2018-08-10: Looming Castle Rabenstein

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  • Log: Looming Castle Rabenstein
  • Cast: Gwen Whitlock, Jacqueline Barber, Prissa, Lydia Seren, Hiro
  • Where: Castle Rabenstein
  • Date: August 10th, 2018
  • Summary: Gwen gathers a group of friends and allies to investigate Castle Rabenstein, atop Mount Manfred. There, they encounter difficulties beyond what any of them expected...

===========================<* Castle Rabenstein *>============================

Castle Rabenstein sits atop the summit of Mount Manfred, an exercise in engineering folly that has become the epicenter of a Malevolent Domain. Impossible though it may seem, the broad strokes of its architecture resemble those of fallen Castle Arctica, and the ever-present snowfall only strengthens the comparison. Though massive and imposing, its proportions don't seem to make sense upon close inspection--as though the Domain were bending space to accomodate the will of its masters. Inside, the castle is every bit as impressive. Its corridors are dark and vaulted, lit only by bobbing glass spheres containing Malevolence-laced electrical sparks. Portions of it look distinctly metallic, and contain churning, smoking industrial machinery with no apparent purpose. Other portions are uncomfortably warm, despite the glacial chill outside, and any fires started there can quickly spread out of control.

Lesser Hellions of all stripes inhabit the place, ranging from eerie, ghostly felines to spectral soldiers to animated suits of armor. A small army of Mannikins stands at the ready to tend to the Domain's residents, and to their guests. Those who choose to intrude can expect a much harsher reception.
DG: A party led by Gwen Whitlock is now entering Castle Rabenstein.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
============================<* Castle Rabenstein *>=============================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Don't Wake Bitey *>=======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The front gates of Castle Rabenstein are closed and barred. On top of that,   
 the skeletal, Malevolence-animated form of a truly massive wyvern is          
 sprawled out in front of them. It looks like it might be asleep, as odd as    
 that sounds. (He may or may not have a snore bubble coming out one skeletal,  
 ice-rimmed nostril.) You might be able to climb the wall and access another   
 entrance, but whatever you decide, you'll need to be quiet about it. If you   
 get past the wyvern, you might be able to get inside without being noticed.   
 Wake it up, and you'll have a problem on your hands.                          
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow, Bad Luck===========================================
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        Castle Rabenstein.

        Aka, 'the place Gwen probably shouldn't go, but she's going anyway'. What the place entails is unknown to her, aside from the fact that three friends, now Hellions, currently reside there. What sort of proper friend doesn't at least *visit* someone's new digs?

        Especially if they're Hellions. Especially if she's still holding out hope that she could convince one or all of them to come back. Even to the point of dreaming about two of them, apparently, though her memories of the event are understandably hazy. It was just a dream, after all.

        And now, standing in front with an assortment of people she's collected through various means, Gwen sort of wants *this* to be just a dream.

        Spotting the massive wyvern, Gwen presses a finger to her lips and points up towards it, as if it could be that easy to miss. She redirects her figer to the front gates, and uses her other hand to cross across her neck. The finger then moves around, erratically looking for another possible entryway before settling, reluctantly, on a promising castle wall. If a castle wall could ever be promising, anyway. She then thumbs up, and quietly walks to the wall in question, planting a hand on a piece of jutting rock and, however ungracefully, attempting to climb on up.
        
        This party is off to a great start, isn't it?

DG: Gwen Whitlock has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Don't Wake Bitey.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

News of Castle Rabenstein and its inhabitants had come as a bit of a surprise to Jacqueline. A part of her had been a little hesitant about going...but Gwen had asked for her help, and she wasn't about to turn down a friend.

She's dressed for the occasion, her surcoat and armor having been equipped with some warmer lining. It'll definitely help, even if just to improve morale. For the others, she's provided them with some potions to help keep them warm as well.

But with that problem taken care of...there was another very and and, potentially very angry if awoken, problem.

Jacqueline frowns and nods grimly toward Gwen as she makes those hand signals. With that done she follows Gwen very carefully to the potential way up that she finds, and begins to ascend as well.

Fortunately, Jacqueline is pretty confident in her footing...and confident that she'll be able to do it without slipping.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Rapid Remedy toward her party's challenge, Don't Wake Bitey.
<Pose Tracker> Prissa has posed.

 
Prissa reaches over to Gwen's shoulder to touch it for a moment. She shakes her head.

PRISSA came along because she has, in fact, been here at least once before. Her report was that she had a nice chat with the owner, because that makes her look like a cool badass and not some slob who happened to trip on Ida as she was going to take a leak.

She gestures over about three yards. She even gets over there to point. It is not clear exactly what the issue is, but she sure is indicating it vigorously and silently.

TURNS OUT: there was residual climbing-path carving there. AREA KNOWLEDGE. (Prissa also hoists people up ballet-style if they need a boost.)

DG: Prissa has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Don't Wake Bitey.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia's anger at Rosaline for nearly murdering Cyre has largely faded with time but she is, nonetheless, interested in purifying this triple threat domain thing before it causes irreperable harm to Lunar, a planet on which she learned many valuable life lessons. She is grateful for Prissa as a guide because frankly, like, okay they just showed up and there's already a wyvern napping around over there okay?

Naturally, Lydia doesn't want anything to do with this and fires out a pair of portals to just...sort of...walk past it and avoid the wyvern altogether.

For once Lydia doesn't even blab for like 2 paragraphs because she doesn't want to wake up said killer monster.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Portal Pistols toward her party's challenge, Don't Wake Bitey.
<Pose Tracker> Hiro has posed.

 
Hiro is quietly inching to the wall. Quietly. Quietly. Which is when he notices - "...Ruby!" He exclaims in a whisper.
 
Ruby is dangling a pink hanky over the wyvern. "Steady... steady..."
 
Wings flapping in nervous anticipation, Ruby slowly descends. Slowly. Slowly. And then uses a pawsie to jam it into a skeletal earhole.
 
"One down."
 
Hiro slowly stops waving her hands in a wild gesture to tell her to stop stop and slowly gives her a thumbs up.
 
Ruby flies to the ground and lifts up a rock between two pasies. Hiro's thumb slowly inverts into a thumbs down.
 
Ruby nods and drops the rock.
 
Only to pick up a bigger one - and heft it upon even more rapidly flapping wings to lay that over the other earhole as Hiro gawks, then rubs a hand down his face.
 
Suddenly his pace is not quite so slow as he tries to climb that wall really really fast.
 
"Operation Deaf Wyvern is a go." Ruby whispers as she flies up alongside the others climbing.
 
"Yeah? Well let's hope it doesn't turn into Operation Death Wyvern." Hiro whispers back.
 

DG: Hiro has used his Tool Ruby Being Helpful toward his party's challenge, Don't Wake Bitey.
============================<* Castle Rabenstein *>=============================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Don't Wake Bitey *>=======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The front gates of Castle Rabenstein are closed and barred. On top of that,   
 the skeletal, Malevolence-animated form of a truly massive wyvern is          
 sprawled out in front of them. It looks like it might be asleep, as odd as    
 that sounds. (He may or may not have a snore bubble coming out one skeletal,  
 ice-rimmed nostril.) You might be able to climb the wall and access another   
 entrance, but whatever you decide, you'll need to be quiet about it. If you   
 get past the wyvern, you might be able to get inside without being noticed.   
 Wake it up, and you'll have a problem on your hands.                          
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow, Bad Luck===========================================
=======================<* Castle Rabenstein - Round 1 *>========================
=========================< Results - Don't Wake Bitey >=========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gwen Whitlock                       0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Rapid Remedy                        1   Agility Effects: Cleanse              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hiro                                0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Ruby Being Helpful                  2   Agility Effects: Resilient            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Prissa                              0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Portal Pistols                      2   Agility Effects: Stalwart             
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Gwen Whitlock               0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Bad Luck(2)|Slow(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Resilient(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Gwen Whitlock 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: Prissa has drawn a new Challenge.
===========================<* Castle Rabenstein *>============================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Mannikin Servitors *>=====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Mannikins are not an uncommon sight in Castle Rabenstein. These human-sized   
 Hellion automatons look something like articulated metal dolls, and perform   
 basic tasks tirelessly and without complaint. You've just stumbled across a   
 group of them, but it seems they've taken issue with your intrusion. The      
 Mannikins charge you, attacking with their fists and whatever tools they      
 have handy. In contrast with their normal, calm behavior, their body          
 language is manic. They will fight until destroyed.                           
=Dungeon Conditions: Fright===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        Gwen doggedly manages to get her hand on the next foothold the next, and... falls. Thankfully she wasn't high enough for proper fall damage to be a thing. She's just about to try again before Prissa shoulds her the True Path: the nice climbing path not too far away. After an attempt to flag down Jay (if she's having any trouble),

        Bitey, unfortunately, manages to wake up as the gang scampers up the wall, the large rock a bit too solid to stay on his earhole as he shifts. He's about to look towards the wall for any intruders, but the distracting pink hanky that's fallen from one of his earholes distracts him even more. He paws at it, sniffing, then begins swatting it around like a distracted kitten, allowing the party to slip on by without much issue, meeting Lydia on the other side.

<Pose Tracker> Prissa has posed.

 
Prissa jumps down from the roof to land near Lydia, looking at her.

"You could have let me use those! I got all sweaty," she says to Lydia, but playfully. She does dig out a hand towel and wipes off her forehead, perhaps so it doesn't become murderous hoarfrost on her exposed skin.

"So," she says, before there is a huge clatter from the door leading into some kind of castle part that Prissa does not know the name of. A doorway is open, allowing cool air to circulate even as the mannikins approach, bearing industrial tools - saws, hammers, lathe handles - in an eerie silent clatter.

Prissa reaches into her sash for a knife, which she hands to Lydia. "This," she says, "is the thing, that Ida, the woman Ida, told me she was making." Another knife comes out and is handed to Ruby. "I do not understand why she was doing it." Yet another knife this time to Hiro. "Her reasons were unclear."

Yet another knife, this one to Gwen. "So, basically, I would not feel bad to bust these up." To Jay, she says as she hands over a fifth knife, "Give me another shot of that stuff, I slept badly."

When she has gotten more off-time power potion, she draws out her shamshir and starts running round the flank to administer the brave technique of every merchant artisan ever; butt-stabbing.

DG: Prissa has used her Tool A Disturbingly Large Quantity of Knives toward her party's challenge, Mannikin Servitors.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

That went...well, a bit better than it possibly should have. Jacqueline breathes a sigh of relief when the wyvern doesn't wake up, and follows Prissa down the path she apparently used before.

This lets them into the castle proper, where they're immediately greeted by what appears to be the castle's staff. ...Which happen to be metallic dolls moving in a rather disturbing fashion.

"Ida made these?" Jacqueline asks, with a slight frown, before reaching into a bag and handing Prissa another potion, as requested. "Be careful, you wouldn't want to overdo it..."

Not because there would be any worrying side-effects if she did, but because that much energy could become a curse before too long.

As for Jacqueline...her primary interest is in the Mannikins themselves.

"Are they...machines, or something else? How are they moving...?" Jacqueline murmurs to herself as she draws out a bottle full of bright orange liquid.

"Watch out!" Jacqueline warns - this is directed primarily toward Gwen, the reasoning of which becomes evident once she hurls the bottle toward one of the Mannikins. The orange liquid splatters all over, seeping into the joints to gum up the works and prevent them from being able to move as effectively - if at all. This was primarily meant to be used on ARMs...but it could be just as effective here, too.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Mannikin Servitors.
<Pose Tracker> Hiro has posed.

 
The Wyvern awakening causes a moment of intense anxiety. Fortunately they're in the clear by that time. "That was close!" "You're telling me. It very nearly became Death Wyvern."
 
Hiro says as he draws his sword slowly out of its scabbard.
 
And then unto the door - where. "What the-!? Wow - creepy much Ida!?"
 
Hiro places his hand to a pendant around his neck. A conjoined two wings of white. It brings a rejuvenating feeling among the party. A feeling of peace and succor.
 
Just before he barks a word and a gust of wind tries to send one Mannikin sprawling into another.
 
Before his sword flashes as he tries to dismember them.
 
"I don't know why she'd make these - things."
 
He comments to Prissa and the other.
 
"If I had to guess though. It's probably some kind of sick joke that puts herself down."
 
Mannikins are hollow featureless people. Empty of features and meaning and being.
 
He wonders if maybe that's the kind of message she wants to convey.
 

DG: Hiro has used his Tool White Dragon Wings toward his party's challenge, Mannikin Servitors.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia blinks, looking back to Prissa. "Oh sorry." She sounds sheepish. "I uh, got tired off offerin' since a lot of people don't seem to be too interested in jumping into the portals for some reason." Like sometimes a tendril grabs out from one of the portals to try and eat somebody with its infinity mouths but it probably was only that one time you know? "Usually folks seem to want to do their own cool thing. I'm kinda lazy though myself so I just portal portal."

She looks at a knife. She takes the knife. "It's a knife," Lydia says, turning it over. "It's still a knife. I mean they're cool knives but--" Pause. "Oh. You mean the doll things." Lydia looks over at the charging creatures and promptly closes her eyes and sticks out the knife hoping one of the mannikins will just run into it.

"Maybe Ida just needs to admit she's goth." Lydia asides.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Mannikin Servitors.
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        "Oh, I have a k..." Gwen trails off as she sees Prissa's offered knife. She then tasks it, giving it a quick look over in the light as the manikins advance towards them.

        ".... Nah. Research, maybe? I mean, think of the possibilities, if we were able to have small Gears that could do tasks like this. I mean, they're prototypes, so they're gonna look creepy, yeah. Or, uh, goth, I guess."

        Gwen tries to make a logical guess at the meaning behind these, but instead, as one lurches towards her, a memory flashes her eyes. A doll.

        'Only a doll. How much of the real you will be left when I am done, I wonder....'

        With an uncharacteristic amount of violence, Gwen flinches back with a shriek, flinging her right fist, knife point first into the threatening mannikin, her movements almost as manic as the beings that approach her, attracted by the noise.

        Jay manages to come to her rescue, whether by intention or just by luck and proximity, with Gwen managing to duck as that bottle is flung at one of the mannikins.

        And Hiro's magic brings her wits back to her, restoring her calm, if briefly. "... Thanks." She straightens, her cheeks flush with embarrassment. ".... Let's leave before more find us."

DG: Gwen Whitlock has used her Tool Full Metal Courier toward her party's challenge, Mannikin Servitors.
===========================<* Castle Rabenstein *>============================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Mannikin Servitors *>=====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Mannikins are not an uncommon sight in Castle Rabenstein. These human-sized   
 Hellion automatons look something like articulated metal dolls, and perform   
 basic tasks tirelessly and without complaint. You've just stumbled across a   
 group of them, but it seems they've taken issue with your intrusion. The      
 Mannikins charge you, attacking with their fists and whatever tools they      
 have handy. In contrast with their normal, calm behavior, their body          
 language is manic. They will fight until destroyed.                           
=Dungeon Conditions: Fright===================================================
======================<* Castle Rabenstein - Round 2 *>=======================
=======================< Results - Mannikin Servitors >=======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gwen Whitlock                       5 --(5)--> 10                  Pass
Full Metal Courier                  2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   5 --(5)--> 10                  Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hiro                                5 --(5)--> 10                  Pass
White Dragon Wings                  1   Combat  Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Prissa                              5 --(5)--> 10                  Pass
A Disturbingly Large Quantity of Kn 2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         5 --(5)--> 10                  Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Gwen Whitlock               20 --(20)--> 40                Pass
Conditions: Fright(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Embolden(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Gwen Whitlock 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> Prissa has posed.

 
"What is Goth?" Prissa asks Lydia.

That seems more important to her for the rest, although from her expression and the interjection of little aizuchi particles along the line of 'mm hmm' and 'ye' she was listening. "Ah," she then says to Hiro, "You know her!"

Either way, these dolls accurately complete the Ida Everstead-Ray psychodrama by also being kind of bad at fighting. Fortunately their faces do not show any rage, impotent of otherwise, as they are subjected to repeated stabbings, bombarding, poisonings and wind-slashings.

Lydia's attempted stabbing works out, but the mannikin falls on her. They're heavier than they look. "Agh! Do not invent new battle techniques against such things!" Prissa says, hustling over to give Lydia a hand up, because that seriously was just "it fell on her in the course of going down."

The portal to the depths of the manufactorium... lay open.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has drawn a new Challenge.
===========================<* Castle Rabenstein *>============================
================<* CHALLENGE - The Battle of Good and Evil *>=================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The space around you seems to stretch under the influence of the Malevolence  
 permeating this place. You find yourselves in the middle of a vast plain,     
 under a smoke-darkened sky. On one side of the plain, an army of soldiers in  
 brilliant white stands in ranks behind a radiant titan.                       
                                                                               
 (OOC:                                                                         
 https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/grandia/images/f/fd/GranasMural.png/revi  
 sion/latest/scale-to-width-down/467?cb=20150907190247)                        
                                                                               
 On the other side of the field stands a towering monstrosity. At its back     
 are ranks of soldiers bearing ARMs, and a vast, sinister machine that could   
 be some sort of nightmarish Gear.                                             
                                                                               
 (OOC:                                                                         
 https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/grandia/images/0/02/Mural_Valmar.jpg/rev  
 ision/latest?cb=20140526085602)                                               
                                                                               
 The two giants rush at each other. Sword meets claw, and the moment they do,  
 the two armies engage as well. This is the Battle of Good and Evil--the       
 legendary clash between Granas and Valmar, during which Valmar's servant      
 brought ruin to the world with the forbidden machine Diabolos. You're caught  
 in the middle of it, and you need to get out, /now/.                          
                                                                               
 You might just have a way. Malevolence seeps across the ground, forming a     
 trail to follow--in this battleground of stark opposites, it's a              
 fundamentally /human/ element. Its emotional tenor is faint, but strange:     
                                                                               
 Why must anger make us evil in the eyes of God? Why must it be scourged from  
 our minds until only obedience remains? That which makes us docile in the     
 face of atrocity is the true evil.                                            
                                                                               
 Follow it. It might just be your way out of this warzone.                     
=Dungeon Conditions: Madness==================================================
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline finds herself curious about the interior workings of the mannikins, but she puts those thoughts aside for now. Maybe later she'll be able to figure things out. But right now, though, it's time to move on through the door they were guarding. They step through, and...

...find themselves someplace completely different...?

"What is...? Where are we? Did we...go outside?" Jacqueline asks with a note of concern in her voice. But this place...this was no ordinary plain, as a simple look around will suggest.

On one side, a radiant titan.

On the other, a towering monstrosity.

Jacqueline was not too familiar with the Granas faith, but she had done some reading. She recognized those towering figures.

"...Granas, and...Valmar." Jacqueline murmurs. Valmar, the being Neriah worshipped. She's lost in thought for a moment, but then, something occurs to her.

"U-umm...I think we need to leave. ...Immediately." Jacqueline warns, a note of panic creeping into her voice. The reason why becomes evident as both titans begin to move, along with the armies accompanying them.

...But where to? They were trapped here, on this endless plain...but those with keen senses might detect the Malevolence seeping through the ground. Not randomly, but forming a pathway...a pathway intoned with the emotions of the one responsible.

Jacqueline hesitates a little bit...but then takes a breath, and begins to follow it. She has a feeling she knows who's responsible for this, and it makes her a little sad.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Battle of Good and Evil.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"It's when you're a metal demon but you dress up as a crimson noble," Lydia tells Prissa. "But not like specifically that, it's just an example. You can be a human and live in an evil castle--"

A mannikin falls on her. Ow. Owww.

Lydia pushes the creature off of her dizzily before following after Jay and...

"Huh???" Lydia says. "What's going on?? Gahh this is dumb Granas religion stuff!" Lydia throws her hands into the air. "Is this what people of Granas actually believe?? It's too unrealistic. Where is the giant turtle shielding people from danger or the giant rock shrimp shooting lasers from the sky???"

Schrodinger appears in Lydia's arms, hops out, and starts walking a path.

Lydia follows the cat like always.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Schrodinger the Cat toward her party's challenge, The Battle of Good and Evil.
<Pose Tracker> Prissa has posed.

 
"I know these words but I do not understand what you are saying," Prissa tells Lydia. "Do you mean a noble wearing red?"

They are then in a battlefield.

"Hiiiiyyyhhh!!" Prissa keens again. She starts to run and...

She does not explain herself or do anything but shout some kind of incomprehensible cry but is she actually running towards 'Valmar'?

DG: Prissa has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Battle of Good and Evil.
<Pose Tracker> Hiro has posed.

 
Prissa mentions 'You know her.' and Hiro hesitates on that. "Honestly it feels like I didn't really know anything about her at all." Before he claps a hand on Gwen's shoulder after, "Gwen - you okay?" It might not even be just - this - that got to her after everything lately.
 
And then the space around them stretches into a vast plain - two giants - one of dark and one of light rush each other. "Holy - what are those!? Golems!?" 'Granas and Valmar.' Wait really!? ... ... ... I thought Granas would look you know - friendlier!"
 
Already he knows it's not something to fight. It's something to survive. Real or not. And yet how do you escape a battlefield? A malevolent trail-
 
As thoughts seep into him - his expression changes as if he just caught a whiff of a bad smell.
 
It's a line of thinking he can actually get on board with.
 
People shouldn't be silent in the face of atrocity. People should get mad.
 
And perhaps that's why malevolence takes hold in their worshippers so easily - from this terrible wretched contradiction. "Let's just... trust our instincts I guess and get out of here.
 
Ruby of course flies over Schrodinger. "Aerial superiority." Ruby murmurs - as if trying to say why noone should ever mistake her for a cat.
 

DG: Hiro has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, The Battle of Good and Evil.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"I don't know much about them," Lydia says. "They're mythological. I haven't met one it's just, like, what they're supposed to look like. Which is spooky, dark, and depressing as she reaches out with one hand to take Prissa by the collar and drag her away from that fight if she gotta.


<Pose Tracker> Prissa has posed.

 
"I am going around! You want to be on other side of -- that!!" Prissa says, though she can be scruffed and towed in due order.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Trust the cat!" Lydia says.

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        "... Yeah, I'm okay now." Gwen flashes a thankful smile at Hiro as she straighten. "Just got startled. It ain't nothing worth goin' over right now."

        Do any of them really know Ida? Gwen's not sure anymore, for all she tries to worm her way back into some sense of normalcy with Ida.

        Following into the next area, Gwen feels briefly disorientated as the landscape expands into something nonsensical, grand, and strangely familiar.

        She did, after all, spend a part of her childhood in an Ethos Orphanage. "Yeah. Granas n' Valmar. Didn't... expect this t'be here, but I guess it makes sense. The castle is Lunar, but our friends are Filgaian." But why? Why are they seeing this?

        She looks to Lydia. "Belief in the supernatural rarely looks realistic," she says, parroting part of something her own aunt would say to her. "If we wanted realism, we'd have it here in spades. But yeah, we definitely need to scram outta here, if this is mimickin' the stories."

        An unlikely savior comes to their rescue: Malevolence, or, at least, a remnant or messager of possibly one of the Furies, guiding them on to safety. "Anger's born from a part of us, but like anything, it's destructive when it gets out of hand. Same with fear." Her words are quiet, barely heard over the rage of the battlefield just beyond. "Malevolence just seems t' kick that balance out of the way. We can't live like that."

        She refuses to give in to that.

        It scares her too much. "Prissa! Let's get a move on! We ain't here for that!" She takes out a kit. "I got a kit! Let's give a checkover once we get clear of here!"

DG: Gwen Whitlock has used her Tool Medical Kit toward her party's challenge, The Battle of Good and Evil.
===========================<* Castle Rabenstein *>============================
================<* CHALLENGE - The Battle of Good and Evil *>=================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The space around you seems to stretch under the influence of the Malevolence  
 permeating this place. You find yourselves in the middle of a vast plain,     
 under a smoke-darkened sky. On one side of the plain, an army of soldiers in  
 brilliant white stands in ranks behind a radiant titan.                       
                                                                               
 (OOC:                                                                         
 https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/grandia/images/f/fd/GranasMural.png/revi  
 sion/latest/scale-to-width-down/467?cb=20150907190247)                        
                                                                               
 On the other side of the field stands a towering monstrosity. At its back     
 are ranks of soldiers bearing ARMs, and a vast, sinister machine that could   
 be some sort of nightmarish Gear.                                             
                                                                               
 (OOC:                                                                         
 https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/grandia/images/0/02/Mural_Valmar.jpg/rev  
 ision/latest?cb=20140526085602)                                               
                                                                               
 The two giants rush at each other. Sword meets claw, and the moment they do,  
 the two armies engage as well. This is the Battle of Good and Evil--the       
 legendary clash between Granas and Valmar, during which Valmar's servant      
 brought ruin to the world with the forbidden machine Diabolos. You're caught  
 in the middle of it, and you need to get out, /now/.                          
                                                                               
 You might just have a way. Malevolence seeps across the ground, forming a     
 trail to follow--in this battleground of stark opposites, it's a              
 fundamentally /human/ element. Its emotional tenor is faint, but strange:     
                                                                               
 Why must anger make us evil in the eyes of God? Why must it be scourged from  
 our minds until only obedience remains? That which makes us docile in the     
 face of atrocity is the true evil.                                            
                                                                               
 Follow it. It might just be your way out of this warzone.                     
=Dungeon Conditions: Madness==================================================
======================<* Castle Rabenstein - Round 3 *>=======================
==================< Results - The Battle of Good and Evil >===================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gwen Whitlock                       10 --(20)--> 30                Fail
Medical Kit                         1   Wits    Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   10 --(20)--> 30                Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hiro                                10 --(20)--> 30                Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Prissa                              10 --(20)--> 30                Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         10 --(20)--> 30                Fail
Schrodinger the Cat                 2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Gwen Whitlock               40 --(10)--> 50                Fail
Conditions: Fright(1)|Madness
Effects: Cleanse|Enlighten(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Gwen Whitlock has failed this challenge! The party gained 10 exploration! If anyone needs to use
party management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Hiro has posed.

 
"She definitely means the one on the GROUND and not the DRAGON in the AIR!"
 

DG: Gwen Whitlock has drawn a new Challenge.
============================<* Castle Rabenstein *>=============================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Plasma Globes *>=========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Castle Rabenstein features many forms of lighting--mostly magical torches in  
 sconces and arcane runes. The strangest, though, are floating glass spheres   
 about the size of a human head, crackling with electricity. While these       
 strange Hellions are useful as a light source, they can be less than          
 cooperative with intruders. The group that's been following you turns         
 hostile with no warning, and starts erupting, one by one, spraying the area   
 with electrical arcs and bits of broken glass. Get out of there!              
=Dungeon Conditions: Hesitate=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

The party follows Schrodinger...or, at least tries to. Perhaps Schrodinger is looking past what's happening here, but the scene of battle shifts to follow the party's movements - as if it wants, demands to be seen.

In the end, the party ends up caught in it.

This is not real.

They are not really there.

But it feels like they are - eventually, by moving forward, they come back to the trail of Malevolence and find their way out, back into the confines of the castle. They feel beaten and exhausted, even though in reality it did not put a scratch on them.

...And Jacqueline is quiet, the whole time, thinking about something. ...She's a bit distracted, someone will probably need to poke her.

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        In the end, there was no time to rest and access their injuries, as much as Gwen wanted to. All they could do, once they were able to escape the improbable battlefield, was continue on, walking down this lighted hallway, lit by strange floating globes of light. Living beings, it seems, even if it's difficult for this to be discovered by sight alone.

        Gwen, noticing Jay's distracted mood out of the corner of her eye, begins to open her mouth, turning back fully to issue some words of comfort. Whatever they were supposed to be is uncertain; the words die on her mouth as she sees past Jay and to the suddenly hostile group of orbs just behind her and the others. "Watch out!" It may not be much of a warning.

        It'd be too risky to try to fight any of these, as once they erupt, they're dead anyways. The jagged pieces of broken glass, the smell of ozone and the forked tongues of lightning they leave behind, however, are just as much of a problem to deal with, especially as more and more begin to explode. "Run for it!" Gwen exclaims.

DG: Gwen Whitlock has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Plasma Globes.
<Pose Tracker> Prissa has posed.

 
Prissa's face burns. A moment of embarrassment! She will have to escape the party forever now - for clearly they intend to overpower her and eat her bones!

No. She does not think that though she speaks not for a moment. When Gwen says to watch out, she looks up at Gwen and says "eh?" before

SWSHH!!

Prissa resumes running at a dead-ass sprint. This time at least she is not fleeing TOWARDS a giant robot.

DG: Prissa has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Plasma Globes.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

'Watch out!' Jay is shaken from her distraction by Gwen's warning and turns around, to see a globe of light right next to her. It releases sparks and almost detonates...but with a yelp of surprise and a quick, though panicked gesture, Jacqueline causes the thing to ice over and fall to the ground, rolling away to parts unknown.

"Th-thanks..." Jacqueline says, then turns and begins to follow the others' lead in running away. Just in case she draws out some potions, offering them to anyone who might get grazed by shrapnel.

She also does another gesture, generating a small ball of light that follows her to help illuminate their path. This one, thankfully, won't explode on them.

...Probably.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Rapid Remedy toward her party's challenge, Plasma Globes.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia finds herself looking at Gwen for a time. Following the cat did not work. It is a rare thing but sometimes its how the cat shakes out. Maybe they had some other plan in mind for the party other than their safety.

Schrodinger the cat says, "Meow."

And then...lightning! Better run! Better go fast!

But it turns out that Lydia has yeah totally jumped through a portal again. What a cheater. "Portal!" She shouts at Prissa, too late!

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Portal Pistols toward her party's challenge, Plasma Globes.
<Pose Tracker> Hiro has posed.

 
They're attacked by the lighting - showering them with glass and - electricity.
 
And Hiro runs - and runs some more. There's even some shrieking from Ruby - though it sounds exaggerated. "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-" Ruby winks at the group as she goes by, still screaming.
 
Hiro catches that look and picks up the pace even more.
 
Ruby disappears by flying up just at the next archway in the hall.
 
And when the globes fly past. There's the sound of a deep breath and-
 
The smell of smoke.
 
That's because she just burned a rope. A rope attached to a large wrought iron hanging light fixture that's unlit.
 
Which is crashing down on them as they speak. It might not stop them or even land on them - but maybe it'll cause them to hesitate for a moment.
 
Hiro just keeps on running. "Portal?" He says as he catches a glimpse of the two climbing into a portal and coming out ahead - "What the!?"
 
He has to pick up the pace to catch up.
 

DG: Hiro has used his Tool Ruby Being Helpful toward his party's challenge, Plasma Globes.
============================<* Castle Rabenstein *>=============================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Plasma Globes *>=========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Castle Rabenstein features many forms of lighting--mostly magical torches in  
 sconces and arcane runes. The strangest, though, are floating glass spheres   
 about the size of a human head, crackling with electricity. While these       
 strange Hellions are useful as a light source, they can be less than          
 cooperative with intruders. The group that's been following you turns         
 hostile with no warning, and starts erupting, one by one, spraying the area   
 with electrical arcs and bits of broken glass. Get out of there!              
=Dungeon Conditions: Hesitate=================================================
=======================<* Castle Rabenstein - Round 4 *>========================
==========================< Results - Plasma Globes >===========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gwen Whitlock                       30 --(15)--> 45                Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   30 --(10)--> 40                Pass
Rapid Remedy                        1   Agility Effects: Cleanse              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hiro                                30 --(10)--> 40                Pass
Ruby Being Helpful                  2   Agility Effects: Resilient            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Prissa                              30 --(15)--> 45                Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         30 --(15)--> 45                Fail
Portal Pistols                      2   Agility Effects: Stalwart             
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Gwen Whitlock               50 --(10)--> 60                Fail
Conditions: Hesitate(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Resilient(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Gwen Whitlock has failed this challenge! The party gained 10 exploration! If anyone needs to use
party management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        Glass shatters down like painful confetti as the party flees, electricity arcing in the spaces where they just stood seconds before. While Prissa doesn't have to worry about these entities overpowering her and eating her bones (after all, they have no mouths and cannot scream), they're definitely smart to run away from, in general.

        Jay's helpful ball of light could be mistaken for another one of the orbs at first, but the Hellions clearly show a different sort of trajectory as they float through the air, almost like jellyfish. With rocket boosters. Filled with lightning and glass.

        Portals and flight are a great boon to have here, allowing Lydia and any (un)lucky souls to get a distance ahead, as well as Ruby to zip on through and upwards, towards a convenient wrought iron light fixture.

        The remaining glass orbs still following behind the group get smashed as the fixture falls, shattering them all in one big explosion of glass and shrapnel, the debris raining freely on the ground.

        But at least there's no lightning to occupy it.

        Just pretty glittering glass.

DG: Prissa has drawn a new Challenge.
===========================<* Castle Rabenstein *>============================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Menacing Maids *>=======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Up ahead is a long hallway, at the end of which await several... spectral     
 maids? They seem to be occupied with cleaning, at first, but at the worst     
 possible moment, they turn on you, and retrieve throwing knives from their    
 skirts. Perfectly choreographed, they then proceed to toss a barrage of them  
 in your direction, lightning-quick!                                           
                                                                               
 The maids' spectral forms can easily be dispelled, but first you'll need to   
 make it through the hallway. Their supply of knives is seemingly endless,     
 but they are thrown in a set pattern, leaving gaps that can be read... if     
 one isn't turned into a pincushion first.                                     
=Dungeon Conditions: Injure===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Prissa has posed.

 
Prissa is getting over her embarrassment. The feeling of being the figure of fun - that sense of being the odd one out, the thing that is both inevitable and very perilous to her, for reasons that will be revealed in time - is one she often experiences in flashing spikes. Perhaps becuase if it is below that high threshold, she cannot see it at all.

She is immediately bodied by a ghost maid. "Gwuh," she says, pitching ass over tea-kettle as the maid approaches her and in fact goes through her, putting Prissa in the peculiar position of being momentarily intimate in a way normally reserved for unmarried lordlings and Gebler regional commander Vanderkaum.

You thought we were gonna dog on Shakhan again, didn't you! Ha ha! Nope, we're taking a break because Vanderkaum is a truly ridiculous man who needed to slow his roll in chargen.

Prissa hits the ground just in time for Lydia to emerge on the other side of the portal. From the floor she spreads her arms as if to say 'cmon man!' even as the other maids come out and spread out, their heads tilted down, their bonnets concealing their faces in a manner incisively suggesting a dark future that is not so different from that of the party's own.

"This place is wretched," Prissa opines, looking up at Ruby from her position in the ground.

The maids spread out... and then whirl around behind the party.

They whisper among themselves, as if suggesting the subtle mechanisms of revolt and resistance. No, wait, listen to what they're saying. It seems to all be one word:

"useless... useless... useless..."

The voices are slightly different, producing an eerie polyphonic effect, until, having reached some sort of arbitrary position, they stop as if by mutual consent.

All of them look at each other and nod for a moment.

As Prissa gets up there is a sense of a great intake of breath...

An unspeakable noise emanates from the maids. A loose approximation can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtZmBqAr-pk

Their hands come up as they contort into bizarre, tortured positions. And then, much like a tale of a dystopic future that's worn out its welcome, they begin to hurl HANDFULS OF KNIVES at everyone!

Which means now it is perhaps something more of a RACE to avoid being STABBED REPEATEDLY. Prissa takes a knife in the shoulder and curses herself for not having stayed on the ground.

DG: Prissa has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Menacing Maids.
<Pose Tracker> Hiro has posed.

 
"Shhh - we're all thinking that but maybe don't say it! You'll enable her if she's listening!" Ruby indicates to Prissa.
 
And then come the maids.
 
Hiro raises his shield - but his shield isn't something you'd see in a phalanx. He's having to crouch down even to catch some of them. His sword cutting through the air wildly in order to try to parry others. "Gimme a break - I haven't even managed to clear one of Jean's needle throwing sessions yet!" He says exasperated.
 
Wait what kind of training do the two do?
 
"Useless-!? I'm not going to take that from some frilly tarts in maid uniforms! Here I go!"
 
Ruby ducks dodges and weaves through the storm of knives - over and over and over - finding herself nestled and flanking within the few gaps in her relentless advance.
 
Being the mascot party member who can never actually be targetted has it's advantages sometimes.
 
Closer - and closer - and closer - the knife throwing maids pick up the pace and Ruby swoops up and down before.
 
"Using so many knives doesn't make you any cooler you know?!"
 
Ruby swipes a pawsie at a maid's face.
 
Damage Numbers pop up.
 
                2
 
IS IT ENOUGH TO DISSIPATE ONE OF THEM?
 
Who can say?
 

DG: Hiro has used his Tool Ruby Being Helpful toward his party's challenge, Menacing Maids.
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        "Nononono." Gwen just shakes her head in bewilderment at the approaching, encircling maids. "L-look, we'll clean it, okay? We just need, like, a bucket, and a broom, or *somethin'* because y'can't pick up glass with your bare hands, y'know? That's just nuts!"

        Hiro mentions not having yet cleared one of Jean's throwing sessions yet. and Gwen balks, managing to recover *just* as a knife is aimed towards her head. Moving her head to the side, the knife instead cuts through her short hair, the red clippings falling daintily to the ground. "I-I think runnin's a real good idea right now."

        "H-hey! That was my hair!" She could make a brave stand here, but another thrown knife makes short work of that impulse right then and there. "Okay RUNNING NOW, ohgodthoseknifesaresharpOWowOWOWOWOW!"

DG: Gwen Whitlock has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Menacing Maids.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline winces as the light fixture falls, smashing into the ground. That might've been a little excessive, but...well, at least it seemed to do the trick? They probably wouldn't be too happy about this, though...

...And indeed, almost as if on cue, a bunch of maids begin to appear. ...They don't appear to be too happy about the mess they made, as they spiral around them. And then...

Knives.

"A-ah! I'm sorry!" Jacqueline cries out, ducking and running underneath the first wave with her hands over over her head. Even though she isn't the one responsible for what happened...

She kind of wishes Lunata was here right now - she knew how to handle ghosts, maids, and ghost maids.

But for now...Jacqueline looks behind her to fling her left hand back, projecting wind sorcery that seeks to knock the knives off course and away from the party just long enough for her to produce some more potions for everyone.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Rapid Remedy toward her party's challenge, Menacing Maids.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

IS LYDIA GOING TO TRY CHEATING AGAIN??? Of course she is.

She fires out another portal when the maids show up launching knives at her and all her frienda, one of the blades dinging off one of her horns even as she jumps in. Of course by the time she emerges out the other side she may find herself emerging into some trouble but either way, shortly after her emergence, her portal pistols go hot and she is forced to holster them again.

"Better hold off on using those for a whilr " She mutters.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Portal Pistols toward her party's challenge, Menacing Maids.
===========================<* Castle Rabenstein *>============================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Menacing Maids *>=======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Up ahead is a long hallway, at the end of which await several... spectral     
 maids? They seem to be occupied with cleaning, at first, but at the worst     
 possible moment, they turn on you, and retrieve throwing knives from their    
 skirts. Perfectly choreographed, they then proceed to toss a barrage of them  
 in your direction, lightning-quick!                                           
                                                                               
 The maids' spectral forms can easily be dispelled, but first you'll need to   
 make it through the hallway. Their supply of knives is seemingly endless,     
 but they are thrown in a set pattern, leaving gaps that can be read... if     
 one isn't turned into a pincushion first.                                     
=Dungeon Conditions: Injure===================================================
======================<* Castle Rabenstein - Round 5 *>=======================
=========================< Results - Menacing Maids >=========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gwen Whitlock                       45 --(15)--> 60                Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   40 --(10)--> 50                Pass
Rapid Remedy                        1   Agility Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hiro                                40 --(15)--> 55                Fail
Ruby Being Helpful                  2   Agility Effects: Resilient            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Prissa                              45 --(15)--> 60                Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         45 --(15)--> 60                Fail
Portal Pistols                      2   Agility Effects: Stalwart             
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Gwen Whitlock               60 --(10)--> 70                Fail
Conditions: Hesitate(1)|Injure(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Resilient(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Gwen Whitlock 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: Gwen Whitlock has drawn a new Challenge.
============================<* Castle Rabenstein *>=============================
=========================<* CHALLENGE - Arcane Fault *>=========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 At first glance, this chamber is pitch-dark. You can hear water dripping      
 somewhere, and the smell in the air is reminiscent of a cold, lightless       
 cave. As you step away from the entrance, motes of pure, blue-green light     
 collect around you like a luminescent wake around a ship. As they condense    
 around you, you can see things you couldn't before--cracks in the floor. The  
 magically-attuned may well sense that these are tiny upwellings of power.     
 What sort of power?                                                           
                                                                               
 The power of Lunar itself. There's an Earthpulse nearby, in this Malevolent   
 Domain. Its energies are flowing through this room, and if you follow them,   
 you might be able to find your way out.                                       
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify==================================================
<Pose Tracker> Prissa has posed.

 
The knives fly with glittering speed. And to Prissa's profound annoyance once she wrenches the one out of her arm, it isn't even real! It turns to ectoplasmic snot on her fingers afterwards! What a rude maid!

There is some hope. Ruby's pawsie is able to score a telling blow, making the maid recoil backwards, fly three feet backwards, and dissipate. Gwen runs. Jay sensibly enough chooses the winner's route, that of drugs, but it iis Lydia whose portal seems to present a route. One end of the portal goes into the far end of the hallway and then even as Lydia is creating her end of it -

A MASSIVE MACHINE falls from the rooftop, smashing with a echo of stone onto the hallway in front of them. A ghostly maid is in it. She speaks in some language known only in one of the Seed Cities, her teeth bared, her eyes glowing rubies of crystalline horror.

Her words are breathless horror, rippling with the anticipation of blood. "<At last you're trapped here. You won't bring anyone any more trouble. Yes. I'll show you my grudge... I will bear all of you to your doom. This is my blessing... -Immortality-. -Eternal existence.- And...>"

The vast device makes a huge whirring sound, something in its front behind a black grille drawing everyone in, as if it were a portable hurricane. The noise is enormous even as the Maid cackles, voice ringing out over the maelstrom noise:

"<MAID POWER!!!>"

"ZA VACUUM," the maid shrieks just as everyone makes it through the portal. "<STOP T->"

That's enough of THAT.

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        They escape into the safety of a pitch-dark chamber.

        Well, 'safety' is sort of a bad term to use here, since it's pitch dark. Anything can be lurking here.

        Nervously, Gwen begins attempting to pull off that glove off her right arm, in order to provide some light. But, wouldn't that just attract any dangers to her? She hesitates.

        It would have been a tragedy if she hadn't.

        As everyone's eyes get used to the darkness, it becomes easier and easier to see the motes of blue-green light collecting around them as they move in this insulated space. Looking to the few who are native to Lunar present, she tilts her head. "Any idea what this is, by chance?"

        Does she really even need an answer? "... It's beautiful." Gwen's voice is hushed, taking off a glove off one hand and kneeling down to one knee, placing her left hand against one of the glowing cracks in the ground. "Makes me real happy I got t'see this."

        She gives everyone a moment to recover, using her own silence to take out her medical kit and begin assessing the injuries from the shards of glass, metal, and spikes. The light the motes give isn't significant, but it's bright enough. "Jay, got any more healin' potions? I got bandages. We can maybe combine our supplies together and make sure everyone's okay." She keeps her voice hushed, respectful even, as if she's speaking in the presence of someone sleeping.

        "Let's use this to our advantage. I dunno what's gonna be next."

DG: Gwen Whitlock has used her Tool Medical Kit toward her party's challenge, Arcane Fault.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline, of course, jumps right into the portal. She doesn't want to be caught out with something like that.

In the process her light got left behind, snuffed out by the distance, but thankfully Gwen provides an alternative, which reveals something else in this place.

Motes of blue-green light. Jacqueline breathes in. She can feel it flowing through her, the essence of water surrounding them.

"Is this...a Leyline? It has a similar feeling..." Jacqueline murmurs. Come to think of it, that place - Uzda il-Jam - had these motes, too. She's not sure it's the same thing exactly, but...

...She's a little distracted, so it takes her a second to realize that Gwen is talking to her.

"O-oh. Right. Just a second..." Jacqueline rummages through her bags, looking for potions. "Anyway...the power flowing through this place - it's leading somewhere. I think we should follow it."

As she says this she distributes her potions to those who need them.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Arcane Fault.
<Pose Tracker> Hiro has posed.

 
Hiro winces as he pulls a knife out of his armor, dribbling a line of red. "Guh. Never knew that maids could be so dangerous." "Eh they weren't too-" Ruby considers ZE VACUUM and coughs into a pawsie. ANYHOW! The important thing is we're alive and..."
 
Ruby's eye catches a mote in the dark. "Pretty..." Ruby echoes.
 
Before Hiro wanders over to Gwen. "I'd be grateful to grab a patch job before we move on. If you and Jay don't mind..."
 
Hiro wasn't at Uzda il-Jam - but he has the sense of something... different about this place.
 
"I wonder is this why they made this place their home?"
 
It kind of itches at his skin in the wrong way. It doesn't quite feel like desecration or defilement.
 
But it feels like power being used in the way it wasn't meant to be.
 

DG: Hiro has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Arcane Fault.
<Pose Tracker> Prissa has posed.

 
Prissa looks at the blue motes for a moment, face expressionless. The downside of those shades. She stays crouched for a moment, then rises, exhaling. When a potion is proffered, she recieves it and drinks it.

"Perhaps," she says, "or perhaps a thing like this could not happen without a place like this. It is kind of cause and effect. You know, I am almost jealous, if it was not for how intense the unhappy was in that Ida woman. It would be great to have a place like this!" She looks to Lydia and, for some reason, Ruby for backup here. "A place that suited you perfectly."

Prissa's hands rest on her hips. "For me it would be a smithy as big as a palace. And there would be a place that had a hot grill with a vegetable market right next to it, so I could eat the best and never have to cook. And in the basement..."

Prissa stops.

"Anyway," she says, "we should continue, I think."

DG: Prissa has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Arcane Fault.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia is starting to dislike this creepy castle from hell. Maybe it is a weird way to think but nonetheless it doesn't stop Lydia from thinking along those lines.

Lydia doesn't know what an Earthpulse is but ahe can sense its energies all the same. She squints faintly and picks up Schrodinger, exhaling faintly. "Okay." She says. "You can do this."

She makes her way through the strange room, stopping periodically when the cat meows and then shifting to another direction. Yes she follows the cat again. She believes in the cat.

Lydia glances towards Prissa and nods slowly to her. She has a place like that. Sort of at least.

"Like the Fereshte." She says.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Schrodinger the Cat toward her party's challenge, Arcane Fault.
============================<* Castle Rabenstein *>=============================
=========================<* CHALLENGE - Arcane Fault *>=========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 At first glance, this chamber is pitch-dark. You can hear water dripping      
 somewhere, and the smell in the air is reminiscent of a cold, lightless       
 cave. As you step away from the entrance, motes of pure, blue-green light     
 collect around you like a luminescent wake around a ship. As they condense    
 around you, you can see things you couldn't before--cracks in the floor. The  
 magically-attuned may well sense that these are tiny upwellings of power.     
 What sort of power?                                                           
                                                                               
 The power of Lunar itself. There's an Earthpulse nearby, in this Malevolent   
 Domain. Its energies are flowing through this room, and if you follow them,   
 you might be able to find your way out.                                       
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify==================================================
=======================<* Castle Rabenstein - Round 6 *>========================
===========================< Results - Arcane Fault >===========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gwen Whitlock                       60 --(5)--> 65                 Fail
Medical Kit                         1   Wits    Effects: Cleanse              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   50 --(5)--> 55                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hiro                                55 --(5)--> 60                 Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Prissa                              60 --(5)--> 65                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         60 --(5)--> 65                 Pass
Schrodinger the Cat                 2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Gwen Whitlock               70 --(20)--> 90                Pass
Conditions: Stupify(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Enlighten(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Gwen Whitlock 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> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        Hearing Hiro practically yank a knife out of his armor and the dull tap of blood onto the ground, Gwen suddenly feels thankful for the dim lighting in here. "Yeah, me more than happy to. You okay too, Ruby?" As she begins tending to Hiro's wounds, her roll of gauze in one hand and one of Jay's bottles in the other, Gwen makes a thoughtful noise. "Could be. I guess that power's gotta come from somewhere, even if you're all Hellion."

        Gwen looks at Jay for a moment, thoughtfully tapping a finger against her knee. "Could you tell us what got you so shook back there, when we get out of here? I'd ask here, but it looks like we're all still reelin' from things."

        "Y'know, a part of me was kinda hopin' they'd find some happiness in bein' Hellions. If it cost them so much, I'd like t'think they'd gain somethin' other than just raw power in return. But instead, I think it just made them more sad. Maybe that's why they wanted-"

        She stops. That was a dream. That wasn't real. Ida didn't really try to make Gwen turn into some hellion dragon beast. That was just a weird dream, caused by strange thoughts and probably some over-spiced food that didn't agree with her stomach.

        "I'm just thinkin' out loud. Maybe they're just here because this is their version of a place t'call home." She notices Layna following Schrodinger and grins. "Glad I didn't bring Hanpan here."

        When everyone's been assessed, Gwen stands up and stretches. "As much as I wanna stay here n' chill s'more, we need t'move on. I'd hate t'see those maids find this place, after all."

        She shudders.

DG: Prissa has drawn a new Challenge.
===========================<* Castle Rabenstein *>============================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - A Simple Game *>========================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Tall, dark windows line the walls of the room before you, lashed by the       
 endless snowstorm outside. In the very center of the room, built into the     
 floor, is a large game board. It looks almost like the setup for a game of    
 chess or checkers, but it features Mannikins of different colors, each no     
 bigger than a human hand. A plaque of brass on the edge of the board bears    
 the following text:                                                           
                                                                               
 RULES                                                                         
 1. Each player selects and places one gold Mannikin.                          
 2. Opponent selects and places one red mannikin for each gold Mannikin.       
 3. White Mannikins are placed randomly on the board once all gold and red     
 Mannikins are placed.                                                         
 4. Each red and gold Mannikin may move one space per turn, horizontally or    
 vertically, unless capturing. White Mannikins cannot move.                    
 5. White Mannikins may be 'captured' by jumping another Mannikin over them.   
 6. Play ends when no white Mannikins remain on the board. The winner is the   
 side that has captured the most white Mannikins.                              
                                                                               
 Simple, right? Malevolence illuminates the conflicts presented by the game.   
 Each gold Mannikin takes on the appearance of the player who placed it,       
 while each red mannikin takes on the appearance of someone that a player      
 considers an enemy. Most of the white pieces stay faceless, but a             
 handful--the ones that are most difficult for the gold pieces to              
 capture--take on the appearances of loved ones. The red pieces move on their  
 own, obeying the rules and exhibiting devious intelligence.                   
                                                                               
 It soon becomes clear that 'capturing' means more than just securing a        
 piece--the white Mannikins simply reappear on the side of the board when      
 captured by the gold pieces, but "die" when captured by the red ones. Each    
 'death' feels real. Things only get more heart-wrenching if it's a piece      
 with the face of a loved one.                                                 
                                                                               
 Do your best. Save as many as you can.                                        
                                                                               
 Even that won't feel like enough. You could've done more, couldn't you?       
 Maybe if you'd made fewer mistakes, you could've saved more.                  
                                                                               
 The door won't open until you've tried.                                       
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify==================================================
<Pose Tracker> Prissa has posed.

 
Forward.

Prissa leads the way, perhaps inspired by the promise of some kind of sex dungeon. "The Fereshte?" she asks Lydia, even as the truth is revealed!

Prissa reviews the plaque. All is as it is outlined above, and Prissa reads carefully - pausing to ask aloud, "It says to jump over them, this means like you are here, you finish on the other side?" She is not asking anyone in particular. Soon enough though she is prompted to pick up a gold Mannikin, which she does, carrying it over towards the center left octant of the board. She places it down -

Things happen quickly.

Her red mannikin is... nobody anybody present has met. She has a short haircut with a zig-zag pattern in it, the product of careful shaving. She is wearing goggles, for some reason. She is also sneering and making a dismissive hand gesture.

"What!" Prissa declaims. "Nenneh! How in the name of your gods could it know what Nenneh looks like!" She sweeps an arm forward, asking the group rhetorically, "None of you knew this -- I don't have the word -- what do you call one of those pastries - No, I am upset by this. Nenneh! Shit! It looks just like her."

When the white Mannikins for her appear, they are also a couple of people - one male and one female, the male apparently young and the female more middle-agey - who are in outlandish attire, though it seems to be of a piece with 'Nenneh' there.

DG: Prissa has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, A Simple Game.
<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        Grabbing a gold and red mannikin, Gwen places hers on the board about the same time as everyone else's.

        Like the one formed by Prissa's self, one is a face that no one would recognize. He wears a coat that some may recognize as that of the Gebler military. His face could be considered handsome, even beautiful at some angles.

        His eyes, despite being the same red as the rest of his form, despite his small size, seem to be looking at you. Every you, every person present in this room, no matter what the angle. His lips are crooked slightly, almost like a smile, but too vague to really convey any solid attempt at emotion.

        There is a scabbard at his side, and a long blade, in one hand. https:'dreamchasers.spaceimages776Isiris.png

        Gwen swallows a scream, her face white. Don't acknowledge him. He's here, on this planet. He could be drawn here, through this marker. Ignore him, and he'll go away. This man who doesn't even have a name.

        The one is a white forms itself into a stern-faced older woman, hair gathered back in a hairtie, with wisps of bangs to fall over one side of her face. She's dressed very conservatively, no skin below the middle of her neck exposed, even down to her gloves.

        This time, Gwen's breath seizes for another reason, feeling homesick for the first time in weeks. How is Frea doing? Has her health been holding steady?

        She wants to reach out and take that mannikin, to keep her safe.

        "I'm not good... at these kind of games," she admits softly. She takes out a tissue from her kit, and a pencil, and begins to try to map out a possible strategy. It may be just a game, but... she doesn't want him to win.

DG: Gwen Whitlock has used her Tool Medical Kit toward her party's challenge, A Simple Game.
<Pose Tracker> Hiro has posed.

 
Hiro looks at the gameboard. "Grandpa taught me to how to play chess but... this doesn't look like any chess I've ever seen."
 
"I'll dub it mega-creepy chess then. In honor of Lemina - because dang does this look like something she'd put in a haunted house."
 
Hiro tentatively picks a gold. And Ruby also picks a gold.
 
One White Mannikin of course takes on the appearance of Lucia - another Jean. Another Odjn. Another Fei - though Ruby would swear it's not just Fei's face on that one.
 
She's staring at her two overlong. "Don't worry Odjn - Fei - I'll protect you from-"
 
And then the red materialize. "Eh!? A Monkfish!?" Hiro nudges her - "Well you were complaining about that not sitting right with you for days." "Aghhh how do I have such a lame nemesis!? I'm never going to hear the end of it if I let Fei or Odjn fall to an ugly fish!"
 
Another is Siegfried. Holding Glumzamber.
 
Hiro's teasing expression vanishes, into something taut and more serious. At the thought of Lucia falling to him again.
 
"... I don't think any amount of practice could prepare us for this kind of game." Hiro says in a sotto voce to Gwen.
 
Are these the kind of decisions generals of armies have to make? To sacrifice the loved ones of the people under their own command?
 
He's read about it in books. No victory can come without sacrifices. No miracle can come without sacrifices. Surely that can't be true.
 
Surely not.
 
Taking a deep - shuddering breath, he considers their first few moves.

DG: Hiro has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, A Simple Game.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline listens to Gwen as she speaks about the three Hellion masters of the castle. ...It was sad.

"...Maybe some people can be happy that way, but...Hellions do not strike me as the...happy type." Jacqueline comments. Things veer toward the place that they consider idea.

"...For me, I suppose it really doesn't matter what the place is, as long as my friends are there with me. ...Though I suppose the Carakin does lend a sort of convenience to it. Maybe it could be bigger...?" Jacqueline comments, in regards to the current topic.

This proves to be prophetic, as they find themselves coming across a game board, which does not appear significant at first...at least until Jacqueline places her Mannikin on the board.

The gold Mannikin takes on Jacqueline's form, and the red...

...It takes a while. It shifts and then stops, several times, as if it can't make up its mind. Eventually, however, it settles on the form of a woman in a red robe and underdress with black lining forming the symbol of Valmar, and black hair with curls.

Neriah Parringer.

And the white Mannikins...they might be familiar to some present. A pale girl with white hair...and another girl, with a mess of long pink hair...

There are others, too. Members of the Caravan Kinship(minus Lydia, who is already present on the board in some fashion), a small, mousy-looking girl with large spectacles, some others that resemble Jacqueline herself, if only in certain features...

There's a lot of pieces on the board.

There's a lot of pieces to lose.

...Jacqueline, understanding, or fearing that she does, what's happening here, clasps her hand over her mouth and backs away, shaking her head with her eyes wide in fear.

"I-I don't...I don't like this. I don't w-want any part of this..." She whispers, drawing in to herself.

But eventually, she will play.

She has to.

Not to play would mean losing them all.

But when she does, she plays defensively... Perhaps too defensively. She's terrified, and not thinking as straight as she should.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, A Simple Game.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia is getting a bit crosseyed at the rules. Lydia doesn't like to kill people and feeling the pain of murder from a fake kill would somehow be even worse. She whistles faintly and admits, "Me neither." to Gwen. "But I know who can handle this no problem." She looks at the cat living in her arms.

She sets Schrodinger down near the game board and closes her eyes.

"Meow." Schrodinger says and PEOPLE DIE

Will Lydia having Schrodinger pay in her stead let her avoid the mental anguish?? We shall see. This is not the kind of misery Lydia is interested in.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Schrodinger the Cat toward her party's challenge, A Simple Game.
===========================<* Castle Rabenstein *>============================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - A Simple Game *>========================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Tall, dark windows line the walls of the room before you, lashed by the       
 endless snowstorm outside. In the very center of the room, built into the     
 floor, is a large game board. It looks almost like the setup for a game of    
 chess or checkers, but it features Mannikins of different colors, each no     
 bigger than a human hand. A plaque of brass on the edge of the board bears    
 the following text:                                                           
                                                                               
 RULES                                                                         
 1. Each player selects and places one gold Mannikin.                          
 2. Opponent selects and places one red mannikin for each gold Mannikin.       
 3. White Mannikins are placed randomly on the board once all gold and red     
 Mannikins are placed.                                                         
 4. Each red and gold Mannikin may move one space per turn, horizontally or    
 vertically, unless capturing. White Mannikins cannot move.                    
 5. White Mannikins may be 'captured' by jumping another Mannikin over them.   
 6. Play ends when no white Mannikins remain on the board. The winner is the   
 side that has captured the most white Mannikins.                              
                                                                               
 Simple, right? Malevolence illuminates the conflicts presented by the game.   
 Each gold Mannikin takes on the appearance of the player who placed it,       
 while each red mannikin takes on the appearance of someone that a player      
 considers an enemy. Most of the white pieces stay faceless, but a             
 handful--the ones that are most difficult for the gold pieces to              
 capture--take on the appearances of loved ones. The red pieces move on their  
 own, obeying the rules and exhibiting devious intelligence.                   
                                                                               
 It soon becomes clear that 'capturing' means more than just securing a        
 piece--the white Mannikins simply reappear on the side of the board when      
 captured by the gold pieces, but "die" when captured by the red ones. Each    
 'death' feels real. Things only get more heart-wrenching if it's a piece      
 with the face of a loved one.                                                 
                                                                               
 Do your best. Save as many as you can.                                        
                                                                               
 Even that won't feel like enough. You could've done more, couldn't you?       
 Maybe if you'd made fewer mistakes, you could've saved more.                  
                                                                               
 The door won't open until you've tried.                                       
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify==================================================
======================<* Castle Rabenstein - Round 7 *>=======================
=========================< Results - A Simple Game >==========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gwen Whitlock                       65 --(100)--> 165              Fail
Medical Kit                         1   Wits    Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   55 --(100)--> 155              Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hiro                                60 --(100)--> 160              Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Prissa                              65 --(100)--> 165              Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         65 --(100)--> 165              Pass
Schrodinger the Cat                 2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Gwen Whitlock               90 --(10)--> 100               Fail
Conditions: Stupify(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Enlighten(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: Gwen Whitlock is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Jacqueline Barber is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Hiro is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Prissa is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Lydia Seren is too exhausted to continue!
DG: You have overcome the dungeon's trials! This run is a success!
DG: The party led by Gwen Whitlock has successfully explored Castle Rabenstein!
===========================<* Castle Rabenstein *>============================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - The Little Rascals *>=====================
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 You find a small, long-abandoned shrine, which has long been stripped of all  
 but the most basic religious paraphernalia. Up on a pedestal, a gleaming orb  
 catches the eye. Although its surface is singed and hot to the touch, as if   
 salvaged from a recent fire, the surface is smooth and shimmers beautifully.  
 Inside, however, swirls a localized storm of burning Malevolence. Once the    
 orb has spent a short moment in one's hand, a memory is transmitted, images   
 of two children... but it doesnt become distinct until the following night.   
                                                                               
 (OOC: You should send an @mail to Rosaline about this Discovery! Be sure to   
 tell her who else came into contact with the sphere.)                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Prissa has posed.

 
"This is some birdshit right here," Prissa complains. "It should not know Sillia either, to say nothing of Maqui." Apparently these are the other people in their weird outfits and haircuts. How would you even do those haircuts, anyway?

It's irrelevant. Whether or not she is from Weirdo Town or not, Prissa begins to play.

Prissa is outflanked swiftly. First Maqui, who seems to be the guy, and then Sillia, the woman. Both of these distress her even if she growls and grimaces rather than carrying on.

Gwen does not take long afterwards. Perhaps Isiris is involved, because this strategy is quick and ruthless.

Hiro lasts longer - or rather, perhaps, Ruby does - but then again they have more precious people to deal with, which means that it takes longer for both of them to lose. The monkfish prevails over Ruby again; in a twist, perhaps, Siegfried gets Odjn first. But matters are always complex.

This ruthless domination by the group means that Jay is actually able to do the thing that none of the others were able to do. She is able to vault over 'Neriah' - and so she is rendered safe. But her defensive play is here aided by the pieces tripping over one another in their glee; could she have let one of the others move faster? Would that have been better? Alright?

And yet.

Lydia absolves herself of responsibility.

Schrodinger is faced with strange pieces. One might reasonably assume that he is seeing his own image of the people who he hates, or who he loves. Yet these shapes are not just distorted but recognizable features, but resemble... They resemble the inclusions in pretty quartz crystals you'd put on your mantlepiece, or the reflection around the sun in the distance.

And it is Schrodinger who lasts the longest. The cat mews and licks his paws and yet the moves seem to be taken nonetheless. Schrodinger never agonizes over what he ought to do next. He moves instantly when his 'turn' comes around. In time the game slows, but not because of Schrodinger. The Malevolent consciousness...

BGM INTRUDE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4tVJASr_54

Is struggling. Struggling to defeat a cat.

In the end, the final white piece is vaulted over and there is a flicker there, a moment as if to see a fleeting, jump-scare-speed image of what must be every single other figure that has been on the board, the mannikin jerking and blurring before resuming its non-representational shape.

All the red pieces save one vanish. There is a sense of a neck turning to look at Schrodinger's prismatic gold representation.

Then towards the cat...

The cat, laying atop ripples that to his glass-green eyes are the equivalent of a warm lap - ripples unseen by any other force - stares back.

There is a tightening in the air - and then the last red mannikin collapses to the ground. A door unlatches.

Schrodinger rolls onto his back and toots a fart. This motivates the group forwards.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline is...somewhat shaken afterward. Though she was, in the end, able to save the pieces that bore the likenesses of those close to her....

...Just because the faceless pieces were, to her, faceless, did not mean that there wasn't someone who could see them for what they were.

This could've been different. This should have been different.

She shuts her eyes tight and exhales.

"I-Is everyone alright? We can take a moment, if you need to..." She murmurs quietly.

But, eventually they do move on, finding what appears to be have once been a shrine, now home only to a pedestal holding a gleaming orb.

"...What is..." Jacqueline reaches out toward it hesitantly. She can feel it - it's like there's heat radiating off of it. She lays a hand upon it...and then, after a brief moment, stumbles back, eyes wide.

"I-I don't...I don't understand." She says, confused.

It doesn't help that she's still kind of out of it from the 'game'.

<Pose Tracker> Prissa has posed.

 
"Agh! Do not touch the sphere!" Prissa says. Too late.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia Seren says, "Dont touch this?" Lydia says moments before poking it with a finger.

<Pose Tracker> Hiro has posed.

 
"Why not?" Hiro and Ruby both ask simultaneously - while they're touching it.
 
Reminder these are the same two bonklers who began their journey prying a gem out of a dragon head - falling - and setting off every single trap and random encounter in their first dungeon.