The wakizashi was in Nightwalker's hand. The soulstone rolled upon the tatami... he caught it between his fingers. He touched the tip of the blade against it, his body moving while his spirit screamed.

"NO!!!" Manta howled -

The soulstone crumbled to dust, and with a cry that was music in its sorrow and ecstasy, Shadowdancer's soul escaped. Moonlight flared into the room, blinding them both, and it had one inescapable command...

Come home...

...

As the sun's first rays peered into the city of Megatokyo, it was suddenly rivaled by a blast of light and sound that shook the whole city awake. Its aftershocks were felt as far away as Kyoto, and every single one of the factions felt something impalpable, yet known to them, vanish.

It was Iain Caduceus, who had stayed late in his labs to finish a project, who saw what had happened first.

Of the Church of Miho, nothing remained but a smoking ruin.


_______

'm so tired of being here
suppressed by all my childish fears
and if you have to leave
i wish that you would just leave
'cause your presence still lingers here
and it won't leave me alone


Something had already been reduced to ruin before, but it had gone without much notice. A lack of presence - some people were more aware of this not-presence. Others thought that that was the way things had always been - and still others remembered a time of events now past.

In a game, the more people, the more interesting the game is.

However, the more people in the game, the risk of things going wrong increases. Misunderstandings, heated opinions flaring up. Grumbles of discontent.

There comes a time where it isn't worth playing.

There comes a time where either the game changes, or things break. And nobody plays it anymore.

these wounds won't seem to heal
this pain is just too real
there's just too much that time cannot erase

you used to captivate me
by your resonating light
now I'm bound by the life you left behind
your face it haunts
my once pleasant dreams
your voice it chased away
all the sanity in me


Things have changed. Some people no longer care - some people have turned away, because they cared too much.

"Oh, but they're gone, nothing we can do about it now, is there?"

"Only the phoenix arises and does not descend. And everything changes. And nothing is truly lost."

These sorts of things will happen. If things do not change, if efforts are not made - this will happen again and again and again. What used to flourish, that same spirit - that is what has burned out, that is the pile of ashes you see.

Maybe something can rise out of those ashes. It depends if you want that to happen or not.

***
these wounds won't seem to heal
this pain is just too real
there's just too much that time cannot erase


Mahou had not been in the Church of Miho that day, or that night. Even though the Clinic was there, there had been no work to do, and so she had let those under her take a day off. Including herself.

She now stared at the rubble.

She did not know what to do, or how to act. She was nobody of importance - what words could she say that would make any difference? If she did say them, would she be listened to?

Then it occurred to her. A line, long forgotten.

"Above all it was a failure of conscience."


i've been living a lie
there's nothing inside


Mahou clapped. Bowed deeply.

She had been passive all this time. But now..

I've been sleeping a thousand years it seems
got to open my eyes to everything
without a thought without a voice without a soul
don't let me die here
there must be something more
bring me to life



The miko Mahou lit a flame, with her magic. A phantom flame - a mark of a haunting presence, or a mark of a vigil.

She bowed again. Those who had left, were in some amount of peace now.

And then she turned away.

It wasn't much, but she was going to change. Nothing was perfectly structured, but she had known this would happen.

There goes the neighborhood
And somehow you knew it would
'Cuz you understand
Armageddon's right around the bend

You got your fortune
Right in your hands

You choose no options
you do or die...

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