2018-03-01: That's Not Safe Demolition Work At All

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DG: A party led by Jacqueline Barber is now entering The Pleasing Garden.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
==========================<* The Pleasing Garden *>===========================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Platform Control *>======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 4          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 When you step into the center of the entry platform, things begin to go
 awry. The platform is connected to others by three bridges. Each of them
 withdraws, however. Then, the platform lurches forward and separates from
 the tunnel entrance, which leads back down to Lost July. This means that you
 are promptly separated from the way back.

 Unfortunately, the platform begins moving /away/ from the other platforms in
 the Pleasing Garden. A leap to the next platform would be very, very hard --
 and may soon be impossible. However, a strange console sits at the center.
 It is nearly ineffable: a large stone pylon, with carved lines aglow with
 light. They emit distinct tones, when you wave your hands over them.
 Somehow, the platform responds to these controls.
=Dungeon Conditions: Cripple, Maim, Suffer====================================
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

There might have been a bit of a stir in the area, as two air ships, one significantly larger than the other, flew in the direction of Lost July and the Pleasing Gardens above it.

Jacqueline and some of the other members have been away from the Caravan Kinship for a little while on a personal mission, and it was not too long ago that she returned.

It was time for them to venture into the Pleasing Gardens themselves. They'd been there before, of course, but they had only camped out within the entrance.

Yet again, they were splitting off into two teams - this time with the goal of hopefully reuniting with the members of the Caravan Kinship who had been present on the smaller of the two airships as it flew away. It was for the best...though Jacqueline had not anticipated running into some friends on their way through the ruins of Lost July, who were readily accepted into the group.

As soon as the party goes further in, to the edge of the platform they had initially camped on, the platform...lurches forward, and begins to move.

"I-It's a good thing no one wandered off to far on their own on our first visit here...!" Jacqueline murmurs, surprised. She holds onto the console in the middle for stability...and that's when it starts to glow, and emit distinct tones. She takes a step back and folds her arms in front of her, staring at it.

"...Huh, that's strange. Let's see...can we...?"

In short order, she figures out that it seems to have some effect on the platform's movement...the question is, what kind?

It'll take some puzzling out...

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Platform Control.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Ethius never explains what he was doing on the Fereshte, or how he got on there, or when. He just goes back into the kitchen, asks to borrow some flour to replace an expended Powder Grenade, and leaves with both an aching shoulder, a bad headache, and a few more questions about the earliest moment in time he remembers.
  Some time later, he's on that platform with Jay, when it moves.
  The next nearest platform - 'nearest' is a tricky word to use when it seems so far off, now - is at such a difference in (raised) elevation that Ethius is certain he couldn't just break away and float to the other end. At times like these, the Spectral Lens is often a mainstay in the Caravan Kinship's expeditions. With the casting of a Symbological spell to give it a tiny spark of electricity, it reveals to him what is connected to what. With his free hand, he points a finger out towards the console, then... doesn't really point his finger towards anywhere else interesting.
  "It would appear that the device in the center of our vehicle is the only means available of movement." So he comments.
  ...So, as it so happens, Ethius merely confirms exactly everything on the surface and adds nothing of help other than adding a little glowy blue light from a magical eyeglass to the mix. That's... not much help then, is it.
  "I am afraid our only means forward will involve risking experimentation."
  This may be a job for the more impulsive button bashers of the team!!

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Spectral Lens toward his party's challenge, Platform Control.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

HOURS AGO

--ttthhHHHWOOOMMMmmm--

One of the platforms on the Pleasing Gardens receives an additional and unexpected passenger, as the Fereshte, the ramshackle skyship of the Wayside Tainted makes a crash landing after their engines mostly caught on fire and more than perhaps half the clean weight of the ship's hull fell off due to makeshift maintenance and repairs that could very well be described as 'spit and bubblegum'.

The Waysiders have mostly been trying to put fires out and recuperate, as well as take headcounts and make sure that injuries are taken care of.

In the wake of this...

Lunata looms beside Jacqueline with a quiet scowl on her face, looking deeper towards the ruins as she says, "I'm not really sure this is the best time to go in... but... I guess..."

She sighs softly and looks towards the device, before-- rubbing her head.

"... no soup today."

A huge soup pot is back at the Fereshte, with Mikaia tiptoeing at the top of a stepladder as she stirs and hums, sniffing and going, "And parsley..."

DG: Lunata Croze has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Platform Control.
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

Carina feels better now that her identity as Locus is an open secret amidst the CaraKin-- Not having to hide it means she can focus on more important things such as protecting everyone! She didn't go on that airship adventure, but now she's with the gang and that's what counts!

Well, she doesn't have to hide her identity except from Ethius and maybe Avril. But at least now the others can cover for her. Right? Right??

But never mind that, because now she's staggering around as the platform moves. "W-Whoa!" She turns to see the platform retract. "Well, there's our exit. Guess we're in for the long haul, huh? Let's hope we don't fall!"

She turns around to look at Jay, who is trying the console.

"Huuuh, jeez, that's a real stumper, huh?" Locus says, scratching her head, which turns the MATRIX EYE on. Her vision abruptrly switches to see-through mode, which causes her to freeze a second-- she isn't used to this yet!! This might not be useful here, so tentatively, she taps at the side of her helmet once more. Rainbow-vision. This doesn't seem so useful. She tries again. Her vision goes red, with icons lighting up here and there within her field of vision. Huh! She settles on the nearest one, hovering over Jay.

Text comes up in Carina's vision.

"Jacqueline Barber," she reads out loud, "Gender: Female, Class: Traveling Apothecary, Race: Human (Filgaia), Profile: A member of a somewhat-successful merchant family in Adlehyde, Jacqueline 'Jay' Barber..."

Carina cuts herself off, waving her hands at Jay frantically. "W-Wait, that's invasion of privacy! Dang! Sorry about that, Miss Jay! Hmm, let's see, though..."

She instead focuses the Matrix Eye on the icon above the console. Maybe she can learn a useful clue from it, or the technology inside her armor can interface with it remotely. She won't know if she doesn't try it!

DG: Carina Wynne has used her Tool Matrix Eye toward her party's challenge, Platform Control.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Where the heck did that cat go?

Lydia scratches at her head, wondering about this, but ultimately she shrugs her shoulders and ends up joining the team to investigate the (dis)pleasing gardens alongside everyone else. "I wouldn't freak too much." Lydia says. "If neccessary we can just jump off and summon our guardians to help guide us to safety so I figure so long as we keep a steady pace--"

Pause.

"........no soup, huh?" Lydia taps her cheek thoughtfully before rushing over to the console. "Time to hurry up and be reckless and push random buttons!"

Boop beep boop boop boop will be happening unless someone stops her.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Platform Control.
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

Dean isn't great at puzzle-solving at the best of times, and he recently sustained a rather serious head injury. In fairness, it wasn't as serious as the rest-of-him injury he had, but hey, any bone-cracking wound you can walk away from! Good thing Gwen had taken him to a doctor in November City after fetching him from Gulliver... He isn't *quite* good as new, but being young and spry and generally tough really does wonders on top of the wonder that is *bandages*.

On the downside: no soup today.

"Awww, that's a shame," Dean says, frowning sadly when Lunata reveals that. "Maybe next time, but still..." He looks up and around at the bridges that've withdrawn from the platform they're on. The platform then starts *moving*, a thing that might be alarming if there weren't a console that the others promptly start to try to figure out. Alarming as that is, Dean has faith in his friends and companions, especially since they've got SUPERHERO METAL LOCUS with them!!

"You can do it, guys! Figure that weird thing out!" he cheers, raising a fist, because Dean might be bad at puzzles but he's good at being optimistic. And optimism is the best way to help! "Yeah! Go, Lydia!!" STOP HELPING, DEAN.

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

"Hwhaaa..." sighs Shalune when the other Lunie mentions the lack of soup; she looks well and truly worn out, covered in scrapes and bits of bandage, red-faced from the heat of the engine room, and slumped over for a moment in what might be exasperated fatigue...

... and yet, somehow she's walked away from the wreck with the power of her own two feet, and still manages to pull herself up to standing as she pumps her fists and firms up her expression. "I don't think we've got a whole lotta choice. I mean, for all we know, those guys're gonna come back with reinforcements. The sooner we can figure out where we are and see if we can get something that'll help, not to mention find everyone else, the better," she encourages the Carakin Couple (pending).

... for once, she's even trying to sound serious and responsible, but then a crash does kind of take the wind out of your (and everyone else's) sails. (Her tag in Carina's mask is probably just 'please don't let her near this'.)

"Lydie, just don't crash the platform the Fereshte is on!" she grumbles as she scurries forward and up to the platform, glancing around it; it becomes obvious after a moment that she's trying to determine how the controls work, even going so far as to snag a chisel out of her pocket to tap into the base of the control panel in hopes of finding some kind of wiring. "This stuff's always so weird... I miss good old normal ruins," she grumbles.

DG: Shalune Amira has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Platform Control.
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

There might have been a bit of a stir here, as two airships flew in the direction of Lost July, and more importantly, the Pleasing Gardens above it.

These airships did not in any way involve a certain mysterious waif and her friends. Avril, Dean, and Rebecca have all arrived in the lost Elw ruins for reasons of their own.

...The reasons may be one part because Avril has felt as if she's drawn to this place, and about one part because they're Elw ruins and thus, well.
Golems are a strong possibility in this place.

They had made their way in fact through the remains of Lost July just as the two ships made their passage through the sky above... and had met up with at least some members of those aboard one ship in particular soon afterward finding their way into the ancient sky garden.

A decision to reconnoiter had been made. Avril had decided to go along with them. And considering Dean's current state, it shouldn't be a surprise that if he was going out and about, Rebecca has gone along, too, hovering near the boy like the proverbial mother hen. She looks almost as if she's ready to cart him back off to camp around here at any moment, but for now--

--Well, retreat might be an impossibility at this point, anyway.
"Dean!! Now look what's happened!"


Avril, for her part, looks somewhat perturbed as the platform begins to move. Stepping lightly towards the console, she investigates it critically.

...Something about this...

As if willing it to bend at her command, she stares the device down, her blue-eyed gaze steely.

...If she could just remember...

DG: Avril Vent Fleur has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Platform Control.
==========================<* The Pleasing Garden *>===========================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Platform Control *>======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 4          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 When you step into the center of the entry platform, things begin to go
 awry. The platform is connected to others by three bridges. Each of them
 withdraws, however. Then, the platform lurches forward and separates from
 the tunnel entrance, which leads back down to Lost July. This means that you
 are promptly separated from the way back.

 Unfortunately, the platform begins moving /away/ from the other platforms in
 the Pleasing Garden. A leap to the next platform would be very, very hard --
 and may soon be impossible. However, a strange console sits at the center.
 It is nearly ineffable: a large stone pylon, with carved lines aglow with
 light. They emit distinct tones, when you wave your hands over them.
 Somehow, the platform responds to these controls.
=Dungeon Conditions: Cripple, Maim, Suffer====================================
=====================<* The Pleasing Garden - Round 1 *>======================
========================< Results - Platform Control >========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       0 --(20)--> 20                 Fail
Spectral Lens                       2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   0 --(20)--> 20                 Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lunata Croze                        0 --(20)--> 20                 Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shalune Amira                       0 --(15)--> 15                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(15)--> 15                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Avril Vent Fleur                    0 --(15)--> 15                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carina Wynne                        0 --(15)--> 15                 Pass
Matrix Eye                          2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Jacqueline Barber           0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Cripple|Maim|Suffer(1)
Effects: Enlighten(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> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"Yeah...I know, but..." Jacqueline starts and nods when Shalune provides her explanation. "...Yeah. I just...I just hope this place remains intact after everything's said and done. It would be a shame if we lost a piece of valuable history like this..."

With her mind occupied by those thoughts, she doesn't really notice Carina looking at her, and doesn't think too much about it...at least until she starts talking.

"A-ah, that's um...where did you get that from...?" Jacqueline asks, just a little red. Almost as red as the hair of Dean's red-headed friend.

She'd never met Rebecca before, but she does offer the girl a friendly smile and a wave. It did make her a little more comfortable, having someone keeping an eye on Dean considering his current...condition.

Her attention returns to the console...but she's just a little off-kilter, and can't quite get her head around it.

Ethius's Spectral Lens provides helpful information! ...It was information they already had, but still.

And Lydia, in proper Lydia fashion, charges in to start mashing buttons. Dean cheers her on. This probably only encourages her further.

However, if someone's keeping a close eye on the console, like Shalune, who's currently trying to partially take it apart, or Carina, who's studying it with her Matrix Eye, they'll be able to discern some patterns. Patterns that will certainly help them learn how to navigate this strange piece of Elw technology.

Perhaps Avril is able to discern these patterns, as well. Or perhaps, in someway...she already knew them.

Whatever the case is, travel will become much easier now that they know how to work the darn thing.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has drawn a new Challenge.
===============================================<* The Pleasing Garden *>================================================
===========================================<* CHALLENGE - Rune-Warded Door *>===========================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          |
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 You find a massive, slate grey steel door. Strange runes on it glow a
 brilliant golden color as you approach. There is no key to this door.
 However, blowing it down presents a unique problem: every blow and blast to
 knock through it sends a powerful shockwave out from the door. You will need
 to proceed carefully, as the door causes powerful thunder waves that could
 decimate you, even as you knock it to smithereens.
=Dungeon Conditions: Overzealous, Suffer======================================
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

The very moment Locus starts reciting vital information from Jay, Ethius does a swift ACTION ROLL behind the console as to block off line of sight. Some may notice he's already grabbing one of the satchels at his belt. (Looking the opposite way will reveal that there's nothing coming towards them, so... #justethiusthings)
  The lot of them manage to direct their platform towards a larger floating island whose surviving ground aligns neatly with the current vertical altitude of their platform. Before them is a massive, slate grey steel door adorned with glowing runes that glitter like the gold of a setting sun.
  Ethius steps forward and does what comes natural, which is to say cast a Symbological spell to subject it to incredible heat. It starts to burble, it starts to warp...
  Then the runes flash blindingly and there is a great force that throws him back towards the party. He catches himself in a kneel.
  "So, the door itself would intend to fight back any attempt," Ethius remarks far too calmly for being JUST SHY OF BEING THROWN OFF THE DAMN FLOATING ISLAND HOW HIGH IN THE SKY? Or maybe it's just poor voice direction for his actor. Either or.
  "I do not believe the door, itself, is impervious to harm." It is true, it is already looking a bit... warped. "I also do not see any other means of entry available to us." True enough, no keyholes, and there's no sneaky side paths on this island in which to go key huntin'. Therefore...
  "I believe the best approach would be that we bring all of our strength to bear at once, unless one is willing to individually test feedback versus force."
  If Ethius' ability to melt things can be considered 'rather good,' then, they might not want to experiment about this lightly.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Rune-Warded Door.
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

No soup today? Locus slumps at the news. "What? Nooooooo~" And then Lydia has a suggestion that doesn't improve her DESPAIR MOOD.

"I don't have a Guardian, though!" she protests, pointing to herself. "Though I guess I AM a bit of a Pretty Guardian myself, hehehe..." She straightens up, having cheered herself up. Well, that was easy. She doesn't have a solution for if they fall, but she'll cross that suspended bridge when it collapses.

"Sorry Miss Jay, it's just the MATRIX EYE has some kind of setting for scanning things, I guess?" Locus explains, rubbing the back of her head as she keeps staring at the console. "Though it seems like the kinda thing I'll wanna use wisely..." You don't want to reveal embarassing secrets, or damage the fourth wall. She doesn't even notice Ethius' ACTION ROLL, because for a rare moment in her life, she's focused on something.

"Oh hey, something appeared! Once again," she announces, "the MATRIX EYE sees all!!"

Fast-forward to after this puzzle is squared away, so it doesn't have to be explained in detail. Ethius demonstrates this door's particular security measure.

"Yipes. Well, all right then, I've got an idea!"

She runs for the steel door, perhaps a little hastily. "All right, let's combine our strength, everyone! LOCUUUUUUS PUNCH!" She draws her fist back, leaping several feet in the air in an arc directed towards the door, gathering flames around her hand, then swings it forward--

                                 *TWONGGGGGGG*

Locus is flung back in the direction she just came from, sent tumbling onto the marble floor and dangerously close to the edge. "Owowowow," she says, rubbing her lower back. Let's hope she made a big enough dent, because she doesn't want to do this again!

DG: Carina Wynne has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Rune-Warded Door.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

Lunata stares at Ethius when he does an action hero roll and-- peers back towards Locus, blinking as she stammers something about a breach of privacy. She sighs just a little bit and shakes her head, glancing back towards Shalune and saying, "Yeah, I know..." She doesn't look like she's really got her usual spirit in it, perhaps having had some kind of bad premonition about the Pleasing Gardens somehow...

Perhaps the slightly twisting sensation from the distance is one thing. Ge Ramda isn't present, tucked into a bag she's carrying...

She nods towards Dean and Rebecca, saying, "We'll take care of it... don't exert yourself too much." She tilts her head. "I brought lunch, at least, but it's not quite the same..."

She glances towards Ethius, and taps her chin--

--before hucking one of her mother's earrings, which creates a small and localised vortex of wind. Wind strong enough to seriously stoke any fire discharged into it...

DG: Lunata Croze has used her Tool Meredin's Earrings toward her party's challenge, Rune-Warded Door.
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

"LOCUUUUUUS HYPER PUNCH!!" Locus corrects herself in mid-air as the elemental buff is applied.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia watches Carina bouncing away from the door while eating a sandwhich that she plucked out of her inventory. She says, "The acceleration of an object as produced by a net force is directly proportional to the magnitude of the net force." She looks to the door.

She closes her eyes.

She opens them again. "I have an idea."

She draws a ball out and adds, "It'll be like playing soccer...against a door!" She spikes the asteroid at the door and naturally it bounces back but-- BUT--

Lydia can kick it right back at it! This will probably go on for a while but her impressive SOCCER skills are pretty handy here.

The Inazuma Eleven theme begins to play, if kind of off key because this is pretty weird.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Asteroid Ball toward her party's challenge, Rune-Warded Door.
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

It's true. No matter how banged up Dean might be, there's little that could keep him from a potential Golem discovery. (Really the only effective method is "not knowing about it in the first place.") When Avril mentioned being drawn to this place, Dean pretty much jumped out of bed, likely to Rebecca's intense dismay. If she couldn't stop him, at least she could go with him to try to prevent anything worse from happening...

...Too bad it started out that way. "What?!" he utters, looking at her defensively. "I didn't do anything! It did that all on its own!" Fortunately, Avril and the others manage to make the console work, and he grins. "See? I knew they'd figure it out! It'll be fine, Rebecca!"

This is probably not reassuring, considering what Dean generally considers to be 'fine.' See: bandages around his head and one arm in a sling. At least he's still got his other hand, and at least he's ambidextrous... though he does tend to favor his right hand.

"Thanks, Lunata," Dean says with a smile to the swordswaitress. "Hey, lunch is still pretty great! Anything you make is bound to be delicious!" Then he gets distracted by Metal Locus's LOCUUUUUUUUS HYPER PUNCH, and he cheers, "Yeah!! Go, Locus!! --woah!!" That would be his reaction to the shockwave that knocks her back. Wow, Dean's seen some doors in his day, but this one really takes the cake!! Or sandwich. Dean stares at Lydia. "What?" She has an idea. "Oh, that *is* a good idea! Maybe I can try something like that--"

This is probably where Rebecca has to bodily force Dean from getting himself re-injured by attempting to kick a rock at a reflective door.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

It's less a memory and more impression. Moving a hand in this direction at that angle, then join it with a second hand, and--

A pleasing tone arises. It's apparently one of the keys to controlling the platform.

The Elw were truly the masters of home security, it seems.
Avril, meanwhile, has something to chew on, as they make their approach towards the door.

Rebecca on the other hand just sags as if overweary, Dean's comment perhaps too much for her right now.

The door, which returns what was delivered to it and then some. A neat leap to the side -- in opposite directions, each -- sees Avril and Rebecca clear of the door's regurgitation of the force Ethius unleashed upon it. Rebecca reaches for Dean's arm, as if to attempt to steady him. Avril, on the other hand...

Approaches the door and inspects it, as if considering what Ethius has to say about what it can do, and what their options might be. "Hmm. Perhaps. I wonder if it would be possible to deliver a strike from a different angle. Oh, but doing that might be difficult."

One hand raised to her chin, she tilts her head as she thinks this one through carefully. "Or, if there were a means of shielding us from the rebounding strike..."

Her forehead wrinkles. She dips her head in a nod. "...Yes. I think that may be correct. Everyone. At once now..."

And she draws out the Sea Medium and invokes Lucadia's power as a shield before the door.
(In the background, as everyone else unleashes their all at the door, Rebecca is attempting to drag Dean to one side for his own safety and not having a very good time of it.)

DG: Avril Vent Fleur has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Rune-Warded Door.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline chuckles slightly at Carina's joke, and then nods in understanding. Her face is still a little red.

"A-ahh, I see. That could be useful...but yes, it may be best to try to avoid using it on people..." She replies, as they come up to the door.

Jacqueline studies it with a frown as Ethius tries to do his thing. It...does not seem to appreciate being melted. Well, she can't blame it.

"Are you alright?" She asks. She starts to move to catch him, but there doesn't seem to be any need.

But really, what should they do here...?

Jacqueline gets an idea. It only seems to emit its waves of force when it is attacked...but what if she does something that technically doesn't count as an attack?

She draws one of her Crests and focuses on the door. Slowly, the air around it becomes chilly as the door itself begins to freeze. Since it's already been heated, that should make it that much more brittle, requiring the party to use that much less effort in breaking it - which will mean they will take that much less damage from the door's retaliation. While she's doing it, though, she sends Lunata a glance.

"...Are you alright?" She asks, concerned.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Rune-Warded Door.
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

Shalune sighs with relief as the platforms stop shifting; she looks kind of put-out at the fact that there's at least one kind of technology on this planet that she can't figure out with an extended glance and a screwdriver, but that's the Elw for you. She's obviously still tired, and has lost a little of her cheer as she walks forward with the others - keeping a sort of protective pace near to Jacqueline and Lunata as she goes, but trying to put on a brave face and puffing her cheeks up in a defiant sort of chipmunk pose.

Sooner or later, they reach a door blocking their path. By now, Shalune knows better than to just race for these things, and that line of thought is neatly borne out when the door promptly blasts Ethius backwards. "Wah--!" she blurts in surprise as she's nearly collided against and sent sprawling; she stares at the door in confusion for a moment before comprehension dawns.

"Ohh... that's pretty neat. It's like-- the door of passive resistance, or something. I mean, I guess it's pretty aggressive, but it's all about waiting for someone else to make the first move. Noncooperation without being violent," she burbles brightly, apparently having learnt some pretty big words while under her Wayside tenure...

Her praise doesn't alter the fact that there's a door in front of them, though, and Shalune frowns as she tries to puzzle this one out. Lunata's earring-- she keeps well away from, knowing what her mother's sorcery can tend to do to things, and she's kind of hoping that Locus can fly, because she's certainly expecting the superheroine to get blown backwards. Lydia's kick, though...

"Oh!" she abruptly blurts, and yanks her pot from her belt. Tired as she is, the white lines along it ebb and dim, but she's fast enough as she tosses in a spring and several other bits of scrap metal from a small bag in one coat pocket - and she triumphantly pulls out an odd pressurized piston, housed in a metal ring.

Sneaking up to the door as if it were alive, she plants the contraption onto it all of a sudden, braces for the inevitable shock, and then-- duct tapes the miniature battering ram to the door as fast as she can.

The shockwave comes, blowing her back - and blowing the pistol into the spring at one end, whereupon it snaps back to rap against the door. Then the shockwave comes again - and another rap - and again, and again...

"... um," adds Shalune as she rubs at the back of her hair with a foolish grin. "Not quite perpetual motion, but I'll take it!"

DG: Shalune Amira has used her Tool Soup of the Day -Shalune Ver.- toward her party's challenge, Rune-Warded Door.
===============================================<* The Pleasing Garden *>================================================
===========================================<* CHALLENGE - Rune-Warded Door *>===========================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          |
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 You find a massive, slate grey steel door. Strange runes on it glow a
 brilliant golden color as you approach. There is no key to this door.
 However, blowing it down presents a unique problem: every blow and blast to
 knock through it sends a powerful shockwave out from the door. You will need
 to proceed carefully, as the door causes powerful thunder waves that could
 decimate you, even as you knock it to smithereens.
=Dungeon Conditions: Overzealous, Suffer======================================
==========================================<* The Pleasing Garden - Round 2 *>===========================================
=============================================< Results - Rune-Warded Door >=============================================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       20 --(20)--> 40                Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   20 --(20)--> 40                Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lunata Croze                        20 --(20)--> 40                Fail
Meredin's Earrings                  1   Brute   Effects: Cleanse
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shalune Amira                       15 --(15)--> 30                Pass
Soup of the Day -Shalune Ver.-      3   Brute   Effects: Fanfare
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         15 --(20)--> 35                Fail
Asteroid Ball                       3   Brute   Effects: Rally
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Avril Vent Fleur                    15 --(20)--> 35                Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

The collected ideas seem to be good. Avril's thought to put up a barrier to contain the shockwaves and protect it from striking everyone else as they go is an excellent idea... and they all go to work (after a few amusing solo attempts already documented). The door proves resilient, but they just keep going at it. It starts to crack, it starts to crumble. Each return shockwave is loud, testing the very limits of the Sea Medium's power. Finally, the door crumbles to a final repetition of Shalune's silly (but smart!) contraption...
  ...but so does the very ground underneath them, which starts to fall apart. Much of the shockwave stress got redirected down to floating terra firma, and as a result, well... it's going to be a bit of a close one as everyone scrambles to fall back.
  The entire platform between them and the stone door falls down into the void - or rather, down into the desert - to be confused as part of some other ruin on the ground later.
  The crew at least knows how to operate that first platform that brought them there.

DG: Lydia Seren has drawn a new Challenge.
==========================================<* The Pleasing Garden - Round 2 *>===========================================
=========================<* CHALLENGE - A Bao A Qu *>=========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 4          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 A creature lumbers in the hallway before you. It is a massive thing, looking
 something like a slime -- though shaped not unlike a dragon. It has a
 massive, spined ridge on its back, and on its head, which is vaguely
 reptilian. Its limbs are mismatched; the fore limbs are huge, armored claws,
 while the hind limbs are massive, spine-covered flippers. It lunges forward,
 snapping with its jaws -- and trying to absorb you into its slime-based,
 acidic body.
=Dungeon Conditions: Maim, Overwhelm==========================================
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia yelps and scrambles back as the platform crumbles before them. Well, time to try another route!

The other route leads to some twisting cooridors. It's definitely easy to get lost in the pleasing gardens and then, well, Lydia gets a bit overconfident and scrambles ahead. "Last one there is a rotten egg!"

And then right as the crew are about to head into the hallway she just ran down, Lydia starts running back. "...aaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!"

Chasing after Lydia is a large slime dragon with a spined ridge and spine covered flippers. It promptly opens up its jaws and leaps for the next closest person which just so happens to be Dean.

It tries to clamp down on him with its jaws and gradually absorb him!

Meanwhile, Lydia hides behind Ethius.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, A Bao A Qu.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

Jacqueline asks if Lunata is all right. There's a kind of uncharacteristic pause from the waitress, who hesitates and holds onto the centre of her weapon--

It ebbs slowly, and Avril can feel the pulse of the original artifical medium within.

"... Ge Ramtos is here," she mumbles to herself, contorting her face into a frown. "He's calling."

She shakes her head as she says, "... I'll be okay as long as you and Lunie are okay, though." She's about to say something else, but then the ground crumbles before them as Lydia shouts for them to race. She runs until the dragon shows up, and sighs and--

Slips the skull-painted gas mask from her harness and slips it on. She lets herself hoarsely breathe, its raspy, electronic filter echoing through the room for a moment...

Then raises Orochi-Agito to the air. The guard of the katana's hilt shimmers--

"Material."

And a red portal crowned with teeth erupts underneath A Bao A Qu, as skeletal arms of varying sizes grapple and chain the monster in an attempt to consume and drag it into Ge Ramtos' domain.

DG: Lunata Croze has used her Tool Ghastly Gas Mask toward her party's challenge, A Bao A Qu.
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

"A passive-aggressive door is the worst kinda door if you ask me," Carina pouts in Shalune's direction.

Her stance on this issue is only reinforced when they wind up winning the door battle, but not without the floor's dramatic sacrifice. It's good that Locus is very good at jumping, so she can leap backwards without too much incident except a sudden case of OMEGA VERTIGO. She can even snag someone on the way if they seem to be losing the battle against gravity.

"Don't go, floor! We needed you!" she calls out once she's back on firm ground, sounding genuinely distraught as she extends a hand downwards. "...Oh well."

Soon, they find themselves in another predicament (but when aren't they, right?) as Lydia is being chased by a... thing. But luckily, Locus has just the tool for the occasion. "Hold on, hang in there!"

Locus produces a glowing yellow marble from... thin air, apparently. She pops out the red marble already glowing at the center of her belt, and replaces it with the yellow one. Embers dance around her body, but are replaced with small electrical arcs a second later.

                              ELEMENT: LIGHTNING_

"Let's chaaaarge up!" she announces, bumping her fists together and sending an electrical arc flying towards the creature before charging ahead with a supercharged electric kick! Though she has to dodge a bunch of teeth and skeleton arms in the process, which is metal but a little distracting. "Whoa there!"

Hopefully slime is weak to electricity. Slime conducts electricity, right? ...Hopefully it doesn't conduct electricity INTO DEAN, Carina realizes with mild horror. That would really be a total boner of a move.

DG: Carina Wynne has used her Tool Element Marble toward her party's challenge, A Bao A Qu.
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

Alas, even something like the Original Artificial Sea Medium has its limits. The explosive energies produced by the group -- and amplified and rebounded by the door -- are just too much for it to handle.
Perhaps, by extension -- perhaps doubly so with her statue shattered -- Lucadia has her limits as well.

Avril beats a hasty retreat with the rest, racing as if hell itself were on her heels.

Or at least, the catastrophic shattering of the floor.

By contrast, urging the platform to find other lands is easier.

So here they are, alighting onto another raised platform within the Pleasing Garden.

Avril's gaze dips low briefly, lingering on the hilt of the katana. Her lips press thin.
Something... isn't...

The Sea Medium shimmers faintly, as if calling out itself. "Lunata," Avril starts to say.

Which is the exact moment a dragon arrives.

Avril blinks, as if stunned herself, then, drawing forth Absolute Zero, brooks no hesitation before wading forth into the fray. "Lydia! We are here for you--"

It almost might sound like a threat, if the thing she attempted to hit first wasn't most definitely the slimey dragon.

DG: Avril Vent Fleur has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, A Bao A Qu.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"Ge Ramtos..." Jacqueline murmurs. ...He's here...? Maybe they shouldn't have come here, then...or perhaps, maybe, this was unavoidable. Still, she offers her a smile, and she rests a hand on Lunata's shoulder. "...Yeah. We're here for you, Lunata. Don't you worry."

She says that, and maybe she looks cool for a moment, but then she starts to panic as the ground starts crumbling around them and hurries to rejoin everyone on their original platform.

"M-Maybe we went at that a little too...vigorously...that was an interesting device, at least, Shalune." Jacqueline considers, looking back at the crumbling platform they had left behind. She just hoped there wasn't anything of cultural important in there...there probably was, but they could hope! Who knows, maybe there was something terrible in there, that would be destroyed by the fall, and thus they did a good thing?

...She wouldn't count on that.

She continues onward with the others, though, taking some time to think things over before Lydia runs off.

"A-ah, Lydia, wait...!" Jacqueline says, extending a hand...but it's too late. She's gone.

...And now she's back, and she's made a friend! A big, dangerous looking friend, who is currently trying to slurp up Dean.

Jacqueline brandishes her freezing Crest again, attempting to solidify the A Bao a Qu. She follows it up by drawing a bottle of liquid from her bags and hurling it toward the creature.

It's a very familiar bottle. It may also not need to do much, if Lunata's Material summon takes effect.

...Jacqueline can't watch it. So instead, she watches Carina! She takes a moment to observe as she switches out one of the Element Marbles she had mentioned before.

Fascinating...

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Reliable Repellant toward her party's challenge, A Bao A Qu.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

The quiet man just stoically takes the group continues along their way through the twists and turns of the legendary ruin. Lydia dashes on ahead. He extends a hand, but doesn't say anything.
  She does all the saying there needs to be, really, what with the 'aaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAHHHH' and all, because that saves just about anyone else the trouble of repeating this same, very much correct response to A Bao A Qu plopping along for a rare juicy meal!
  "Miss Lydia," Ethius can scarce say much more than that because even he feels a brush with mortal danger staring down this giant, goopy dragon creature with so little room to maneuver around the hallway. It takes a little doing to navigate his hand to grab one of the satchels while Lydia is fretting behind him.
  "I'll prepare a cover." He gets that much out before descending into the usual casting rituals to activate the satchel's contents, as he hurls it forward...
  It explodes as the advertised dust cover, all right, to cover it full of blinding, choking, irritating fine particles. Or, well, flour. This one was hastily reconstructed with some extra flour from the Feresthe's kitchen, it was the only viable material he had to work with at the time, vague Symbological boost to its potency or not.
  From there, standard horrible war-crimey melting attempts apply.
  Worse comes to worse, he's bought the team some time to fall back and take that platform-air-bus somewhere else once everyone makes sure Dean's not actually getting eaten alive!

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Powder Grenade toward his party's challenge, A Bao A Qu.
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

...Until it becomes clear that the dragon is after Dean instead, at which point Avril's swordstrikes become actually murderous.
Some acrobaticly placed revolver shots wing at the dragon, too. Mysterious, those.

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

"U-ugghh..." whines Shalune once they've hit relatively clear ground. "This place is seriously falling apart... c'mon, if you're gonna build something this crazy, you wanna at least make sure it's built to last!" she huffs-- but freezes, when there's a sickly roar from ahead, and Lydia comes running back to them with a dragon in her wake.

The mechanic freezes for a moment - she's faced Metal Demons head on before, she's faced down Veruni and who knows what else, but there's something about the idea of a liquified creature trying to absorb you that sends shivers down her spine, and makes her jog two steps backwards in uncertain and nervous worry.

Her opposite in many ways, Lunata goes forward instead - and the quiet declaration that the waitress makes drains the colour from Shalune's face, and sets her knuckles whitening on the shaft of her shotstaff. "... yeah, but-- the same goes for us," she whispers to herself far too quietly to be heard over the sudden din of battle - but at least it gives her the strength to haul her staff up to her shoulders as one end folds out. Larger than before, she's upped the power somewhen in the midst of Wayside's preparations, and tweaks a couple of dials on the side of the canister at its head before squeezing the trigger.

She's nearly blown backwards, but keeps her feet as a lance of white light momentarily cuts - literally - through the creature they're facing down.

DG: Shalune Amira has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, A Bao A Qu.
==========================================<* The Pleasing Garden - Round 2 *>===========================================
=========================<* CHALLENGE - A Bao A Qu *>=========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 4          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 A creature lumbers in the hallway before you. It is a massive thing, looking
 something like a slime -- though shaped not unlike a dragon. It has a
 massive, spined ridge on its back, and on its head, which is vaguely
 reptilian. Its limbs are mismatched; the fore limbs are huge, armored claws,
 while the hind limbs are massive, spine-covered flippers. It lunges forward,
 snapping with its jaws -- and trying to absorb you into its slime-based,
 acidic body.
=Dungeon Conditions: Maim, Overwhelm==========================================
=====================<* The Pleasing Garden - Round 3 *>======================
==========================================<* The Pleasing Garden - Round 2 *>===========================================
===========================< Results - A Bao A Qu >===========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       40 --(20)--> 60                Fail
Powder Grenade                      3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   40 --(15)--> 55                Pass
Reliable Repellant                  2   Combat  Effects: Embolden
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lunata Croze                        40 --(15)--> 55                Pass
Ghastly Gas Mask                    1   Combat  Effects: Cleanse
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shalune Amira                       30 --(20)--> 50                Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         35 --(20)--> 55                Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Avril Vent Fleur                    35 --(20)--> 55                Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carina Wynne                        35 --(20)--> 55                Fail
Element Marble                      2   Combat  Effects: Fanfare and Rally
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Jacqueline Barber           30 --(10)--> 40                Fail
Conditions: Maim|Overwhelm|Overzealous(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.
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

Masters of home security. Masters of BEING TOTAL JERKS is more like it!! Rebecca manages to steady Dean, if not herself, for long enough until the door is pounded into nothing... but then they have to yelp and run for it when the platform *below* them starts to crumble too. Once they're on the other side safely, Dean wipes his brow with his good hand.

"Whew--that was a close one!" He grins at Shalune. "That machine of yours really did the trick, though--" But before Dean can talk to Shalune more about it, Lydia runs screaming back from where she ran on ahead through the twisting corridors. Dean tenses, looking back towards her--and then a slime dragon bounds into view, then leaps right for him.

Dean summons Twin Fenrir just in time for him to use the combat rods therein to prop its mouth open and prevent himself from getting swallowed whole. Its body is corrosive, though, s-so who knows how quickly it might absorb him anyway?!

Especially since Lunata's opened up a portal to Hell underneath the creature and Metal Locus is charging lightning through the slime and potentially into Dean too. PLEASE DON'T SEND DEAN TO HELL WHILE ELECTROCUTING HIM, LUNIE AND CARI. "Hrrrngh...! I'll keep it steady, guys...!"

...he says, as though he's not the one in danger. Someone maybe ought to pull him out of there?

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

THE GOOD NEWS

Thanks to everybody GIVING IT THEIR ALL they are able to free Dean from the dragon before it actually consumes Dean. Avril's shots and stabs just gloop off the dragon but Lunata is able to grapple the dragon, allowing Jay to smash a gross fluid into the slime dragon which it absorbs.

It then turns a weird shade of green before throwing Dean up and getting acid gunk over everybody, something that becomes even more splatterfilled when Ethius explodes it somewhat and gives it more digestion issues, spraying green goop everywhere.

Carina electrocutes Dean (and Ge Ramtos thanks to its chain) a little through this process but it's okay. It's okay. It's fine.

The dragon isn't defeated but luckily everybody can sneak onward anyway while the dragon is having its coughing fit.

It's like being on Double Dare really.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

Carina electrocutes Dean (and Ge Ramtos thanks to its chain)

One of the skeleton arms holds two fingers and points approximately at its eye-sockets, then towards Metal Digger Locus' bug eyes.

Ge Ramtos is a jerk...

DG: Lunata Croze has drawn a new Challenge.
==========================<* The Pleasing Garden *>===========================
===================<* CHALLENGE - Twenty Pillars Falling *>===================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 4          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 You arrive at a large platform with two parallel rows of ten pillars.
 Mounted atop them is a platform, and you can see the telltale orange glow of
 a teleporter tile on one. This offers the only way forward. However, there
 is no easy way up. You may be able to bring the ceiling down -- but it will
 require an incredibly careful, incredibly delicate demolition to bring it
 down without shattering the teleporter tile and requiring a rather lengthy
 backtrack.
=Dungeon Conditions: Collapse, Vault==========================================
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

The group proceeds to bus on ahead while the going is good -- because a dragon of that size and strength isn't going to have a stomachache for too long. On the flipside, it appears to have decided that Dean was a terribly unpleasant meal and that it's not hungry anymore...

... the bad news is that they've come onto a dead end.

Or, wait-- no, it's not a dead end, there's pillars up ahead.

Twenty of them.
That's two times as many as ten.
And that's terrible!

A shimmering orange tile is far up ahead, and there doesn't look like there's any footholds to get up to it. Who designs dungeons like these??

Lunata does place a hand on Shalune's shoulder as she detects her paleness, saying, "... I just wanted to make sure we're safe." She stares up... shaking her head as she looks to Carina. She holds the other of Meredin's earrings out at the palm of her hand.

"This is like one of your marbles... let's try combining them to make it brittle. I'll do ice."

She hucks it, and the earring explodes into a jagged ice crystal--!!

DG: Lunata Croze has used her Tool Meredin's Earrings toward her party's challenge, Twenty Pillars Falling.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia says, "Soccer didn't work last time." with a stroke of her chin "But we can always soccer more!"

She snaps up her hand, summoning an asteroid ball back into her hand. "I'm going to try knocking pillars into other pillars!"

She chuckes the ball up into the air and leaps up after it. Honestly, couldn't she just make this jump on her own? Yes, but that would be cheating and this animation only lets her go straight up in dungeons. She tosses the ball up and kicks down at it, and then up at it and she cries out her attack!

"PINBALL WIZARD!"

And she then slams the ball in a ricocheting shot against the towers!

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Asteroid Ball toward her party's challenge, Twenty Pillars Falling.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

That...could have gone better, but it could have gone worse, too.

"Are you alright? Here, hold on..." Jacqueline says, rummaging through her bags and offering a potion to Dean. Rebecca gets a thankful nod, for managing to pull him out in the first place.

They continue onward, reaching a room full of a bunch of pillars. ...It reminds her that she still hasn't replaced her Earth Pillar Crest yet, after losing it in the battle at Wayside.

...Well, there's nothing she can do about that now. She'll just have to improvise.

She draws out a Crest, this time of Wind.

"Let's see...I'll try to give it a good gust to lighten it's fall. We don't want it breaking..." Jacqueline says. It's probably the most helpful she can be here...which isn't saying much.

<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

"Gh--!" Locus lets out as those skeleton arms single her out.

Not only did Carina accidentally hurt a friend, but she also made the Skeleton Guardian mad! This day sucks so far!!!

And up next is... another puzzle? Maybe? or just a very strangely-designed place? Who even knows with these ancient people. But Lunata has a suggestion!

"Oooooh, yeah, nice thinking!" Carina often seems to exist in her own strange world with bizarre rules, but she at least has a very solid grasp of what happens to various materials when you apply heat and cold to them, or both in rapid succession.

And there's another Element Marble switch. It's technically a Combat tool, but Locus plays by her own, heroic rules.

                                ELEMENT: FIRE_

"All right, here goes! LOCUS BLAAAST!" An oversized fireball flies from her fist shortly after Lunata does her thing. Will it be enough?

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Twenty Pillars Falling.
DG: Carina Wynne has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Twenty Pillars Falling.
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

Dean hadn't counted on the dragon's throat being so slippery that he ended up getting swallowed anyway. He takes a comically deep breath before he slides down the thing's gullet. Fortunately, he doesn't have to be swallowed for long; the thing coughs him up and spits him out, and Rebecca grabs him and pulls him out past its teeth the rest of the way before he can get shredded.

"Argh, ugh, unngh, this is so gross," they're probably both complaining. Even Dean has his limits.

The group sneaks past the dragon while it recovers from its coughing fit, and next they come across some kind of delicate device... which Dean won't be helping with. He's a little busy scraping goop off his clothes with a face like >:S and gratefully accepting a potion from Jay. "Yeah, I really appreciate it. And thanks to you too, Rebecca," he adds, nodding to his friend. "Uggghh, the *smell*..." He makes another face and downs the potion in two gulps. Too bad Avril's murderous strikes weren't successful, but Dean's alive, and that's what counts, right? Right??

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

A series of shots ring out into the air, Rebecca discharging bullet after bullet into the maw of the beast. Alas, the thing is gelatinous; the effect created instead is perhaps not unlike that of fruit in gelatin.

...If the fruit were instead bullets, and the gelatin were a disgusting slime dragon.

It gloms onto Dean, who though injured, manages to hold his ground.

Before Rebecca holsters her gun, slings an arm around his waist, and hauls him free with a mighty battlecry of a yell.

It's also probably Rebecca who makes tracks while the thing is stunned and hauls Dean along with her. Avril disengages a moment after that, leaving the dragon behind.
Wrath only goes so far, and there are moments when...
Well, even she thinks this is pretty gross.

(Rebecca is not a happy camper; she's certainly letting Dean know this verbally. Still, she's relieved and it shows! A spare handkerchief helps get the goo out of his hair some.)

So they run, and they run, eventually finding their way to...

...a dead end.

"...Is that a tile, up above there?" Avril asks, pointing to the glitter up on high. Her expression turns thoughtful by degrees, her gaze a touch unfocused, as if she's adrift in thought.

What if...
Slowly, from beneath her wrap, she produces a small device, retrieved in the depths of Seven Sages. It's little more than a simple smooth block-shaped object, small enough to fit neatly in the palm of her hand. Far from being intricate or ornamented, it's simply itself, a little piece of metal.
She flips it open, revealing a single button held neatly within. Her thumb presses upon it.

There's a rumble.

A anonymous golem's arm erupts from beneath the platform a distance away while Lydia rockets the ball between the pillars, fingers thrust up to the sky.
It's in just the right place.

"...Oh," says Avril, at some delay. "Is that what this can do?"

DG: Avril Vent Fleur has used her Tool Remote Golem Override toward her party's challenge, Twenty Pillars Falling.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Ethius staggers along with the rest forward as he struggles to brush off and/or wash off any acidic goo off of his person. While Lunata and Locus strategize, Ethius hangs back. Instead, he gets out that Spectral Lens and takes a mental inventory of where, exactly, that teleport tile might lead - if it's a place they could get to in the instance they need to take another route.
  ...
  Silently, he regards the comfort many seem to have around the mysterious Locus. He knows not where she comes from. He knows not what it is they're wielding. He knows not their goals underneath all the boasts and bombast about justice and righteousness. So many strange things have happened within the last two years of his very recollection... he finds it odd that the others seem to pay their presence little mind, and even celebrate it.
  He knows he doesn't share that ease - and that the reason must be serious, whatever it is, as he watches the armored heroine take point alongside Lunata in the act of turning the pillars brittle.
  ...Even now, he feels uneasy. He chose to insert himself onto the Freshete without even speaking to the others about it. They wouldn't have told him no, and yet...
  Lost July itself, owing to seeing a ruin of fifty years to some incredible weapon he only knows from word of mouth...
  And now, this place, which seems to match to existing myths as uttered by some. His mind drifts somewhat to Catenna's claims about how the Veruni were repelled. Would this be, by any chance, of belonging to the 'sky angels' her people's legends spoke of?
  ...Too many questions to go over, as Ethius lays off the 'melt the thing' button for once.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Twenty Pillars Falling.
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

Immediately it becomes obvious that Shalune's-- kind of overdone her upgrades in her rush to try to be of some use; she can't control the recoil of the beam, and it doesn't take long before the knockback of it sends the staff up and out of her hands with a stunned yelp. The white light traces across the ceiling in a spidering pattern for a moment, before a high pitched keening starts to build from the staff.

The mechanic barely has time to yank her bobble hat down over her face and turn one shoulder to put her heavy coat in the way; the canister at the shotstaff's head that holds the firing module pulses, and then explodes in a tiny boom that sends the metal staff clattering to the stone beneath them.

With a wince, Shalune looks back at the ruined apeture, and sets her jaw as she curls her hand into an exasperated fist. "... nn... damn it," she mumbles to herself as she swallows the lump in her throat, bends down to pick up her staff, and-- comes face to face with Lunata's hand on her shoulder. She can't hide the look of guilty panic that lies on her face, but at the girl's words she sucks in a slow breath, and gently nods as she closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. For an instant, her fingers touch Lunata's. "... yeah... just be careful."

That much seems to revive her, at least for now - her next nod has more in the way of confidence as she stares up at the ceiling above them and the telltale light of a teleport pad. "Ah-- I mean I could fly up there and take a look, maybe, but I dunno if the barrier around this place will let me. I think if we're careful enough, then it should just be a case of crackin' a little bit of each pillar at a time, y'know? The only thing you don't want is a shock that knocks it loose, so--"

She's already kneeling down to hunch over her pot again, working once more with a collection of odd materials she's tugged out of her pockets. The end result is an odd, pliable mess - but once the colour of gunsmoke ARM powder, and smelling about as pungent. "We can just sorta stuff this into the cracks, and-- w-waahh--?!"

She's the one to stare agog for once, as golem arms and footballs and an antipodean blast rocket around the stonework. "T-that's not safe demolition work at all!" she blurts, sounding genuinely scandalized, and for once in her life she's the one to deliver the lecture warning: "Lunie, Lyddie, we're going to have a real big talk about protective gear and shock vibration once we get back! You too, Miss Avril!"

DG: Shalune Amira has used her Tool Soup of the Day -Shalune Ver.- toward her party's challenge, Twenty Pillars Falling.
==========================<* The Pleasing Garden *>===========================
===================<* CHALLENGE - Twenty Pillars Falling *>===================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 4          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 You arrive at a large platform with two parallel rows of ten pillars.
 Mounted atop them is a platform, and you can see the telltale orange glow of
 a teleporter tile on one. This offers the only way forward. However, there
 is no easy way up. You may be able to bring the ceiling down -- but it will
 require an incredibly careful, incredibly delicate demolition to bring it
 down without shattering the teleporter tile and requiring a rather lengthy
 backtrack.
=Dungeon Conditions: Collapse, Vault==========================================
=====================<* The Pleasing Garden - Round 4 *>======================
=====================< Results - Twenty Pillars Falling >=====================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       60 --(20)--> 80                Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   55 --(20)--> 75                Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lunata Croze                        55 --(15)--> 70                Pass
Meredin's Earrings                  1   Brute   Effects: Cleanse
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shalune Amira                       50 --(15)--> 65                Pass
Soup of the Day -Shalune Ver.-      3   Brute   Effects: Fanfare
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         55 --(20)--> 75                Fail
Asteroid Ball                       3   Brute   Effects: Rally
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Avril Vent Fleur                    55 --(20)--> 75                Fail
Remote Golem Override               4   Brute   Effects: None
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carina Wynne                        55 --(20)--> 75                Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Jacqueline Barber           40 --(10)--> 50                Fail
Conditions: Collapse|Vault(1)
Effects: Cleanse
==============================< 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.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

It seems like it's going to go well at first -- there's a shimmering *CRACK* and a loud *FWHOOM* as ice and fire combine to inflict structural damage to the unfathomably sturdy Elw pillar, thanks to Meredin's trusty earrings and a well-placed LOCUS BLAST. Jay is on hand to slowly, slowly ease the pillar down as Ethius starts melting the pillar of unknown substance in tandem with Shalune's gummy slather of explosives possibly known only as Shal-4...

And then--

A****d's *FIST* explodes from underneath the pillar and pokes at the pillar. Surprisingly, this isn't the ultimate point of failure, still, but rather--

PING

PING PING PING

Doink.

The asteroid ball prompts the pillar to start teethering and... faaaaaaaaall... fall fall fall--

"Move," Lunata advises in a panic-inspired, flawless mimicry of Ethius.

DG: Avril Vent Fleur has drawn a new Challenge.
===========================<* The Pleasing Garden *>============================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Teleporter Tile Maze *>=====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The current platform ends with a small ledge, which has two orange
 teleporter tiles on it. Ahead, you can see a vast series of small, narrow
 platforms with two or more tiles. They form an interlocking, intricate maze
 of teleporter tiles that must be crossed before you can come to the next
 full-sized platform.
=Dungeon Conditions: Madness, Overwhelm=======================================
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

(Dean's just as unhappy as Rebecca. Some of their bickering includes, "I didn't ASK to get swallowed by a slime dragon!" "You sure ask for a lot of trouble, though!!" Still, he lets her wipes some of the gunk from his hair. Hopefully there'll be some kind of water challenge sooner rather than later. ...It doesn't occur to Dean that he's likelier to drown than get a nice bath, though.)

Regardless, the group hurries on. There's a tile and pillars and so on and so forth. It's all pretty inscrutable to Dean, but when Avril takes out a certain device, he gives her a curious look. "Oh, isn't that that thing you got from that one dungeon?" he asks, descriptively. "Did you ever figure out what it does?"

Avril answers by way of pushing a button. A Golem's arm BURSTS through the platform, and while it might result in the pillar falling and creating a labyrinth out of the platforms, Dean's eyes go wide as saucers--before he starts jumping and whooping and cheering. "WOW!! THAT WAS SO COOL!! AVRIL, THAT WAS THE BEST!! YOU'RE SO AWESOME!! YEAAAHHH, HAHAHAHA!!"

...Rebecca probably has to drag him away before the pillar falls on him. Even after they get into the greater part of the newly-created labyrinth, as the others attempt to figure out what goes where and how to follow, Dean gushes, "I can't believe you found a *Golem-summoning button*, Avril!! Can you push it again?? Can you only get the one arm? Do you think that was the arm from before?! I was so surprised, I didn't get a good look! Oh man, I can't wait for you to use it again!!"

...At least the gunk situation is well forgotten. Don't expect him to help out with the teleporter tiles. He wouldn't be of much use, anyway.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

Dean's reaction is both expected and immediate. "Oh -- I suppose it is...?" a somewhat nonplussed Avril offers, staring at it.

The arm slowly... tilts...

Avril's astonished expression melts into something a little more... critical?
If the placement had been a little more to the left, she finds herself thinking to her surprise.
The moment however vanishes as Shalune starts scolding the lot of them, herself included. Avril blinks.

Then, contrite, ducks into a shallow if stiff bow. "...My apologies, Shalune. That certainly was not the time to attempt to test an unknown device. We are fortunate that nothing more untoward occured--"

ping ping ping ping

crash

Even the arm isn't spared, lost somewhere beneath the disaster that unfolds. Rebecca, long-suffering, drags Dean out of the way before something unfortunate happens to him.

There's one silver lining in this cloud:

Their immediate location goes untouched.
Similarly, the teleporter they had seen before, which had slid from its perch but has somehow managed to both land upright and intact, and not too far from the lot of them to boot.

As do a number of platforms, scattered all about them. Reaching them on foot isn't possible anymore, unless someone likes climbing debris and possibly getting wedged in something that isn't all that stable anymore.

"...I do not know, Dean. I... do not think it is the same Golem, however..."

Avril eyes the disaster area about them.

"...Perhaps, let us experiment with it another time? I feel as if this area is unsafe."
(But we'll be honest: she actually does want to learn how this thing works.)

For now, there's the issue at hand: finding a way out of this mess they've landed in. Avril eyes the teleporter closest to her, pockets the remote, and steps atop it.

Trial and error, it seems, along with a little bit of good old fashioned intuition, might be what Avril brings to the table here. Finding a way across the distance with only teleports is going to be a long, long haul.

DG: Avril Vent Fleur has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Teleporter Tile Maze.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Ethius is brought out of his inner thoughts by the impending destruction that rains around them. He doesn't have it in him to do another ACTION ROLL, but on virtue of hanging back he doesn't need to move back that much further to avoid harm as the smoke clears and reveals that the original thing they were hoping to reach is... seemingly intact. It gives a new vantage point to a number of other platforms previously obscured by the pillars.
  This is a situation that calls for the Spectral Lens once more. It is growing foggy from its repeated use, but this is among their best means of decoding the myriad teleportation panels that rest ahead. He recalls that nasty trick the designers of Ash Hare pulled to throw people off the scent by using this to navigate - but he's reasonably confident there's no exit platforms underneath them.
  "Mister Dean, I ask that you curb your enthusiasm at this juncture." His hand his on his forehead. In most circumstances, he would... welcome? The commentary? He has found the occasional babbling over Golems insightful, for how rarely they seem to leave the realm of hyperbole and unanswerable questions. He's not sure why he'd consider those things Dean goes on and on about an asset, but...
  His attention rapidly shifts as he activates the Spectral Lens the usual way and brings it up to an eye.
  The connection patterns, they're... not as cut-and-dry as he would usually see. Someone might even hear a gasp escape from under the muffling effect of the bandanna around the lower half of his face. It's not lines. It's... wavy, bending, refracting patterns whose visual representation seem incomprehensible as clear indicators of 'this thing connects to that thing.'
  They fan out, they fade, they...
  "I cannot ascertain that these teleportation devices are fully functional." He seems hesitant to even step on one, now, but do they have a choice? This is their way forward, unless they want to meet that blobby dragon thing again for a second lunch. So far, Avril's cursory steps forward reveal that they seem to work in that they're taking her and rematerializing her somewhere else... are his fears really founded?

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Spectral Lens toward his party's challenge, Teleporter Tile Maze.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

In the midst of Dean's explosively enthusiastic exclamation about the wonders of Golems and how double wonderful it is that Avril has a button that can summon a Golem, Lunata can see the rapidly buried arm of the anon Golem give a thumbs up as it disappears.

Lunata quietly gives a thumbs up to it in turn, with a flat expression on her face.

You do you, Golem... you do you...

She does look towards Shalune to say, "... maybe I am the careless one now.. but..." she stares towards the teleporters and sighs for a moment, shaking her head as she sits down next to some rubble and flags Dean over.

She puts a sign down.

TODAY'S LUNCH:

Tuna remoulade with pepperoncini and dill pickles
with sliced hardboiled eggs and cos lettuce
on toasted panini

"... if only we had soup..." oh no, Lunata's struggling...

DG: Lunata Croze has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Teleporter Tile Maze.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline expects a lot of things, really. Anything could happen in a Dig, so it always paid to be aware of one's surroundings and to be ready for anything. What she doesn't expect is for a giant golem arm to come smashing through and...kind of making a mess of things.

It's okay, Avril, Jacqueline doesn't hold it against you.

"I think we'll have to use these platforms to progress..." She considers, arms folded in front of her. Ethius asks Dean to contain his enthusiasm. Jacqueline wonders if such a thing is even possible.

"Well, I have one way of finding out." Jacqueline says. She draws out a different Crest, this one Light-based. She invokes it, conjuring up a ball of light that she sends flying through one of the teleport tiles...

...And then she takes a quick look around, to see if it appears elsewhere.

Hopefully they're actually working, because otherwise they'll have to climb and Jacqueline isn't liking the looks of that rubble. And she knows a thing or two about rubble!

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Teleporter Tile Maze.
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

"Whoa, neat!" Locus exclaims at the sight of a giant golem fist out of nowhere. But then things don't... totally... work out. "Oops," she says, looking at Shalune sheepishly, though it's hard to tell with her expressionless mask and all. Well. MOVING ON.

Once again it's time for a total mind-bender. What a day, what a day. Locus leans in Ethius' general direction as he inspects the teleporters, with inconclusive results.

"Hold on, let me double-check," she exclaims, retaining cheer despite the variety of situations not going their way so far, not to mention Ethius' general attitude towards her. "The MATRIX EYE will help us sort this one out!" She taps the side of her helmet three times, switching to this mode she discovered earlier.

"Reveal your secrets to me, glowing squares of destiny," she says, more for the teleporter tiles' benefit than anyone else's, as she focuses upon the closest one. A loading bar appears on her HUD, followed by a line between this teleporter and another.

"Oh hey, looks like I can see which one goes where, at least! Let's see if that works for the rest..." She hums a little song to herself as she begins scanning the connections one by one. Of course, even in the best case scenario, she ends up with a big tangled mess.

After a moment, she glances back, and realizes, with DAWNING HORROR, that she might be missing lunch.

The things you have to do to be a Hero!!

DG: Carina Wynne has used her Tool Matrix Eye toward her party's challenge, Teleporter Tile Maze.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia Seren is chowing down on a sandwich. "You know, this would be a lot easier if the cat was here." Chomp chomp. Chomp.

Her bright idea right now is to eat the sandwich. She doesn't seem to be troubled by the mass destruction she caused with PINBALL SOCCER in the slightest because she's kind of a punk to be honest. It's sad--but true!

"Yeah, I have to admit," She adds. "That I'm not sure this has quite the pep the soup has."

Regardless, she tries to help out with her portal gun. Now the portal maze now has extra portals.

Maybe they'll help?

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Teleporter Tile Maze.
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

"Yeah! We should totally experiment!" Dean enthuses at Avril, eyes sparkling. (He totally doesn't notice Shalune's scolding about safety. He's too caught up in Golem mania.) "Wowww, what a find!! You're probably right that it isn't the same arm, though, that arm fell *really* deep underground and even though Golems have a lot of durability, it'd be tough to get it from all the way over from Celestial Peak to here--huh?" That's Ethius asking Dean to curb his enthusiasm, while Avril bows in contrition to Shalune. "But why?? We're talking about GOLEMS!!"

Fortunately, Ethius won't have to ask twice. Dean, too, spots the Golem arm's thumbs-up. He gives it an enthusiastic thumbs-up back, which turns into something sadder as it vanishes into the ether below. "Aww... It's already gone..." Which answers Jay's question: his enthusiasm *can* wane, if the Golem part in question goes away.

At this point, Lunata waves him over. He blinks, then trots over as she puts up a sign describing today's lunch. Just reading it makes his stomach rumble, loudly. "That sounds *so good*," he moans. "Do we need to make a soup first? It's okay, Lunie, I'm sure it's delicious even without one! You need me to help you serve it out or something?"

...Maybe he should take off his gloves and wash his hands, first. Regardless, Dean will soon be chowing down on delicious sandwiches. It really is *so* good. He hopes Lunata brought extra servings, because he could easily pack away three of those. Oh, if only they *did* have soup...

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

"M-more to the point, you can't just make golem bits out of thin air!" says perhaps the BIGGEST HYPOCRITE AROUND, her pot still dangling at her side and gently lit up with spidery white lines. "You've got to at least, like-- make it outta something! Or else it feels like all sorts of stuff is gonna get messed up along the way!"

She sags ever so slightly, because Dean's started crowing and cheering as loud as he can, and Shalune - for all that she loves Golems and machinery herself - somehow never quite knows how to deal with the boy when he really gets going.

Instead, she looks up towards the teleporter maze, frowning at the sight of it. Her hand steals for one pocket, and she briefly looks like she's going to pull out another odd contraption, but instead - has her battered and well-loved notebook in her hand, with its tiny stub of pencil attached to the ring binder by a long piece of string.

Sketching out the current movement of the teleporter pads and jotting down some information on what the others learn - from Locus' experimentation to Jay's little floating ball of light - only takes a moment, and she keeps scribbling out further notes as she slowly builds a fuller map of the area. ... and...

... and somewhere in the midst of that she's appeared next to Lunata to throw her arms around the other girl's shoulders in a fervent hug. "--I'm sorry," she mumbles gently, even if it's not totally clear for what, then remains draped on the other girl as she shows the map thus far. "Let's figure this out together. ... and-- and your cooking's amazing no matter what!" she insists with a determined frown.

DG: Shalune Amira has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Teleporter Tile Maze.
===========================<* The Pleasing Garden *>============================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Teleporter Tile Maze *>=====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The current platform ends with a small ledge, which has two orange
 teleporter tiles on it. Ahead, you can see a vast series of small, narrow
 platforms with two or more tiles. They form an interlocking, intricate maze
 of teleporter tiles that must be crossed before you can come to the next
 full-sized platform.
=Dungeon Conditions: Madness, Overwhelm=======================================
======================<* The Pleasing Garden - Round 5 *>=======================
=======================< Results - Teleporter Tile Maze >=======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       80 --(20)--> 100               Pass
Spectral Lens                       2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   75 --(25)--> 100               Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lunata Croze                        70 --(25)--> 95                Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shalune Amira                       65 --(25)--> 90                Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         75 --(20)--> 95                Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Avril Vent Fleur                    75 --(25)--> 100               Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carina Wynne                        75 --(25)--> 100               Fail
Matrix Eye                          2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Jacqueline Barber           50 --(10)--> 60                Fail
Conditions: Madness|Overwhelm
Effects: Enlighten(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.
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

In spite of what's happened, Avril still manages a smile as Dean looks like he's about to explode, he's so excited. Yet, she does seem a little overwhelmed by it --
Perhaps the ruins are wearing on her, too. They've been through a lot already.
It doesn't go unnoticed. Wordlessly, Rebecca plants a hand on Dean's shoulder. Her expression is grim as she looks at him.
She doesn't say a word. She may not need to.

The exploration meanwhile, as it happens, takes its own sweet time. Roundabouts are had, dead ends are discovered.
...Even sketching the scenery out doesn't seem to help. It's as if... the dungeon somehow had eyed proper physics and the arrangement of matter and then turned to laugh in its face.
Indeed, the only ones who manage to make progress through the maze of teleporters are Ethius, who can properly see the suggestion of connections between the tiles, and Lydia, who, well, takes a more creative approach to what is frankly probably Elw trolling at this point anyway.

On the plus side, at least someone packed a lunch.

So it takes time, but they do eventually get through. AND THEN--

DG: Lydia Seren has drawn a new Challenge.
==========================<* The Pleasing Garden *>===========================
====================<* CHALLENGE - The Sun and the Moon *>====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The room that you enter is well lit, as the sun pours in from three sides
 between columns. This gives it a golden cast. There are two dials in the
 center of the room, and then a closed stone doorway across from you. Behind
 the pillars are two discs: a solid stone one and a lens. Moving the dials
 moves those. The "Sun" (the lens) and the "Moon" (disc) must be moved into
 the right position, whatever that might be, to cause the locked door ahead
 to open.
=Dungeon Conditions: Suffer, Stupify==========================================
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia cheats with portals. That cheater.

NOTE: It's not trolling because trolls aren't as vicious as the Elw. The proper term is called Elwing because it's like trolling except they don't even care if they're around to see it, they're just happy hanging out in their other dimension knowing that somewhere, at some time, someone is getting owned by their ruins.

Regardless, after that, there's more columns. This time there's a SUN and a DISC and there's a path of light that must move from one to the other! Lydia glances about at this and racks her mighty brain for a solution.

She rocks up another rock. "Knock these pillars over too?"

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Sun and the Moon.
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

This teleporter thing is a wash. Locus shakes her head, before leaning towards Lunata conspiratorially.

"Do you mind keepin' some in a doggybag for later? I haven't figured out a way to open the faceplate yet, if I can even do that." The art style briefly shifts as large, beady tears hang out of her oversized insect eyes. These sandwiches look so... so good...

But what's this? Another puzzle!

"Wow, looks like I'm really gettin' a lot of use out of the MATRIX EYE today," Locus remarks out loud. Maybe she's just not used to seeing so many problems she can't punch at once. Or maybe later, if they decide to follow Lydia's suggestion. "Okay, lessee, see-through vision, here I go..."

She turns it on, looking around to see if looking through the stone will yield a way to, maybe, completely cheat at this puzzle. She does have one question, though:

"Hey, guys, what's a blinking, empty rectangle with a line on it mean? Askin' for a friend."

DG: Carina Wynne has used her Tool Matrix Eye toward her party's challenge, The Sun and the Moon.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

It takes a lot to even coax Ethius to take the teleport paths to begin with. He anticipates the idea that any one of them could be... lost... if they go through. But they do. He passes up on lunch, even if he could probably use something to rouse him from a series of nagging contemplations to go with that headache from earlier. (There is also the concern that he doesn't seem to accept food unless it is basically Black Stuff.)
  The Spectral Lens comes out one last time. It is almost completely fogged over - Ethius knows better than to push it past that point, and instead wait for it to cool. It might be too opaque right now to get much extra use, as he brings it up to one of his eyes...
  Wordlessly, he walks up towards the pillar ahead of the "Moon." He rests a hand up against it as he does what he does best.
  Staring is probably not what he does best. It's up there, though. Up there with 'melt things' and 'poor word economy in speech.' The way the sun shines upon him, he reflects upon the sight of the ruin and everyone's reactions to it. Lydia's thought to maybe destroy it (one wonders who would influence this decision), Locus' cheerful discussion about how much mileage she's getting out of her MATRIX EYE (and promptly ducking from sight if she so much as looks his way), as he ambles back to the dial for the "Sun."
  It's an educated guess at this juncture, but he makes a move to try and get the lens pointed vaguely in the direction of the dial. From there...
  ...
  He stops, and backs away, taking a hand to his forehead as he moves to put his back against a wall so that none can sneak up upon him. A thought appears to strike him that he dares not voice aloud.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Spectral Lens toward his party's challenge, The Sun and the Moon.
<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

Lunata kind of slumps as she tries to help with the teleporters, but spatial thinking is hardly her forte. It really, really isn't what she's designed to do, undead or not. She exhaustedly stares towards the sun and the disc and--

Just seems to have thrown the towel at this point, nodding towards Carina as she hands her a to-go bag for one of the sandwiches and just starts eating her own. Ooogh...

She leans to Shalune when she goes for a hug.

"Um... a checkbox?" Lunata helplessly guesses to Carina.

DG: Lunata Croze has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Sun and the Moon.
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

Avril looks fatigued. This might not be enough to stop Dean from chattering away, except Rebecca rests a hand on his shoulder, and anyway the Golem arm went away. It *has* been a rough journey through the ruins so far... Lucky for Dean, he has yet to stop to wonder how they're going to get out of here if they can't figure out a way through, considering the way *back* is well and truly gone. Will they be forced to wander the Pleasing Garden for all eternity, never finding the way forward?!

It doesn't help that there's another puzzle, this time with a lens and a disc. This one is no less opaque to Dean than the other ones. However, the others seem to be on top of it, so he does his best to stay out of the way and let the others work. He does blink at Metal Locus's question, though. "Which friend? We're the only ones here," he points out.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline's starting to get a little tired from all of this. She tries to keep her morale up, of course, but it's like the ruin itself is actively fighting against them, to prevent them from going any further.

Perhaps there was some truth to this 'Elw trolling' business...

They reach a room with two discs, one bearing a sun, and one bearing a moon. Jacqueline leans up against one, taking a moment to catch her breath and think it over.

"No, no, I don't think that'll help...but, um, we'll keep it in mind." Jacqueline replies to Lydia, shaking her head. There has to be something to it. She takes a quick look about the room, scanning it for any iconography that might help determine what the proper position to rotate the two discs is.

She doesn't have an answer for Carina's question, unfortunately. All's she can offer her is a confused shrug before turning her attention back to the room around them.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Sun and the Moon.
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

Sun...

And Moon.

These, Avril considers carefully, a hand lifted to one cheek.

"Hm. Perhaps there needs to be a sort of alignment between the lens and the disc. ...Are you aware that the light of the Moon is but a reflection of the Sun's own? What the Sun casts out, the Moon catches and offers up... It's almost poetic, is it not?"

She paces from Moon to Sun.

"I suppose if one were to stand on the Moon, they would see Filgaia also reflecting the Sun's light, silently. Hm..."

Her gaze hoods, as if a thought had occured to her that she could not properly grasp.
And she shakes her head.

"Perhaps if we were then to shine this 'sun' upon this 'moon'? --Ah, Lydia, do not--"

Jacqueline isn't the only one attempting to head off further destruction, perhaps.

DG: Avril Vent Fleur has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Sun and the Moon.
<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

"... you'd think a mystical floating garden in the sky would be more relaxing," Shalune murmurs as they make their way to the next challenge; she stifles a tired-out yawn behind a hand, squinting as she runs a hand through her hair and spies the console. "Uuu... this is gonna be all allegorical, isn't it?"

She glances around them as if looking for clues, but the look on her face isn't exactly hopeful. She's used to machines and wires and technology, and has never exactly had the best of time with riddles and puzzles that have ambiguous meanings. Particularly where the Guardians were involved, and there's a distinct suspicion in her mind that they've got something to do with it.

Come to think of it, Lunie did say-- "M-Maybe it's somethin' to do with the Guardians. Like, if Ge Ramtos is around, maybe another's around too! ... not that that helps," she sulks, her hands in her pockets as she sticks out her bottom lip at the console.

DG: Shalune Amira has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Sun and the Moon.
==========================<* The Pleasing Garden *>===========================
====================<* CHALLENGE - The Sun and the Moon *>====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The room that you enter is well lit, as the sun pours in from three sides
 between columns. This gives it a golden cast. There are two dials in the
 center of the room, and then a closed stone doorway across from you. Behind
 the pillars are two discs: a solid stone one and a lens. Moving the dials
 moves those. The "Sun" (the lens) and the "Moon" (disc) must be moved into
 the right position, whatever that might be, to cause the locked door ahead
 to open.
=Dungeon Conditions: Suffer, Stupify==========================================
=====================<* The Pleasing Garden - Round 6 *>======================
======================< Results - The Sun and the Moon >======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       100 --(35)--> 135              Fail
Spectral Lens                       2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   100 --(30)--> 130              Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lunata Croze                        95 --(35)--> 130               Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shalune Amira                       90 --(35)--> 125               Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         95 --(35)--> 130               Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Avril Vent Fleur                    100 --(35)--> 135              Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carina Wynne                        100 --(35)--> 135              Fail
Matrix Eye                          2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Jacqueline Barber           60 --(10)--> 70                Fail
Conditions: Madness|Overwhelm|Stupify(2)|Suffer(1)
Effects: Enlighten(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: Ethius Hesiod is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Jacqueline Barber is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Lunata Croze is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Shalune Amira is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Lydia Seren is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Avril Vent Fleur is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Carina Wynne is too exhausted to continue!
DG: The party has failed this challenge! All party members are now Exhausted. This attempt is over.
DG: The party led by Jacqueline Barber has been fully Exhausted by The Pleasing Garden!
DG: The party will now draw a conclusion.
==========================<* The Pleasing Garden *>===========================
====================<* CHALLENGE - The Terrible Depths *>=====================
|Type: Escape      |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 In the midst of crossing the Pleasing Garden, you are knocked off the
 platforms. At first, it seems like certain death -- but as you go crashing
 down through the sky, you slam into a building below. There is a network of
 narrow, decaying passages that lead into the Pleasing Garden's depths --
 filled with vicious, half-shattered constructs.

 OOC: You have fallen into the depths of the Garden! If you choose to come to
 "My Way" or "Under My Skin," you can enter through the depths. Assume you
 had a long, arduous journey through the depths (and determine the details
 are you see fit).
=Dungeon Conditions: Bad Luck=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Through hard work and determination, the party is able to solve the puzzle. Jay rotates the disks as everybody speculates how to get the sun shining on the moon. Eventually, the party manages to make it happen and there's a faint click noise as the puzzle completes itself and the pillars pull into the ground.

"Well," Lydia says. "That wasn't so ba--"

And that's when the trap door opens under everybody's feet.

"--aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!"

<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

Locus gives Lunata a BIG TIRED THUMBS UP.

Dean asks an innocent question. Locus remains silent for a moment, then: "I meant I was asking for me. I'm sorry-- I should have been more honest!"

Then, to Shalune: "Yeah, I came in expectin' this place to be a pleasing garden, but only the entryway is!" She shakes her head.

"Oh hey, the rectangle's blinkin' faster! Turning red now! Aaaand it's disappeared--"

The faint light in her insectoid eyes goes out.

"Well. That's a thing," Carina says, weakly, as the rest of her HUD disappeaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH," she adds as she falls.

<Pose Tracker> Lunata Croze has posed.

Lunata stares at the open trapdoor underneath them, then towards Shalune. "..... let's get back to laid-back camping." Then she disappears into the pit.

<Pose Tracker> Shalune Amira has posed.

"--I wanna go homeee-- baaaaww--..." dopplers a certain pink blob in time with the rest of the cries.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

Ethius reclines against that wall for a while as Avril takes charge in sussing out how to best move forward. Given the situation, that is all they can do, as their means of returning right now solely remain in the realm of theory (or, well, 'prayer' if one were to put a more appropriate spin on it), and yet...
  If certain things align the way he thinks they might, perhaps, it is instead imeprative tha--
  The floor gives out. Ethius doesn't get to fearful shouting. He damned well should, because they're all falling to their deaths!!
  He stabilizes his descent as to not remain in spinning, tumbling free-fall while others scream. Hurriedly, he gets out that patchy sack and gets that harness on tight. Tight enough to threaten the circulation around his wrist. There's no time to adjust for that.
  "Grab hands." Ethius calls. "Grab hands." Can he be heard above it all? He...
  He has that bandanna around the lower half of his face, doesn't he?
  ...
  He pulls his bandanna down away from his face, to rest it around his neck. Underneath it is the face of...!
  I dunno, just some guy? Based on the 'laugh lines,' he looks like he's in his thirties for certain, but... more unnerving might be the lack of strong emotion as expressed through his mouth. Somehow, he's keeping his composure together even as they all tumble and descend across the harsh Filgaian sky down, down, down to their sandy graves...
  "Grab hands." He calls out, louder. If everyone can just all grab onto one another... there just might be a chance.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Finally, it looks like things are starting to look up. By comparing the iconography in the room, she thinks she's finally got it! A turn this way a turn that way, and...click.

She feels elated at having been able to successfully solve one of these puzzles. In fact, she almost feels like she's flying...

Though that may be just because the floor has dropped out from under her feet.

"Wh-what did I do wrong!?" She calls out, exasperatedly, as she falls right alongside the others.

Somehow, miraculously, her glasses don't try to fly off her face. That might be a problem, otherwise.

In the air, she can't use her spells, for fear of losing her grip on them Crest, but she can...

...reach out for Ethius as he calls out for everyone to grab hands. With her other hand she reaches out for whoever is closest...

<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

Locus takes the nearest hands she can find, of course-- It's nice that she can still see, despite her little technical mishap!

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia takes Ethius's hand. it's her metal hand and that's important because suddenly the pit splits into two and Lydia's arm is splotched off aand she is forced to let go from Ethius.

"Waaaaaagghhh!"