2018-01-23: Ascending Flight

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DG: A party led by Catenna is now entering Titan's Roost.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
===============================<* Titan's Roost *>================================
===================<* CHALLENGE - Climbing Is For the Birds *>====================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The so-called Titan's Roost rears out of the desert, an immense mesa          
 surrounded by a crumbling watchtower from time immemorial. The mesa itself    
 is solid rock, with no caverns to or from the surface. Its surface is uneven  
 in places; a few rockslides have created areas where you can pick your way    
 up by clambering over steep inclines studded with heavy boulders. It'll take  
 some effort, but climbing a rockslide to the top of a mesa seems like a day   
 in the life of an average Drifter.                                            
                                                                               
 Now if only there weren't large, malevolent-looking crows circling overhead,  
 and swooping down at periodic intervals to peck and claw at you as you make   
 your attempt to scale the mesa.                                               
=Dungeon Conditions: Injure===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Catenna had called whatever affected the Great White Bird of the Desert something. The Demon King's Malice - a power which maddens and twists wild things into monstrous creatures. A power the Zortroa know.

She'd also told the group something else. That the creature's gravity magic was no ordinary magic.

Somehow, the twisted, malicious monster owl had Arcana of Celesdue at its wingtips.

The trail of big bird tales had led the group here, to a vast mesa in the desert with the battered remains of an old watchtower acrest it. Overhead, the shapes of dark birds, like crows or vultures, can be seen circling the tower's bulk. Catenna presses her lips together as she gazes up the tor, her hands clasped together.

"If it is true that the beast was once of Celesdue, then it is important that I try to get through to it," she says quietly. "If The Demon King's Malice can somehow be penetrated...."

The mesa itself is vast; however, a little circling has revealed an area where part of the side has crumbled away in a rockslide that must have happened ages ago. The surface is uneven, but navigable, and Catenna peers up that steep slope with a frown as she unloops a rope from over her shoulder and casts it upwards.

"Let us be careful. If the Great Bird is here, it will not stop to negotiate with us," she says as she begins to pick her way up the rocky slope.

A couple of crows swoop at her; she bats at them with her sword and sighs, then blinks as she realizes something. "...These birds also seem to be affected by the darkness...."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Ethius, in better shape than before (he can bend his neck and shoulder without as much pain as prior, still dealing with occasional headaches), is among the party arranged to approach the tower of intrigue, danger, and a murder of crows.

"I apologize. There is one matter of curiosity I had wished to inquire upon prior," he says as he starts to appraise the lay of the mesa. He's got the Hot Air Sack harness around his right wrist already. He doesn't need a straight shot up - he can't get as much vertical lift as Cyre can, but if he's able to get up part of the way, then float to another part at roughly the same elevation level with a more favorable set of footholds, he's good.

"The families of the victims have noted that there seems to be a preference for children as prey." A few crows, part of a murder, engage in attempted murder as they swoop at him. One of them bounces off of his head, forcing him to a kneel before he can begin engaging the climb in earnest.

Why can't he equip helmets? For all the blows he takes to the noggin, one would think he'd make that a priority.

Ethius responds by trying to zap them with quick-fire low-yield electrical spells to try and get them to go away. When he has a moment to speak again, he starts to test the first foothold.

"Miss Catenna, did The Demon King's Malice favor the corruption or waylaying of the children of Zortroa?"

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Hot Air Sack toward his party's challenge, Climbing Is For the Birds.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

The sight of that destroyed town worried Jacqueline. If they couldn't deal with the source of the problem, it was unlikely to be the last town destroyed in such a manner. Lives and families ripped apart... What's worse, the creature that had seen was apparently close to Celesdue, the Guardian closest to Catenna.

Here, at the Titan's Roost, there seemed to be many creatures similarly affected...their ascension would not be an easy one, particularly if, as Catenna said, the Great Bird chose to meet them during their ascent up this stone watchtower.

Jacqueline moves carefully and quietly, reaching into her bags and rummaging through for some potions.

"Here...take these. We may need them, going forward." She says.

She glances toward Ethius as he speaks, but doesn't provide her own input. It's...a topic she doesn't really want to think about, even if it may be important to know.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Rapid Remedy toward her party's challenge, Climbing Is For the Birds.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Sure, The Demon King's Malice isn't TECHNICALLY Malevolence but the two are similar enough to one another that a guy can't help but be just a little bit concerned that it's popping up in his neck of the woods. Cyre has a vested interest in seeing this particular situation dealt with besides just making sure his hometown doesn't get almost obliterated twice in one season, though. Catenna wants to see if they can save it, you see. Somehow pierce the veil of The Demon King's influence and spare the wayward servant of Celesdue from falling entirely from grace.

Cyre is pretty sure it can be done.

After all, he did somehow punch his brother sane, and that was probably a worse situation overall! So. In spite of sporting a handful of fresh bandages-- and being of the opinion that maybe Catenna might want to take a longer break before coming up against something like the Great White Bird-- he is here among all the others.

Well.

Not... quite.

"I'll clear the way," Cyre gives Catenna a nod. "You guys don't keep me waiting too long, now. I don't want my parachute pecked too full of holes before we have to come back down!" And with that, Cyre takes to the air and goes directly for those malevolent ravens! He has enough wind magic that he can probably keep them preoccupied for long enough that the others can make the climb. Or, you know, he might just be able to shoot them down. That could work too.

ENGAGE SHOOT 'EM UP LEVEL.

<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

The Great White Bird is not a legend Tethelle knows, as she comes from a different tradition. She has stories of great birds, but they are associated differently, from what she could get out of Catenna about it.

That didn't stop her from volunteering, though. She barely even had to be asked to come along.

"You're welcome to try," Tethelle says, looking up at the mesa with her eyes shaded as she cranes backward. "I'll do what I can to keep you safe while you do. But if it tries to destroy us, I might not have a choice."

She has - as usual! - a two-handed sword slung on a carrier strap, but this sword is slightly different than her last, and a little unusual to modern eyes; the blade's edge has an almost wave-like weight to it, while the back has a double curve, making the blade a little front-edge-heavy. A carving weapon. She still hasn't reforged her master's sword.

Tethelle hikes the sword's carrier strap up as she begins to climb. She is a fast, strong climber with her gloves on, but she has trouble protecting herself from the smaller birds while she climbs - her hands are too full for the sword, after all. She presses herself further against the mesa itself to try to take shelter when they swarm her.

DG: Tethelle Cirdian has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Climbing Is For the Birds.
DG: Catenna has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Climbing Is For the Birds.
===============================<* Titan's Roost *>================================
===================<* CHALLENGE - Climbing Is For the Birds *>====================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The so-called Titan's Roost rears out of the desert, an immense mesa          
 surrounded by a crumbling watchtower from time immemorial. The mesa itself    
 is solid rock, with no caverns to or from the surface. Its surface is uneven  
 in places; a few rockslides have created areas where you can pick your way    
 up by clambering over steep inclines studded with heavy boulders. It'll take  
 some effort, but climbing a rockslide to the top of a mesa seems like a day   
 in the life of an average Drifter.                                            
                                                                               
 Now if only there weren't large, malevolent-looking crows circling overhead,  
 and swooping down at periodic intervals to peck and claw at you as you make   
 your attempt to scale the mesa.                                               
=Dungeon Conditions: Injure===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

It's really quite something how often Metal Digger Locus is mysteriously waiting for the CaraKin not far from the caravan proper when they set out for a dangerous place. Just the greatest mystery.

But seriously, Carina is hoping to help the CaraKin's well-deserved two-week vacation be a mostly happy one. If she can help Catenna settle that bird problem, that'll be one less worry off her mind and everyone else's, right?

Locus nods to Catenna, then stares up at the spire, arms crossed silently. Her expression is inscrutable, what with the mask and all, as she considers her approach.

"Okay then. See you up there. Toh!" And she leaps up, up, up... as far as the proportional strength and agility of a grasshopper will take her!

Which totally works, until a bird swoops down to stunlock her back down onto the ground, as video game birds are known to do. It's unclear what her plan's endgame was, because it seems to have turned into grabbing onto the now-panicking bird for dear life, floating down a few bird-aided feet before locking her boots onto the stony surface, throwing the bird at another bird, flailing and screaming, then clamping onto a rock like a mollusk.

And then she resumes climbing like a normal person. I HOPE NOBODY SAW THAT, Carina thinks, throwing a lightning punch at another airborne assailant.

DG: Carina Wynne has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Climbing Is For the Birds.
DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Reverse Parachute toward his party's challenge, Climbing Is For the Birds.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia healed surprisingly quickly. Or maybe not so surprisingly, considering you know that she isn't entirely flesh and blood anymore. Granted, that doesn't explain what exactly she IS, but normal people don't work like the way she does.

Her mood has vastly improved since the sealing of the Time Statue and keeping it out of 'Alien' hands. Nevertheless, she is eager to help out and pay forward the kindness that has been shown to her.

"Well children are easier to carry than adults," Lydia suggests to Ethius, showing that she can indeed use that noggin when it comes to it. Of course, that might not be the answer in this particular case. She doesn't know much about The Demon King's Malice (she is a busy lady and doesn't have time to ansi that every time she says it).

But she does have her portal pistols still which she fires a pair off, allowing a speedier climb up those inclines! Of course, the crows can use them too but what are the odds of that...

...what are the odds of that?

"Metal Digger Locus, what's your cosmic mind think about all this?" She asks before she hops on into a portal.

===============================<* Titan's Roost *>================================
===================<* CHALLENGE - Climbing Is For the Birds *>====================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The so-called Titan's Roost rears out of the desert, an immense mesa          
 surrounded by a crumbling watchtower from time immemorial. The mesa itself    
 is solid rock, with no caverns to or from the surface. Its surface is uneven  
 in places; a few rockslides have created areas where you can pick your way    
 up by clambering over steep inclines studded with heavy boulders. It'll take  
 some effort, but climbing a rockslide to the top of a mesa seems like a day   
 in the life of an average Drifter.                                            
                                                                               
 Now if only there weren't large, malevolent-looking crows circling overhead,  
 and swooping down at periodic intervals to peck and claw at you as you make   
 your attempt to scale the mesa.                                               
=Dungeon Conditions: Injure===================================================
DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Portal Pistols toward her party's challenge, Climbing Is For the Birds.
===============================<* Titan's Roost *>================================
===================<* CHALLENGE - Climbing Is For the Birds *>====================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The so-called Titan's Roost rears out of the desert, an immense mesa          
 surrounded by a crumbling watchtower from time immemorial. The mesa itself    
 is solid rock, with no caverns to or from the surface. Its surface is uneven  
 in places; a few rockslides have created areas where you can pick your way    
 up by clambering over steep inclines studded with heavy boulders. It'll take  
 some effort, but climbing a rockslide to the top of a mesa seems like a day   
 in the life of an average Drifter.                                            
                                                                               
 Now if only there weren't large, malevolent-looking crows circling overhead,  
 and swooping down at periodic intervals to peck and claw at you as you make   
 your attempt to scale the mesa.                                               
=Dungeon Conditions: Injure===================================================
==========================<* Titan's Roost - Round 1 *>===========================
=====================< Results - Climbing Is For the Birds >======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Hot Air Sack                        2   Agility Effects: Resilient            
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Rapid Remedy                        1   Agility Effects: Cleanse              
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Portal Pistols                      2   Agility Effects: Stalwart             
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carina Wynne                        0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tethelle Cirdian                    0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Reverse Parachute                   1   Agility Effects: Rally and Quicken    
------------------------------------< Party >-------------------------------------
Leader: Catenna                     0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Injure(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Quicken(1)|Resilient(1)
================================< Dream Chasers >=================================
DG: The party led by Catenna has passed this challenge! The party gained 20 exploration! If anyone needs to use party management
commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"No, The Demon King's Malice affects beasts and drives them to madness," Catenna says with a tilt of her head towards Ethius. "Each creature becomes twisted and monstrous... each behaves differently. I should imagine that this one preys upon the young because, as owls do, it often takes prey too weak to flee...."

The answer feels incomplete to her. When Tethelle speaks, Catenna lowers her head and sighs.

"...I hope we do not have to kill it," she says, then takes a whack at a diving raven. The bird squawks and flaps away, trailing black feathers.

Cyre, of course, is a helpful cat, jumping into the air to deal with the corvid assailants; they squawk and peck at him but largely give way. The shots Lydia fires drive off a few more, while Metal Digger Locus of course just....

Catenna stares for a moment as Locus just...

...Locuses.

Touching a hand to her temple, she sighs and keeps climbing. She takes the potion from Jay and downs it to give her a bit of a boost. It helps; she reaches the top in no time.

At the top of the incline, the crumbling watchtower waits... and the cacophonous cries of countless monster birds can be heard from within.

Catenna swallows a lump in her throat.

DG: Tethelle Cirdian has drawn a new Challenge.
==============================<* Titan's Roost *>===============================
===============<* CHALLENGE - Why Does Its Beak Look Like That *>===============
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 This high-ceilinged room features a rusting steel door barring your way       
 forward. Trying to force it only gets you working up a sweat; it won't        
 budge. There's some sort of mechanism holding it in place - but as you look   
 up, you can see that the switch controlling it is at least thirty feet up     
 and difficult to reach even for those with grappling hooks.                   
                                                                               
 However, you're not down here alone. Standing on spindly legs is a very tall  
 wading bird of some kind with a huge bill shaped like a gigantic grey shoe.   
 As soon as it sees you, it flaps its wings to get your attention, then tilts  
 its head disturbingly far to one side before indicating the switch with its   
 beak. And then it opens that gigantic beak and waits.                         
                                                                               
 You're going to have to find /something/ edible to bribe the shoebill with    
 to get it to flip the switch for you.                                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Reckless=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

"As do I," Tethelle says, but wishes don't make things come true (sometimes). She doesn't say that part. Climbing is more work. She does indeed get pecked on the way up. Birds are jerks.

As she goes, though, she keeps looking down (or, frequently, up) at the party. Especially Lydia, who she didn't recognize until she spoke and used the portal guns, and is now getting looked at... not quite suspiciously, but definitely curiously. She may have questions she is bottling up.

Tethelle pushes herself up when she gets to the top and runs, not walks, toward the watchtower. It has shelter from the diving birds, right? Instead, there are other, larger birds inside, apparently, as when Tethelle opens the door, she is prevented from moving on by a door with a switch guarded by... um...

"What is that?" Tethelle has never seen that kind of wading bird in her life. "Isn't it a little big to fly up there?" She looks across the party, a little unsure, then back at the big bird. She can tell what it wants, but... "Do you think it eats jerky?" she asks, as she looks in her pouch to see if there's any spare.

No, Tethelle. Birds do not like jerky.

DG: Tethelle Cirdian has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Why Does Its Beak Look Like That.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"We can hope," Catenna answers Tethelle before they step into the tower--

Sometimes, you're not prepared for just what manner of creatures nature can serve up. Catenna actually gasps slightly as she catches sight of the tall avian waiting for them. Then she blinks, cocking her head to one side as if to try and get a sense of how big that beak is.

The shoebill cocks its head the other way. Catenna shivers a little, momentarily disturbed for some reason.

"Shoe...bill...?" she murmurs, taking a step to the side to peer at the bird. "At least... that is the right shape for it...." And then it opens its mouth and waits for them.

Catenna frowns, brushing back a few locks of hair with her fingertips. "...Perhaps it wants an offering of some sort. Though I do not have any fish... or... whatever it is that... a bird with a bill like this might eat...." Quietly, she frowns, curling her fingers at her chin and biting down to the point of her thumb.

She turns to look at the shoebill again. Now it's cocking its head the other way.

With a sigh, she sorts through a few items in her inventory. She comes up with a few sticks of her incense, which she lights and sets to one side as it to try and impress the bird that way.

The shoebill probably isn't impress. It does, however, inspire Catenna to flip the shoebill a couple of heal berries.

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Ritual Incense toward her party's challenge, Why Does Its Beak Look Like That.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Ethius, once he makes it over, looks back to give Locus a look. In earlier times, Ethius was the one who monopolized just hanging around dangerous places until there was a group of adventurers he could latch onto. It's kind of hypocritical for him to be critical of her about it, if he is. (He seems to stare at her for longer on average compared to others, so maybe?)

Moving on to the tall room... Ethius doesn't approach the strangely passive bird or the door. The Spectral Lens comes out post-haste. One Symbological cast later, a dim blue light glows as he holds it in front of one of his eyes.

"It appears the switch on the ceiling is connected to the door." That's clear enough. He gives the shoebill a wide berth as he considers how one might reach it themselves.

To his credit, he does find a number of gaps in the walls he can get some elevation with! He's about half of the way up when any such gaps and footholds cease to exist any higher. Struggle as he might, he can't seem to reach the switch. Not even when he tries to reach out with his quarterstaff, risking his balance and his grip...

...And definitely not when he tries to throw it like one might a javelin, which is a good and honest try, but it clatters off without effect. The wooden stick noisily tumbles against the floor, bouncing as though in mocking laughter as Ethius gives a glance to the rest of the group with that same stare of his.

"...One supposes, then, they are our only available form of assistance," he is forced to concede as he climbs back down.

You heard the man. Give the shoebill delicious treats.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Spectral Lens toward his party's challenge, Why Does Its Beak Look Like That.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Birds do not eat jerky.

But...

There is something that birds and cats do have in common. How fortuitous that there is one such creature walking among you right now.

"Shoebill...?" Cyre says, having survived his corvian encounter relatively unscathed (it turns out birds do not like lasers! Who knew!?). "Never seen a bird quite like this before. I mean, it reminds me of some of the marshbirds we'd see sometimes back home, but... Huh." There's a beat. Cyre frowns and reaches into his pack and retrieves...

Is... Is that a tin of sardines?

Nope. It's a tin of smoked salmon.

"I was hoping to save this for later, but... This fella looks like he's in pretty good shape. Probably needs it more than I do, if he's going to keep free of whatever Demon King is working his evil mojo around these parts." And so Cyre offers TASTY FISH to this bird.

He looks only slightly displeased.

Salmon is one of his favorites...!

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Why Does Its Beak Look Like That.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia glances at Tethelle and then smiles at Tethelle with her many sharp teeth. She doesn't answer any questions about prior or current identities, however--at least not unless you count that as one--though it's not really a secret. Lydia is just feeling sassy even if she doesn't really have anything against Tethelle, persay. At least not anymore.

She holds out her hand and whistles. "C'mere Schrodinger!"

The cat appears out of nowhere and licks its paw. "Go on there," She tells Schrodinger. "Negotiate."

Schrodinger licks its paw and then rolls around on its belly. Lydia frowns, crouches, and rubs Schrodinger's belly. Meanwhile, several more Schrodingers approach the schoebill.

Staring at the shoebill.

Showing their claws to the shoebill. This is a totally legit negotiation tactic.

Lydia looks over to Ethius while she pets belly. One of the Schrodingers divert to eat Cyres fish.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Schrodinger the Cat toward her party's challenge, Why Does Its Beak Look Like That.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Locus does what Locus does, and that's one of the reasons Jacqueline appreciates having her around. It does help alleviate the dark mood around here. She follows alongside the others, until they find their progress frustrated by a rusting steel door. And above them...a lever.

Jacqueline regards it with a frown. She could potentially reach it with her Sorcery...but that far away, her control was limited. It was more likely that she would just end up breaking it than anything.

As she's regarding it, she hears a frantic flapping of wings that puts her on edge, thinking it might be an enemy...

...But no, the bird that greets them does not appear aggressive. In fact...does it want to help them? It opens its mouth and...ah. So that's how it is.

But what kind of food would a bird appreciate...?

Jacqueline thinks it over before rummaging through her bag, drawing out something wrapped up in a cloth. She unwraps it and tosses it toward the bird, and then watches curiously to see what happens when/if it eats it.

...In truth, she had done a little bit of a culinary experiment this morning. She thought it was fine, but she didn't know how another creature would react to it. Or if it would even survive it.

Only one way to find out!

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Why Does Its Beak Look Like That.
===============================<* Titan's Roost *>================================
================<* CHALLENGE - Why Does Its Beak Look Like That *>================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 This high-ceilinged room features a rusting steel door barring your way       
 forward. Trying to force it only gets you working up a sweat; it won't        
 budge. There's some sort of mechanism holding it in place - but as you look   
 up, you can see that the switch controlling it is at least thirty feet up     
 and difficult to reach even for those with grappling hooks.                   
                                                                               
 However, you're not down here alone. Standing on spindly legs is a very tall  
 wading bird of some kind with a huge bill shaped like a gigantic grey shoe.   
 As soon as it sees you, it flaps its wings to get your attention, then tilts  
 its head disturbingly far to one side before indicating the switch with its   
 beak. And then it opens that gigantic beak and waits.                         
                                                                               
 You're going to have to find /something/ edible to bribe the shoebill with    
 to get it to flip the switch for you.                                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Reckless=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"Wh--" Cyre gawps as he is suddenly set upon by a Schrodinger. "H-hey! Wait, that's for the bird! We can have fish together later!"

If Schrodinger eats a fish, where does it go...?

<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

Locus doesn't seem to detect sarcasm from Lydia (THOUGH SHE HOPES SHE DIDN'T SEE THAT).

"I think," she answers, once she has a grasp on the situation again and Lydia is hopefully still within line of sight (portals are cheating!), "that this is all a weird, spooky mystery! But at the end of the day, it'll come down to punching some sense into a very big bird, and we're doin' pretty all right when it comes to punching sense into people 'n' such, y'know?"

Well, except Kaguya. BUT LOCUS WASN'T THERE FOR THAT.

Regardless, she flashes Lydia a thumbs-up, because the mask is obscuring her wide grin.

Flash forward to a later encounter with an odd bird.

Locus looks up at the switch, then at the bird. The switch, then the bird. Too much of a headache. Hmmm. So it doesn't seem they can solve this... by punching a bird...

Catenna speaks of an offering. And you know what? Carina doesn't want to use her inventory EVER AGAIN if she can help it, since the pill incident.

"Well, I'm stumped," she announces, scratching the side of her head, or rather helmet. It hasn't stopped being metal, and so her finger hits it with a 'dink'.

Her HUD switches to a strange, black-and-white version of the room, with several additional details.

"Oh hey, that's right, I've got see-through vision!" she tells herself. Then, more loudly: "Okay, I'll look around with my MATRIX EYE, and see if I can't find a way around this problem!"

Maybe if she's lucky, she'll find pot roast or turkey in the wall.

DG: Carina Wynne has used her Tool Matrix Eye toward her party's challenge, Why Does Its Beak Look Like That.
==============================<* Titan's Roost *>===============================
===============<* CHALLENGE - Why Does Its Beak Look Like That *>===============
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 This high-ceilinged room features a rusting steel door barring your way       
 forward. Trying to force it only gets you working up a sweat; it won't        
 budge. There's some sort of mechanism holding it in place - but as you look   
 up, you can see that the switch controlling it is at least thirty feet up     
 and difficult to reach even for those with grappling hooks.                   
                                                                               
 However, you're not down here alone. Standing on spindly legs is a very tall  
 wading bird of some kind with a huge bill shaped like a gigantic grey shoe.   
 As soon as it sees you, it flaps its wings to get your attention, then tilts  
 its head disturbingly far to one side before indicating the switch with its   
 beak. And then it opens that gigantic beak and waits.                         
                                                                               
 You're going to have to find /something/ edible to bribe the shoebill with    
 to get it to flip the switch for you.                                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Reckless=================================================
=========================<* Titan's Roost - Round 2 *>==========================
=================< Results - Why Does Its Beak Look Like That >=================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             5 --(5)--> 10                  Pass
Ritual Incense                      1   Wits    Effects: Cleanse              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       5 --(5)--> 10                  Pass
Spectral Lens                       2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   5 --(5)--> 10                  Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         5 --(5)--> 10                  Pass
Schrodinger the Cat                 2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carina Wynne                        5 --(5)--> 10                  Pass
Matrix Eye                          2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tethelle Cirdian                    5 --(5)--> 10                  Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     5 --(5)--> 10                  Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Catenna                     20 --(20)--> 40                Pass
Conditions: Reckless(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Enlighten(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Catenna 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> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

Good news! Shoebills will eat damn near anything. It accepts all offerings equally. Except the salmon, which it gets beaten to. And the jerky, which it spits out for being far too salty. But besides that!

Somehow, it manages to look highly offended at one of the Schrodingers. (It seems to have figured out the secret: there's only one feline named Schrodinger.)

But apparently it is pleased enough to pull the switch for the group. Tethelle scratches the back of her head. "Well, it worked. I still don't know what it is, though."

DG: Ethius Hesiod has drawn a new Challenge.
==================================================<* Titan's Roost *>===================================================
===============================================<* CHALLENGE - Egg Roll *>===============================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 This part of the Roost features a large spiral ramp leading around the        
 periphery of the enormous old watchtower. The narrow corridor ascends         
 upwards in a slow, shallow arc. However, as you climb, something rumbles up   
 ahead, and it's growing closer. The source of the noise comes into view:      
 It's an enormous, petrified bird egg, the size of a boulder, and it's         
 rolling down the corridor straight towards you!                               
                                                                               
 A second later, a heavy door slams closed behind you - leaving you the        
 unenviable task of somehow physically halting a gigantic egg the size and     
 weight of a Mack truck that's trundling in to try and smush you into          
 scrambled eggs.                                                               
=Dungeon Conditions: Bad Luck=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Ethius takes point as the rusty door creaks open to reveal the path ahead. He narrows his eyes as he looks upwards. The concentration of the Demon King's Malice seems to be thicker the higher up one looks - it might be best to try and take the most expedient way upward that they can manage through the watchtower, and so, he foregoes a few other side paths beyond this door to test a spiral... ramp?

Not a staircase, a ramp. Less taxing to walk, for one. That's good. The structural integrity of this section of the watchtower appears sound. Someone could just playfully tap dance along up without fear of falling if they wanted to (editor's note: please don't).

Ethius turns his head up the moment he hears something heavy drop from further up on the ramp. It's not something he picks up on exclusively - anyone can hear it. He halts in his tracks.

A moment later, the rusted door slams shut. These events are probably related.

...Something heavy rolls down the ramp. It'll be a while yet before the shape of it is clear - that of a petrified bird egg the size of a proper boulder, rolling down that ramp at a worrying speed. There's no room to maneuver. They can't double back.

They're going to have to bust through.

"We must do away with the boulder rolling towards us," yeah he didn't need to say that, that's pretty freakin' obvious by now as he jogs backwards a short ways for preparatory purposes. Melting the boulder is out of the question. His only hope is, in accordance with everyone else's means, attempting to strike it with a precise lunge of the quarterstaff to try and arrest its momentum as it draws near.

He awaits everyone else's contributions before dedicating himself into that risky play...!

DG: Ethius Hesiod has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Egg Roll.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"It was..." Catenna trails off as she falls in with Tethelle. "...hungry," she finally decides, frowning and scratching at her cheek. As she begins to ascend the ramp, she runs a hand along the wall, almost seeming to feel it out.

Something's vibrating ahead. She pauses, and listens.

"Something is coming," she murmurs - and then, the rumble grows louder, and the massive petrified egg appears, plummeting towards them on an unstoppable roll. The priestess widens her eyes, then looks back with a start as the door slams shut behind the party.

Trapped like rats and due to go splat once that gigantic egg reaches where they're at.

"Damnation," she hisses as she whirls forward, throwing herself as far back as she can. "If we can...!" Leveling her hands forward, she clenches her teeth, tongue moving behind them as she silently articulates a more complex spell.

The momentum of the petrified egg may be huge - but it shudders as a source of gravity suddenly wells to life in the corridor behind it. That force begins to pull at the rolling egg, trying to draw it back up the corridor. But it has to contend with the immense force of Filgaia's own gravity... and sweat begins to appear on Catenna's brow right away, as if trying to hold the spell is a significant effort.

One does not just roll an egg the size of a truck uphill without help.

DG: Catenna has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Egg Roll.
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

"I really wanted to eat that pot roast, too," Locus complains to no one in particular as she walks past the bird.

She follows up the ramp as Ethius takes point, glad he's not staring at her now, at least. (Wait, she only now realizes, DOES THAT MEAN HE SAW THAT EARLIER?)

And then it's time for the mandatory egg delivery section, and the egg is being delivered to them at an alarming speed.

"Whoa!!" she staggers back at the sight, looking around to see what the others are doing. He own solution to the problem, as usual, is fairly straightforward.

"Lightning blast!" she calls out, forming and hurling a ball of lightning at the rolling object to weaken it. There are more where this came from as it closes in, and if it gets TOO close... well, she can perform a lightning PUNCH too.

DG: Carina Wynne has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Egg Roll.
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

"I knew that much," Tethelle says to Catenna. "I just don't know what it was. It was a strange-looking bird." Shoebills aren't native to the part of Aquvy she's from.

She enters the now-opened door, and almost immediately picks up on the rumble. She looks rather startled as she looks up, at the ramp. Something's coming down it. Something alive, or something rolling -

Tethelle forces her way to the front of the group before she really knows what it is. It ends up being something rolling, which is fine by Tethelle, as she's already in position. Her strategy is by far the least smart of the plans; Ethius has a lever, Catenna has a spell, even Carina (okay, Locus) has a blast.

Tethelle has raw strength. She tries to literally catch the egg, though the impact is guaranteed to slide her back as she strains; catch it, and with arms wrapped around as much of it as she can reach, literally force it to a stop by raw strength. Her gloves give her a good grip, at least.

DG: Tethelle Cirdian has used her Tool Power Gloves toward her party's challenge, Egg Roll.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline beams proudly as the shoebill accepts her offering, though it may be difficult for the others to notice it. Regardless, the bird opens the door for them, and so she and the others are able to move on. The path starts slowly angling upward, before...

Thunk?

Jacqueline frowns slightly. She doesn't like that noise. The noise of the door shutting behind them, and the noise of something ahead of them moving forward at gradually increasing speeds...

Quickly, Jacqueline reaches into her bags and draws out a set of bright red potions that instill strength and energy.

"Here, take these, quickly." She urges everyone, before reaching into her pouch for one of her Crests. It's the old classic, the earth pillar, that rushes out toward the egg much like a pinball plunger would while Catenna holds it down.

Maybe they'll get a high score? At the very least, she would accept 'not getting crushed'.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

N-no! The salmon! The poor, delicious salmon. Why would you do this to Cyre's heart, Schrodinger? Whyyyyy?

(Because cats. Obviously.)

Well, that fish was going to go to the bird anyway, so as long as the shoebill doesn't actually care that much about being slighted by the superior species, then it's fine! It's all fine. Totally fine.

...

It's not at all fine.

"That," Cyre observes at the enormous, petrified egg about to bowl absolutely everyone over, "Is NOT a boulder!" Cyre winces at the smell of the ancient, fossilized thing and takes a moment to light up his incense burner. This has the side-effect of soothing, invigorating smoke permeating the surrounding area but mostly it's helping to deal with the awful, sulfurous, eggy smell.

"Hold on!" Cyre gestures. The wind answers, swirling around the base of the egg and joining in Catenna's magic to push the boulder-shaped thing up, up, up...!

And hopefully not onto anybody or anything important...!!

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Invigorating Vapors toward his party's challenge, Egg Roll.
DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Brewte Force toward her party's challenge, Egg Roll.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

IT'S TIME FOR EGG DELIVERY! CAN YOU DELIVERY SIXTY EGGS! REMEMBER IF YOU RUN OUT OF TIME YOU HAVE TO START OVER. CAN YOU FIND ALL EGGHUNDRED EGGS.

Lydia, in contrast to her usual behavior, will move forward to try and help hold back the egg--if only because this seems like something everybody really needs to help out on here. It's ... it's probably didn't bring her 'smash things with rock' brute tool, right? Right. Anyway, she leans against it with the might that she has and yelps as Carina unleashes a lightning blast.

Schrodinger the Cat, having eaten Cyre's fish, chooses this moment to vanish again because it wants to nap it off in...wherever it went off to.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Egg Roll.
==================================================<* Titan's Roost *>===================================================
===============================================<* CHALLENGE - Egg Roll *>===============================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 This part of the Roost features a large spiral ramp leading around the        
 periphery of the enormous old watchtower. The narrow corridor ascends         
 upwards in a slow, shallow arc. However, as you climb, something rumbles up   
 ahead, and it's growing closer. The source of the noise comes into view:      
 It's an enormous, petrified bird egg, the size of a boulder, and it's         
 rolling down the corridor straight towards you!                               
                                                                               
 A second later, a heavy door slams closed behind you - leaving you the        
 unenviable task of somehow physically halting a gigantic egg the size and     
 weight of a Mack truck that's trundling in to try and smush you into          
 scrambled eggs.                                                               
=Dungeon Conditions: Bad Luck=================================================
=============================================<* Titan's Roost - Round 3 *>==============================================
=================================================< Results - Egg Roll >=================================================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             10 --(5)--> 15                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       10 --(5)--> 15                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   10 --(5)--> 15                 Pass
Brewte Force                        1   Brute   Effects: Fanfare and Strengthe
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         10 --(5)--> 15                 Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carina Wynne                        10 --(5)--> 15                 Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tethelle Cirdian                    10 --(5)--> 15                 Pass
Power Gloves                        2   Brute   Effects: Stalwart             
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DG: The party led by Catenna 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.
[OOC] Cyre H. Lorentz says, "i have no idea if i passed or failed"
[OOC] Tethelle Cirdian says, "That's a very good question"
[OOC] Ethius Hesiod says, "me neither! Anyway typin'."
[OOC] Carina Wynne says, "Huuuh, you're not on the list? Odd."
[OOC] Cyre H. Lorentz says, "Yeah something about the window size"
[OOC] Carina Wynne says, "Weird. :/a"
(New BB Message (5/39) posted to 'Scene Announcements' by Player Globals <PG>: An Unexpected Obstacle)
[OOC] Jacqueline Barber says, "Yeah, sometimes it cuts off the bottom. I think it might be a character limit thing?"
==================<* Dream Chasers BBS - Scene Announcements *>===================
Message: 5/39 (12w  6d)            Posted        Author
An Unexpected Obstacle             Jan 23 2018   Player Globals <PG>
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ida Everstead-Rey has announced a scene for 2/10 at 8  EST.

The field team from Eastbridge University has been at work in western Ignas for quite some time. Aside from a few unfortunate
mishaps--and the strange persistence of the giant /thing/ haunting a nearby field--things have been going well.

Then Berserk shows up, and everything goes to hell.

Drifters vs. Berserk and Metal Friends, 7 PM EST, Gunsmoke Desert. Nerds will be bullied. The Field Expedition Digger will, of
course, close the day of this scene, so if you want to run it, you have a little over two and a half weeks.
==================================================================================
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Catenna's decision to dedicate herself to a difficult, higher-yield gravity spell proves key - the petrified egg is big enough to make any one of them little rusted splatters of red spots decoratively, but her effort is the one that slows its speed down enough that everyone can get their own individual plans together.

Tethelle, gifted with immense strength, moves in to make the most of this opening to grind it to a halt. Now it's a matter of moving it out of the way (or destroying it).

They all have themselves a good try at it. Earth pillars, gusts of wind, lightning blasts and fists, one's own physical strength and gumption, and Ethius moving in to try and give it a hard-hitting poke of his quarterstaff.

The important thing is that none of them become a pancake. In this, they are completely successful... but the egg just won't go back up further, after a point.

...But wait! As the earth pillar Jay calls forth dissipates, it leaves behind a visible gap underneath the egg to squeeze past. It's a little scary to work out logistics as to the order of who goes through that gap when, but it all works out as they get through.

Onwards and upwards, their hopes far from scrambled in their bid to poach the answers out of this great mysterious evil of legend...

[OOC] Ethius Hesiod says, "OK! Who's next?"

============================<* +CAMP - *>============================
================<* Catenna - Zoa Priestess Catenna *>=================

Brute: 5 Agility: 7 Wits: 7 Combat: 7

Exhaustion: 15/100

=============================<* Tools *>==============================

Available Tool Slots: 2

1 Grappling Hook 2 Agility Limit: 3/3 Effects: Quicken

2 Celesdue Medium 2 Combat Limit: 3/3 Effects: Embolden

3 Ritual Incense 1 Wits Limit: 3/4 Effects: Cleanse

Basic Actions: Force, Investigate, Rush, Fight.

Ethius Hesiod Brute: 7 Agility: 4 Wits: 4 Combat: 4 Exhaustion: 15/100

Tools: Spectral Lens, Powder Grenade, Hot Air Sack.

Jacqueline Barber Brute: 4 Agility: 7 Wits: 8 Combat: 7 Exhaustion: 15/100

Tools: Reliable Repellant, Brewte Force, Rapid Remedy.

Tethelle Cirdian Brute: 6 Agility: 3 Wits: 3 Combat: 7 Exhaustion: 15/100

Tools: Power Gloves, Icon of Equites.

Cyre H. Lorentz Brute: 5 Agility: 8 Wits: 7 Combat: 5 Exhaustion: 15/100

Tools: Invigorating Vapors, Reverse Parachute.

Lydia Seren Brute: 5 Agility: 4 Wits: 7 Combat: 3 Exhaustion: 15/100

Tools: Portal Pistols, Asteroid Ball, Schrodinger the Cat.

Carina Wynne Brute: 5 Agility: 5 Wits: 2 Combat: 7 Exhaustion: 15/100

Tools: Matrix Eye, Element Marble.

=============================<* Party *>==============================

Party Leader: Catenna

Exploration: 60/100

Effects: Cleanse, Strengthen(1).

Conditions: Bad Luck(2), Reckless(1).

==========================< Dream Chasers >===========================
DG: Jacqueline Barber has drawn a new Challenge.
=============================<* Titan's Roost *>==============================
=================<* CHALLENGE - A Deal With the Fell Raven *>=================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 In a tower with corridor after corridor choked with bird nests, this room is  
 shockingly simple: It's a small anteroom with a skeleton of a man lying on    
 the floor. The man is carrying some nice equipment with him that you could    
 probably loot.                                                                
                                                                               
 However, perching atop the head of the skeleton is a raven, its eyes burning  
 with a hollow ember of red. Cocking its head, the raven speaks in a croaking  
 voice, like something emerging from the crypt, rumbling with an unspoken yet  
 calculating madness.                                                          
                                                                               
 "Promise what you hold most dear, and you may take of my treasure."           
                                                                               
 The door seals behind you with the slam of a bolt. The fell raven watches     
 you with cold, intent eyes - and any who do not make some manner of promise   
 to sacrifice a sufficiently precious thing to the terrible animal will find   
 the raven fully capable of swelling into the form of a shadowy knight with a  
 raven's head and bringing lives to an end. It doesn't provoke a fight,        
 though.                                                                       
                                                                               
 It merely waits for your sacrifice.                                           
=Dungeon Conditions: Madness, Treasure========================================
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Well, the good news is, they weren't crushed, but... Jacqueline frowns, staring into the gap that was left behind. It looked like this was their only way forward.

"Alright, let's...take this one at a time." She mutters. She lets the others go ahead of her, as she needs to take the time to unbuckle every last one of her bags and drag them through with her so that she'll actually be able to pass through. That's one of the problems with carrying so much equipment...

As Jacqueline stands, brushes herself off, and rebuckles every last bag, she takes a quick look around the room. It's...dark. It looks like it might have been a sitting room, once, but now it was broken down. It's also...startlingly empty, save for the skeleton in the corner, their equipment still clinging to their remains.

And perched atop of it is a raven, with eyes burning red, and it speaks.

"Promise what you hold most dear, and you may take of my treasure."

It stares at them all with a gaze full of Malice, promising a swift end if they should fail to satisfy its request, And then, there is a slight rumble, and the pathway behind them is sealed, and the doors out of the room slam shut.

They're locked in.

Jacqueline frowns, glancing around with a hint of worry. What she held most dear...? That would be...

But no. That wasn't a sacrifice she could make. But she needed to make some kind of sacrifice here. Or...hm. If she looks at it from a certain point of view...

She stares directly at the raven.

"I can't. What I hold most dear...isn't something I can promise you. And you will find claiming it rather difficult, even if I did. But there is something else precious I can offer you. Something that can not be depleted. It shines like a jewel but cannot be seen. Is offered freely to everyone, but becomes even more valuable the more there is of it. If you can figure out what I'm referring to...then I will offer it to you as well."

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, A Deal With the Fell Raven.
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

Tethelle is a strong lady, but there's no way she can wrestle an egg/boulder that size to a stop on her own.

Fortunately, she doesn't have to. That's why you work in a team!

They do get it to a stop, at least, and Tethelle takes a moment to rest at the side of the path while the others squeeze through the gap. It's a bit of a tight fit for her; the sword over her back isn't helping matters, as she almost gets the hilt's crossguard wedged in there before she wiggles, but even disregarding that there's not a whole lot of room for her.

Eventually, with a grunt, she gets through, now at the back of the group. This means she is one of the last to see a highly spooky raven, though she can hear the question asked of her. Tethelle's expression darkens slightly. What is it with multiple things demanding a sacrifice of her? This isn't the first time she's been asked for it on a Dig.

"Demanding a sacrifice," she says, "is really uninspired. I don't want your treasure, so I won't offer one." All she wants to do is keep going. She doesn't need anything else out of this tower.

DG: Tethelle Cirdian has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, A Deal With the Fell Raven.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia Seren isn't going to offer a spooky raven jack or shit.

Unfortunately, Schrodinger wanders in from offscreen and approaches the raven. Is...Is Schrodinger offering itself up, in noble sacrifice?!

Schrodinger licks its paw once then coughs a few times before hacking up a hairball which he leaves before the raven.

Then Schrodinger vanishes in a bwip of light.

Lydia frowns.

And then she frowns even deeper.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Schrodinger the Cat toward her party's challenge, A Deal With the Fell Raven.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"I do not even wish to know what lays eggs that large," grumbles Catenna as she slips beneath the enormous egg and follows the others deeper into the crumbling tor.

The anteroom awaits. Catenna frowns at the sight of the body - but that expression gives way to a cold fear as her eyes fall to the raven perched atop the old corpse. Her cheeks go pale, and she takes a half-step back, only for her back to hit the locked door.

She presses against it anyway. "Accursed thing," she hisses as she brings a hand up to her chest, as if to defend her heart from what is by all accounts just a raven perching on a body.

Catenna knows better. She can feel the Demon King's Malice suffusing the fell bird.

When Jacqueline speaks, Catenna bites down hard to her lower lip, half-expecting the fell bird to punish her for her temerity. The priestess swallows a lump in her throat.

If Jay can do this....

Catenna takes a hesitant step forward, then a couple more. She sinks to her knees and bows her head. Dipping into her dress, she comes out with a few sticks of incense, lighting them and letting the sharp, pungent scent begin to drift through the room. It helps, a little, clearing the mind of some of the grim pressure of Malice hanging in the air.

"What is most dear to me is not mine to promise to you," she murmurs as she clasps her hands at her chest and bows her head. Long dark hair frames her face like funeral veils. Pale grey eyes close above pale cheeks as she sinks forward a little. "Nothing that is most dear to me is a thing I own... but rather, it is shared with me. The moon, the tides, the earth, the sky...."

She lifts her eyes to Cyre for a moment, then to Jay, then Tethelle, then Locus and Lydia and even Ethius.

"I could never hold them dear," she murmurs as she lets the incense burn, "for nothing is truly mine to hold. It is theirs to give."

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Ritual Incense toward her party's challenge, A Deal With the Fell Raven.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

The very moment the doors slam again, the Spectral Lens come out. Its deployment is delayed as the ambient Malice washes through. Burning red eyes command attention. It does not need further illumination to be seen. One cannot plug their ears away from what is about to be spoken. One does not need to ponder to realize that the treasure it sits upon is valuable - useful. Some of the finer weapons they've seen on this side of Ignas. Some of it may yet sparkle with promise that it might be useful for dealing with what lies ahead, what lies above. It may include some of the only chances they'll have to stand their ground against what lies up top.

It is a dangerous proposition to dismiss this offer. If not for the immediate future, then it may well be for what comes after.

Ethius gets out the Spectral Lens again and gets casting as others share their feelings. What they hold value in, is something they cannot promise. Some reject it outright.

One electrical spell later, he stares into those beady red eyes, into the skeleton and its pile of useful, well-preserved equipment, and...

"It appears part of the treasure may, in fact, include the intended way forward." Ethius speaks as he takes the sorcerous eyeglass away from his gaze. If what he says is true, their words must be picked carefully. Ethius strides forth. Does this mean he has something to promise, something to give? Who, or what, does he intend to sacrifice in order to satiate a dark power that - if slighted - could slaughter them all in place?

He extends a hand and flutters his fingers, and an incredible heat starts to build around the door just ahead... as given away by the lights cast off of his exposed tattoos and other sorcerous patterns around him.

Of course he was just going to melt the damn door if he was given half a chance. Even a quarter of a chance. Maybe even an eighth.

That's just what he does.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Spectral Lens toward his party's challenge, A Deal With the Fell Raven.
===============================<* Titan's Roost *>================================
===================<* CHALLENGE - A Deal With the Fell Raven *>===================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 In a tower with corridor after corridor choked with bird nests, this room is  
 shockingly simple: It's a small anteroom with a skeleton of a man lying on    
 the floor. The man is carrying some nice equipment with him that you could    
 probably loot.                                                                
                                                                               
 However, perching atop the head of the skeleton is a raven, its eyes burning  
 with a hollow ember of red. Cocking its head, the raven speaks in a croaking  
 voice, like something emerging from the crypt, rumbling with an unspoken yet  
 calculating madness.                                                          
                                                                               
 "Promise what you hold most dear, and you may take of my treasure."           
                                                                               
 The door seals behind you with the slam of a bolt. The fell raven watches     
 you with cold, intent eyes - and any who do not make some manner of promise   
 to sacrifice a sufficiently precious thing to the terrible animal will find   
 the raven fully capable of swelling into the form of a shadowy knight with a  
 raven's head and bringing lives to an end. It doesn't provoke a fight,        
 though.                                                                       
                                                                               
 It merely waits for your sacrifice.                                           
=Dungeon Conditions: Madness, Treasure========================================
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

There's something about Cyre and attracting horrible monkey-pawed genies who want only to give him everything he desires and more-- if only he'd give up just a little bit of something...!

Well. Cyre is a Baskar. The Baskar have legends about these kinds of things. They know all there is to know about accepting a devil's bargain, and why you should always take the alternative. Even if that means making the greatest sacrifice of them all.

And so Cyre stares at the beady little raven with its beady little eyes. He feels its words around in his head. He can sense its malice without even seeing it. Of course, it would take a pretty daft digger not to at this point; when a black bird perched ominously on top of a corpse starts talking and doors start slamming shut, it's never an auspicious event. Cyre follows Jay with his eyes, then glances over to Catenna and frowns ever so slightly.

"Well," he says to the bird, "Sorry. It's like the lady says. What's important to us is not ours to give. And I ain't about to throw myself at the mercy of a strange ruin-bird. I've got a life to live, after all. So you can keep your treasure. We just need to get past you is all, and I wager we have enough firepower to do it."

And then... Ethius starts melting through the door.

Well.

That's funny. Because that's exactly what Cyre had in mind, too. Flame is joined by a spectrum of prismatic lasers, blasting into the stone like an enormous, luminescent drill bit. "Here bud. Let me give you a hand with that. More the merrier, eh?"

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, A Deal With the Fell Raven.
===============================<* Titan's Roost *>================================
===================<* CHALLENGE - A Deal With the Fell Raven *>===================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 In a tower with corridor after corridor choked with bird nests, this room is  
 shockingly simple: It's a small anteroom with a skeleton of a man lying on    
 the floor. The man is carrying some nice equipment with him that you could    
 probably loot.                                                                
                                                                               
 However, perching atop the head of the skeleton is a raven, its eyes burning  
 with a hollow ember of red. Cocking its head, the raven speaks in a croaking  
 voice, like something emerging from the crypt, rumbling with an unspoken yet  
 calculating madness.                                                          
                                                                               
 "Promise what you hold most dear, and you may take of my treasure."           
                                                                               
 The door seals behind you with the slam of a bolt. The fell raven watches     
 you with cold, intent eyes - and any who do not make some manner of promise   
 to sacrifice a sufficiently precious thing to the terrible animal will find   
 the raven fully capable of swelling into the form of a shadowy knight with a  
 raven's head and bringing lives to an end. It doesn't provoke a fight,        
 though.                                                                       
                                                                               
 It merely waits for your sacrifice.                                           
=Dungeon Conditions: Madness, Treasure========================================
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

Locus takes a potion from Jay, and stares at it for a few seconds, wasting precious egg time. She really needs to figure potions and edibles out at some point. Maybe a straw?

The evidence is soon destroyed, thrown against the egg (why not, right?) and exploded further by another lightning blast. Then another, followed by an apology to Lydia, some hesitation, then...

Oh, hey, an exit! That works.

And soon there is... a bird and a skeleton. A skeleton wearing and carrying some VERY NICE STUFF. Not all of this equipment is in good repair, Carina quickly notes, but... the materials alone look precious and potentially useful. Behind her mask, Carina's eyes widen.

"Oh hey, I-- Er, your friend Carina could probably make some neat stuff with these!"

But the raven speaks, ominously. What they hold most dear? A chill goes down Carina's spine. But soon, she speaks up, perhaps carelessly:

"Hey, that's a really bad deal! Who's gonna want to give away their dearest things in exchange for some junk, even if it's really nice junk?"

But then the door locks. And Ethius clarifies something important. Locus slumps forward.

"Ugh... some junk AND our freedom, huh? You drive a hard bargain."

Jay has a clever riddle in answer. So clever that Carina has to stop and figure it out for a while. A (mercifully figurative) lightbulb appears above her head.

"I think I know what you're talkin' about, Miss Jay!"

It must totally be that thing her dad talks about when he does the store's finances. It's compound interest. It has to be compound interest.

Meanwhile, Catenna says something touching, and the most of the others agree, in heartfelt or irreverent ways. That's the spirit! Thought Carina... still wants to hedge her bets while an exit is being melted open, just in case.

"Okay, so how 'bout I also throw in a lil' bit of what Miss Jay's offering?"

Locus also does look around the room with the Matrix Eye to find a secret passage, just in case. Hey, it's good to have a Plan C.

DG: Carina Wynne has used her Tool Matrix Eye toward her party's challenge, A Deal With the Fell Raven.
=============================<* Titan's Roost *>==============================
=================<* CHALLENGE - A Deal With the Fell Raven *>=================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 In a tower with corridor after corridor choked with bird nests, this room is  
 shockingly simple: It's a small anteroom with a skeleton of a man lying on    
 the floor. The man is carrying some nice equipment with him that you could    
 probably loot.                                                                
                                                                               
 However, perching atop the head of the skeleton is a raven, its eyes burning  
 with a hollow ember of red. Cocking its head, the raven speaks in a croaking  
 voice, like something emerging from the crypt, rumbling with an unspoken yet  
 calculating madness.                                                          
                                                                               
 "Promise what you hold most dear, and you may take of my treasure."           
                                                                               
 The door seals behind you with the slam of a bolt. The fell raven watches     
 you with cold, intent eyes - and any who do not make some manner of promise   
 to sacrifice a sufficiently precious thing to the terrible animal will find   
 the raven fully capable of swelling into the form of a shadowy knight with a  
 raven's head and bringing lives to an end. It doesn't provoke a fight,        
 though.                                                                       
                                                                               
 It merely waits for your sacrifice.                                           
=Dungeon Conditions: Madness, Treasure========================================
========================<* Titan's Roost - Round 4 *>=========================
===================< Results - A Deal With the Fell Raven >===================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             15 --(15)--> 30                Pass
Ritual Incense                      1   Wits    Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       15 --(20)--> 35                Fail
Spectral Lens                       2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   15 --(20)--> 35                Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         15 --(15)--> 30                Pass
Schrodinger the Cat                 2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carina Wynne                        15 --(15)--> 30                Pass
Matrix Eye                          2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tethelle Cirdian                    15 --(20)--> 35                Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     15 --(20)--> 35                Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Catenna                     60 --(10)--> 70                Fail
Conditions: Madness|Treasure(1)
Effects: Cleanse|Enlighten(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Catenna has failed this challenge! The party gained 10 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> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

The raven observes the party impassively as they speak, and as Cyre and Ethius attempt to form a passageway out of there. Eventually, the last party member has said their piece, and there is silent, until it throws its wings open and caws angrily.

"You...audacious brats!" It caws, and then begins to swell and transform. A shadow knight with a raven's head appears before them, sending out a wave of darkness. Jacqueline - and others who do not manage to avoid it - is slammed into the back wall and slides down.

"I-I guess...that means you decline my offer...?" She murmurs, dazed. She's almost a little saddened by it, beyond the pain from being slammed violently into a wall.

It is around this time that the door is finally reduced to a molten puddle on the ground. There is an escape route now, at least, and it would be probably be wise for everyone to take it as soon as possible.

It looks like you really...

...Ruffled his feathers.

DG: Carina Wynne has drawn a new Challenge.
==============================<* Titan's Roost *>===============================
===============<* CHALLENGE - Harpies Stole the Precious Thing *>===============
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 This series of ramps and protrusions along the outer surface of the decaying  
 watchtower opens you up to predation from above - and indeed, a pair of       
 harpies, eagle-bodied birds with the faces of men, suddenly swoop down with   
 talons arched in an aerial ambush. But they don't strike to do damage. They   
 reach out... and snatch one of your party members, and begin to fly away!     
                                                                               
 With the added burden of your party member's weight, the harpies can't get    
 too far ahead of you if you really hurry. But the precariousness of the       
 footholds along the outside of the tower is bound to slow you down - and the  
 longer you take to navigate the obstacle course of outcroppings and decaying  
 arches, the longer the harpies have to escape with your poor party            
 member....                                                                    
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow=====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

Locus is slammed against the wall by that wave of darkness, though it seems Jay gets the worst of it. The armored heroine is up first, and although she can't heal or anything of the sort, at least she offers a hand to let her friendboss (er, Carina's friendboss) up.

The party goes through the molten door, carefully but quickly. After some uneventful trekking, they make their way up to another area.

The good news is that it has a FANTASTIC view. Just breathtaking. Worth the trip all by itself. A perfect example of the reason some people cite for becoming Drifters.

The bad news is that the reason the party can see all this is an alarming lack of walls.

There have been birds (or bird creatures of some sort? it's hard to tell from this distance) flying in circles and watching the group for a good five minutes now, biding their time. The more experienced will know to keep their guard up even as it seems they aren't going to DO anything.

Carina is not very experienced. She's taking point, no longer focusing very hard on the bird menace.

And suddenly, a bird menaces her!

"HEY, WATCH THE HAIR, CREEP!" she screams as a man-headed, eagle-bodied harpy swoops down open her, its talons grabbing her hair. An electric roundhouse kick later, and the creature has let go, retreating.

Cyre, however, is not so lucky. A second harpy, soon joined by the first, carries him away towards the top of the tower.

As they carry him, Cyre can hear them speak in low voices.

"The tables have turned, feline."

"Yes, my brother, today at last we finally reassert our true place on the food chain."

They laugh loud enough for the party to hear.

"FRICKIN' GARBAGE BIRDS!" Locus shouts, taking a running start to leap over the most treacherous-looking crumbling ledges, inconvenient archways and absurd platforming puzzles lying between Cyre and the rest of the gang.

DG: Carina Wynne has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Harpies Stole the Precious Thing.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Of course it would not be enough. To bargain with a cursed creature in metaphor is to sacrifice more than one could ever dream. Catenna keeps her heart closed even as she says those pretty words, for to let the fell raven in would be to surrender a part of her soul.

She pays for it. She escapes the room, lurching unsteadily after a couple of solid hits, but her spirit's more shaken than her body.

And then she looks down. Realizes she's on the edge of a precipice. With a gasp, she recoils towards the wall - until she stares upwards at the swooping harpies, which sweep in and...

And snag Cyre H. Lorentz.

The existential dread rolling through Catenna is suddenly broken by a surge of something else - something white-hot. Her pale grey eyes flare as she pushes off the wall and lunges towards a crumbling ledge, sword in hand. She kicks off the ledge and lunges to the next one, hurtling from outcropping to outcropping almost without stopping to consider just how dangerous these jumps truly are.

"Cyre," she calls out to him, reaching towards him, but falling short as the harpies pull away. She clenches her teeth.

Then she fishes out her Medium.

"Get your hands off of my man!" she shouts irrationally before belting off a gravity spell, aiming to weigh the harpies down and slow their flight up the tower!

DG: Catenna has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Harpies Stole the Precious Thing.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Who would have thought that a massively evil corvid would find the concept of ~friendship~ being a promised prize utterly absurd? It was worth a shot though. At least this way nobody ends up waking up in the middle of the night to the dissonant crowing of a raven who has finally decided to cash in its chips.

Being blasted by a wave of utter darkness is not especially a pleasant experience either, though.

At least the vista that they are able to behold upon escaping the beast is... Worth it. Definitely worth it. Cyre has been this high before, he has sailed the wind currents and turned his eye to the vast expanse of wilderness below before-- but being able to just stand here and look instead of worrying about the next thermal is really something else.

Or. Well.

It was. Up until a bird snatches him up off the ground.

"What-- Hey! Lay off, you damn rats with wings!" Cyre snarls, swatting vaguely upward with the crook of his staff. "Fuckin' overgrown pidgeons!" He yells as the winds suddenly begin to howl. "You're not even the sexy kind of harpy! What the hell!?" A veritable cyclone begins to build, centered around the trapped shaman and the beasts attempting to haul him to his doom.

And then the parachute deploys.

And suddenly the birds have to deal with a tug of war.

"Hahahaha! Yeah, I bet you didn't expect that, did you? I'm not just a cat, you birdbrains! I'm a [WIND PRIEST]." Scythes of cutting wind arc up and into the beasts' wings-- this might end up sending Cyre into a perilous, death-spiral of a fall, but...

Honestly, if it was going to happen to anyone, better it be the guy who can actually kind of fly.

"I'VE FOUGHT CUCCOS TOUGHER THAN YOU!"

...Yeah.

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Reverse Parachute toward his party's challenge, Harpies Stole the Precious Thing.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia watches after Schrodinger's vanishing for a bit and is knocked back and dizzied but after that, the door is opened, so she picks herself back up and stumbles into a standing position, dusts herself off, and head right on out the door. If this is the worst of it, she figures they'll be okay.

She shouts after Cyre, "Cyre!! Don't hurt them! They are merely negatively affected by the negative stereotyping commonly associated with beastmen and monsters encouraging that we are dominated by our bestial natures rather than our minds and souls that think and shine as brilliantly as any humans! They just need to be properly educated!! I brought charts on this so hang on!!!"

She naturally abuses portals to try and catch up but luckily the rest of the group can use them too if they don't outspeed her naturally which they might. Despite being faster on her feet now that she doesn't have a giant rock head, she is hardly the quickest in the party.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Portal Pistols toward her party's challenge, Harpies Stole the Precious Thing.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"LYDIA I AM BEING ABDUCTED AND THEY WANT TO EAT ME," Cyre yells back, "I AM PRETTY SURE THAT MEANS I GET TO PUNCH THEM IN THE FACE."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

For Ethius, he is not met with a blast of darkness... on its own. Everywhere there is a shadow cast in that room, those red eyes peer out. From every nook, a shadowy knight swings its fell blade for him. With every swing, what air the shadow travels becomes musty, cold, and still.

Ethius only acknowledges this form at all for that brief instant in which he can lay eyes upon it before primal terror takes over and forces him to flee the enclosed space without ever looking back. He would not be able to appreciate just how narrow an escape he manages - it may only be the grace that they emerge out towards the light of day to an incredible sight. Ethius throws himself up against a wall as he clutches at his better sense to not just hurl himself off the very edge.

Just in time for harpies to move in. He's next in line behind Cyre, if they're moving to pick at them sequentially... but then they fly off with him.

He moves quickly. Getting the patchy Hot Air Sack out and around his right wrist, fluttering his fingers for the heat spell of appropriate yield with accompanying chants, one set of sorcerous lights later... it gives him lift. It doesn't allow him a clean shot from point A to point B, but it is allowing him to take a few small shortcuts hot in pursuit.

...

He floats so slowly that there's probably not much of a gain or loss of time taken to traverse it either way, but it is reliable and a bit less effort - in case he need to save his strength for a more drastic rescue method than just 'float between points of similar height.' He saves the screaming of Cyre's name for the rest - he can't scream and cast at the same time.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Hot Air Sack toward his party's challenge, Harpies Stole the Precious Thing.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline appreciates the hand up, offering Carina - er, Locus - a weak smile. She's a bit unsteady on her feet, but eventually she's running quickly along with the rest of them as they eventually find themselves outside once more.

On the bright side...it really is a nice view. Unfortunately, it's a nice view that leaves them open to the harpies swarming up above, as Cyre soon finds out.

"A-ah! Cyre!" Jacqueline says, startled. She draws out and quickly downs a potion, before providing one to the others as well. She in particular needed it after what they just went through. She keeps Cyre's in reserve for when he's actually back with them, as well.

She runs alongside the others, but...this poses a dilemma. Her best form of combat against the creatures would be lightning, but...she runs the risk of zapping Cyre, too.

And so, Jacqueline reaches into a pouch of Crests. It's not her usual pouch, this one is rather aged, and looks like it has been around longer than she's even been alive. The Crest she draws out is similarly aged. She invokes the Crest...

...and a cold, icy mist forms around the harpies' wings, aiming to freeze them and weigh them down with ice so they cannot fly as effectively. She can trust Cyre to be able to parachute to safety, at least. If it was any of the others, they might have trouble...

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Rapid Remedy toward her party's challenge, Harpies Stole the Precious Thing.
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

Okay, so getting away from the evil raven means she's a little crunched now. Tethelle got slammed into the wall by the darkness - but she took the opportunity to slip away, through the more melted door. She's sore, but alive, at least, which is a good thing.

And then they break out into the open sky.

Tethelle takes a deep breath, refreshing herself - being in a series of rooms with lots of birds in them has, let's say, a rather distinctive smell. Unfortunately, she's interrupted by a swooping harpy, which she ducks; they elect to go after Cyre instead of her. And... pick him up.

Tethelle is almost immediately in motion. She starts climbing, going for speed rather than grace, so she looks a little awkward trying to ascend - there's not a lot of handholds and she's kind of short, so some of the ones other people can take give her trouble with reaching. But she's trying.

She's also listening. To Catenna, in this case. "Crap, he's taken?" she says, fortunately into the wall of the tower. She'd been going to hit on him. He's cute and at least sort of reliable! So much for that...

DG: Tethelle Cirdian has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Harpies Stole the Precious Thing.
==============================<* Titan's Roost *>===============================
===============<* CHALLENGE - Harpies Stole the Precious Thing *>===============
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 This series of ramps and protrusions along the outer surface of the decaying  
 watchtower opens you up to predation from above - and indeed, a pair of       
 harpies, eagle-bodied birds with the faces of men, suddenly swoop down with   
 talons arched in an aerial ambush. But they don't strike to do damage. They   
 reach out... and snatch one of your party members, and begin to fly away!     
                                                                               
 With the added burden of your party member's weight, the harpies can't get    
 too far ahead of you if you really hurry. But the precariousness of the       
 footholds along the outside of the tower is bound to slow you down - and the  
 longer you take to navigate the obstacle course of outcroppings and decaying  
 arches, the longer the harpies have to escape with your poor party            
 member....                                                                    
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow=====================================================
=========================<* Titan's Roost - Round 5 *>==========================
=================< Results - Harpies Stole the Precious Thing >=================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             30 --(15)--> 45                Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       35 --(10)--> 45                Pass
Hot Air Sack                        2   Agility Effects: Resilient            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   35 --(10)--> 45                Pass
Rapid Remedy                        1   Agility Effects: Cleanse              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         30 --(15)--> 45                Fail
Portal Pistols                      2   Agility Effects: Stalwart             
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carina Wynne                        30 --(15)--> 45                Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tethelle Cirdian                    35 --(15)--> 50                Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     35 --(15)--> 50                Fail
Reverse Parachute                   1   Agility Effects: Rally and Quicken    
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Catenna                     70 --(10)--> 80                Fail
Conditions: Slow(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Quicken(1)|Resilient(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Catenna has failed this challenge! The party gained 10 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: Cyre H. Lorentz has drawn a new Challenge.
=============================<* Titan's Roost *>==============================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Elevation of You *>======================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The old watchtower's upper floors are high-ceilinged and equipped with an     
 old pulley-operated elevator. Overhead, about ten metres up, there's a gap    
 in the ceiling about the size of the elevator's rotting wooden platform. A    
 series of chains affix the platform to pulleys up above. By pulling on these  
 chains in tandem, you might be able to pull the elevator towards the opening  
 in the tower ceiling and get a look at what's on the roof - but the chains    
 have rusted and the pulleys are stubborn and difficult, making pulling on     
 them a true hassle.                                                           
                                                                               
 On the plus side, nothing in here is coming at you, so you've got the         
 opportunity for a short breather.                                             
=Dungeon Conditions: Save Point===============================================
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

And the CaraKin (and Tethelle!) give chase! Some run right ahead, while others provide support in their own, magical way.

"What has that bird EATEN to be so heavy? It's birds, isn't it? Oh, the birdmanity!"

"No, it is that witch's curse, turning our feathers leaden! Flap, flap faster, damn you!"

"Oh, and is that frost, now? How could this day get any worse!?"

Cyre explains how, providing an impressive demonstration. The parachute tug-o-war and the cyclone are bad enough, but the cucco comment is just puzzling to them. Why, yes, of course a cucco would be tougher. Doesn't that feline man know ANYTHING about the animal kingdom's pecking order?

It is, once again, time for a round of good news and bad news.

The good news is that the harpies have had enough of this, and are finally letting go of Cyre. They fly away to bide their time, waiting for another batch of foolhardy Drifters, who hopefully don't include that many witches and/or shamans.

The bad news is that Lydia had a good point about internalized faunaphobia, and unfortunately she won't get to tell the harpies in person.

The worst news is that this corner of the floor is starting to crumble under all that action! Good footholds or no, the party has no choice but to abandon the chase for a moment in order to 1- not die, and 2- subsequently climb back up.

And in all this chaos, Cyre drifts away... somewhere.

Meanwhile, Ethius is enjoying the best balloon ride this side of Tingle transport. He gets to bypass every single shenanigan. AND he gets to enjoy the gorgeous view some more. Lucky him!

<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

And the CaraKin (and Tethelle!) give chase! Some run right ahead, while others provide support in their own, magical way.

"What has that cat man EATEN to be so heavy? It's birds, isn't it? Oh, the birdmanity!"

"No, it is that witch's curse, turning our feathers leaden! Flap, flap faster, damn you!"

"Oh, and is that frost, now? How could this day get any worse!?"

Cyre explains how, providing an impressive demonstration. The parachute tug-o-war and the cyclone are bad enough, but the cucco comment is just puzzling to them. Why, yes, of course a cucco would be tougher. Doesn't that feline man know ANYTHING about the animal kingdom's pecking order?

It is, once again, time for a round of good news and bad news.

The good news is that the harpies have had enough of this, and are finally letting go of Cyre. They fly away to bide their time, waiting for another batch of foolhardy Drifters, who hopefully don't include that many witches and/or shamans.

The bad news is that Lydia had a good point about internalized faunaphobia, and unfortunately she won't get to tell the harpies in person.

The worst news is that this corner of the floor is starting to crumble under all that action! Good footholds or no, the party has no choice but to abandon the chase for a moment in order to 1- not die, and 2- subsequently climb back up.

And in all this chaos, Cyre drifts away... somewhere.

Meanwhile, Ethius is enjoying the best balloon ride this side of Tingle transport. He gets to bypass every single shenanigan. AND he gets to enjoy the gorgeous view some more. Lucky him!

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Truly, there are few groups in the world which have quite as high of a concentration of wizards and witches as the CaraKin. Maybe that's the secret. Maybe the entire vehicle is powered not by some miracle of technology, but by a legion of magical, invisible, undead ghost-horses which are visible only to those who have come close to death...!

Or maybe it's just something Emma whipped up.

By some miracle of magic, Cyre is liberated from the grasp of the hideous harpies! Unfortunately, he goes flying as a result, having apparently underestimated how much oomph he was putting into his hurricane conjuration. (Blame all the gravity and the frost throwing off his calculations!) As the catman goes flying off on a course vaguely upward in direction, you can still hear him screaming...!

"DAMN FEATHERED ASSHOLES, I'LL KILL YOU BASTAAAAARDS!

Yep.

That sure is Cyre.

On the upside, he still had his incense burner going from the last time he'd set it alight. While he may have disappeared, he has left a trail of fragrance that cuts through the rather rancid aroma of ten thousand birds. Following it up the shear cliff face, the party would eventually find themselves at a dead end that smells strongly of Cyre's incense...

...And a broken-down, rotted-through old elevator. Whatever mechanism might have powered it has long ago rusted away, and the only way you're going to get it to where it's supposed to go is by working the pulleys manually.

At the very least, this part of the mesa is bereft of birds.

Mostly.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Truly, there are few groups in the world which have quite as high of a concentration of wizards and witches as the CaraKin. Maybe that's the secret. Maybe the entire vehicle is powered not by some miracle of technology, but by a legion of magical, invisible, undead ghost-horses which are visible only to those who have come close to death...!

Or maybe it's just something Emma whipped up.

By some miracle of magic, Cyre is liberated from the grasp of the hideous harpies! Unfortunately, he goes flying as a result, having apparently underestimated how much oomph he was putting into his hurricane conjuration. (Blame all the gravity and the frost throwing off his calculations!) As the catman goes flying off on a course vaguely upward in direction, you can still hear him screaming...!

"DAMN FEATHERED ASSHOLES, I'LL KILL YOU BASTAAAAARDS!"

Yep.

That sure is Cyre.

On the upside, he still had his incense burner going from the last time he'd set it alight. While he may have disappeared, he has left a trail of fragrance that cuts through the rather rancid aroma of ten thousand birds. Following it up the shear cliff face, the party would eventually find themselves at a dead end that smells strongly of Cyre's incense...

...And a broken-down, rotted-through old elevator. Whatever mechanism might have powered it has long ago rusted away, and the only way you're going to get it to where it's supposed to go is by working the pulleys manually.

At the very least, this part of the mesa is bereft of birds.

Mostly.

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Invigorating Vapors toward his party's challenge, Elevation of You.
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

Tethelle is not a great climber, but eventually she shoves herself up. She's still a ways behind Cyre, though, much as she would like not to be. How is she going to get him back if she can't even catch up to him? She can smell him even if she can't see him (well, she can smell the incense, which is pretty much the same thing except less gross and with a slightly raised chance to make her sneeze).

There's an elevator here. Tethelle tries to climb into the shaft, but can't get into it; she does manage to get one of the ropes attached to the pulleys down, at least. She looks at it for a moment. Then up. Then at the rope again.

Tethelle raises her voice. "All aboard!" she calls, as she wraps the rope around her thankfully gloved hands. She'll wait for people to get on with her, and then, well... it's pulling time.

Fortunately, there is more than one hanging rope.

DG: Tethelle Cirdian has used her Tool Power Gloves toward her party's challenge, Elevation of You.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"A short-term loan is always possible," Catenna answers Tethelle with a dip of her lashes.

Finally, though, they let go of Cyre - but before Catenna can leap out to catch him, the foothole she's standing on begins to collapse. "Cyre," she calls with alarm, reaching out --

Her foothold gives way. With a gasp, she drops towards the floor below, hitting the rock with a gasp, then a thin groan. "Owwww," she manages, voice small and pinched.

Catenna pushes herself to her knees. Drawing in a breath, she blinks as she immediately catches the smell of incense. "...Come on," she murmurs, climbing upwards towards the face of the tower. And soon enough, there's that elevator.

With a catman somewhere up there. Looking up towards the top of the tower, Catenna bites down to her lower lip firmly. Then she steps onto the elevator and begins to fuss with the machinery, taking ahold of one of the chains. "...This looks like it goes right to the top of the tower," she says with a look back towards those who came with her.

Catenna's shoulders tense a little, and she eases a bit closer to help Tethelle. "...We may meet the Great White Bird up there," she murmurs. "Monsters often nest in a hierarchy, with the most powerful at the top."

DG: Catenna has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Elevation of You.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

It hurts, having to hang back even while Cyre needs their help. Jacqueline wanted to rescue him as quickly as possible, but at the same time...

...Well, he clearly had the energy to keep on yelling, so he wasn't in too much danger. He also provides a convenient trail in the form of his echoing shout and the fragrance.

Eventually, they find themselves at an elevator of sorts. Unfortunately, it's a manual one, that they'll have to manage themselves. They have a physical powerhouse in the form of Tethelle, at least. Jacqueline herself won't be much help...

...But she does provide yet another round of potions for those who might need a little extra boost to pull the elevator higher.

"...So, we'll need to be ready, then." Jacqueline murmurs, glancing toward Catenna. Would they be able to face it as they were now...? It could have killed them before. The armor Carina provided might help, but she couldn't fathom how powerful the Great White Bird truly was...

Hopefully they would be able to get through to it.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Brewte Force toward her party's challenge, Elevation of You.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia has to bounce back through one of her portals lest she fall to her DOOM. Well actually it's Lydia so she would've probably done some crazy portal nonsense. It's hard for her to 'fall' to her death so long as she's patient enough. She's not patient enough for that and ends up taking a longer way around. She says, "Language Cyre!"

In any event, she is pretty tired after all that and takes a breather before looking over to Catenna. "I'm honestly getting pretty wiped. I hope it's not too tough."

She eventually decides to let Tethelle carry her and takes part of the rope. "Heave ho, heave ho." She says in a deadpan, providing token effort.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Elevation of You.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Ethius joins the rest of the group at a ledge of the proper elevation for him to park his feet. It's good that he has. His hand was getting hot under the glove. He muses quietly about the recent sequence of events - he's not sure if he may have used too strong a heat spell out of fear of what they ran from prior, or if he was that concerned about Cyre's well-being as the initial form the chase takes abruptly ends with him growing ever further away, leaving the team separated. He doesn't think to ask this out loud as he quietly rejoins them.

"My apologies, Miss Cat--" 'Come on.' He is interrupted, as she moves forward not out of frantic panic or sad resignation. She's got her MAN to save, and Ethius respects her focus by not interrupting her further as she explains the device, what lies ahead, and why it may lie ahead.

"I will be on hand to assist," he reassures, as he noncahalantly prepares to help with the pulling best he's able in a non-distinct but largely reliable fashion. Oftentimes within the Caravan Kinship themselves, these sorts of tasks oft fall to him if there is no easy sorcery shortcut available to them.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Elevation of You.
===============================<* Titan's Roost *>================================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Elevation of You *>========================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The old watchtower's upper floors are high-ceilinged and equipped with an     
 old pulley-operated elevator. Overhead, about ten metres up, there's a gap    
 in the ceiling about the size of the elevator's rotting wooden platform. A    
 series of chains affix the platform to pulleys up above. By pulling on these  
 chains in tandem, you might be able to pull the elevator towards the opening  
 in the tower ceiling and get a look at what's on the roof - but the chains    
 have rusted and the pulleys are stubborn and difficult, making pulling on     
 them a true hassle.                                                           
                                                                               
 On the plus side, nothing in here is coming at you, so you've got the         
 opportunity for a short breather.                                             
=Dungeon Conditions: Save Point===============================================
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

"I'm all right, I'm all right," Locus says, flat on the floor after surviving the sudden collapse of the first thing she put her foot on after some truly perilous airtime.

A moment later, she's entering the elevator with the rest, trying to track Cyre with the Matrix Eye but not finding some sort of cat-finder setting.

She grabs on to one of the loose ropes. Sure, why not? She's not INCREDIBLY strong as Locus, but she's certainly stronger than she normally is. And so, she pulls, trying to find a foothold and, long story short, finding herself briefly tangled in the rope before settling into a good pulling position.

"Same," she says after Lydia, after a moment, on the matter of feeling wiped.

Catenna offers a warning.

"Um, gotcha. I'll try my best to stay sharp, then." She rubs the back of her head, feeling a little bad for earlier.

Before she transformed, Carina handed group members some quickly-made bracelets that might help mitigate at least a little of the gravity magic. It's not a miraculous solution, but sometimes every bit helps, right?

She briefly considers whether she's even still wearing it or not, then promptly decides to stop thinking about it. She'll figure out how weird equipment hammerspace works LATER.

She holds her breath. Hopefully the bird hasn't eaten Cyre yet.

DG: Carina Wynne has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Elevation of You.
=============================<* Titan's Roost *>==============================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Elevation of You *>======================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The old watchtower's upper floors are high-ceilinged and equipped with an     
 old pulley-operated elevator. Overhead, about ten metres up, there's a gap    
 in the ceiling about the size of the elevator's rotting wooden platform. A    
 series of chains affix the platform to pulleys up above. By pulling on these  
 chains in tandem, you might be able to pull the elevator towards the opening  
 in the tower ceiling and get a look at what's on the roof - but the chains    
 have rusted and the pulleys are stubborn and difficult, making pulling on     
 them a true hassle.                                                           
                                                                               
 On the plus side, nothing in here is coming at you, so you've got the         
 opportunity for a short breather.                                             
=Dungeon Conditions: Save Point===============================================
========================<* Titan's Roost - Round 6 *>=========================
========================< Results - Elevation of You >========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             45 --(5)--> 50                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       45 --(5)--> 50                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   45 --(5)--> 50                 Pass
Brewte Force                        1   Brute   Effects: Fanfare and Strengthe
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         45 --(5)--> 50                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carina Wynne                        45 --(5)--> 50                 Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tethelle Cirdian                    50 --(5)--> 55                 Pass
Power Gloves                        2   Brute   Effects: Stalwart             
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     50 --(5)--> 55                 Pass
Invigorating Vapors                 1   Brute   Effects: Cleanse              
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Catenna                     80 --(0)--> 80                 Pass
Conditions: Save Point(1)
Effects: Cleanse|Strengthen(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Catenna has passed this challenge! The party gained 0 exploration! If anyone needs to use party management
commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
DG: Catenna has drawn a new Challenge.
===============================<* Titan's Roost *>================================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Great White Bird *>========================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The top of the tower is occupied completely by an enormous nest wrought of    
 ancient dirt and branches mingled with masonry, steel and more than a few     
 bones, some of them human. The nest's occupant is evident enough: With a      
 rumbling shriek that splits the sky, the immense Great White Bird swoops      
 down at you, its owl-like body rippling with the Demon King's Malice. Dark    
 power floods from the creature in withering gravity waves and blasts of dark  
 magic capable of smashing through Gears, the bird attacking with both spells  
 and its talons, bill and wings. Even in its crazed, twisted state, its size   
 and ability to fly make even hitting it a complete nightmare.                 
                                                                               
 You've got your work cut out for you just to bring it down to earth.          
=Dungeon Conditions: Cripple, Fright==========================================
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

The bird has not eaten Cyre yet.

Through brute strength or just kind of tagging along or even somehow getting your super robot arms all tangled up in chains like they had some kind of hitherto unknown super-adhesive property, the party manages to drag the elevator up to the very top of the tower.

...Where they find a howling wind and a shaman who looks altogether just a little worse for wear.

"Guys?" Cyre grunts as the elevator rises high enough for him to see it-- and for the others to see the massive, tangled mess of wood and bramble and various flotsam and jetsam surrounding them on all sides. "I'm glad you're here. I was almost a goner, it's that thing, it's--"

A shadow falls across the nest. Cyre looks up and grits his teeth. "...Here."

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Bit by bit, the elevator ascends along the tower. A few birds swirl around the group as the platform ascends, but they don't cause all that much trouble; not at this point. Most of them sail away after the elevator crosses some unseen threshold.

Catenna purses her lips, fingers fidgeting around her sword.

Finally, with a clunk, the elevator platform stops at the crest of the tower - at the edge of a massive nest. It takes up most of the tower roof. Much of it is straw, twigs and mud... but far too much of it is more recognizable things. Bones and scraps of cloth and chunks of masonry and bits of steel. A few obviously human skeletons have been disassembled and twisted into the nest, with several skulls able to be made out - some of them child-sized.

Some of the bones seem fresh.

And then there's Cyre.

Suppressing the urge to gag, Catenna takes a step forward. "Cyre, are you alright," she begins to say, before a shadow falls over her and she looks up.

And is greeted by a deafening, tower-rattling 'HOOO-OOO-OO-OOOOH' from above as a vast avian at least the size of the CaraKin descends from above on enormous, black-tipped white wings.

The bird is the one the Caravan Kinship has seen before. The Great White Bird of the Desert looks like it started life as a somewhat smaller but still large snowy owl before being horrifically mutated into a colossal demon bird; its eyes are almost entirely black save for tiny white dots of pupils, and a second pair of talons unfolds from beneath its wings like enormous forelimbs tipped with sickle talons; they give the Bird a griffon-like stature. Dreadful energy pulses beneath its thinning, wild white feathers, staining some of them dark.

As the bird descends, the tower groans beneath the group - and the pressure of gravity begins to increase. This time, however, it's not Catenna doing it.

It's the Bird. The spell is clearly Guardian Arcana. A moonlit serenity, twisted beyond belief into something utterly evil.

It's also got quite a bit more power behind it than Catenna has at her disposal. Groaning as she's driven to a knee, Catenna lifts her head towards the avian. "You mustn't," she calls out, her voice straining with effort. "If you are truly of her...!"

Leveling her hand, Catenna calls upon her own magic; the force of gravity shifts. The air itself warps and distorts as her gravity interacts with the Bird's. Chunks of the nest tear up and ripple towards the warping, writhing source of gravity in the air - but bit by bit, it works. The Bird's own size works against it as Catenna struggles to pull it down towards the nest.

"Quickly, hit it!!" she shouts.

If you can get past the claws and the status debuffs, anyway.

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Celesdue Medium toward her party's challenge, Great White Bird.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Ethius stares at those birds that give fly-bys as they scale the elevator. Bit by bit, he works with the rest to make sure they can get that platform all the way up to the top... he dreads to look over his shoulder.

Not that he is known to be that deeply affected by matters of gore, death, and the lingering sensations thereof that befoul one's stomach. He seems (too) comfortable with those base elements of the less glamorous parts of the Drifter lifestyle. The hairs that stand up on his neck - they have been, since they drew ever closer to the top - remind him that he is going to see exactly as he expects after that giant shadow passes him.

He falls to a crouch, stabbing the quarterstaff into the ground for traction to prevent the call from pushing him off. He staggers forward to avoid being too close to any edges as the vast demon bird faces them from above its fell, grim nest.

He rises up to-- no. His knees fail him as the force of gravity bids he stay low, as he comes to vaguely recognize the sorcerous force in play as being similar to the ones Catenna herself utilizes. He suspects the tower underneath them will give out before they are flattened. Still, he tries to grab a hold of one of the two satchels on his belt--

Without Catenna's help in her attempt to push this force back - or at least just slow its encroaching upon their position - it might have just fallen free of his grasp and splattered open, scattering its contents to the ground harmlessly.

Catenna draws it closer, to give them the very best shot they might have of driving this off. Ethius begins the chants and the gestures to activate the satchel. The matter now is to throw it. He decides to start swinging it to build up momentum and speed, deciding he might not have enough arm strength to throw it against the force that presses down on him.

A swinging claw dissuades him from drawing closer. I won't need to, he decides-- argh! His shoulder from that suplex. He can't keep swinging the bag--

He drops the quarterstaff in his other hand and swaps arms as he finds himself propping up with that elbow (putting more stress on the shoulder in question, also ouch!) as he keeps swinging the satchel faster, faster, faster--

At last, he hurls it towards the avian horror, hoping to hurl it high enough that it explodes in a cloud of distracting, blinding, choking dust, smoke, and... birdseed.

Evidently, the only decent-enough quality particle matter on hand prior to this journey was birdseed.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Powder Grenade toward his party's challenge, Great White Bird.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Very slowly the elevator ascends. Jacqueline recoils at the sight that awaits them up top. She had...expected to look like this, from her knowledge of monster nests, but it was still a horrible sight to see in person. She manages to suppress that sickly feeling just as a terrible call threatens to lay her low from sheer volume alone. She braces herself and stares up into the eyes of the Great White Bird, twisted and tainted by the Demon King's Malice...

It's sheer presence was dangerous alone, but everything else...and what's worse, it invokes the power of gravity, making movemet difficult.

Jacqueline briefly considers hurling a bottle of repellant at it, but...no. She had learned last time that it was largely ineffective against this creature, and with this gravity she doubted she would be able to reach it with a bottle...

It was down to her Sorcery, then. Struggling against the force weighing down on her, Jacqueline reaches into her pouch and draws out a Crest. With Catenna's own gravity pulling it into range, Jacqueline invokes it.

Tendrils of earth emerge from the ground around it, shooting upwards and coiling around in hopes of grabbing and constricting, in hopes of limiting its ability to lash out at their physical attackers as they draw near.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Great White Bird.
<Pose Tracker> Tethelle Cirdian has posed.

Tethelle Cirdian pulls, and pulls, and pulls - and eventually they get to the top. She's not the only one who pulls, of course, but she definitely put in a full share of work there.

Releasing the rope, Tethelle groans. Her arms are burning - that's a hell of a workout, given how many people were in the elevator when she was pulling. But there's no time for that; there's the whole Bird to deal with. And there it is.

She feels the energy in her bones before she feels it anywhere else, and Tethelle has to refrain from gasping. Yes, that's an energy she knows, though she cannot call on it herself; she's experienced it from Catenna before. She feels the weight press down on her; something twinges in her back where the buckle from her sword carrier digs in before she discards it, drawing the sword. The disc hanging from her neck is another weight, and Tethelle runs a thumb over it before gripping her sword, two-handed.

Which is also heavy, but Tethelle always feels right with a sword in her hand.

Pushing through the pressure, Tethelle charges forward. It's a slow charge, like she was trapped in water, but unstoppable; she puts her weight into a stumbling forward momentum, never quite falling but always seeming like she's about to tumble forward at any moment. Her sword lashes out at the Great White Bird as it falls as well, striking at its flanks - at its wings, trying to render it unable to take off again.

DG: Tethelle Cirdian has used her Tool Icon of Equites toward her party's challenge, Great White Bird.
===============================<* Titan's Roost *>================================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Great White Bird *>========================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The top of the tower is occupied completely by an enormous nest wrought of    
 ancient dirt and branches mingled with masonry, steel and more than a few     
 bones, some of them human. The nest's occupant is evident enough: With a      
 rumbling shriek that splits the sky, the immense Great White Bird swoops      
 down at you, its owl-like body rippling with the Demon King's Malice. Dark    
 power floods from the creature in withering gravity waves and blasts of dark  
 magic capable of smashing through Gears, the bird attacking with both spells  
 and its talons, bill and wings. Even in its crazed, twisted state, its size   
 and ability to fly make even hitting it a complete nightmare.                 
                                                                               
 You've got your work cut out for you just to bring it down to earth.          
=Dungeon Conditions: Cripple, Fright==========================================
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Well this ain't so good.

"Hey Cyre." Lydia says. She then sits herself down in a crouch and frowns, studying the Bird. Something is corrupting it but it's not malevolence. Maybe the demon king really does exist? Normally she'd consider 'demon king' to be some country's strange propaganda, but it wouldn't be the weirdest thing that turned out to be true, she supposes.

She says, "I wonder if we can fix it like with malevolence..." She says before she unleashes a solar ray beaming down at the beast, abusing her OTHER Medium for once instead of Rigdobrite. For once.

"Don't fret, Catenna! Whatever this is, it's not the real thing! Maybe beating it up a bit will knock some sense into it!"

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Great White Bird.
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

Despite some Locus mishaps, the elevator makes it up, and into the nest. Carina sees fresh bones, some of them...

She looks away. Too real. Too real.

At least there's Cyre. Carina can breathe in relief, but not for very long. She looks up, gritting her teeth, and just as announced... There it is.

And a second later she's looking down, as terrifyingly powerful gravity magic asserts itself. Is SHE wearing the bracelet in this form, or not? Would it really make a difference?

But at least Catenna gives them some breathing room. She tells them to hit it. Locus nods.

"Right!" She produces out that familiar, glowing red marble, putting it inside her belt. A synthetic voice rings out.

ELEMENT: FIRE_

"All right, guys!" Locus roars out, assuming with some effort an untraceably exotic fighting stance as her fists trail flame. "We came all the way up here, so let's COOK SOME CHICKEN!"

Like a lot of things Locus says, it's best not to worry about the details. She certainly doesn't, as she takes a deep breath and runs forward, doing what she can to leap past those deadly claws. She can moon-jump most of the time, but with those forces at work, they look more like unsteady, normal jumps.

"FALCOOOOOOON PUNCH!" she cries out, hopelessly mixing her metaphors but at least-- hopefully --delivering a very, very mean fire-powerred punch.

DG: Carina Wynne has used her Tool Element Marble toward her party's challenge, Great White Bird.
===============================<* Titan's Roost *>================================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Great White Bird *>========================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The top of the tower is occupied completely by an enormous nest wrought of    
 ancient dirt and branches mingled with masonry, steel and more than a few     
 bones, some of them human. The nest's occupant is evident enough: With a      
 rumbling shriek that splits the sky, the immense Great White Bird swoops      
 down at you, its owl-like body rippling with the Demon King's Malice. Dark    
 power floods from the creature in withering gravity waves and blasts of dark  
 magic capable of smashing through Gears, the bird attacking with both spells  
 and its talons, bill and wings. Even in its crazed, twisted state, its size   
 and ability to fly make even hitting it a complete nightmare.                 
                                                                               
 You've got your work cut out for you just to bring it down to earth.          
=Dungeon Conditions: Cripple, Fright==========================================
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

There is a growing, disturbing tendency in the world. So often in these recent days have the powers and avatars of the Guardians been subverted, turned against the world they were made to protect. Cyre stares up at the tremendous bird with a mixture of pity, disgust and fury in his golden eyes. The power of the moon has been twisted so thoroughly from what it aught to be into something that it never should have ever been.

Men born of Filgaia were never meant to see the dark side of the moon.

Cyre stares for another long moment at the twisted thing that used to be a great, snowy owl. How many years had it lived in this place before it became like this? How long ago did the touch of the Demon King taint its mind and its soul. The shaman grunts softly as the crushing might of the Great White Bird's arcana presses down on him. He does so again when Catenna presses back with all the power she can harness.

Cyre takes in a breath. He releases it slowly.

The wind begins to churn. In utter defiance of the twisting fabric of space-time, the air whirls and howls in deference to the shaman's will. Cyre is... Dancing is not the right word. He is moving in a rhythmic, ritualistic, but undeniably martial manner, weaving the winds denser and denser and denser with each passing moment. This is not a battle that will be won with fury alone.

A shaman must do as a shaman will.

Ribbons of cutting air gather around Cyre's hands as he completes the savage kata. Gloves rip and tear into tattered scraps, revealing the hands underneath to have become something akin to those of the great Guardian of the Winds'. "Try not to kill it," he says to the others as he begins swiping and slashing, unleashing cresents of razor-sharp wind into the beast's wings. "We'll need it alive, but... If we're going to get through to it somehow-- The only way we're going to get the chance is if we take it down!"

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Great White Bird.
===============================<* Titan's Roost *>================================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Great White Bird *>========================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The top of the tower is occupied completely by an enormous nest wrought of    
 ancient dirt and branches mingled with masonry, steel and more than a few     
 bones, some of them human. The nest's occupant is evident enough: With a      
 rumbling shriek that splits the sky, the immense Great White Bird swoops      
 down at you, its owl-like body rippling with the Demon King's Malice. Dark    
 power floods from the creature in withering gravity waves and blasts of dark  
 magic capable of smashing through Gears, the bird attacking with both spells  
 and its talons, bill and wings. Even in its crazed, twisted state, its size   
 and ability to fly make even hitting it a complete nightmare.                 
                                                                               
 You've got your work cut out for you just to bring it down to earth.          
=Dungeon Conditions: Cripple, Fright==========================================
===============================<* Titan's Roost *>================================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Great White Bird *>========================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The top of the tower is occupied completely by an enormous nest wrought of    
 ancient dirt and branches mingled with masonry, steel and more than a few     
 bones, some of them human. The nest's occupant is evident enough: With a      
 rumbling shriek that splits the sky, the immense Great White Bird swoops      
 down at you, its owl-like body rippling with the Demon King's Malice. Dark    
 power floods from the creature in withering gravity waves and blasts of dark  
 magic capable of smashing through Gears, the bird attacking with both spells  
 and its talons, bill and wings. Even in its crazed, twisted state, its size   
 and ability to fly make even hitting it a complete nightmare.                 
                                                                               
 You've got your work cut out for you just to bring it down to earth.          
=Dungeon Conditions: Cripple, Fright==========================================
==========================<* Titan's Roost - Round 7 *>===========================
==========================< Results - Great White Bird >==========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             50 --(5)--> 55                 Pass
Celesdue Medium                     2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       50 --(5)--> 55                 Pass
Powder Grenade                      3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   50 --(5)--> 55                 Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         50 --(10)--> 60                Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carina Wynne                        50 --(5)--> 55                 Pass
Element Marble                      2   Combat  Effects: Fanfare and Rally    
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tethelle Cirdian                    55 --(5)--> 60                 Pass
Icon of Equites                     1   Combat  Effects: Cleanse              
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     55 --(10)--> 65                Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------< Party >-------------------------------------
Leader: Catenna                     80 --(35)--> 115               Pass
Conditions: Cripple|Fright(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Embolden(1)
================================< Dream Chasers >=================================
DG: You have overcome the dungeon's trials! This run is a success!
DG: The party led by Catenna has successfully explored Titan's Roost!
===============================<* Titan's Roost *>================================
=========================<* CHALLENGE - Legendary Egg *>==========================
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 Struck by the punishment you level at it, the Great White Bird takes several  
 powerful hits. With a thunderous hoot it lurches downward in a sickening      
 spiral, trailing blood from one of its wings. The monstrous creature loses    
 altitude rapidly but manages to touch down at the foot of the watchtower,     
 out on the flat part of the mesa. The bird is injured and won't be able to    
 escape - but it's still alive, and it's coming to bear on you again, hurling  
 dark blasts up towards you that shake the tower.                              
                                                                               
 Left behind in the nest is a single, pristinely white egg. Unlike the Great   
 White Bird itself, the egg does not show any trace of the Demon King's        
 Malice. It's also quite warm.                                                 
                                                                               
 Hmm.                                                                          
=Dungeon Conditions: Vault====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

The Great White Bird is a truly massive creature. But when dealing with gravity, size can be a liability. Catenna's spell is weaker... but she casts it against a much more massive creature. The bird roars a bellowing, hollow roar at her; its gravity spell sputters, and it hits the nest in griffon stance, its wings straining to lift.

It takes a swing at her, and backhands the priestess with one talonious hand. With a yelp, Catenna's hurled across the nest, bouncing off of something and skidding to a halt.

But the damage is done; the bird's wings tremble, and it remains grounded as the others tear into it. Cyre's wind slashes brutally across those wings, and the bird snaps the left one at him, aiming to flick him away. Instead, though, there's Tethelle; her blade slams into the left wing again, feathers shearing away. Violet blood beads through the air.

As the Great White Bird tries to round on Tethelle, Metal Gear Locus sails through with a fiery punch that hits the bird in the chest. It lurches back but roars thunderously at her, flicking its right wing in threat but falling short. Jay's tendrilous, earthen blow slams into it, then; it staggers, but smashes through the earth strike and keeps coming.

Lydia makes her move; the solar ray rips towards the bird - until gravity suddenly warps, and the light divides around the monster avian, slicing through the sky to either side of it in bizarre arcs. The creature's magic is even sufficient to bend light how it pleases. Malice builds in the beast's eyes as it unloads on Lydia with a blast of shadow magic.

Until Ethius Hesiod does something. Shrapnel and birdseed fly. The Bird shrieks in surprise, its darkened eyes closing as it staggers backwards.

Catenna, not far away, struggles to rise... until something catches her attention.

She reaches out, and lays her hands on what is sitting beside her. A single, pristinely white egg. As her fingers brush over it, there's a rush of thoughts that are not hers--

a village, once

a moonlit place a white totem

proud feathers sailing through the night

only her light to lead us

metal things

those rejected by the planet

so much blood

grief and death an empty hut

a totem over nothing.

why?

why

why

why

why live

blood

because

why because

nothing shines anymore

why why why hate hate HATEHATEHATE

one night ends

a day passes

a new night begins

"You were a totem creature," Catenna breathes as that flash of thought races through her. "And this --"

And then the Great White Bird staggers backwards. Catenna yelps as the Bird snags her in one of its hindclaws. Fumbling, she grasps the egg and clutches it close to her chest.

With a thunderous wingbeat, the Bird staggers off the edge of the nest. As it descends, it spreads those wings --

*CRACK*

The left wing gives way; the wingbone snaps, and the bird lets out a bloodcurdling roar. It spirals downwards, gliding sickeningly before making a rough landing on the ground at the foot of the tower - still with Catenna in its grasp.

Fortunately, the elevator goes down pretty quick - since the Bird is coming to bear on you again, and beginning to hurl another spell. It won't be flying anymore, but....


Continues in 2018-01-24: The Falcon Cannot Hear the Falconer