2017-09-11: The Guests Who Have You For Dinner

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===================<* CHALLENGE - The Welcoming Committee *>====================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The town is a fright -there are creatures roaming about, crouching over       
 bodies and snarling at each other with horrific, inhuman cries. It's clear    
 that the town has been attacked by some strange, humanoid monsters, and they  
 have set their sights on you! More begin to emerge from the ground behind     
 the group, and there's no choice but to fight these creatures!                
=Dungeon Conditions: Fright===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

A FEW HOURS AGO

Matilda... hasn't really wanted to come out this way for a little bit, but at the same time, feels somehow compelled to. She has an acquaintance she wants to poke her head in and say hello to... but the town is a rough frontier town, so she's enlisted some of her friends to come along!

NOW

Everyone arrives in town and there's inhuman creatures everywhere. The town itself is a shambles, with a few buildings on fire, a few crumbling, and one or two emitting the irregular sound of gunfire. Matilda looks like she's going to be sick -- but gets no time to elaborate or discuss it, as the group hits the *exact edge* of the sight radius of some of the creatures. More still crawl up from behind.

Matilda whips a bottle of noxious liquid into the group at the front; the group at the back moves to form up with them... as does a group from further into the town. At least they're all in front now, for optimal shooting!

Which is, of course, the next step.

DG: Matilda Whitehead has used her Tool Succubus Bottle toward her party's challenge, The Welcoming Committee.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline as always willing to accompany a friend, of course. She wasn't sure what to expect, but...somehow, she got the feeling this wasn't what Matilda had meant when she said it was a rough town.

"Oh, Matilda..." Jacqueline murmurs, glancing to her friend with concern. She wants to say something, anything to try and comfort her...but disturbing, inhuman sounds interrupt her train of thought, and make it clear that there were more important matters at hand.

Jacqueline has no idea what kind of monsters these creatures are...but she can think about that later. Jacqueline draws out a bottle of repellant but rather than tossing it out straight away keeps it on hand, just in case any of them start to get close.

Instead, Jacqueline draws a familiar Crest and conjures some earth pillars in front of them on both sides of the puddle of liquid from Matilda's bottle. She was attempting to create a choke point, so that they could deal with the creatures more efficiently.

With that done, she draws her lightning Crest and gets to zapping.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Reliable Repellant toward her party's challenge, The Welcoming Committee.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

The crackle of flames in the distance can't be missed. It's why Catenna's already got her sword in her hand as the small party approaches the village, the priestess confident that Matilda won't be meeting her acquaintance.

"Steady," she murmurs to the girl, reaching out to touch Matilda's shoulder - but as those shambling creatures approach, it's hard for even the notoriously dignified and buttoned-down priestess to keep her expression strait. A sick feeling bubbles up in the pit of her throat. Darting to one side, she gives Matilda some room to deploy her magic bottle.

"Unpleasant creatures... I had heard of something like this," she mutters, though she can't for the life of her remember where. She must've read something at the Adventurer's Guild.

It's still terrifying. Dropping to brace herself on one knee, Catenna brushes her fingers over her Medium, whispering a few words in her own language. The words hold a subtle, energized echo to them; she's drawing on the power of Guardian Arcana.

The approaching shamblers will find themselves suddenly gripped by an unseen force. Gravity itself wrestles with them, struggling to pull them to the ground.

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Celesdue Medium toward her party's challenge, The Welcoming Committee.
GAME> Matilda Whitehead looked at you.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Ethius comes along on what should be a routine visit with an acquaintance of Matilda's, much like anyone else among the CaraKin. He smells a bit worse than usual (...more than a bit) lately. There is probably nothing more of import to this that he would be disclosing at this time.

He looks a bit more alert moments before the sound of gunfire travels far enough for the team to hear, but, there's all that fire and smoke that probably would've tipped anyone off sooner. Now's not the time to go over semantics or the need for more thorough bathing.

"Another." Ethius speaks in that tone of voice of his that is vague on one very important point - 'another' in that there are others behind them, or 'another' in that this is a similar circumstance to some previous barely-disclosed venture with others? There's no time to grill him on this.

Maybe the inhuman creatures in question smelled him.

A hand seems to go for a satchel at first, but the sheer volume gathering - and from all the directions that they are - ensure that the primary purpose of creating an opening to move through is just not an option.

Instead, he works to provide support fire of a Symbology-based nature by making use of the choke points and traps set up by some of the rest, plaguing an area ahead of them with an incredible rising heat that might fuse glass into sand and also scald the creatures in question to degrees that do not settle well with anyone's lunch.

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

You know, when Matilda said that she had an acquaintance she wanted to meet, Cyre really didn't think she meant 'dessicated corpses which hunger for the flesh of the living' but people can be weird like that. He's even heard that some people have metal demons for friends! Hahahahahahahaaaa--

"I am not really all that sure these things even have noses to smell with," Cyre mutters as the beasts close in. What could have caused this? Some ARM gone mad? Has someone kicked over a shrine to Ge Ramtos? Or maybe there's something... Worse. Ordinary travellers might be overwhelmed by these kinds of numbers-- But here, under the full vault of heaven, Cyre has a mild advantage.

"I still hear gunfire. There are still people alive in there. We need to hurry." He lifts his staff. The wind begins to howl, blasting lacerating waves of sand into the shambling creatures-- but that's only a prelude for the real show. Runes inscribe themselves into the sky and the heavens open up, disgorging lances of intense, prismatic light that turn sand to glass and rake across the monsters enmasse!

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward his party's challenge, The Welcoming Committee.
=========================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>==========================
===================<* CHALLENGE - The Welcoming Committee *>====================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The town is a fright -there are creatures roaming about, crouching over       
 bodies and snarling at each other with horrific, inhuman cries. It's clear    
 that the town has been attacked by some strange, humanoid monsters, and they  
 have set their sights on you! More begin to emerge from the ground behind     
 the group, and there's no choice but to fight these creatures!                
=Dungeon Conditions: Fright===================================================
====================<* Abandoned Frontier Town - Round 1 *>=====================
=====================< Results - The Welcoming Committee >======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             0 --(16)--> 16                 Pass
Celesdue Medium                     2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Matilda Whitehead                   0 --(15)--> 15                 Pass
Succubus Bottle                     2   Combat  Effects: Embolden, Fanfare, an
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     0 --(14)--> 14                 Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       0 --(13)--> 13                 Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   0 --(13)--> 13                 Pass
Reliable Repellant                  2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Matilda Whitehead           0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Fright(2)
Effects: Embolden(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Matilda Whitehead has passed this challenge! The party gained 20 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> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

Some of the creatures simply don't have the strength in their bodies not to be crushed by Catenna's gravity; the others are easily handled by the choke point that Jay creates. Ethius's aim is a little low with his fire magic -- it doesn't manage to secure kills, but it does, at least, render the area slick and slippery. The Reapers have a hard time coping with it, and Matilda and Cyre can handle most of the rest. They do manage to escape the choke a few times, but Jay's repellent makes them take the long way around the party -- and by that point, Matilda's able to secure clean, efficient headshot kills.

Matilda nods to Cyre, saying, "Yes -- we need to move quickly," with a small nod. She scootches closer to Catenna at the touch, before adding, "There's... I'd suspect that if my -- acquaintance, is still alive... he's in with the shooters." She glances off to one side a little, before saying, "It -- is his way."

She squares her shoulders, takes a deep breath, and -- with Freischütz at the ready -- gestures forward. "Let's keep moving. Our chemical attack should've drawn everything within the first sixty meters to the entrance -- we have a moment to move freely. Make sure you're ready for another engagement."

DG: Ethius Hesiod has drawn a new Challenge.
=============================================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>==============================================
==============================================<* CHALLENGE - Safe Haven *>==============================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 A safe place could take many forms - a barred room, a rooftop that is         
 difficult to access, or even an entire building that is locked and cannot be  
 easily accessed. Needless to say, the party has found such a place - it is    
 up to them to gather their wits and ensure they don't attract any extra       
 attention while the recover and plan their next move.                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Save Point===============================================
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

It's a risky maneuver to up and attract hordes out up front as the team yet moves to go further inside to seek and help the survivors of this reaper outbreak... but it pays dividends within seconds, as there's a ladder that leads up to a spacious watchtower with a second ladder on hand to allow them to get down (in case someone or something knocks the first one down) or create a makeshift bridge to, say, some roof that one hopes does not house fire, reapers, or reapers that are on fire.

Ethius is among the first ones there. Saying nothing outside of the minimum syllables for chanting for whatever spell he intends to cast next, that question finds an answer when he withdraws the lens from under his poncho to take a peek.

What could he be trying to find from on high? It's not a replacement for a pair of binoculars. They're not staring down a complex mechanism nestled within a ruin - he shouldn't be able to really see much of anything with it, but there he is trying to use it anyway.

He leaves the discussion and strategizing to another.

There's a map and a few bottles of cheap whiskey for the taking, if anyone's of the mind in the moment of downtime.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Spectral Lens toward his party's challenge, Safe Haven.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"Then we must hurry." Setting her jaw, Catenna brings her short sword into a ready position, moving in beside Matilda to try and at least give the girl the benefit of someone close at hand. It's a small thing but she hopes it'll mean something. Glancing at Cyre, she checks to make sure he's alright.

Whisking quickly after Ethius, Catenna boosts herself up the ladder and onto the rooftop. For a moment, she turns away to look down from the edge.

It's as much a personal move as a tactical one. She doesn't want the others to see her let her expression down just long enough to twist her lips in a sick grimace. Her cheeks are a little pale.

"There seem to be many of them," she says softly as she looks out across the village, shading her eyes with a hand held to her forehead to keep the sun out of her eyes. "I do not think any part of the village has not been overrun... but I can still hear ARMs going off."

Looking back to Matilda, she tilts her head to the side, hand coming to rest at her own collar. "Perhaps there is hope to save some," she murmurs.

DG: Catenna has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Safe Haven.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Cyre is fine. He gives Catenna a worried smile and presses boldly on. Having bested the hordes- for now- there seems to be some time to take a few breaths. Cyre is of the opinion that they should spend as little of it as possible. There are too many of these creatures- if they're simply left alone, then those people will... It won't be good, one way or another. But there is a question that's weighing heavily on his mind, regardless of the constant rush to press onward.

"Where did they all come from?" That's the million-gella question, isn't it? Cyre scans the corridors and streets below from his vantage point, trying to see if there's... something, some clue as to what exactly happened here. What are these creatures, anyway?

"We're in the middle of the desert," he muses to himself. "Unless they're emerging from under the sands or dropped out of the sky, I can't even think of how they'd get out here..."

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Safe Haven.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline moves quickly and silently alongside the others as they retreat from the entrance. With any luck, those creatures will remain there, giving them a little more peace of mind as they progress.

For now, Jacqueline climbs up into the watchtower along with the others. She looks out over the town along with Catenna.

"...We...we have to believe that." She agrees with a nod, then glances toward Cyre.

"I'm not sure...I've heard rumor of things like this happening every so often, but..." She trails off with a frown. But she didn't know the how or why. It was a question that would bother her, but she was certain the answer was out there somewhere...

Right now, though, there was a more pressing matter at hand.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Safe Haven.
<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

Climbing the ladder behind Ethius, Matilda looks out from the watchtower. She resists the urge to blow the safety of the watchtower for the satisfaction of a few clean kills with Freischütz, though she does consider it; she pops the barrel out forward a little ways, though, getting it into sniping configuration as she looks around.

"Depending on their intelligence, it's certainly possible that the ARMs are being set off accidentally -- or by fire," Matilda notes. "Bullets and powder can cook off in a circumstance like this." She takes a look at the map, then takes a bottle. "... Hmm," she murmurs, considering the label thoughtfully for a moment.

"When we're ready to move, let me know," Matilda says. "I'll climb down last and take a few shots with Freischütz -- it's silent as long as I don't use gunsmoke bullets, so I can give us a path..."

DG: Matilda Whitehead has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Safe Haven.
=============================================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>==============================================
==============================================<* CHALLENGE - Safe Haven *>==============================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 A safe place could take many forms - a barred room, a rooftop that is         
 difficult to access, or even an entire building that is locked and cannot be  
 easily accessed. Needless to say, the party has found such a place - it is    
 up to them to gather their wits and ensure they don't attract any extra       
 attention while the recover and plan their next move.                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Save Point===============================================
========================================<* Abandoned Frontier Town - Round 2 *>=========================================
================================================< Results - Safe Haven >================================================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             16 --(4)--> 20                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Matilda Whitehead                   15 --(4)--> 19                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     14 --(4)--> 18                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       13 --(4)--> 17                 Pass
Spectral Lens                       2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   13 --(6)--> 19                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
-------------------------------------------------------< Party >--------------------------------------------------------
Leader: Matilda Whitehead           20 --(20)--> 40                Pass
Conditions: Fright(1)|Save Point(1)
Effects: Enlighten(1)
===================================================< Dream Chasers >====================================================
DG: The party led by Matilda Whitehead has passed this challenge! The party gained 20 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.

From up in the watchtower, anyone who looks down will get a better view of how the things... move. Not one seems to turn their heads up above to where living, breathing people are all plotting and questioning and reassuring or what have you. It is as educational about their movements as it is unnerving. Those that can hold their resolve steady in watching the unfolding horror outside might even see one trying to eat another dead one. Looks like these particular reapers aren't picky.

"The nearest roof to us appears compromised," Ethius comments, so that particular shortcut that would keep them on high ground for a short while longer is right out. Smoke pours out of one of the windows.

"I'm ready to move on your word, Miss Matilda."

Ethius grabs one of the bottles. He's not known to drink alcohol. By now, the lot of them can probably guess exactly what he intends to use it for. As he prepares to descend along the rest... what did he see? If Ethius isn't sharing in a life-or-death situation such as this, then it's probably nothing...

...Right?

DG: Catenna has drawn a new Challenge.
==========================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>==========================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Attack From Above *>=======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 There is a scream from nearby, and several Reapers leap off the top of a      
 nearby building or awning, using their greater height to propel their attack  
 against the group. Their cries also have the unfortunate side effect of       
 drawing the attention of other creatures from nearby. Avoiding the creatures  
 diving down and making a break for safety is the only way to avoid the        
 groups which are surely closing in!                                           
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow=====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Drifting towards Cyre, Catenna - perhaps catching the way he flashes her that smile - reaches out, touching delicate fingers to the Beastman's elbow. For a moment her eyes catch Cyre's, enough to silently convey her meaning. She's alright. Anxious, but alright.

"Yes... yes, the nearest roof does appear compromised," Catenna murmurs as she looks over towards the next roof. Indeed, a couple of Reapers are shambling around atop it, mostly aimlessly. "If we go around through the alley behind us," she begins.

She's cut off by something letting out an inhuman wail of the damned.

Catenna whirls with wide eyes and a gasp. Hurtling off of the roof on the other side of the buildings, several Reapers come lunging into the group's safe space - and one of them is lunging right at her.

She has no time to get out of the way. The Reaper slams into Catenna; with a yelp she hits the rooftop and skids backwards. The monstrous, twisted creature is on her quickly. Panic floods through her like lightning as she wrenches her sword up desperately; the Reaper's teeth gnash against the blade before she starts to swing wildly, drawing blood, but the creature's slashing and grasping at her too madly for her to hold off.

Still more Reapers descend onto the roof, snarling and lunging towards the group, intent on festing on their succulent flesh.

DG: Catenna has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Attack From Above.
<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

The instant the creatures leap off the roof, Matilda's ready to go; she doesn't say anything this time -- she offers no observations, no thoughts, no advice. She's just moving, instantly. One of the Reapers bites at her shoulder, catching steel and underlying nylon; Matilda responds by gripping it with force and whipping it into the ground.

That's all the time she allows herself to fight, though -- there are too many here to do anything but run, and that's painfully obvious. Matilda doesn't even think to try to zone the Reapers out with potions -- this is the kind of problem that won't be solved by a distraction, only a dead (heh) sprint.

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

They are under assault from a position once thought unassailable.

Ethius gets the quarterstaff deployed in an attempt to slam one end against the Reaper's ribcage to try and coax it off of Catenna - and off the watchtower entirely. He can't contribute much more than that attempt, as one's already lunging against his open back. Their fingernails scrape against the fabric of his poncho, yanking and pulling him to a kneel as he rightly considers that the safe space is no longer anything at all safe - they have to get out, they have to get down.

"Second ladder," Ethius says, though he is separated from it by yet another Reaper trying to get their bite of his flesh - someone else will have to set that up to ensure that they can all neatly escape, barring other means of safe removal.

He really should've taken the time to sew back up the hot air sack after one of the patches popped off of it - but as it is, he's forced to move down the original ladder ASAP.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Attack From Above.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

It was exceedingly rare to hear Jacqueline curse. She lets one slip now as the Reapers on the other roof jump into their midst, their presence threatening not only for close-quarters, but also for the potential of drawing more unwanted attention to them. Additionally, the current situation also deprived her of most of her tools for dealing with enemies like this. There was no earth beneath her feet to conjure an earth pillar...or at the very least, not enough, and lightning would only run the risk of damaging the structure they were on.

"We can't stay here, let's move!" She urges, drawing a bottle of pale-green liquid from her bags. She downs the lot and begins to rush after Matilda, once the Reaper attacking Catenna has been seen to.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Invigoration Elixir toward her party's challenge, Attack From Above.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

This reaper has made a dreadful mistake.

It's not on Catenna for more than a few seconds before something smashes into it from the side. A blast of hurricane-force winds spiral out from the point of impact, sending the creature flyng bodily into a cluster of its comrades, which are then collectively thrown from the rooftop by the impact. Cyre's fist trembles as it unclenches, ruined glove hanging in tattered strips of shredded leather from a clawed hand. "Come on," he says, then, moving to scoop Catenna up before turning to make for the ladder. "We need to go. Hold on tight."

Cyre... doesn't take the ladder.

Cyre unfurls his parachute and takes flight, sailing towards the nearest clearing ahead of and above the scrambling, shambling reaper legions.

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Reverse Parachute toward his party's challenge, Attack From Above.
==========================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>==========================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Attack From Above *>=======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 There is a scream from nearby, and several Reapers leap off the top of a      
 nearby building or awning, using their greater height to propel their attack  
 against the group. Their cries also have the unfortunate side effect of       
 drawing the attention of other creatures from nearby. Avoiding the creatures  
 diving down and making a break for safety is the only way to avoid the        
 groups which are surely closing in!                                           
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow=====================================================
=====================<* Abandoned Frontier Town - Round 3 *>=====================
=========================< Results - Attack From Above >=========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             20 --(0)--> 20                 Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Matilda Whitehead                   19 --(0)--> 19                 Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     18 --(0)--> 18                 Pass
Reverse Parachute                   1   Agility Effects: Rally and Quicken    
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       17 --(0)--> 17                 Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   19 --(0)--> 19                 Pass
Invigoration Elixir                 2   Agility Effects: Stalwart             
------------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Matilda Whitehead           40 --(20)--> 60                Pass
Conditions: Slow(2)
Effects: Quicken(1)|Stalwart(1)
================================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Matilda Whitehead has passed this challenge! The party gained 20 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> Catenna has posed.

Handily, Ethius delivers a good thumping to the Reaper preventing Catenna from making her Agility roll. The critter staggers back - and then it realizes it has made the mistake of trifling with Cyre H. Lorentz.

The wind cat blasts the unfortunate Reaper. It goes hurtling into its fellows; they topple like bowling pins, scattering across the rooftop.

A little battered and with spatters of gore clinging to her breastplate and midsection, Catenna begins to push herself up, but Cyre's quick to grab her. The act puts him just behind Matilda, Jacqueline and Ethius; the three make it down the second ladder, into the open space beyond the building. The street ahead is clear; they've got a reprieve in which to run. The Reapers are simply too jarredby staff strikes and earth pillars and wind blasts to pursue.

A few seconds later, Cyre comes sailing through. Catenna's got her arms around his shoulders to support herself.

She's blushing. A lot.

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has drawn a new Challenge.
========================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>=========================
====================<* CHALLENGE - The Shambling Horde *>=====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The town is being more or less overrun as more Reapers continue to emerge     
 from their places of hiding in the face of more victims having appeared in    
 their feeding grounds. At this point they continue to emerge from every       
 conceivable location - out of doorways, from under buildings, and even        
 rising from the ground and sands as they emerge from rubble, piles of         
 leaves, or out of their burrows. The horde shambles forward, leaving the      
 group no choice but to cut their way through to safety!                       
=Dungeon Conditions: Maim=====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire. The creatures that swarmed the rooftop had to come from somewhere. It seems that by fleeing from the high ground, the group turns a corner that leads them... Right into the main host of reapers. They emerge from the shattered facades of a once-bustling town, others seem to burst from the sand itself. Cyre whispers a curse as he turns to find another way to run, only to find himself closed in by another set of walking corpses.

There are... so many of them.

"Damnit," he swears, setting his once-blushing passenger down. "There's no choice," the reapers close in. "Give it all you've got!"

Which, for Cyre, appears to mean 'summon localized sky-laser barrage.'

It's extremely unlikely that anyone's alive in the surrounding structures. Best to just level the town square in the hopes of making it through in one piece.

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward his party's challenge, The Shambling Horde.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Just what Catenna and Cyre needed: :anding right in the middle of the Reaper host.

As Cyre lets her down, the Priestess of Celesdue pivots and brings herself around to take up station beside the cat-eared Beastman. Deftly, she twirls her sword in her right hand. A Reaper lopes towards her out of the horde; she snaps her weapon out and rips through the creature's skull. Another grasps at her and she dances away. "Cyre, be careful," she gasps, just before her friend - or is that too soft a word now? - calls down the heavenly wind.

Her own contribution is less spectacular - yet pragmatic. Hand flying to her Medium, she calls out, "Celesdu' chadani!" The sky around herself and the rest of the Kinship ripples. Nothing physically moves, but gravity increases exponentially for a split-second until it's strong enough to bend light.

Then, with a sudden pressure, dozens of Reapers are suddenly yanked backwards in a vast sphere around the Kinship. Almost the entire horde, once close enough to touch, is abruptly jerked back by that enormous gravitic force. They're pushed back a good five or six metres, out of arm's reach just long enough to buy Cyre, Matilda, Ethius and Jacqueline precious breathing room.

"Now!" Catenna calls over the noise of Reaper screams.

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Celesdue Medium toward her party's challenge, The Shambling Horde.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

"Mister Cyre." How can Ethius still hold that tone of voice just as everyone is seconds away from losing the concept of personal space to the oncoming hordes? "We are here for a reason." He does not elucidate. There is no time to. He almost doesn't get a hand on one of the satchels at his belt, as no less than three Reapers bear down upon him. One scrapes deep into his left forearm, earning a muted grunt and a squeezed shut eye in a flinch.

Catenna yanks most of them back through her connection to Celesdue, and Ethius gets the space to finish the incantation to activate the dust within the satchel.

The first Powder Grenade hits the ground with explosive force, obscuring the Reapers' ability to navigate the area by sight or scent - assuming they even do so - as Ethius forcefully shoves back a Reaper by his free hand into a follow-up kick. He takes off running, running, running.

In the heat of the moment, where every passing moment could be their last - where any one of them could suffer a fatal wound from any rending claw, gnashing teeth, or maybe just a simple infection albeit after a good long while after the fact - this is a detail that's easy to miss.

That Ethius has an idea of where to go in a town of which there is no witness nor record of him having ever been in these parts, and is moving in such a way that doesn't completely take advantage of the incredible opening that Catenna creates for the party, in a direction of which the situation is yet to be fully understood as to whether there may be survivors or not to meet...

What is he doing, and where does he intend to go? Is he wishing for others to follow, or is there something else that seems to have him risking separation and certain death after the fact? If he can just break through in this direction, then...

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

Welp -- looks like it's gotten to this point. The groups of Reapers are closing in, and there's... not a lot of space to maneuver -- or even really to think. Matilda narrows her eyes, reaching into her coat for another bottle of monster attractant. It's not like they can add more monsters to the pile, at this point, is it?

Cyre opens up with a massive barrage of lasers from the sky. "Cyre..." Matilda murmurs. One gloved hand clenches tightly. "... that's a little premature," is all she allows herself to say, as she whips a bottle into the crowd -- toward one of the largest Reapers. Maybe it'll confuse them into attacking their own.

In the end, though, Matilda's biggest contribution -- despite the bottle -- is fundamentals. Her aim is brutally efficient -- she aims almost exactly five and a half feet above the ground, and snaps carefully left, firing two-rock bursts from Freischütz one after another. There's so many, though...

DG: Matilda Whitehead has used her Tool Succubus Bottle toward her party's challenge, The Shambling Horde.
==========================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>==========================
======================<* CHALLENGE - The Shambling Horde *>======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The town is being more or less overrun as more Reapers continue to emerge     
 from their places of hiding in the face of more victims having appeared in    
 their feeding grounds. At this point they continue to emerge from every       
 conceivable location - out of doorways, from under buildings, and even        
 rising from the ground and sands as they emerge from rubble, piles of         
 leaves, or out of their burrows. The horde shambles forward, leaving the      
 group no choice but to cut their way through to safety!                       
=Dungeon Conditions: Maim=====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

There's another curse from Jacqueline. It seemed this was a record-breaking day, in more ways than one. She reaches into her bags to draw out a bottle of black liquid, but pauses when she sees Cyre invoke his medium, raining down destruction in the area.

"Cyre...!" She says, a bit shocked. She...doesn't seem to approve. It may be the most pragmatic and logical thing to do here...perhaps even the only way for them to make it out alive, but she couldn't help but feel that there might be survivors around, who's survival would be put at risk by that display.

Unfortunately, it's too late to do anything about it. The only thing they could do now is fight back.

She eyes the Reapers as Catenna draws many of them into a confined space. It was the perfect opportunity. She draws a Crest and hurls her bottle into the crowd, striking it with lightning in mid-air to send a splash molten glass and flaming liquid at the creatures. That should hopefully help thin the numbers.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Reliable Repellant toward her party's challenge, The Shambling Horde.
========================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>=========================
====================<* CHALLENGE - The Shambling Horde *>=====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The town is being more or less overrun as more Reapers continue to emerge     
 from their places of hiding in the face of more victims having appeared in    
 their feeding grounds. At this point they continue to emerge from every       
 conceivable location - out of doorways, from under buildings, and even        
 rising from the ground and sands as they emerge from rubble, piles of         
 leaves, or out of their burrows. The horde shambles forward, leaving the      
 group no choice but to cut their way through to safety!                       
=Dungeon Conditions: Maim=====================================================
===================<* Abandoned Frontier Town - Round 4 *>====================
======================< Results - The Shambling Horde >=======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             20 --(0)--> 20                 Fail
Celesdue Medium                     2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Matilda Whitehead                   19 --(0)--> 19                 Pass
Succubus Bottle                     2   Combat  Effects: Embolden, Fanfare, an
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     18 --(0)--> 18                 Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       17 --(0)--> 17                 Fail
Powder Grenade                      3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   19 --(0)--> 19                 Pass
Reliable Repellant                  2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Matilda Whitehead           60 --(20)--> 80                Pass
Conditions: Maim|Slow(1)
Effects: Embolden(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Matilda Whitehead has passed this challenge! The party gained 20 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.

One way or another, pragmatism seems to have won the day. Catenna's gravitational repulsion hurls the reapers into the path of Jacqeline's makeshift alchemical firebomb and Matilda's chemical burst, which succeeds in opening a narrow window through an embattled corridor for the rest of the party to exploit. Ethius' powder grenade briefly stuns those which try to crush in and close the gap as he leads the others to safety.

And all the while, beams of purifying light pour down from the sky and scythe through thoroughfares and the bulk of the undead horde.

Cyre's shoulders heave with exhaustion. Long gashes have opened across his arms and torso where the beasts were able to close in and seize him. "...Sorry," he says to the mounting admonishment. "I didn't think there could be anyone left alive at the heart of... all of that. I can still hear them, though. The gunshots are coming from somewhere. We need to keep moving."

DG: Ethius Hesiod has drawn a new Challenge.
=============================================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>==============================================
==============================================<* CHALLENGE - The Crater *>==============================================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 The source of the infestation of Reapers appears as the party struggles       
 through the town. There is a large crater in the center of the town, about    
 thirty feet across and ten feet deep. At the bottom lies some sort of         
 strange device which has been buried in the ground. It hisses and whirls,     
 and occasionally a Reaper will appear from inside of it via some unknown      
 mechanism. There's no way to examine it, not with the great number of         
 Reapers packed into the crater - it must be destroyed, and quickly. Else the  
 entire region might be threatened by these creatures.                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Fright===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Ethius looks over his shoulder as the rest seem to take his movement as the ideal way to go. He doesn't say 'no, stay' or anything like that (also because it's hard to speak over the surrounding 'GRAAAAAAGH' that seems to be a popular meme among the Reaper demographics present, as they celebrate BARHAH in their deathly rattles) while the surrounding horde on them burn and melt to a final death by the powers of science and sorcery working in tandem).

Ethius thrusts his injured left arm outward to get everyone to halt. It's not hard to see why - this route cannot be taken much further, because now there is a great crater before them, and the ten foot deep hole's modest depth is masked by the steepness of the crater's slopes. If anyone falls down there, they're... probably not getting back up before they're torn to shreds. The Reapers seem to escape this crater mostly by climbing over others trying to do the same.

Nobody gets a clear view of what's going on down there. There's lights, of some kind. They flash bright, blinding whites, making weird high-pitched noises as the strange sights swirl obscured by the Reaper bodies that seem to be appearing from the mass.

"There is a likeness," Ethius muses aloud, a hand to his forehead in brief - very brief - because there's no time for inrospection. "This must be destroyed."

His right hand goes for the second satchel. Same Symbological cast, he throws it into the heart of the crater to create an obscuring cloud that might, for the moment, slow the horde's ability to crawl free through overwhelmed senses.

They have to capitalize on this brief inconvenience to claim a final decisive victory.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Powder Grenade toward his party's challenge, The Crater.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

A few Reapers still managed to get through and hit Catenna once or twice. It's not serious, but together with the effort of unleashing that much of Celesdue's power at once, she's beginning to flag by the time the Kinship struggles through the thick of the horde and towards the crater waiting beyond.

All she can make out past Ethius is something glowing and giving off strange lights - but it's obscured by the mob of reapers clambering out through the vast hole. Taking a few steps back, she slashes at another Reaper, trying to buy herself space. Again she fires off that spell, slamming a handful of Reapers back and away from herself and the rest of the group to try and buy herself enough time to act.

"That must... be where they come from," she gasps as she reaches down to brush her fingertips over the second Medium riding on her belt. Her eyelids lower. Beseeching the Guardian of the Sea is still new to her - indeed, this is the most Catenna has ever asked of Lucadia.

She flicks her arms out in a curious geometric pattern in the air - and blossoming out from the centre of that pattern, a surge of sea water roars. It expands and swells until it takes the shape of a massive tidal wave. The wavefront slams into the front rank of the Reapers and gushes into the crater as she attempts to drown whatever's glowing within it.

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Celesdue Medium toward her party's challenge, The Crater.
<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

Matilda looks down toward the hole as best she can, but can't get a good angle -- she's not willing to move up with Ethius. "... Whatever it is, it's stirring them up," she murmurs. Rather than go directly into the fray, she starts... well, she starts the same way she always does -- reaching into her coat, withdrawing a bottle, and chucking it directly into the pit. Maybe that'll get them to stop climbing out and start climbing in -- which would make them much easier to push back into the pit, and ultimately get rid of them.

Rubbing at her shoulder for a moment, Matilda considers her options... and then decides to try something a little unusual. She reaches into her coat again, withdrawing a few different herbs; one by one, she loads them into Freischütz's magazine slot. While Catenna moves to drown the creatures, she... has her own idea.

She holds Freischütz, which seems almost -- confused, for a moment, shaking as she depresses the trigger. When it finally fires, it does so all-at-once, disgorging a giant glob of caustic... something into the air, which arcs over and lands squarely at the center of the crater and splashes a bright green in all directions.

DG: Matilda Whitehead has used her Tool Succubus Bottle toward her party's challenge, The Crater.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline pauses at the mouth of the crater.

"What is that...?" She says, a little bit horrified. There were lights and strange noises, but the horde of Reapers blocked whatever was causing them for view.

She reaches into one of her bags, clasping Grudiev's Medium in her hands. This would be the perfect opportunity for his help. But...a part of her was hesitant to call upon him for something like this. Unsure if she even could, like Catenna and presumably Cyre could. Catenna makes the decision first, though - filling the crater with a surge of water.

Jacqueline releases the Medium and reaches into her bags for a bottle of repellant. She undoes the cork and spreads some around them to help ward off any Reapers that might approach, then draws out a Crest.

She takes a deep breath and invokes it, bringing a powerful bolt of lightning crashing down into the center of the crater - now a pool of water - hoping the electricity would fry any of the creatures that Lucadia's tides didn't drown.

It was vicious...but they needed to be dealt with.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Reliable Repellant toward her party's challenge, The Crater.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

This... This is... Terrible. What is this thing? Some kind of ancient device, buried in the sand? Was it a prison, or a vault, keeping these monsters locked up? Cyre wavers on exhausted legs, clutching tight to his staff for support. This is madness, pure and simple, but on the other hand, they've found the source.

If they can cut it off now, what few townspeople are still fighting might still be saved. They have to give it their all; there's no other alternative.

If it comes down to it, he can...

Fengalon would want him to.

But not yet. Not while he can still fight in other ways. Cyre stands alongside Catenna as she conjures Lucadia's power. Cyre clasps his own medium tight and lifts it towards the sky. The winds begin to howl, stormclouds gather and begin to spiral downward. The shaman's arm shakes as his will burns drawing on this much of Fengalon's power, but he must.

An ash-blue tendril snakes out of the sky and touches down into the crater. The tornado screams as it burrows deeper and deeper, driving Catenna's water like a hydraulic jet down into the heart of this horrific machine.

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward his party's challenge, The Crater.
=============================================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>==============================================
==============================================<* CHALLENGE - The Crater *>==============================================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 The source of the infestation of Reapers appears as the party struggles       
 through the town. There is a large crater in the center of the town, about    
 thirty feet across and ten feet deep. At the bottom lies some sort of         
 strange device which has been buried in the ground. It hisses and whirls,     
 and occasionally a Reaper will appear from inside of it via some unknown      
 mechanism. There's no way to examine it, not with the great number of         
 Reapers packed into the crater - it must be destroyed, and quickly. Else the  
 entire region might be threatened by these creatures.                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Fright===================================================
========================================<* Abandoned Frontier Town - Round 5 *>=========================================
================================================< Results - The Crater >================================================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             20 --(16)--> 36                Fail
Celesdue Medium                     2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Matilda Whitehead                   19 --(15)--> 34                Pass
Succubus Bottle                     2   Combat  Effects: Embolden, Fanfare, an
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     18 --(16)--> 34                Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       17 --(14)--> 31                Pass
Powder Grenade                      3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   19 --(16)--> 35                Pass
Reliable Repellant                  2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
-------------------------------------------------------< Party >--------------------------------------------------------
Leader: Matilda Whitehead           80 --(35)--> 115               Pass
Conditions: Fright(2)|Maim
Effects: Embolden(1)
===================================================< Dream Chasers >====================================================
DG: You have overcome the dungeon's trials! This run is a success!
DG: The party led by Matilda Whitehead has successfully explored Abandoned Frontier Town!
=============================================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>==============================================
==========================================<* CHALLENGE - Damaged Strongbox *>===========================================
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 The town itself appears to have been shredded, with the Reapers consuming     
 food and supplies without regards to if it was actually edible or not. A      
 thorough search does turn up a batter strongbox filled with gella or other    
 moderately valuable supplies that the party can use, a handsome reward that   
 may or may not be worth the horrors the party has endured.                    
=Dungeon Conditions: =========================================================
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

When everyone's efforts comes to pass, the liquid layer of water and acid fills the entirety of the crater, with dusty bits of former powder grenade. It sizzles from the electrical blast, and it's something of a miracle that the tornado doesn't just throw it all clear out of there. Everyone stops to watch for a tense second.

Minute.

Hour? No, not that long, but every second passes with agonizing tension when the liquid mass settles. They're all looking for a sign, a thought, an idea as to whether whatever is inside is still moving.

The crater's new lake is a foul, rancid red color. Things... float. Let's not go into greater detail. They float, they drift. The water is too muddy by its contents to look past all of it and see if anything is still glowing or moving.

Nothing moves.

Nothing flashes.

Nothing makes a sound.

Everyone may yet be looking for the first sign or excuse to believe otherwise, but beyond a shadow of a doubt, whatever's in the crater is no longer. Bodies, mysterious device, and all.

They've done it.

Ethius gets out the lens once more. He brings it to his eye after the usual Symbological casting rituals involved - this takes two tries, as the injury to his left arm makes it difficult for him to complete the cast - and then...

He says nothing. Same as last time. He turns around to the rest.

"Their numbers should prove more manageable." As evidenced by the fact they haven't been jumped on by any remaining stragglers... yet. "Now would be the time to see to any survivors."

He doesn't follow, in favor of continuing to stand near the caustic lake.

<Pose Tracker> Matilda Whitehead has posed.

The town goes still -- and Matilda nods, slowly. "Let's ... move toward the sound of the firing from earlier." It notably doesn't seem to have stopped -- there's still the irregular crack of gunfire here and there. Even though the Reapers seem to have been defeated for now, Matilda's still cautious.

The group eventually finds its way to a general store. It's a little bit on fire, to say the least... and sure enough, just before they enter, the crack of a bullet greets them. Its source?

... a shelf on the far end of the room, presently on fire, where ammunition is stored. The town really is abandoned. There's a safe, clawed open but otherwise untouched, behind the shelf... and a whole lot of dead Reapers to either side of it. A piece of paper is shoved hastily in the clawmark.

"Someone douse that fire," Matilda notes, gesturing to the shelf as she moves toward the safe, putting her armored back to the shelf the entire time.

Once she gets there without getting grabbed, she gestures for everyone else to follow, and slowly, surely, pulls the note.

Hey, Tilly,

If you made it here, you gotta know two things:

1) I'm fine

2) This place sure as shit isn't

Was kinda surprised you'd ask my ass for help. Figured you'd still be pissy about my bandit days. Anyway, the safe's got a coach gun in it that I couldn't get out, and a bunch of gella in it, which I figure the proprietor sure as hell isn't gonna use any time soon. I left half for you. Gesture of good will, yeah? Bet your dad would be glad to know we wasn't limited to bickering about my old line of work.

... that and maybe I feel a little guilty I turned him down for security on his last run out to Dazil. Look, anyway, take the money. Town's dead anyway. Gella don't pay Ge Ramtos. If you get here and see this, shoot me a line on the Memory Cube. I'll hit you up to meet up in Dazil instead. Safer.

Your dad's old knucklehead,

Robert

Matilda... smiles, in spite of herself. "Idiot," she says, softly. "... someone help me get this safe open. I have no interest in the coach gun, if someone would like it, and I'd be... remiss, if I didn't offer all of you the chance to split the gella, too..."

She seems -- relieved.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

The combination of magic and alchemy does its work. Exhaling, Catenna sags visibly, her head and shoulders drooping as she finally lets her exhaustion show through in earnest. "Celesdue," she breathes, pressing her free hand to her heart.

Her cheeks are pale as she moves over towards Cyre again, giving him a worried look and a glance over as though to make sure the Reapers didn't eat any parts of him she'd prefer he keep.

But it's Matilda whom she's really most concerned with. As the girl begins to move on, Catenna looks on after her with her lower lip bitten. Carefully, she presses on, glancing about now and then to ensure no Reapers remain to ambush their friend. Soon enough, though, they reach the store -

Catenna jumps a little at the sound of the bullet. The sight of the dead Reapers and the ravaged safe leaves her biting her lower lip, but she huddles close to Matilda anyway.

With a smile, she reaches over to gently touch Matilda's shoulder. "I am glad your friend is safe," she murmurs. "I have no interest in a firearm, personally... but perhaps others in our Kinship will."

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline as afraid to even exhale as they waited, wondering if they had succeeded if more Reapers would emerge from the pool. She doesn't look too closely at what rises from the top. Her stomach was churning just being this close. The smell was worse than anything else.

Eventually, she looks away and nods toward Matilda. She follows along behind her closely. Inside the store was...

Nobody. Nobody but the dead, but they didn't appear human, at least. She nods toward Matilda again and draws a Crest. Water, this time. Rare from Jacqueline. She invokes it, dousing the flames as requested, before walking over to Matilda, resting a hand on the shoulder that wasn't currently occupied by Matilda's hand.

"...Yeah, me too." She agrees. She could help get the safe open, either by working out the combination or smashing it open with an earth pillar. As for the gun...

"I'm not much for firearms myself, either...admittedly, I don't really know how to use one, but..." She trails off. "...If it comes down to it we could just give it to Shalune, see if she can make something of it."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

BACK AT THE CAUSTIC LAKE...

Ethius stands watch over the pool of death by his lonesome. The bandanna over the lower half of his face protects him from the worst of the odors, though his eyes scarce tolerate being nearby - even when he's not looking directly at it. He assumes the most important matters are already being tended to by the rest. If there are any survivors, he is certain they will be taken care of. If there's anything of value...

...That is for them to discern.

He walks the perimeter, as to keep blood flowing through his legs. There is nothing more to find on the surface. He is not about to investigate the crater's contents further. It is much too dangerous to attempt to evaporate the pool, to say nothing about what would be left behind in its wake.

He did say to destroy it. He has no reason to doubt that it will be forever lost to antiquity. Still, there is something that weighs on his mind. An educated guess in the aftermath of a previous investigation concerning similar circumstances appeared to hold true, this time. Some kind of device is involved. Both 'sources' involved a crater or an abyss in which they pour out of in great numbers.

He has no way to test any of the theories that seem to form in his mind.

He has no desire to seek some way to invoke whatever it is that brings this on.

Only the lingering sentiment that what he sees before him is, against all answers he might seek and all curiosities he might have, that this is good.

He'll politely wait here for the rest to return, once word comes in about who or what is left.