new title, "Yeah..that does sound pretty cool…""

"You aren't a babysitter. Technically I'm the babysitter. You're the all important boyfriend of the babysitter.."

And that's Maia happily clarifying things for Haldor as she beams brightly in the two Aesir's directions. She takes a deep breath and starts packing a blanket as well, wanting to make sure that her younger sister has something to snuggle in when they make the great escape back to the real world.

"And let's go! Off to the palace!" she chirps as she makes a motion to Haldor, giving him the "can you give me a piggyback ride" look as she doesn't want to wake the dreaming puppy.

Oh hey, Johanssen's favorite fellow back-rider! Johanssen is sure to be happier than usual riding on the Viking's back as Haldor starts off toward the palace. Whichever palace Maia deigns to direct him toward. The Viking may be, very briefly, considering picking Preston and Godric up and carrying them under his arms like baggage. Undignified yes, but speedy as hell.

The house is quiet at night. Still and unmoving. If Himiko or the others are are standing guard somewhere it is not at once visible. Nothing stops them slipping out of the grounds and into the scenic countryside beyond. The path to the palace by now might almost be familiar by this point, a few classical samurai patrols passed in the countryside closest to the estate yielding in time to Hachiman's mecha and then the official Guardsmen currently guarding the palace. These are a mix of classicaly garbed warriors mixed with those who might almost be bandits. These sorts look more and more alert they closer they get to the palace, prepared to intercept those who get too close leaving it to the party to either be approached by one or to find some means to avoid them.

The giant robots are taking some getting used to. Preston is in awe of the variety represented by Takamagahara's defenders…so yeah, maybe he's still not as moving as fast as he should, but a little prompting will get him to pick up the pace. He has no idea he's being considered for luggage detail, or else he'd definitely be walking faster.

And soon the gates of the palace are within sight. Maia's pretty excited about that! Still, there's lots of mecha around the estate as she hrmms, wrinkling her nose as she motions for Haldor to remain within the darkness to pass by the patrols.

"Mom said that the baby was in Tsuki-yomi's realm in the palace. So after we pass through the torii I think it's a left. But make sure you do the purification ritual before going through the torii. Can't go in unclean. There should be water outside each torii anyway.."

Haldor slows to a relative snail's pace as he draws near to the palace. The Viking remains as quiet as possible, tilting his head at Maia, peering over his shoulder at her. She ought to be able to tell by the look on his face that he means to yell, 'Purification /RITUAL/?' Miraculously Haldor doesn't yell that. He just looks it at Maia.

Up close to the palace it really is more Susano-o's troops than Hachimans. The occasional mecha that are seen always mingled with forces partly watching over them. Still the other troops are plentiful in big supply, the palace is not /quite/ an armed camp but if Maia has ever visited it before the change from then is striking with the number of soldiers and mercenaries walking around defending the walls and the gates from intrusion.

"I think," Preston whispers, "it's like what we did to get in here. We just swish some water around and spit, right?" He looks up at Haldor's shoulder to consult Maia. "That's all we do, right?" It'd be hard to be inconspicuous if they have to do anything more elaborate.

"Yep! Passing through each torii means you're getting closer to the divinity within. And since this is the residence of the Amatsukami, then you're definitely getting close. I don't want to risk angering a god or having some security system trip off if we don't do it.."

And that's Maia as she wrinkles her nose and looks towards the nearest torii. "Um, think I should just walk up and say hi? The troops should know who I am, right?"

Haldor rolls his eyes. Purification ritual? More like oral odor-reduction ritual. The Viking shrugs at Maia, possibly shrugging her off of his back. Quietly he looks over his shoulder at her, a serious look in his icy blue eyes.

"You want to play distraction and leave this to /ME/?"


"And Preston if he wants to come along."

The troops might recognize her, or at least her features are enough like her mothers that it would not be hard to guess at Maia's lineage. Still.. they do look very serious and very wary in the nature of those guarding a palace during wartime. Saying "hi" looks like it might prove polite, but there are no guarantees it would be expedient.

Preston seems unsure that leaving the two 'barbarians' unattended is good for anyone's health. As Haldor seems to express a similar doubt, Preston waves to her and smiles, looking about as subtle and not-out-of-place as a big red clown nose. "What he said," he says, backing the Viking up. "That doesn't sound like a good idea, considering what we're here to do."

"That sounds good actually. I'll distract all the guards! I mean, they have to do stuff for me, right?"

Maia wrinkles her nose as she keeps Drake scooped in her arms considering he's also an Amatsukami dog. Shiba inu are important dogs afterall! She then looks back towards the pair.

"Be careful with Akemi. She'll be wriggly unless she's sleeping and you don't want her crying or else it might alert others. And wrap this blanket around her to keep her snug. Babies like that feeling. And don't suffocate her! And be gentle!" She's already fussing over the baby. Maternal instincts are coming out afterall. Still, she takes a deep breath and smiles towards the two.

"I trust you though. Just give me some sign when you two are out okay? Now time to play distraction!"

And with that said, she steals a quick kiss on Haldor before heading down, trying to muster all their attention onto her. You know, using Center of Attention as she completes the purification ritual and steps through the torii..
<OOC> Maia says, "Center of Attention activate!"

Haldor is very good at giving signals. On the other hand, he is not nearly so good at what Maia is asking him and Preston to do. Unfortunately for both of them (and Godric) she doesn't give him a chance to object as she merrily bounces off to attract herself some attention.

The Viking facepalms.

"Purify yourself and Godric then hop on. We've got a lot of Frigg 'n' sneaking to do."

Slowly Haldor approaches one of the fonts of water near a torii, sucking up some water and doing a damn fine job of purifying his mouth. He promptly spits it out and waits for Preston to hop on before he tries blending into the shadows of the torii. There are shadows on the other side, right?

Guards quickly approach as Maia very very much comes into view, spears leveled warily and ready to run her through should she pose a threat. At least they are initially lowered, one of the less banditlike fellows dressed as an officer shouts out an order to the others and steps forward to give her a properly respectful bow. "Greetings. Visits to the palace are officially discouraged at this time and if you have do not have business here then I must regretfully request that you seek lodging elsewhere. If you do have business I can see you escorted to one of our guest chambers and arrange a meeting with a minister in the morning."

There are indeed shadows. With the sun no longer rising here there are far far too many shadows and patches of darkness. Haldor has no trouble finding some to slip into.

"Wow," Preston muses weakly as Maia scampers off to make nice with the guards. "Y'know, it's heartening to see she has so muhc confidence in us." All the same, there was probably a plan that didn't involve them splitting up. He does the obligatory bit of swishing and then, tossing dignity to the wind, climbs aboard the Haldor Express with Godric leaping up to balance on his shoulders. It shouldn't work, but it does.

Quick thinking Maia is hopefully quick thinking. As the guards approach, she lets out a little harumph while crossing her arms over her chest. "This is how things are now that my mother is no longer in charge? You would dare turn away a daughter of Amaterasu-omikami herself? I wish to see my uncle about this." she says, sounding just a little bit haughty, but maybe she's trying to be authoritative and just soundslike a bitch instead. Come on, keep on looking at her!

Haldor sighs, barely even moving as Preston and Godric both hop on board. The Vikings (and Viking Dog) promptly melt into the shadows. Swift and invisible as the evening breeze, Haldor starts moving forward through the torii and the shadows that abound in this wondrous nightscape.

Quiet as he can, Haldor maneuvers the whole mass toward the palace, attempting to find a way inside. Hopefully there will be something helpful to direct him toward Tsuki-Yomi's part of the castle, since he doesn't have Maia around to direct him in the proper directions.

As has been the trend for much of this leg of the journey, Preston finds that unobtrusive silence is the best way to proceed. Apart from worry that even that won't be enough to keep them from getting busted, he's pretty content with his lot. He keeps an eye out for anything that looks promising, like a proliferation of moon symbols or anything else that might stand out.

Looking at her they are! Some of the rougher soldiers like they want to teach her some respect, the Officer as if he is trapped between a rock and a hard place. He remains formally and cordially polite though, "That is the way that things are now that we are at war. We have recently had more than one saboteur or spy attempt to enter the palace under the visage of somebody familiar. I will be happy to show you to the guest quarters and have dinner brought and you may relay your quest to see your Uncle within the morning."

Within the palace itself things are quickly getting more complicated for Haldor. There are wards to detect those sneaking in through darkness that must be bypassed. Patrols carrying strong lights that make shadows part. At least it seems Susano-o is not aligned with Mikaboshi, effort is being made to keep the agents of shadow out. So far sneaky sneakness is working though, having gotten the viking duo in and Maia's direction serving as ample guide to get to the right section. Things are quietier here, patrols less commonplace. There is a notable lack of any signs saying "Nursery" however.

This is actually slightly easier than Haldor was expecting, but it is still a hard enough undertaking that Haldor is almost sweating by the time he gets into the relative safety of Tsuki-Yomi's halls. Haldor lets out a subdued, but long-winded sigh as he takes a moment to relax. Quietly the Viking creeps around in the shadows some more, expanding his senses as far as they will go.

Maybe, if he's lucky, Akemi will be alone in a room and have a wonderfully tiny, but distinct thermal signature that he can spot. Or maybe the guards use radios whose signals he can intercept. That'd be really useful.

Sticking close, Preston consults softly with his trusty Lundie companion to see if the dog can smell anything baby-like. He doesn't tend to default to Godric's sniffer very often, but this seems like one of those times when it seems a safer bet than, say, opening every door and peeking inside.

Nothing to see there.. nothing to see there.. and.. an inability to see there. A section of the wing appears to be protected by powerful runes which are severely interfering with the ability of enhanced senses to see through the walls. The wards are thicker there too and it looks like it may be impossible to enter that section at all without crossing one marked line or another designed to give warning. Something valuable is kept in there, be it gold or treasure or research labs to create inhuman viking killing machines. If only Maia was there she could probably figure out a way to disrupt the symbol based magic.

If only Maia were there indeed. However, she is dealing with a variety of guards. She harumphs and sighs a little as they are blocking her way and looks towards them. She quietly takes a deep breath and just tries to make her way through the guards. "I will see my uncle. We have important business.." she says firmly and resolutely.

One of the guards goes to grab her but a sharp word from the officer causes him to withdraw his hand angrily. The guards do however form a solid wall forward to block Maia's path, not actually accosting her path but leaving her no room to advance past them without simply plowing bodily into the mass. The poor Officer is trying so /hard/ not to be disrespectful, "If you will allow me to escort you to the guest chambers I will see a message delivered to his aide so that your uncle might be informed of your arrival."

Haldor broods at a slight distance from all of those wards. No telling when one of them might be proximity sensitive. The Viking rubs his chin as he considers the wards very carefully, slowly expanding his search toward the ceiling. Maybe this place has central heating and/or cooling.

While Preston is no better equipped to perceive the wards than any ordinary person, Godric is letting him know something's up, even though that's as far as the dog's analysis is likely to get. "Are we close to something?" he asks Haldor, barely whispering. "There's always running in and hoping for the best…" His stock of ideas for this is woefully small.

The palace is built to the specifications of a fantical old school lady who just can't seem to give up living a few thousand years ago. There is no central heat and air. Still coming in from above or below might be a possibility. The guard patrols are a lot more heavy on the floor above but the floows there may not be warded against downward passage. It's hard to tell from here.

Pfft. Maia needs to get in and she grumbles something under her breath. She looks up to the sky for a few moments, suddenly inspired by her uncles. A wry grin curls onto her lips as she hops up, landing on the heads of two of the guardsmen as she lets out an impish giggle. "If you can catch me, then I will let you escort me to my uncle.." Hey, if she acts more like her uncle, she'll earn brownie points. Her mother is mortal right now afterall! Huzzah!

With that, she starts balancing on each of their heads as she tries to run ON TOP of the guards to enter. She already did the purification ritual before going through the torii afterall.

Haldor glances over his shoulder at Preston. This may or may not be effective given their current state of being sunken into the absolute darkness of shadow. Quietly the Viking replies to his much more man-pretty, but still technically junior partner on the mission.

"Whole mess of wards up ahead. If Maia were here, she'd be able to get us by them. As it is, I think we're going to have to go for a walk upstairs, which is more heavily guarded."

The guards don't like Maia running along their heads, they don't like that at all! Despite the Officer's shouts more than one tries to spear her as she dances along them, jagged blades piercing the air near her feet but given her grace she manages to avoid having her foot impaled. Hands too reach and try to capture her as an order is hastily given to seal the doors and not let her through. The doorway quickly moving to close trying to cut off her path. Oh no!

The wards continue to taunt with their very presence. What are they for? Why are there so damned many of them? Will crossing them in shadow form set off alarms? Regular form? Both? Neither? Taunt taunt taunt with their presence.

In her head the Indiana Jones theme is playing. Come on, there's speared people trying to impale here and there's a door that is threatening to close on her! Maia turns on the speed, running as fast as she can towards the door before she tries to make a slide home. If she had a hat, it'd totally fall and get left behind only to be saved at the last minute. Oh wait, there's her sleeping Drake hat! She has to bring the puppy along, so he's grabbed to hopefully not be smooshed. Hopefully she makes it as well.

Haldor has gotten used to being taunted. As a result, the Viking slowly and stealthily makes his way toward the nearest available stairwell. If he can't go straight through them, then Haldor will just have to go around them… Even if this requires him to go up and into the heart of security to do so.

Amaterasu had better pay good babysitting money.

This darkness stuff is coming in pretty handy. Preston makes a mental note to find out how to get ahold of some of it, although given his druthers he's more of a 'blinding radiance' kind of guy. Unfortunately that doesn't pay the bills, so to speak. "Are we gonna try and go in from above?" he asks, again whispering, barely audible.

Maia just manages to SQUEAK through the door, Drake nearly getting crushed as the doors slam shut behind her. On the plus side, this means that the guards who were previously trying to stab her are now on the other side. Freedom is hers! Of course it also means there are already shouts for an alarm to be raised and soon it seems likely the entire palace is going to be looking for her. She really is the center of attention!

As Haldor and Preston go upstairs the patrols really /are/ heavy, both frequent and somewhat random and thus damnably hard to predict. If they linger too long here eventually one will stumble into them. They are undiscovered now but they don't have much time.

There's a series of angry barkbarkyelpbarks. Drake is perturbed! He almost got left behind and crushed! He circles Maia angrily before settling down into a comfortable position once more on the floor to sleep. He's once more scooped up to balance on her head as she peers around.

"Shit.." Maia grumbles under her breath. She's still the center of attention and so she starts running around, trying to find any trace of the others. Perhaps she'll attract the attention of the patrols not too far from the two Vikings!

"Yes," hisses Haldor just before they reach the heavy guards. The Viking creeps along as quickly as he can, trying to both pay attention to his surroundings and calculate exactly how long it will be until he is past the warded hallway. Haldor really is not the sneaky bastard his powers would make him out to be, but this really is terribly, terribly useful. Now if only there was a Maia to obviate the need to be in the heavily guarded corridor, that would really be a blessing.

A quick glance at what they're up against is enough to get Preston to clam up and keep his questions to himself. Their position is precirious enough as it is. Being a 'follow along' kind of guy lately, he has time to think of things. For instance, the practice of balancing dogs upon oneself and one's friends. If the demigod thing doesn't work out, this lot can always join the circus.

Elsewhere in the palace a bell begins to ring. There is no public address system but spirit messengers make speedy work of delivering news. Haldor and Preston can hear one of the guards say, "Intruder at the front gate. Possibly a spy." Orders are quickly issued, a scarce few remaining on duty in that portion of the palace while the sound of stomping feet accompanies the rest quickly swarming towards Maia. She really /is/ the center of attention. A truly formidable and impressive array of guards, servents and otherwise all quickly headin gin her direction from every side but the gate itself. All hunting to find and capture her. On the plus side, this leaves Haldor and Preston's way pretty clear and the floor really does seem to lack the same degree of warding as the walls and halls down below. While there are some wards there are also gaps.

So many guards. This might as well be an exercise for her right now. She is a demigoddess and a powerful one. These are just a nhundred or so guards. At least that's what she's thinking for now as she wrinkles her nose and takes a deepbreath as she crouches low, trying to get as much space as possible. Things are going to get messy soon.

Haldor frowns at the news of an intruder. It has to be Maia. She also told him to go do this thing and, much as he would like to save her right this second, he is a little busy. The Viking creeps along through the increasingly empty halls as he gets into the proper position.

When he finally figures out he is far enough along, Haldor needs to check the floor and see just how hardcore it is.

Uhoh. That can't be good. Apparently this was the plan all along, although if he were to compare them, Maia's centuries behind on the 'inscrutable wisdom' thing. He loses count of the guards hastening past them, and they're probably just a small fraction of the force rushing to the gate. Even with the thinned patrols he doesn't feel safe speaking up, so he just sticks close and tries to keep abreast of the situation through observation.

Just a hundred or so guards within the palace of the ruler of an overworld, armed with one can only imagine what sort of special weapons and tools designed to restrain or contain demigoddesses just such as her should it become necessary. Still.. those are probably in the local equivalent of arms lockers waiting authorization to get access to. Maia has time. A little. A guard rushing past without yet seeing her. Guards to the left! Guards to the right!

The floor is pretty fucking hardcore. No shoddy craftsmanship here. Course, Haldor can throw Wesley through half an apartment complex. It seems he could make a Preston shaped hole if he had to.

No one has seen her yet! Thank goodness! Thank goodness that her mother also is a fan of gardens because it offers a place to hide without having to use Mikaboshi's cloak once more. She wrinkles her nose and concentrates before diving into the thick foliage, soon blending in completely with it, remaining hidden to confuse all the guards. Wasn't there an intruder in the building somewhere? Not here!

Haldor can, technically, make a Preston shaped hole in the floor. Doing so, however, would probably be incredibly painful for a cousin of his that he actually likes. It also would not be the most prudent use of his spectacular ability of Holy Rampage. As a result, Haldor summons up his power, slowly clenching his left hand into THE VIKING FIST.

The Viking crouches down low, spreading his feet wide as he assumes a very KARA-/TE/ position, as though he were about to bust some boards or concrete blocks. Power crackles over his left forearm, a few brief flickers of white and, inexplicably, black lightning snap off of his bracer as Haldor prepares himself. With a final breath, Haldor torques his body around and downward - Preston and Godric are probably going to want to hang on /TIGHT/ - THE VIKING FIST silently powering down into the shadows to impact the floor.

More than likely, Haldor is going to have to leave an IOU for 'One (1) Floor' with Amaterasu. Or Susano-o. Or Tsuki-Yomi. Whoever wants to claim the tremendous crater THE VIKING FIST is liable to leave behind.

CRASH! The floor caves in and Haldor and Preston get to scramble to land all catlike and graceful as the ceiling obliterrates a lot of furniture, pricey artwork, possible ancient artifacts and other such things. The sound is kind of loud. Nearby across the hall can be heard a sudden wailing. Baby! Or.. babies. Something young and with a good set of lungs is not happy about the sound of a caving in roof!

The guards meanwhile are continuing to mill about, Maia's blending in with the gardens having concealed her just in time from an arriving patrol. "She's not here!" "She has to be here!" "Call in the trackers. Maybe they'll find some trace of her we've missed." Do they call said trackers? Who knows. Guards continue to walk along and beat the pushes rather literally, trying to leave no stone unturned in their search for the spy.

Oww. Some of them even walk on her. Maia winces, but she remains completely hidden for now. Does she hear the babies? Who knows? But for now she is just quiet.

Haldor poings and sproings about on collapsing floor/ceiling, ultimately landing in a crouch atop a pile of rubble. The Viking peers over his shoulders at Preston and Godric for a few moments, perhaps to ensure they are alive and well, before he looks toward the doors.

Oh ho! Victory is Haldor's!

The Viking makes his way toward the door, stepping to one side and into a new shadow before he reaches out to open the door of the room into the hall. Haldor allows himself to melt fully into the shadows once more, breathing slowly as he disperses all of that power he summoned. With any fortune at all, he won't need it save to remain hidden.

"We're good," Preston creaks from Haldor's back. He doesn't say anything at first until he's reasonably sure he'll be telling the truth, but he puts a hand where Hal can see it to give a thumbs-up, and then settles back into limpet mode to be ferried along through shadows to the nursery.

The room is free of any guards it just has.. babies. Five babies. Five very whiney sobby crying babies all shaking their fists and their feet and generally looking HIGHLY UNHAPPY about current events. Uh.. should there only be one baby that is supposed to be babynapped? Which one is the right one! How much information did Maia give Haldor anyways?

In the gardens the yip yip yip of hounds can be heard. They seem to be coming rapidly closer. Uh oh? Do they smell Drake?

Maia does have a Drake hat! Still, she moves stealthily through her mother's garden trying to find an opening. Any opening really! When Haldor asks for distractions he surely gets them as she sighs and wrinkles her nose as she finally takes Mikaboshi's cloak and wraps it around herself and the puppy before jumping into the shadows. Hopefully she just didn't reveal herself to the guards.

"I don't suppose either of you can sense the ties of Fate? The touch of the Norns? Whatever you want to call it?"

Haldor peers at the babies. This is… Well this just cannot be a good sign. In the future, Haldor resolves, Maia must be physically present in the baby room of any babynapping mission. Stealthily Haldor all but glides forward, curiously inspecting the babies in hopes of figuring out some way of telling who he's supposed to steal.

The cape flutters into place around Maia's shoulder. Pulsing, pulsing, pulsing with shadowy throbs around her before it shatters into a thousand fine fragments of shadow. Bits floating like ashes in the wind to merge with the shadows which surround her so very much. Mingling with the darkness here in this palace where usually darkness would never touch. Near her hiding place there suddenly comes a scream, a guard falling to earth dead with his throat having been torn open by shadowy claws as shadowy skeletal figures begin to rise from up and around. Oh.. dear? Was Maia an unknowing Trojan Horse? It is looking that way. Center of attention or no the guards quickly are finding themselves with more concerns than hunting for Maia. They are fighting for their lives against creatures of shadow.

The babies are indeed all Japanese. They do have eyes like that. They are crying. There are two boys and three girls that look to be between newborns and two years. WAH WAH WAH they go. Often. Fortunately there are no scary shadow things here, apart from Haldor that is.

"How much trouble do you think we'd get in for just grabbing them all and booking it?" Preston asks. "We can always sort it out later." If he took the time he could differentiate between them, but he'd be no closer to distinguishing which was which. "We only need to take the girls, really. One of them is bound to be Akemi. Although….then we have two babies that aren't her, and hell to pay." He isn't even sure Maia would be able to recognize her half-sister among this brood.

She's been used. If there's anything she doesn't like it's being used. Annoyed Maia is annoyed. With the screamsof the guards, her eyes widen as she wrinkles her nose as she brings out her bow as she mutters something under her breath.

Her entire body starts to glow, her hair whipping up ala Dragonball Z as an arrow of light forms at her fingertips which she points towards the creature. She squints her eyes as she's filed with a righteous rage as Drake even hops off her head and barkbarkyelpbarks at the shadows.

"Begone creature of darkness! Defile not my home any longer!" she says angrily as she releases the arrow and lets it's whiz through, hoping to strike the creature.

Each of Maia's arrows is finding a shadowform blinking out of existence, darkness totally shattered before the light. There are so many though. So many. Some are killing the guards but most.. most are focused on the wards that surround the palace. Mikaboshi has long had his eyes on this place but the defenses are designed just to keep his kind of darkness out, until it was brought within those wards and released. Glyphs are destroyed by shadowy claws, paper torn asunder and protective urns shattered. Gaps being left in the defenses, holes opened, and while nothing instantly leaps through it is well know that Mikaboshi is not afraid of long term planning.

Haldor frowns at Preston's suggestion.

"I was afraid you were going to say that. Man. Five babies in one apartment? Child Protective Services are going to be all up in our business."

The Viking hangs his head as he produces the blankets and such, quickly setting to work wrapping babies up in individual bundles of adorible for carrying ease. For a moment, just a moment, Haldor pauses and looks around.

"Huh. Weird."

"Hey, like I said, we can sort it out later. One of them is the baby we were charged to bring home with us. The other four are…" Preston dismounts for the time being to help with the baby preparations. Looking up from this he stops and asks, "What's weird?" He is comfortably ignorant of how pear shaped things are going elsewhere in the compound, mostly because he's envisioning how pooptacular they're going to be once they abscond with the babies. "We should've set a rendezvous point or something. I have no idea how we're going to catch up with Maia…"

This is not good! Maia goes pew-pew as best as she can, trying to stop the shadowy obtenetration tendrils from destroying everything. She's trying to remain strong as she just focuses on eliminating all the arrows as she tries to extend her own divine influence over light, trying to eliminate as many shadows as she can at once with a heavenly flare. There's a signal that's totally Maia like!

In the halloutside the nursery there is suddenly one brilliant flash of lgiht. And another. Shadowy figures hitting the magical wards that Haldor and Preston avoided, their very shadowy presence triggering the defenses that obliterate them in searing light in an instant. Wow. Good they did not try to sneak past in shadow form. The magic is quickly exhausted though and soon from a nearby shadow a spindly being of darkness is leaping towards Haldor back, trying to wrap it's arms around his neck and take a perch there like some twisted gollum.

Maia's flare melts the shadows in the garden, the weak creatures bursting apart before that. There is so much more to the palace than this garden though and elsewhere the sounds of combat continue to sound, the occasional scream of the dying can still be heard. Elsewhere the breaking of defenses goes on. It's clear that ultimately the shadowy figures are too weak to prevail against the palace so full of defenders, they will fall, the question simply is how much damage will they do first.

Haldor is busy building baby warmers that will also function as baby carriers for ease and convenience, thus making him mostly unaware of the blinding flashes in the hallway. In fact, Haldor seems wholly taken with his task, save for the attention it takes him to remark to Preston, "Just a weird feeling. Hard to explain."

And then something comes flying at him in the shadows. Haldor whirls around to face the spindly shadow, tossing a baby to Preston and Godric, as THE VIKING FIST clenches for terrible and completely unseen impact in the shadows. Shadowy goo explodes out of the darkness in which Haldor stands, spattering the floor, ceiling, and walls in most every direction that doesn't include the babies, Preston, or Godric.

"… Dude. What?"

The Viking seems taken aback. Apparently he didn't actually plan on doing that. Haldor turns around again and sets back to the task, coldly intoning to Preston, "We need to hurry. Shit has hit the fan."

"Clearly," Preston replies casually as he watches shadowy goop trickle down the walls. He's all about hurrying, ensuring that the babies will be safe, but he takes the added precaution of covering their eyes. It may become necessary quite soon to illuminate the area and the sun's light can be rather indiscriminate. "It's kind of creepy," he says as he works, keeping a wary eye out for any more of those things that survived the wards, "we were just /in/ those shadows." Soon he's got all the babies he can carry. "Should I light up now or hold off? It might keep them away."

"GUYS! Mikaboshi is attacking!!!"

At this point, Maia's just hollaring as she runs around like a chicken with her head cut off trying to melt away the shadows that are attacking the palace. She wrinkles her nose as she continues to run, screaming out Haldor and Preston's names every now and then, hoping that someone will respond so she can find her way to where they are.

Shadow goes splat. Yet from others shadowy hands can be seen to form them, jagged shadowy heads filled with sharp shadowy teeth pulling themselves out of every bit of darkness like they are climbing out of a hole. Things have very much hit the fan. There is screaming all over. Guards are screaming. Babies are screaming. Maia is screaming! It's all going totally to hell, guards running everywhere and so jumpy about intruders by this point they are willing to take a stab at anyone not in armor. The shadows attacking everything.. not a shadow.

Haldor watches more shadows forming all around him. The Viking tries to decide which is the better option, high speed FRIGID VIKING WHIRLWIND BLENDER or Preston flashing bitches. Considering he has to handle babies, Haldor opts for the better of the options and puts on his sunglasses. A moment later, Johanssen is spreading over Haldor's body, encasing the Viking in golden armor while he gathers up the babies.

"Light 'em up, Pres. We're blowing this popcicle stand."

Did Maia find them yet? "Haldor?!?! Preston?!?!?" She continues following the massive damage as she finally stumbles upon the shadows going through the wards that no longer work. She wrinkles her nose as she hrmms, trying to get them to notice she's there. "You guys okay?!?!?" she continues to scream out.

Having prepared for just such an eventuality by covering little baby eyes, Preston gives a sharp nod and then turns into a man-shaped beacon of raw sunlight, the unrestrained glory of his father's blood building first in the metallic gleam upon the torc around his throat and then seeping from his very pores until he is glowing fit to banish any mundane shadow. Of course, the jury's still out on what this will do to Mikaboshi's critters, but it's better than nothing. "We're alright," he exclaims. "Good to go!" And so they are, and thus begins their attempt to make like ducks and get the flock out.
Preston's dayglo power doesn't quite pack the wattage of Maia's. Instead of instantly dissolving into shadow goo at his brilliance they recoil away shrieking and sizzling. That is still kind of satisfying, surely. Then Maia finds them! Yay! That cloak still around her shoulders pulses once more, shadows moving to engulf the Priestess as her companions. Far more concentrated here than in the creations the darkness even overcomes Preston's brilliance. It does them no harm, a momentary chill and all are suddenly standing in the ruins of the temple where they first arrived in Tamagahara babies and all. It seems Mikaboshi, now able to get past the wards took the opportunity to teleport them to safety (or at least get them out of the way).

Haldor, fully armored, charges down the halls in Preston's wake. The Viking doesn't dare retract his faceplate to show Maia the great big smile he has when he spots her, instead he starts to say something bright and cheerful. And then Mikaboshi intervenes.

For the first time in a very long time, Haldor physically falters when they arrive in the temple ruins. Haldor jukes, his feet trying to pump against strong floorboards that no longer exist as he starts trying to slow his running pace. Viking and babies go skidding and stumbling past Preston, Godric, Maia, and Drake before he finally spins to a halt, looking up just long enough for a birdie to poop on his helmet.

"… What… What just happened?"

There's a huffing and a puffing as she sees the duo (well now there's seven of them technically with the babies and all) as she heads on over to look over them in a rather flabbergasted fashion. She counts the little bundles of joy and blinks for a few moments.

"Weren't we just suppose to have one baby? But I got used by Mikaboshi. That cloak he gave me. I thought I could hide from the guards using it, and then.. yeah.."

She scratches her head and shuffles her feet, expecting to be chewed out by the two Vikings. So, she heads over to relieve some baby duty, grabbing too and cooing close as she has a boy and a girl in her arms, giggling happily the entire time. If she doesn't think about it, maybe they won't chew her out.

Preston lacks the reflexes to actually respond as the shadows engulf them all. He's too busy hauling ass and, deep down, loving every second of mindless abandon. There's a clear goal to be achieved and it's within his power to attain it, and his friends are here and it looks like their side is winning. His selective perception is leaving out the part where the Titan of Darkness is insinuating himself into the palace. He gave that enough thought to wonder if that was part of Amaterasu's plan too. He doesn't even have time to think about being teleported. Disoriented and reacting instinctively to the calm that prevails over their changed surroundings, he simply stops. He stops glowing, and looks around to make sure everyone's here. Godric, Maia, Haldor, and the babies. Man, that's gonna be a mess.

And Drake!
"We couldn't figure out which was which," Preston responds after a moment, shrugging expansively with his armloads of baby. Hopefully Drake is still being Maia's hat.

Haldor rubs his face with one hand, somehow managing to impossibly cradle a baby in the crux of his arm while he does so. Slowly he lowers his arm and regards Maia. For several seconds Haldor is terribly, terribly quiet.

"Mikaboshi gave you a cloak. Your family is in danger because of this present from One Bad Dude. And we are now not able to assist in fighting off Mikaboshi's hordes."

The Viking falls terribly silent again as he stares at Maia. He is still armored up, sunglasses turned into a dark crystalline visor that obscures his eyes, but Maia can still feel his gaze staring at her.

"I didn't know that would happen!"

She really didn't! The whole thing took her by surprise as she just closes her eyes and continues to cuddle the babies in her arms close to her, feeling useless as she starts to ease on down to the grass, staring down at the ground the entire time.

Preston takes in a shaky sigh as the whole picture falls into place. It's enough to dampen his perpetual good mood for a moment. "Is it practical to try and make amends now?" he asks, glancing off into the distance where he imagines the palace to be. "Amaterasu knew her daughter was there and charged us with getting her out. We did that …and then some. Should we just try to get them safe and…maybe worry about the rest later? I don't know what else we /can/ do. Getting angry now isn't going to make anything better. We all know what happened and nobody feels anything they shouldn't."

"Yeah. There's no sense in getting pissed about it now. We've got enough on our hands for the moment."

Haldor does his best not to continue staring at Maia. Instead he wills Johanssen to fold down to proper proportions and adjusts his position as he looks around for a way out of Tamagahara.

"Let's get home and then we'll worry about what to do with your magical mystery cloak."

Maia remains quiet and continues to avert her gaze away from the Viking. Instead she focuses on the two babies in her arms and the sleeping puppy on her head as she sighs and nods, looking as defeated as her mother was when they first saw her.

"C'mon, Maia. Let's get home. We'll get this all sorted out when we're there."

Haldor crouches down in front of Maia, reaching out to stroke her cheek with the back of one hand while he works to balance the baby he holds. Fortunately Epic Dexterity and super human "mundane" dexterity are helping him in this endeavour.

"It's gonna be alright," Preston assures, blindly optimistic and adamantly refusing to consider all the reasons why he's probably wrong. Nobody needs to hear that right now. He diverts attention to the weesters squirming in their blankets. "So who do you guys think the other four belong to?"

Heartened to see the Viking forgiving so readily, Preston smiles briefly before looking away to give the couple their moment. "Is getting back anything like getting here in the first place? The only torii I saw here back at the palace.

"I don't know. I imagine either my mom, or Uncle Susano-o or Uncle Tsuki-yomi.."

Maia sighs as she leans her cheek against his hand before she eases on up. Her epic dexterity and super dexterity help her ease on up as she peers back towards Preston as he asks his question. She hrmms and mulls it over.

"Any strong connection should work. I know that my mother's shrine in Ise was an easy way to get to Takamagahara." And she knows that from personal experience before she looks back towards Haldor.

"Since we have all five babies, we should at least give them names. One of these girls in Akemi. She's the one who probably looks kinda like me.. so I might need to go pull out the photo albums and talk to dad. I have no idea how we're taking care of them."

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