2017-05-29: Haunted Heels

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DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has created a party! To join, type +party/reset and then type +party/join Cyre H. Lorentz.
DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has created a party! To join, type +party/reset and then type +party/join Cyre H. Lorentz.
DG: That's not a valid party leader.
DG: That's not a valid party leader.
DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has created a party! To join, type +party/reset and then type +party/join Cyre H. Lorentz.
DG: Neriah Parringer has joined your party!
DG: Ethius Hesiod has joined your party!
DG: Matilda Whitehead has joined your party!
DG: A party led by Cyre H. Lorentz is now entering Haunted Manor.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Welcoming Crew *>=======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The Haunted Manor stands before the party. Never is its appearance the same,  
 and it welcomes guests differently everytime too. This time, phantoms will    
 be your hosts. Ghostly valets, maids and servants guard the front door of     
 the manor, and you are definitely not on the guest list.                      
=Dungeon Conditions: Wound====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

It was Richter Belmont, the legendary vampire hunter, who finally succeeded in ending the menace of Count Dracula, Lord of the Vampires, who had been brought back from the grave by the dark priest Shaft. However, 4 years later, under the glare of a full moon, Richter mysteriously va--

Wait.

Wrong opening crawl.

It's a few days after the conclusion of the Siege of Adlehyde. Thanks to a vicious regimen of healing potions and poultices, Cyre H. Lorentz is feeling... Not QUITE whole and healthy, but strong enough to get up and move and fight again. Even if there's a huge stretch of tender, vaguely green-tinted skin winding all the way across his chest. That's what happens when you shove three tins of healing paste into your sucking chest wound.

While the state of Adlehyde city is still dire, the situation in the countryside is a little less clear. And so Cyre, along with yet another TRUSTY BAND OF ADVENTURERS, some of whom he literally yanked off the street, is going around to make sure that everyone out here in the wilderness is... still alive.

Most of the homes thus far have been relatively sound, their distance from Adlehyde meaning they were largely insulated from the damage, though not spared completely. Farms are destroyed. Homes flattened. People dead.

But this place in particular, with its towering, gothic architecture and dilapidated state is...

Well. Surprisingly intact???

IF REALLY CREEPY???

"Huh," Cyre mutters. "How did I miss this coming into town...?"

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

After the fall of Adlehyde, Neriah Parringer packed her shit with every intention of leaving town - or what was left of town. She'd been there a week and already revealed too much.

In fact she'd taken to the only other thing she knew how to do besides Excavating. But it had led her somewhere much more interesting.

Cyre might be surprised when there's a rustle in the bushes and a young woman in an Excavator's outfit steps out - well, a darker-toned take on the outfit, anyway, complete with grey tweed jacket and oversized newsboy hat. Folding her arms, Neriah frowns up at the mansion, moistening her lips slightly.

"Hey mister," she says then, giving the man a simple nod. If she's rattled by the devastation the population of Adlehyde experienced, she shows no sign of it. She merely tilts her head back, looking ahead at the towering manorhouse. "Are you here looking for the treasure, or are you here for something else?"

Slowly, she steps forward. The slightly-too-tall heels of her boots click against the turf.

She steps in among the ghosts at the front door. They loom in front of her and all around her, menacing.

Neriah slowly turns her head back. Turns it pretty far, actually.

"They're nice," she says in a calm monotone.

DG: Neriah Parringer has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Welcoming Crew.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Ethius is one of those people yanked off the street to go be a part of one of Cyre's misadventures. He doesn't outwardly complain, nor agree... but following recent events of some time ago, any rumor or lead is worth looking into. Cyre might be looking for survivors. Ethius is of the (inward) thought there may still yet be advance outposts worth investigating.

The white-haired stranger of the distinctive poncho still bears bandaging from where he suffered the worst of his injuries. His quarterstaff leads as a walking stick, and he trends towards the very back of the group - offering very little commentary nor companionship. He could just be as shell-shocked as anyone else might have been, for the terrible events that have happened.

His silence is broken after Neriah comes out of the bush and puts further focus on this strange manor that now lies before the lot of them - kind of a play out of his own book, isn't it? What with his apparent love of (usually) waiting around ruin entrances for some group of people to latch onto.

His free hand is extended, as if in full preparation for the worst case scenario as he watches the way the strange servants gather at the front.

At slightest provocation, potent spells of heat, electricity, and/or dust will be cast.

...

He doesn't come off as very nice, does he?

DG: Ethius Hesiod has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Welcoming Crew.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"Gwah!" Cyre... doesn't jump. He's too dignified to jump. That was just shifting into a combat stance! Really! "Haaah. H-hey there. Uh. No, I'm just here to make sure everyone outside of town is alright after the whole... Thing in the city."

It sure was a thing.

Also a thing, adventuring in... Ultra-high heels!? What is this girl doing?

Why is she entering the front door without knocking...?

Why... Why are all of those maids translucent, and why did the big iron gate just swing shut behind them. "No--" Cyre squints. "No. No way. This can't be--"

Each and every spirit seems to shift and distort, whirling together into a typhoon of spectral horror. "G-g-ghosts!?" Cyre reaches reflexively for that familiar stone slab under his cloak. A burst of magical air tears into the spectral swarm. "Why are there ghosts!? Why SO MANY ghosts!?"

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Welcoming Crew.
<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

/As it happens/, one of the most constant sources of healing paste is /right here/. Matilda isn't particularly far behind Cyre, having /also/ started from the saloon... and startles a little when Neriah pops up. She doesn't /immediately/ draw on her, but there's a definte tension there.

"A -- ah, treasure?" Matilda stammers, with a glance toward the Haunted Manor... and a subsequent, startled look at their translucent hosts and hostesses. She pales. "... I suppose it'd make sense for such things to be attracted to a place like this," she murmurs softly; her shoulders tense up, and it's at /this/ point that she draws Freischütz. "I've never heard of a ghost that wasn't aggressive..."

Her /other/ hand is the one you should be watching, though -- that one whips a bottle off into the distance. ... hopefully, ghosts retain their sense of smell, Matilda thinks, as she follows up her tossed bottle with proper gunfire while the ghosts are, /hopefully/, distracted.

DG: Matilda Whitehead has used her Tool Succubus Bottle toward her party's challenge, Welcoming Crew.
DG: The party led by Cyre H. Lorentz has failed this challenge! The party gained 2 exploration! If anyone needs to use party management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Spirits apparently do not maintain their sense of smell. They don't seem perturbed much at all by a bottle full of succubus stench, or by the ripping winds. Blowing them up, electrocuting them, all of that just makes the vengeful dead... Vengefullier. "Go, go!" Cyre yells, sprinting INTO the manor-house. There might still be people trapped in here, after all.

But if the fresh lacerations across his face-- and the fact that he just tripped on the front steps-- are any indication, this adventure is... Kind of off to a rough start...!

DG: Neriah Parringer has drawn a new Challenge.
=========================<* CHALLENGE - Hide and Seek *>=========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 This old room is filled with broken furniture, covered in blankets. It's      
 quite large, and the furniture is all over the place. Before long, shadows    
 gather behind the party, forming a massive humanoid with glowing red eyes.    
 It seeks you out, and it doesn't look like a good idea to engage it in this   
 room! You could use the furniture to move around unseen, making sure to       
 watch where the owner is looking. Or you could use it to slow it down!        
=Dungeon Conditions: Injure===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Neriah doesn't draw on the ghosts at all. She simply begins to raise her hand, her fingers curling almost as if to touch one of them. Her right hand is done up in a heavy black leather gauntlets that buckles all the way up to her elbow. The fingers on that hand twitch a little, as if she were stung by something.

They pass through one of the phantoms - and then gunfire ripples around her as Matilda and Cyre tear into the phantom horde. A few bullets scatter perilously near to her.

All she does is close her eyes and bow her head, breathing out a simple sigh. "You could've just asked them, you know," she murmurs before holding her hand out again. Her fingers ghost through an effigy of a maid.

It melts away beneath her touch. She barely seems to do anything. Amidst the last vaporous whisps of ectoplasm - dissipating almost willfully, rather than by force - she steps forward through the door, not so much as batting an eyelash.

Once inside, her eyes widen a little. A sense of foreboding dread looms in the room - and yet Neriah takes a left turn from the vast, spacious foyer, past the flickering shadows in stained glass windows, and into a sitting room. The furniture has been scattered all over the place.

That sense of dread continues to mount. To look back is to see a vast, shadowy column of /something/ beginning to mount. Red eyes slowly open from within it.

Neriah merely closes her eyes and lifts her head. "They're here," she murmurs with a peaceful smile - almost too peaceful. She looks almost euphoric.

"You might want to not be seen," she murmurs to Matilda conspiratorially before lowering herself to the ground, sliding to a crouch behind a chair.

She peeks out, her eyes widening and her lips forming a little O as she stage-whispers back: "/I don't think he likes us./"

DG: Neriah Parringer has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Hide and Seek.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

The stranger is among the very last to get in there, as he contends with the brunt of vengeful ghosts with all the grace of a battering ram and little of the effect. He exhales loudly once he is on the other side with the lot of them, casting a side glance to the way one of them... melted... to Neriah's touch.

He doesn't catch what she says to Matilda, but to his credit he seems to understand the gist of the situation - they need to hide. (As if the hairs standing on the back of his neck, an oft-ignored sensation, weren't already screaming this to him.)

Taking refuge behind an overturned table, Ethius has the foresight to cover one of his forearms with his poncho to hide the light that comes from his tattoos as he channels electrical sorcery into the eyeglass. Directly, this doesn't quite aid in their need to move stealthily, but it does let him check for the possibility of traps or other mechanisms that might be of interest.

He can't turn it back towards whatever figure may now be following them - the light from the lens would be too visible.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Spectral Lens toward his party's challenge, Hide and Seek.
<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

As they sprint in at high speed, Matilda's /already/ exhausted -- she gets ripped into by the vengeful dead a few times on her way in, and when the group is in in earnest, she takes just a second to take stock of the team, now that Neriah has... added herself to --

-- the shadowy column forming behind her definitely takes up all /that/ attention. She doesn't even have time to really give Ethius a meaningful once-over, let alone Neriah. When Neriah actually /addresses/ her, she locks up for a second -- and then joins Neriah in hiding behind a chair.

"Let's... take this very slowly and calmly," she whispers, despite the fact that she's practically vibrating out of her shoes. She /does/, however, do a very good duck-walk from chair to chair.

DG: Matilda Whitehead has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Hide and Seek.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"Just asked?" Cyre growls, rolling out from his unfortunate tumble at the foot of the stairs. "I don't think ghosts are typically the kind of thing to talk back just because you're trying to make nice with them!" But perhaps the ghosts were just trying to... Warn them off? To dissuade them from venturing further into this place. The lights dim. The sense of impending doom only grows more powerful, moment by moment. Cyre feels the hair at the back of his neck stand on end, prickling up one by one until...

That thing appears. Manifesting from the shadows, and menacing with horrible clusters of blood-red eyes.

"What, you don't want to try talking to it this time?" Cyre groans, darting behind a nearby couch. He glances from side to side, then leaps straight upwards onto one of the many chandeliers and starts... crossing the room that way.

Hopefully they don't fall.

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Hide and Seek.
DG: The party led by Cyre H. Lorentz has passed this challenge! The party gained 31 exploration! If anyone needs to use party management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"They're just spirits," Neriah whispers back to Cyre, tilting her head steeply to one side.

In fact she tilts it about ninety degrees, blinking owlishly at him from behind her piece of furniture. "No, I don't think he'd listen. He might chop off your legs, though."

The immense shadow looms at the back of the room. Its phantasmal right arm comes up. An amorphous shape stretches out along the back wall. It looks an awful lot like a huge cleaver of some sort. Baleful red eyes skim the room....

...And then close. Neriah reaches out to touch Matilda's shoulder delicately with her heavily-gloves right hand.

"Let's hurry," she murmurs, still in that unworried tone - and then she simply stands up and begins to walk clear across the room.

She ducks behind a chair just in time for the effigy to open its eyes again... but they're soon to close once more. Those windows of opportunity give the clever team chances. Darting from covered furnishing to covered furnishing, they soon reach a door on the far end of the room and push through.

"There. And nobody's legs got chopped off," Neriah murmurs as she adjusts her hat, smiling back at Cyre reassuringly.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has drawn a new Challenge.
=======================================<* CHALLENGE - Obligatory Torch Puzzle *>========================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 Great torches light up the next hallway, but there's no exit? Some torches    
 are lit, others aren't. Must they all be lit? Must they all NOT be lit? Some  
 of the torches are missing, too. Could it be there's a pattern to respect?    
 You'd better get started or you'll be here all night.                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

One harrowing stealth sequence across a great number of objects aligned as though a well-crafted obstacle course rather than an incidental product of years upon years of decay and neglect, before long, they find themselves in a hallway.

During long, they find themselves in a hallway.

After long, they might still find themselves in a hallway.

Torturing of the English language aside, the hallway the team finds themselves in seems to stretch further than any of their eyes can see. Adorning the hallway are torches of various make. Some, ornately carved wood. Others, gnarled branches. Yet others, ancient stone from a culture that doesn't quite mesh with the decor in these parts.

Not all of them are lit. On closer inspection, there... doesn't seem to be a pattern? Did they break off over time? It's confusing.

"A moment." The white-haired enigma speaks, taking out the eyeglass again as though having a cursory sense that they need to narrow down which torches are important, if not exactly how, going about the same sorcerous rituals to cast electrical energy into the lens.

His other hand points every so often at some, drawing invisible lines. He can see connections, but... in what capacity?

Lowering the lens from his eye, he turns towards their most mysterious new arrival slash probable part-time tour guide, Neriah.

"You are familiar with this location, I assume," he says, "when was this manor constructed?" Why is 'when' most important to ask, rather than 'why?!'

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Spectral Lens toward his party's challenge, Obligatory Torch Puzzle.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Thanks to CATLIKE TREAD, Cyre somehow manages to make it to the other end of the room with both of his catlike treaders well intact. "You don't say?" He drawls at this ALTOGETHER TOO CREEPY adventuress. "After surviving that crazy broad with the scythe, I like to think that my legs are too good at running to get chopped off by something like that."

Whatever... Whatever THAT thing was, even.

What the hell is this place, even?

...Why is it full of so many hallways?

...

Seriously, this place was not this big on the outside, is this some kind of weird-ass time-space voodoo--

Oh. Torch puzzle.

"This is... A pretty weird arrangement of torches," he mutters quietly. "Doesn't seem like there's an indicator of which ones are important. But..." Cyre taps his chin as Ethius pulls out the lens, and then...

He looks straight up...?

Is the solution, perhaps, on the ceiling? Patterns of smoke, or maybe a mural of some kind? Hmmm...!

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Obligatory Torch Puzzle.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"Oh! Oh, it's an unending hallway," Neriah chirps, clasping her hands together as her eyes go very bright. She's downright beaming.

Ethius turns his monocle on her and asks a question. With a blink, she touches one hand to her cheek, head canted a little to the left. "When? Probably a long time ago," she admits, "but I can't tell you for sure, because I've never been here. But there's something about how it feels, isn't it?" Her fingers wiggle, her left index finger tracing slow designs across her right palm. "There's a... a feeling, almost, isn't there? Something that seems like it's a, a /click/ or a /puzzle/ or a key into a--"

Trailing off, the young woman closes her hand for a moment, her eyes taking on a distant look as if she were listening to something that weren't there. Maybe a ghost. Maybe a voice in her own head.

Her hands begin to move, touching one torch, then moving to another. Her order seems to be completely random.

"...Can you move that one over to this ring," she suggests to Cyre quietly.

DG: Neriah Parringer has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Obligatory Torch Puzzle.
<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

Matilda doesn't scream -- despite everything, she's not usually a screamer. She does, however, jerk forward, away from the touch, and nearly catapult herself onto her face. Fortunately, she catches herself with an outstretched hand, and is able to move along with Neriah smoothly, after that initial moment of sheer terror.

She shakes like a small dog in a thunderstorm as they head into the next room; unlike Neriah, her tone and posture are the exact /opposite/ of unworried. "... I -- I suppose that, technically, that, is true," she remarks, pulling her coat a little tighter.

The torches, though... that's an interesting one. /This/ type of dead end is one Matilda thinks about a lot! When Ethius tells them to hold, she does just that. "Hmmm..." She glances over to Neriah, and takes a second to just shake her head before speaking up.

"Look around the room for other major features besides the torches, too -- the solution may not be anywhere near the torches themselves, or even directly connected," she notes, sounding confident again. She gives a meaningful look to Ethius at this point; he seems like the most observant of the bunch, especially with that lens. She hasn't forgotten her /last/ dungeoneering experience with him, either.

DG: Matilda Whitehead has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Obligatory Torch Puzzle.
DG: The party led by Cyre H. Lorentz has passed this challenge! The party gained 17 exploration! If anyone needs to use party management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

With Neriah's guidance, the specific torches she points out are moved together. Matilda might even figure out why this works before anyone else does - the way the torches are angled, the smoke itself coalesces towards the ceiling into a shape reminiscient of a hole to above. A large one...

The air grows thicker, as the section of the ceiling disintegrates as though rapidly aging. Those too close to it from underneath will have themselves a rude awakening as a small staircase falls through this gap. Its impact against the floor echoes loudly through the endless hallway, a new cloud of miasma rising from where it lands.

"Those were excellent deductions, I must say," so compliments Ethius, who... seems a bit too calm and level for being /this/ close to getting squished by a falling staircase, but that's been par for the course for him for some time.

...He won't question Neriah's uncanny insight to a place she's never been? Instead, while the rest yet move on, his eyes fall upon a torch that was unrelated to their ordeal.

Something... about the way that one torch is made. Why does it have his attention?

DG: Matilda Whitehead has drawn a new Challenge.
========================<* CHALLENGE - Hold It Back! *>=========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 An empty room lies ahead and that's how you know it's trouble. Behind them    
 the party sees the shadows coalesce into a great demon, and what better       
 solution than to close the door behind them. That's when you realize there's  
 no way out, and the demon is banging on the door. Hold the door until it      
 gives up, or find more creative ways to dissuade its pursuit, at least        
 temporarily!                                                                  
=Dungeon Conditions: Tire=====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

Up the stairs they go! Matilda is the last up, and inside is... a hallway. Fortunately, this time, there's only /one/ hallway, and it's not that long. At the end of it, there is -- of /course/ -- a door.

"Well, at last, something about this place that isn't out to kill u --"

-- Thud. Thud. Thud. Coming up the stairs is a shadowy figure -- indistinct at first, but eventually yet another great shadowy demon with red eyes comes together near the top of the stairs. "-- /Go/!" Matilda calls, hastening everyone (including herself) through the door. Despite her usual fear, she's the /last/ one in rather than the first -- mostly because she has to spike another bottle into the ground behind her on her way into the next room.

"The floor should be disintegrating beneath it," she says, once she's successfully slammed the door behind the group. "We just have to hold out long enough..."

DG: Matilda Whitehead has used her Tool Bubble Lotion toward her party's challenge, Hold It Back!.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Fortunately, Cyre is staring at the ceiling when it decides to drop down on all of their heads. A quick burst of powerful wind is enough to slow the fall long enough to get out of the way. "Well," Cyre concludes, "This place's layout makes basically no sense, but let's just go along with it and see what happens, huh?"

This.

May be a bad idea.

Especially since they come up into a suspiciously empty room. Well. Almost empty. Except for the GIANT SHADOW DEMON just kind of casually hanging out up here. "Uh." Cyre uhs. He glances over to Matilda. Then back at the giant monster. Then back at the door. "Hup!" Cyre takes off! But not before tearing something out of the inside of his cloak. It's a censer! A familiar censer, with familiar, invigorating vapors wafting out of it. The kind of scent that soothes aching muscles and rejuvinates depleted stamina. They'll need it if they have to keep that door shut for long.

Which... Hopefully, it won't be. Cyre throws himself against the doors, groaning as his injured physique screams at him to stop. But if he does, the demon might eat him.

...

Man. It would be nice if his brother was here to just... Punch it in the face.

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Invigorating Vapors toward his party's challenge, Hold It Back!.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

It's hard to tell if Neriah has a special insight or knowledge of this place, or if she's just so /calm/ that she's able to think through the clues without being paralyzed with fear. That in itself comes with its own problems, of course.

Up the stairs she goes, trotting after Matilda with a click of heels. She nods back to Ethius politely. "You just have to feel it," she recommends. "And if you feel it wrong, the ghouls will pick at your soul forever."

Then something shadowy comes looming up behind them. Neriah touches her hands to her cheek.

"I think he's back to chop off your legs," she informs Cyre mildly.

For a moment she considers the situation. She doesn't have much she can use to bar the door with.

Then her eyes light up. She slides the shovel she's carrying out of its holster, gripping it in both hands, then slamming the spade end of it into the wall at the far end of the room. Diligently she begins smashing open drywall, coughing as drywall dust billows past her. A bat flutters past too.

"Hold him off for a moment longer, please," she advises as she proceeds to break open a huge hole in the wall. An escape route.

DG: Neriah Parringer has used her Tool Trusty Shovel toward her party's challenge, Hold It Back!.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"Damnit," Cyre yells. "Why is everyone after my legs! If anyone should be after any legs, they should be after yours!" Beat. He stares right into Neriah's face. "Well. It's true though."

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Neriah pauses in mid-shoveling-out of the wall. She blushes a little and fusses with the hem of her skirt.

"What's wrong with my legs?" she asks Cyre with a bat of her lashes.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"They are very nice and fill out that skirt wonderfully," Cyre says with absolutely zero shame. And a wink. "So. Nothing at all."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

"Your advice has been duly taken into consideration." So Ethius at least says, but does he really understand it? He doesn't have to, given the urgency in which most the others find it urgent to escape another coalescing manifestation of whatever force plagues this locale. He casts one torch another look bac-- oh.

Yes, his eyes will suffice in encouraging him to pick up the pace, escaping into that trapped room as he throws his weight up against it alongside Cyre.

He holds up one hand, as if to prepare another Symbological spell in case something unpleasant pops through the hole that Neriah is making.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Hold It Back!.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"Wouldn't that be a reason to /not/ chop them off," Neriah asks Cyre, touching one hand to her cheek and widening her eyes.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"I don't know how demons think," Cyre says with a strained shrug. "He might just want to keep them with him forever."

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Neriah caves in another chunk of wall.

"I think he'd rather have my soul," she suggests. "And yours. And his and hers." She nods towards Ethius and Matilda. "Sometimes they like something to gnaw on in the black pit of absolute despair."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

"Yes, I suppose I prefer the present location of my soul." Ethius comments.

Suddenly, he feels a need to check his pockets.

DG: The party led by Cyre H. Lorentz has passed this challenge! The party gained 16 exploration! If anyone needs to use party management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"That escalated pretty quickly," Cyre drawls at the girl with the shovel. "Maybe he just wants a hug?"

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has drawn a new Challenge.
======================<* CHALLENGE - Adventures Past *>=======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 As the party enters a great banquet hall, ghostly guests turn their           
 attention towards them. Adventurers, just like you! Wearing all manners of    
 battleworn clothing and outfits, the souls of those who couldn't escape the   
 castle before sunrise attack, seeking your bodies to escape!                  
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

"As you appear to be on the uptake about cultural norms as to unknown figures that do not comform to our understanding of what it means to be a living creature, I implore you, feel free to investiage this possibility on our behalves." So says... that guy.

<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

The pounding on the door doesn't slow, so much as it just... abruptly, stops, eventually. It's unclear if the floor was eaten all the way through and the demon /fell/, or if it just lost interest, or if something else entirely happened... but as the party banters, sure enough, the pounding stops.

Matilda breathes a long sigh of relief. "... if we're -- if we're all /quite/ done talking about each other's legs...?" she murmurs, softly. "-- someone else lead the way, please," she adds, a moment later, clearly exhausted.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"I have less than zero idea what you mean by what you've said, buddy," Cyre says to Ethius as they make their rapid getaway, right down through the fresh hole Neriah just dug through the wall. It's an excellent plan. Perhaps even fool-proof. What ghost would ever think that someone who WASN'T intangible would decide to bypass the usual dungeon and go straight through a wall instead. Of course, that means that, aside from simply being dilapidated, the hollowed-out hallway is also... sort of indistinct. Like the features aren't quite /there./ Like you've just maxed out the draw distance of reality and now it's kind of lagging to get back to where it should be.

Neriah's shovel punctures through a second section of drywall, leading the party to spill out into... A banquet hall.

Where a band of three burly adventuring types are busily munching on a full chicken. "Oh." Cyre blinks. "Hey, so there are other people in here after all. I thought it was just monsters!" As one, the three bearded gentlemen turn their heads.

"Hmmn," the one with the moustache says. "Yes, you'll do. I declare first rights on te one with the nice legs!" A shield clocks him upside the head, "No, Erik! You always call first! Today, Olaf will--" A sword smacks HIM upside the head. "Quiet, both of you! We can decide who gets what AFTER we defeat them!"

The three seem to agree with a series of jolly, bearded nods. It's then that it becomes obvious that they're... Not quite real. Intangible, even. Ghosts. GHOST ADVENTURERS.

As one, they charge. Well. Not quite. The fat one with the shield, the other two are riding on his shield and menacing with swords and... A spectral boomstick. The one with the sword lunges in to strike, the one with the shield charges in to shatter the party's formation, and the one with the gun fires at the back line.

WHAT DO.

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Adventures Past.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"I don't know, I thought it was a nice conversation," Neriah quips as she ducks through the hole in the wall.

Doffing her shovel back into place at her pack, the young woman sets a hand at her hip, regarding the burly adventurers with her head tilted slightly to one side. If she's fooled by what they are, she doesn't show it.

But she also doesn't say anything. It's as though she doesn't feel threatened whatsoever.

The phantoms hurtle into battle. Only then does Neriah pop her head to the left by about seventy degrees, blinking twice. "Oh, so that's what happens when they pull your soul out," she muses, touching her hand to her chin.

Then the shield ghost barrels into her. She gasps and holds her right hand out.

The phantom shield collides with her palm - and there's a sudden crackle of something energetic. Neriah gasps in sudden pain, recoiling backwards and clutching her chest with her left hand, but the shield never seems to be able to proceed past her palm. Arcs of reddish-violet energy bleed out from the centre of her gloved hand, teasing at the ghost's shield. The energy of it feels... strange. Like the ghost and Neriah are at the same time melting together and tearing apart.

"Stop," she pleads in a small voice. "I-it hurts."

DG: Neriah Parringer has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Adventures Past.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

It's a great thing the team manages to get through when they do - some force seems to fling Ethius forwards into a pained kneel that goes to a stagger across the indistinct hallway that leads into the banquet hall. With help of his quarterstaff, he stays on both legs. Those legs aren't ready to be sacrificed to whatever macabre collection they have going here.

"We are merely lost. If you will excuse us," Ethius says as he first attempts to nonchalantly walk past them even as they openly plot against the lot of them. He has to take a short hop back to avoid being split neatly down the middle from his left shoulder by the one with the sword. He is further thrust back as he is glanced by buckshot from the one with the boomstick.

A rare instance of Ethius widening his eyes. It's like he wasn't expecting Erik to attack...?

Drawing a satchel from his belt, the light from his tattoos goes with the sound of quiet, measured chants as he charges the satchel's contents with tightly compressed dust...

He stops himself from throwing it, momentarily, as he catches sight of that light dancing between Neriah's hand and the shield. What comes next, it is a grisly sight to watch.

So he doesn't watch.

"Move." He calls, as he slams the satchel into the banquet hall floor, spreading thick dust all over the air. This may or may not help for much, depending on what senses ghosts truly have to navigate their environs, but it might be the thought that counts as he runs towards Neriah in an attempt to shoulder tackle her away from her - as though assuming it is this mysterious shield-wielding fat man who is absorbing him, and not some sinister hidden force within that also appears to allow her to turn her head as far as she's able to.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Powder Grenade toward his party's challenge, Adventures Past.
<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

Upon seeing the ghost adventurers -- and hearing their plans, if only /technically/ just implied -- Matilda /does/, at long last, actually shriek in fear. Once again, she reaches for a Succubus Bottle -- only this time, it's much more reasoned rather than simply the first recourse in any combat situation.

If they can /taste/, they can presumably also /smell/, unlike the spectral hosts outside, Matilda thinks. If they can /smell/, then this should either put them off their game or distract them.

"Miss!" Matilda calls to Neriah, before drawing Freischütz and firing a spray of rocks at -- a different ghost, as she sees Ethius move to defend Neriah more directly. She /shouldn't/ fire into a melee, after all. "Please -- stay strong! I'll tend to you once we get out of here...!"

DG: Matilda Whitehead has used her Tool Succubus Bottle toward her party's challenge, Adventures Past.
DG: The party led by Cyre H. Lorentz has passed this challenge! The party gained 21 exploration! If anyone needs to use party management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
DG: Neriah Parringer has drawn a new Challenge.
======================<* CHALLENGE - The Impulsive Idiot *>======================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 Finally, the party reaches a treasury. On display is the military career of   
 an old man, seen aging through the pictures and awards he received. These     
 are valuables, but to one man only. So valuable, in fact, that there's no     
 dust here. Everything is orderly, preserved perfectly. The old man appears    
 in the doorway, an ancient general, a flintlock rifle already aimed at the    
 party. He seems to hesitate, minding his aim incredibly carefully. Could it   
 be he won't dare harm the contents of the room? You might be able to find a   
 use for that fact, if you act fast!                                           
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow=====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Ethius hurtles towards Neriah - but what happens the second before he hits her is startling.

Energy crackles between Neriah and the ghost - and with a sudden electric /SNAP,/ the ghost suddenly rebounds away from her like a superball. The phantasm goes flying instantly through the far wall of the room. Then Ethius slams into Neriah and knocks her off her feet. With a yelp she tumbles through the air, slamming into the floor and skidding with her legs flailing in the air. "Ahhhh," she groans, wincing and beginning to pull herself up.

She seems to be in much more pain than a simple tackle would indicate - but fortunately, the others have the remaining two phantasms well in hand. With echoing bellows, the ghosts vanish into Ethius's dust cloud before Matilda fires off her weapon, ectoplasm rippling and dispersing. Cyre, too, presumably does a thing to help it along.

Before long, though, the last two ghosts ripple and vanish. Grimacing, Neriah comes to her feet, cradling her right hand in her left palm. "Thanks," she offers Ethius with a weak smile.

The serene calm she had before has been replaced with something else now. A defensiveness that wasn't there before.

Shoulders tense, she slides onward. The team turns a corner - and steps into a treasure room. Military medals and trophies hang from the walls. Neriah gasps softly. "Wow," she breathes.

And then something ripples in the doorway -

Neriah sucks in a breath and hurls herself towards a gigantic stuffed statue of a bison. She throws herself behind it as the phantom of the old general with rifle in hand takes careful aim!

DG: Neriah Parringer has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Impulsive Idiot.
DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Reverse Parachute toward his party's challenge, The Impulsive Idiot.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Cyre did indeed do something to help the process of pushing the lost adventurers back. What, exactly, he did is unfortunately Lost Footage. You'll need to buy the Special BD Director's Cut to see that deleted scene! Added value!!!

But that was then.

This is now.

This is... A treasure room. "Wow," Cyre breathes, staring at the vast collection of military paraphanelia, awards, trophies, stuffed beasts and portraits. The assemblage of a life made into material form and put up on display. A storehouse of memories--

And the one who protects them.

"Woah, hey! We're just passing by!" Cyre staggers back. He whips... Something out of his cloak. It's a patchwork parachute of stitched-together hide and cured leathers. It seems to slip out of his grasp as he rolls back behind the taxidermy copy of a great, leaping tiger. But then... That hide sheet sweeps up in a gust of air, coils up, and then slings itself over the old general's face. A vortex of swirling air keeps it there, tight against the old soldier's eyes.

But will it throw off his aim for long enough that the others can take him out?

<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

As the general materializes, Matilda immediately hits the dirt; because she didn't have the mental wherewithal to find meaningful cover first, she's the first one shot at, and a bullet whizzes over her head. /That/ one, at least, is a miss -- but she's not confident that the next one will be, too.

When she looks up, she spots him sighting in on Neriah but trying to keep the stuffed bison out of his firing solution... and nods, slowly. "Use the most precious objects you can as cover! Don't move predictably!" Matilda says, surprisingly confident for someone who keeps panicking and screaming during most ghost encounters. /This/ one, it seems, is more within her wheelhouse than many of the others -- perhaps she's got experience with an active shooter? Or is something else afoot?

In any event, Matilda moves behind a gorgeous chaise lounge first, then toward one of the walls full of medals. She rocks slightly back and forth to try to make herself an inconvenient target for the newly-blinded general, and then --

-- surprisingly, she goes for a /tackle/, of all things? She follows up with a high-speed strike with Freischütz's butt afterward, then a slight backward scramble and a shot aimed for the head. Unlike many of her other combative motions, this one seems... practiced, or maybe instinctual.

DG: Matilda Whitehead has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Impulsive Idiot.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Ethius' ears pop painfully at the electrical snap, head descending suddenly as though the sensation were almost as painful as whatever might have happened between Neriah and that big ol' hungry-lookin' ghost with the shield. Neriah's thanks is met with a wordless gaze. He does offer the end of his quarterstaff to try and help her up, should she need it. Before long, they come into the treasure room.

"It appears well-maintained," says Ethius, maybe too loudly. No, definitely, given the presence behind them. It might be that Cyre's act of parachute blindness might be what saves him from being shot in the back right then and there. Ethius takes off on a short jog past Matilda as she shifts from careful repositioning and hiding into a decisive strike, as he slides underneath a rack of weapons - conquests of war over the years, maybe even reminders of those he felled along his long and illustrious career.

Ethius finds himself distracted, half-hidden, as he runs one of his hands across it from his almost-hidden spot while Cyre and Matilda are trying to fight him off directly.

...His eyes narrow slightly.

"Fall back," he suggests as he leaves this cover in hopes for something more substantial. What did he see from that rack alone...?

DG: Ethius Hesiod has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward his party's challenge, The Impulsive Idiot.
DG: Neriah Parringer is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Cyre H. Lorentz is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Matilda Whitehead is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Ethius Hesiod is too exhausted to continue!
DG: You have overcome the dungeon's trials! This run is a success!
DG: The party led by Cyre H. Lorentz has successfully explored Haunted Manor!
========================<* CHALLENGE - Spare Uniforms *>=========================
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Discovery |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 Following the defeat or retreat of the old man, the party rummages around     
 the room and eventually comes across his closet. What would they find in      
 there but a suspiciously correct number of spare military uniforms from an    
 ancient era! Though the style might not be to your liking, they're worth a    
 lot, and the tissue is fairly sturdy. They could be recycled into very high   
 quality armor to wear under your clothes, if you're willing to ruin them.     
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

At first, it seems like everyone's safely under cover. The phantom marksman hesitates, not seeming to want to shoot the belongings of his former life

And then Matilda Whitehead hurls herself at the phantasmic Custer figure. The man with the musket hoists the weapon - and then Matilda phases right through him. The ghost billows into vapour and vanishes as Freischutz's butt whistles through rippling ectoplasm.

"Uh-oh," Neriah murmurs thinly as the ghost reforms a few metres back - and proceeds to fire off a load of phantasmic buckshot at Matilda, then another one, then another one.

One of the rounds goes whistling by the group and smashes through a closet door - and that seems to startle the ghost, even as splinters of wood bounce through the room. The old man lets out a low, hollow groan before beginning to melt away, finally vanishing into the far wall.

Within the closet, a number of old uniforms hang in neat order, dusty but shockingly not moth-eaten.

Peeking out from behind her piece of furniture, Neriah picks a piece of wood off of her hat. "...I think he's sad," she murmurs.

<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

Despite her nominal success, Matilda just touched ectoplasm and is accordingly having a bad time. Once she finishes doing her canned execution animation to nothing in particular, she's staggered -- and promptly gets vigorously and aggressively dunked on for her troubles.

She lies oh the floor, gutshot, for what seems to her like an eternity, though it's really only about forty-five seconds. Eventually, she gets up weakly, murmuring, "... that was miserable," under her breath. She staggers slowly toward the opened closet, looking at the uniforms.

"... Oh these are /excellent," she murmurs. "Very classical... I think I'll take one..." Her voice is still a little weak, but it's hard for her not to be at least a /bit/ excited by the uniforms.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Clothes.

They did all of this... For clothes.

Cyre squints hard underneath his cloak. His parachute is bundled back underneath one arm. Apparently getting the guy to shoot his own stuff was just the thing they needed to get out of this mess. But for all that... Clothes.

...

Well. Unless he wants to stay here and look for more loot, that is.

...

Cyre thinks back to the horrible shadow monsters, the demons, and the distressingly misplaced varangians.

...

Nope.

"Yeah, they're pretty nice," he concludes, taking a set out of the closet. It... Actually seems pretty close to his size. Just needs some touching up. "So uh. How are we getting out of here now?"

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Ethius' final choice of cover - a heavy table - falls on top of him. A low grunt echoes through the gallery as he finds himself underneath the heavy weight of a comemmorative sculpture showcasing this man, and... there should be others, based on the footstep-like impressions on the sculpture, but it is just him.

It takes Ethius some time to crawl out from under there. If it weren't for the ghost's anger seeing to the destruction of the pristine nature of their hall of vanity - no matter how small a piece of it - he would have been helpless before the ghostly admiral's aim.

"Some items on the gun rack appeared recent, in comparison to the surrounding environs," Ethius explains, "thus, I have come to wonder if this manor's owner may have, instead, coveted ARMs... instead of legs."

Beat.

"This is just mere speculation... I must admit, I have little care towards investigating this place further," he says as he rubs at his back while catching up with where the rest are gathered. He brings a hand up to one of the uniforms.

A uniform that appears a perfect fit for him. This is uncanny. This is worrying. Ethius brings a hand up to his forehead.

His thoughts still linger on the stylistic variety of torches from the hallway. Something about all of them... should he have recognized them? Many of them were eye-catching, even if he had seen... others... like them, at... some point?

He can't put a finger on it.

He seems hesitant to want to take the set. He raises his hand up, as if beginning to-- no, definitely starting a Symbological chant. This might be worthy of alarm. Is he thinking of destroying i--

He aborts the idea.

"If such attachment wills a place like this to exist... there may be value in holding onto these articles of clothing, if we are to consider it prudent to return." Will they want to, though? Ethius considers this possibility as he clutches the set that seems like it would fit him.

...For his lifestyle, that would be a tall task. A curiosity remains, with so much left unexplained.

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"They really are sharp," muses Neriah as she steps up beside Matilda, giving the woman a look over and biting down to her lower lip. Her left hand touches to the woman's shoulder fleetingly. There's nothing special about that touch; she wears a glove on that hand too, but it's a regular one and just slips on beneath her sleeve, rather than swallowing her entire forearm like the right glove does.

"I'm going to take one," she says, drawing a uniform from the closet. "The size and style are all wrong for me but I can tailor it just right to...."

She trails off. Then she clears her throat, nodding to the others with a slow smile. "...My name's Neriah," she finally introduces herself.

<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

Matilda gives Ethius an exhausted, miserable stare, when he makes his ridiculous pun. Then, all at once, she bursts out laughing. It's a ragged, almost despairful laugh -- but it's much-needed after getting ghostly-gutshot.

She doesn't engage with Ethius's rather more complex thoughts on the uniforms than her own; she just... doesn't think that way. She takes her ill-gotten prize, hanging it lazily over her shoulder. Nodding to Neriah, she says, "Matilda Whitehead. ... it's nice to meet you."

"... Hopefully the same way we came in -- though we'll have to watch our step," Matilda murmurs, at the question of how to get out. "... watch your step, dears."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

"What's so funny?" Ethius asks.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"You made a joke," Cyre explains and thus, kills the joke forever. That terrible murderer. "ARMS instead of legs, you see? It's a double entendre." Beat. "I have a better idea," he says, in regards to the plan of Escaping The Same Way They Came In. He goes right up to a nearby window and...

Kicks right through it.

"I've got a parachute and enough wind to take you guys back down with me." There's a beat. Neriah introduces herself. "Name's Cyre! Nice to meet you. I uh. Might be back this way, sometime."

Possibly to exorcise the house.

Or maybe just to get more stuff.

Logging stopped at 30/05/2017 - 01:29:10