2017-07-04: Technical Difficulties and a Hardcore Denial of Reality

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  • Log: Technical Difficulties and a Hardcore Denial of Reality
  • Cast:Malfi, Claude C. Kenny, Neriah Parringer, Yarobeleedt, White Knight Leo, Gwen Whitlock
  • Where: Lacour - Arms Coliseum
  • Date: 7/4/2017
  • Summary: Claude, Malfi, Neriah, White Knight Leo, and Gwen take on the Team Fighting Exhibition challenge at the Lacour Tournament of Arms. Things don't go as planned, and there's a strange hooded blob that's following them around, too.

==========================<* Lacour - Arms Coliseum *>==========================

Situated immediately adjacent to Lacour Castle, the Arms Coliseum is a temple to the pursuit of perfection in physical prowess. Built more than three centuries ago by King Etienne I, the Coliseum is laid over with ancient Symbols that blunt weapons and protect combatants on the brink of death, allowing competitors to fight to the best of their ability without fear of killing their opponents.

The Coliseum is the site of the annual Lacour Tournament of Arms, a competition that fuels the spirit of martial artists and weapons merchants both. The Tournament is a spectacle that draws visitors and competitors from across Filgaia, and is the major event on the continent while it is running. A series of smaller tournaments are organized throughout the year; entering as a combatant is free of charge, but spectators pay a nominal fee that nonetheless provides a significant boost to Lacour's coffers.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1s8YkgEYlvY
DG: A party led by Claude C. Kenny is now entering Lacour Coliseum.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
=======================<* CHALLENGE - The Legal Waiver *>=======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 "Congratulations! My name is Personal Assistant Pete, and you're registered
 for this Exhibition Team Fighting match here at the Lacour Tournament of
 Arms: Presented by Blastemol!® Before you get started, we'll just need each
 of you to complete this 73-page waiver produced by the Blastemol!® legal
 department. We'll need you to initial where indicated, but only on every
 third paragraph. On even paragraphs, you'll want the team captain to initial
 for you, but if you're the team captain, you'll need someone else to sign
 yours."

 "On page 3 you'll notice the symbol of the dark god Valmar..."
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify, Tire============================================
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi glances over the pages and decides she can't face that overwhelming amount of bureaucracy without some liquid supplementation. "Anybody ELSE want coffee?" she sighs, proffering her flask around. "It just might make this go faster." That done, she starts initialing.

DG: Malfi has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Legal Waiver.
<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

Claude C. Kenny lost a fight yesterday, but not so badly that people are making T-shirts with his face on them. This counts as a relative victory. And given that he has a couple days before his exhibition match with two Dark Heroes and a gun fu practitioner, he decided to sign up for one of these group battles to see what was up.

He was not expecting paperwork.

The young blonde swordsman regards this stack with a helpless look, then glances at Malfi and smiles weakly. "I don't think any amount of coffee will help," he groans, then sets about flipping through the papers, in view of the concealed tricorder in his pocket. He figures he'll scan this stuff surreptitiously to see whether he's sold his soul to a demon, and then set about signing and initialing literally everything.

Lawyers can't complain about too MANY signatures, right?

DG: Claude C. Kenny has used his Tool Tricorder toward his party's challenge, The Legal Waiver.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Neriah is the last person who'd be expected to join something like this. But - to be completely honest - she needed to burn off a bit of steam, and hopefully make some money in the process.

"Coffee sounds good," the dark-haired girl murmurs as she sifts through the paperwork. She's not in her usual excavator's outfit; she's traded it for a simple pink tunic with white and black bordering, a pair of shorts and a set of ankle-boots, with her pistol belted about her waist. She doesn't necessarily look like a fighter.

The girl lifts her eyes above the rim of her clipboard to watch Claude for a quiet moment. She flashes a small, shy sort of smile. His face is familiar, of course; it's on plenty of T-shirts above the phrase 'KING OF THE JOBBERS.' But she's sure there's much, much more to him than that. "We'll get through it," she assures him quietly. "I promise."

She leafs to page 3 and stares at the symbol there for a moment. Then she looks down at her right hand. She's got it in a sleek steel-and-black gauntlet that doesn't match the simple black glove on her left hand.

DG: Neriah Parringer has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Legal Waiver.
<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

Yarobeleedt is here for no reason! That's all!

...

Look, sometimes you just can't over-complicate anything resembling a 'reasonable motive' when it comes to blobby mistranslated space aliens. They are sometimes an elemental force of plot fiat to come by and make things less good for everyone involved, and so, we are leaving the thought exercise at that.

...

No, I admit it, I just... didn't want to have to write it... but here we are... buckle up...

...

Yarobeleedt is dressed in that big old hooded cloak of his he seems to love so, putting forth only the vaguest approximation of something humanoid that does not survive closer inspection. He was supposed to be here with Malfi for scouting out the entrants to the tournament for nefarious purposes.

Then he got dragged into a drinking contest. He was just slithering by and then someone put a funnel to his face and it was awful and... a whole lot of fermented bitter drink later, Yarobeleedt teeters about, at one stretch even inching like a worm sideways, tongue lolling out as he recites passages worthy of being included in dictionaries as correct uses of difficult words.

That last bit is a lie.

"Bleeeieiiiiigiiahghlbtueritbt~ lleeeeeeeeblrtpbl~" A hand slaps onto a table like a wet noodle, with intent to support pulling himself up into a stand as he introduces himself unwittingly into the midst of Claude's party of would-be exhibition contestants.

Then his hood droops over one of Malfi's cups of coffee. No, her coffee, specifically.

"Prrriiiiiiiigslgdhglbpriiiii--"

The hood lifts up as the overworked Personal Assistant Pete thinks absolutely nothing about these circumstances and just shoves a stack of papers in his direction.

Yarobeleedt proceeds to vomit some interestingly-colored fluids at an unnaturally high volume all over them at once.

Expelled bodily fluids are legally considered equivalent to a valid signature in some jurisdictions. Is this one of them?

DG: Yarobeleedt has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward its party's challenge, The Legal Waiver.
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

"What are you talking about?" Malfi murmurs to Claude. "Coffee solves EVERYTHING! Or least least makes it go by easier."

<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

"Coffee just steals time from your slightly older self," Claude says with the confidence of a person whose only experience with coffee is of the military variety, i.e., also useful as industrial lubricant. He looks over at Yarobeleedt and taps one of the pages, which did not get barfed on. "This one too, buddy," he offers helpfully, because like a good Federation officer he has taken any number of courses on overcoming anthropomorophogenic biases.

<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

You meet the weirdest people in the public queue sometimes.

Leo is workng diligently to hand-pick a team that can properly represent Althena in battle, and he realizes that intelligence is a valuable asset. In this case, it was surprisingly easy to join the gaggle of unattached warriors looking for a team. Unfortunately, the vagaries of luck (in this case, someone picking names out of a BLASTEMOL box) paired him with Claude "Copy Write" Kenny, and several people he doesn't know, one of whom is emitting vile fluids.

"Goddess preserve us," Leo says, visibly grimacing in Yarobeleedt's general direction. He scoots further down the bench, opens the paperwork, and--

Well, it looks like Leo is reading. He is, in fact, reading, but within a paragraph it turns into gibberish. If he had any less composure, he would start sweating. White Knight Leo does not do paperwork. He has people to do paperwork for him.

Regardless, Leo starts filling it out as best as he can, which means signing his name all over the place.

DG: White Knight Leo has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, The Legal Waiver.
<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

Yarobeleedt faceplants the hood on the page. The narrative dares not talk about what's under there once that hood comes back up.

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Neriah presses her lips tightly together as she watches the...

...the hideous... slithery... gurgling blob... thing in a cloak. She looks back down at herself after a moment and grimaces. Here she thought she was weird.

Then Leo speaks up, and Neriah blinks at him. "Goddess?" she repeats. "Oh. You must be one of those moon guys. Lunar or whatever."

She pauses, then asks, "Is it made of cheese? And does the bunny really make rice cakes?"

<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi has heard rumors of invisible moon people, but nothing of bunnies or rice cakes. At any rate, she doesn't believe any of them.

<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

Leo flinches a little at the phrase 'one of those moon guys', mostly because in his mind there is no excuse for not knowing he is more than just some moon guy, thank you very much. "I am, in fact, from Lunar," he says. He pauses a beat, and looks very stern. "You Filgaians have the most bizarre legends."

<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi starts laughing. Leo is actually claiming to be a moon guy? This is too much!

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Neriah taps her pen against her clipboard before reaching over to jot something down on Claude's paperwork. "That's what legends are for, right? Nobody would remember them if they were plain and boring," she points out with a neat little smile up at the big White Knight.

"I saw your match, by the way! You're a really good swordsman."

<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

Claude C. Kenny looks slightly uncomfortable at the mention of 'you Filgaians.' For some reason.

"Come on, there's no reason to be spacist about it," he says, placatingly. "We're all different in our own way, whether we're from Filgaia or Lunar, man or woman or... non-binary gender entity," Claude asides with a glance at Yaro. "But for the next half-hour, we're comrades! And that's what counts," he adds.

This is his first dramatic/inspirational speech since training. It's harder than it looks.

<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

Yarobeleedt says, "Plleeeieieieibhbhblleelelttletrrrrrrrr~~~~~"

<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

"Exactly," Claude says, nodding gratefully at Yarobeleedt. "When it comes down to it, we're all plleeeieieieibhbhblleelelttletrrrrrrrr." He clenches a fist. "But now, we need to get out there and win thi---"

Pete taps his clipboard meaningfully.

"---and sign some papers!" Claude corrects himself.

<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi has a feeling Claude doesn't realize how VERY different she and Yarobeleedt are. She steps away to what she hopes is a discreet distance behind Leo and attempts to scan him with her portable bioscanner. She can analyze the data later to see if there really IS anything very different about him. Even though the Old Moon really IS a lifeless rock. Anyone with a telescope can see that. She continues signing the paperwork, too.

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"Spacist? I don't know, I thought we all occupied special little spaces," Neriah says with a blink, scratching at her temple with one finger. "Besides, wouldn't it just be regular racist? I mean, Leo's a moon-Beastman, right? So it's racism if we hate each other."

She holds her hands out to her sides and smiles a great big who-fuckin'-knows shrug.

"I have no clue! I'm just plain Neriah."

<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

"Spacist?" Leo says, giving Claude a look. "Is this more of your nonsense language?"

'Plleeeieieieibhbhblleelelttletrrrrrrrr~~~~~'

Leo turns back to Neriah, beaming as she applies compliments. "Why thank you, citizen. Rest assured that I have not yet even begun to fight. And while we have had our differences, Claude is correct. We are--" Leo turns towards Malfi as she abruptly gets up, looking mildly concerned. "Miss! Where are you going? I'm sure that the... hood person is completely harmless! And if he isn't, I will be more than happy to deal with him for you!" He doesn't appear to notice the scanner.

<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

"You'd think that," Claude says to Neriah as he continues filling out papers. "But subtle distinctions like that can be important."

What he thinks of is the Microaggression War, which began in 7,635 SD when the Dorseyan ambassador to the planet of Glassstone in the Beta sector pointed out while drunk at a reception that the third 's' in the planet's name was really unnecessary from a linguistic perspective. He further offered the suggestion that it had been inserted to disguise the face that the people from there were most notable for being asses. What followed would have been an epic galaxy-wide battle between two sentient races that could have torn the Federation into a civil war the likes of which had never been seen, if not for the fact that both races had millennia-old traditions of pacifism.

What followed instead was a 730-year conflict across the information battlespace, in which generations came and went in a constant battle of subtweeting and passive-aggressive commentary on each planet's popular trideo logs. After the mysterious deaths of seventeen moderators, the Federation Assembly passed the 'Okay, Everyone, Seriously, Chill The Eff Out' Act of 8,368 SD, which restricted posts to verified accounts only, thereby putting an end to the tragedy that had claimed centuries of productivity.

But if Claude mentions any of this, his government will shoot him in the face, so instead he just keeps his head down and keeps on initialing.

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

"Oh hey, is there room for one more?"

That's Gwen, over there. "Looks like I'm lucky number- what is it, six? Lucky number six, today~" She just brushes by the others and just speeds through the contracts like a pro. Pausing a moment, she looks to Claude, then Neriah, then puts a finger to her lips with a wink in their direction. "I got my trusty knife, and I fully intend to use it accordin' to the rules." And her fist, but. Well. She'll just try to reserve that as much as possible.

Initial, initial, initial, initial. "I saw your fight with that Dias guy, Claude! That was really amazing! That's like somethin' out of a good novel. Survivin' against the odds, holdin' out for that one chance to make your mark on history! It was so cool!" All while she does this, she's initialing, her eyes barely skimming the papers.

It's just one set of vast amount of contracts she's had to wrangle with. "Hm- ah, there. Almost missed that~"

DG: Gwen Whitlock has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Legal Waiver.
DG: The party led by Claude C. Kenny has failed this challenge! The party gained 4 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> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

While Personal Assistant Pete would never get tired of waiting for people to complete the paperwork, someone else does.

Master Torque kicks down the door leading to the Coliseum, and points at the group with a meaty finger. "YOU! OUT THERE! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!"

"Whoop," Claude mutters, shoving his papers vaguely Peteward. "Let's go!"

DG: Gwen Whitlock has drawn a new Challenge.
====================<* CHALLENGE - Skill-Testing Question *>====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 "Oh no! It looks like our contestants are going to have to contend with the
 dreaded SKILL-TESTING QUESTION! Punch the symbols for plus, minus, divide
 and multiply until they equal 53! If they win, they'll get some free
 blueberries! If they fail, they will get shame and scorn!"

 "A GOOD EDUCATION IS TOTALLY BADASS!"
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

The first challenge seems to be simple enough. As the group approaches, six platforms with buttons rise from the floor of the podium, wheels underneath audibly cracking before- *GRTT* *EEEEEERT*

They get stuck halfway. A squeaky, teenage voice ushers from underneath. "H-hey, give us a sec- Bob, where's the grease?! They got stuck again!" "What?" "I said they got stuck again!" "I heard you the first time, I was expressing my disbelief in how the gears got stuck again!" "Do we have any grease?" "NO, we do NOT have any grease. All our grease was used up in that greasepit challenge!" "W-why did we have a greasepit challenge?" "You IDIOT, it was the Happy Lard Bucket sponsored event! Didn't you SEE the fallout and lawsuits that happened from that?"

As this... awkward conversation is going on, the platforms keep nudging up and down, the gears refusing to move.

Overhead, the announcer's hot-blooded voice yells over the speakers.

"WELL, LOOKS LIKE PUNCHING IS OUT TODAY, SO GET YOUR FEET READY FOR A DANCE DANCE MATH MARATHOOONNNN! GET THOSE FEET FAST AND READY, BECAUSE YOU GOTTA GET TO 53 USING THE SET NUMBERS!"

On a nearby screen (symbologist tech, don't ask), numbers are displayed. "BECAUSE MATH IS AWESOME!!"

Gwen twists her mouth. "Hold on, I think I got this. This button, right?" She begins pressing buttons with her foot, looking over her shoulder as her cue for someone else to jump in next.

DG: Gwen Whitlock has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Skill-Testing Question.
<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

First a pile of paperwork, then a skill-testing question. This is shaping up to be the worst day of Claude C. Kenny's life.

Fortunately, he has a computer in his pocket that is easier to use than his brain. Unfortunately, he has to use it without anyone seeing him use it, or his government will shoot him in the face. So he spends some time muttering to his jacket, then eventually pops up to adjust an operator. That's it, right? Probably. Probably.

Claude C. Kenny: university graduate.

DG: Claude C. Kenny has used his Tool Tricorder toward his party's challenge, Skill-Testing Question.
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi jumps on a button as Gwen directs. "I think that should do it!" she explains to no one in particular.

DG: Malfi has used her Tool Portable Scanner toward her party's challenge, Skill-Testing Question.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"Nooooo, wait, I'm just filling out Form 212B Subsection R-15 Sub-subsection iii!" Neriah wails as she's booted out there.

Then the announcer starts shouting about...

...Math.

Neriah blinks twice, then squints at Gwen for a minute. "Are you kidding me," she says in an absolutely flat voice. She plants her hands at her hips and frowns, lips soon twisting to the left as the expression deepens into a surly grimace. "This is the stupidest tournament challenge ever," she decides.

Neriah doesn't dance. Instead she reaches behind her and picks up the shovel hanging from a strap over her shoulder. Setting her jaw, she plants a heel against it and proceeds to pry up a corner of the dance floor.

Then she shoves the shovel blade in further. It's deep enough that she can start hitting mechanisms.

She goes for the one labeled '5' and the one labeled '3'.

DG: Neriah Parringer has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Skill-Testing Question.
<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

Yarobeleedt doesn't go through the door, on account of being in the middle of a Metal Demon hangover. So Master Torque just up and hucks him across the vast expanse of the World Before Explosions, into the World That Will Eventually Have Explosions.

Yarobeleedt's bulk slaps against the screen, the right-hand side.

...

Wow, that is a very stylized '1.' It's even in 3D! But now the screen seems to read '51.' This is a problem. How do they adjust the lumpy 1-shaped 3d protrusion into a 3?

"Ppltelllwwwweeeeiiiiiiiiiiiiit~~~"

DG: Yarobeleedt has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward its party's challenge, Skill-Testing Question.
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

Leo strides forwards, the very image of determination. The squabbling workers don't seem to faze him much, though honestly, anything is better than paperwork at this point.

Except math.

Leo stares at the screen a moment, looking very thoughtful. Inwardly, it is all gibberish to him, but he can't let it show. He presses a single button with his toe, and waits.

DG: White Knight Leo has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Skill-Testing Question.
DG: The party led by Claude C. Kenny 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> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

As Yarobeleedt's blobby form fully blurs the numbers, causing it to look like a 51. It also, unfortunately, causes the screen to jitter and shake, eventually displaying a Baskar face test pattern with a metal demon smudge on the side.

The platforms slowly lower back, to the dismay of the workers underneath. "I TOLD YOU NOT TO TURN IT BACK!" "The lever is stuck!"

"... Master Torque, um, how should we call this?" "...." "Torque?"

There's some audible drinking from a bottle. ".... PETE, YOU KNOW WHAT MAKES MATH AWESOME?" "The ability to organize a chaotic universe into an orderly understandable pattern that can stretch on into infinity?" "NO, PETE, YOUR MOTHER!" "That doesn't even make sense."

There's an uncomfortable silence.

"HEY, YOU KNOW WHAT'S JUST AS AWESOME AS MATH?"

The '51' suddenly goes up in an explosion.

"EXPLOSIONS!"

DG: Neriah Parringer has drawn a new Challenge.
===================<* CHALLENGE - Rocks Fall Everyone Dies *>====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 1          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 "If you look up over the Arena, you'll see the mighty Blastemol!® Blimp,
 sailing proudly over the skies of Lacour to remind everyone of our company's
 slogan: If you need to Blast 'Em All, Then Go With Blastemol!®"

 "ALSO THE BLIMP IS DROPPING ROCKS ON YOU NOW!"
=Dungeon Conditions: Bad Luck=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

There is a myterious screeching sound, and a long thin trail of fire going up into the evening sky that explodes into many sparkling threads out in a sphere. The colors are red, white, and blue.

Also there's a blackened smoking fabric shaked like a snake or something cratering a ways away back in the arena but that's a minor detail.

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Finally, the doors to the arena swing open. It coincides with the number floor exploding.

Neriah yelps as she scampers out through the gate and into the arena proper. The audience cheers as, finally, the next group of fighters emerges to face the challenges!

Climbing up into the announcers' niche, Torque clutches the mic hard enough that he looks like he's about to crush it, jumping up and down and pumping a fist. "HEY, YOU KNOW WHAT'S ALMOST AS AWESOME AS EXPLOSIONS?!" he shouts with just a touch of feedback. "EXPLOSIONS!!"

"That makes no sense," mutters Personal Assistant Pete-but-not-Jeff, who has huddled up under the Aquvish announce table with a headset and a sheet of paper labeled 'RUN SHEAT no i mean SHETE'.

"IT MAKES BADASS SENSE!" screams Torque as he points up at the sky. "AND YOU KNOW WHAT'S AS AWESOME AS EXPLOSIONS?! EXPLOSIONS FROM ABOVE! NOW THAT'S EXPLOSI-AWESOME, BOOYAH!!!"

"What the hell did he just say," Neriah asks Claude with a rapid blink before she looks up towards the sky. Towards the large, hovering mass overhead, with little lanterns hanging from it. On the side it says:

'Dias Flac's a pimp'

That's about when the bombs start falling. Neriah yelps and dives for cover, mostly ending up rolling away awkwardly. "I don't even know what a pimp is!" she wails.

DG: Neriah Parringer has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Rocks Fall Everyone Dies.
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi *somehow* manages to drink more coffee while dodging rocks and bombs. "We need to bring that blimp down!" she insists. Unfortunately, she has neither distance weapons nor magic to do the job. She briefly wonders how Blastemol(TM) will react to their destroying its blimp, but that will be Blastemol(TM)'s problem.

DG: Malfi has used her Tool Blackest Coffee toward her party's challenge, Rocks Fall Everyone Dies.
<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

"He said avoid the rocks, or we'll die," Claude answers helpfully as he zips quickly from left to right. He glances upward at the message, his expression hardening.

"Also possibly to shoot down the blimp."

DG: Claude C. Kenny has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Rocks Fall Everyone Dies.
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

Leo has no time to gawk at the technical difficulties, because the floor is suddenly exploding. The White Knight leaps back, his cape fluttering magnificently behind him as he clears the number floor in a single bound. A second, even more impressive jump carries him down to the stadium floor, where he immediately strikes a pose in the middle of his teammates. As their... new challenge is announced, Leo takes a moment to ponder the majesty of the Blastemol Blimp. How does it fly? It looks so massive!

And then it starts dropping rocks, but fortunately, Leo has a solution. "Fear not!" the Beastman cries, reaching around to his back--and retrieving something. It looks like a mass of rope with a hook on the end, and Leo gives it a good twirl before flinging it into the air, where it unfurls into... a ladder, or something like it. "Grab hold!" Leo says. Hopefully it will hook under the basket, which is where Leo was aiming, and get everyone directly under the blimp. They can't drop rocks directly below the basket, can they?

DG: White Knight Leo has used his Tool Rope Ladder toward his party's challenge, Rocks Fall Everyone Dies.
<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

Yarobeleedt, miraculously still wearing an intact disguise robe that smokes, twists and rolls against his back as he looks up into the blimp.

"Look at," hiccup, "^Fat Chicken^. It is high on hat oar???" Your guess is as good as mine, a screechy giggling as the tongue lolls out the side of their mouth - still somehow obscured by the shade provided by the hood. "^Fat Chicken,^ ^Fat Chicken,^ do not lay up ons~"

BOOM. One rock from the ^Fat Chicken^ explodes nearby, showering Yarobeleedt in debris and dirt. Pure existential fear is a reasonably capable sobering agent, as evidenced when the sleeves start stabbing at the ground to pull the rest of the... shapely bulk... into the earth below.

Yes. This soft, pliable, moldable, crumbly, dusty earth will be full-on hundred-percent protection from any and all boulder-shaped high-yield contact explosives that will be littering the ground. This is a plan that will work, according to an alien brain that does not interact well with whatever it is the rest of its partially melted, venom-filled body forcefully ingested.

DG: Yarobeleedt has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward its party's challenge, Rocks Fall Everyone Dies.
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

Gwen scrambles into the next part of the arena, not sure if they were next on the list of 'things that will be exploded'.

Overhearing Neriah, and then looking up at the blimp, she squints, then smiles wide.

--FLASHBACK TO CHILDHOOD AT LITTLE TWISTER--

"Hey, hey, why was the man talking to all those ladies?" asked a young girl with a handkerchief tied around her head, to her group of friends of similar age.

One kid smiles big. "Oh, I know! That's a pimp!"

"What's a pimp?"

"Oh, a pimp is-"

--NOW--

	"A pimp is when a person has a bunch of ladies, and-" ***BOOM** A boulder explodes from overhead, interrupting Gwen's explanation and startling her to start running. "Gh! This is really not a great place for this!!"
DG: Gwen Whitlock has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Rocks Fall Everyone Dies.
DG: The party led by Claude C. Kenny has passed this challenge! The party gained 7 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.

Some of the falling objects turn out to be just plain rocks.

Others are big ol' bombs. They produce big ol' 'splosions.

Neriah blinks at Claude as she ducks past a rock. "So 'pimp' means 'shoot it.' Got it." Then Gwen clarifies it. Neriah blinks twice. "--Right! I'll ask who qualifies as a pimp later!" she shouts as she ducks away from an exploding boulder.

Then she pauses for a long moment and stares at Yarobeleedt. Her eyebrows come up, one arched higher than the other. "...First off, they're called cuccos," she explains. "Second off--"

A boulder thunks into the ground near her. "RIGHT, RUNNING," she shouts as she scrambles across the battlefield - and as the group rushes through the obstacle course, they soon manage to exit the blimp's shadow and scuttle to safety!

Up in the announcer's booth, Master Torque screams, "THEY GOT RIGHT THE HELL OUT OF THERE! AND THEY DIDN'T EVEN HAVE TO USE THEIR A.K.s! WHAT DO YOU SAY ABOUT THAT, PETE?!"

Pete-but-not-Jeff looks up from behind the Aquvish announce table and deadpans, "I gotta say it was a good day."

DG: Claude C. Kenny has drawn a new Challenge.
=========================<* CHALLENGE - Tower Attack *>=========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 1          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 "Up next, we've got a trio of terrific fighters - Big Dave, Medium Dave, and
 Just Plain Dave - who are ready to deal some pain! But wait, what's this? It
 looks like the three of them are sitting on each other's shoulders to form a
 towering titan of terror!"

 "You can't let this go unchallenged! GET STACKING!"
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

Claude C. Kenny emerges from the field of rocks relatively undamaged, only to see the next challenge wait for him is---

Oh man, these guys again. He recognizes them from the tail end of an epic bar fight, which was at the tail end of an epic bender, in which they started a fight because they did not like Claude's face (or maybe the other way around). And now they're here for revenge! ...very specific revenge! He looks at Leo, frowns, and sheathes his sword. "We'll have to put aside our differences and team up!" he says, judging the Beastman to be roughly as beefy as he is. Claude steps forward next to Leo, and braces himself to form THE BASE!

DG: Claude C. Kenny has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Tower Attack.
<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

Nervously, Yarobeleedt's head pokes up from under the dirt - underneath the foot of whoever forms the base, unwittingly.

He looks up at the Dave Tower from way, way, way underneath, and jumps up with a start which will give a short-lived height advantage as he screeches as per the expected Yarobeleedt resposne to anything ever.

DG: Yarobeleedt has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward its party's challenge, Tower Attack.
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

Leo tugs the ladder free, bundles it up, and returns it to its assigned place. He gives a theatrical little toss of his head as the next opponents come out, and Torque explains the rules. "Very well, then!" Leo says, "Face defeat with dignity, Daves! For we will defeat you at your own game!" Leo sinks into a squat, and motions for Claude to--

"Why are you the base," Leo says, eyes narrowing. "Oh, very well." He clambers up onto Claude's shoulders, which is kind of comical-looking because he's taller than Claude is.

DG: White Knight Leo has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Tower Attack.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Somewhere halfway across the city, a Baskar priestess shudders in sudden horror.

Meanwhile, back on this side of the World of Eels, Neriah puffs her cheeks out and sets her hands at her hips as she looks up at the Stack O'Daves. "This is the dumbest tournament fight I've ever been in," she complains with a petulant scuff of her heel against the turf.

She frowns. "...This is the only tournament fight I've ever been in," she confesses.

Looking up at Leo and Claude, she puffs her cheeks up again. "Sorry, guys," she apologizes, "but I'm not sure I'm ready to sit on Leo's great big horn yet. We've only just met, after all, and I am a perfectly virtuous maiden. Plus I think I can help elseway."

Again reaching back for a shovel, Neriah smiles a cupid's bow smile.

:>

Then she scoots over to the Daves, whirls her shovel, and begins doing what she does best: Derailing the entire scene by summoning the Devil.

(Actually, no, she starts speed-Excavating a gigantic hole under the Daves. It's slightly unbelievable how fast she digs, but at least the result is that the Davestack is beginning to gradually sink into a growing pit.)

DG: Neriah Parringer has used her Tool Trusty Shovel toward her party's challenge, Tower Attack.
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi surprises both Claude and Leo by picking them up and making herself the base. She's stronger than she looks, and the spikes on her armor have retracted somehow, though no one saw that happen. "Ready?" she asks.

<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

There's a screeching under Malfi's heel. Odd.

DG: Malfi has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Tower Attack.
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

Leo blinks. "What did she say about my horn?" he says to Claude. And then he is hoisted into the air. "Miss!" he cries, gesturing down at Gwen. "Climb up here and we will rain defeat on their heads!"

<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

"She said she prefers to be on the bottom," Claude says, before letting out a strangled yelp as Malfi picks his ass up.

<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi smacks Claude, fortunately not hard enough to hurt him.

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

As the tower grows higher, Gwen ponders getting on top of the stack versus just taking a more direct approach.

Then, Leo calls her to her destiny, his current height and poise cutting a commanding, impressive figure. Gwen looks up at the White Knight, her cheeks briefly growing pink before she shakes herself out of it, lightly tapping her cheeks.

"O-oh, right. Okay, just give me a hand's up!"

It's only then, when Gwen is presumably lifted onto the top of the Malfi-Claude-Leo stack, that Gwen's cheeks begin to color. Her posture suddenly assumes a lady-like. mannerly pose as she draws her fist back. "H'okay, fist of defeat ready for their heads! Time to charge!"

DG: Gwen Whitlock has used her Tool Armored Fist toward her party's challenge, Tower Attack.
DG: The party led by Claude C. Kenny has passed this challenge! The party gained 7 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> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

The two stacks face off against each other, and then charge forward, the crowd screaming as they clash together.... and the three Daves bounce away individually.

"Pretty obvious, really," Pete says. "It was six against thr---"

"SOrry, Pete!" Master TOrque shouts. "Can't hear you over this SICK GUITAR SOLO!"

"WOW.... WOW... WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW SQUIDLLYWOWYEOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW dunnannannannanna..."

DG: Yarobeleedt has drawn a new Challenge.
==========================================<* CHALLENGE - Halftime Interview *>==========================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          |
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 "ALL RIGHT! While we reset the Arena for the next round of the match, we're
 gonna go down to the sidelines for an interview with Miss Blastemol!®
 herself: BLASTINA!!!! GO FOR IT!"

 "hey there master tman i'm down here to talk to them there peeps bout how
 dey gon' whup dem guys in dere butt-butts, SO WHADDYA GOTTA SAY FO YOSELFS?"
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify, Injure==========================================
<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

The Daves don't just bounce off. They kind of crash into--

Ooh. That looked expensive, I'd hate to be the sponsor that--

Yikes! I'm not even going to get into how much any of that cost, to say nothing about--

Yyyyyyyyeah this entire arena is going to need a time out.

"IN THIS ARENA YOU ARE SO BADASS THAT EMERGENCY SIGNALS ARE MORE LIKE A RELIGIOUS HYMN ABOUT YOUR DIVINE BADASSERY!! I REFUSE TO CONSIDER THIS TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES BECAUSE WHATEVER JUST HAPPENED IS WORTHY OF BEING PRAISED!! I EVEN RECORDED ONE MYSELF!!"

There is a continual explosive beep. This is a thing, somehow, as the on-site staff scramble to buy time in wake of Davestruction. Miss Blastemol!® herself: BLASTINA!!! is ready to both give copy editors a headache and also run interference by shoving microphones into peoples' faces in hopes they won't peek at whatever nastiness they're going to set up in place of the Daves and the wreck o' stuff.

"hay hunny buncha oatsack ima gunna axe a kwestion," she shoves the microphone into Yarobeleedt's hood.

Squelching noises. She pulls it back. The microphone is covered in goo and also smoking. She ceases to ask that one questions.

The rest of you are not off the hook.

DG: Yarobeleedt has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward its party's challenge, Halftime Interview.
<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

Claude C. Kenny has watched sports all his life - he is ready for this moment.

He advances forward.

"Yeah, he said it best, Blastina," Claude says, gesturing to Yaro. He is suddenly dripping sweat from his face as he leans into the mic. "This is always a tough place to play. We don't play these games on paper - we're playing at a high level, but we've had a lot of intriguing matchups. We really have to take it to them," he says firmly. "We have to play with our ears pinned back, turn up the intensity, step up and make plays, and give it 110. We have to play within ourselves, come together like a team, and play like we're capable of playing. If we stick to the fundamentals, dig deep, and capitalize on our opportunities, if the good Lord wills it, we'll take a win home at the end of the day."

Claude steps back, throws his hands into the air. "ALL RIGHT, TEAM!" he shouts. "WE GONNA SHOCK THE WORLD!"

DG: Claude C. Kenny has used his Tool Tricorder toward his party's challenge, Halftime Interview.
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi winces as the translator in her brain starts to overheat, giving her the beginnings of a persistent headache. It was programmed for Filgaian, not whatever THIS was. In desperation, she uses her scanner on Blastina. Maybe the woman is a creature...a monster...a construct...something that sowed the Confusion status. Malfi had run into monsters that did that before. At any rate, Malfi is ready to get out of here NOW, before her translator shorts out. No telling what kind of brain damage that would cause!

DG: Malfi has used her Tool Portable Scanner toward her party's challenge, Halftime Interview.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Neriah climbs out of the Davehole none the worse for the wear. She brushes dust off her forearms and tunic. "Right! What's next," she chirps with a bright-eyed smile, rejoining the stack of companions.

It turns out to be Blastina babbling at the group in some sort of dialect. Neriah cups her hands to her cheeks and gasps as Yarobeleedt attempts to answer. "No no no, that's not how you do it," she scolds the blobman, reaching into the interview and taking Blastina by the wrist.

And says something incomprehensible, but somehow uplifting.

She passes the mic to Leo.

<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

Leo takes the mic. He holds it delicately, well-aware that it has... stuff on it, now. He's not sure what it's for, but it's got some of those squiggly symbols on it, so it must be important. "It has been a difficult road," Leo says, instantly making himself a hundred times more coherent than anyone Blastina has interviewed in this group. "but we will perservere! Claude is a mighty warrior! The, ah, young lady with the glove is doubtless a fearsome warrior in her own right, as is the... lady with the shovel, and the one with the armor." He offers no praise for Yarobeleedt.

"And I am White Knight Leo! If, by some chance, you have never heard of me, I am Chosen of Althena, whose blessing preserves and sustains us all! With Her guidance, I aim to root out corruption and Malevolence wherever they rear their ugly heads!" He just keeps going. Someone starts making 'get him to stop' gestures, but they can't cut the mic if it's Symbological, can they?

DG: White Knight Leo has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Halftime Interview.
<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

Claude stares at Leo, confusion plastered across his face. That sounded almost...meaningful.

DOES HE NOT KNOW HOW THESE INTERVIEWS WORK

<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

OH. Malfi's head is pounding now. This is Not Good.

DG: Neriah Parringer has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Halftime Interview.
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

Dumbly watching the Daves bounce off into what is most likely OBLIVION, Gwen cringes backwards, almost falling off her Leo perch before, thankfully, scrambling down, all while beginning to mumble frenzied words underneath her breath. "Oh guardians i really didn't mean for them to get _that hurt_ oh man oh man people are going to find out and i'll be jailed forever in lacour jail and i'll never see gulliver and this is the worst-"

Seeing the mess that weird... robed... thing did on the mic makes her state worse.

Claude's words briefly bring Gwen out of her panicked state, but she descends right back when Neriah speaks. "I don't even know what half those words mean, oh guardians, this is the worst-"

Then, like a ray of light, Leo speaks. Gwen looks to him as if he was a life raft floating in a raging sea, an anchor to a sane, peaceful world, where no one has actually died (yet), people speak with comprehensible words, and no one screams. He's shining bright, standing tall in his uniform. Just like, you know, some sort of white... knight...

'And I am White Knight Leo!'

Gwen just takes a paper bag out of her medical kit and begins breathing into it.

DG: Gwen Whitlock has used her Tool Medical Kit toward her party's challenge, Halftime Interview.
DG: The party led by Claude C. Kenny has passed this challenge! The party gained 12 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: Claude C. Kenny has drawn a new Challenge.
===========================<* CHALLENGE - OH YEAH *>============================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 1          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 "Your next challenge is just on the other side of this GIGANTIC STONE WALL!
 But don't worry, there is a door over there that will only open after you
 solve an intricate puzzle based on a series of levers and pulleys!"

 "JUST KIDDING, $#*& THE PUZZLES, JUST GO THROUGH THE WALL LIKE A BADASS!"
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow=====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

"uh hunh yeeeh boyeeees n grrrrrrlz," Blastina's commentary with the others hardly deviates from this track. The vast majority of words being spoken here are devoid of substance, sincerity, or some such. She wasn't expecting anything other than the flapping of lips, and really, lips flap. They flap, and flap, and flap, and they hope everyone's paying more attention to Leo's long-winded words from the heart as opposed to having to scrape Dave off of the thing Dave is not supposed to have to be scraped off of, it's... really something.

"Eye can't heel my I!!!" Yarobeleedt yammers and bleats, unheard and uncared for.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming!

<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

"That's deep, man," Claude says to Yaro, because he's the (self-proclaimed) team captain, and cheering up the team is what he's supposed to do.

BUT THEN

"Oh man, this is soooooo much better than having to lift a door or move boulders," Claude says, smiling broadly. He pulls back his right fist and starts charging it with red chi, red being the universal colour for EXPLOSIONS. "On three?"

<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

"On three," Malfi agrees, glad to not have to think with this headache. Pure brute work suits her just fine.

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"Look, I thought she was really profound!" Neriah protests, stamping one foot and sulking slightly.

And then comes a more straightforward challenge. Neriah gives herself a shake and ceases to channel the forked tongue of the demon prince. "Okay! Let's do this, Mr. Claude!" she calls after the blond man.

Who... proceeds to charge himself up with space magic of some kind. Neriah blinks a time or two.

Then she pulls her shovel out, setting her shoulders and dropping to one knee to prepare to lunge at the wall with all the badassery she can muster while wearing a pink tunic over her shorts. "On three!"

DG: Neriah Parringer has used her Tool Trusty Shovel toward her party's challenge, OH YEAH.
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

A wall stands before them, now. Leo draws his blade, and grins from ear to ear. Blue-black energy gathers on the weapon's edge. "Agreed! One--!" Because apparently he disagrees with Claude's assessment of himself as team captain.

DG: White Knight Leo has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, OH YEAH.
<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

Before they even get to one, that hooded weirdo figure is climbing the wall and trying to go over it instead, disregarding the Brute classification to consider it an Agility. It is at this point where the stakes have gone higher -

We are now witnessing someone's attempt to sequence break the SACRED EXHIBITION OF THE LACOUR TOURNAMENT OF ARMS.

DG: Yarobeleedt has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward its party's challenge, OH YEAH.
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

So why was the White Knight Leo actually kinda like his name? Sure, he could be a terrible person underneath the public persona, but this guy actually seems a bit earnest in his willingness to be a generally good person! It's like Althena's Guard aren't just a bunch of evil people!

Gwen numbly shuffles onward. "... no one's gonna be surprised if I just, like, punch through it, right...?" Claude takes charge, and the courier looks to him and mouths a 'thank you'. "R-right! Punching now!"

DG: Gwen Whitlock has used her Tool Armored Fist toward her party's challenge, OH YEAH.
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

"TWO!" Leo yells, "PUNCH!"

DG: Claude C. Kenny has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, OH YEAH.
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi joins Gwen in punching, now that the energy-blasting is out of the way. OH YEAH!

DG: Malfi has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, OH YEAH.
DG: The party led by Claude C. Kenny has passed this challenge! The party gained 27 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> White Knight Leo has posed.

"THREE! DEMON FANG!" Leo roars, and he lunges forwards with a single, violent motion that is totally not an Air Slash, Claude Kenny, shut up.

<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

"Wait, I thought it was three!" Claude protests, then screams. "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"

The wall explodes. Like, all of it.

"Ha! Eat it, Mongols," Claude C. Kenny proclaims, displaying a fantastic understanding of Earth history.

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"Three!" Neriah yells and jumps at the wall.

Everyone else shouts their cool attack names. She flails for one.

"...Diggy... Hole!"

<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

Yarobeleedt doesn't quite go over the wall in time. He collapses into the wreckage of the exploded wall with a screech as it collapses all around him. Cheaters never prosper!

DG: White Knight Leo has drawn a new Challenge.
=======================<* CHALLENGE - It Had To Happen *>=======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 1          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 "By now, you're probably noticing the barrels we've scattered around the
 Arena! That's good! But now I've got a question for you, brave competitors!"

 "EXPLOSIONS?!?!?!?!"
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken===================================================
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

OH YEAH indeed! That wall never stood a chance.

Behind the wall is a maze--a maze of barrels, all marked with orange paint. "They're very difficult to miss!" Leo says to Torque, raising his voice. "What will you have us--"

"Explosions what?" Leo says. Clarification is unnecessary. It never comes, anyway. The barrel to the right of him explodes, and he only escapes unscathed by leaping to the side the instant he hears a hissing fuse. "Well then! I suppose I will just have to take the high road!" Leo whips out that ladder again, swinging the hook and throwing it at the end of a banner that is, remarkably, not on fire. "Grab on!" he says, as the hook connect. What is he doing?

Well, in Leo's head, they can just use the ladder, strung vertically, to swing across the barrels while they explode, and look totally awesome in the process. This may not work in practice.

DG: White Knight Leo has used his Tool Rope Ladder toward his party's challenge, It Had To Happen.
<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

"ni" Yarobeleedt murmurs from under the wreckage of the wall. Then a barrel rolls over him. Watch him stick to it! He might actually make a safe stepping stone for anyone who can't make it to Leo's rople ladder in time.

DG: Yarobeleedt has used its Tool Clutch Harness toward its party's challenge, It Had To Happen.
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi shouts up at Leo, "Can you see the way through the maze?" If he'll stay up there and direct the rest of the party, they might make it through the barrels before more of them explode. It's worth a shot anyway. She drinks more coffee while waiting for his reply.

DG: Malfi has used her Tool Blackest Coffee toward her party's challenge, It Had To Happen.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Let's be honest, Neriah mostly follows her team through the wall. She brushes brick dust off her shoulders and sneezes.

And then things start exploding again. With a gasp, Neriah clutches at Leo's dangling rope ladder, grabbing ahold to the end of it and clinging to it for dear life.

"I'm holding ooooooooon," she squeals, her legs trailing behind her as Leo gets them swinging.

"Leo, don't let me fall~"

DG: Neriah Parringer has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, It Had To Happen.
<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

Claude C. Kenny looks around in a panic as the world's greatest question is asked, but not answered. He has seconds to act, but isn't sure what to do - there are barrels all around, the appropriate maneuver is impossible. Even Leo's solution, epic as it is, will result in some explosions happening in front of them. If only...

Yarobeleedt provides the answer. Claude smiles at the...individual. "Thanks," he says, then runs forward, hops onto Yaro, and uses him as a springboard to leap a good 30 or 40 feet into the air (like Zed, Claude also doesn't skip leg day), at which point he slips arouns so he's facing the sky... which turns his back to the entire Coliseum.

Cool guys don't look at explosions. It was the only way.

DG: Claude C. Kenny has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward his party's challenge, It Had To Happen.
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

Well. If Leo insists. "I'm not sure this is such a great idea but I'm just gonna trust that you're a decent person!" Gwen says, grabbing onto the ladder. As they begin to be swung around, Gwen has a very numb realization.

This is actually kind of fun.

DG: Gwen Whitlock has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, It Had To Happen.
DG: The party led by Claude C. Kenny has passed this challenge! The party gained 22 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: Gwen Whitlock has drawn a new Challenge.
====================<* CHALLENGE - Beating Up A Carriage *>=====================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 1          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 "We're almost at the final round, sports entertainment fans! But before
 that, look to the centre of the Arena, where you will see a pair of
 brand-new two-horse carriages! One is for our competitors, and the other is
 for a couple of hobos we dressed up in martial arts uniforms! Can you smash
 your carriage into pieces before the hobos beat up theirs?"

 "MAAAAAAAAAAAAAYBEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!"
=Dungeon Conditions: Tire=====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

The nicely furnished horse carriages are lined up before the ragtag team. The doors of one fly open, and several people unload out, dressed roughly in outfits that constitute 'epic world fighters' in a loose Lacour sense.

They look at each other, and then at the carriage. "You know, this carriage is kind of brand new..." "We went over this already." "HARRY LIKE PAINT JOB."

"CRUSH IT UNDERNEATH YOUR FISTS LIKE THE TRUE WARRIORS YOU ARE!" Explosions go off nearby, but more as a sort of percussive note to the announcer's words.

".... Um..." "Look, you want that check or not, Pat?" "Look, I'm just sayin'!" "HARRY SMASH CARRIAGE BUT FEEL EMPTY LATER."

Gwen stares at the horse carriages in front of her. "I guess we'll just... go ahead of them..."

DG: Gwen Whitlock has used her Tool Armored Fist toward her party's challenge, Beating Up A Carriage.
<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi tackles one of the hoboes and then sits on him, pinning him down. Let's see one person destroy the other carriage before her new friends can!

DG: Malfi has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Beating Up A Carriage.
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

"HARRY FEEL OPPRESSED FOR NOT TAKING PART IN SENSELESS DESTRUCTION!" cries the bigger one of the hoboes assembled, as he is pinned by Malfi.

<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

"OH MAH GAWD!" Master Torque roars as Malfi tackles one of the hoboes. "OH MAH GAWD! WHERE IS THE REF?"

"You fired all the refs, sir," Pete says. "You said they were wussier than your grandma."

"That's not an insult, Pete!" Torque insists. "Gammy Torque killed a man last week for breaking her dentures! She gummed him to death," he notes. "IT TOOK SEVERAL HOURS!"

Meanwhile, Claude C. Kenny is beating the tar out of two-horse carriage with his Meteor Palm technique, which is basically rapid-fire punches for days. This is seriously the best Tournament ever.

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"It seems like a waste of a good carriage," Neriah murmurs as she looks at the coach with a certain envy.

Sighing, the dark-haired woman finally undoes her scarf from around her hair and stuffs it into her inventory again. She steps to the side and momentarily considers a way to save it.

Then Claude starts beating the shit out of it and her best-laid plans go to pot.

She grimaces. "Who do I need to sacrifice to the blood god to get a carriage like that?" she grumbles before pulling her shovel out and climbing up onto the carriage, at which point she begins driving the spade head through the floorboards, aiming to uproot them so she can smash one of the axles.

<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

Yarobeleedt provides a life-saving springboard to Claude. Claude may feel that whatever's under his foot, that's... a lot more give than a body tends to have. Maybe this hooded high-pitched voice has some serious body image concerns about their weight? That could say a lot.

They get blown up by a barrel and once again becomes a smoking lump of fabric that may or may not have a humanoid figure under there, we'll never know.

Yarobeleedt comes to, and watches Malfi go to sit on one of the hoboes.

"^Creature Creature^ show me up??" He gurgle-snarls, barfing again as he reaches into the inner bile and nastiness that is himself. "Fufufu."

He moves towards the carriage the hoboes are on, and... scrape, scrape, scrape... HE'S ATTACKING THE WRONG CARRIAGE

HE'S TOTALLY DOING IT ON PURPOSE

AT LEAST HE'S WORKING AT A COMPLETELY GLACIAL PACE

BUT COME ON THAT'S UNSPORTING

DG: Neriah Parringer has used her Tool Trusty Shovel toward her party's challenge, Beating Up A Carriage.
DG: Yarobeleedt has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward its party's challenge, Beating Up A Carriage.
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

Leo observes the obstacle before him, blade still in hand. "Oh," he says, grinning broadly, "I thought this would be difficult!" He raises his blade. What follows can best be described as:

"DEMON FANG DEMON FANG DEMON FANG DEMON FANG DEMON FANG DEMON FANG DEMON FANG DEMON FANG DEMON FANG DEMON FANG DEMON FANG"

DG: White Knight Leo has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Beating Up A Carriage.
DG: Claude C. Kenny has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Beating Up A Carriage.
DG: The party led by Claude C. Kenny has passed this challenge! The party gained 0 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: Yarobeleedt has drawn a new Challenge.
=============================================<* CHALLENGE - Mirror Match *>=============================================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          |
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 "WHOA MOMMA TORQUE! It looks like our competitors' last challenge is SHADOWY
 VERSIONS OF OUR COMPETITORS THEMSELVES! These guys have all the same powers
 and abilities as our competitors, so this'll be a tough fight! It looks like
 the most difficult opponent they'll have to overcome is the darkness inside
 of themselves!"

 "....OH MAN THAT *#&$ WAS *@$#ING DEEP!"
=Dungeon Conditions: Tire=====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

Malfi sits on Harry as the other party members beat on their marked carriage, all except for Yarobeleedt, who is attacking the... other carriage. The other hobos just look at each other and help him in his effort. "I feel kinda sorry for him, y'know?" "Yeah, I know, right? Poor chap's got a skin condition or something." "This makes me feel better about taking part in destruction of private property!"

Despite it all, Claude's team wins. "Aw, man." "Maybe we'll still get paid?" "HARRY WANTS ICE CREAM."

<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

"LOOK AT THEM BLOW THE NON-ALPHANUMERIC SYMBOLS OUTTA EVERYTHING WE THREW THEIR WAY!! THAT IS BAD ASS. THAT IS SO BAD ASS IT IS ALSO GOOD ASS. IT IS THE YIN AND YANG OF THE ASS!!"

A mist forms through the cracks.

"BUT NOW IT IS TIME TO GO INSIDE THE BAD ASS AND THE GOOD ASS!! THEY HAVE TAKEN COMERS FROM ALL DIRECTIONS EXCEPT FOR ONE!!"

Six figures form, all walking... or slithering? Towards them. Their physiques are a perfect match. They are also full of dark edgy palette swap magic because...

"THEMSEEEEEEEEEELVES!!!"

The six-man dark mirror squad all do whatever it is each and every one of them do.

"IT'S THE BUTT END OF THE EXHIBITION!! DON'T YOU HALF-ASS IT NOOOOOOWWWWWwwwwwWWWWW!!!"

<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

And lo, it came to pass that Claude C. Kenny encountered the darkness within his heart! What incredible revelations will be made clear as the two of them clash against each---

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi notices the identical moves by the Claudes, and also that her shadow self is imitating her exactly, right down to her breathing. "Fight one that's not you!" she yells, as she turns to strike at Shadow!Neriah.

DG: Malfi has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Mirror Match.
<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

Yarobeleedt... kinda-sorta stands before something else that sorta-kinda stands. It looks like a naga with a butt made of a melting jelly roll or something of that nature, except the colors are all weird and dark and negative-y.

"Good day, numerous populations standing before myself throughout the broad spectrum of gender, culture, and genetic make-ups." The dark manifestation waves a gooey hand in a non-threatening manner. "I am upright before you in a position suggestive of a desire to orate something I believe of great import in which I represent as an abstract of the opposite self, through an uncountable number of analyses of the psychology of the mind, to bring unto understanding of all who are present to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch what I am now unearthing and declassifying from the singular perception of the self as to now inform in a fashion that is relatable although I am but a projection--"

Yarobeleedt apparently does not want to face the cold, hard reality that he might have character depths, and is presently riding out the speech by hiding underneath a cocoon of fabric-like steel, rocking back and forth. He lacks any character to look into himself with any honesty.

DG: Yarobeleedt has used its Tool Sheet Cocoon toward its party's challenge, Mirror Match.
<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

"I've got him on the ropes now!" both Claudes say as they pause Air Slashing to eat a steak. And then...

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

"AIR SLASH!" "AIR SLASH!"

DG: Claude C. Kenny has used his Tool Pocket Steak toward his party's challenge, Mirror Match.
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

"What does that even mean," Leo says, scowling. "This is nonsense! This man speaks nonsense! The only ass here is the one who wrote whatever--" Leo stops in mid-sentence as the figures appear. One of them is tall and handsome and definitely a Beastman--the very image of Leo, in fact, except for the uniform. Rather than go for an edgy palette-swap, Leo's doppelganger has a serene look on his face, even more Althena regalia, and visible bloodstains all over his white clothing.

"In Althena's name--!" the projection cries. Malfi warns Leo to not attack his reflection, but he does not listen.

"WHAT IS THIS MOCKERY?!" the real Leo roars, giving his doppelganger time to fire off a Demon Fang--Leo throws himself to the side, snarls, and reaches for... a pouch at his waist? "You who think you know me--allow me to give you a real taste of what I have to offer! But first, team--SAMPLE MY GOODS!"

Leo then takes out a fistful of Heal Berries, throwing them to the rest of his teammates. Even Yaro gets one!

DG: White Knight Leo has used his Tool Leo's Goods toward his party's challenge, Mirror Match.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

There are six figures. Five of them are recognizable.

Neriah blinks as she looks for her mirror self. Then she frowns as she realizes that the sixth figure is supposed to be her.

Shadow Neriah looks a little like her but comes out with no gauntlet and ghostly white flame streaming from her right hand. The figure levels a palm as Malfi jumps on her and unleashes a spell. It's a massive, guttering stream of coils of phantom light, blossoming around her in a monstrous, destructive wave.

Neriah Parringer is a small girl with a gun. She blinks after Malfi and bites her lower lip. "Be careful, she's a lot stronger than she looks," she cries out in alarm.

Clicking her teeth together, she glances up into the stands, then around at the audience - and she realizes she needs to respond, despite the fact that it'd give her away. She'll have to control it somehow. And besides - Lunata's gotten away with her dreadful powers so far, right?

She shakes her head stiffly. No, she can't risk it. Not even if it costs them the match.

There's no explanation given as to why Shadow Neriah has enormous flamepowers and why the regular Neriah seems to be completely normal. "Thanks, Leo," she calls as she catches a Berry and pops it, then draws the silvery pistol. "Marilyn!" she shouts. It seems to be the name of the gun.

There's a loud snap and a ringing hiss of escaping steam, then a few more snaps, as Neriah begins to lay down covering fire. The sharp report of the high-powered ARM resonates across the field as Neriah squeezes off a few shots at Leo's doppelganger, intent on taking him down from afar.

<Pose Tracker> Malfi has posed.

Malfi catches one of the Heal Berries and tucks it away into her beltpouch for later. She is irritated that the men don't seem to be listening to her. Maybe the women will have more sense!

DG: Neriah Parringer has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Mirror Match.
<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

The Heal Berry splats against the cocoon.

"--by the name I refer to myself involving a colloquial term for the abdominal region characterized by a color resting on the light wavelength no lower than 570 nm but not to exceed 590 nm, the words added together forming a colloquial designation spoken in a meaning that does not reflect positively upon the subject in question as it involves a manner of their character measured against the cultural perception of one's willingness to stay present in the face of--"

This is terrible.

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

Shadow Gwen forms from the dark mist, with the same wide grin, laid-back poise, and- okay, not really quite the same. That smile is way, way, way too wide, for once, and her voice, when it speaks, is very grating to the ears in its syrup-y cheerfulness.

"Oooh~, I'm Gwen Whitlock, I'm so wacky and silly! I hope y'all like me just in case I do something terrible~" Shadow Gwen claps shadow hands over those shadow cheeks. "As it's all mostly just an act, or is it?" Shadow Gwen's grin spilts just a tad bit wider, extending past the confines of her face. "This is the best I can do at being a likeable person, but sometimes I just want. To. Hurt. You. Alll~<3"

Gwen blinks at her double, then twists her lips as she itches the back of her head. "Man, shadow me's kind of an ass..." "Right back at cha~"

'Fight one that's not you!'

"Hm?" Gwen glances over at Malfi, just as shadow Gwen punches her in the face. Clutching her cheek, the courier catches a berry with her other hand. "Ow... is that what I feel like...? Man, hey, uh, Mr. Leo! You fight mine, she needs some divine punishment! Or something..."

"Oho~ that handsome knight is real close to my type! But not as much as ~Nightburn~. Too bad there's an aspect of Leo that makes me feel really scared he'll find me out to be-" "-CHANGED MY MIND!" Gwen's vaulted right back, running forward to SLAM a fist straight into the double's face. "And don't listen to a thing she says, she's just a mock-up!" "Claude's a real cutey t-" "STOP THAT!"

DG: Gwen Whitlock has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Mirror Match.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Shadow Neriah, meanwhile, keeps on exploding things with ghostlight blasts that seem to take up half the battlefield.

"Cheer up," she tosses at Malfi. "If they won't listen to you, there's always human sacrifice."

<Pose Tracker> Claude C. Kenny has posed.

"Wait, what?" both Claudes ask as they turn toward the Gwens.

DG: Malfi is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Yarobeleedt is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Claude C. Kenny is too exhausted to continue!
DG: White Knight Leo is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Neriah Parringer is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Gwen Whitlock is too exhausted to continue!
DG: You have overcome the dungeon's trials! This run is a success!
DG: The party led by Claude C. Kenny has successfully explored Lacour Coliseum!
===========================================<* CHALLENGE - A Winner Is You *>============================================
|Type: DIscovery   |Dungeon Ability: Discovery |Challenge Rating: 1          |
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 "AAAAAAAAAAAAND WEEEEEEEEEEEEE HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAVE AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
 WIIIIIIIIIINNEEEEEEEEEEEEEER! Congratulations to our competitors! In honour
 of their triumph in this exhibition match, they will each receive a special
 prize commemorating their victory: A PURPLE PARTICIPATION RIBBON! Thanks for
 coming out to this Exhibition Team Fighting match here at the Lacour
 Tournament of Arms: Presented by Blastemol!®"

 "NOW WALK OUT OF THIS ARENA ACCOMPANIED BY THIS /TOTALLY SICK AIR GUITAR
 SOLO!/"

 "MEEYOWEYOWYOWYOWEEYOWSQUEEDLYMEEEEEEEEEOW!"
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Yarobeleedt has posed.

They divide and conquer, but this proves to be their undoing. In refusing to face themselves directly, they allow their doubts and hidden selves to fester and grow in strength.

Shadow Claude is a cheater and doesn't run out of MP.

Shadow Leo's blood-soaked zealotry never encounters reasonable doubt.

Shadow Malfi continues her empty search for more creatures just for the sake of having them.

Shadow Gwen continues flirting in awe of every shapely man and interesting person in sight.

Shadow Yarobeleedt says a lot of fancy words further indicative of sophistication and depth.

Shadow Neriah... that is... another story to be told beyond this point in time.

"I HAVE NEVER SEEN SUCH HARDCORE DENIAL OF REALITY!!" Everyone, at this point, is too exhausted to go on, as they dig deeper and deeper into their various foibles and fallacies. "THAT IS... KIND OF BAD ASS TO JUST KEEP ON DOIN' WHATEVER. WHICH COUNTS AS HALF-ASSED!! BUT YOU ARE BASS! THAT IS HALF OF BAD ASS! MAYBE TWO-THIRDS. ADS? YOU ARE ADS."

That's that.

Our favorite misnamed assistant comes by and pins purple participation ribbons on everyone, and walks off.

"NOW WALK OUT OF THIS ARENA ACCOMPANIED BY THIS TOTALLY SICK AIR GUITAR SOLO!"

More like limp and crawl out, as the shadowy selves glower and fade away... but do not disappear.

"MEEYOWEYOWYOWYOWEEYOWSQUEEDLYMEEEEEEEEEOW!"

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Neriah hates this. Part of her knows she could end it any time she wanted. All it would take is giving in to it. YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO

She squeezes off another shot. "No, I can't," she hisses to herself before forcing her eyes open and cramming another clip into Marilyn. The pressure in her chest remains. The feeling has never been like this before. It's like it wants to come out.

In any event, her undoing is actually twofold. First off, she tries to confront Shadow Leo by herself with little more than her pistol. Second off, she doesn't try to match the powers Shadow Neriah is throwing around. Eventually she runs out of bullets - at which point a bullet-riddled Shadow Leo manages to land a Demon Fang on her. The girl buckles at the midsection and hits the ground.

At which point she latches on to Shadow Leo's ankles and starts biting his hamstrings like some kind of savage creature.

Eventually it gets her... somewhere. The fight ends, and she winds up totally out of gas, barely managing to drag herself to the podium.

She groans. "Never doing this again," she pants. "Never!"