2017-09-23: Great Balls of Fire

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================================<* Great Aveh Desert *>================================

The heart of the Republic of Aveh is its great desert. The rolling dones and blistering heat here are infamous, and all but the most foolhardy would ever dare to cross it on foot. Most do so via the great rail lines running north to south, east to west, leading as far as Krosse and Adlehyde. The ones who do cross it on foot will find the heat isn't the only danger. Mirages can lead men astray, oases are few, and great and terrible beasts sink beneath the sands until they find their prey.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ddOSJ8571M
DG: A party led by Loren Voss is now entering Abandoned Frontier Town.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
=========================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>==========================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Broken Barricade *>=======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The front of the town shows signs of a struggle. There are wagons and boxes   
 piled up in what appears to be a makeshift barricade, and there are signs of  
 struggle and fighting all about the area. There are no people left around,    
 but strange and inhuman corpses are blocking he way into the town. They need  
 to be cleared out of the way - and strange sounds coming from behind you      
 mean that there might be more of the creatures on the way.                    
=Dungeon Conditions: Overzealous==============================================
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

        Araxa, once a fine Filgaian town in west Ignas, had fallen into complete communication blackout roughly about three, four weeks ago. No one from the town has been seen in that time, no one who has gone to the town in that time has returned.
        Worse, it's not the only town that has seemingly vanished off the map.

        And there are rumors. Some people whisper of 'Reapers'. Others term the things 'Wels'. Whatever they are, one thing is clear: they're fiends, monsters. Devourers of human flesh.

        SOME WEEKS AGO

        West Ignas has a problem, one that certain powers that be have noted as rumors become verified facts from agents in the field. Wels population in the region is unprecedented.
        But direct, cleansing action is at this time inadvisable, lest they invite interest from... well, 'certain other powers that be'.
        So some other people were contacted. Strings were pulled, and so on down the chains of command.
        They're hiring Drifters to handle this.

        TODAY

        And in charge of managing the Drifters, while also performing the infinitely valuable task of observation of proceedures and the individuals involved, has as usual been handed down to medical officer, Second Lieutenant Loren Voss. Since he was on the previous investigation team. Or at least, that was their excuse.

        As usual, he has assumed the persona of completely normal medical student-turned-Drifter Thomas Blackwell, here along with the group that is, according to the job posting Granas posted, here to escort and assist members of the Granas Church to cleanse an infested village of Reapers. It's paid, too, so there's something for everyone.

        "According to the map, this is it." the bespectacled medical student says, squinting at the paper he holds as if to examine it closely in contrast with the town before them, "...Though I don't think it's needed." Offhandedly, he folds the paper in two. Technically, he didn't even need that map, but. Appearances count.
        This is a town that's seen better days. To put it mildly. The extent of the infestation is plain -- perhaps here some of the townsfolk attempted to hold back the scourge and built an extensive barricade, fought back against the Reapers. Indeed, some of the fallen bodies of the monsters remain scattered about, only adding to the barrier to entry.

        Something howls, inhumanely, in the distance.

        "Guess we've got a welcome party on the way," 'Thomas' comments, glancing once at one of the fallen Reapers before making a circuit around the body to -- with some apparent difficulty -- attempt to move one of the boxes out of the way. "I doubt we have time to go around. Unless anyone has any brilliant ideas?"

DG: Loren Voss has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Broken Barricade.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

The call had gone out. For some, it was too dangerous to go out there and confront the Reapers. Or the Wels, one supposes.

For others, money was too critical too pass up.

Leaning in to squint at Thomas's map, Neriah Parringer taps a finger against the point of her chin. "That's the town? It didn't look like much from far off," she muses, glancing up at him and considering how he carries himself.

She's no longer sure he's a medical student. The way he carries himself is too calm, and most medical students are rich enough that they don't need to drift. But she keeps that to herself, just stepping back and fussing with the hem of the thightop-length red tunic she's wearing, along with high boots, her gloves and a pair of shorts. She's without her hat today. It'd just fall off in the event of a fight.

As they move forward, the barricade comes into view. The young woman rests a hand at her hip, pressing her lips together as she takes in the composition of the thing - where the foundations are, how the elements of it fit together.

Where the bodies have fallen. They're scarcely human, those bodies, twisted beyond human imagining.

Not beyond Neriah's. She peers at one of them but doesn't seem all that upset or rattled by the sight, nor by the howls behind the group. "Brilliant ideas? We could always sacrifice someone to Ge Ramtos and see if it helps," she suggests with a shrug as she unslings a shovel from over her shoulder and sets to work attacking the barricade with it, prying out one of the roots of the structure. "Unless we keep the hole small enough that we can plug this thing up and block the dinner guests coming up from behind us."

Neriah looks up. "Otherwise they might bite our legs off."

DG: Neriah Parringer has used her Tool Trusty Shovel toward her party's challenge, Broken Barricade.
<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

And of course Rosaline would answer the call. It's her job, and besides, it's the right thing to do.

This is her second battle through a Reaper-infested frontier town. It likely won't be the last, at the rate things seem to be going. The last one was horror show, but the group ended up prevailing with no casualties. The Etone-in-training has been praying for things to go this smoothly (relatively speaking) once more.

Rosaline has been quiet but very courteous as the group came together and made its way to the (former) town. She introduced herself to their party leader and to Neriah (who is probably nothing to worry about(?)) as Rosaline Calice, Etone-in-Training.

She tried her best to sound confident saying it, but the 'in-Training' part is still dangling there, an unfortunate reminder of her inexperience. And yet, it would be lying to simply leave it out.

The presence of a few familiar faces is reassuring, in a way, in that Rosaline won't have to add social anxiety to the piles of reasons to be nervous about fighting a horde of ravenous cronenbergs. Seeing Fei and Elly as part of the party is a bit of a surprise, though not an unwelcome one. If they have a relation to the Church, it's news to her.

She silently leaned in to look at the map, making for a grisly comparison to the actual article before them now. "This is horrible..." she says, in one last moment of vulnerability before she takes a deep, shaky breath and steels herself for the task ahead.

"I have blessed TNT," she says, matter-of-factly, regarding the barricade ahead. "Normally I would worry about the noise, but since we've been spotted already..." She pulls a stick of the explosive out of her satchel bag, lights it and places it at what seems like a convenient spot.

"It's harmless to most people and monsters, so you don't need to clear out, but we also won't be able to use it as a weapon anyway," she explains, for those unfamiliar with obscure symbological explosive-blessing techniques.

DG: Rosaline Calice has used her Tool Holy TNT toward her party's challenge, Broken Barricade.
<Pose Tracker> Elena has posed.

        This was Elena's second experience with Wels, and if it was up to her she'd rather it be the last. Or not happening at all. Sadly, neither will be the case today, and it's not likely to be in the future either. Such is harsh fate.

        Or maybe it's all another of Granas' tests, in which case it's perfectly fine and you heard no inner monologing complaining about this whatsoever.

        Dressed in her usual sisterly robes, carrying an ornate metal rod that could be either a mace or a scepter depending on how you hold it (she's holding it like a scepter, though), and looking as uneasy as she looks out of place, the Songstress Elena can be found arriving amongst those deployed by the Church itself, no doubt here to provide healing and care for the injured, and just a little bit more firepower if she can.

        At the sight of the corpse pile, Elena frowns, reaching into her dress for her Mana Egg and beginning to chant a short prayer. The air chills around her, and with her scepter she directs the egg's flow of bright icy blue magic towards the pile of bodies. The blast of cold will freeze the bodies solid, and hopefully make them easier to break. But as for stopping potential pursuers...

        "Miss Everstead said that these beasts are attracted by noise. If we bury explosives here after passing through, the detonation when more Wels arrive will attract them back here, and we should be safely ahead by the time that happens."

        Maybe. Maybe not.
        But she has explosives and will comply if people think this is a good idea.

DG: Elena has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Broken Barricade.
<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

"That's a clever idea," Rosaline tells Elena, just after having set a stick of lit dynamite on the ground. "This could draw them back here after, um..." She gestures to her own lit explosive, which she may have JUMPED THE GUN A BIT with.

<Pose Tracker> Amelia Theodore has posed.

        Of those sent by the church of Granas, Amelia Theodore is dressed in garb more fitting of a knight than the priest she is. Duty simply says she pick up a blade, and here she is, following that duty in the role of a Cathedral Knight.
        Internally her thoughts are focused on intense mental and spiritual preparation, the older woman keeping her breath slow and calm as she runs through the checklist of points she has learned thus far of Wels.
        They eat flesh, human or otherwise. They may have once been people, now turned into ghastly abominations. Well trained and prepared Etones have died hunting them in the past.
        All in all, for a foe she has never personally faced before, she at least did her homework. She takes a moment to stand by Thomas Blackwell, like Neriah, looking to get her eye on the map and commit as much of it to memory as she can before even considering the barricade.
        "Mn." It is the howl that says there's no more time for last second preparation, this test of faith and fortitude has now begun.
        "Let's get on with this, then." The older woman murmurs, slinging her shield to her arm. "God be with us all." Murmured in a brief prayer for protection and deliverance for the gathered, when she gets an eye at the felled corpses.
        While Rosaline turns to explosives and Elena suggests even more diversionary explosives, 'Thomas' and Neriah are given simple greeting before they are joined in the physical drudge work, as the priest knight hoists her shield, and with a grunt, heaves her armored weight into the act of pushing, battering, and slamming debris and blockage aside.

DG: Amelia Theodore has used her Tool Confessional Wall toward her party's challenge, Broken Barricade.
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei Fong Wong is naturally eager to help battle back the Wels population. He had a pretty good run of it earlier and they were able to stem the flow in one town, but it seems like when you knock one head down, several more rise up.

WELS HYDRA!

Still, Fei fong Wong doesn't mind working with Granas on this evne if, from what he could tell, a lot of them were pretty preachy which is why he specifically tried to get Rosaline on the job who seems a cat above the rest. Elena is also, well, okay, Fei LIKES Elena just fine but you gotta admit she's probably going to talk a lot about how great her religion is. So far that hasn't happened though, so Fei is feeling a little chill about gabbing with her right now.

The last thing Fei wants to do is bring Elly to a zombie infested hovel but her capacity for explosions will probably be neccessary. He still looks pretty worried.

"Oh!" He says. "Rosaline. You made it, that's great. I was hoping the Ethos could come along and help here. I guess you got the message! It's surprisingly hard to find you."

He laughs awkwardly at Blessed TNT but can supply kamehameha waves if that's not enough.

"Sorry, I don't know you--" Fei says, looking to THOMAS BLACKWELL who is obviously not the guy Elly mentioned giving her a hard time. "Name's Fei. Fei Fong Wong." There's inhuman howling. "But uh I guess we don't have much time to chat!"

DG: Fei Fong Wong has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Broken Barricade.
<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

 
If it was all up to her, Elly would just ditch out on this entire Reaper thing, because she had to stand in hip-deep water that was just SOAKING in -Wels- goo for, like, five minutes. But duty calls, and she cannot ignore its summons.

She can, however, show up with backup. In this case: FEI!

Elly has two new wooden bracelets on her left arm, bearing fanciful characters carved in and a varnish/stain on the wood itself that complements her hair. "Oh - this is Thomas, we've um, worked, together," Elly begins to say, before - phew - zomboids.

"Please don't - don't joke about that kind of thing," she says to Neriah, even as she reaches into her travel purse and pulls out a glass vial. As she loosens the top, she explains, "I don't have many of these, but -"

She hurls it off in an alternative direction. There is a faint stink like rotten meat in the air. No, not rot: Ripe.

"I think they can help draw away the Reapers," Elly explains.

Where did Elly get zombie bait juice, anyway? Don't ask such questions, Sam!

DG: Elhaym van Houten has used her Tool Spy Purse toward her party's challenge, Broken Barricade.
=========================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>==========================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Broken Barricade *>=======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The front of the town shows signs of a struggle. There are wagons and boxes   
 piled up in what appears to be a makeshift barricade, and there are signs of  
 struggle and fighting all about the area. There are no people left around,    
 but strange and inhuman corpses are blocking he way into the town. They need  
 to be cleared out of the way - and strange sounds coming from behind you      
 mean that there might be more of the creatures on the way.                    
=Dungeon Conditions: Overzealous==============================================
====================<* Abandoned Frontier Town - Round 1 *>=====================
=========================< Results - Broken Barricade >=========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fei Fong Wong                       0 --(6)--> 6                   Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Elena                               0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rosaline Calice                     0 --(4)--> 4                   Pass
Holy TNT                            2   Brute   Effects: Strengthen           
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          0 --(7)--> 7                   Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Neriah Parringer                    0 --(3)--> 3                   Pass
Trusty Shovel                       2   Brute   Effects: Strengthen           
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Amelia Theodore                     0 --(4)--> 4                   Pass
Confessional Wall                   1   Brute   Effects: Cleanse              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Elhaym van Houten                   0 --(3)--> 3                   Fail
Spy Purse                           1   Brute   Effects: Cleanse              
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Overzealous(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Strengthen(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss 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> Loren Voss has posed.

        There are a few familiar faces here, aren't there.

        'Thomas' bristles, as if irritated.
        "Stop reading over my shoulder," he says, a touch flatly, as Neriah -- and Amelia -- lean in to look. "Here. Just take it." Shortly after folding it in half -- the way you really shouldn't, with maps -- he thrusts the folded sheet Neriah's way.

        ...Really? Explosives? Human sacrifice?

        Thus run Loren's approximate thoughts, the gist of which might already be apparent from the look in his eyes. "Let's not," he says, a response that could be contextual for either plan, except...

        ...

        Well, he admits to himself grudgingly, they do have a point.

        He sighs. Shrugs. "...Fine, it might be worth a try. We'd better move quickly before they come here. How quickly can you run?" He pauses, as if sizing them all up. "I've heard they're quite fast." He knows they're quite fast.

        And then--
        Oh no, it's him. The pilot. He trades a glance towards Elly before focusing on Fei, greeting him quite pleasantly indeed. "Thomas Blackwell, formerly of Bledavik. I've met your, ah, friend before. But you're right. We won't have time to chat."

        They'll want to get moving very, very quickly once the first detonation is timed to go off.

        Whether shoved aside -- by shield, fist, and shovel alike -- or blown out of the way, or whether detonations timed to draw in the Wels and further distraction/possible future detonation of distracted Wels made possible by the planting of a very foul-smelling liquid -- the barricade is breached and a trap is set.

        Loren even almost manages to -- at least to go by appearances on his efforts here -- almost get the crate he was shifting out of the way.

        "Now, run! They'll be coming!"

DG: Elena has drawn a new Challenge.
==========================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>===========================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Collapsing Wall *>=========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 A sudden scream cuts through the air, but it is muffled. The reason for the   
 muffling comes a moment later, as the wall of a building that the party is    
 passing next to suddenly is ripped off of its building and collapses down     
 onto the party! It's impossible to see what the Reaper (or Reapers) that      
 have accomplished such a feat look like because they are on top of the wall,  
 tearing as it as they try to get at the party members below. Lift! Lift with  
 all your might!                                                               
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Elena has posed.

        "Mister Fei!" Elena greets, not having caught Fei's last name until he actually said it just then. "It is good to see you again! How have you been?" Last time she met him he was still struggling with significant amounts of self-blame, so she's curious to know how he's been. Oh and the Grahf encounter. That was, also, a thing. A very painful thing.

        No, though, she will not be lecturing you about Granas today. For all she knows, everyone present is in one way or another a believer, and she has no one to yell at. Therefore, no one to lecture.

        Yet. That could change.

        After confering with Rosaline (and anyone else who pitches in to rig some mines behind the party), Elena and the others regroup and finally get back on track. They travel, as quickly as their feet let them, through the front of the town, passing house after house, buildings covered in dust, blood, debris, corpses or all four - those that are even still standing to begin with.

        Then, far behind the group, explosives go off.

        ... maybe too many explosives.

        Perhaps the area wasn't stable to begin with, or the state of the buildings is that pitiable, but the shockwave from the various bombs (holy or otherwise) that were left behind causes a number of larger houses to begin quaking, rumbling - and collapsing, all around the party.

        "I did not think we left that many bombs behind!" Elena whines, because seemingly they should have doublechecked that they left 'enough to kill some Wels' behind and not, apparently, 'enough to shake the entire town'. Now to be fair, it's not their fault the buildings are so close to collapsing that the slightest harsh wind or shockwave will do it.

        Either way, at least you know the Wels behind you are in many, many pieces now. In fact there's a few of those pieces falling right now! That's an arm, and a leg, and that's a head, and another head...

        Elena reaches into her dress to retrieve some LESSER explosives, not reaching for her Impact Bombs immediatly after that last hiccup. She hurls them towards one of the collapsing buildings, hoping the explosion makes everything scatter rather than fall straight for them.

DG: Elena has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Collapsing Wall.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Neriah was very nice to Rosaline and introduced herself to those she doesn't know in return. She even made a few dry jokes on the way over. In return, Thomas gets irritated with her and shoves the map at her. She lowers her eyelids and takes it.

"Uh? Okay, sure," she says with a blink back at Elly, though from the tiny frown she wears with it, it's clear she doesn't quite get what the problem is.

(This is always how it goes,) a part of her mind reminds her as she works at the barricade. (If they don't fear me, they hate me.)

Rosaline sets off the Blessed TNT. The edges of the explosion lick at Neriah.

She winces visibly and sucks in her breath. Her right hand tightens around her shovel. Then it passes, and she breathes a little easier, her shoulders settling. Shovel hanging from her left hand, she begins to move after Elena, watching the priestess for a moment.

The sound of explosives leaves her drawing to a halt. "...I don't think we did, either," she murmurs - and then the walls begin to crumble. Houses give way, chunks of masonry falling into the path, showering down around the group. With a gasp, Neriah jumps backwards, narrowly avoiding a brick hitting her in the head. "How do Reapers even know what bombs are!" she shouts irrationally as she jumps away from another chunk of tumbling wall. A piece of dismembered Wels lands near her feet; she kicks it away even as more of a wall crumbles in front of her.

With a deep scowl, Neriah grips her shovel and sets to work on the heap. The shovel at least gives her some leverage. She begins to brusquely shove bricks out of the way of the group with it, digging the spade blade beneath them and toppling heaps of masonry to the left and to the right of her before jumping forward to try and knock down a few more piles.

DG: Neriah Parringer has used her Tool Trusty Shovel toward her party's challenge, Collapsing Wall.
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

"Hey Elena," Fei says, and then after some thought adds, "You sure have a lot of bombs."

Fei is completely oblivious to Thomas Blackwell's concern. Fei could certainly get eaten by zombies which would probably solve a lot of Gebler problems wouldn't it? Or he will become zombie fei and that would probably not be great. Anywho! Fei does have to wonder if Elly means like 'WORKED' work or like OFFICER OF GEBLER worked. Or geeze, maybe he's even part of the arsonist gang. Maybe Thomas Blackwell is an arsonist! Or maybe this guy is just some other drifter, but the way Elly says 'worked' makes him kind of wonder. It's not particularly relevant at the moment, but he does resolve to be cautious just in case until she can confirm it one way or another. Though should he even ask? He doesn't really want to put pressure on her regarding her former(?) comrades.

He does give Neriah a small wave with a hand but--no time to really talk. Especially since that dark sensation--he's learned a bit more about spooky darkness goop infiltrating a person's essence or whatever lately, and it was noooothing good. Hopefully it's not the same kind of darkness goop infiltrating a person's essence.

Anyway, Fei lifts his hands up suddenly as a piece of building collapses towards Elly and him. He tries to hold it up to give his comrade a chance... to abscond!

"Guh!" He says. It's like he's Sabin all of a sudden.

DG: Fei Fong Wong has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Collapsing Wall.
<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

"Yes, thank you. If you want to talk to me in the future, I've been staying at the Church of Saint Neil," Rosaline tells Fei. She does stand out for a lot of reasons, but then she'a also often making conscious efforts not to do so. Staying indoors for extended amounts of time is her best special technique yet!

What Rosaline doesn't mention is that this particular church has Elena on the random encounter table, and so Fei might get gabbed at about religion anyway.

She looks impressed by Elly's good thinking. Where DID she get zombie bait juice, anyway? She doesn't know Elly that well-- They're only part of the same baking club. But then, right now the main worry is that THEY do not turn into zombie bait.

"I can run... pretty fast," Rosaline states, almost confident.

And a moment later, after the first detonation, she takes off and DASHES. She is good at understating things.

It's good that they're running, too, because the scenery just does not make her want to stick around. And then, a moment later, come the explosions... The many... explosions...

She exchanges a look with Elena, clamping her large gloved hands over the lower half of her face. Oh no. Oh no!!

Walls are collapsing. Bits of Wels are flying around. Things are literally falling apart around them, and it's her fault. Rosaline watches the wall falling towards them. What can they do? This is clearly not something that more explosives can fix!

A disembodied Reaper's leg flies towards her, and ends up in her arms. Instead of shrieking and looking away in disgust, she just stares at it, for what feels like an eternity...

"BOMBS AWAY, **** ****ERS!" the beastwoman roars out, in a complete 180 from her usual personality, as she lobs another stick of holy TNT at the collapsing building.

"I'M GONNA KILL YOU!" she then announces, unholstering her twin SMG ARMs and opening fire on the brick and mortar while shrieking like a banshee.

Um.

DG: Rosaline Calice has used her Tool Holy TNT toward her party's challenge, Collapsing Wall.
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei stares at Rosaline.

Holy shit!!

Why isn't she like this all the time???

Fei's mouth hangs open.

<Pose Tracker> Amelia Theodore has posed.

        Amelia lets Neriah have the map, opting to try and not further be a bother to an apparently irritable med student. Somewhere along the way in the act of box pushing puzzles with Neriah, Elhaym and Fei at least get a greeting from the priest as well.
        With the barricade handled and the foray into the town begins in earnest, Amelia... Raises her shield, a few nasty bits splattering on it as the explosives left behind end up being a little too effective, a few disconcerting thunk-thunk-splats stopped just above her head by the heavy shield. "I'm beginning to think your fixation with explosives is a touch... Concerning, Sister Elena."
        When it comes to explosves, blaming Elena is easy, she has learned. But as Amelia voices this mild concern, the effects of all that shock, pressure, and force bring about a much more disastrous result as the derelict buildings begin to show their lack of maintenance.
        Amelia does not dodge, she does not leap away. Once more she braces her shield, her free hand now joining to keep it steady as she lunges herself toward the falling wall, heedless of yet more explosives.
        There's another grunt. And then Amelia is straining against gravity, gritting her teeth. As she simply intends to hold up a huge section of the wall through sheer stubbornness, until the explosives break it down.

DG: Amelia Theodore has used her Tool Confessional Wall toward her party's challenge, Collapsing Wall.
==========================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>===========================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Collapsing Wall *>=========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 A sudden scream cuts through the air, but it is muffled. The reason for the   
 muffling comes a moment later, as the wall of a building that the party is    
 passing next to suddenly is ripped off of its building and collapses down     
 onto the party! It's impossible to see what the Reaper (or Reapers) that      
 have accomplished such a feat look like because they are on top of the wall,  
 tearing as it as they try to get at the party members below. Lift! Lift with  
 all your might!                                                               
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

 
Oh, Fei knows many of them! That's not too surprising to Elly, though she feels a peculiar frisson at the thought. She only knows Thomas after all. More or less. Kind of. In a way. And Rosaline, of course, her sister in carbohydrates. As she keeps on moving, she runs - of course she does -

and there go the bombs

"H-how many explosives does Granas usually bring along!" Elly laughs nervously. Then a BUILDING CHUNK falls down, and Elly immediately shrieks, "FEI!"

And then she contributes by producing a stout pillar of ice out of freaking nowhere, one that is approximately Fei-esque in height and girth if without some of Fei's charm points like the ahoge and the abdominal definition. She pushes it forwards to perhaps help prop it up, telling him with urgency, "We can't stay here -"

Rosaline rages out.

"She wasn't like that when we went to the dessert buffet, I can tell you that much," Elly tells Fei, sharing, perhaps, his gawk moment.

DG: Elhaym van Houten has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Collapsing Wall.
==========================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>===========================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Collapsing Wall *>=========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 A sudden scream cuts through the air, but it is muffled. The reason for the   
 muffling comes a moment later, as the wall of a building that the party is    
 passing next to suddenly is ripped off of its building and collapses down     
 onto the party! It's impossible to see what the Reaper (or Reapers) that      
 have accomplished such a feat look like because they are on top of the wall,  
 tearing as it as they try to get at the party members below. Lift! Lift with  
 all your might!                                                               
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

        Loren runs, intent to put as much distance between him and the explosions as possible. One of the things they do teach, in a manner of speaking, in Jugend is one very basic lesson:
        Never look back at the explosion.

        Explosions.

        ...Lots of explosions.

        "How many did you set--" he shouts back, as the ground pitches and lurches beneath his feet in far too vivid detail for someone with a specialty in earth (well, healing, but earth) ether, as buildings crumble and bricks are thrown in far far too many directions.
        Oh, and pieces of Wels, too. In fact, there's a head. That's... nice.

        Here is where he would have normally gone for his shield or dredged up some earth to make a shield as the wall falls in. You know, just as a capstone to everything going perfectly wrong. But he can't do that so overtly, not here, not in front of all of them. Even if his cover story would handle even that neatly. So instead--

        He's ended up near to Amelia as it happens, buckling under the weight of the wall that's threatening to crush them both. And he glances sidelong as more explosives are thrown into the fray. "Are you... seriously..." he breathes out, just at about the same time that Amelia also questions Elena's choice of actions.

        Emperor, Loren swears to himself silently.

        A thought that is only deeply underlined in red pen once Rosaline loses her damn mind and hurls more explosives while using horrible language choices.

        "Are they... normally..." he breathes out, before inserting his own subtle etheric vibrational distortion into the wall they're currently shouldering, hopefully enough to allow it to crumble harmlessly around them rather than crush them. It means his gaze is briefly unfocused.
        "...Like that," 'Thomas' finishes, a moment later.

DG: Loren Voss has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Collapsing Wall.
==========================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>===========================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Collapsing Wall *>=========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 A sudden scream cuts through the air, but it is muffled. The reason for the   
 muffling comes a moment later, as the wall of a building that the party is    
 passing next to suddenly is ripped off of its building and collapses down     
 onto the party! It's impossible to see what the Reaper (or Reapers) that      
 have accomplished such a feat look like because they are on top of the wall,  
 tearing as it as they try to get at the party members below. Lift! Lift with  
 all your might!                                                               
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken===================================================
=====================<* Abandoned Frontier Town - Round 2 *>======================
==========================< Results - Collapsing Wall >===========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fei Fong Wong                       6 --(7)--> 13                  Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Elena                               5 --(4)--> 9                   Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rosaline Calice                     4 --(3)--> 7                   Pass
Holy TNT                            2   Brute   Effects: Strengthen           
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          7 --(4)--> 11                  Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Neriah Parringer                    3 --(5)--> 8                   Fail
Trusty Shovel                       2   Brute   Effects: Strengthen           
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Amelia Theodore                     4 --(4)--> 8                   Pass
Confessional Wall                   1   Brute   Effects: Cleanse              
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Elhaym van Houten                   3 --(3)--> 6                   Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------< Party >-------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  20 --(20)--> 40                Pass
Conditions: Overzealous(1)|Weaken(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Strengthen(1)
================================< Dream Chasers >=================================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss 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.
DG: Fei Fong Wong 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> Elena has posed.

        "It is a standard tool of the clergy!" Elena answers Fei and Elly, because it technically kind of is. "It is no different from how Drifters rely on those noisy hand-held guns. They are an ideal tool for those of us with lesser bodies!" If you can't lift something or push someone, blow it or them up. Technically she's not wrong. "They are also very easy to conceal. For example, did you know those red orbs on and hanging from my dress are also explosives? If I were to be captured, it is unlikely someone would think to strip me of my dress, and they would assume they are but decorative ornaments!" That one actually makes sense.

        Also, it's not safe.

        To Amelia her answer is more defensive. "I do not! They were merely useful and apply to many situations!" She could stop anytime, honest.

        It's when Rosaline rages out that Elena kind of stops to stare. "S-Sister Calice, please watch your language! We must remain examples for people to follow, even on a mission such as this!" THAT'S what concerns her the most? Priorities, man.

        It seems that questionable behavior from the clergy aside, they can actually deliver on the field. Explosions rock the incoming chunks of buildings and break them into tinier, more manageable chunks, easier to dodge, easier to tank. Amelia shields the party as best she can, which is very, very well, and Elly's pillar of ice gives that much more room to maneuver as it prevents a considerable amount of debris from reaching the party.

        Fei tackles more than he can chew, but not by much - his goal was to buy the party some time, and he did just that, even if his arms might hurt now. Loren and Neriah have a bit less success, but owing largely to the sheer quantity explosives being thrown around making it harder for them to aim or use that shovel effectively.

        It's fine, though. Everyone makes it out.

        And there are no more crumbling buildings.

        The best part is that between the explosives and the collapsing houses, there may not be any Wels left in the immediate area - but the background moans, screams and wails haven't stopped, and they probably never will.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei Fong Wong says, "We probably should save some of our explosives," still staring at Rosaline. "Last time we had to collapse a cave and it wasn't that easy. Without Xantia, I don't think we would've managed it."

His arms are hurting but he sees a water tower before them. He glances to Elena and says, "I uh--wasn't trying to comment on your bodies or anything. I'm sure everybody's ... bodies ... are fine."

His arms are achign from trying to hold that piece of wall up but thankfully Elly was able to take over from him. He makes his way forward and sees-- "Oh hey!" He points to a

A water tower.

"We could go up there and see where the source of the infestation is, figure out to really put a crimp on their movements." He jogs forward towards the water tower and draws out a pair of paint scrapers from his artist's toolkit okay we're getting pretty atypical here but he stabs them into the side of the tower base and uses them to climb up. Somehow these things can support his weight??

Lambs, you know?

"So uh." He says while they have some time without being attacked by zombies. "You know, thinking about it... I guess everybody has a bit of a 'dark side' to them if you really think about it." Fei asides to Elly, thinking about Rosaline. "And I guess it doesn't usually come out during--uh--desert buffets but wouldn't that be something?" He glances back and asks of Elly, "How do you know Thomas?"

DG: Fei Fong Wong has used his Tool Artist's Toolkit toward his party's challenge, Safe Haven.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Fei's presence wasn't lost on Neriah, she just had a lot on her mind! In between shoveling bricks, she manages to call out, "Fei, don't die, okay?!"

She keeps on shoveling bricks - but as Rosaline suddenly explodes and starts screaming and throwing more TNT. Neriah absolutely stops. She stares at the Beastwoman in utter disbelief.

"What in the blue fuck," she says with a rapid blink. With all those bombs flying around, there's no way in hell she's going to be able to accomplish anything constructive. She grumbles and just starts whacking individual bricks out of the way as she scrambles onward.

By the time she catches up with Fei, he's already halfway to the water tower. Breathing heavily, Neriah scrambles after him, awkwardly fishing out a multi-lensed eyepiece and holding it up - on the lowest setting.

"I don't think any of them are up there!" she calls out as she breaks into a sprint. She crams her lens back into her pack as she dashes for one of the legs of the water tower. She doesn't bother taking her time. She can't. Things are moaning and screaming all around her, and while she's used to that, this time she can't make it go away by waking up. Scrambling up the side of the tower, she boosts herself up as fast as she humanly can.

Once she's reached a convenient outcropping, she flops down to catch her breath, wiping her forehead with a swipe of her arm.

"Phew... hi Fei," she says with a wan smile for him. "Everyone does have a dark side. It's just a matter of being aware of it, right?"

DG: Neriah Parringer has used her Tool Excavator's Lens toward her party's challenge, Safe Haven.
<Pose Tracker> Elena has posed.

        "T-That is absurd! I do not have a dark side!" Elena protests to Fei and Neriah, because they have, unfortunately, triggered lecture mode. "It is not Granas' will for us to dabble with the darkness! We must stand in his Light and allow it to purify us, we must be without sin or secrecy for those are what Valmar preys on."

        Of course, she immediatly catches herself. "... but, Mister Fei, I do not believe your own tale is one of evil and sin. It does not sound you intentionally harbor the dark side you speak of, and you do not wish it to harm others. Such a thing then cannot be blamed on you, because you do not have control of it. Because you reject evil when it attempts to corrupt you, like when that Seeker of Power appeared before you!"

        Well, points for trying.

        Where Fei uses an unconventional method of climbing, Elena just... looks for a ladder. And climbs the ladder. Water towers usually have ladders, after all.

DG: Elena has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Safe Haven.
<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

 
Elly's cheeks color slightly at what Fei says. It is enough that when Fei indicates somewhere to go she doesn't really look, exactly, in the direction they're going. The still-rolling eyes of a severed Reaper head rolling off a rooftop and near her feet doesn't help, although she gives it a pretty creditable kick.

The explanations about bodies and religious faith don't register for her. It's kind of a fugue situation. She climbs up, and she reaches a key spot, and then she suddenly grasps onto Fei's waist with the tightness of a drowning woman clinging to a piece of floating garbage, and she doesn't answer his question right away.

Fei has seen Elly badly beaten (thanks, Corwynt) but he has probably not seen her this momentarily terrified and shaken. At least, not lately.

But she breathes out for a moment, because, she tells herself, it's not... it's not...

"Uhm," she answers Fei, blinking a couple of times and saying, "Who? Oh - um -" Blinking a few times, she says, "I don't know, about dark sides or anything like that... See, the sister agrees."

Elly's voice lowers as she tells Fei, "We can't go inside this tower. It's a horrible place. ... Was that the thing at the tournament after I left, that she's talking about...?"

DG: Elhaym van Houten has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Safe Haven.
<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

Rosaline doesn't acknowledge Elena's plea to watch her language because she's too busy wasting bullets on a crumbling wall. Luckily, she doesn't cuss any further, merely roaring incoherently as debris falls all around her.

A moment later, Rosaline is coughing as the dust clears. "Is everyone all right...?" she asks, as if she hadn't just... done whatever it is that she just did. She's back to a demeanor that would at least be appropriate in a dessert buffet.

She follows Fei to the safe spot he found. "That's a great idea, Fei. Just don't lower your guard, everyone. They might be lurking where you don't expect it."

She doesn't need help climbing up the tower, nimbly grabbing the nearest leg of the structure and parkouring up as if it weren't even a thing. Her tail follows her every movement as she does so, gracefully.

Once up there, she sits and pulls out her edition of the Word of Granas. She opens it to a random page, starting to read from it quietly. She was talking about not lowering one's guard earlier, but her frayed nerves really deserve to be soothed for a moment, by taking in the comforting words of the holy text. This passage, for instance, describes Valmar and his depraved ways--

WARNING: MAY BE EROTIC FOR CHILD

Rosaline slams the book shut, blushing. "Why is everyone talking about dark sides?" she asks, turning, in a soft but earnest voice.

DG: Rosaline Calice has used her Tool Extreme Teen Bible toward her party's challenge, Safe Haven.
<Pose Tracker> Amelia Theodore has posed.

        That happened. A lot of that happened. Though Amelia grits her teeth as the wall is broken down into a more manageable segment for her and 'Thomas' to hold up, one good shove is all it takes to render the threat a threat no more. The older woman drags down a deep gulp of air, before letting it out slowly as her body has a brief moment of rebellion.
        "Sister Elena is... Very enthusiastic." She answers Loren diplomatically. Her eye glances back over her shoulder for Rosaline though.
        That was an explosion of an entirely different nature. Though Elena is chastising already, the Knight-Priest purses her lips, the moment sinking in and leaving her silently stunned and staring for a long series of heartbeats. "I can't rightly speak on that." She eventually answers honestly.
        The lull may be a brief one, but it is a welcome one as she takes the time to catch her breath. But the grim ambience of Wels calling for her blood and the blood of everyone around her in a colorfully bloody and macabre orchestra of bestial voices, Amelia can see a fine opportunity to exercise discretion over valor as others begin to seek the water tower as a means of bried respite.
        A hand sets on Rosaline's shoulder as the beastman pulls out her holy text. Amelia begins to recite with her from memory.
        Just to sooth the nerves. Rosaline's, her own as well as any anyone else that might care to listen
        And maybe try and pray the dark side away.

DG: Amelia Theodore has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Safe Haven.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

        "I can see that," he says, his tone rather flatly sarcastic.

        It's a little hard to focus appropriately. The wall remains insufficiently weakened. Which means that he at least will have to do it the old-fashioned way and put his back into it.

        But at least they don't get crushed, either. Even he has to acknowledge some sort of success sometimes, however it's delivered.

        For now, at least, the town is still, though hardly quiet. "They'll be coming soon," he comments, glancing this way and that down what used to be a bustling city lane. The Wels trapped under the masonry alone would be enough, if it weren't for the several loud explosions touched off at various points. "We should find a--"

        Vantage point, he had been about to say. Fei points at the water tower.
        Oh, good.
        He hesitates. Is it still full of bloated Wels? Or is it possible the infestation cleared out of the tank, at least?
        But it's either here or try to clamber up onto the roof. Neither's very appealing, honestly.

        Pausing just long enough to -- by all appearances -- readjust his glasses and glance up at the tower, 'Thomas' once again exhales a breath.

        "That part's damaged." Because they damaged it last time, and it's clearly still sort of dented. "We'll be able to get in through there." He's not seeing any signs that the tower is still, well, infested but they'll only really know once they get up.

        "Hmm. Maybe," he allows, at Fei's rumination on the darkness that dwells in the hearts of all people as he joins Elena in her quest for a ladder, before glancing over at Elly, who is apparently having a Moment.

        Is this where she finally snaps and blows all of them up?
        Well, he supposes darkly, at least he won't die alone.

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Etheric Lenses toward his 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 3 *>====================
===========================< Results - Safe Haven >===========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fei Fong Wong                       13 --(5)--> 18                 Pass
Artist's Toolkit                    2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Elena                               9 --(6)--> 15                  Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rosaline Calice                     7 --(3)--> 10                  Pass
Extreme Teen Bible                  3   Wits    Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          11 --(3)--> 14                 Pass
Etheric Lenses                      2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Neriah Parringer                    8 --(4)--> 12                  Pass
Excavator's Lens                    2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Amelia Theodore                     8 --(5)--> 13                  Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Elhaym van Houten                   6 --(7)--> 13                  Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  40 --(20)--> 60                Pass
Conditions: Save Point(1)
Effects: Enlighten(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss 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.
DG: Rosaline Calice has drawn a new Challenge.
=========================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>==========================
===================<* CHALLENGE - Good Thing They're Slow *>====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Reapers are not known for being lightning quick most of the time, and it      
 seems this group is no exception. What they are is tenacious, and they        
 continue to pursue the party with a dogged relentlessness that will lead to   
 trouble sooner or later. Most likely later. The group needs to find a way to  
 shake them off before they can continue their investigation.                  
=Dungeon Conditions: Tire=====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei stops climbing as Elly speaks up. She looks SCARED. Fei can't ignore pure terror, you know. It's just not his style! And she does seem really REALLY worried. He can't keep moving, though, because he's hanging off the tower and--getting grabbed along the waist by the strength of a drowning woman which---how strong is that exactly? Either way, Fei kind of freezes, because well--

Elly is holding onto him.

FEI BWUSHING 100

"Ah, um, well I guess we--uh--shouldn't...then?"

Meanwhile everybody else gets up with no problem! Hopefully there are no zombies up there! Hopefully Elly doesn't snap and murder Loren!!! One thing is clear though, Fei totally lost his train of thought.

<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

Rosaline is startled when she feels Amelia's hand on her shouler, but she relaxes when she sees it's a friend's reassuring gesture, rather than a Reaper trying to eat her arm. She opens her book again, this time finding a less ill-advised passage to read from.

It's a nice moment, an oasis amidst all this horror, but one that passes quickly. They can't stay up here forever.

This becomes abundantly clear, too, when the group hears a groan-like creaking sound coming from below. "We can't stay here," Rosaline says, likely as everyone else is coming to the same conclusion.

Getting back down goes without incident. If there are still Wels in the water tower, they're decent enough not to climb out, and if the structure is ready to collapse, it's decent enough to wait for them to have climbed back down and made it a safe distance away before doing so.

THEN, it collapses.

Reapers literally spill out of the broken water tower, towards the group. Evading them is easy enough, though the sight of the water-bloated, half-rotten creatures crawling towards them likely won't leave the group members' minds soon. Some of them, having possibly been trapped underwater for a few weeks now, have even taken on, through the Wels' grotesque transformative property, features reminiscent of deep-sea abyss fish.

Some might find this fascinating, but those gilled, mutant walking corpses also find the Drifter group fascinating, in their own way. And They aren't alone, either-- The water tower's collapse was deafening, and more noise means more Wels. They're coming from every direction, from alleys and windows, storefronts and stairways.

Rosaline is still fixated on her open book, reading the passage from earlier out loud. This has a purpose, however-- While she holds the book with one hand, she's clutching her Crest with the other, prayer doubling as incantation. She releases her necklace, now with a ball of flames in her hand, which she projects towards their pursuers.

It's very effective! And in fact spreads to a nearby wooden building, immediately starting to consume it. Oh no. Oh no! Well. Hopefully the scent of burnt meat might distract them.

DG: Rosaline Calice has used her Tool Extreme Teen Bible toward her party's challenge, Good Thing They're Slow.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"Yeah, but does anybody really never sin ever," Neriah asks Elena with a tilt of her head. "It's just not realistic. Even humans who aren't shitheads do things carelessly sometimes, or make mistakes. So is Granas gonna throw us all in the lake of screaming fire pitchforks or whatever because we're not perfect? See, that's kind of my problem with the whole churchy thing - the bar's set so high that all you ever end up doing is flagellating yourself. It's not healthy--"

She's getting so into her argument that she almost doesn't hear the tower creaking. Only when Rosaline speaks up does she snap her head over to the cat-eared Beastnun. "Huh?"

She blinks, quieting down and listening. A subtle creaking fills her ears.

"Crap," she says.

She scrambles back down, all thoughts of theological debate exiting her mind for now - and then the tower breaches, and bloated Reapers spill out after them. "Go figure, they frigging swam," Neriah growls, clenching her right hand. There's a subtle sense of something else that vibrates in the air around her - an unwholesome magic building.

But that's not going to solve anything. Her chest tightens as though to remind her that doing this will just hurt her and slow her down. The ugly sensation around her melts away. Instead she looks after Rosaline as she starts throwing fireballs, then sprints forward, ahead of the rest of the group, to clamber up onto what looks like it used to be a pole for a birdhouse but is now just a pole with a small metal crosspiece atop it. Unsteadily, she balances atop the post and pulls out her lens.

Normally it'd be more of a microscope-like tool, but she flicks all but one of the lenses back, squinting through it and trying to use it as more of a telescope. It actually works, but only because the narrative says it does.

"Turn that way!" she calls to the others. "There aren't as many Reapers over there!"

DG: Neriah Parringer has used her Tool Excavator's Lens toward her party's challenge, Good Thing They're Slow.
<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

 
Elly is not reassured at Rosaline's invocation of an increased spell DC and attack bonus, though perhaps she didn't read aloud the really juicy parts.

As she lets go of Fei, gradually, they can make their way down. Elly continues obstinately to not murder everyone with some kind of hell-zone grenade, final flash, edict of destruction, explosion finger, destructo disk, or kamehame-ha. It is taking some effort. She breathes out as they reach the ground -

And the water tower ruptures behind them.

"oh no," Elly gasps. "It's - it's really what I thought - WE HAVE TO RUN!!"

At least it means the water tower is no longer going to be a problem, right?

DG: Elhaym van Houten has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Good Thing They're Slow.
<Pose Tracker> Elena has posed.

        "That is... that is true, everyone does sin even unintionally, but there is a different between those sins and the sins of an evil man! Of course Lord Granas would not punish us for being human! But... but, if one cannot avoid sinning, then one must at least be willing to atone! We do not ask much of people, merely to avoid evil when they can, and to feel sorry and make amends when they cannot!" Elena answers Neriah, though she seems a bit put on the spot by the fact Neriah is right - to some extent.

        In other news, operation find a ladder ends up working.
        This is quickly followed by operation get off the water tower and then operation oh god they're disgusting what is this.

        They're not great operations.

        More than a little disgusted at the sight of those bloated and somehow running corpses, Elena hightails it to the best of her limited ability to run (which is, admittedly, not quite as bad as Amelia's), clenching her Mana Egg and planning to use it to give the group an edge.

        A pulse of wind sorcery flows out of Elena and into her shining blue gem of an egg, and then from there it pulses out like a blessing. "O winds, carry our feet to safety!" The sorcery does as she asks it. People find their feet a bit lighter, like running's gotten easier.

        "See, Sister Theodore?! I am capable of not using explosives to solve all of my problems!" Disclaimer: she thought about lobbing bombs behind them, though.

DG: Elena has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Good Thing They're Slow.
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

"Oh shit!" Fei says as the water tower DOES collapse and DOES have Wels in it. "How do they even get in there??" He asks. It's pretty horrifying and likely induces a FEI PSYCHO increase but the amount is secret because the day's not even over yet.

Instead he looks towards Elly and says, "I think. I think I have an idea. It might just work. I'll be right back!"

Fei takes out a paintbrush from his kit as well as a small tube of paint.

He paints a dotted arrow following after them as he hops back and away from the Wels and then--

--then he has the dotted arrow swerve into a large boulder that happens to be nearby, quickly painting a dark 'tunnel' inside of it.

"Okay, I have a very good feeling about this." He says as he jogs back to catch up with Elly, trying to look reassuring.

DG: Fei Fong Wong has used his Tool Artist's Toolkit toward his party's challenge, Good Thing They're Slow.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

        For a brief, brief moment, they get a good look at the town. Including the large building in the distance -- the water treatment plant -- with the hole in the wall where someone might have blown it up weeks ago, but that's just fine details. He wonders if they're even still inhabiting that place as a 'nest' of sorts.

        "It looks like there's more of them over there," he says, pointing off in the distance. "So the question is, is that somewhere we want to be, or somewhere to avoid?"

        The watertower shudders underneath. "But I'm not staying up here." He's got a very bad feeling about this, he thinks, as he climbs back down.

        And then the watertower decides that enough is enough and promptly explodes.
        Oh, so there were Wels in there. Wonderful, the pipes are probably still full of them too, then.
        Cat-like -- in the sense that things are definitely knocked over and there is probably some flailing -- Loren scrambles for higher ground. Which is, apparently, right up the side of a wall where he hangs off the edge as fell waters sweep past. He even lasts longer hanging like that than anyone would have reasonably expected, given his appearance and alleged background, before he's ultimately forced to let go and drop down onto the streets below.

        "Oh good," he comments, pushing his glasses up his nose and once again, invoking a small charge of ether to activate them. "They're still moving."

        Certain details 'pop' a little more readily like this. Including, as it happens -- though perhaps he would have picked up on it regardless -- a certain presence about Neriah. Great.
        Oh, and now the nearby buildings are on fire too. Good thing he let go when he did.

        He ends up pointing more or less the same direction Neriah does, as it happens. "There's a gap in the crowd that way. If we move quickly--"

        Or paint a 'tunnel', apparently. Loren's expression goes decidedly blank.

        ...You know what, he's just going to get going himself before the Wels catch up to them.

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Etheric Lenses toward his party's challenge, Good Thing They're Slow.
<Pose Tracker> Amelia Theodore has posed.

        Back down the water tower and no more breather. At least the Wels inside the tower were decent enough to not bust out until after the water tower collapsed.
        "It's not all about flagellation." She interjects between Elena and Neriah. "To be human is just that; imperfect. And that's what forgiveness is fo-... r..." She trails off.
        The horrorterrors from the deeps of the water tower now freed, Amelia- an aged and blooded veteran- is halted entirely, eye focused on the shambling, wet, things; bloated and slimy, her heart locking up in a quiet moment of complete quailing terror. The fight or flight gut instinct that kicks to life in the pit of her stomach agrees with Elhaym. Run. The logical and well trained part of her mind that clicks back online a second later when her hand accidentally brushes the ancient and battered book fastened to her belt returns an old memorized verse.
        'The Light will burn in our hearts and will not expire'.
        This memory soothes her back into thinking clearly. Clearly enough to grab a hunk of wood and use it as a torch, when Rosaline sets a building on fire, she lights it.
        "I never doubted your non-explosive skillset, Sister Elena." Murmured as she throws the lit stick at another building, in hopes of starting it up as well, in order to limit the paths and forcibly lead the Wels to...
        Fei's 'tunnel'.
        Anywhere is better than 'following us'.

DG: Amelia Theodore has used her Tool Holy Book of Granas toward her party's challenge, Good Thing They're Slow.
=========================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>==========================
===================<* CHALLENGE - Good Thing They're Slow *>====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Reapers are not known for being lightning quick most of the time, and it      
 seems this group is no exception. What they are is tenacious, and they        
 continue to pursue the party with a dogged relentlessness that will lead to   
 trouble sooner or later. Most likely later. The group needs to find a way to  
 shake them off before they can continue their investigation.                  
=Dungeon Conditions: Tire=====================================================
====================<* Abandoned Frontier Town - Round 4 *>=====================
=====================< Results - Good Thing They're Slow >======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fei Fong Wong                       18 --(9)--> 27                 Pass
Artist's Toolkit                    2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Elena                               15 --(9)--> 24                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rosaline Calice                     10 --(8)--> 18                 Pass
Extreme Teen Bible                  3   Wits    Effects: Fanfare              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          14 --(6)--> 20                 Pass
Etheric Lenses                      2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Neriah Parringer                    12 --(7)--> 19                 Pass
Excavator's Lens                    2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Amelia Theodore                     13 --(8)--> 21                 Pass
Holy Book of Granas                 3   Wits    Effects: Rally                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Elhaym van Houten                   13 --(10)--> 23                Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  60 --(20)--> 80                Pass
Conditions: Tire(2)
Effects: Enlighten(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss 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> Rosaline Calice has posed.

"P-Please stop arguing," is all Rosaline has to offer, on theology. She probably does have opinions on this, but they'll have to wait until after this adventure.

Elly has a great suggestion. Neriah finds a shortcut. Loren, likewise, finds relative safety. Elena quickens the group's pace. Fei enacts a plan that is totally going to work. Amelia helps him with this, via the application of more fire.

The party's clever maneuvering as application of stage hazards allows them to control the flow of undead. A large portion of them, in fact, ends up face-to-face with Fei's tunnel. Now, their ravenous hunger doesn't make them great thinkers, and so the concept of a shortcut might elude them. A lot rely on smell rather than any other sense, and in fact a few are blind, particularly those that were in the water tower for some time.

Which is why Rosaline is particularly puzzled when she looks over her poofy shoulder sleeve to see a group of Wels clawing at the fake tunnel and groaning in frustration.

"H-How? Why...?"

Wels are very strange creatures. It's likely there will never be answers to these questions.

Well, at least it worked!

DG: Loren Voss has drawn a new Challenge.
=========================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>==========================
===========================<* CHALLENGE - The Cave *>===========================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
  The source of the infestation of Reapers appears as the party struggles      
 through the town. There is a cave that seems to be the source of the          
 creatures - it could be a sinkhole, or a natural formation that has only      
 recently begin to vomit forth horrors. But Wels continues to emerge from the  
 cave, and it needs to be blocked off to prevent the creatures from            
 continuing to spread into the region.                                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

        Maybe it's the fire. Maybe it's the fact that they poured right out of a water tower. Or maybe they're just that stupid.

        Whatever the cause, now this is a scene that, as Loren chances a glance backwards to see the Wels clawing at the painted tunnel that causes him to lose all faith in a kind and just world.
        Well, if he had any of that to begin with, at least. Irritatedly pushing his glasses up his nose, the medic opts to just keep running. In case the Wels figure this one out.

        Somewhere, they have to be able to find the source of the infestation. It had been in the water treatment facility the last time. But are the Wels still using that as a nest?

        Maybe it's luck. It's possible.
        But hadn't the way the earth trembled when they first entered town -- following those detonations at least -- hinted at it? The rock here is unstable. And there's apparently a good reason for that:

        There's an enormous sinkhole ahead, large rocks and stone kicked up here and there around the edges. Maybe connected to the nest at the water treatment facility. Maybe not.

        The more important thing is: there's a giant hole in the road and there are absolutely way too many Wels that are coming crawling out of it and the whatever rests below in its cavernous depths.

        Loren approaches the edge -- as close as he dares, at least.

        "This might be the source," hand resting against the frame of his glasses as he stares down into the hole, examining the things -- they really can only be called things -- that are crawling their way out. He takes a step back, as if edging away. "...If any of you still have any explosives, this would be a good time to use them!" His left hand moves, slightly, his gaze unfocused. He can't reach for as much as he would prefer, but...

        If it comes to burying things alive, this is his time to shine. Even if to the casual observer, it might appear that he's doing nothing at all.
        There's a slight tremor underfoot. Is the ground still unstable...?

DG: Loren Voss has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, The Cave.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"What about people who get caught up in horrible things through no fault of their own and get trapped in it," Neriah prods Elena and Amelia further as she hops down from the post and takes off after the little group of Granasites and assorted Drifters who might actually be better-than-you people from the sky.

Soon enough, though, the time for debate is over - for that opening in the earth yawns ahead in the form of that immense sinkhole, and a slavering horde of Wels continues to shamble out of it. Neriah screeches to a halt, staring with her lower lip hanging by an inch or so. "Whatever's creating these things must be from in there," she murmurs.

A little voice somewhere inside her nags at her. Debates just walking away and leaving the others to it, now that they're here. even if it's to burn the world down.

Hesitating, Neriah pushes the voice aside. That'd be far too passive. And besides, what she wants to do costs Gella.

"I don't have any explosives," she admits as she picks up her shovel. "There are a lot of them down there, though, so please brace yourselves. I'm gonna have to do something to protect myself."

Driving the point of her shovel into the rocks at the rim of the sinkhole, Neriah sucks in a breath, then lets it out, concentrating hard. Her right hand aches, her heart beginning to race. Clenching her teeth, she forces herself to release her power. It's preceded by a tangible mounting of magical pressure. A power is about to be drawn forth.

With a rippling sound more felt than heard, a shell of unlight manifests around Neriah, somewhat translucent yet rippling with arcane patterns. She shudders and seems to say something from within the globe of eldritch magicks.

No sound comes out. There's not even any sound as her shovel bites into the ground. She seems to be struggling, her movements swift but pained as she begins to dislodge boulders from the lip of the chasm and send them tumbling into the sinkhole below. All the while, she remains wrapped in that field.

A Wels claws its way up and leaps at her as she's digging. Neriah doesn't even look at it.

The Wels hits the edge of her shield. Magic surges; there's a gut-curdling sense in the air, and a flicker of un-lightning blasts the Wels back into the chasm. Neriah keeps on digging, but looks up. Her pupils have dilated down to small points.

This is the longest she's ever kept her shield up at one time and the pain of it is gradually being replaced by something else. Something that feels much better.

DG: Neriah Parringer has used her Tool Trusty Shovel toward her party's challenge, The Cave.
<Pose Tracker> Elena has posed.

        'If any of you still have explosives,' Loren says.

        Elena plucks an Impact Bomb off her right shoulder. Off her left. Off the right ribbin hanging from her dress. Off the left one. Out of several pockets. Out of her dress. The shining red orbs, almost the size of a fist, are twisted once and click audibly one by one as Elena carefully sets them on the ground at the edge of the massive hole.

        "I have a few more, if this is not sufficient?"
        And you didn't want to just air strike this place, Loren.

        Elena waits to see if anyone else is going to contribute anything else, explaining her plan: "It would be unwise to throw explosives in one after the other. We must set them all off at once to ensure this hole is properly sealed." For a nun, she knows her explosives pretty well. She could probably demolish a building safely if she wanted. "My special bombs will only detonate on impact with something, or if another explosion sets them off, so we must carefully angle our drops."

        She has no doubt Rosaline can do it though.

        But then Neriah does her thing again - and as ever, Elena, for all her preaching about darkness and Valmar, cannot tell one darkness from another. She doesn't have the experience, the honed spiritual sense, to tell what Neriah is doing, only that it isn't good.

        But she's doing it to buy them time. She's fighting off the Wels with that magic. Once again she gets a free pass on the sole grounds that they don't have time right now. Still, Elena frowns disapprovingly. Very disapprovingly.

DG: Elena has used her Tool Impact Bomb toward her party's challenge, The Cave.
<Pose Tracker> Rosaline Calice has posed.

Rosaline is past wondering about that tunnel. For all her missteps and even despite her little... outburst from earlier, she's still a woman on a mission. And it seems it's coming to an end.

"It's like in the other town," she says, realizing that she never did ask what it used to be called. "I imagine there must be a device down there, creating them..."

And since they can't very well go turn off that presumed infernal device, clogging the pipes or smashing it to smithereens will do just fine. Loren asks for explosives. Rosaline allows herself a small smile as she pulls out the remaining sticks from her dynamite bundle.

And then she stares at Elena's orbs.

"Y-Yes, very well!" she says, grabbing the bundle and trying her best to time and angle her throw...

Until she feels a spiritual wrongness that only briefly washed over her earlier, and which she attributed to nerves. But no, it's real, and the source is clear. It's not Malevolence, her spiritual senses are unfortunately sharp enough to tell the subtle difference. So WHAT is it?

She glances at Neriah, not judgementally, but with definite horror. But no, they'll have to discuss this later. Right now, there's an important job to be done. "W-When you're ready!" she calls out.

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

 
"Oh - you must have set off their visual triggers," Elly says as she sees Fei's painting and how it seems to be baffling them. "Like the stripes on an animal whose predators don't have strong color vision. That's amazing...!"

She buys it completely.

And yet they move forwards, into the well of Wels, or at least its near occasion. The smell is sickening Elly, and the fact that they haven't yet been ravaged by Reapers seems a matter of luck more than anything. Another deep hole, the part of her that is somehow small and still and separate from all this horror thinks.

"Maybe there's some rock structure, deep down," Elly says as she reaches into her purse again and takes out... a glass bottle? The glass bottle has some kind of reddish fluid in it, which Elly starts to shake vigorously downwards, a new fragrance to bless the noses of the nuns around them. It's sweet... aromatic, certainly... Especially to those who have had to light their homes with --

OK, it's kerosene.

Why is Elly shaking it out in such fine droplets? It's practically a mist as it wafts downwards. "This is going to be kind of noisy and forceful so please come back up if you won't be safe," Elly calls down.

Safe from what?

This vigorous wrist exercise continues even as Elly looks over at Fei again. "... I'm sorry that I brought you here," she says. Did she? (She may have encouraged coming to this incident at this time.) Even as the mist of half-vaporized kerosene keeps drifting downwards...

Loren can probably figure out what Elly's gonna do in a minute.

DG: Rosaline Calice has used her Tool Holy TNT toward her party's challenge, The Cave.
DG: Elhaym van Houten has used her Tool Spy Purse toward her party's challenge, The Cave.
<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

"Wels are pretty dumb." Fei explains to Loren, as if to a child (he's trying to be nice). "Sometimes you have to trick 'em because they're stronger and faster." He figures Thomas must be pretty new at this sort of thing because obviously the painted line pointing to a fake tunnel would work. Obviously.

Fei Fong Wong looks back towards Elly, grinning. "Yeah I figured they'd be confused since their eyes didn't seem that good. You know, your warning was really helpful too! If it wasn't for that, I would've probably fallen right into them! You've got strong instincts!"

Is it cute or just SUPER SICKENING??

Actually that sickening sensation might be the smell. Sadly, paint isn't going to work against this latest threat. He does send chi blasts to slam against the Wels periodically to try and slam them back into the pit.

He glances over to Elly and says, "Huh? Why? I'm happy to help! This has to be dealt with, and besides I'd feel more comfortable than just staying back and wondering if you're okay!"

SO SWEET AND CUTE.

DG: Fei Fong Wong has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, The Cave.
==========================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>===========================
============================<* CHALLENGE - The Cave *>============================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
  The source of the infestation of Reapers appears as the party struggles      
 through the town. There is a cave that seems to be the source of the          
 creatures - it could be a sinkhole, or a natural formation that has only      
 recently begin to vomit forth horrors. But Wels continues to emerge from the  
 cave, and it needs to be blocked off to prevent the creatures from            
 continuing to spread into the region.                                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Amelia Theodore has posed.

        Of all the members of the Granas church present... Amelia is quite possibly the only one sans explosives. Briefly, she wonders if she should assess her standard loadout. Because after apparently helping herd wels into a rock, they come upon wels- so many wels- pourinf from the very earth itself.
        "As you said," She murmurs to Neriah. "It's no fault of their own."
        She's fine putting the debate on hold here for more pressing matters. And Amelia is about to get to them, when Neria manifests that twisted darkness. Her eye widens, but given the time, place, and current situation; again, she is faced with needing to deal with the pertinent threat. Tis not her duty to point fingers, but to pardon.
        Also there is a hole in the ground with Wels coming out of it, has that been mentioned already?
        Amelia Theodore sets to her own task of looking for the biggest rock or boulder she can find, braces up against it with her shield, and strains. Grunting and huffing, pushing with all her might to try and drop it down and help plug up the hole in her own way.
        She is also precisely zero surprised by Elena's creative explosive decorations on her clothing.

DG: Amelia Theodore has used her Tool Confessional Wall toward her party's challenge, The Cave.
=========================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>==========================
===========================<* CHALLENGE - The Cave *>===========================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
  The source of the infestation of Reapers appears as the party struggles      
 through the town. There is a cave that seems to be the source of the          
 creatures - it could be a sinkhole, or a natural formation that has only      
 recently begin to vomit forth horrors. But Wels continues to emerge from the  
 cave, and it needs to be blocked off to prevent the creatures from            
 continuing to spread into the region.                                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken===================================================
====================<* Abandoned Frontier Town - Round 5 *>=====================
=============================< Results - The Cave >=============================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fei Fong Wong                       27 --(100)--> 127              Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Elena                               24 --(100)--> 124              Pass
Impact Bomb                         3   Brute   Effects: Liability and Strengt
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rosaline Calice                     18 --(100)--> 118              Fail
Holy TNT                            2   Brute   Effects: Strengthen           
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          20 --(100)--> 120              Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Neriah Parringer                    19 --(100)--> 119              Fail
Trusty Shovel                       2   Brute   Effects: Strengthen           
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Amelia Theodore                     21 --(100)--> 121              Pass
Confessional Wall                   1   Brute   Effects: Cleanse              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Elhaym van Houten                   23 --(100)--> 123              Fail
Spy Purse                           1   Brute   Effects: Cleanse              
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  80 --(5)--> 85                 Fail
Conditions: Tire(1)|Weaken(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Strengthen(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: Fei Fong Wong is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Elena is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Rosaline Calice is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Loren Voss is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Neriah Parringer is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Amelia Theodore is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Elhaym van Houten is too exhausted to continue!
DG: The party has failed this challenge! All party members are now Exhausted. This attempt is over.
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has been fully Exhausted by Abandoned Frontier Town!
DG: The party will now draw a conclusion.
=========================<* Abandoned Frontier Town *>==========================
==================<* CHALLENGE - Where Did They Come From? *>===================
|Type: Landmark    |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The Reapers have been cleared from the town, but the party can't be certain   
 that they have decisively cut off the source. Reapers are mysterious          
 creatures, and they have been known to appear out of nowhere from time to     
 time. No matter what the solution the party believes that it has found,       
 there is always a chance they could be coming from elsewhere. Only time -     
 and further vigilance in patrolling for the Reaper threat - will tell...      
=Dungeon Conditions: =========================================================
<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

 
"... hee! Thank you, Fei," Elly tells him with a wan smile. "This won't take long."

Elly then aims her 'Thermo Cube' technique down into the hole.

There is how much explosion material in there, in addition to about a liter of aerosolized kerosene?

There is a lingering hiss, not from a Wels, but from the precursor reaction as Elly's personalized Ether technique turns about a cubic inch of material... SOMEWHERE down there, possibly on a Reaper proper, into superheated plasma that might be better suited to the sun.

"Um," Elly says, looking gravely concerned.

There is time enough to pop shields, to go limp, to open your mouth and breathe out so you aren't permanently harmed, but...

                                  The Town
                         And its Reaper infestation
                        Are now addressed by the fact
                 That most of the buildings have fallen over
                        Or are going to very shortly
            A deep seam fire on low-grade coal will release fumes
                Haunting the region for the next sixty years

                    The resulting Pillar of Flame and Ash
                  Are clearly visible in a five-mile radius
                               The Dig is Over

                         Press START to Continue...

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

                        START

Fei looks towards Elly. "Well I guess this is about as much as we can--" He starts coughing, wheezing. "That we can..." He coughs and wheezes and quickly wraps a paint fume mask around his face which seems to work better. "I think we have to get out of here, Elly, I think we blew it up...too hard."

He starts to walk away, looking pretty chill and whatnot for someone who is walking away from an explosion, glancing back periodically to make sure the others aren't just sticking around when suddenly--

--the dead head of a Wels suddenly crashes down from the sky, having been blown up by the explosion and slams into Fei's skull. He hits the ground lack a sack of bricks.

Surely this won't cause any problems by, well, Saturday evening perhaps.

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

        Fei's explanation just earns him a sigh as Loren claps a hand to his forehead and closes his eyes. Ughhh.

        As Elena promptly unloads with her explosives, Loren has a brief, brief moment where he wonders just what is going on within the Granas Church. Is this something they had a hand in?
        Needless to say, the sight of it earns her -- and her bombs -- a long, long stare. "...That's probably good enough," he says, after a few moments. This is followed by a sidelong stare Rosaline's way as well. Come to think of it, based on earlier exploits, lots and lots of questions. At least Amelia over there seems more in line with what he would have expected.

        And there is, of course, that louder discordant note that skids across his senses from Neriah as she channels...
        He probably should look into that sometime, he thinks remotely, staring at the back of the young woman. But then Elly does something that overrides all of his focus.

        She shakes out the contents of a bottle, the scent a familiar one.

        Blue eyes widen as he realizes exactly what she's doing, what she's setting up for. He takes yet another step backwards, gaze unfocused as his will reaches outwards, ready, waiting for...

        From below there is a hiss.

        oh no

        The shimmering crystalling shields that erupt around those present as plasma-borne fury erupts from the depths of the sinkhole in an explosion that is definitely going to get someone (probably Loren) a reprimand from command will certainly help keep the group here from dying.

        The Wels are toast, though.

        A LITTLE BIT LATER

        Loren glances at the (enormous) crater that's been left behind, smoke and flame still spitting out of the depths in a torrent. Glances back at the flattened buildings. Flattened town, really.

        "We should go," he opines, gesturing over his shoulder vaguely, his expression carefully blank.

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer

The problem with Neriah's Separation spell is that it totally separates her from the world outside the sphere. She doesn't hear Elly casting, nor hear the warning hiss from down below, until she visual cues tell her something is going to happen. From behind the field, she widens her eyes.

Everything goes up in flames. The column of fire can be seen from miles away.






Those who survived are gathering up, later on.

There's a sound of steel scraping on stones. It's Neriah, the last of the seven to arrive.

She looks none the worse for the wear as she trudges up to rejoin the others. If she was so much as singed, she doesn't show it, her only signs of distress being threefold: A heavy sweat, a very pale complexion, and the fact that her pupils have dilated so much as to be almost disturbing. They're simply little points against seas of very pale blue. It gives her gaze the feeling of an unnaturally intense stare.

"I'm good with that," she says, her tone lifted a little, with a dreaminess to it as if she'd just snorted something intoxicating. "Can we go home now?"

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

"FEI!!!!" Elly screams after the loud comical 'clonk' near her.

Fortunately there is first aid close to hand. For some reason, 'Thomas' may want to help VERY QUICKLY, lest he get TURNED INTO A NEWT

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"Fei, you better not die," Neriah puts in about nine point four seconds after Fei gets manhandled off to the Ellyverse.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei Fong Wong blglgls in response to Neriah. If only it were that easy.

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

And this is the story of how Loren became responsible for not only the complete and very obvious obliteration of a village for a mission they were supposed to complete 'under the radar', but also for the treatment of Fei Fong Wong's possible concussion.

At least he's equipped for this.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

THOMAS BLACKWELL REP UP

LOREN REP DOWN JUST CAUSE.