2018-02-19: Forth to July (Side A)

From Dream Chasers
Jump to: navigation, search

==============================<* Gunsmoke Desert *>===============================

The Gunsmoke Desert occupies the northwestern portion of Ignas. This desert is different from Aveh's. Instead of rolling dunes of sand, it has dry and cracked ground, and the mountains that rim it also intrude into the interior, forming stunning rock formations that can look as beautiful as they look impossible. The settlements here are hard-pressed to survive, consisting of countless small towns. The lucky few are connected by railways to the Seed Cities scattered about the Gunsmoke. Many are lost to the sands, which cover them and a tremendous concentration of ruins from Filgaia's past. This makes these badlands the heart of Drifter activity in Ignas.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4z_CxmE0AkA
DG: A party led by Jacqueline Barber is now entering Lost July.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
===============================<* Lost July *>================================
=================<* CHALLENGE - The Glass Crater - Bandits *>=================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The entrance to the ruins of Lost July is through the crater where the        
 greatest devastation here. The ground here has been blasted by some force so  
 mighty that it rendered the crater into glass. The path onward requires       
 crossing it, which is a treacherous thought.                                  
                                                                               
 It may not seem so at first. A rope descends downward, with pitons hammered   
 into the glass -- and the rock beneath. Someone else came here first. Those   
 someones are down on the base of the crater, which is when they spot you. A   
 loud whistle breaks the air -- then shots from gunsmoke ARMs, as a crew of    
 bandits begin firing upon you. And one of them, it seems, is loading a        
 rocket launcher to fire on you.                                               
=Dungeon Conditions: Fright, Injure===========================================
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Lost July was once a bustling city. Scenic and imposing, once. But no settlements last forever out in the Badlands. Sooner or later something will occur, and for July, it was no different. No one quite knows what happened, only that now it consists primarily of ruins, craters, and broken dreams.

An interesting rumor had emerged recently, however. There were claims of an Elw ruin, buried somewhere underneath the shattered city. Understandably, this drew some interest.

For Jacqueline, this rumor holds possibilities. They may find lost technology, or an important relic of the past...it was worth checking out. And so, the Caravan Kinship headed to Lost July.

In the interest of time, and covering more ground, they had decided to split into two groups - one party starting on one side of the crater, and the other starting on the other.

Jacqueline takes a moment to look out at the ruin.

"It's...a little hard to look at, isn't it...?" She murmurs, taking in the sights of the broken city. So many lives, shattered in an instant... It was heartbreaking, and it was almost enough to convince her to turn around.

But they've come this far. It was too late to stop.

Notably, and unusually, the path downward is...far easier than the path approaching. Someone was here first. And those someones, as it turns out, let out a sharp whistle to signal their comrades when the Caravan Kinship finally sets down on the bottom floor.

"A-ah!" Jacqueline quickly responds by summoning a pillar of earth to act as cover. It'll buy them some time, at least, as she begins to rummage for a bottle of Haywire Draught.

"Let's disable them quickly..." Jacqueline murmurs, before tossing the bottom over the pillar toward the bandits.

Unfortunately, in this time, someone had decided to bring out a rocket launcher to deal with their cover decisively - and more.

Someone should probably deal with that quickly...

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Reliable Repellant toward her party's challenge, The Glass Crater - Bandits.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

Lunata's been nervous about this trip for a while since it was announced -- she'd heard of how Lost July was a city that was consumed within a single night, by the 'Humanoid Typhoon' known only as Vash the Stampede. She wasn't certain about going to such a dangerous place, just to fulfill a curiosity... even if it's to find a relic of the past...

Such that it's--

Not by foot, particularly, but by Gear that she arrives on scene. She insisted.

The Rephaim descends by the side of the crater, as Lunata stares towards the crater with a mixture of pain and anguish on her face. "This is... what could've..."

Her eyes widen as the Gear's warning blares -- several targets appearing as Jacqueline hides behind cover.

Moments later, the blast hatch of the Gear opens, and a black blur zips out of it-- and descends with a flash of steel. In the next moment, the low hiss of a ghoul-masked girl can be seen as she sheaths Orochi-Agito, a certain rocket launcher perhaps sliding in two in her wake...

DG: Lunata Croze has used her Tool Ghastly Gas Mask toward her party's challenge, The Glass Crater - Bandits.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Elw ruins. Such a thing would be an incredible find if it were true - perhaps more incredible, Catenna thinks, than even her friends might realize. She's kept her eyes open throughout her journeys for traces of that ancient race.

And now....

And now, they're overlooking a great, ruinously-glassed crater, with bullets beginning to sail up towards them, courtesy of the bandits lurking below. With an intake of breath, Catenna recoils from the crater lip and ducks down, whirling to a crouch and drawing her sword with a hiss. She keeps her head down and lets the bandits fire into Jacqueline's covering pillar. "Thank you, Jay," she murmurs with a grateful smile for the young apothecary.

The priestess leans around the pillar carefully, biting her bottom lip as she realizes that the bandits aren't just ordinary bandits in terms of their ARMs - they have a rocket launcher, for heaven's sake. Catenna widens her eyes a little. She's almost never seen an ARM of that scale outside of the military hardware toted on a Gear, or by a professional military.

Her left hand drops to brush over one of the tablets at her side. The priestess whispers a few words and concentrates, struggling to focus her attention on a small target. She waits --

And Lunata tries to cut the rocket launcher in half before Catenna can get her spell off.

The priestess lowers her eyelids - but as another rocket launcher is brought forward, she focuses on that one instead and casts. If a rocket is fired, it will find itself captured by a powerful gravity, as Catenna tries to pull any fired rockets right back down into the bandits' ranks.

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Celesdue Medium toward her party's challenge, The Glass Crater - Bandits.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

The devastation is staggering. It's as if the hand of some cruel god had reached down and thumbed what was once the city of July off the landscape.

Just, you know. With a thermonuclear thumb or something. The kind of thumb that results in a glassy crater and absolutely no survivors.

"It is," Cyre murmurs in agreement, wind whipping at the cloth wrapped around his face and shoulders. "I don't even want to think about what happened here. We've been to a lot of ruins, but this is just... A little too recent, isn't it?"

Well.

Clearly not everyone shares Cyre's sentiment.

A shrill whistle goes up. Cyre hisses a curse under his breath and ducks behind Jay's stone cover. He reaches over his shoulder and undoes an unusual and unfamiliar bundle of cloth, revealing...

A very long gun.

"I'll try to take out the artillery," Cyre murmurs, leaning out of cover to take aim down-sights. An almost imperceptible laser-based rangefinder lances out of the weapon's scope and finds its mark on that bandit's arm.

He fires. If the other guy isn't careful, he might suddenly find himself disarmed and disARMed.

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

Catenna slowly looks at Cyre as he unveils his long, shiny ARM.

"When did you get that," she asks.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"Literally today," Cyre says with a grin. "I got it in the mail!"

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

If Lunata's bringing the Rephaim, it's a given that Shalune will have brought Big Shal. For one, the golem is effectively the Rephaim's walking support and repair unit, able to use the power of the mechanic's odd artifact to help boost the Gear's systems should it need it. For two, Big Shal is quietly insistent on coming along, even going to the point of picking Shalune up on the way out to place her on the golem's scaffolding platform as it starts to walk forwards.

Even the pink-haired mechanic manages to be silent as they round on the city; there's a dark and eerie silence to it that pervades everything around it, and Shalune's usual enthusiasm kind of bleeds away in the face of it. "This doesn't feel like Adlehyde," she mutters. The difference between the two cities is starkly clear; one was still a living and breathing place, wounded but staggering on with support. This is just... a husk, and for a rather uncharitable and unfocused moment Shalune gives out some quiet thanks to herself.

She's a little shaken when Big Shal suddenly pitches forwards and down the ramp into the crater, picking up speed; yelping, she holds on for dear life. "W-what? Hey--" she starts to say, before a bullet ricochets off of the Golem's rounded armor and forces the mechanic down behind Big Shal's head for cover. "--c'mon!? Even here?" she blurts, absently picking out Lunata's form as she bursts out of the cockpit and into the back lines of the bandits; determined to offer support Shalune rises back up, her shotstaff braced on her shoulder as she begins to carpet the area with laser fire.

She's still not the best shot of all time, but that's not what she's going for; she's not out to kill or even injure, so much as let her and her golem be the biggest distraction around.

DG: Shalune Amira has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Glass Crater - Bandits.
===============================<* Lost July *>================================
=================<* CHALLENGE - The Glass Crater - Bandits *>=================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The entrance to the ruins of Lost July is through the crater where the        
 greatest devastation here. The ground here has been blasted by some force so  
 mighty that it rendered the crater into glass. The path onward requires       
 crossing it, which is a treacherous thought.                                  
                                                                               
 It may not seem so at first. A rope descends downward, with pitons hammered   
 into the glass -- and the rock beneath. Someone else came here first. Those   
 someones are down on the base of the crater, which is when they spot you. A   
 loud whistle breaks the air -- then shots from gunsmoke ARMs, as a crew of    
 bandits begin firing upon you. And one of them, it seems, is loading a        
 rocket launcher to fire on you.                                               
=Dungeon Conditions: Fright, Injure===========================================
==========================<* Lost July - Round 1 *>===========================
===================< Results - The Glass Crater - Bandits >===================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Reliable Repellant                  2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lunata Croze                        0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Ghastly Gas Mask                    1   Combat  Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shalune Amira                       0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Celesdue Medium                     2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     0 --(10)--> 10                 Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Jacqueline Barber           0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Fright(2)|Injure(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Embolden(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Jacqueline Barber has passed this challenge! The party gained 20 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
DG: Lunata Croze has drawn a new Challenge.
===============================<* Lost July *>================================
=================<* CHALLENGE - Tactical Espionage Action *>==================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Some Drifters had the bright idea, while raiding this place, to sneak in a    
 Gear. The thought process was likely something about overwhelming firepower   
 and a decision to not worry about reprisal, this far from civilization. As    
 you round the corner, you see one such Gear there. It stands tall, looming    
 over a half-collapsed building -- while a trio of Drifters works the inside.  
 However, the Gear seems busy, because it is shining a spotlight built into    
 its head into the building. You might be able to sneak past, without          
 starting a fight.                                                             
=Dungeon Conditions: Injure, Bad Luck=========================================
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Of all things the bandits expected, they did not expect to be faced with a couple of Gears.

Well, okay, a Gear and a Big Shal. No offense.

It definitely warrants bringing out extra rocket launchers - it's a lot of resources to expend, but it's definitely necessary in this situation.

The hatch of the Rephaim opens as the first of them takes aim at Jacqueline's cover and begins to fire. His finger pulls the trigger...but nothing happens.

Shortly after, his rocket launcher - and his helmet - slide apart, cut into two neat, even halves. It could probably even be repaired, if someone were to salvage it.

"Who's that!? Fire! Fire!!" They shout, frightened by the sudden appearance of a girl with a ghoulish mask in their midsts. But before they can try anything, a bottle shatters overhead, showing them all in an orange liquid that causes their ARMs to simply...not work.

The only exception is the other man with the rocket launcher, who in a panic fires toward the glint of an ARM in the distance - Cyre's ARM.

The rocket barely even goes past its barrel.

It is caught by the power of Celesdue's gravity and simply crushed, the explosion - slightly dampened - sending the man responsible flying backward.

A series of beams go flying out toward the bandits from Shalune's ARMs, panicking them even further. No one gets hit by them...though they do distract the lot of them, as the third rocket launcher bearing man soon finds his weapon his weapon completely destroyed by Cyre's new toy.

The kick is a little strong, though. It might take some getting used to.

By this point, the bandits are definitely in a panic. Jacqueline marches out, drawing a Crest from her pouch.

"You're outclassed. Go home. I don't want to see any of you assaulting travelers ever again." She says.

...They readily comply, thoroughly intimidated by the sheer force the party was able to bring to bear.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

The bandits retreat at full speed, terrified at the collective firepower and skills that the Caravan Kinship are bringing... but that isn't to say that that's their entire lot. One of them kind of-- turns back and stares, and it's evident that there's a Gear that looks like a repurposed and hijacked Aveh Trooper that's standing by the side of a particularly tall building that once towered the skies, and has now fallen over in the wake of the Humanoid Typhoon's explosion.

There's a soft hiss from Lunata, as she stares towards it... then she says, "An enemy Gear." A pause. "Hold my soup."

She promptly goes and hands her thermos and a large knapsack that's been marked with a post-it reading 'LUNCH' into Shalune's hands, winching up via tow cable to the Rephaim.

The white-armoured Gear's existing arm raises, reaching for its beam rifle-- and fires a warning shot in the direction of the Trooper -- who promptly turns towards it, and away from the rest of the group.

(How does this action consume one charge of Soup, you ask? You'll have to ask Shalune...)

DG: Lunata Croze has used her Tool Soup of the Day toward her party's challenge, Tactical Espionage Action.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

There seem to be a lot of those Aveh Gears kicking around, Catenna realizes as she looks up at that hijacked Trooper. Maybe more people stumbled into landships during the Guardian Temple escape than she realized.

Proceeding past that spot where the bandits retreated, Catenna shoots Jay a brief, impressed look, then looks up towards the Gear with a small frown. Ducking behind a piece of debris, she lights up some of her incense and sets it out.

The small amount of smoke is probably not going to attract anyone's attention, but at least the clarifying scent of it might help to cover up the smell of spent gunpowder left behind by those thugs. Catenna breathes it in, then steps back out into the open, still brandishing her sword. Easing close to Cyre, she briefly touches his shoulder with a delicate hand.

"Come on," she murmurs, nodding across the way towards another crumbled building, this one with rather more damage done to it. "We might be able to get over there while Lunata is distracting that Gear."

Lunata, please don't put yourself in unnecessary danger, Catenna can't help but think as she attempts to take Cyre by the wrist and lightly tug him along behind her. Only once they're past does the second part of her plan become evident.

The breeze will carry the scent of her incense to the bandits inside the building - but by the time it does, they'll all be well past, and the bandits will be doubling back to investigate something left by people long gone.

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Ritual Incense toward her party's challenge, Tactical Espionage Action.
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

"--L-Lunieee," Shalune whines as Big Shal straightens up from the initial dive; she accepts the precious cargo nonetheless, because she knows better than to argue with the waitress when she's gotten like this. "W-we really need to have another talk about moral fibre and not being reckless or throwing yourself onto the Wheel!" she calls after Lunata as the girl winches into her Gear. Unfortunately, the call is a lot less snappy than 'Batman', so most of it's lost to the wind.

With a firm pout on her expression, Shalune sits down on the metal gantry of Big Shal's back, checks the belt and support she uses is still firmly in place, and then starts to huffily pour herself some soup from the thermos. "Just watch, I'm gonna tell Aunt Hilda everything and she's gonna get so grumpy..."r

She has the luxury to do this because it's Big Shal that peeks around the ruins instead of her, hunkering down low before shifting from building to building in a remarkably quiet and stealthy fashion for a twelve-foot Golem.

DG: Shalune Amira has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Tactical Espionage Action.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Well.

Even laser rangefinders can need calibrating, Cyre guesses.

Not that it matters, considering how effectively the rest of the group trumps those goons! Haha! What's the worst that they're going to throw at them-- a gear!?!?

...

...?

...!?!

YEP.

And Lunata decides that the best way to deal with it is to shoot it. Cyre hisses a note of displeasure as a bolt of energy rips across the battlefield. "Catenna, what're you-- oh I get it."

Cyre does! He bids the wind to aid them. The breeze catches Catenna's incense-smoke, sending it drifting in chaotic and unusual paths, leading the bandits parked outside the gear down a circuitous path that eventually leads to... Nobody at all.

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

"Lunata...please be careful... And try not to hurt anyone too badly..." Jacqueline says with a sigh as Lunata heads back to the Rephaim.

A part of her wanted to tell her 'no', but...well, Lunata could be very stubborn, and this sort of thing is why she had brought the Rephaim in the first place.

While Lunata moves in with Rephaim to distract the Gear, Catenna finds them a path forward. Jacqueline decides to follow along with her and Cyre. And...Catenna puts into action a cunning plan! There isn't much that she can do to help with that, so she decides to take the time to take stock of her potions as they continue to stealthily make their way through.

The best thing she can do here now is not to get in the way.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Tactical Espionage Action.
===============================<* Lost July *>================================
=================<* CHALLENGE - Tactical Espionage Action *>==================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Some Drifters had the bright idea, while raiding this place, to sneak in a    
 Gear. The thought process was likely something about overwhelming firepower   
 and a decision to not worry about reprisal, this far from civilization. As    
 you round the corner, you see one such Gear there. It stands tall, looming    
 over a half-collapsed building -- while a trio of Drifters works the inside.  
 However, the Gear seems busy, because it is shining a spotlight built into    
 its head into the building. You might be able to sneak past, without          
 starting a fight.                                                             
=Dungeon Conditions: Injure, Bad Luck=========================================
==========================<* Lost July - Round 2 *>===========================
===================< Results - Tactical Espionage Action >====================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   5 --(5)--> 10                  Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lunata Croze                        5 --(5)--> 10                  Pass
Soup of the Day                     3   Wits    Effects: Rally                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shalune Amira                       5 --(5)--> 10                  Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             5 --(10)--> 15                 Fail
Ritual Incense                      1   Wits    Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     10 --(5)--> 15                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Jacqueline Barber           20 --(20)--> 40                Pass
Conditions: Bad Luck(2)|Fright(1)|Injure(2)
Effects: Cleanse
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Jacqueline Barber 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> Lunata Croze has posed.

It's a good thing Catenna drops the incense too. The Gear is understandably not alone, with another roving pack of bandits looking around. Cyre's winds bring them around and towards a path that goes around and around, but where?

Towards... a peeking Big Shal around the corner!!

"AAAAH WHAT IS THAT"

"HELP"

They flee. Big Shal isn't going to make a friend today, aww... :(

And as for the Gear Lunata's distracting?

It marches towards the Rephaim, ready to engage it as the white Gear steps back and beckons it away from the rest of the group. Lunata raises her rifle once more... and then feints it, shredding one of its arms with her magenta-hued beam saber -- and sending it running along with the rest of its companions.

The way forward's clear.

DG: Catenna has drawn a new Challenge.
=================================<* Lost July *>==================================
==========================<* CHALLENGE - Barred Door *>===========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 Sometimes, obstacles have collapsed and blocked the pathways through the      
 streets. The buildings, however, offer shortcuts, as sometimes paths have     
 been cut through. You reach a place where a collapsed building might be       
 circumvented by going through a building on the other side of the street.     
 The door, however, has been barred shut -- debris having knocked it in        
 place. The door has to be forced open... without collapsing the building.     
=Dungeon Conditions: Tire, Weaken=============================================
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Catenna does, eventually, stumble as she guides the group along, but thankfully Big Shal and Rephaim have the matter under control. She sticks close to Cyre even as she ducks around a corner -

Only to find a collapsed building, once a storefront of some kind, slumping into the street in front of them, collapsed into a heap of masonry and crumbling beams. The priestess bites down to her lower lip, frowning as she looks up at the immense job in front of them. "I do not think we can move all that," she murmurs. Starting forward, she begins looking for a way to climb over it --

When something occurs to her. She cuts to the side, towards the building across from the one that has collapsed. Part of the fallen building's uppermost half drapes over the remains of this smaller building, evidently a workshop of some sort. Squinting through a dirty window, Catenna moues her lips. "There is another door to an alley on the far side of this building. I think if we cut through it, we can bypass this fallen one," she explains, moving to the front door of the building. She reaches for the handle.

And pauses with her hand on the handle, looking up towards the section of the building above the door. Part of the building has collapsed away - and a huge piece of the fallen building rests on a support beam that runs just above the door to this one.

Gingerly, Catenna tries the door. Only a stubborn rattle of rusty metal greets her.

The priestess tenses. "...We need to force it open," she murmurs. "Without dislodging the collapsed building on top of us."

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

They manage to cut through without attracting the attention of the Gear - or more trouble. Jacqueline can breathe a sigh of relief that the situation was revolved without too much violence. Unfortunately, it isn't long before their path is blocked off. They find another way through, but...hm.

Jacqueline considers possibilities as she draws out some bottles of bright red liquid, passing them around.

"Well...they won't hold for long, but if I generate some earth pillars, they should give us enough time to get through should something happen. Coming back through may be a problem, but..." But at least they wouldn't have to worry about getting crushed.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Brewte Force toward her party's challenge, Barred Door.
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

If there's one benefit Big Shal does have over Gears, it's that the golem is much better able to cope with this sort of terrain. When the enemy Gear starts to break away Shalune is that much faster to catch up because of it, as her ride easily maneuvers over pieces of ruined buildings and rubble to reconnect with the rest of the group. "... I can't believe there's people out here picking over the ruins," she huffs as she stands up on Big Shal's back - before a moment of self-awareness filters through that they're kind of doing the same thing. "A-at least-- I mean-- people who would shoot first," she grumbles.

While she's grumbling, her golem has started to survey the building - carefully, Big Shal reaches up her arms to brace the bulk of the wall above them, literally holding the bulk of the roof up by several of the more stable looking supports. The sight of it seems to make Shalune finally come back down from her grump, wiping a suspicious stain at the corner of her mouth away before she sucks in a breath. She shoulders both her and Lunata's backpacks, then hops down to ground level to watch the rest of the group reconvene.

"Take care, okay?" she glances up at the golem with a complicated frown, trying to be mature and dependable. "If those raiders come back, uh-- get yourself an' the Rephaim safe if you can, and maybe let this thing collapse to block our path. Better than having people attack us from behind, right? We'll find another way out, I'm pretty sure."

DG: Shalune Amira has used her Tool Soup of the Day -Shalune Ver.- toward her party's challenge, Barred Door.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Fortunately, Catenna has someone (Cyre) to catch her when she stumbles. Although given the circumstances, it's less 'catch' and more 'pick up bridal style and get the hell out of dodge.' He figures Catenna won't mind too much under the circumstances. They've got bandits to elude, after all!

And... Apparently, a set of broken-down old buildings to negotiate.

"You alright?" Cyre asks as he sets his payload down. Once he gets an answer to the positive, the shaman moves to investigate the window. (If he doesn't, he will kiss the pain and/or Catenna's dignity and cool public image away.) His tongue clicks briefly against the roof of his mouth as he sets his censer alight, filling the area with a fragrant aroma and a dim- but servicable- light.

Enough to notice the support beam through the window.

"I think maybe we can probably manage with a few stone pillars, but... Maybe it'd be better if you prop up the beam and then knock the door out towards us? That way we're not dislodging anything... important."

Shalune brings up people picking over ruins. Cyre gives her a good, long stare.

"But," he says, "Isn't... That exactly what we're doing?"

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Invigorating Vapors toward his party's challenge, Barred Door.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

Lunata finally catches up, having removed her gas mask and returned to some semblance of normalcy... if normalcy is really a word she can use about herself nowadays. She is, at the very least, decently fast on her feet to not keep the group waiting for too long, picking up her backpack from Shalune as she stares towards the situation going on before them.

She stares at Shalune and sniff-sniffs, before holding out her finger to say, "... no soup for you." Uh-oh, is the jig up!?

She glances aside and says, "... Ge Ramda'll help as well," as she summons the spectral lich and has her hold up the support beam along with Jacqueline's idea.

DG: Lunata Croze has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Barred Door.
DG: You've already acted for this round. Please wait for the round GM to push +act/complete.
=================================<* Lost July *>==================================
==========================<* CHALLENGE - Barred Door *>===========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 Sometimes, obstacles have collapsed and blocked the pathways through the      
 streets. The buildings, however, offer shortcuts, as sometimes paths have     
 been cut through. You reach a place where a collapsed building might be       
 circumvented by going through a building on the other side of the street.     
 The door, however, has been barred shut -- debris having knocked it in        
 place. The door has to be forced open... without collapsing the building.     
=Dungeon Conditions: Tire, Weaken=============================================
============================<* Lost July - Round 3 *>=============================
============================< Results - Barred Door >=============================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   10 --(5)--> 15                 Pass
Brewte Force                        1   Brute   Effects: Fanfare and Strengthe
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lunata Croze                        10 --(5)--> 15                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shalune Amira                       10 --(5)--> 15                 Pass
Soup of the Day -Shalune Ver.-      3   Brute   Effects: Fanfare              
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             15 --(5)--> 20                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     15 --(5)--> 20                 Pass
Invigorating Vapors                 1   Brute   Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------< Party >-------------------------------------
Leader: Jacqueline Barber           40 --(20)--> 60                Pass
Conditions: Tire(2)|Weaken(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Strengthen(1)
================================< Dream Chasers >=================================
DG: The party led by Jacqueline Barber has passed this challenge! The party gained 20 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has drawn a new Challenge.
===============================<* Lost July *>================================
==========================<* CHALLENGE - The Gear *>==========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 With Lost July being so far out of the way, the powers that be are less       
 likely to intervene for the use of ARMs. Some less scrupulous Drifters have   
 decided that the consequences and damage to Lost July's ruins be damned,      
 they will use overwhelming firepower to secure their fortune. As you make     
 your way down the street, the ground suddenly quakes. Ahead of you, an        
 immense Gear slams down into the ground. The concrete street cracks further   
 under its weight. Its optics flash -- and then it begins firing its massive   
 hand cannon in your direction.                                                
=Dungeon Conditions: Suffer, Vault, Maim======================================
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

About a minute ago, Catenna blushes and holds on as Cyre picks her up and bridal-carries her. She blushes a bit but smiles lightly up at him before she's set down. "Thank you," she murmurs.

Catenna takes the bottle from Jacqueline with a grateful smile. "Thank you, Jay," she murmurs, before knocking the brew back with a quick drag.

Of course, whenever there's a matter where furious strongth is required, there's Big Shal. Catenna steps back with care as the huge golem braces some of those beams. Delicately, she begins trying to scrape some of the rust away from the door with a sharp knife, though in reality this is going to come down to muscle - and in that respect, Big Shal's got her beat. Jacqueline's earthen pillars boost a few more chunks of crumbling building.

Cyre boosts something else. The catman proceeds to smoke weed every day, and Catenna inhales it for a pick-me-up.

When finally Lunata catches up, Ge Ramda contributes a bit of muscle - and then it's up to Catenna. She wedges her knife into a crack in the door - and with a squeal of protest, it creaks open. She gingerly pushes it the rest of the way, opening the way into the workshop.

"Let us hurry," he says with obvious relief.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

And then the wall explodes.

"Sweet Althena's Negligee what--" Cyre has barely any time to complete his sacrilegious curse to a goddess he doesn't even believe in, because it looks like that band of diggers the party passed by earlier is just a wee bit smarter than they were getting credit for.

"Hey you mooks--" Someone inside the gear drawls in a way that makes him sound like every single stereotypical gangster ever. "You think you gonna pull a fast one on Fat Paulie and his Little Boy? I don't think so!"

The gear levels its handcannon. Really, it's basically a gear-sized tommygun, complete with a great big drum-shaped clip and appropriate amounts of ammunition. That is: Enough to turn everyone and anyone present into a fine red paste if they don't move fast to disable it...!

Or, you know, run the hell away to somewhere a Gear can't adequately pursue.

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

You know, it's probably been long enough for Lunata to have come this far without this happening.

The Rephaim is too far away, incapable of reaching them in time -- and Big Shal as well; as they step on through the exploded wall and to the other side, staring up towards the Gear, she can't help but... realise she doesn't feel afraid.

It's a long, long turn from the terrified little waitress who was getting choked by Yarobeleedt all this time ago.

The component around her waist, underneath her Yggdrasil Alliance jacket, clicks into place--

--and suddenly two thick black cables fire out with a steam release, taking the little waitress up, up and around the Gear's neck. She's slipped her mask on again at some point as centripetal force whips her around. She dashes against the side of a building and leaps off again--

--diving towards the neck of the Gear with her katana outstretched.

Fortunately, she doesn't have to rely on snap blades.

DG: Lunata Croze has used her Tool Ghastly Gas Mask toward her party's challenge, The Gear.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"Cyre, you do not even worship Althena!" Catenna shouts at him over the sound of the wall collapsing, before she realizes just what is upon them.

A full-sized Gear sporting a handcannon, which is currently coming to bear on them. The massive gun moves, and the priestess draws in a steadying breath, looking up with wide eyes at the colossal machine.

Then her brows descend into a bitter V, and she sets her jaw with irritation, clenching her hands at her sides. "I will not be condescended to by criminals," says the woman with a bounty bigger than Jay's as she levels her hands at the Gear many meters taller than she is.

Gravitational forces build. The nice thing about Catenna's spells is that the larger her enemy, the more they're affected by the clutch of Mother Moon's magic. An immense force mounts, the air distorting around the Gear - and Catenna steadily lifts her hands. Sweat beads down her face as she attempts to magically lift the entire Gear eight or nine metres off the ground through the simple expedient of reversing the pull of gravity and drawing it upward instead of earthward.

With a shout, Catenna thrusts her right hand out and hurls the gravity source back, attempting to simply hurl the Gear off its feet and into a building across the street!

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Celesdue Medium toward her party's challenge, The Gear.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"A-ah!" Jacqueline pales slightly as the wall explodes ahead of them, revealing a Gear. Her immediate instinct is to run - which she does, drawing out another bottle of Haywire Draught as she moves. She tosses it with impeccable aim toward the Gear's weapon.

Realistically, it probably wouldn't last long, if at all. Her Haywire Draught was intended for targets on a much smaller scale...but with any luck, it would at least delay the weapon from firing long enough for the others to disable it.

She is, though, distracted by the sight of Lunata flying up onto the Gear.

"W-wow..." She says, impressed. "When did she learn to do that...?"

She's sure come along way...

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Reliable Repellant toward her party's challenge, The Gear.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

ONE MONTH AGO

"How do you and Cap'n Bart deal with enemy Gears if you're on foot, Cap'n Maitreya?" Lunata asks innocently.

"Well, my girl, ask and you shall receive..."

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

"A-aww, c'mon! I only had a little!" Shalune whines openly in Lunata's direction - but she's quick to join at Lunata's side at the same time, biting at her lip with concern written across her face for a moment as she hands the girl's backpack to her. "... I really needed some! It was really good!" she adds, the compliment completely genuine.

She's in the middle of turning towards Jacqueline to nudge the other girl in her direction when the ground shakes with the Gear's landing; instinctively she yelps, pushing forwards into a reflexive dive that sends her rolling to a stop curled up behind some cover. "Another one?!" she blurts, and then risks a bobble-hatted peek over the edge of the stone as she reaches for one of the pockets of her pack.

She has to pause for a moment as some new device of Lunata's simply carries her up and towards the Gear, Shalune's eyes widening in sheer confusion before her sense of mechanical engineering kicks in, watching and picking out the way in which the release cables work. Still, she grumbles out a quiet and slightly sulky "... bet I could improve that, y'know..."

Not that it matters that much given she's got her own plan in mind; no sooner has she tugged a flat oblong of metal out of one pocket than she's given it a flick in her hand, pressing a button at the same time to make the Little Dipper unfold itself in a complicated maneuver. In the same instant she's swung up and onto it, landing on the bed of the device just as it finishes building itself. The scooter does not rev, whatever type of engine it uses - but it does emit a building whine as it suddenly picks up speed, the pink-haired mechanic ducking under the fire before climbing abruptly in a spiralling pattern.

Once more, Shalune's only goal is to try to be a distraction, her shotstaff clipped into a series of holsters at the machine's side, automatically firing along her flight path - but at least she can rely on her ability to pilot at speed, even in the midst of the ruined trenches caused by fallen, blasted buildings.

DG: Shalune Amira has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Gear.
===============================<* Lost July *>================================
==========================<* CHALLENGE - The Gear *>==========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 With Lost July being so far out of the way, the powers that be are less       
 likely to intervene for the use of ARMs. Some less scrupulous Drifters have   
 decided that the consequences and damage to Lost July's ruins be damned,      
 they will use overwhelming firepower to secure their fortune. As you make     
 your way down the street, the ground suddenly quakes. Ahead of you, an        
 immense Gear slams down into the ground. The concrete street cracks further   
 under its weight. Its optics flash -- and then it begins firing its massive   
 hand cannon in your direction.                                                
=Dungeon Conditions: Suffer, Vault, Maim======================================
==========================<* Lost July - Round 4 *>===========================
============================< Results - The Gear >============================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   15 --(15)--> 30                Pass
Reliable Repellant                  2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lunata Croze                        15 --(15)--> 30                Pass
Ghastly Gas Mask                    1   Combat  Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shalune Amira                       15 --(20)--> 35                Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             20 --(15)--> 35                Pass
Celesdue Medium                     2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     20 --(20)--> 40                Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Jacqueline Barber           60 --(10)--> 70                Fail
Conditions: Maim|Suffer(1)|Vault(1)
Effects: Cleanse|Embolden(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Jacqueline Barber 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: Shalune Amira has drawn a new Challenge.
===============================<* Lost July *>================================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Twisted Metal Maze *>=====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Even beyond the blast crater, the buildings of Lost July are terrifically     
 damaged. This is no November, any longer. Few skyscrapers still stand. Many   
 of them have collapsed over, and few streets are entirely clear. Here,        
 though, you find a place where three buildings have collapsed into a heap in  
 the middle of the road. It is far too large to tear apart -- such a task      
 would last hours -- and it blocks the way completely. The buildings have      
 reduced to the steel superstructure, making a wicked bramble of sharp metal   
 that must be scaled or crept through.                                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Tire, Slow===============================================
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"I CAN STILL APPRECIATE HER CHOICE IN LINGERIE--" Cyre barely gets out, before all hell breaks loose. Jay's tonic actually does its job quite well, and Fat Paulie is momentarily distracted by his gun misfiring catastrophically, giving Lunata ample time to mount the Gear. In a few moments, she ravages its actuators and primary hydraulic systems, leaving it entirely unequipped to handle Catenna's magic. The gear stumbles back, twists on its heel, flails cartoonishly into Shallune and falls...

...Right into the path they were headed.

The gear emits unpleasant noises as coolant sprays in great gouts from a severed artery. Its chest begins to glow an unpleasant orange through the metal.

Cyre picks himself up out of the rubble and stares at it for a long moment before looking at the others and concluding: "Run."

This is a good plan, considering the gear explodes bigtime within a few seconds of it toppling over.

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

Shalune's piloting might be handy, but she isn't good enough yet to go up against a Gear with only a hand weapon; she manages to pepper one arm with shots before the Gear slams into her, sending her pitching to one side.

Perhaps it's a testament to the skills she does have that she manages to stay on board the Little Dipper, the various safety measures she's invented and built into the design helping to keep her stable and locked in place piloting it. She can't help with actually fighting the thing, but she can sweep back around just in time to pick up Lunata on the way, catching the other girl on the back of the scooter as she accelerates away from the imminent explosion.

Perhaps it's also a testament to her knowledge of Gears that she manages to narrow her eyes, aiming for a spot on the hull of the downed Gear to pepper it with more pinpoint fire in a last-ditch attempt to open the man's escape hatch from the outside.

Such is her concern for the pilot - and relief when the metal cover pops, blowing the poor raider away rather than up - that she's a little late to watch where the Little Dipper is actually going. The first warning she gets is a metal beam swooping just past her head, which makes her squawk in surprise and return to looking forward just in time to pitch to one side in a complicated spin. The motion takes her around a metallic lattice that was probably once a gantry, now acting as a chain-link fence instead.

The ruined, skeletal buildings make up the majority of the street they're on, having fallen sideways into it - most of it looks unpleasantly rusty, as evidenced as Shalune's dodge barely squeaks through, leaving a bright red smudge of oxidized iron along her coat's sleeve. "W-we've gotta be getting closer, right?!" she blurts back behind herself at the others.

DG: Shalune Amira has used her Tool Little Dipper toward her party's challenge, Twisted Metal Maze.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

Captain Maitreya's instructions were to also walk coolly while looking away from the explosion, which is what Lunata tries to do--

--except she's not actually far enough so she less walks and more 'gets flung off her feet' by the force of the explosion. Ah, it's reassuring to know a part of the adorable little Lunie is in there when she's busy trying to act like a terminator...

At the very least, she lands right onto Little Dipper as they both fly away from the explosion. "I honestly have no idea how we're going to find ruins in the middle of this city... it's like trying to find--" A pause. "Hay in a haystack, I suppose? This city is nothing but Ruins."

With no better tool at hand, she just more opts to cling onto Shalune and stay on the LIttle Dipper.

DG: Lunata Croze has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Twisted Metal Maze.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Fighting a Gear is a lot harder for Catenna when there are squishy people on foot to pay mind to. Especially so when one of them is Cyre.

As Cyre struggles his way out of the ruins, a pair of slender arms reach out for him - and Catenna huffs as she sweeps Cyre up into her arms, cradling him in a standard princess carry. She's blushing as she leaps over a piece of debris, carrying the Beastman along with her even as the Gear detonates behind them.

"Are you alright," she asks Cyre, her voice quiet.

Still blushing, the priestess lowers Cyre out of her arms, setting him down so that she can get a better look over the chaotic state of the street ahead. The priestess sets her hands at her hips and lets her breath out, hanging back at first to measure which buildings have collapsed and how, and where the path of least resistance might be.

"I wish I had brought a rope," she murmurs, before turning to Cyre and resting a hand at her shoulder. "...But I think we may be able to get over that section there... there, where the smaller building has fallen. There is a bit of a gap...."

A gap one could reach easily with Cyre's parachute, no doubt.

Catenna prepares to do what she usually does in times like this, which is to nestle against Cyre's side and wrap her arms around him, and maybe even a leg, too.

DG: Catenna has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Twisted Metal Maze.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

It is now Cyre's turn to be hoisted up like a blushing maiden into the arms of his prince(ss) charming. "Aaah~" he swoons even as the gear goes up in so much smoke and fire behind them. Nothing like a catastrophic explosion to amp up the romance...! "My dashing hero. Let me rest against your bosom for but a little while longer--"

Oh, that there is a maze of twisted metal and tetanus.

Good thing Cyre's parachute has inflated and is already lifting both he and Catenna up and over to that gap in the construction. But... "Do you feel it? We are lifted... On the wings of our love...!"

I-is he just trying to get her to blush?

(Answer: Yes, because it's cute)

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Reverse Parachute toward his party's challenge, Twisted Metal Maze.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

Lunata's cheeks puff as she complains through the rungs and twisted masses of rebars: "Stop making out, geez!!"

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

True to form, Catenna, blushes heavily, but keeps her leg hooked to help her better latch on to Cyre. She wraps her arms around his shoulders and cinches herself in.

She blushes even harder as Lunata shouts at them. "That is not what we are doing!" she huffs indignantly.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"IT'S WHAT I WISH WE WERE DOING," Cyre shouts back into the sky.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline's a little surprised that her mixture actually worked on something that size. She decides to keep this in mind for later...but the fight against the Gear starts to go south when the thing topples over, and looks like it might be about to explode.

She panics for a moment...but feels some relief when Shalune's quick thinking sees the man able to escape. Jacqueline quickly turns her eyes away from the explosion, and then turns to follow the sight of Lunata and Shalune on the Little Dipper.

Unfortunately, she's the only person here without a method of flight(or proximity to someone with one), so she has to go through the hard way.

"I think-" Jacqueline starts, as she squirms a section of fallen building. "That we'll know it when we see it. If someone's already found it, there's doubtlessly going to be signs. Until then, we just have to keep going."

This method is starting to seem fruitless, so with a sigh she draws out a Crest. Tendrils of earth shoot out from the ground, grasping pieces of building and pushing it aside so she can make her way through.

It's a lot easier when you only have to make room for one person, at least! She also seems oblivious to the talk of 'making out'...

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Twisted Metal Maze.
===============================<* Lost July *>================================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Twisted Metal Maze *>=====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Even beyond the blast crater, the buildings of Lost July are terrifically     
 damaged. This is no November, any longer. Few skyscrapers still stand. Many   
 of them have collapsed over, and few streets are entirely clear. Here,        
 though, you find a place where three buildings have collapsed into a heap in  
 the middle of the road. It is far too large to tear apart -- such a task      
 would last hours -- and it blocks the way completely. The buildings have      
 reduced to the steel superstructure, making a wicked bramble of sharp metal   
 that must be scaled or crept through.                                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Tire, Slow===============================================
==========================<* Lost July - Round 5 *>===========================
=======================< Results - Twisted Metal Maze >=======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   30 --(13)--> 43                Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lunata Croze                        30 --(8)--> 38                 Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shalune Amira                       35 --(8)--> 43                 Pass
Little Dipper                       2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             35 --(8)--> 43                 Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     40 --(8)--> 48                 Pass
Reverse Parachute                   1   Agility Effects: Rally and Quicken    
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Jacqueline Barber           70 --(20)--> 90                Pass
Conditions: Slow(2)|Tire(2)
Effects: Quicken(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Jacqueline Barber 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> Shalune Amira has posed.

"--right!?" blurts Shalune over her shoulder. She probably doesn't mean to be quite so loud, but the adrenaline the rather breakneck moment has yet to really subside and she's obviously still kind of keyed up. In fact, she slowly pulls the Little Dipper to a stationary position, if only to give the two of them - and everyone else - a chance to catch their breath.

Somewhere behind her, the couple bicker to each other as they pick over rubble; further back, Jacqueline has a slightly rougher time, not quite as nimble (or possessed of tools that allow her to cheat) as the rest of the group. Shalune doesn't notice any of this at first, because she's too busy peering ahead in the wake of Lunata's comment. "They-- the rumours said it was under, right? Which I guess means we'd need to find a way down too. Maybe some kinda basement entrance? I dunno that I'd wanna go into the basement of any building that's as busted up as these are." She fidgets for a moment, and chews at her lip, and finally confesses: "... whatever happened to this place, I'm glad... it didn't happen anywhere near as hard to Adlehyde, y'know?"

The pink-haired girl shakes it away, and blinks behind her-- "Oh! Jay! Hold on!" she blurts, and jukes the Little Dipper backwards to offer the alchemist some space on as well. It's a bit of a tight fit, but Shalune's kind of assuming neither she nor Lunata are likely to complain.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has drawn a new Challenge.
===============================<* Lost July *>================================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - The Barred Way *>=======================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 It has not been easy to locate the rumored Elw ruins. However, it seems that  
 you may have found the way. Inside a building, a stairway made of stone       
 instead of concrete or rusted metal leads down into a long, narrow chamber.   
 The air is cool here, and less dusty and smelling of decay. The hallway leds  
 on for a very long way, until you come to the end.                            
                                                                               
 There was a doorway here. However, someone has beaten you to it. Instead,     
 you find the way ends in a massive pile of rubble. The rubble is much too     
 focused. It fills the way, floor to ceiling. This was done deliberately to    
 block the way.                                                                
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken, Overzealous======================================
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

It's...well, it started out fine, but the rubble only gets thicker the further she goes, until eventually Jacqueline reaches a point where she can't progress any further, not unless she had access to a Gear of some kind. Fortunately, it's about this time that Shalune swings on back to pick her up.

"Th-thank you..." She says, joining Shalune and Lunata on the Little Dipper. It's a tight fit, but Shalune's not wrong - Jacqueline is perfectly alright with this arrangement.

As it turns out, though, it's a lot easier to catch sight of their destination from the air. One of their number manages to catch sight of it, and together they descend.

"Stone... This is place is much older than the city around it..." Jacqueline murmurs as they pace through the halls of the building. They walk for quite some time, through halls with air untouched by the calamity outside. And at the end...

Rubble, filling the hallway from floor to ceiling.

Jacqueline frowns.

"Well, I think we know where the entrance is. Problem is...how should we get through?" She says, folding her arms in front of her. It doesn't take much thought - stone is one of her specialties, after all. She rummages through her bags, drawing out yet more of those bright red potions and passing them around.

And then she draws out a Crest, invoking an Earth Sorcery to simply push rubble aside.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Brewte Force toward her party's challenge, The Barred Way.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Descending out of Cyre's embrace, a still-blushing Catenna ducks her head to clear the lintel of a low doorway.

And then the staircase transitions. It's not concrete or metal anymore, but careworn old stone that seems to predate the rest of Lost July. The blush Catenna wears fades.

She reaches out, and runs her hand along the wall. She draws in a slow breath.

The air is cool and, if not fresh, then heavy with something auspicious. She can feel in her bones that something of tremendous import is at hand.

Through that rubble, a few errant rays of light peek. Catenna says nothing as she moves towards the rubble pile. Quietly, she clutches a hand to her collarbone, bowing her head and suppressing a sick feeling in her stomach. Someone has already been here, and does not wish for anyone else to follow. Their intentions may not be good.

She lays her hands on the ruins of the door and begins to chant softly, letting the power of gravity filter into the rubble. A few of the larger pieces shudder as Catenna begins to ease them out of the doorway. Each piece appears to be nearly weightless; chunks of debris bobble in the air as she steers them free, guiding them off to to the side and letting them settle to the ground, then turning to the next piece of rubble.

There is an intent determination to the way she moves - something almost Ethius-like in her single-minded focus on reaching what lies beyond this obstacle.

DG: Catenna has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Barred Way.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

Lunata kind of falls silent as she reaches out and takes Jacqueline by her hand, listening to her talk about how she's glad Adlehyde was hit nowhere this hard. "... if the stories are true ... then this Vash the Stampede is even more powerful than the Quarter Knights? It's terrifying to think about," but that's about all she says about it.

She pauses as she peers towards the doorway and descend down below the ground... but something has caused it to cave in.

"I'll have Ge Ramda help us through...!" Lunata speaks resolutely, gesturing forward as the Lich lurches onward and seizes a piece of rubble, hucking them onto the other side given she's-- well, spectral and has no actual mass when she wants to.

DG: Lunata Croze has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Barred Way.
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

Carefully, Shalune sweeps the Little Dipper down to the entrance of the building, letting everyone disembark safely; she hops off afterwards, picking up the scooter as it folds itself down into a smaller and more manageable form ready to be tucked away into her backpack. Given the words she literally just spoke, she's understandably a little worried about stepping into a building that might not be all that stable, but a moment's glance around makes it look safe enough.

Except, of course, for the blocked passageway that should lead further down. Biting at her lip, she looks around a second time, longer this time, as if to try to better judge how much she can get away with. "I-- could set some explosives, but it kinda seems like that'd be a really bad idea. At least we can hope we're the first ones down here, right?" she adds, pumping her fists gently as she wonders that much.

It takes her a moment to root through her bag for something useful - in the end, she takes out an odd device that looks like a short, sharp car jack and wedges it between two likely bits of rock, pressing a button along its side.

With a low whirr, the device catches - and then locks in place, the grinding of stone indicating the main rod as it begins to expand outwards, shoving the rock out and away with the power of something that looks a lot like hydraulics.

DG: Shalune Amira has used her Tool Soup of the Day -Shalune Ver.- toward her party's challenge, The Barred Way.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

It's always a good day when Cyre gets to make Catenna blush more than usual. Today is a good day.

This, though? This rubble is... Not good. "It almost looks like someone collapsed this tunnel deliberately," Cyre murmurs, a squeezing contemplatively at the bridge of his nose. "I mean. This stone is tough. Real tough. And considering there's still buildings more or less in one piece up top, I find it hard to believe that there'd be this much destruction in one place if it's all the same source."

Cyre shakes his head. He takes a moment to ignite his incense-- after all, they've been through a lot to get this far. Now is just the right time to rest and relax their tired muscles. After all, there's a lot of digging to do...!

For that, though, Cyre doesn't use his hands.

He uses... lasers.

Laser drilling: It's the way of the future!

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Invigorating Vapors toward his party's challenge, The Barred Way.
===============================<* Lost July *>================================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - The Barred Way *>=======================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 It has not been easy to locate the rumored Elw ruins. However, it seems that  
 you may have found the way. Inside a building, a stairway made of stone       
 instead of concrete or rusted metal leads down into a long, narrow chamber.   
 The air is cool here, and less dusty and smelling of decay. The hallway leds  
 on for a very long way, until you come to the end.                            
                                                                               
 There was a doorway here. However, someone has beaten you to it. Instead,     
 you find the way ends in a massive pile of rubble. The rubble is much too     
 focused. It fills the way, floor to ceiling. This was done deliberately to    
 block the way.                                                                
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken, Overzealous======================================
==========================<* Lost July - Round 6 *>===========================
=========================< Results - The Barred Way >=========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   43 --(10)--> 53                Fail
Brewte Force                        1   Brute   Effects: Fanfare and Strengthe
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lunata Croze                        38 --(10)--> 48                Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shalune Amira                       43 --(5)--> 48                 Pass
Soup of the Day -Shalune Ver.-      3   Brute   Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             43 --(5)--> 48                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     48 --(5)--> 53                 Pass
Invigorating Vapors                 1   Brute   Effects: Cleanse              
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Jacqueline Barber           90 --(30)--> 120               Pass
Conditions: Overzealous(2)|Slow(1)|Tire(1)|Weaken(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Strengthen(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: You have overcome the dungeon's trials! This run is a success!
DG: The party led by Jacqueline Barber has successfully explored Lost July!
===============================<* Lost July *>================================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - The Elw Ruins *>========================
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The path is cleared, and you find that the doorway leads into another         
 hallway. This hallway, however, has a strange feature. Instead of being       
 darkened, sunlight spills in -- inexplicably, given the depth of the hallway  
 -- and lights up the stones here a brilliant golden color. The path leads     
 ahead, to stairs leading upward, and a double door. It swings open, and       
 reveals a strange sight: an open sky, seemingly underground. And yet, there   
 is a shimmer in the air.                                                      
                                                                               
 Elw sorcery, which has transported you to a place of interlocking platforms   
 that float in the mountains. The air is cool here, but you can see that the   
 stone platforms are dotted with trees. Somehow, you have risen thousands of   
 feet into the air, for if you look down, you can see the ruins of Lost July   
 below. Even still, the stairway leading down will lead back under the ruined  
 city.                                                                         
                                                                               
 Welcome to the Pleasing Garden.                                               
=Dungeon Conditions: Vault====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"I don't know..." Jacqueline murmurs, shaking her head. She highly doubted it, from the way the rubble was lined up. It didn't seem natural. It was entirely possible that it was, but...it seemed entirely too inconvenient.

Still, the party gets to work. There's a lot of rubble to sift through, and Jacqueline has used a lot of sorcery already. It's exhausting work, though her potion helps to keep energy up.

Ge Ramda will find that the rubble does not seem to want to pass through onto the other side. It will need to be dealt with in another fashion - but fortunately, the party is perfectly capable of that.

Catenna invokes the power of gravity, working with a focused determination - the rubble becomes light, almost weightless, and she begins to steer some of it away. It'll also make the job of Shalune's machine that much easier, as it starts to shove rocks out of the way.

Everything that isn't moved by Catenna or Shalune is assaulted by drilling lasers, melting right on through.

Catenna isn't the only person channeling Ethius here, it turns out.

Eventually, though, the doorway is cleared out. The hallway beyond it seems...different. And brighter, in fact, so much so that the stone takes on a golden hue. Is it the work of Elw sorcery? No...as they progress, the reality of the situation reveals itself -

Somehow, they have found themselves thousands of feet upward in the air. They can see Lost July beneath them, and perhaps more, if they look further.

And ahead of them, a series of interlocking platforms dotted with trees, and cool, fresh air all around them.

The color drains out of Jacqueline's face as she stares downward and backpedals.

She wasn't afraid of heights by any means, but, this place...it was like nothing she had ever seen in all her travels. It was...amazing. But at the same time, intimidating.

"W-wow...I...I've never seen anything like this...!" She breathes, gazing out at the Pleasing Garden. "The Elw were capable of this...?"

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

The light streaming through the double doorway nearly dazzles Catenna. She squints, shielding her eyes with one arm as the doors open.

Onto a glorious floating paradise, a series of interlocking platforms upon which the trees are green, the air is crisp and Filgaia itself recedes into the distance, thousands of feet below.

"An Origin Garden," she whispers.

Catenna stares in wonder for a moment, her mouth hanging open, before she falls to her knees and lays her hands atop the platform beneath her. She runs her hands across the sunkissed stone before bringing them up beneath her chin and folding them closely in reverence. Jacqueline may be afraid, but Catenna is experiencing something much different.

Religious epiphany.

"It is said that the Elw were the Original Ones, Jay," she murmurs as she opens her eyes, her smile beatific. "What they were capable of... we can only begin to dream of, or so it is said. But they were here long before any of us... and we can only wonder... if this is once what Filgaia was...?"

Again she bows her head, murmuring a few soft, reverential words in Zortroan, then looks up again to drink it all in.

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

Shalune sucks in a slow breath as she makes her way down the passageway; her eyes are bright and wide as she stares across the series of platforms, her mouth open in an endless gape of surprise. "Uwaaah...!" she sounds as she immediately scrambles forwards, dashing for the edge of the platform they're on. Fearlessly, she peers over the edge of the stone floor, holding her bobble hat onto her head as she does her best to peer down at the ground far, far below.

"Wah! Wah!" she blurts, having problems finding her voice. "Look how high we are! Look at this! It's amazing!" she cheers, apparently not worried about the height in the least. "Can you imagine how they did this? I wonder if you could reach this normally? It'd be super high up, but maybe you could manage it!"

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Cyre finds himself standing in a place he never once-- not in his wildest dreams-- could have ever believed he would be. The air is fresh, cool and clean, smelling of fresh grass and lush, green, growing life. The very essence of the world suddenly seems so much more alive-- as if Filgaia's dwindling vitality was inexplicably concentrated here.

This... This is...

"By the gods, we've actually found it," Cyre breathes, falling to his knees in pure, astonished reverance. "The Elw. They were here. This... This is one of their lost gardens. I thought they were--"

His hand clasps tightly around one of Catenna's, it seems Cyre is also having a... bit of a moment here.

"...Let's stay. For a little while at least. There's... So much to see here...!"

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Suddenly, at least one warm body - and probably more - are violently deposited through the open doors. One of them is a certain white-haired Symbologist who collides and rolls against the ornate stone and comes to a stop under the shade of a great, vibrant verdant tree.

Ethius staggers up to a stand, hand against his forehead as unnatural colors hit his eyes. A bright, clear blue. Clouds flit by. The air is... the cleanest. He's tempted to take off his bandanna just to take any of it in, but seems to think better of it as the forms and outlines of familiar faces refill his vision, just as his other hand comes shy of pulling it down.

"...Miss Jay?" He asks. He glances back over his shoulder to check for the presence of the rest.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

Lunata certainly looks like she's been on an adventure. Several lightly severed cables are wound up around her where the manuevering equipment's kind of gotten to its limits; she's slicked with soot, gunpowder and explosives and has her ghastly gas mask dangling from one side of her. And is that... Gear fluid slaked on her cloak? Well.

She steps a little bit closer as she puts a hand to her head and murmurs, "... I wanna camp here."

... well, that's not a bad choice for a first set of words, one supposes.

<Pose Tracker> Arleph Ardan has posed.

Another symbologist appears and is dropped upon the ground, this one of a more red haired color, slamming into the stone, rolling over the door. After him a hat floats after, flung and fired by some unknown force.

Arleph grunts, rolling on the ground with a groan, slowly sitting up. "Ugggh. I do... not think that was... quite right." He muses, blearily, groping around for his discared hat before placing it on. "...Jay?"

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

As Cyre reaches down, Catenna slides one slender hand into his. Her fingers find the spaces between the Shaman's, curling to clasp his hand tightly. She lifts pale grey eyes to him and smiles an almost epiphanic smile.

Soon enough here comes Ethius Hesiod of all people. Catenna looks back towards the group from where she's kneeling next to Cyre, looking out across the hovering garden. Nothing seems to be able to knock the smile off her face.

Her grip tightens in Cyre's for a moment. "We all made it, then," she murmurs, her pale grey eyes growing a little brighter. "I am glad."

<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin looks around in surprise. "This...is not what I expected to find..." she murmurs.

+Vote: Cyre H. Lorentz has voted for you.

<DICE ROLLER> Lydia Seren rolled 1d4 <4> + 0 = 4

<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

And SUDDENLY!! METAL DIGGER LOCUS tumbles in unceremoniously.

"'m okay," she mumbles, staggering back on her feet.

"All in all, maybe that was a lil' bit too much electricity," she decides. "How's everybody doin'?" She trails off, looking around herself.

"...This place is SO COOL," she declares.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia comes flying through the door. She was apparently trying to ram the door in impatience when Carina did her thing.

She goes flying outward and tackles into Cyre at high speeds.

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

Shalune absolutely, utterly lights up at Lunata's suggestion, her face splitting into an enormous beaming smile. "Right--?!" she blurts eagerly, impulsively taking the girl's hands in hers - and then drawing back in surprise at the state of the girl. For a moment, she looks worried all over again, biting once more at her lip - then she huffs out a breath, puts on her Granny voice out of nowhere, and lifts a finger--

--to wag it. "You need a Lunie-bath, young lady!" she croons, which is pretty goddamn rich coming from her. But her intent is pretty obviously just to be silly, and maybe bring a smile to the other girl's face.

<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Spirit appeared next to Kourin, of course. He looks about as blase at this place as the loyal, good dog always does around Kourin.

<Pose Tracker> Arleph Ardan has posed.

"This..." Arleph lets out, begining to speak as he takes in the sight of the area for the first time. His mouth remains open for a few moments as he stands back up. This, reminds him of some of the gardens he's seen, taking greenery not only on amazing, alien plants in beautiful arrangments, but bringing it into a third dimension, with floating platforms. "This is... Facinating and beautiful."

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline listens intently as Catenna explains, about the importance of the Elw who created this place. This place clearly holds a great important to her...Jacqueline can understand why.

Shalune asks if it'd be possible for someone to reach it from the ground floor...and carefully, experimentally, Jacqueline draws something from one of her bags - a stirring rod, for potion preparation. She extends it out carefully past the stone pathway...but it isn't long before it's stopped by a shimmering barrier.

"Hm...I'm not sure. It depends on whether or not the barrier can keep things from coming in..." She considers. Still. It does make her feel some relief...

Especially when she's startled and nearly jumps as five more individuals are thrown out of the hallway they just came from. Five familiar individuals.

"Ah! Everyone! You're alright!" Jacqueline says, with a bright smile on her face. "I was a bit concerned about splitting us up at first, but...it seems I needn't have worried!"

She seems to have gotten out it alright, though her dress does seem to need patched up from where it was caught and roughed up as she tried to make her way through the steel skeleton of a building.

"Camping? I agree..." Jacqueline says, looking back to Shalune...and then smirks. "...And I agree with that, too."

She says, before looking back toward the others.

"Well, everyone...it looks like we've reached our destination! I think we're all a bit too tired to move on, but...I think we'll be able to come here whenever we want to, now, now that we know where it is." She says. "I consider this mission a success!"

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

Lunata has to pause and look around skeptically as she murmurs, "... I'm--" she looks towards the rest of the group with relief, "I'm so surprised something horrible and ancient hasn't risen up to kill us for discovering this by now...?"

A pause.

"It-- it tends to happen a lot, it feels."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Ethius doesn't know what to feel. All he has ever known on Filgaia, for the last two years of his awareness, was... desert, rotting fields, desperation, dust, and a lack of a perfect picture as to why he's here. This place doesn't look at all like Filgaia.

His eyes fall upon the smile of Catenna, blissful as she takes in the sights with her beloved. To the simple peacefulness in which Kourin seems to accept all of this. Talks of simply taking it easy, relaxing, enjoying their time here.

A part of him... wants to. It's just like...

It's just like...

...What? It's just like something. Something that's... is... was... will be... good, but...?

He turns his back to the rest, silently, taking a few steps away as he faces back towards the door down. Does he mean to break away from them, as they celebrate seeing a surviving miracle of a people and a place once long thought to be myth?

...

He seems at a loss as to what to feel, as he looks out to the door that leads here. Behind him, the fresh breeze and the green trees await him, but he does not partake. Instead, he faces out back to the world of decay, of rampant violence, of unchecked developments, of unstoppable monsters.

...

A part of him feels as though there is something he can no longer see, but that is... is... he cannot complete the thought.

An unknown instinct, or some sort of undefinable mania, gives him a different objective as he opens back his eyes to stare down the door that brought them here. While everyone rests, he will watch.

While everyone cooks, he will watch.

While everyone prays, he will watch.

While everyone enjoys, he will watch.

He will watch this door, this boundary between a world of strife and this, for...

...For...

...

...

...

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

>Peacefulness of her beloved.

Yeah, right up until Lydia straight up GOAT-CHECKS Cyre right in the back, sending him face-first into the soft, loamy soil.

WHAT A JERK.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

SUDDEN LYDIAROID

"Cyre!" Catenna yelps as the catman gets planted in the turf by the former Asteroid the Kid. Of course, she's holding his hand as he's falling.

She ends up tumbling forward and landing across his back, in a pile with Lydia.

This is not the serene visit to an Elw ruin she had hoped for.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia falls on top of Cyre afterwards. Due to being a 'Kid' beastman, Lydia is actually very good at RAMming people. Let this be a lesson.

Nevertheless, she wasn't really expecting to do that so she still flops over on top of Cyre afterwards with swirls in her eyes, dizzy as all heck.

She doesn't comment on an ancient evil failing to rise up and try to kill them because, honestly, they haven't gotten to the end of this Etrian Odyssey scenario yet.

"Heeeey...." Lydia says, lying there in the pile. "We got through..."

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"W-well..let's just enjoy this for now, before we head back." Jacqueline says, as Lunata brings up a very important point. Frankly, she was glad nothing terrible had happened yet.

And then Lydia leaps at Cyre, sending herself, Cyre, and Catenna into a pile. ...Jacqueline can't help but giggle slightly at this.

It certainly helped assuage her earlier uneasiness. She takes a deep breath. It might be a little difficult to go back, after experiencing this...

...But they couldn't ignore the world below them forever.