The automaton sprinted for stairs, choosing to climb the central Library's tower, trusting that the quartet of kobold had skill enough to make their own way. the observatory level had open sides and telescopes, more large spyglasses than proper refracting telescopes, set at the four corners of the tower. Normally these were used to track the stars, both wandering and fixed, but here was where their other purpose was put to use.

"Talk me through this Kai-chan." Her voice was soft as the telescope swiveled. Her hands moved almost automatically as she talked, causing the telescope to focus, adjust, then readjust as she found the thing she sought "Breathe. Check focus. Eye on target."

She saw a goblin running. Threads of black shot through his green skin. Eyes wide, irises milky white. Yet he ran, bounding over uneven terrain.

He stopped short of a widening of the path. Head tilted as if he heard something. Hands going to his temples as if he were warding off a wave of vertigo.

"What am I seeing?" Taru's voice a bare whisper.

'A man being consumed.' Kamio's voice. An echo of memory from before. The voice firm as it whispered in her ear.

"Why is he stopping?" Her voice still soft, as if the goblin might overhear and flee.

There was a soft snort. She felt her gaze drawn, and thus the telescope move, from the goblin to the clearing itself. 'There are only so many places they can ambush from. You know this. Why must you rely on my memory?'

The voice sounded, not angry nor disappointed. Exasperated came closest.

"Because I miss you." Taru watched as the quartet of Kobold stepped from hiding. Words were said. One of the two she had not fought approached slowly, an open hand extended.

'Stop him!' Kamio urgently hissed. 'Whatever has hold of lutz is trying to sucker them in.'

Hotaru stood there, arrow knocked and bowstring tightened before she realized she had even stepped from the telescope.

'You've more experience than me.' She heard Kamio's voice as she took aim.

'Any strength you say I gave was always yours.' He reassured as she focused.

The world went away in that moment. Gone the wind. Gone the tower. Gone the moon and stars. Gone everything but her, and her target.

'Through Clarity of Sight. The fall of final Chance.' Taru could feel Power being called. Her power. Only the softest whisper of what she had called on Before.

For a heartbeat she was unsure. That power scared her in her past lives. Of what might happen. What it might do. Then, seeing Lutz's jaws open, splitting down the middle and extending out, her resolve solidified.

⁂ ⁂ ⁂

"Sir," Dion's voice was gentle as he slowly approached Lutz. "I know you are unwell."

"Please," Lutz's voice was soft as he staggered back from the Kobold. "I don't... want..."

"Don't want what?" Dion took a step forward. He paid his brothers no mind. this was someone he could help. He had to try.

"Don't want to hurt you." Lutz's voice whined as he again clutched at his head. "please don't make me."

Dion paused. He heard that shift in focus. Lutz wasn't talking to him.

"Can't keep it out." The Goblin's voice was weak. "I'm-"

Whatever he was going t osay was cut off by an unnatural keening. A shrill noise as his mouth opened wider. His jaws split at the middle, each half flaring as his tounge, now a rounded rope-like tendril, lashed out as the goblin shrieked."

Dion couldn't look away from Lutz's eyes. Once golden, now milky white irises focused on him. His own eyes were fixed in place, fascination gripping him.

"My Heavenly Judgment Made. Schwarze Lanze!"

The voice came from the library tower. Yet Dion heard it as if the speaker were there beside him. He could not look away when it struck Lutz.

One moment.

A bar of black that soaked in everything. Light. Heat. Sound. Everything was drawn through this thread of Nothing. It intersected Lutz.

The next.

Dion stood there, his three brothers behind him in an empty clearing looking at where lutz had been. He looked to his brothers for answers and got only a collection of shrugs.

When the quartet started running, this time towards where the library maps had said Midori's holdings were, Dion spared the library a glance. His mind held too many questions, and again it had almost gotten himself and his brothers killed. he had to do better. For their sakes as much as his own.

"Thank you."

⁂ ⁂ ⁂

Taru watched the quartet run past her sight headed towards Midori's lands. She would nod to her self as she checked the telescope. Focus changed as her attention was drawn to the dungeons closest to the library's lands. The buildings there belonged to the Toymaker.

She saw a pair of human sized tin soldiers stiff legged marching the streets. The weapons slung across their shoulders resembling the water guns of her youth. Large tank with a secondary chamber to hold air that was compressed by an on-weapon pump. Judging by the glass of the tanks and the slosh of the liquid held inside she very much doubted it was water those would spray at intruders.

Part of her was glad to see the Toymaker again.

'He tried to kidnap you and the other Zodiacs.' Again, the memory of Kamio's voice in her ear as she watched the buildings these toy soldiers patrolled.

"He thought we were corrupted," She hrmphed as she saw a marionette pointing a spyglass at her, lower it, and give a cheerful wave before being carried away by its strings. "And," she gave a nearly imperceptible shudder, "He was right wasn't he?"

'...That doesn't mean I like what happened,' Kamio's voice groused. 'If we had found him sooner. Maybe he could have been an ally.'

That caused her to make a small thoughtful noise as she considered the voice she gave her more impulsive self. "Why not fix that oversight now?"

'Right now?' Kamio asked, traces of amusement and approval threading through.

"Right now." Taru confirmed as she leapt from the tower.

After she rolled to a stop then rose. Taru shook herself and frowned at her left hand flopping loosely for a moment before the pins and screws there tightened and righted themselves.

'Your dad's going to kill me if anything happens to you.' Kamio's voice a deadpan as she started running.

As the automaton ran she gave a small laugh, "The real-you seemed to be getting along fine with her. Like you tell me. Stop worrying and just go for it."

'Yea,' Kamio hissed in her ear, 'And look where that got me.'

"There's no time to go get Naoko. He might see the Kobold as an attack." She hissed back.

That got no rebuke from her imagined advisor.


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