On the Tenth Day of Christmas, my favorite Authors gave to me: Ten Loaded Dice!
The group takes a horrified combined breath.
In the Jungle you will Wait
To Break your Chains
And Meet your Fate
There is a frozen, unmoving moment where everyone meets each other's eyes, and horror stares back at every else. There's an instant, wherein Kyoko gasps, horrified, "Oh no."
At the exact moment that Tsuna whispers, terror audible in his voice, "Oh Kami-"
Then the screams start, as one by one, the children find themselves sucked towards the orb in the center of the board game. They all panic, scrambling to grab ahold of anything that could stop it from taking them, but nothing works. One by one, each of them disappear, and the screams edge closer towards hysterical as the orb continues to taketaketake-
And then there is only stillness.
Fon doesn't get along well with his nephew. It's not from lack of trying on Fon's part, and more that Kyoya takes offence with his presence, is furious that Fon had been bested by a 'herbivore' like Checkerface, that he had allowed himself to end up in a place to be cursed at all.
Still- Fon is a Hibari, and he loves his nephew, and is loved in return, despite their clashing opinions.
(Some days, Fon thinks it is this love that makes Kyoya so angry.)
He loves his nephew, and as such Kyoya has a necklace that acts as an emergency beacon to Fon. A necklace that Kyoya never took off, and knew to press if ever he had a need for help.
Fon is always careful to have the corresponding necklace on his person, just in case. Kyoya has never used it except the once- when he was six, and members of the Chinese Triad had tried to kidnap him- an incident in which Kyoya had gone Active and Fon had razed an entire Clan from the Earth.
Which is why his breath catches in his throat, and his ever present serene smile fades, as he feels the necklace around his neck heat and pulse against his throat. The beat of the pulse is rapid and fluttering and Fon's stomach turns.
The necklace responds to the amount of Flames the owner pushes into its counterpart. That the pulse of Flames coming from Fon's neck is so warm and pulses so quickly is a call for immediate aid. Fon drops the teacup he had been sipping from immediately and stands to his feet. Thankfully no one is there to see him, as he pauses only long enough to grab his ever present and prepared emergency bag, and then rush out the door.
By the time he arrives in Namimori, he can find no sign of his nephew.
More than that, the town has been...there are strange things happening in the town. Vines that grow faster than anything he has seen, poisonous and at least somewhat intelligent. Animals that belong to a jungle running around. Yellow pod flowers that have teeth.
If he didn't know better he would think he had stepped into a Mist's playground.
But that is not what has happened.
When he starts looking for answers, hunting for his nephew he finds only a copy of a security feed in his school.
Most everyone looking at it will see a strange surge before the camera cuts when a set of children begin playing a game. Now- it cuts long before his nephew is involved, but when he tracked his nephew through the other cameras it had shown him forcing his way into that classroom.
Which is what brings the video to his attention.
More than that- it is what brings the barest, masterfully handled, touch of Mist Flames layered into the video to his attention.
He cannot track who the Mist in question is, but it is his only lead, and he knows someone who could track it for him given proper payment.
And Fon will pay whatever he needs to to see his nephew alive and well.
Checkerface had protected and carried Jumanji for centuries.
He wasn't sure what it was exactly, even after all that time, but he knew that it took the form of games, and enjoyed being played.
He knew it was sentient and curious, and cunning. He knew that it could communicate in a vague way, using whatever strange magic that had created it.
He knew that it was not of Flame origin, because the game had been utterly fascinated with Flames, and had been curious and greedy when presented with them.
And then Checkerface had discovered that Jumanji could find powerful Flames, that it would search them out, because it wanted to play with them.
He'd been pulled into the game himself once, at that point, and it was….dangerous- even to one such as him. He had a healthy respect (fear) of the game, and while he would never again play the game himself, it...had potential.
Jumanji was very good at finding people that would be acceptable Arcobaleno in each generation.
When the game had figured out that Kawahira would pull it from the shelves and let it search out Flame users, that he would provide it with players, if it showed him Arcobaleno potentials...it had gotten very good at finding powerful Flames, very quickly.
Kawahira had been staying at his antique shop, when Jumanji had started stretching it's reach out, farther than usual and having the equivalent of a toddler tantrum about something...being insistent in the extreme about being allowed to 'play' with someone…
Kawahira had never seen the game react quite like that before, and so he had gone out, followed the game's urges, and set it up right in the path of the young boy it was so excited about.
At that point, Kawahira had sat back, watching to see what the boy- later he discovered to be Sawada Tsunayoshi- would do.
Soon enough, Jumanji was being played by a group of children, the town being taken over by the results of the game, and Kawahira was carefully sneaking into the school to hide any traces of the game.
He layered his Mist Flames into the video feeds, subtly and near untraceable, as he made sure anyone looking would only see and strange power glitch that was explained away by the strange things happening to the town.
It wouldn't have to last long, he knew how Jumanji worked, he just had to hide the game until the children it had sucked into it, finished whatever tasks had been set before them.
In the meantime, he would remove the game from the open, and return to Italy, to leave traces of his presence for the Arcobaleno to track, so they would leave his home in Namimori alone.
Tsuna moaned lowly, his head throbbing, and body aching as pain made itself known, loudly and insistently.
The dirt was warm and soft, the sunlight warm on his skin. The breeze was gentle and the sounds of animals were somewhat soothing. And yet.
They were sounds that did not belong. He jerked himself up to his feet, staggering sideways at the quick motion, eyes flying over his surroundings. Were was-
He counted off heads quickly in his mind, making sure everyone was accounted for absently.
He was too busy trying not to hyperventilate as he took in their surroundings. Distracted with violently jerking himself around and around and around. Towering trees that stretched so far over his head, he couldn't see the tops, and so far outward he could see no end. The thick loamy scent of the jungle, the humidity in the air, the chattering of so many animals-
Everything was wrong.
He shook that off after a horrible moment spent wrestling with anxiety- thankfully he had practice with that- and instead rushed to check in on his classmates. (Who he had dragged into whatever this was-)
Gods, this game was dangerous enough when it was single creatures and events coming out of the board- what would it be like living it the game's world? He needed to get everyone up as quickly as possible.
Jumanji loved Flame Users. They were…unique. Watching their solutions to its game was always a good time. No one person uses the same Flame the same way. Jumanji was particularly fond of this small town the one carrying it favored. So many of the inhabitants were saturated with Flames.
While Jumanji could not interact with its players in a conventional manor, that didn't mean that it didn't listen to them. It had learned about Flames, their types, and what those types were prone to or capable of. The one to carry it- 'Checkerface' as he liked to be called while on a job- had also been a wonderful source of information, the man being able to 'sense' Jumanji's feelings on a peripheral level. He knew that Jumanji was curious and liked to search them out, and would even let Jumanji play if it pointed out the stronger Flame types to him.
And yet, during all the games it had started, all the players that had failed to win, and the few who had won, it had never had an opportunity to play with a Sky. The Flame Users that Jumanji had taken before were all Skyless. Apparently it was rare and sought after to 'harmonize', and Checkerface had said more than once, and very sternly, that to take a Sky was to take all their 'Elements', and to take a Sky's Element was to take the Sky.
He was very intent about what a Sky would do to Jumanji if it were to harm those the Sky considered theirs without taking the Sky along for the ride.
From what it could gather, Skies were exceedingly rare, and Checkerface was greedy about them anyway. As were most all those who spoke of them.
Which meant that when Jumanji sensed a baby Sky- his flames entirely sealed (which was damaging how his systems functioned)- it jumped at the chance. Especially since the seal was strong enough the one who carried it could not sense the strength of the Flames that lurked behind it. If he had, he would not have allowed Jumanji to take him, to pull him into its game.
But Jumanji had always been a step out of synch with the rest of the world, and could pick up on such things.
It had jumped at the chance to play with a Flame it had not previously been allowed to contemplate.
Quite honestly, Jumanji would be doing this human a favor!
With his Flames, his very Will, his Soul, sealed and locked away, he would grow up so stunted, barely able to process stimulation effectively, to say nothing of the physical damage!. It would be a waste, Jumanji decided firmly, and with glee, and thus it did all that it was able to land in the small human's path. It didn't take long for the game to realize the brilliance of its decision!
With semi-Active, yet untrained Flames!
Others! With even more Flames, Inactive as they may be! That wasn't an issue, there was a pass for players who had Inactive Flames or were entirely ignorant of them- these humans were both!
In the darkness where the Soul and Will of Jumanji resides, it shrieks with delight, howling with great joy.
Because Jumanji only said the players couldn't cheat.
It said nothing of itself. This was its world after all, and it was the one to make the rules. How were they supposed to know who decided where the dice landed? Which cards where at the top of the deck? As if Jumanji wasn't sentient! Hah!
Honestly, humans, never asking the important questions and not even bothering to communicate with things that held intelligence simply because it wasn't bipedal.
It did nothing to dispute this assumption, after all, all the more excitement for Jumanji!
It wasn't as if time wasn't easily unraveled.