2018-03-07: Round Zero - Locusaber

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  • Log: Round Zero - Locusaber
  • Cast: Carina Wynne, Ethius Hesiod, Lydia Seren, Tesni Inoue, Jacqueline Barber, Zed
  • Where: The Sword-Saint Sanctuary
  • Date: Wednesday, March 07, 2018
  • Summary: Looking for clues on her belt's origins, Carina takes a few CaraKin friends (and also Zed) back to the Sword-Saint Sanctuary. She picks up several toys, just in time for a new season.


Note: This scene occurs before the events of 2018-03-01: That's Not Safe Demolition Work At All and everything that ensues!

DG: A party led by Carina Wynne is now entering The Sword-Saint Sanctuary.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
========================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary *>=========================
======================<* CHALLENGE - The Ruined Hamlet *>=======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Making your way up the mountain pass was already a challenge, and now you     
 find that the place you were going to is just as broken-down and decrepit as  
 the rumors claimed. Locating the entrance to the temple-grotto amidst the     
 broken-down, ramshackle buildings is going to take quite some time...         
 especially since you'll probably need to move some rubble around to find it.  
=Dungeon Conditions: Bad Luck=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

The CaraKin has certainly been busy lately (and they're about to get busier!) but Carina and a few others have managed to make a little time to make a return trip to the Sword-Saint Sanctuary. She told the rest of the group (sans Ethius) that she had found a strange marble there that interacted with her Locus belt, and so Jay brought up the possibility that the ruins might hold more clues about that particular mystery.

Locus is hopping along, guiding the rest of the group to the ruins. This isn't her first time here, and so she remembers the way to go... or mostly does, at least. An unnecessary detour or three might have been taken.

"All right, here we are!" she says, spreading her arms wide open at the sight of the several broken-down buildings. "Aaaaaaand..."

She steps in front of a giant pile of rubble, then tilts her head dejectedly.

"The entrance is blocked again. But we were just there!! Now it's a super-messy zone again! This is probably Zed's fault somehow."

She turns to the others, thumbing to the obstacle.

"Well, nothing we can't fix the old-fashioned way. LOCUUUUUS PUNCH!"

She turns around before she actually performs the punch, because punching your friends with lightning power is super rude.

DG: Carina Wynne has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Ruined Hamlet.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Unbeknownst to the gathered - for all of maybe like three minutes at most because at this point they know way better than they have any right to - Ethius comes along. He's not clear what's going on, or what is bringing Jay and the rest this way. He thinks that perhaps he might persuade Kourin to come with so that she could return the items she borrowed.
        A vague unease sees him decide that there isn't time to capitalize in the opportunity. Jay has been much too lenient about untrustworthy, dangerous figures (up to and including the dude he keeps seeing show up in the mirror). He shouldn't let this go unchecked.
        They'll know Ethius has somehow followed along anyway because some of the rock in the way starts to become molten and... you know... do what rocks tend to do when they're superheated by a certain someone.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, The Ruined Hamlet.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia Seren, well, lets not worry about future events. Right now she is chill and has a metal arm.

She has brought along her portal guns and the cat today, figuring these will be the more useful tools in this kind of ruin. Naturally, she promptly finds a slough of rubble ahead. She exhales slowly.

"So," She says. "Did you lose your marbles here or are we looking for something else?"

She will help clear rubble after Carina is done punching the rocks into small rocks.

"hfff....hff..."

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Ruined Hamlet.
<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

Tess is here along for this job the Carakin have been very busy and she's quite new here after all. This seemed like a good palce to get going and she sighs for a moment.

 "I got a crowbar."

 It's one of teh best tools she ever picked upa s she moves to take the crowbar and start to move wreckage that might be in the way of the entrance.

DG: Tesni Inoue has used her Tool Crowbar toward her party's challenge, The Ruined Hamlet.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Busy indeed. It wasn't long after the Kinship's initial trip to Lost July(and the Pleasing Gardens above them) that Jacqueline took a break in November City, only to conduct an impromptu interview that resulted in hiring on a new member to them team.

Jacqueline was, as always, one who sought to help her friends out. When Carina - er, Locus - told her about the strange marble, she agreed that they definitely needed to investigate the Sword-Saint Sanctuary once more.

On her first visit here, she had spoken to Equites, Guardian of the Sword. But...it looks like it's fallen to a state of disrepair similar to how it was when she first went here.

Jacqueline draws out a Crest, raising up earth pillars to help push debris out of the way.

"Zed? Does he have something to do with this place?" She asks, curious. Oh, how little she knows...

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Ruined Hamlet.
<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

There is someone here. Someone who ISN'T a member of the CaraKin, or even of the human race. This someone is someone who has suddenly found reason to search quite desperately for a way to ~GET STRONGER.~

Incidentally, his name is Zed.

And yes, this is entirely his fault.

Why? Well, you see, a few short hours ago, he decided that the best way to learn how to ~GET STRONGER~ was to go fight a few swordghosts. Unfortunately, he got a little overenthusiastic, and accidentally collapsed the entrance. Whoops!!

...

There's a sound like a billion grinding teeth. A great big orange cone erupts from the rubble pile, hovers briefly in mid-air, and then rapidly unfurls to reveal...!

"Pfwah! I thought I'd die down there! Who knew rock beat scissors... AND ALSO SWORDS!?" Yeah. It's Zed. He looks a little out of breath. "Oh," IT'S TOO LATE TO RUN, HE'S NOTICED YOU. "Hi everyone! Are you all here to ~GET STRONGER~ too?"

DG: Zed has used his Tool Drill Scarf toward his party's challenge, The Ruined Hamlet.
========================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary *>=========================
======================<* CHALLENGE - The Ruined Hamlet *>=======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Making your way up the mountain pass was already a challenge, and now you     
 find that the place you were going to is just as broken-down and decrepit as  
 the rumors claimed. Locating the entrance to the temple-grotto amidst the     
 broken-down, ramshackle buildings is going to take quite some time...         
 especially since you'll probably need to move some rubble around to find it.  
=Dungeon Conditions: Bad Luck=================================================
===================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary - Round 1 *>====================
========================< Results - The Ruined Hamlet >=========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carina Wynne                        0 --(10)--> 10                 Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Zed                                 0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Drill Scarf                         2   Brute   Effects: Strengthen           
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tesni Inoue                         0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Crowbar                             2   Brute   Effects: Strengthen           
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Carina Wynne                0 --(15)--> 15                 Pass
Conditions: Bad Luck(2)
Effects: Strengthen(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Carina Wynne has passed this challenge! The party gained 15 exploration! If anyone needs to use
party management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
DG: Zed has drawn a new Challenge.
=======================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary *>========================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Blade Elementals *>======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Erupting out from behind a nearby wall are what can only be described as      
 stormclouds. Except unlike normal stormclouds, these have blades instead of   
 winds and spears instead of lightning bolts. These can only be blade          
 elementals. How is 'blade' a thing that can have elementals? Don't worry      
 about it. It's probably something way too philosophical for your every-day    
 roleplaying game. Regardless of how they came about, they're clearly out for  
 your blood.                                                                   
=Dungeon Conditions: Wound====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

Carina hasn't actually noticed the molten rock just yet. It seems like a safe enough assumption that Ethius is up to some tricks, though. He's such a sketchy masked dude nobody knows anything about, y'know?

"We ran into Zed when I first came here," Carina explains to Jay. "Wanted some secret technique scroll. I think he likes this plaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAH"

As Zed's name is invoked, so he appears. Locus stops her MIGHTY LIGHTNING FISTS in their tracks, mainly so she won't cave the Metal Demon's face in.

"Don't DO that! Anyway, hi Zed. Somethin' like that, I guess. We're actually here to solve a mystery."

<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

"A mystery!?" Zed feign-gasps! "How... mysterious. Perhaps a mystery so mysterious that solving it might rewrite history? Hmmn, interesting. It's said there is strength in truth, and so..." Zed... Lunges! And clasps Carina's MIGHTY FISTS! "Let us reach out for it, together! Ahahahaaaaa--!"

Interestingly, despite Zed no longer drilling through any dirt, that same chatterbox-like drone continues to fill the air. "Oh," Zed begins to explain. "By the way! Just so you know, I only had to collapse the entrance because I ran into a spot of trouble."

What kind of trouble?

Well!

"There were these strange, spinning clouds of swords, you see! And they very much wanted me to meet my end here. So I decided, hey, rock paper scissors is a thing! So I dropped the ceiling on them." The buzzing grows louder. And louder. And then...

The rocks burst! Clouds of swords, axes and all manner of other weapons erupt from within!

Zed glances back and nods, "Yeah. Kind of like those."

Beat.

Beat.

"Oh!" Zed jolts, suddenly hurling a cluster of SMOKE BOMBS at his pursuers. "They're here! Quickly, friends! To arms, before they remove them from you entirely!"

DG: Zed has used his Tool Smoke Bombs toward his party's challenge, Blade Elementals.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Man Zed," Lydia says after a moment. "Are you the Guardian of Noise?"

Of ocurse at this point, there's plenty of spinning blades heading their way and that isn't helping things be quiet and chill. Lydia elects to not fight the swordamentals directly and instead launches a portal underneath one, intending to send it flying through a portal from above and drop it on another swordamental.

Of course there's odds that it'll just make it so that a flying swordamental is flying at everybody but Lydia's doing her best.

Well sort of her best.

"Acckk! Second Hand Smoke Bombs!" She shouts.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Blade Elementals.
<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

Tesni Inoue pauses for a moment at Zed. "Zed good to see your alive." She is very conflicte bout Zed on one hand he is a metal demon on the other? She has troublke accepting the man is one. He's helping today? She'd like to avoid it. Then something else occurs storms of swords? Wait what the heck is this? She tries to get back grabbing her ARM she opens fire.

 "What in Falgaia's name are these things?!"

DG: Tesni Inoue has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Blade Elementals.
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

"Yeah, maybe!" Carina says, regarding rewriting history. You never know with these things sometimes. And just like that... Zed has joined the party!

Locus slowly leans to the side to look past Zed when she notices that suspicious sound approaching.

"Oh friggin' come on! Some of these ain't even swords!"

Locus leaps several feet into the air to leave some space while she sets the very marble she found in this temple into her belt. It goes from a yellow glow to a red one, and...

                                ELEMENT: FIRE_

As she lands, Carina punches to air to send several fireballs flying towards the mass of pure sharpness. "There we go! Better to melt them than electrify 'em, right?" It's dubious whether Locus' fire is enough to MELT METAL, but you never know with these things sometimes.

DG: Carina Wynne has used her Tool Element Marble toward her party's challenge, Blade Elementals.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        From the distance, which is not at all distant enough to avoid being detected as the blatantly obvious origin of melting things, Ethius' eyes narrow. Just as he might have thought. "This has the appearance of an ambush." He murmurs, as he takes off sprinting.
        "Fufufu. It is an arebush!" Some horrible screeching thing or another says from the shadows. "Is good time to be an shrub??" They slither ever closer, looking to strike--
        Then there's a whirling blade elemental, which seems to be taking good on the wordplay by acting as an impromptu hedgeclipper. There is more screeching that is quickly muted by the fracas. There goes the 'arebush.' More like a 'wasbush.'
        ...Yeah.
        Because one smoke bomb isn't enough on Zed's part, or maybe because on some level Ethius distrusts non-locally-hand-farmed-bomb-smoke or whatever because of some deep-seated cultural reason that might require an afternoon special episode to clear up, he contributes a secondary blast of his own via the usual means.
        "I would suggest withdrawing at once." Ethius would suggest, as he has to try and keep the sword elementals at bay with a quarterstaff - but would they listen? Probably not, much to his chagrin.

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

You speak his name, and he appears. Jacqueline stumbles back in surprise as Zed emerges from the stone, and has to hold herself back from accidentally earth pillaring him away from them.

"A-ah! Zed! What're you..." She begins...but he quickly explains why he's here.

"...Get stronger. Right. Yes, what she said." Jacqueline replies with a nod toward Locus. ...Or, at least, most of them. She wasn't sure why Ethius was here. Just to look after them? Well, he wasn't causing any trouble, so she didn't see any reason not to let him stick around.

...She realizes this is normally the sort of thing one would say about Zed.

Unfortunately, it seems as if Zed wasn't alone, as he's seen followed by clouds of all varieties of weapons.

"Zed, what did you do...!?" Jacqueline asks, with a troubled sigh. Still, it was too late to worry about that.

"On the contrary, Miss Locus, I have an idea! If you have any metal on you, I'd advise you to stay clear. So, um...that probably means you especially, Zed." Jacqueline says. She draws out a bottle of liquid and hurls it in the midst of the Blade Elementals, before bringing a bolt of lightning down upon it with a Crest.

...The liquid, as it happens, is just plain water, and as it splashes over all of the weapons involving some of the Blade Elementals, the electricity is channeled into some of them, as well.

This may have the side-effect of magnetizing the weapons and causing them to stick together, greatly limiting their ability to float around as well as preventing them from moving out of the way of Locus's fireballs.

And with that done, she starts to move as quickly as possible away from them, because she doesn't want to stick around if that didn't work.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Reliable Repellant toward her party's challenge, Blade Elementals.
=======================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary *>========================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Blade Elementals *>======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Erupting out from behind a nearby wall are what can only be described as      
 stormclouds. Except unlike normal stormclouds, these have blades instead of   
 winds and spears instead of lightning bolts. These can only be blade          
 elementals. How is 'blade' a thing that can have elementals? Don't worry      
 about it. It's probably something way too philosophical for your every-day    
 roleplaying game. Regardless of how they came about, they're clearly out for  
 your blood.                                                                   
=Dungeon Conditions: Wound====================================================
==================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary - Round 2 *>===================
========================< Results - Blade Elementals >========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carina Wynne                        10 --(15)--> 25                Pass
Element Marble                      2   Combat  Effects: Fanfare and Rally    
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       5 --(20)--> 25                 Fail
Powder Grenade                      3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Zed                                 5 --(15)--> 20                 Pass
Smoke Bombs                         1   Combat  Effects: Embolden and Fanfare 
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         5 --(20)--> 25                 Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   5 --(15)--> 20                 Pass
Reliable Repellant                  2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tesni Inoue                         5 --(20)--> 25                 Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Carina Wynne                15 --(5)--> 20                 Fail
Conditions: Bad Luck(1)|Wound(2)
Effects: Embolden(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Carina Wynne has failed this challenge! The party gained 5 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> Zed has posed.

"Your definition of 'Sword' requires additional broadening!" Zed protests as he is unceremoniously conked on the head by a particularly beefy looking mace. This serves no purpose but to allow him to snatch it out of the blade-cloud with a deft flick of the wrist. "You see, this is merely a SUPER BLUNT and SUPER SPHERICAL sword. Make sense now?"

Probably not.

The amount of sense that makes is approximately equal to the amount of luck the party is having in their task. Perhaps smoke bombs aren't particularly effective against things with no discernable anatomy or ocular organs. One way or another, regardless of the amount of fire, magnetism or so forth the party can put forward, the elementals are... doggedly resilient. They take their toll, inflicting wounds and bruises that might make the rest of the dungeon seem somewhat more... daunting.

"I didn't do anything!" Zed says as Carina's fire finally glasses enough of the powder and dust coating the magnetized clouds, rendering them finally immobile. "I just went in and maybe started looking for loot, okay? Totally innocuous! Really!"

Also, a certain bush is looking particularly well-trimmed. Perhaps those elementals were also landscapers...?

One way or another though, after a long and hard-won fight, the party's path forward is clear...!

DG: Jacqueline Barber has drawn a new Challenge.
=======================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary *>========================
======================<* CHALLENGE - White Heron Maze *>======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The Sword-Saint did not simply build a temple. This place is a fortress       
 designed to confound invaders and defend the secrets hidden within. Even the  
 temple's layout was dedicated to the task; its corridors are a maze, and      
 with a couple of wrong turns, you seem to have found yourself lost. Find      
 your path, or fall prey to the temple's many traps.                           
=Dungeon Conditions: Bad Luck=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"Hm...well, alright..." Jacqueline relents, now bearing a few more cuts and scrapes from their run-in with the Blade Elementals. "It looks like we might need the help, anyway, so it's a good thing you're here."

With that said, she moves ahead into the temple itself. ...But, this is no ordinary temple. It was built like a fortress - fitting, for those who studied the blade. Its corridors were designed to confuse intruders, while slowly whittling them down with the traps located within. As the party moves through its corridors, one thing begins to become clear...

"Ahh...um, I believe we may possibly be...a little lost." Jacqueline concludes, pausing in her steps. She folds her arms in front of her and glances about, looking at the fork they had come to. "Does...anyone have any ideas?"

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, White Heron Maze.
<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

Oh no! It's Zed's greatest enemy...!

THINKING PUZZLES!

At the very least, Zed makes for an excellent vanguard. He is apparently of the Barbarian school of trapfinding. Keep walking into everything and be as durable as humanly possible, and the traps reveal themselves! Still, Zed is looking... slightly worse for wear. Part of his green hair is currently ablaze. An arrow is sticking out of his forehead. Inexplicably, it doesn't seem to have penetrated his skull. "Ugh," Zed groans, "Who decided it'd be a good idea to have such a confusing house...?"

He looks left, he looks right. They have come to a T.

"Ugggggh. I'm just... Can I just run around until I find a way through and then start shouting? I mean! I could just dig through too!"

(This is a bad plan)

DG: Zed has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, White Heron Maze.
<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

Tesni Inoue gets a bit battered up as a mace got her as well she's lucky she didn't get a sword though she's very lucky if she didn't get the edge or the point of one of the weapons. She does ge though it and it seem everyone else is still standing.

 "I think your right we are."

 She looks about for a moment, she sighs and take a moment as she moves ot grab her tablet and map the route she's taking hopefully that will help, she's also kepeing an eyes out for traps.

DG: Tesni Inoue has used her Tool Datapad toward her party's challenge, White Heron Maze.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Ethius does not get out of that last one unscathed. It is through the grace of having to apply a Heal Berry directly to his upper arm that he doesn't have much time to once again voice his concerns about further traveling down the Sword-Saint Sanctuary. But he does glare. Boy, does he ever, trying to follow the movements of Locus and Zed alike.
        But they're going to keep going, aren't they? He supposes there is value if he better understands what is drawing them here. (One of them has been saying why!! Won't he listen?! For once?!)
        "I would ask that you refrain from reckless action." Ethius states as he pulls out that sorcery-empowered eyeglass that just needs one (1) low-yield flicker of Symbology-empowered electricity, for (1) cool blue glow that shows a legally undisclosed (?) number of prospective devices that might be combined to others - in other words, pressure plates connected to possible traps, and the like.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Spectral Lens toward his party's challenge, White Heron Maze.
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

Oh no! It's an arebush! Whatever that is. Carina glances to see the demon who trashed her store leaping out of the shadows... only to be made short work of by the random encounter.

Well. This takes care of that at least!

Then here comes Ethius. "Mannnn, he's always on my caaase," Carina mutters as he arrives. Then, more loudly: "Are you suggesting we give up? I think not!"

Jay shows off a little. "Wowww, that's clever, Miss Jay! All right, you set 'em up, I'll knock 'em down!" And she has to steer clear of the magnetized zone, too. Because, well, the 'Metal' in 'Metal Digger Locus' doesn't actually stand for 'Action Figure-Grade Plastic'.

"That's like takin' chainmail and callin' it 'full plate but small and made of little rings'! It's not the same thing at all!" Locus complains back to Zed. But calling things by their proper name becomes secondary to not getting all sliced up by APPROXIMATELY ONE JILLION SWORDS.

Locus emerges from this with her armor scratched up in a great many places, though she made sure to take the brunt of it for the sake of her squishier companions. She gladly follows Jay deeper into the temple. To tell the truth, she doesn't remember the layout so well, and whatever lets Zed not take point and aggro the entire ruin, the better.

"Hmmmm, I have an idea. Here, let me look for the way forward with the MATRIX EYE!"

She double-taps the side of her helmet, switching her visor's display to what she affectionately calls 'Rainbow Vision'. Something unusual immediately catches her eye, a radiating pulse in an otherwise innocuous wall.

"Oh hey, this place is pretty... Blue, wonder what that's all about. Hold on!"

Ethius talks about refraining from reckless action. From Carina's point of view, his voice sounds a bit like a weird trumpet going 'wah-wah-waaah'. And so, she runs her hand along the wall, then something clicks. Luckily, this doesn't mean a trap has been activated. On the contrary, a panel in the wall slides open, revealing a sort of secret nook. Inside is an empty space meant to hold an object a bit over a foot long, along with indents meant to hold two spherical objects. One of them, a glowing blue sphere, is actually there!

And so, Carina takes it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1tyK9BCSL0

"Niiice, this is already super worth it! Jeez, that one's cold." The marble vanishes in her hand, but this seems just be what they do. "Wonder what element that might be," she asks, with disconcerting earnestness. "Well, we'll find out later!"

She only then remembers that she RUDELY forgot to answer Lydia's question earlier thanks to Zed's impromptu appearance. "Oh yeah, since ya asked... I guess I'm sort of looking for those, but we figured, since this place seems like it's connected to my belt, we could find out more about... what its whole deal is here, maybe? I mean, it's a long shot, it seems like all everybody here is about is swords, and also other hurtin' parappanalia."

She shrugs.

"Oh yeah, that's right, I was tryin' to help us find the way to go!" she remembers.

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

Lydia, now with lots of cuts and bruises and comical bandaids on her face blinks several times at Carina.

"I was joking. Losing your marbles is an expression for going crazy." Lydia tells Carina, blankly. "....I was just playing around." Another few blinking moments.

Lydia sets down Schrodinger and lets him run off, taking all the various routes. Eventually, one of the Schrodingers returns and Lydia picks that one.

"I think we should go that way." Lydia says.

This...doesn't actually mean Schrodinger was helping though, right? Maybe the other ones lead to the exit but this one led to a dead end???

"But it looks like you found one of your marbles already so--cool, cool." Lydia says.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Schrodinger the Cat toward her party's challenge, White Heron Maze.
=======================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary *>========================
======================<* CHALLENGE - White Heron Maze *>======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The Sword-Saint did not simply build a temple. This place is a fortress       
 designed to confound invaders and defend the secrets hidden within. Even the  
 temple's layout was dedicated to the task; its corridors are a maze, and      
 with a couple of wrong turns, you seem to have found yourself lost. Find      
 your path, or fall prey to the temple's many traps.                           
=Dungeon Conditions: Bad Luck=================================================
==================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary - Round 3 *>===================
========================< Results - White Heron Maze >========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carina Wynne                        25 --(10)--> 35                Fail
Matrix Eye                          2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       25 --(5)--> 30                 Pass
Spectral Lens                       2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Zed                                 20 --(10)--> 30                Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         25 --(5)--> 30                 Pass
Schrodinger the Cat                 2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   20 --(5)--> 25                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tesni Inoue                         25 --(5)--> 30                 Pass
Datapad                             3   Wits    Effects: Rally                
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Carina Wynne                20 --(15)--> 35                Pass
Conditions: Bad Luck(2)|Wound(1)
Effects: Enlighten(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Carina Wynne has passed this challenge! The party gained 15 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> Zed has posed.

ZED IS DISTRACTED BY A SHINY.

He's staring at the little blue orb from over Carina's shoulder with wide, sparkling eyes.

"IT'S COLD," Zed declares, "So! It's probably an ice ball! I bet you can do things like freeze water into platforms and hurl blizzard orbs at things!"

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Zed takes point. Jacqueline...well, she tries to convince him to be a little less reckless, as does Ethius, but Zed will be Zed, and tank the traps he does. On the bright side, he's also much more durable than the rest of them are, so it's probably a good thing he's the one that's taking them.

There path is long and windy, and Carina's Locus-Vision...ends up taking them to a dead end. Jacqueline turns away, but it seems there's more to this place than meets the eye - but not, in fact, the Matrix Eye.

"Oh?" Jacqueline turns around as something clicks, and a panel opens up. "Oh..."

Jacqueline studies it, an eyebrow raising as she examines the identations...but, as it happens, there's still something there.

"Ah, marvelous...!" She says with a smile, as Carina draws out a glowing blue sphere. It's cold. That must mean...Zed completes it before she can answer, and Jacqueline nods in response.

Unfortunately, while they've made some progress on their mission, they're no closer to finding their way out of the maze. Fortunately, however, Tesni has been diligently mapping the route they've taken. They're in no danger of accidentally doubling back on themselves, and when one of the Schrodingers returns, it turns out that the way Lydia had chosen is, in fact, the correct way.

"Good work, everyone!" Jacqueline says, stepping out into...

DG: Ethius Hesiod has drawn a new Challenge.
============================================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary *>=============================================
==========================================<* CHALLENGE - The Blade Barrier *>===========================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 An otherwise ordinary passage suddenly turns deadly when huge buzzsaws,       
 swinging pendulums and whirling glaives erupt from the walls, floor and       
 ceiling. Getting through here in one piece will take some tremendous feats    
 of agility. Don't trip!                                                       
=Dungeon Conditions: Hesitate, Injure=========================================
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        ...out into a chamber that is filled with well cared-for swords, all aligned neatly in formation on racks. It is a lot of swords. It's a lot of pointy things. This is the Sword-Saint Sanctuary. This is an acceptable amount of swords relative to the faith practiced in times of antiquity and the general environs.
        Then some otherworldly force decides against this. No. This is not nearly enough sword, as whirling glaives spin about the room to coax people away from the side walls, out into the center...
        Where swinging pendulums, pendulums themselves being large swords, swing back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, ensuring they need to time their movement as they come down the center...
        And then huge buzzsaws come up from the floor, ancient repurposed shields refitted with jagged blades. It's entirely too much sword.
        Ethius responds in kind by strapping on and activating that worn-out loot sack into a makeshift personal hot air balloon, allowing him to hover and at least skip the 'floor saws' problem. He drifts slowly, easy enough for anyone else to pass, but this is by design - he knows the mysterious metal-suited individual, Locus, got what they were after. Were they all headed into a trap?!

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Hot Air Sack toward his party's challenge, The Blade Barrier.
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

"Yeah!!" Carina answers Zed, pumping a fist. But of course, she isn't actually trying it now, in a controlled environment. That would be far too sensible. That's how it works!

"O-Oh! I knew that," Carina tells Lydia, probably pouting behind her mask.

"Nice job, gang!" she says, a wide smile audible in her voice as they emerge into the Chamber of Swords. "You know, I was thinkin' I could maybe pick up a sword here," she remarks out loud. "I've never used one before, but I mean, how hard could it be?"

She considers a rack of weapons to choose from, looking for the fanciest and shiniest weapon within... until the rack tips to turn the swords into a stage hazard!

Carina looks around to see this whole place has turned into a DEADLY obstacle course.

"On second though, I guess I could get a sword in a shop or somethin'!!"

And so, she proceeds to leap, dash, crouch and cartwheel her way across the room. Her movements seem to alternate abruptly between graceful, trained motions and total, panicked flailing.

DG: Carina Wynne has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Blade Barrier.
<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

Zed is nothing if not durable. He is, essentially, the cockroachiest form of Metal Demon. Sure, Berserk might be damn near invincible, but Zed-- ZED is the one who is truly... Immortal*...!

(*Immortality may vary)

"Hm, you know, store-swords are never quite as good as treasure-swords," Zed advises this mysterious armored individual as he draws his OWN favored blade. "For example! Take this weapon I hold here. The Doom Bringer is a magnificent sword! It is such a treasure that to be quite honest I have no idea what it was doing where I found it. Why would someone leave something like this there?"

BECAUSE IT IS CURSED AS ALL HELL.

"Let me demonstrate!"

NO.

Zed... Immediately goes to charge the wall of blades, whirling like a dervish of swordsmaship. Is he trying to carve a path straight through the blade barrier!?

DG: Zed has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward his party's challenge, The Blade Barrier.
<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

Tesni Inoue is going to save that map for future trips in here if it. She seems eager to puish on as she looks to Jacqueline. 5R
 "This is going pretty well I ... think."

 She stops she stares and just ahs this you got to be kidding me look.

 "It's like something out of an novel!"

 Then theres the crazy traps she just sighs nad movdes to not end up cut up by the dangerous traps ahead.

DG: Tesni Inoue has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Blade Barrier.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia says, "Sorry, sometimes my mouth runs ahead of my brain," to Carina. Perhaps this is a side effect of showing Carina her cosmic mind. "If you want me to do you a favor, I could probably help you skip that whole--"

No of course not, Carina is going to ninja through the whole thing on her own because that is a way more dynamic and acrobatic solution than what Lydia has in mind.

What Lydia has in mind is just skipping the trap entirely. She fires a portal into the ground and then launches one for the end of the hall.

It hits a side wall instead and a swinging axe flies out at her and nearly slices her in helf.

"Yeekk...! Let's try that again!" Lydia says before launching another one for the end of the hall.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Portal Pistols toward her party's challenge, The Blade Barrier.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"Ah." Jacqueline remarks, staring out upon rows and rows of swords. That is...well and truly a ridiculous amount of swords, in her mind. And then things become even worse with the addition of whirling glaives, large sword pendulums, and huge buzzsaws coming up from the floor.

"D-did...they train themselves here, or were they just really not fond of visitors...?" Jacqueline says, and then nods toward Tesni. "Yes...in fact, I believe I've read a book just like this one."

She reaches into her bags, drawing out several potions which are handed out to those present. She has a feeling they'll probably need them. And then she starts to move, quickly and carefully.

"You know-" Jacqueline starts, narrowly moving past one of the pendulums. "-Our Kourin is a very-"

A glaive shoots out, forcing Jacqueline to duck and crawl underneath it. "-talented swordswoman. I'm sure she could give you a few-"

She leaps forward as darts shoot out from the wall, piercing the place where she was just a second ago. "-pointers!"

She's too busy attempting to avoid traps to realize that she just made an accidental pun.

She briefly considers asking Lydia for a portal...but when she sees what came of that, she's kind of glad she didn't...

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Rapid Remedy toward her party's challenge, The Blade Barrier.
============================================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary *>=============================================
==========================================<* CHALLENGE - The Blade Barrier *>===========================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 An otherwise ordinary passage suddenly turns deadly when huge buzzsaws,       
 swinging pendulums and whirling glaives erupt from the walls, floor and       
 ceiling. Getting through here in one piece will take some tremendous feats    
 of agility. Don't trip!                                                       
=Dungeon Conditions: Hesitate, Injure=========================================
=======================================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary - Round 4 *>========================================
============================================< Results - The Blade Barrier >=============================================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carina Wynne                        35 --(15)--> 50                Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       30 --(15)--> 45                Fail
Hot Air Sack                        2   Agility Effects: Resilient            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Zed                                 30 --(15)--> 45                Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         30 --(15)--> 45                Fail
Portal Pistols                      2   Agility Effects: Stalwart             
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   25 --(10)--> 35                Pass
Rapid Remedy                        1   Agility Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tesni Inoue                         30 --(15)--> 45                Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
-------------------------------------------------------< Party >--------------------------------------------------------
Leader: Carina Wynne                35 --(10)--> 45                Fail
Conditions: Bad Lu
DG: The party led by Carina Wynne has failed this challenge! The party gained 10 exploration! If anyone needs to use
party management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
DG: Lydia Seren has drawn a new Challenge.
=======================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary *>========================
=======================================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary - Round 4 *>========================================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Pumping Iron *>========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 What luck! You've found what can only be the temple training room! It looks   
 like the warrior ascetics who lived in this place kept all sorts of           
 sophisticated weightlifting equipment and exercise machines. There are a few  
 benches here and there and a chest of drawers full of medicinal herbs, too.   
 It seems as though this is a good place to catch a break and maybe loosen up  
 a few cramps too.                                                             
=Dungeon Conditions: Reckless, Save Point=====================================


<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Jay comes out on the other side of it all first, allowing her to catch her breath so she can relax and reflect upon her narrow brush with death to the sound of whirling, old, death-dealing machinery.
        She doesn't see anyone else yet come out of there. Behind her, is a whole wreck of destroyed, overturned, jammed, or otherwise out-sworded sword traps before a triumphant, devil-may-care Zed whom has met all swords with his own! Which is great! That means they don't have to deal with jumping or navigating around anything that could turn them into the Confetti Kinship.
        ...
        Except now that all the destroyed traps are piled high, coalesced and collapsed into the collective equivalent of...
        ...a door.
        A sword door.
        Ethius stands unamused as he has to re-apply one of the patches on his bag. Zed did basically save the lives of everyone who might not have been able to get to the other end, but now they have a Door(tm) to deal with.
        Which one will neatly just cut past into a new take, because this one doesn't make the cut.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Sword door.

Past the sword door. And also the door door that is behind the sword door, there is ... a gym.

It's a fancy special gy--

.... actually it's just a completely normal gym. It's a good gym with a lot to choose from but it's...it's just a gym. There's nothing special about it.

Lydia makes a face. "Ugghhh...." She says. "This is the wors---wait...WAIT!"

She runs over one of the drawers and pulls it open, revealing familiar, to those who know Cyre, herbs.

"Yessss!!!" Lydia says. "Drugs!!!"

Of course there's the barbells if you prefer to use those and the pullup bar.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Pumping Iron.
<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

Look. Sometimes when life gives you swords, you make a door out of those swords, because honestly what else are you going to do with them? Cut someone? Don't be rude. Not all adventures have to end in fighting.

Just... Most of them.

This one, however, seems to have ended in... A PERFECTLY NORMAL GYM, stocked with PERFECTLY NORMAL GYM EQUIPMENT and also a handy first aid kit.

But...

...How is it those herbs are still okay to use after however many years they've been sitting in that drawer...?
...

Probably best not to ask. The dankness of the drugs will remain an unknown quantity. Zed decides to do what he DOES understand: He pumps iron!

Well, he did say he was here to build strength, right?

DG: Zed has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Pumping Iron.
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

"STORE-BOUGHT EQUIPMENT IS THE BEST, SORRY," Locus replies to Zed, with great conviction, while she's dodge-rolling past a horizontal sawblade sword set.

"Maybe she could," Carina tells Jay, "though to tell the truth, sword training sounds like a whole lotta work, hehe..."

Then why does she want a sword?!

To illustrate this point, she walks past the sword door without even taking a single sword. Even though they're right there! Pulling a sword out of a door is not the same as pulling one out of, say, a stone, or even buying TOP-TIER EQUIPMENT in a TOP-TIER STORE.

Speaking of a whole lotta work, it is now time for... THE GYM.

"Noooo~oooooooooooo~" Locus slumps over forward so far she might as well be folded in half. "Of all the rooms to find again, why this one?"

Yes, that's what Carina was most apprehensive about. THE GYM.

Locus stares at a set of barbells, sizing it up a one would a worthy opponent. She stays silent for almost a solid minute. Then, finally...

"Here goes nothing...!"

And she lifts! Or at least attempts to. Will everybody's hero, Metal Digger Locus, meet her match against... THE GYM?!

DG: Carina Wynne has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Pumping Iron.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"Indeed." Jacqueline says, agreeing emphatically with Carina. Of course store-bought equipment was the best!

"Hm...maybe. I've thought about asking, myself, but...I've just never really had the time..." She replies...though it's only a little while later that...

"...Hm?" Jacqueline looks behind herself to realize that...oh, she's accidentally left everyone behind. "Oh dear..."

One skipped dungeon challenge later, they find themselves in...a gym? Jacqueline folds her arms in front of her, assessing it with a confused look on her face.

"...What kind of place is this...?" She considers, somewhat confused. She...does seem like the sort of person who has no familiarity with weightlifting. While she was fairly capable with magic, physically she was a little...soft.

She does not elect to use any of the equipment. Instead, she tries to find somewhere comfy enough to sit. But can such a thing be found in a place like this...?

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Pumping Iron.
<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

Tesni Inoue has things go badly she does not get cut up, but she end sup hurting herself avoiding such a fate. She's alive she's not maimed so she's going to call that a win, and she doe snot expect as she arrives in the next room what she sees. She also does owe Zed and Ethius one. She just sighs and start to look about the gym which is what it is and she'll go to see the herbs if they will be shared, she might take a moment to use some of the weight gear thinking it might be a way to unlock going forward, right? If she has trouble she always has her crowbar to help with her noodle arms.

DG: Tesni Inoue has used her Tool Crowbar toward her party's challenge, Pumping Iron.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Ethius steps forth into some sort of training room after the recent misadventures. His steps are, at first, measured and careful. He wants to make sure absolutely everyone remains in his field of vision. Lydia's joyful shout for DRUGS and her resulting sprint forward makes this task hard.
        It becomes harder when he actually sees what's here. Sophisticated-looking weightlifting equipment, machines that exist for exercise... quite a find. A great place to go, if one is looking to really get in some specialized workouts. His eyes narrow.
        Something about their presence offends him. Maybe it is because he could seriously be a GIANT NERD? He sort of talks like someone WHO DOES NOT UNDERSTAND A THESAURUS IS A PLACE WHERE WORDS TOO MOUTHY FOR THEIR OWN GOOD GO TO DIE.
        There is a treadmill-looking thing that, especially, seems to elicit some kind of spite because as it so happens, he is already flicking fingers and chanting and... when the light patterns come up, yup, that means he's going to be melting that one. Probably more than that one.
        ...
        That counts as exercise, maybe? Seriously though what the hell that is absolutely not how someone uses gym equipment!!
        Dumb primitive GIANT NERD minds.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Pumping Iron.
=======================================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary - Round 4 *>========================================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Pumping Iron *>========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 What luck! You've found what can only be the temple training room! It looks   
 like the warrior ascetics who lived in this place kept all sorts of           
 sophisticated weightlifting equipment and exercise machines. There are a few  
 benches here and there and a chest of drawers full of medicinal herbs, too.   
 It seems as though this is a good place to catch a break and maybe loosen up  
 a few cramps too.                                                             
=Dungeon Conditions: Reckless, Save Point=====================================
==================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary - Round 5 *>===================
=======================================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary - Round 4 *>========================================
==========================< Results - Pumping Iron >==========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carina Wynne                        50 --(5)--> 55                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       45 --(5)--> 50                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Zed                                 45 --(5)--> 50                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         45 --(5)--> 50                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   35 --(5)--> 40                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tesni Inoue                         45 --(5)--> 50                 Pass
Crowbar                             2   Brute   Effects: Strengthen           
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Carina Wynne                45 --(20)--> 65                Pass
Conditions: Hesitate(1)|Reckless(2)|Save Point(1)
Effects: Strengthen(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Carina Wynne 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> Lydia Seren has posed.

BGM INTERRUPT:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIfAkOBMf5A

Everybody has a good workout (or gets a good high going on). Lydia herself does some steups and press ups and jumprope aerobics.

Nevertheless, at the end of the day, everybody gets a good workout, has some protein, and moves on to the next challenge!

...and that's it!

"ha ha ha ha!" Lydia says, having changed her mind completely about gyms during that montage. "Gyms are great! Drugs are great! Food is great! Ha ha ha ha!"

Yeah it's a good time to leave.

DG: Tesni Inoue has drawn a new Challenge.
===========================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary *>===========================
============================<* CHALLENGE - Great Kiln *>=============================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
-----------------------------< Challenge Information: >------------------------------
 You enter a strange room. The floor is an enormous steel grate, and the       
 walls seem to be made of fired clay. As you pause to contemplate what this    
 place might be, the door seals behind you. Immediately, a ghostly flame       
 ignites just underneath the grated floor, and the room's temperature          
 suddenly skyrockets. This must have been some kind of bizarre training        
 room-- or maybe the heart of some smith's furnace! Find a way to escape       
 before you're burned alive!                                                   
=Dungeon Conditions: Exhaust==================================================
<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

Tesni Inoue feels better after loosening up a bit with the workout it seems it's just a gym no traps no nothing and they find some useful herbs. Still its' time to move on what could happen now? What could be waiting for our brave group of drifters run into next? Why it's another death trap, the wall seem to be made of fired flay, the floor is a massive grate and Tess gets this horrible look on her face when the door shuts behind them locking.

 "You have got to be kidding me!"

 The Temperature spikes, as the strange ghostly flames come to life.

 "We have to break out of here."

 Tess has her crowbar in head and moves to the far end trying to use it frantically to break her way out of the burning oven like room. The way is shut and they need to make a new way out of here.

DG: Tesni Inoue has used her Tool Crowbar toward her party's challenge, Great Kiln.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        In comparison, post-gym, um... exercising... Ethius seems more tense and on edge than ever. He makes up the rear as he observes his handiwork on sealing the secret to BECOMING TOTALLY SWOLE from future generations to come. When he looks back over, he recognizes the color of the walls of the chamber Tesni leads everyone into.
        He's too late to suggest they not go that way. He's also apparently too absentminded not to step inside of it, and so he is trapped within the kiln.
        "I will attempt to work on the flame." He remarks as Tesni gets to work on the door ahead. He goes about casting Symbologically-empowered piles and sprays of dust to try and choke and smother it out.
        Is it even possible to smother ghostly fire under copious amounts of not-quite-as-ghostly dust and dirt? Come to think of it, if the dust is magical in origin, should it also be considered in the same league as ghostly items?
        Physics versus metaphysics aside, their chances are looking less grate the longer one looks through it. They'll have to swing for the fences on this one! There's no safety net underneath them.
        ...
        (Sorry.)

DG: Ethius Hesiod has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Great Kiln.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline mostly just ends up sitting around. She's a little sure why everyone's so into it, but...she's not going to stop them! Once everyone's ready, though, she stands and gets ready to move on.

Soon, however, they find themselves in some variety of kiln. The heat rises to unbearable levels.

"This is...this is awful, why would anyone do this...?" Jacqueline mutters. This set-up poses a problem for her - the heat is dangerous to her Crests, and it might be a little too much for her potions, as well. Ethius gets to work on the flame, while Jacqueline...well, she mostly just gets to work trying to look for a turn-off switch somewhere. There have to be some kind of emergency measures in place, right...?

Maybe the original residents of this place were just that hardcore in their training...

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Great Kiln.
<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

        "Ha ha ha ha!" Zed says, now inexplicably with 10% more muscle definition than he arrived with. "Yes!" He slings an arm over Lydia's shoulders, "Now you understand. This is the power... The joy of PUMPING MAD IRON!"

Unfortunately, no amount of muscle power will help save them from what they now must overcome. The party walks right into a... Giant kiln!? No! "This-- this must be where the priests prepared their post-workout barbecue...!" Zed gasps in awe as the temperature begins to rise. Do metal demons melt? Do they sweat? How do they regulate their body temperatures!?

For Zed, it apparently involves... Unfurling his scarf. Huh. That's actually pretty sensible.

Not sensible: Whirling that scarf around so rapidly that it transforms into a GIANT ORANGE DRILL!

At least it's stirring up the air and making things a little less stuffy! Also: Zed is totally drilling a hole out of here. Hopefully he makes it in time...!

DG: Zed has used his Tool Drill Scarf toward his party's challenge, Great Kiln.
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

"Gyms... might be all right, I guess?" Carina concludes, after lifting normal-sized barbells a few times without dying, while wearing some sort of power armor.

"You know, I'm havin' a good feeling about this one," she tells the others nonchalantly as they proceed. And then things heat up.

"Oh come on, after the gym, it's sauna time?"

She nods to Tesni with a pumped fist, and then moves... Next to Ethius? To work as a team with Ethius?!

"Seems like a good time to try this one out!"

She holds out the blue marble from earlier, removing the red one currently in her belt to replace it. Faint embers appear floating around her, now replaced by a flurry of snowflakes.

                                 ELEMENT: ICE_

"Awright, let's COOL THINGS DOWN!" she announces, punching the air repeatedly as shards of ice orbit around her fists, building up and cooling the place down!

(Where does the heat actually go? It's magic, we don't have to explain anything.)

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

Lydia Seren remembers this place. Luckily, she brought a baseball bat with her on this adventure as she often does. She's sweating a great deal already, but she swings the bat around wildly in an attempt to smash things. It may be a good idea to stay out of her way while she clobbers anything that looks remotely like the problem which, unfortunately for the room, seems to be pretty much everything around because there isn't any clear 'off switch' or anything.

On the plus side, she's still tired from her workout and maybe gets ten swings in before she gives up.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Great Kiln.
===========================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary *>===========================
============================<* CHALLENGE - Great Kiln *>=============================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
-----------------------------< Challenge Information: >------------------------------
 You enter a strange room. The floor is an enormous steel grate, and the       
 walls seem to be made of fired clay. As you pause to contemplate what this    
 place might be, the door seals behind you. Immediately, a ghostly flame       
 ignites just underneath the grated floor, and the room's temperature          
 suddenly skyrockets. This must have been some kind of bizarre training        
 room-- or maybe the heart of some smith's furnace! Find a way to escape       
 before you're burned alive!                                                   
=Dungeon Conditions: Exhaust==================================================
======================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary - Round 6 *>======================
==============================< Results - Great Kiln >===============================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carina Wynne                        55 --(5)--> 60                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       50 --(5)--> 55                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Zed                                 50 --(5)--> 55                 Pass
Drill Scarf                         2   Brute   Effects: Strengthen           
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         50 --(5)--> 55                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   40 --(5)--> 45                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tesni Inoue                         50 --(5)--> 55                 Pass
Crowbar                             2   Brute   Effects: Strengthen           
--------------------------------------< Party >--------------------------------------
Leader: Carina Wynne                65 --(20)--> 85                Pass
Conditions: Exhaust(1)|Reckless(1)
Effects: Strengthen(1)
==================================< Dream Chasers >==================================
DG: The party led by Carina Wynne has passed this challenge! The party gained 20 exploration! If anyone needs to use
party management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
DG: Carina Wynne has drawn a new Challenge.
========================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary *>=========================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - The Clashing Swords *>======================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 You enter a chamber and find yourselves suddenly plunged into darkness as     
 the doorway seals itself behind you. Only once your eyes have adjusted do     
 you feel it. A rush of cutting force buffets against something vital with     
 the din of metal striking metal. In the space of a breath, it strikes again,  
 then once more. The blade does not draw blood, but it expresses its killing   
 intent quite clearly. The next blow would not be so merciful. In the          
 darkness, you cannot see the strikes coming, but perhaps if you listen to     
 the ringing of the blade, perhaps if you can see the blows in your            
 mind's-eye, you might just be able to deflect them and prove yourself to the  
 spirit of this place.                                                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Injure, Exhaust==========================================
<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

Carina's a real help here the use of her new tool does wonder the ice drops the temperature keeping things cooler longer, it won't stop the flames forever but it does give the party what it needs time, time to act and time to break their way out of here without being roasted alive. Ethius adds it to this the flames wobble and lessen too buying even more time to the party's actions. Tess is working 0on the way out well enough and then comes Zed, the Man, the legend the most metal of metal demons. Tess gets out of his way as Zed stars to drill his way out of here while Jacqueline worms to find a way to turn the flames off, and with some unexpected help by Lyndia whose mighty slugger breaks a panel that was hiding the shut off button. the door is still locked but that doesn't last long before Tenga Toppa Zed, who dills his way through and the good news the flames are now off.

 "These guys were ... hardcore I think that was training and not a trap..."

<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

And they're out of the HEAT TRAINING room! What's next?

The answer is...

Darkness.

"Ah, beans," says Locus.

And there it is, the sound of metal being drawn. Carina has been here before, and she was not looking forward to this place. If she had thought of it, she would have warned the others, too! Oh well, too late now.

"Deflect it," she whispers, in lieu of a detailed explanation.

The subtle sound of a single blade splits into six. They each swing, one by one, striking for something vital, drawing a little blood, finding the chink in one's armor but not capitalizing on it quite yet. This was a wordless warning. Another strike will come. Are you prepared for it?

"Now I remember why I wish I had a freakin' sword," Carina mutters, as she does what she did last time: She turns on the Matrix Eye. It's not as useful for cheating as she expected, there is nothing TO see except maybe a ghost, and even Locus' huge eyes can't see those if they really don't want to be seen. What it IS useful for, at least, is making sure no one bumps into one another in this darkness.

The rest is up to each individual here. Carina, at least, draws more of that magical cold towards her, forming an impromptu shield. Whether she can raise it when and where it's needed is another matter entirely.

DG: Carina Wynne has used her Tool Matrix Eye toward her party's challenge, The Clashing Swords.
<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

This is not the first time Zed has been in the chamber of the Clashing Swords.

It's the first time he's drilled up into it, sure, but it's not the first time he's been here.

"Be careful," the Hyadean says, suddenly so much more serious than he was a moment ago. His hands are wrapped tight around the hilt of his favorite blade as he feels the tension in the atmosphere rise. "I remember this... Too keenly! The phantom blades which cut like true steel!"

"You cannot rely on sight alone! But... Perhaps if I..." He pauses, then begins to turn. His oscillations speed up gradually, building more and more rotational momentum until he spins around like a bladed top. "I will... Try to draw their attention...! Take care, friends!"

Zed... Does his best.

But these are ghost swords. Chances are that 'his best' just isn't quite good enough.

DG: Zed has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, The Clashing Swords.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        For a moment, Ethius and Locus were united by one specific purpose - a desire to put an end to this menacing trap for sake of their friends. At least, that is one romanticized way to look at it. Without either of their efforts, surely, the flames would have flared up and baked them all alive into... not clay.
        He parts from Locus' side wordlessly as the way forward is shown. He gets out that eyeglass in advance and gets to casting that electrical spell on the down-low to turn it on. He holds it up to one eye as he takes up the back ranks into the chamber of the Clashing Swords.
        He sees nothing. This is, in itself, valuable information as he steps into the very darkness--
        And dives to the side, a hard left, to put his back up against the wall. The unseen swordmaster(s) that be are wise to this, glancing a strike just past the throat. They are well aware that Ethius does not Play Fair.
        He also already has his back up against the wall to limit the possible angles of attack against him. From there, in darkness, he gets the quarterstaff out to protect himself with an upward parrying strike.
        This might accidentally deflect Zed's rapid sword-whirlin' at least once, becuase of course that could be a thing.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Spectral Lens toward his party's challenge, The Clashing Swords.
<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

Out of the fire and into the blender seems to be the order of the day here. The ghost sword room more or less she feels the blade come by her, she tries to think of what to do she reches for her knife which she pulls out it's not much but its the only thing she can do, as this second blade strieks comes for her her pads motion sensor kicks in making a beep which gives he enough of a cue to attmept to parry hte strike!

DG: Tesni Inoue has used her Tool Datapad toward her party's challenge, The Clashing Swords.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia turns her arm into a sword. She remembers this part. It's why she came, actually. She should get better at using this mighty weapon. If she gives it her all, she'll certainly be able to defeat this test and become a true warrior!

A few moments later Lydia is curled up in a ball, barely avoiding truly dangerous blows by holding her metal arm over her body. "Gahhhh...!! Stop it stop it stop it!"

Eventually Schrodinger hops in front of a strike and it stops--

The mysterious ancestral spirits start petting the cat instead and Lydia flops over, dizzy.

"Gahhh....whhhy...."

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Schrodinger the Cat toward her party's challenge, The Clashing Swords.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"Wh-whew...thanks, everyone." Jacqueline replies, exhaling. That heat was exhausting...but with it gone, they're able to proceed into...

...Darkness. Jacqueline remembers this place, too. Last time she tried to light up the place, the spirits had taken offense. So this time...she draws out her knife.

"O-okay...I just have to focus..." She murmurs to herself. She takes a deep breath, shuts her eyes, and gets ready to parry the incoming strike...

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Clashing Swords.
========================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary *>=========================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - The Clashing Swords *>======================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 You enter a chamber and find yourselves suddenly plunged into darkness as     
 the doorway seals itself behind you. Only once your eyes have adjusted do     
 you feel it. A rush of cutting force buffets against something vital with     
 the din of metal striking metal. In the space of a breath, it strikes again,  
 then once more. The blade does not draw blood, but it expresses its killing   
 intent quite clearly. The next blow would not be so merciful. In the          
 darkness, you cannot see the strikes coming, but perhaps if you listen to     
 the ringing of the blade, perhaps if you can see the blows in your            
 mind's-eye, you might just be able to deflect them and prove yourself to the  
 spirit of this place.                                                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Injure, Exhaust==========================================
===================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary - Round 7 *>====================
=======================< Results - The Clashing Swords >========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carina Wynne                        60 --(5)--> 65                 Pass
Matrix Eye                          2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       55 --(5)--> 60                 Pass
Spectral Lens                       2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Zed                                 55 --(25)--> 80                Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         55 --(5)--> 60                 Pass
Schrodinger the Cat                 2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   45 --(5)--> 50                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tesni Inoue                         55 --(5)--> 60                 Pass
Datapad                             3   Wits    Effects: Rally                
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Carina Wynne                85 --(0)--> 85                 Pass
Conditions: Exhaust(1)|Injure(2)
Effects: Enlighten(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Carina Wynne has passed this challenge! The party gained 0 exploration! If anyone needs to use
party management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
DG: Carina Wynne has drawn a new Challenge.
========================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary *>=========================
==================<* CHALLENGE - Echoes of the Sword-Saint *>===================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The darkness clears as ghostly, azure flames ignite all around you. You find  
 yourself standing in a once-glorious training hall, face-to-face with an      
 intimidating spectral figure. The spirit's features are indistinct and        
 blurry. It's impossible to tell their gender, their true size, or anything    
 else - except for the slender, deadly curve of the spectral blade they        
 brandish. That alone is cast into stark, flawless image. It bows to you as    
 your eyes adjust to the light, before dropping into a tranquil, ready         
 stance. It seems that, though the Sword-Saint and their disciples are long    
 gone, this place still holds some recollection of their peerless skill. This  
 will not be an easy fight.                                                    
=Dungeon Conditions: Exhaust, Suffer==========================================
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

Clever tricks are employed, as no one here (besides POSSIBLY Zed) can truly be said to pursue the path of the sword full time. Spectral blade meets quarterstaff, knife and metallic arm alike, while a few of the spirits, for all their stoicism, are not above being distracted by an adorable, fluffy kitty or an insane spinning dervish with an orange scarf.

Cuts are sustained across the board, but nothing vital or particularly hard to heal is hit by the phantom blades. Zed is once again an exception to the rule, having gotten sliced up to a somewhat excessive degree, but this was all according to plan, right?

The lights come back on.

"Whew," Carina lets out. "Yeah, ain't my favorite room. Everybody okay?"

She proceeds to an opened door. What's next isn't quite the room Carina expected from last time, or maybe they're just approaching it from another angle. This is a wide corridor, with murals on each side depicting the Sword Saint and their many disciples.

A ghostly form manifests before the group, coalescing from wisps of spiritual energy floating in from every which way. The form is faint, shifting with every moment, but the blade they wield is obvious in its physicality: It is an odd one, a scimitar with a metallic, magenta-red hilt, of construction seemingly too advanced to be modern, with a blade that seems sculpted out of pristine glass. The phantom raises it, and the blade ignites with glowing, blue ectoplasmic power.

"This is the final challenge, huh?" Carina says, with some gravity. "Okay, we'll show you what we're made of. We can definitely do this, gang, I know it!"

And since she already has the ice marble in, she reprises her earlier trick: She makes herself a very crude, makeshift shield out of ice in one hand, and a vaguely sharp spike in the other. Honestly, the shaping is so crude it's hard to tell which one is supposed to be the sword and which one is the shield.

It's funny, though, from where the rest of the group is standing, they can notice that Locus is striking a pose very similar to a figure from the mural next to her. One of the Sword Saint's disciples, wearing a monk's uniform over a very unusual armor: sleek, metallic, and with a helmet reminiscent an insect's head.

DG: Carina Wynne has used her Tool Element Marble toward her party's challenge, Echoes of the Sword-Saint.
<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

Getting cut to ribbons was indeed entirely part of Zed's plan. Of course, it wasn't a particularly good plan, but what Zed Plans (tm) ever really are? As the lights come on, the Metal Demon slows gradually to a stop. Rivulets of quicksilver blood dripping from lacerations across his chest and face. The wounds are already slowly beginning to close, but that doesn't mean they're at all less painful.

But... There's someone else in the room with them.

Someone... Zed seems eager to see, in spite of the pain.

"You..." Zed says, gesturing with his own crescent-shaped blade. "You... are the one I was seeking...! The one who holds the key... To greater power! To the strength I need to exceed the ones who I must surpass, for the good of all the world!" He grins, moving up to stand alongside Locus, his stance fierce and wild.

A Metal Demon and a Metal Hero standing side-by-side to strike down a sword spirit...! There's a certain poetic je n'ais se quoi to it.

"You go straight in," Zed advises, readying a handful of those powerful smokebombs. "I'll come in at an angle, and we'll get 'em in a cross!" And of course, now that he's said it, the ghost will expect it, but...

A few plumes of smoke might just obfuscate Zed's real maneuver:

He sure is coming in at an angle.

A ninety-degree angle! It's a diving strike from above!

DG: Zed has used his Tool Smoke Bombs toward his party's challenge, Echoes of the Sword-Saint.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

One of the ghostly disciples walks over to the fallen Lydia.

It lifts her up and sets her firmly on her feet. The disciple looks at Lydia's arm, still in its sword state, and then looks back to Lydia and then--with a single swiep of its blade dissipitates Lydia's sword arm with a single strike.

It reforms naturally. Lydia takes a step backwards and stares into the phantom's eyes. The phantom leans forward and their mouth opens. It whispers.

'You aren't fighting with your full body, shaman'.

Lydia blinks in confusion and says, "Huh???"

But frankly after that, the disciple largely works the hell out of Lydia and it's a decidedly unpleasant sight. Lydia panting for comical levels of breath and wheezing and begging the spirit to stop but it just keeps at it, as if trying to force Lydia to learn whatever it is he is trying to teach.

She doesn't learn and by the end of it is flat on her back staring at the ceiling.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Echoes of the Sword-Saint.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Ethius already has a hand on the other satchel at his belt - excepting a moment where he presses part of his shirt up against the shallow warning cut against his neck - already aware of how this place arranges its chambers. What yet lies ahead...
        "I will provide smoke cover." He says this much, as Locus adopts a most curious pose that looks a lot like one of the murals just at the very corner of his vision. Something to inspect later when they aren't facing down a spectre wielding a blade that looks much unlike anything they've encountered prior - even accounting for previous visitations.
        Once the smoke cover is provided, rather than give away his position through chanting and casting (he is now fully aware the 'caretakers' here are just Done With That Nonsense from him), he tumbles a hard right and then lunges outward with his quarterstaff, maxing out the reach of his arms and weapon in one precise lunge to the sword-wielding hand.
        "Far Point!"

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Powder Grenade toward his party's challenge, Echoes of the Sword-Saint.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Steel rings against steel as one of the spectral blades clashes with her knife. Jacqueline winces. She can feel it ringing in her hand, as well as the various cuts she had obtained. Fortunately, however, they seem to have satisfied the spirit. They are allowed to move on...and there, they come upon a set of murals.

Before them, a spirit forms, wielding what appears to be an exquisitely crafted blade of some kind.

She elects to stand back, reaching into her bags to draw out a few bottles of her Boosting Brew, which she passes out to the party. From that location, she's able to get a look at that mural...

...Interesting. She'll consider what that means later, when they aren't busy fighting a ghost.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Reliable Repellant toward her party's challenge, Echoes of the Sword-Saint.
<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

It works, she's able to parry the attack barely but she does it, her arms are sore but she did it and did not end up getting cut up she looks to see everyone seems to be okay and even Zed is alive an mobile, he's a Metal Demon right? He's made of living metal he should be fine.

 The party moves on to a new challenge. It's not something Tess is used to, she issued to the dead stay dead, or reincarnate but no one can prove the latter where she's from. Seeing this starts to make her think more about several things on the universe. First though she has something to do, here. She sees Carina jury rig a weapon? She'll move to do the same it's not very good but it's more respectful than just shooting the ghost Knight.

 Tess in respect of the ghost? She bows to it, even if it is an echo of someone . It still should get respect. Just what did she jury right she's found a dropped rusted out blade. It's likely from some other soul here from long ago she's going to have to put it to use. Even if it's not the best of ideas. She takes the old weapon in hand it's a two hander and she seems ready as she'll ever be.

 "I'm afraid I'm not an sword user I'm an ARMs slinger but I'll fight you your way as this is your house."

 With that Tess moves in with the old blade it won't last long but it should do the job right? At least she's not being like a movie of over ten thousand years ago where the hero shot the skilled swordsman.

DG: Tesni Inoue has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Echoes of the Sword-Saint.
========================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary *>=========================
==================<* CHALLENGE - Echoes of the Sword-Saint *>===================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The darkness clears as ghostly, azure flames ignite all around you. You find  
 yourself standing in a once-glorious training hall, face-to-face with an      
 intimidating spectral figure. The spirit's features are indistinct and        
 blurry. It's impossible to tell their gender, their true size, or anything    
 else - except for the slender, deadly curve of the spectral blade they        
 brandish. That alone is cast into stark, flawless image. It bows to you as    
 your eyes adjust to the light, before dropping into a tranquil, ready         
 stance. It seems that, though the Sword-Saint and their disciples are long    
 gone, this place still holds some recollection of their peerless skill. This  
 will not be an easy fight.                                                    
=Dungeon Conditions: Exhaust, Suffer==========================================
===================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary - Round 8 *>====================
====================< Results - Echoes of the Sword-Saint >=====================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Carina Wynne                        65 --(15)--> 80                Pass
Element Marble                      2   Combat  Effects: Fanfare and Rally    
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       60 --(15)--> 75                Pass
Powder Grenade                      3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Zed                                 80 --(15)--> 95                Pass
Smoke Bombs                         1   Combat  Effects: Embolden and Fanfare 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         60 --(35)--> 95                Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   50 --(15)--> 65                Pass
Reliable Repellant                  2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tesni Inoue                         60 --(35)--> 95                Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Carina Wynne                85 --(35)--> 120               Pass
Conditions: Exhaust(1)|Injure(1)|Suffer(1)
Effects: Embolden(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: You have overcome the dungeon's trials! This run is a success!
DG: The party led by Carina Wynne has successfully explored The Sword-Saint Sanctuary!
========================<* The Sword-Saint Sanctuary *>=========================
==================<* CHALLENGE - Manual of the Sword-Saint *>===================
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The most valuable treasure of all is knowledge. Though the Sword-Saint and    
 their disciples have disappeared into the shadows of history, it seems that   
 at least one fragment of their legendary style still remains. Hidden amidst   
 a rack of otherwise innocuous scrolls is this beautiful specimen. Rather      
 than ink on paper, whoever wrote this manual took great pains to assemble a   
 series of fine granite plates and inscribed upon them the fundamental         
 principles and techniques of the Sword-Saint School. It may take some time    
 to decipher, but a skilled swordsman might someday be able to use these to    
 reassemble that long-forgotten school.                                        
                                                                               
 You have found the Manual of the Sword-Saint! Unfortunately, while the        
 pictures are quite clear, the writing is going to take some time and          
 expertise to decipher. But finding this item is the first step in             
 reawakening the Sword-Saint's forgotten art. Send Zed a mail to tell him you  
 found this, you lucky dog, you!                                               
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

Jay passes her famous Boosting Brew to the party, and Carina has to abstain yet again. Stupid lack of an openable faceplate! But at least she appreciates the sentiment, which gives her FIGHTING SPIRIT!

"Yeah!" Locus nods to Zed's plan. Ethius has a similar idea, but comes at it from another angle, quite literally. Both supply smoke cover, which means the apparition has no choice but to rely on senses other than sight. But then, when has that stopped legendary swordsmen?

The four-pronged assault is barely enough to keep this blinded opponent on their toes. They parry every blow with flowing grace, surprising power and a stunning economy of movement. They let the assailants come, and with every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Ethius' attempt to disarm is rebuffed. Tesni's rusted sword gives out after a few blows. Carina's makeshift sword and shield meet a similar fate, and once again she's resorting to her fists. Zed's death from above approach somehow leads to Doombringer finding itself wedged in the ceiling three separate times.

The ceiling collapsing as a result, however, is just the opening the group needed.

Ethius manages to get the blade out of the specter's hand. Unfortunately for his likely interest in the (out-of-place?) artifact, that damned Locus is already on it, lunging for the weapon and brandishing it.

"Locusaber..." she says, slowly, as if reading something out loud. (That's because she is: the word just appeared in her HUD.)

Zed might be ready for another round, but the specter's demeanor changes. They float back out of reach, bowing respectfully and indicating the rest of the corridor with their arm. Amidst the shapes composing the apparition, one makes distinct a second longer than the rest, forming a helmet just like Locus', as well as a specific build Carina and Zed might just remember from a certain armored ghost, the one who was carrying the Fire marble the first time they came.

"Huh," Carina says, as the apparition disappears.

Locus has more interest in her new blade than the prize ahead, but the latter proves far more priceless: ancient tomes, most of them innocuous and useless, but amidst them, long-lost knowledge. It becomes clear even from a cursory inspection that the secrets of the Sword Saint school could return to this world... if the knowledge within is used wisely.

<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

HOW?

HOW DOES DOOMBRINGER LODGE ITSELF IN THE CEILING THREE SEPARATE TIMES!?

Blame yourself, Zed. For turning your back on the Path of Evil, for denying your place on the wheel of karma, you shall be punished...!

BUT NOT... TODAY...!

Perhaps someone was watching the party throughout this ordeal. Perhaps they were being judged especially closely. But it seems that their perseverance was rewarded adequately--

No. More than adequately. Zed watches on as the spectre that so closely resembles Metal Hero Locus fades into the mists of time once more. "Huh..." Zed murmurs, "Maybe... He was a student here?"

And, beyond...

A veritable treasure trove in its own right. Zed's jaw drops as he holds the MYSTERIOUS GRANITE TABLETS to the sky-- it's here! It's really here! "This... This can only be...!"

Zed... frowns.

He turns it one way.

He turns it another.

"..."

"...How do you... read this, anyway? It looks important, though...?"

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

It's a difficult battle. ...One that Jacqueline stays out for for the most part, for lack of not having any proper sword skills to use. Still, she cheers the party on from the sidelines, and in the end, the day is won.

"Locusaber...? I see...it would seem would made a right choice. Not only did we find another marble, but this weapon, as well..." Jacqueline considers. "What connection does Locus have with the Sword-Saints...?"

Well, that's a mystery for another time. Jacqueline returns the spectre's respectful bow, and enters the corridor behind it, where they find...

...What appears to be a rather remarkable set of texts.

"This is...amazing...!" Jacqueline says, in awe. She didn't think herself capable of using the techniques themselves, but their cultural value...it was phenomenal. "There must be someone who can read it...or, failing that, a way to deciper it. If you need any assistance, I'll offer whatever I can."

"It may take quite some time, however..." She murmurs.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia says, "Who cares I'm quitting swords forever."

The future suggests Lydia does not quit swords forever and is just talking shit. Instead, she stands herself up and waddles over to Zed. "Hold on I'll translate you with my elite Baskar training." She then peers down for a moment to squint at the tablet.

She stares at it.

She stairs at it for a little longer.

And then she says, "Are you ready for the secret, Zed?"

<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

The old blade breaks after a few blows, thanks to weariung gloves? Tess isn't going to end up with a very painful shot from a doctor. Yay for that but the fight is impreive, the skills of the party are pushed to the limit by an Echo of what used to be. Tess thinks long and hard on that as the appartion seems pleased with them as they pass thje test. She takes a moment to check over at Zed.

 "Zed you okay?"

 She pauses for a moment looking at Zed's find and stares.

 "Zed I think...thiis a training manual if we could translate it the style ... could be revived... or at least a part of it live on. It's going to take some work though..."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Ethius has that hand outstretched to try and grab that sword the moment its grip is loosened from the hold of its spiritual guardian - but Locus is faster. His fingers curl inward as he considers the logistics of the situation - Zed's behavior, just by virtue(?) of existing, see him forced to give ground on the unspoken 'dibs' conflict.
        He's... not aware of where Zed truly stands nowadays, is he?
        ...Other than that, Ethius falls back into the usual expected behaviors. Staring. Looking entirely pensive about specific details that he dares not voice or otherwise call much attention to other than where his eyes seem to be pointed at a given point in time. His right hand parts from the grip of the quarterstaff, grabbing hold of... something... under the poncho instinctively he doesn't bring out into view, as some discussions go on around him about what they've found.

<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

"Seems like," Locus tells Zed, as she advances to get a better spot at the place where the apparition vanished. It turns out staring at it doesn't make them reappear.

"Yeah!" she tells Jay, with an enthusiastic nod and gratefulness in her voice. "I guess now I'm more confused'n ever, but at least I've got new things to fight with. That should come in handy!"

She walks ahead nonchalantly, and already the Locusaber has disappeared... wherever it even is that her marbles go when she's not using them. It's possible that she hasn't seriously asked herself the question before.

It's nice seeing Jay, Tess and Zed so enthusiastic. Carina is not much of a book person, let alone a stone tablet person, but she can appreciate that they've found something Important. She's grinning behind her mask.

"Beat me," she tells Zed, scratching her helmeted chin. Jay and Tess agree that it would take take to decipher it. "Unless this thing has decipher-o-vision..." She points to her helmet, mostly just talking to herself. If she has decipher-o-vision, she hasn't figured out how to use it yet.

But wait! Lydia seems to have ELITE BASKAR TRAINING and provide THE EASY WAY OUT.

Locus leans in to hear, curious and wide-eyed (not that you would know, that mask is ALWAYS wide-eyed).

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia takes a good long look. "Now be careful with your sword while you're practicing this one Zed... but it seems that you first need to extend your left foot...Then you need to pull in, then--back out. And now..." She looks back to Zed. "Shake it all about." She then takes another look at the manual. "Then do the same with the other leg. Right foot in, right foot out, right foot in shake it all about. It seems you can do the same with your arms. That's what it's all about."

She stares at Zed with a completely deadpan expression on her face.

<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

Zed deadpans right back at Lydia.

And proceeds to...

Dance.

<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

(Zed is perhaps not the most intelligent Metal Demon)

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

ZED HAS LEARNED THE SWORD DANCE? technique!

<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

Zed :I