The first time they were inflicted of Dizziness was during the battle against the manifestation of Oracle's guilt in her own Palace. Majority of them had to rely on Oracle in order to prevent them from tumbling down the polished stone facade of the pyramid. Queen and Mona may have the skills to remove the 'status effect' but when they caught it, they were screwed. Hard.
Since most of their medicine and Patra Gems were blown away by the sad excuse of a sphinx, they have to make sure not to get hit by the Shadow's attack. It was already difficult in ensuring they have the attention of the Shadow on the rest of the team while one of them was working on the ballista. Oracle can't join much on helping them since majority of her skills were focused on analysis, environment manipulation and damage negation, and she was already concentrating on making sure another ballista would get reloaded after it has been used.
It was her Palace; her place, her own rules. The Shadow just have to deal with it, Oracle commented as she used her Persona's ability to create a field around the team to negate the swipe from the Shadow.
Too bad she couldn't remove the dizziness from their designated team healers. Queen and Mona's healing skills can't connect to them nor themselves, removing the 'status effect' that vastly hinders their own recognition. Add to the fact that with them getting dizzy, they would stumble on their own feet, making themselves an easy target for the Shadow to hit them, and most of their magic spells won't connect to the flying sphinx, which was a necessary tactic to ensure its attention to them.
Thankfully, dizziness wore off about 2 minutes or so. After that experience, everyone agreed to have a Me Patra Gem on their pockets at all time and not to keep them on a bag tied around their waists.
She would never understand why Joker would always have Sandman 'equipped' whenever they are doing 'heist requests' from the site. Oh, she knew and fully acknowledged that Joker would always take the chance to have a bit more money. After all, it was for the good of the team since it was used to buy more medicine and ammo. Some were even used to buy protective gear that they wear underneath their get-ups.
Crouching, rolling, crawling, stumbling and climbing through the Otherworld can be harsh on their bodies, aside from the semi-mental/spiritual exhaustion they get after transporting out , that it would be very suspicious if somebody notices the bruises and scratches on their legs, arms, and knees. Not to mention, getting hit from the Shadows certainly hurt, enough to induce bruises and even deep cuts that would scar. Diarama could do so much, but scarring seemed to be out of its league. Reality ensues, she sometimes joke, earning a grimace from most of the team.
Still, she knew that Joker has lots of Personas that could do the job better than Sandman. And by lots, she meant tons. If she could list down the Personas their Leader could 'equip', she could make a catalogue of sorts for them, complete with background history and capabilities. After all, the Personas he used were usually the Shadows they encounter in the Otherworld and most, if not all, of the Shadows there were based on various stories in the real world.
Her own Palace, which was a pyramid, had a sphinx for crying out loud. And Queen even confided to her once that they fought Isis, an Egyptian goddess, in her Palace. If that wasn't enough to convince anyone that the Shadows there were taking stories in the real world as a basis, then nothing else.
"Can you, at least, tell me why Sandman is the one you always call? Out of all the Personas you have, why him?" she asked through the mental connection she and the rest of Thieves have. Inside Necronomicon, she was safe from the Shadows; flying above the Thieves and scouting out the ever changing train tracks of Mementos, she always oversees the battle between the team and the Shadows that they would ran over on the way. "Panther, Skull and Fox are just standing there, watching like it's another thing they got used to, but Queen, Noir and I are just as confused as the next Shadow next to you."
"I just feel like it," Joker replied, having Sandman blast another Tentarafoo at the hordes of Shadows around them. Some of the Shadows were already throwing out yen like it was candy and Mona and Skull were busy catching the coins and paper bills with bags made of questionable materials. It was akin watching somebody throwing dog treats at dogs at the side of the street. "Besides, these guys are flithy rich. "
A Shadow threw a Soma at Panther, which she easily caught and placed inside her own bag. "This is much easier than having to negotiate them in giving money."
"Yeah," Queen said, nodding as she punched a Shadow that seemed to have recovered and was running away from the team. Too bad it was right next to Queen and Queen was nothing but a very efficient member of the team. "Much easier. Some even think they could fight us after not giving into our demands."
"My, my. You guys shouldn't be too hard on them," Noir commented with a tinge of a laugh in her voice, sitting on a bunch of cement blocks that were stacked in front of a row of coin lockers. "It's already the 5th Tentarafoo round. Are you sure they even have more to throw, Joker?"
As if to answer Noir's question, a Shadow threw a Dekaja and a Dekunda Gem at her, hitting her directly on her forehead. It took almost all of Oracle's self preservation skills not to laugh.
"Oh, that's it! Joker! Let's end this!"
It was like waking up. One moment she was facing a weird pink orb of energy from the winged Shadow and the next thing she knew, she was collapsing on her knees. Her breath was ragged and her arms were sore. Looking at her arms, she noticed they were tears on the catsuit her Persona bestowed on her as protection. She tried to get up but the soreness of her legs and knees were too much for her to endure, leading her to fall down again on the tiled floor of the Castle.
Suddenly, a wave of energy went through her, removing the soreness of her legs and arms. She could stand up now.
"Next time, Panther, you have to evade that orb of energy."
"Huh?" Did something happened while she was unconscious? It felt like she passed out from that pink orb. Judging from the state her body was in moments earlier, she had received quite a beating from that one attack.
"You attacked us, Panther! Look at Skull! He's knocked out cold!"
"W-What?!" She turned towards Mona, who was behind her, and looked to where Mona was pointing at. Joker was tending to Skull, helping him sip a few drinks of soda and applying a few spreads of balms on his arms, magic flowing through his finger every spread. "You okay, Skull? What happened?"
" You happened," he jokingly replied, smirking before he winced. Beside her, Joker muttered for Skull to keep his leg still. "Wow. Can't believe you were that agile and fast, Panther. Not even Mona's Energy Drops could hit you. Where did you even learned to twist that whip of yours?"
"What are you talking, Skull?" She looked around and sighed in relief. Mona was already at the corner of the corridor, looking out for any roaming Shadows. They already cleared the hallway they passed through of Shadows so it was safe for them. For now. "What did I do?"
"You were under the Shadow's control, Panther," Joker calmly stated as he pushed another can of soda for Skull to drink from. "I think that winged Shadow was a Succubus, since the one with red skin and bald head claimed to be an Incubus. Succubi are said to be tempters of men, though I'm confused why it targeted you since you're, uh…"
"...oh no no no no. I'm not a guy, Joker. I'm 100% female! No dick, unlike you two!" She couldn't believe just what Joker was insinuating at. Then it dawned to her. "Wait, I attacked you two? I-I… what?!"
"Can you tell us what happened on your side? You seem to be in control of yourself, back there, but we knew you wouldn't attack us, regardless of any legitimate reason. Unless if Skull here have managed to, uh, I dunno, signed you up for a dating website...?"
Her left eyelid twitched at Joker's words but she calmed herself by slowly making deep breathes. "I felt like sleeping," Panther said as she helped Joker in healing Skull's bruises. While Mona has the knack for healing and her on magical damage, her own healing capabilities are sufficient for some quick fixes. In this case, additional aid for whatever type of medicine Joker applied on Skull. Surprisingly, it worked in tandem with Dia. "One moment I was looking at the incoming orb and the next, I was on the floor with my limbs sore like I've went through an entire exercise drill."
"Sorry about that." Skull looked down after he said it, a small frown taking over the smirk he had earlier. "I had keep you away from that Shadow. You were protecting it from getting hurt."
She shook her head, applying a bit more Dia around Skull's jaw. There was a very mean red, turning purple already, patch of skin under his jaw and it seemed Joker have missed it, favoring Skull's legs and arms. "Stand still, okay? There's one under your jaw. Looks so bad."
"Hah. That's nothing compared to the ones I've endured during my training."
Ah. She forgot. Skull was their school's star track member but… There's a reason why it was a "was". "Shut up. Don't be stupid, alright?"
"Yeah," Joker quipped from his area, patting Skull's knee at the same time. "Can you stand up? We may have to retreat if it's too much, Skull. You, Panther? Anything that's hurting you there?"
"No, no. Mona's Dia already done the job. But…" While the pain's not there anymore, there was still a slight feeling of soreness on her legs and arms that she can't ignore. A slight feeling, so small she can intentionally dismiss, but it's still there.
Sighing, Joker called Mona back to them, with the bobbly-head cat scampering towards them. "Let's go back for now, guys. We all have to recover from that. And I'm also running low on medicine."
Skull and her nodded, following Joker as he pulled out the map they have liberated from a guard's outpost in the Castle. Although he was good in hiding his limp, she can tell that, like her, Skull can still feel the remaining pain from the attacks she had inflicted on him.
And was that a terrifying thought. She have been controlled by a Shadow and attacked her teammate, without even knowing she did so. It was like somebody replaced her at that moment with a robot and made her body do all those things. Panther shivered at the idea.
She vowed to get away as soon as she can when she saw that type of attack next time. The Shadows don't have morals here, especially since there were at the Palace of a raging pervert.
Moments later, after they had reached the Safe Room and triggered the mechanism allowing the door to open a way to the entrance of the Castle, Carmen whispered in her ear of a spell that would render their enemies into slumber. And if the grin plastered on her face as they shifted back to the real world wasn't any indication of her happiness, then the free food she had bought for her two teammates was.
"No! I can't do it! T-That's…!"
"Queen! Can you help Joker?! Oi, Joker! Get a grip!"
"No no no no no. Stop! Please! I promise I won't do it again! Just please! Don't come near me!"
"Crap! She's out too! Mona, you?!"
"Oh for the love of- Panther!"
He turned to his side and saw two bodies on the floor, one lying face down and the other… yep, also lying down on the ground. And to think they were so close to the Safe Room shown on their map.
Panther was drooling on the ground, her hair scattered at the sandy, grainy stone platform they were on; Mona's too-big-for-their-own-safety sword was at the side, collecting grains of sand from the ceiling, with its owner's face on the ground. Queen was on her knees, covering her eyes from whatever thing she was seeing - a monkey-like Shadow carrying a book, looming over her with a curious expression. Joker - that rascal - was quivering behind an urn, clutching the knife he has on his hands and mumbling prayers of safety and pleas of forgiveness.
Skull wiped his face, trying to take away the fed-up expression he had on his face but ultimately failed afterwards. In one motion, he summoned Captain Kidd to rain down lightning bolts at the Shadows, hitting the monkey-like Shadow and several of the half-human-half-snakes ladies. He grimaced as the topless snake ladies shrugged off his ( Captain Kidd's) Mazio attack.
Snakes hate lightning, right? I saw a snake once slither away from an open wire at a zoo. Why doesn't it work!?
The Shadow, noticing his momentary indecisiveness, attempted to strike him with its long, sharp tail but the sudden appearance of an exploding ice shard between them stopped it, simultaneously blasting Skull's attacker back to its fellow Shadows and rendering their defenses open.
"Thanks a lot, Fox!" he called out behind him. "Your timing couldn't have been better! Did you get the orb?"
The fox-shaped mask of Fox rattled, joining in his teammates' nod of confirmation. Skull inwardly berated himself for coming up with the idea of splitting themselves in order to cover more ground. Sure, the two hallways were close enough for them to run to the other if they needed back-up, but it was too short to give any indication of trouble. Oh how wrong he was, even though Joker agreed that splitting up seemed to be a great idea at that time.
And now where did that idea got them too? Joker, quivering like a frightened kid, hiding behind his long, jagged, and sharp knife as if it was a barrier between him and the Shadows. Queen, quite in the same predicament as him, but instead, she was slowly crawling backwards, away from the Shadows while crying out protests, to the edge of the platform they were at. If they didn't stopped her, she would fall down to the sinkhole they had swam out of earlier. Mona and Panther, out cold due to the ambush the Shadows had made to them, hitting their respective Persona's weakness and slamming them to the wall, instantly removing them from the battlefield.
Fox and him were the only ones that were spared from the ambush since he and the Emperor of the Thieves were at the adjacent hallway, claiming the orb needed to open a closed-off pathway in the Pyramid. The two of them were fast enough - thanks to Fox's Sukukaja spells - to get the needed item and reach the rest of their team.
"Is this another 'status ailment' I missed or this is new?" their katana-wielding member inquired, summoning Goemon again to cast Mabufu against the Shadows. Skull shook his head, earning a frown from their Bufu specialist. "I hope that we have a spare Me Patra Gem... Do we?"
"Nah, it's all at Joker. Let's clean this up and then we can help them up on their feet. Oi!" He then summoned Captain Kidd to appear behind Queen and nudge her forward, stopping her from falling down, while throwing a bomb at the Shadows, blasting them into dark mist.
Goemon then also came into existence, slamming his pipe on the ground and creating a shockwave that ended the remaining Shadows that survived Captain Kidd's attack. With the Shadows gone, both Queen and Joker stopped their shivering and cried out simultaneous 'What' from their positions.
Sighing, Skull rushed to help Queen back on her feet while Fox to Joker. "You okay there now, Queen?" Even though Queen was still shaking slightly from whatever mind games the Shadow played at her earlier, she nodded and immediately went towards Panther and Mona, with Skull helping her at every step. "Are you sure you should be doing this? We still have items to-"
"No, let me. I can do this, okay?" Fox was already channeling magic to one of the prayer beads Joker brought to their heist one day, claiming it can wake up anyone knocked unconscious, and the power everyone can felt surged towards Mona, rousing their teammate up. "Let me."
Skull let go of her hand and instantly, Queen knelt down to Mona's level, her hands glowing from the Diarama she's channeling to their still exhausted and weak teammate. Slowly, Mona seemed to get a hold of his bearings and noticed Panther down on the ground. Muttering a word of thanks to Queen, Zorro came into existence and woke Panther up with a burst of energy from Mona's Persona. Queen also called out Johanna and white light surrounded Panther from her position, earning a groan of relief from their red-clad teammate.
With Queen and Mona helping each other in healing, Skull made his way to Panther who was quite far away from the rest of the team. Maybe she was flung too far? Probably. Smiling, he handed his hand to her, at which she grabbed and helped herself up. "Both Queen and Joker were shivering in terror when we came back. You know a thing about it?" he asked, since 'status ailments' were a thing Carmen and Panther seemed to have a knack in inflicting aside from their savage fire balls and torrents.
Well only two so far, a sleeping , a poison-inducing and a panicking spell. But she claimed Carmen sometimes tell her about the things she and the Shadows can inflict on their enemies.
"...Distress. Fear," Panther said after a minute of silence. "If someone is backing off, it's Fear and it's much better than Distress. Fear can be taken away but Distress… Tell me, Skull. Who seemed to be glued on their position?"
"Joker," he quickly answered, remembering their Leader crouching, with his knife acting as a shield or cover. "Is it… bad?"
"Distress is… hopelessness. They might want to kill themselves if taken too long, according to Carmen. And since Shadows are manifestations of thoughts, their presence constantly invokes the memories needed to power Distress." Panther said all of that while her eyes were closed, concentrating on what her Persona was telling her. "I don't want to see Joker kill himself or injured, Skull. Carmen tells me not to let him die or get unconscious too. Something about-"
"He gets his Personas from the Shadows we're fighting. I don't think it would do any good if he loses his control over those… masks of his, Panther." And it was somewhat true. He could never shrug off the feeling their friend was setting himself as a sacrifice everytime they see him control a Shadow-turned-Persona instead of Arsène, his own Persona , Captain Kidd sometimes shout in his head.
"Yeah." She then looked over herself and slowly applied Diarama over part of her bod, her hands also glowing the same light Queen had earlier and she used back in the Castle and the Museum. "Well, I guess we should watch out for him, huh."
Skull looked to their Leader and smiled when Joker leaned his head on Fox's shoulder for comfort, tears still flowing out of his eyes from what he can tell at his position. "We're not the only ones looking out for him, you know."
The feeling of absolute anger and mindless savagery overtook Panther, Skull and Mona, leaving him alone with his own mental faculties intact and untainted. Then again, the item Hamuko-senpai gave to him must have been responsible for his state of mind. And to think he was in that state earlier before Mona did what he had told him to do if he ever fell under what they had deemed to be 'status ailments', throwing a necklace with a small book accessory around his neck.
The Tome of Void, Hamuko-senpai claimed it to be, nullifies all types of status ailments, both physiological and psychological, due to its properties of being an 'endless pit that would take in everything into it itself'. He wants to know more on how was she able to get her hands on the things she was giving to him, which had a very strange ability to nullify certain attacks and skills being thrown at them. Like the small flower charm that she had given to her, claiming it will help him in keeping out unwanted thoughts of others. Cryptic it seemed to be, it apparently blocks off being charmed or, what Skull sometimes call it, brainwashed.
Unfortunately, with him taking the protection, Mona was inflicted with the Rage-inducing attack of the Shiki-Ouji. After that, it all went down into chaos as both Skull and Panther were hit at the same time as they were avoiding Mona's swings of his too-large-for-comfort sword. To add insult to injury, Shiki-Ouji nullifies physical attacks, turning Panther's whips useless, along with Skull and Mona's attacks, both from their respective weapons and firearms.
And he can't even direct them with their minds fogged with mindless rage. Their defenses were wide open for the Shadow to retaliate, earning them with some grievous injuries that even though their bodies were already protesting, his teammates were still continuing the fruitless endeavor.
Joker quickly shuffled through his bag of medicine and see if there are any Me Patra Gems leftover. Hamuko-senpai gave him a bunch after noticing he was being sketchy during his job at the restaurant. And by sketchy, he meant by taking inventory of the number of medicine he had bought from Tae in the break room, thinking no one would notice him rearranging the balms of medicine according to strength value. And there were some of the strange ones that let them regain some bits of mental clarity in exchange of sudden feeling of body ache.
There he found the last of the Me Patra Gems, crushing one and the effect instantly went through him and the entire team. All three of them suddenly have a look of epiphany that the Shadow, noticing the end of their assault, cried out in anger and sent a flurry of red, angry-looking orbs at them. Knowing he won't be affected, he rushed to cover his teammates since all three of them were beside each other, still stunned at the sudden change of priorities.
"Use elemental attacks, physicals won't do shit and please, avoid the red orbs just like the pinks ones, alright?" he called out, the orbs hitting him but had no effect on his mind and only tickling him slightly. Joker looked behind him and grimaced. They were still in shock. Now shouting, he continued, "Hey! You three! Attack! Agi, Zio, Garu! No guns! Magic only!"
That seemed to caught their attention as they hastily called forth their respective Personas to throw magic at the large Shadow. Who knew that a Shadow that looked a lot like a paper doll can't be cut by a knife and a sword? Absolutely no one.
Oh, does he want to grab Noir and do a 180° at her. It would shake her up and make her remember that she can do magic. In fact, she's one of their strongest magic user, a Psy specialist; much like how Queen was a Frei specialist. Though, she's more on the shield and shoot type of girl, contrasting Queen's blast and heal tactics.
But it still doesn't change the fact that due to some trick, she can't call out Milady to aid them. Milady who? Oh gods, while he knew that his life just turned into some sort of a live action Role Playing Game - with him acting as a thief -, he never realized that silence would be like this.
It somehow made sense, when he thought about it. Since most of their magic came from their Personas, having forgotten who their Personas were would cut off their source of magic. There's a reason why they occasionally call the names of their Personas, aside from the respect they subconsciously demand and the much needed differentiation of their other self from their own conscious self. Even though all of them understood their Personas are them , they are still not them in a sense.
"What should I… do?"
Oh it was infuriating. With the Shadow in front of him apparently maintaining the status of his teammate, he had nothing else to do but to end the menace once and for all. Whispers of how to slash the katana at the right angle, applying the just right amount of strength, and a turn and the speed given to him, he managed to finish the Shadow in just one 'turn' - a term Mona kept on saying, referencing on how their life turned into a big LARP Game.
"I-I… I got silenced, huh."
"It's okay. The Shadow wasn't that strong and magic wasn't a priority back then." And it's true. While she has the skills to dance her way around the Shadows and deal damage by surprising them with the huge ax she decided as her main weapon, strength wasn't her forte, much like Panther. "Shall we go? We've already deactivated the trap."
"Hey, you two! Time to regroup! Thanks for deactivating it, by the way."
Both of them smiled at Oracle's words. "Can you lead us the way to the rest?" Noir asked, dusting herself as she picked up the ax from the side.
" No problem. Queen and Joker are here with me. In fact, you guys should turn at the next corner and you'll meet up with us!"
It was during the middle of the fight against the Shadow lurking inside a coffin. Or a sarcophagus. Whatever it was, it seemed to be something a human was kept inside. A dead human.
A hand came out from inside, which shocked all of them from avoiding the attack that came after. One moment Queen was there, the next thing they all knew, she wasn't. In her place was a mouse with a mask that resembled so much to Queen's.
The squeak that came from the mouse was taken as confirmation, for them, and a signal for the Shadow, to continue what it did earlier.
Mayhem ensued and it was only by pure luck, and probably logic, that Mona was the only one left not ' Mouse-d' by the irritating Shadow. Go figure that a cat won't be affected by a spell that turns anyone into a 'Mouse',
The 'Mouse-d' Thieves were running around the small space (or very large to their perspective) space that the Shadow had commandeered, leaving Mona to take care of the Shadow himself, Luckily he managed to defeat it through several critical hits made by Zorro. As it was dispersing into black mist, the rest of the team returned back to their human selves.
However, they all came back in very perverse positions since all of them were huddling together to avoid getting smashed by the Shadow's coffin 'housing'.
"Wish I had a camera," all Mona said, bowing his head at the idea he just missed a chance to get useful blackmail.