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A Goddess's Arena

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[Marie]

The Great Seal

"You know, I think we're being a little too harsh on Erebus," I casually commented, walking past an explosion that ineffectually erupted beside me.

"Nonsense!" Liz chimed; she and her grimoire floating around with the latter flipping through several pages. "Perhaps it is that we are being too easy on him! He should treat it as a wonderful learning time!—well, wonderful more for us than him."

Erebus roared at us, sounding like he really wanted to throw a tantrum, but we just ignored him. Liz is an eccentric ruler of power and I'm a virtual goddess; it'd take a lot more than him to faze either of us at this point. (Maybe something like... another endgame Wild Card. That seems about right.)

The former final boss sent plumes of ice at us next, but compared to the Bufudynes that Mitsuru packed, it'd be a practical no sell had I let them hit. A lazy sidestep later, I outstretched my palm and—with a cry of "Persona!"—crushed the tarot card that spawned. Behind me, Kaguya – my newly preferred Aeon Persona – appeared, and I pointed a finger right at Erebus's form. "Shining Arrows!"

Swords of golden light streaked from the sky and rained down all over Erebus, him roared in agony as every Bless-bearing hit pierced right through him. (That's the thing with being large; you're a much bigger target too.) "Oh ho, trying out your new Persona now, Marie?" Liz cheekily noted.

"Well, it's not as if Erebus can do anything to me or you, so I might as well get some practice in with Kaguya," I explained, my face sporting a sly smile. "I've been meaning to kick his butt, anyway." And honestly, using Erebus as a sort of testing grounds is a far better utility than he honestly deserves. Heavens knows he doesn't exactly do a lot other than aimlessly thrashing away at the Great Seal.

"You have a point. Very well—Thanatos!" The God of Death showed up before Erebus, clearly eager to cleave the manifestation of humanity's grief where he stood. Heh, still as bloodthirsty as ever, I see. "Show Erebus your Door to Hades now, hmm?"

Without another word, Thanatos unleashed several streaks of darkness that circled all about Erebus. They briefly dissipated into him, black lightning crackling about, before exploding in grandeur fashion. I was actually wishing Thanatos had that during my journey; it looked powerful as hell. At this point Erebus's four arms were bending down in exhaustion, his two heads doing its best to glare at us with all the hatred he could muster. "Looks like he's down," I snipped to Liz. Well, maybe not as down as I'd like, but it still works. "Let's hit him with an All-Out Attack!"

"Ooh, I like the way you think, Marie~!" my girlfriend said, landing down on her feet and closing her open Compendium. "Very well – let us show him his fate!" Clutching my own handbag (What? I've used weirder weapons), the two of us rushed in, and – true to form – engulfed the area in an unrealistic amount of dust, bashing Erebus's skeletal form as much as we could. His groans were drowned out by all our thwacks, and eventually we pulled out and watched as he succumbed to his injuries, a literal death cloud erupting where he stood. I grinned – that never got old.

I should probably give you some backstory at some point. My name's Mariko Kusumi. I'm the wielder of the Universe Arcana and the avatar of Izanami. I also used to be Minato Arisato – though after my journey ended, I became the Great Seal. Technically, I still am the Great Seal, but Liz managed to get me a new body to use, so – that's great! (As for why I'm a girl now, blame Izanami.)

You have no idea how much you appreciate being able to move and breathe and eat until you've been a rock guarding a door for a long time on end. It's seriously the greatest and I will never ever take it for granted ever again. Seriously. (How did I survive again?)

As for what we were just doing… You see, Erebus – as I've stated before – is the manifestation of humanity's grief, and so it's not exactly a good thing that he's lumbering about and trying to bring the end of the world as a result (not that he can; my old self's pretty sturdy as a blockade from his goal). So Liz (plus me, as of a few months ago) periodically comes in to beat the crap out of him. I'll admit, it's pretty nice to sharpen my Persona skills again after having spent so long in a not-quite-alive state.

"That felt great!" I admitted, my face sporting a wide smile. I made sure to check over my bag; make sure it wasn't too beaten up. Sure, Izanami made it pretty durable, but it never hurts to check. I mean, I keep a whole lot in there, after all.

"Yes, it certainly was an experience now, wasn't it?" Liz agreed, her Compendium back to being held by her side. "It is a shame that Erebus does not feel the same way. I would give him a takoyaki in—what was the word, now…" She put a finger to her chin in wonderment. "Crustacean? Cognation?"

"I believe the word you're looking for is 'consolation'," I stated dryly.

"Ah! Yes! Consolation! A takoyaki in consolation. It is also a shame that he would not be able to eat it. Everyone should eat takoyaki at least once in their lifetime, don't you agree?"

"Sure, let's go with that." It's faster to just agree with her, really. "But you know… it is weird how soon Erebus regenerated this time," I mentioned, adjusting the little cap on my head. Normally, it takes him a lot longer to do that. I would know, considering I was the Great Seal for quite a while, and counting his attacks was one of the few things I could do. "That was, what—only a couple months? Something must be going on in the real world for that to happen."

The real question is… what was that something?

"Oh, that's right!" I looked at Liz as she spoke up – she seemed to have just remembered something. "I just remembered!" And there we go. "There's going to be a gathering of Persona-users today! It's for some sort of tournament, I gathered."

I blinked. "Huh. Really?" I'm no stranger to weird post-journey meet-ups; I mean, just last month the two of us were re-dumped back into Rei's massive Labyrinth and boy, that was an interesting time. Seeing how it's a bit too soon for another new Wild Card to have a journey (probably)… "Let me guess… This has something to do with the guys from Inaba?"

"My, that is correct! You're as sharp as ever, Marie." Knew it. I haven't been to Inaba myself, but the guys there were the most recent group of Persona-users around, so it wasn't that hard to deduce. I've… technically met the crew, but that was during the Labyrinth, so they don't exactly remember that. Ah well.

"I myself scouted the meeting place just a few days ago; it is quite the intriguing set-up! Who knew there could be such a fascinating world behind a screen?" I'm… going to pretend I know what she's talking about with that last part. "An Anti-Shadow Weapon is involved, too – she very much reminded me of Aigis, actually."

"Another Anti-Shadow Weapon, huh? That certainly sounds interesting." The real question is—is this the same ASW that was with my teammates fighting Erebus, or someone completely different? Admittedly, the idea of another ASW is kind of strange to me – I mean, it's not like they activated a lot of ASWs back when I was alive? There was really only Aigis – and speaking of which, if this new ASW is anything like Aigis, I'm sure she'll be a treat. Eh, I'm sure I'll get used to it. "So, Liz… You headed for this tournament thing yourself?" I asked her next, though I already knew her answer.

"Of course!" she stated in her typical cheerful manner. "I can scarcely keep myself from getting involved in such a tremendous event! It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, after all! Besides, I'm sure I'll learn something interesting while I am at it."

I raised an eyebrow amusedly. "That's not a reason I'd put out myself, but… eh, I suppose it works." It's Elizabeth; I didn't expect anything different out of her. I didn't mind, honestly. Her eccentric nature has its own charm to it. "I hope you're ready for whatever tournament awaits, Liz," I commented.

"Oh, I'm sure that whatever awaits will not be too difficult!" Before us, Liz opened up one of her typical magic circles, which glowed a brilliant blue beneath our extraterrestrial surroundings. "Now," she proclaimed, "let us be off! We—or rather, I—have a date with destiny, as they say~!" Without further hesitation, Liz comically jumped into the portal, expressing a "Wheeeeeeeee~!" as she went.

I smiled. "That's my Liz." Now, I have to ask myself – should I join her in whatever shenanigans she wants to do? I'm perfectly comfortable staying on the sidelines myself. Then again… it's not like I have a lot to do, after all. Ever since I came back to life, I mostly content myself with going along with what Liz wants to do (and I admit, it's not half-bad). Not to mention… I am a little lacking in inspiration for my budding poetry skill.

And hey – I suppose if a new ASW is involved, that means that my old teammates will have to be there, too. I haven't really tried to connect back with them yet – I mean, I haven't been back for too long, and I've been focused on getting back into the swing of things, so to say. But now I have a real opportunity to see them again on my hands. You know, now I'm wondering how everyone's been. Junpei, Yukari, Fuuka, Akihiko, Mitsuru, Aigis, the rest of SEES…

"Ah, what the heck," I decided. I looked to the still-open portal Liz had made, and made my choice. "What's the harm in joining in? Hey Liz, wait up!" I jumped in (albeit several seconds later) after my girlfriend, letting myself be transported along with her. To where, I didn't exactly know – something about a TV, I remembered – but that didn't really matter right now.

This reunion party's long overdue – time for us to see this through!

Here we go!