2018-08-13: Crimes Against Alchemy and Althena

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  • Log: Crimes Against Alchemy and Althena
  • Cast: Ethius Hesiod, Jacqueline Barber, White Knight Leo, Lydia Seren, Zed
  • Where: Pearloats Pasture
  • Date: August 13th, 2018
  • Summary: White Knight Leo requests the aid of intrepid adventurers and their incredibly shady friend to investigate an ancient hive of eldritch magic and monstrosity. They find more than they bargained before.

===========================<* Pearloats Pasture *>============================

Pearloats Pasture is the agricultural heartland of the Rolance Empire. It stretches through the center of the empire, from Lastonbell in the east to Pendrago in the west. The eastern half is a rolling, hilly meadow. Shepherds tend their flocks here, and must keep a careful eye because of the danger of roaming monsters that have only grown worse in recent days. The western stretches of Pearloats are where the countless grain fields and farms of the Empire are. In the last year, nearly constant rainfall has dampened the fields and the capital of Pendrago, and made the roads muddy and dangerous. This state has drawn out more bandits and monsters than before.

DG: Dungeons must be indicated by their index number.
DG: You don't have that Tool loaded!
DG: A party led by Ethius Hesiod is now entering The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
===========================================<* The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory *>============================================
============================================<* CHALLENGE - Elemental Lock *>============================================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory is not simply a place where one goes to learn of  
 the alchemy of the soul. As counterintuitive as that might sound, consider    
 that the foundation of all (Lunar) alchemy is the interaction of the four     
 elements with one another. Thus, not only do the soul-alchemists need to      
 master soul-alchemy, they also need to master plain old ordinary elemental    
 alchemy! And so, the first test that an aspirant should face is the very      
 same one on this, the laboratory's front door.                                
                                                                               
 The locking mechanism seems to be built in such a way that the four brightly  
 colored glass vessels (thus so because of the brightly colored fluid          
 sloshing around in each one) must be connected in the proper manner to        
 ensure elemental harmony and to produce the desired outcome listed on the     
 dial. Does the dial desire lightning? Gravity? Explosions? Possibly several   
 in sequence!?!? Pizza!? The only way in is to solve the puzzle, and the only  
 way to solve the puzzle is to figure out a fundamental alchemical problem.    
 Challenging, secure AND educational!                                          
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify==================================================
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Ethius remembers the way through the 'petting zoo' of Withertallow Keep. There is another episode with dire wolf cuddles. It is once more adorable and we are moving on because otherwise that next expedition is just going to end right there in another pile of loving dire wolf pups and that's terrible. It's not the sort of terrible they are seeking. Priorities have to be maintained.
 
        SOME TIME LATER, ADDITIONAL TIME ALLOCATED TO ACCOUNT FOR SLOBBER REMOVAL
 
        AND ALSO TAKING A BIT LESS DIRECT A ROUTE BECAUSE THERE WERE ALSO THE SHADOW CATS AND THEY KEPT COMING BACK AND THEY WOULDN'T STAY AWAAAAAAY o/~
 
        It's a bit of an adventure getting to the next interesting sector of Withertallow Keep. A dreary rain patters all around as a hooded hoodlum of a human steps down from a higher ledge before the front door of the Soul-Alchemy Laboratory. It's almost mistaken for just another wall, for how ornate the colored glass vessels appear - but Ethius came down from a higher ledge for a reason.
        "This is a door." He remarks, flatly, as he places a hand up against the center piece. Four brightly colored fluids slosh around due to some unseen pressure. The elements, in Lunarian culture, have colors attributed to them. Some of them are a bit ambiguous, or perhaps cultural standards have changed over the years. There are long-weathered markings near the colored glass vessels that are suggesting something. Wiggly lines, a big triangle, another triangle but this one's at an angle and has another one coming out of it, more waving lines - or are they forked?
        They're all connected to a central dial that looks like it has a bunch of fiddly parts, but the more perceptive will notice the glass vessels are receptive to sorcerous means. Like if you wanted to blast one with cheese, it's set up for it. If cheese were an element. Is it?
        Ethius gives it the look-over with that odd eyeglass of his. One of the glass vessels' contents burble at being in proximity of the electrical spell he has to cast to turn the thing on - enough that he feels the need to ACTION ROLL backwards for distance before attempting to observe it anew from this new distance.
        "The glass containers appear connected directly to the dial." Ethius states something reasonably obvious. "...It is possible that this is instead a security countermeasure."
        ...What're they going to do with it?

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Spectral Lens toward his party's challenge, Elemental Lock.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

This was not Jacqueline's first foray into the Soul-Alchemy Lab. She had been there once before, but was chased off by...something indescribably terrible. After working up her courage, however, she's back - this time with just a little more help.

They're coming at it from a different direction than last time, however - she's not sure what they'll encounter here. But the first difficulty they encounter is one related to a subject she knows quite well.

"You're right...I don't think we'll be able to progress until we figure out how to solve this." Jacqueline comments, glancing toward Ethius. She steps up to a different vessel and leans forward, studying it intently.

"Hmm...the mixture seems to have aged substantially, though. They might be a little...unstable. I can't guarantee this'll work." She comments with a frown. Sure, if she had the time she could bring the mixtures back with her and study them, but...

...Well, that was time they didn't have.

Jacqueline rummages through her bags, drawing out a bottle. She uncorks one and very carefully pours a drop - a single drop - into the container, then gestures with her right hand.

She heats the vessel up - just a touch, and not a bit more.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Elemental Lock.
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

        Leo has been trying to put out fires for quite some time. The matter of the Lastonbell refugees still needs attending to, and in the wake of Rolance's victory over Hyland--a victory that seems to have hinged, at least in part, due to the actions of mercenaries--Rolance seems to be growing increasingly bloodthirsty. Leo might have strong ties to Rolance, but the absolute last thing he wants is for it to stain its hands dishonorably. He still hasn't seen so much as a trace of the Fell Dragon that nearly decimated Lastonbell for the second time. He still hasn't heard anything about one self-proclaimed Lord of Calamity, and the Goddess-confirmed Lord of Calamity seems to have dropped off the face of Lunar. There have been sightings of her minions, certainly, but the woman herself is elusive.

        An ancient hive of eldritch magic and monstrosity? That's probably the least complicated thing Leo has on his plate. It's refreshing. It means he gets to focus on managing the little team of adventurers he has asked politely to come with him. Ethius Hesiod is shady, but Leo cannot remember him not being shady, and Miss Barber and Lydia have both been quite polite.

        Despite having no formal magical training, Leo is one of the people leaning in close to inspect the lock. Most of it is jars of alchemical goo to him, but he's inspecting it all the same. "Earth," the Beastman says, pointing at a jar full of something that looks more like sand than fluid. "This one is Earth." He huffs out a breath, and stands up, getting out of Jay and Ethius's way. "Wretchedly complicated. I don't know why they couldn't just set up wards."

DG: White Knight Leo has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Elemental Lock.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia Seren is up for helping out Carakin here but honestly, even with her growing understanding of Lunar Alchemy, this is a bit much for her. She learned how to make one particular thing, not the entire basis of alchemy. Lydia squints at the strange dial and eventually just picks up Schrodinger (who was on the ground, now in her arms) and sets Schrodinger near the dials and such. Schrodinger licks their paw for a while before eventually patting at dials with its paw like it's some sort of giant cat toy.

Or maybe it just is a giant cat toy.

Lydia turns towards white Knight Leo, grinning faintly, "Well wards are common yeah? More people know how to break 'em. Plus I haven't seen any alchemist writings that weren't a little bit mad."

She frowns and then adds, "Hey um, Leo. Or--Sir Leo? Whatev. I wanted to ask you something, should you ever go back to Filgaia. I mean--y'never know right?"

She shrugs both her shoulders, leaving it at that for the moment.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Schrodinger the Cat toward her party's challenge, Elemental Lock.
===========================================<* The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory *>============================================
============================================<* CHALLENGE - Elemental Lock *>============================================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory is not simply a place where one goes to learn of  
 the alchemy of the soul. As counterintuitive as that might sound, consider    
 that the foundation of all (Lunar) alchemy is the interaction of the four     
 elements with one another. Thus, not only do the soul-alchemists need to      
 master soul-alchemy, they also need to master plain old ordinary elemental    
 alchemy! And so, the first test that an aspirant should face is the very      
 same one on this, the laboratory's front door.                                
                                                                               
 The locking mechanism seems to be built in such a way that the four brightly  
 colored glass vessels (thus so because of the brightly colored fluid          
 sloshing around in each one) must be connected in the proper manner to        
 ensure elemental harmony and to produce the desired outcome listed on the     
 dial. Does the dial desire lightning? Gravity? Explosions? Possibly several   
 in sequence!?!? Pizza!? The only way in is to solve the puzzle, and the only  
 way to solve the puzzle is to figure out a fundamental alchemical problem.    
 Challenging, secure AND educational!                                          
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify==================================================
======================================<* The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory - Round 1 *>=======================================
==============================================< Results - Elemental Lock >==============================================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       0 --(10)--> 10                 Fail
Spectral Lens                       2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Schrodinger the Cat                 2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
White Knight Leo                    0 --(10)--> 10                 Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
-------------------------------------------------------< Party >--------------------------------------------------------
Leader: Ethius Hesiod               0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Stupify(2)
Effects: Enlighten(1)
===================================================< Dream Chasers >====================================================
DG: The party led by Ethius Hesiod 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> White Knight Leo has posed.

        "Yes?" Leo says. "I certainly wouldn't care to leave your world in its current state. If nothing else, it's become clear to me that both our worlds are in need of Althena's grace."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        "...The matter is better discussed once a secure means of passage back to Filgaia is established." Ethius-speak for 'let's not talk about this,' as he stands and observes the goings-on.
        Schrodinger makes an interesting discovery as they paw at it, or rather, they're a cat and they just paw at it and the discovery is for the rest. Turns out the contraption rotates, and that's what stirs at least one of the dials up.
        As an adept of the element by the Blessing of Althena, Leo's theory about the element depicted is correct. From there, it seems like process of elimination, but there's a small snag.
        As it turns out, this particular contraption was put together in a time where the Earth element had a few sub-types officially recognized by scholars, and there's a bit of a runaround and trial-and-error. Soil used to be its own thing, independent of rocks, and it's kind of confusion because one of the vessels with wavy lines is supposed to represent that instead of something reasonable like 'water' or 'wind.'
        That's only a minor snag, in the big picture. Once the small misconception is sorted out, Jay heats up one of the vessels and its contents start to pour forth into the center. It swirls, inviting the others in. There's a high, whirring pitch as Ethius gets the hell out of dodge and throws himself behind some other rocks to a call that's not quite heard as the whole contraption rattles, sparks, and pops open - years and years upon years of neglect see the lock malfunction in the best way possible, which is to say, it opens with great ceremony as though it were pleased to be open, and has finished its business on the mortal coil.
        Or something.
        ...Is Ethius going to come out from behind his cover? Maybe eventually.

DG: White Knight Leo has drawn a new Challenge.
=======================<* The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory *>========================
=============<* CHALLENGE - It's A Gas, Gas, Gas, Gas Challenge *>==============
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Volatile chemicals produce a lot of vapors and they all have to go            
 somewhere. Often times, they end up being funneled up and out of great big    
 fume vents, but why would you waste such valuable raw material? Besides,      
 it's not environmentally friendly to pump all that stuff out into the         
 atmosphere. It's a far better idea to store it all up and reuse it! You       
 could find kinds of applications for miscellaneous chemical vapors- stress    
 tests, surface cleaning, security systems...                                  
                                                                               
 That last one is particularly relevant here and now. Someone steps on a       
 hidden panel that suddenly sends heavy security doors slamming down all       
 around you. Vents in the walls begin billowing vile, noxious and lethal       
 fumes. The good news is that you think you can probably break out, but be     
 quick about it! If you can't hold your breath, chances are very good that     
 you're going to have a hard time of things. Nobody wants to deal with         
 corrupted lungs for long. Fortunately, it's rare that anybody ever does!      
=Dungeon Conditions: Reckless=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"...Yeah," Lydia says. "Or something like that." Lydia is fairly devoted to her Guardians but she doesn't want to harass Leo over his religion. Margaret treated her better than a lot of Baskar quite frankly especially considering she ruined her sermon not too long earlier, and White Knight Leo is someone she respects. She is a little worried about the Althena of this world, but she trusts White Knight Leo, which might be troubling for Leo to hear, but that's why Lydia isn't saying it.

"I was wondering if you'd be interested in meeting my parents." Lydia says. "They probably won't be nice to you, but...It'd make it easier for me to go see them. I guess it's not really much of a trade for you since that's not exactly a measure of value, but I'll owe you a favor at least. Might be useful if I come back to Lunar some day. Or if I never leave." She frowns faintly. It's hard to believe that but if the Guardians are still offering their aid then well they probably know there's a way back.

<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

        Leo turns to Ethius Hesiod as he scampers out of the way like a frightened rabbit. He gives a long, slow shake of his head, and turns to look at Lydia as he sets both hands on the door handle. "If the opportunity presents itself," Leo says. He begins to push, and the door slowly eases itself open. "...easier for you how?" The hinges let out a basso, metallic groan, like something in pain. Leo doesn't comment on 'if they never get back'. The corridor beyond is dark--there may be alchemical lights up ahead, but here, there's no light beyond that coming in from outside.

        "Eyes open," Leo says, as he steps into the gloom, "wits about you." He's about halfway down when he takes a step, and hears a soft 'click'. The light vanishes with a thunderous crash as the security doors slam into place. Panels in the walls slide open, and start spewing vile-smelling gas into the room. "Damnation," the White Knight snarls. He thrusts out a hand in the darkness, and allows his awareness to sink into the stonework beneath his heels, and the earth beneath that. He can vaguely sense the heavy metal blockage at the far end of the room. "Away from the walls! he cries. The earth itself heeds him. The floor pitches upwards, forming into a single, jagged spike aimed right at the center of the door.

DG: White Knight Leo has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, It's A Gas, Gas, Gas, Gas
Challenge.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline sends Lydia a look when she remarks on alchemist's writing being at least a little bit mad. ...But she smiles afterward, so she probably isn't seriously offended.

She steps back for a bit as the device does its work, then smiles proudly when it finally opens. They proceed...but shortly into the next room, a trap is triggered and something starts billowing into the room. Jacqueline doesn't want to inquire as to what that is. Instead, she wordlessly draws out several potions and distributes them to the party - antidotes, to help ward off the effects of the fumes - alongside a filtration cloth to let them breathe a bit easier. She takes one of each for herself...

...And waits and lets them handle the actual 'breaking out' part. Physical labor isn't her thing!

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Brewte Force toward her party's challenge, It's A Gas, Gas, Gas, Gas Challenge.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Ethius does step back in with the group, at what is precisely the last possible moment. It is also the first possible moment for him to suffer a nasty hit to the back of his head as the security doors slam shut, sending him sprawling to the ground with a whole new headache for his enviable collection of them. (He should probably auction some of them off to fellow collectors, but that's kind of a logistical headache unto itself.)
        Ethius rolls along with only the sound of vague shouting and hissing air filling the senses. He has a bandanna over the lower half of his face, but that's not a superb filtration system unto itself for more than a few seconds. Those few seconds are already long wasted by the time he can get a grip on what's presently going on.
        The sound of metal groaning ahead, as a spike of earth dares to challenge their fate. Jay hands something to him. He puts a bottle up to his face and has his thumb dig around the filtration cloth for the cor--- wait.
        Reverse that. He doesn't ever get around to utilizing the Brewte Force bottle since he's already 'late' to protecting himself from the poisonous gas with the filtration cloth. The quiet, shady, apparently afraid-of-loud-colorful-spinning-things-on-doors-man keeps low to the ground as he works up a Symbological spell to increase the heat upon the obstructions ahead for the obvious results of weakening it so that the stone spike can get through.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, It's A Gas, Gas, Gas, Gas
Challenge.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia says, "Well," to White Knight Leo. "I lived with 'em my whole life, even if I wanna I might not be able to say what I wanna say to 'em since they know me so well. And I know 'em too well." She shakes her head. "...What I want to say isn't altogether mean, though it isn't altogether nice either. And they'll probably throw me for a bit of a loop first."

She raises her head. "Anyway, I won't make you or anything, but I figure it'll be easier to steadfast with you there. I'll probably ask--another to come too, but they might not really be up for it. I might just...not tell her? I haven't thought that far ahead."

Of course at that point there's more trouble. Noxious fumes start spewing out and Lydia grimaces. She places a hand over her mouth and starts swinging her bat about to try and break something open.

It's mostly just really noisy.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, It's A Gas, Gas, Gas, Gas Challenge.
=======================<* The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory *>========================
=============<* CHALLENGE - It's A Gas, Gas, Gas, Gas Challenge *>==============
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Volatile chemicals produce a lot of vapors and they all have to go            
 somewhere. Often times, they end up being funneled up and out of great big    
 fume vents, but why would you waste such valuable raw material? Besides,      
 it's not environmentally friendly to pump all that stuff out into the         
 atmosphere. It's a far better idea to store it all up and reuse it! You       
 could find kinds of applications for miscellaneous chemical vapors- stress    
 tests, surface cleaning, security systems...                                  
                                                                               
 That last one is particularly relevant here and now. Someone steps on a       
 hidden panel that suddenly sends heavy security doors slamming down all       
 around you. Vents in the walls begin billowing vile, noxious and lethal       
 fumes. The good news is that you think you can probably break out, but be     
 quick about it! If you can't hold your breath, chances are very good that     
 you're going to have a hard time of things. Nobody wants to deal with         
 corrupted lungs for long. Fortunately, it's rare that anybody ever does!      
=Dungeon Conditions: Reckless=================================================
==================<* The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory - Round 2 *>===================
===============< Results - It's A Gas, Gas, Gas, Gas Challenge >================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       10 --(5)--> 15                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   5 --(5)--> 10                  Pass
Brewte Force                        1   Brute   Effects: Fanfare and Strengthe
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         5 --(5)--> 10                  Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
White Knight Leo                    10 --(5)--> 15                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Ethius Hesiod               20 --(20)--> 40                Pass
Conditions: Reckless(2)|Stupify(1)
Effects: Strengthen(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Ethius Hesiod 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> White Knight Leo has posed.

        Perhaps it says something about Leo's trust in Jay that he snatches the potion vial out of the air, pops the cork, and downs it without questioning what's in it. It could be alcoholic, or even poisonous--but in this case, it's just a universal antitdote. As it so happens, Jay's alchemical backup buys everyone the time they need to break out.

        The door groans as Leo's spike sinks back into the earth, buckled around the point of impact; Ethius channels his infamous fire magic into the already-compromised obstruction, and it quickly heats up to a brilliant cherry-red. The metal starts to soften, and the glow provides Lydia with the light she needs to find the door and beat it for everything it's worth. After a few good whacks from baseball bat and earth pillars, it gives way, and the group stumbles out into the dimly-lit hallway beyond.

        Leo takes a moment to catch his breath, and cough until the remains of the gas are gone from his lungs. "So you're in need of moral guidance," Leo says, to Lydia. "Of course."

        That might not be exactly what Lydia was asking for, but it seems to be what Leo took away from it.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has drawn a new Challenge.
======================<* The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory *>=======================
====================<* CHALLENGE - Elemental Imbalance *>=====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 4          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Sometimes things don't always go as you plan. An experiment goes awry and     
 all of a sudden you're down several interns and lose an entire section of     
 the laboratory to catastrophic elemental chaos. And sometimes you arrive      
 just in time to see all the madness unfold for yourself. Such is the risk of  
 being a scientist. Sometimes mistakes are made and science just gets messy.   
                                                                               
 An excellent example of just how dangerous science can be is unfolding in     
 front of you right now. What looks to be an enormous reactor set up to        
 supply heat to an equally enormous boiler seems to be bulging and sparking    
 in altogether unhealthy ways. The light radiating from the glass              
 watch-windows flashes rapidly between several different colors, including     
 some which sting the eye to witness and may not in fact be within the normal  
 human visual range. A number of pipes funnel brightly glowing fluid into the  
 reactor in what must be a carefully calculated ratio, but something must      
 have gone terribly wrong. Several of the pipes seem to be back-flowing, and   
 others are filled with a strange viscous goo. A series of control panels and  
 valves are located all around the reactor and may be key to relieving the     
 pressure, purging the impurities, balancing the flows and preventing a        
 catastrophic explosion, but you'll need to move quick! The reaction vessel    
 can't hold for much longer!                                                   
=Dungeon Conditions: Overwhelm================================================
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline quickly darts out of the door once it's open(but after everyone else has gone through), and takes a moment to exhale. ...But she can't relax for long, as she takes a look at just what kind of room they've found themselves in.

A great reactor connected to a large boiler stands before them...and it is currently active. Light radiates from the glass in colors that strain even Jacqueline's eyes, and pipes channel fluid into the reactor itself.

...Or at least, that's what it was supposed to do, on a good day.

This was not a good day. The smog in the previous room may not even have been an intentional trap, but run-off from this exact experiment.

The pipes are filling up. The boiler bulges and sparks.

And Jacqueline panics.

"O-oh dear...this isn't good, this isn't good at all..." She murmurs. She remembers, vaguely, what happened the last time she went into a room like this. She also remembers Prissa's advice.

"Q-quick! We need to find a way to turn this off, o-or a way to relieve the process!" Jacqueline says, hurrying over to the control panel. ...She realizes that she's forgotten the most important part. "I-It's going to explode!"

Might want to hurry.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Elemental Imbalance.
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

        "That was there when we entered," the White Knight says, eyes narrowing at the sight of the smoking, bubbling, bulging machine. He's no expert, but even he can tell this thing is about ready to undergo a catastrophic magical meltdown. "Leave it to me!"

        Leo gets right to work. The Beastman grabs a wheel and twists it, loosening a valve inside the machine--or perhaps tightening one. He grabs the wheel next to it, and starts twisting in the opposite direction, and then moves some sort of rotary dial so it's displaying a different magical glyph.

        It's anyone's guess as to whether or not he's helping, but things are a little hectic right now, to say the least.

DG: White Knight Leo has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Elemental Imbalance.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Ethius' head aches. He coughs a few times as he just clears the constricted space with minimal exposure and also minimal oxygen. He has to rest a hand up against the nearby wall as he follows the rest from behind into the next chamber...
        He blinks once. Color and sound return to normal, as if by urgency, as he just hears the hissing, the flashing of lights and colors...
        "Miss Jay. Miss Lydia. Mister L--" Ethius' tone of voice is unusually measured, as always. The tempo does not change. The diction--
        Ethius slams the tip of his quarterstaff into something to make a loud, startling noise. He's calling for attention. The careful, measured body language sheds as he darts to and fro the chamber. He starts to get out the Spectral Len--
        No, he does not need that to know what goes where.
        "Do not go beyond this point." He knocks over a loose pole to force a hard line to stop anyone from crossing. Do not physically cross this point. Anybody who does, he does his damndest to pull back as he starts pointing towards various backed-up pipes. Giving commands, or-- he doesn't have time to take great stock of it based on that either. A part of him realizes he simply cannot explain it. Not just as a matter of time, but as a matter of...
        He tries to get a hand on Lydia's shoulder. "Portals." He points to two different spaces. He does not explain why they need to be where they are.
        There is a point he cannot see but can intuit the construction of, and he needs to communicate this to someone who probably can do neither. He tries to take Leo's shoulder, point... at the contraption?
        "Beyond, from the next wall," Ethius tries to say over the ambient noise of complete catastrophe, "puncture with your magic."
        "Miss Jay," he has to say because now he's standing too far away from her and he doesn't have time (he thinks) to try and guide her by hand, "remedies for-- burns. Move back. Move back."
        He's preparing to get them all to retreat back a ways if they have to. They probably will even in a best case scenario. He believes the catastrophic explosion cannot be averted. Their only hope, he rationalizes by some measure he does not quite know the origin of, is to have it blow back /ahead/ of them in order to stop them from being disintegrated and/or splashed in hell knows what.
        As if he were keenly aware that the risks to their well-being would well extend beyond just a mere explosion, that even standing here is a bad idea.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Spectral Lens toward his party's challenge, Elemental Imbalance.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia stares at Leo for a moment. Maybe she overestimated the guy... Well, even so, maybe he does have some useful moral guidance? It wouldn't be fair to assume he doesn't. Still, she says, "Okay." to that. Seems the matter is settled.

And now uh. Problems. "Huh." She says. "We're boned aren't we?"

She takes a deep breath. She knows what she must do. She reaches for Schrodinger and--

--throws the kitty cat at the reaction vessel. The cat clamps on with a MEOWWRRLL. Will Schrodinger be able to hold it shut long enough for Ethius to find a solution!? Or get everybody out???

Probably not but don't worry, Schrodinger will be okay. The rest of them are hiding out in another timeline or something after all.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Schrodinger the Cat toward her party's challenge, Elemental Imbalance.
======================<* The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory *>=======================
====================<* CHALLENGE - Elemental Imbalance *>=====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 4          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Sometimes things don't always go as you plan. An experiment goes awry and     
 all of a sudden you're down several interns and lose an entire section of     
 the laboratory to catastrophic elemental chaos. And sometimes you arrive      
 just in time to see all the madness unfold for yourself. Such is the risk of  
 being a scientist. Sometimes mistakes are made and science just gets messy.   
                                                                               
 An excellent example of just how dangerous science can be is unfolding in     
 front of you right now. What looks to be an enormous reactor set up to        
 supply heat to an equally enormous boiler seems to be bulging and sparking    
 in altogether unhealthy ways. The light radiating from the glass              
 watch-windows flashes rapidly between several different colors, including     
 some which sting the eye to witness and may not in fact be within the normal  
 human visual range. A number of pipes funnel brightly glowing fluid into the  
 reactor in what must be a carefully calculated ratio, but something must      
 have gone terribly wrong. Several of the pipes seem to be back-flowing, and   
 others are filled with a strange viscous goo. A series of control panels and  
 valves are located all around the reactor and may be key to relieving the     
 pressure, purging the impurities, balancing the flows and preventing a        
 catastrophic explosion, but you'll need to move quick! The reaction vessel    
 can't hold for much longer!                                                   
=Dungeon Conditions: Overwhelm================================================
=================<* The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory - Round 3 *>==================
======================< Results - Elemental Imbalance >=======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       15 --(25)--> 40                Fail
Spectral Lens                       2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   10 --(20)--> 30                Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         10 --(25)--> 35                Fail
Schrodinger the Cat                 2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
White Knight Leo                    15 --(25)--> 40                Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Ethius Hesiod               40 --(10)--> 50                Fail
Conditions: Overwhelm|Reckless(1)
Effects: Enlighten(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Ethius Hesiod has failed this challenge! The party gained 10 exploration! If anyone needs to use
party management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Leo turns and twist wheels. Lydia tosses Schrodinger at the device. Ethius prepares an evacuation plan...and his fears are proven right.

It's far too late to stop this, no matter how many wheels they turn or quickly they move. Jacqueline shuts her eyes and presses a button...

...And nearby, a rusted over blast door opens up.

"Everyone, inside!" Jacqueline shouts and dives in. Once everyone's inside, the door shuts. There's darkness. They can't see what's happening.

And then, everything is rocked by a massive explosion. The sheer force of it is enough to knock them off their feet, and cause (thankfully temporary, even to those who might possess ears more sensitive than the average human's) hearing loss.

Jacqueline groans and hauls herself to her feet. She says something that goes unheard...and then, as hearing starts to return, she hears an awful hissing noise.

She can't tell if there's some horrible something outside their shelter, or if something's melting through the walls. She's not sure what's worse.

Thankfully, they don't have to find out - the explosion knocked loose a part of the wall behind them, allowing them another way through.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has drawn a new Challenge.
===========================================<* The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory *>============================================
===========================================<* CHALLENGE - Fluid Mechanics *>============================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 Electrical circuitry? Absurd! Ridiculous! Fascinating! Also not something     
 that can be found anywhere in this lab! It's an amazing idea, but we do       
 things differently here. Hydraulic controls are the way of the future!        
 Everything uses them: reactors, control systems, door locks...                
                                                                               
 Speaking of the latter!                                                       
                                                                               
 This door seems to be in pretty bad shape. The enormous locking mechanism     
 refuses to budge no matter what you might try to do to it. The cause is       
 obvious after a little investigation: the complicated piping that powers the  
 door's opening and closing is thoroughly wrecked. There are a number of       
 replacement parts available in the same compartment that the hydraulics are   
 kept, but it'll take some doing to reassemble into something that'll get the  
 door to open.                                                                 
=Dungeon Conditions: Bad Luck=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        They narrowly avoid the worst. Ethius somehow avoids hitting his head. He hits the rest of himself against some of the detritus scattered around the blast shield room, but not his head. Some of it has to do with the new way opening up from the opposite wall, which was far too rotted and weak to sustain the concussive force of the blast two rooms over. It's a miracle they're all still intact, and not... elementally infused with deadly doses of radiation.
        Even in injury, Ethius takes a long while to observe how Lydia holds up. He moves to try and grip her hand, firmly, as if to ensure that it is or stays a hand, that it stimulates her thought process that a hand is being grabbed, by a hand, with the expectation of a hand, and help gently bring her up if allowed.
        The next chamber is, beyond the novel way they encountered it, not at all interesting. Workbenches are already empty (unless someone wants to loot a table for later, somehow, sure, knock yourselves out and take the table), cabinets are ransacked, the one interesting vial of stuff is broken open and a worthless puddle of a novel greenish-yellow color. Nothing left to do but go on to the next room.
        In their way, a door. A door in bad shape, whose locking mechanism is even worse off. It's not even rusted shut, it's just... wedged? Ethius peels away some of the nearby wall panels, narrowing his eyes as he runs a hand across some of the exposed piping.
        ...
        "These pipes will need replacement." Pipes? The tube-shaped things. Actually, come to think of it, there are a lot of tubes around. Some are rolling underfoot right now. Ethius pulls off his gloves and gets to work on removing screws and other fastening elements by hand...
        ...and pocketing them, as though it were important to not let them lie on the floor, forgotten, probably because he touched them with his bare hands. That is kind of impressive that he even can, though. Usually someone might bring actual tools to do that work, but there he is, disassembling it by hand like a professional.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Fluid Mechanics.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"MEOWWSPLOSION." Schrodinger shouts. Why does this cat keep hanging around Lydia???

Anyway, Schrodinger is flying and lands claws first on Lydia's back because she's trying to flee. Lydia shrieks, bonks her head, and in her flailing Ethius is able to seize up her hand and drag her back up before anything worse happens. She's frankly still a little dizzy even so afterwards but she's not, you know, immolated or anything which is an increasingly good day for Lydia.

Lydia draws out a wrench and some other tools shortly after Ethius mentions 'the deal'. "Well guess we'll get to work then," She says.

And then she does indeed do just that. It's again--very noisy.

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

Jacqueline follows the others through the gap and into a room that has long since been emptied of anything of value or interest. She frowns and folds her arms in front of herself, thinking things over.

"Hm...how to approach this..." She murmurs, then glances toward Ethius. She stares at him for a second then looks down. "...Oh! Oh, I see."

She walks over to the door, and examines it closely. She tries to get a feel for its construction, trying to figure out what exactly needs to be replaced as well as...well, how to actually go about doing that.

"Well, I'm no Shalune, but I think I might have a few ideas for taking care of this..." Jacqueline comments, heading over to look for some spare part to work with.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Fluid Mechanics.
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

        Jay screams for everyone to leave. Leo cuts it awfully close--as the machinery begins to rupture, he finally decides he's too late to help, and dives into the closet after the others. He sprawls out onto the floor, presses a palm to the ground, and wills the earth to rise. A column of stone is suddenly blocking the door--

        When Leo can hear again, he rises from the floor, and brushes dirt off his uniform. A quick glance around reveals that everyone's conscious, a fact that Leo is quietly grateful for. "Is anyone even maintaining this place?" the White Knight grumbles. "Or is this devil-machinery churning away like the horrors of that..." The name escapes him. "Ash place?" He walks into the next room, and... quietly goes to stand by the entrance, the better to watch everyone's back. That sound might've attracted unwelcome attention, after all.

DG: White Knight Leo has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Fluid Mechanics.
===========================================<* The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory *>============================================
===========================================<* CHALLENGE - Fluid Mechanics *>============================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 Electrical circuitry? Absurd! Ridiculous! Fascinating! Also not something     
 that can be found anywhere in this lab! It's an amazing idea, but we do       
 things differently here. Hydraulic controls are the way of the future!        
 Everything uses them: reactors, control systems, door locks...                
                                                                               
 Speaking of the latter!                                                       
                                                                               
 This door seems to be in pretty bad shape. The enormous locking mechanism     
 refuses to budge no matter what you might try to do to it. The cause is       
 obvious after a little investigation: the complicated piping that powers the  
 door's opening and closing is thoroughly wrecked. There are a number of       
 replacement parts available in the same compartment that the hydraulics are   
 kept, but it'll take some doing to reassemble into something that'll get the  
 door to open.                                                                 
=Dungeon Conditions: Bad Luck=================================================
======================================<* The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory - Round 4 *>=======================================
=============================================< Results - Fluid Mechanics >==============================================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       40 --(10)--> 50                Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   30 --(10)--> 40                Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         35 --(10)--> 45                Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
White Knight Leo                    40 --(15)--> 55                Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
-------------------------------------------------------< Party >--------------------------------------------------------
Leader: Ethius Hesiod               50 --(15)--> 65                Pass
Conditions: Bad Luck(2)|Overwhelm
Effects: 
===================================================< Dream Chasers >====================================================
DG: The party led by Ethius Hesiod has passed this challenge! The party gained 15 exploration! If anyone needs to use
party management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
DG: White Knight Leo has drawn a new Challenge.
=======================<* The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory *>========================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Volatile Mixtures *>=======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 You know what the main problem with having so much funding is? Your lab gets  
 too big! How is a genius scientist supposed to traverse so much space         
 without so many time-sensitive experiments expiring before they can get       
 around to data analysis!? Fortunately, science is nothing if not good at      
 solving problems. Why not turn experimental setups INTO transportation        
 systems!?                                                                     
                                                                               
 And so, behold! The path ahead is entirely covered by enormous barrels        
 filled with bubbling, volatile chemicals, into which various pipes pump even  
 MORE bubbling, volatile chemicals. Every so often, the mixtures boil over in  
 a catastrophic way, blasting the top of each barrel high up into the air!     
 Half are perfectly calibrated to flip exactly four times on the way down      
 before slamming right back down where they started. The other half don't      
 flip at all! They just go launching back and forth between chemical vats. A   
 skilled experimentalist will be able to predict when each barrel will go off  
 and use the airborne vat-caps as makeshift platforms and launchers to         
 progress rapidly through the laboratory. Just be careful not to fall in!      
 Those vats are filled with deadly acids and possibly even worse things.       
=Dungeon Conditions: Hesitate=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        The White Knight puts forth an excellent question. Is anyone here, maintaining this place? Enough is just falling apart, all around them, that suggests they may be the only living people present wandering about these laboratory halls. While Lydia and Jay get to work on procuring (and applying) pipes, Ethius gets his gloves back on.
        Then he gets out the Brewte Force bottle and deposits the removed fasteners. He places its cork back on and shakes it up and down, up and down, up and down, then carefully spills back out the small items in question. Why does he even do this? They don't look any cleaner. He just fouled a perfectly good bottle of medicine for some reason.
        He enlists Lydia's on-hand tools to help put the new pipes back in place rather than put them in place by hand, with Jay's help in actually picking out the choice pipes in question.
        Once the last pipe is in place, the door hisses back to life. A number of interlocking pieces rattle and rotate, and the whole thing opens up to a blast of acrid-smelling air.
        "If there is anyone here," Ethius addresses the White Knight, "there are many things I would wish to ask of them." Like as to whether or not they can jack that table they are clearly not using, because that's a nice table.
        Or not.

<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

        As the little group moves on, a loud, rhythmic slam slam slam starts echoing down the halls, underscored by the sounds of something bubbling over. It isn't long before they reach the source. Leo stops just inside the room, staring at the complex contrivance before him--barrels and pipes that are boiling over, and in doing so, propelling platforms across the room. "Who would even think of this?" Leo mutters. "It's so..." Primitive? That's what Borgan would call it. Either way, the White Knight doesn't want to trust it. He pulls a length of knotted rope off his belt, twirls it to build momentum, and then tosses it to the door on the wall ahead. A firm tug ensures it's secured.

        Leo, of course, is the last to climb up. It's only right that he stay down here in case something tries to ambush them mid-climb.

DG: White Knight Leo has used his Tool Rope Ladder toward his party's challenge, Volatile Mixtures.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"'Ash place'? ...Ah, do you mean 'Ash Hare'?" Jacqueline asks, glancing toward Leo. That was the only place she could think of - she was sure they both remembered what transpired there.

"That's a good question, though... A place of this size, with machinery like this...it's entirely possible that there is some amount of self-automation going on, but there are some things I've seen that...well, have too much of an...intelligence in them." Jacqueline replies as they all finally manage to get through the door. She frowns, then glances toward Ethius...and nods in agreement.

"...Indeed. You should brace yourselves. We may very well see something...horrid, later on." She warns.

She then frowns at the sound of rhythmic slamming up ahead. She doesn't like it.

She likes it even less when she sees what's responsible for it.

"...Inefficient?" She offers.

"Honestly, this is so incredibly wasteful...and leaving the vat open for so long positively reeks of contamination risk." She mutters, shaking her head.

...It looks like this place has found another way to offend Jacqueline - her sensibilities as a proper alchemist.

She does not dignify them by utilizing them as a way forward - instead, she just makes use of Leo's ladder.

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

        Ethius does another unsolicited duck back into cover by the slam slam slam. He peeks out from behind the door they just went through once it becomes clear it's not something barreling towards them. No, it's... back and forth? Kind of. His ears are still ringing, but once he's certain of the rhythm being a stable sequence and not the audio tell of some bigger, greater problem stomping towards them...
        There's some parts of this chamber he wants to take a look at. The rope ladder the White Knight provides is safe and stable, but Ethius finds himself taking a chance as he goes on one of the lids that pop up and down, up and down, once he sees the sequence that seems appropriate to some sort of mischievous plague master and not whoever or whatever put this place together. He's already putting the harness on for a certain something.
        At the very apex of a lid's ascent, Ethius completes the respective Symbological spell to bring forth a personal hot air balloon that keeps him at that highest elevation to just try and hover the rest of the way from that boosted height.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Hot Air Sack toward his party's challenge, Volatile Mixtures.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia, as usual, uses portals to cheese this encounter god damn it. She fires one near her feet and one farther back out to avoid most of the liquidy areas. Of course, liquid is liquid and it tends to spread. Hopefully it doesn't spread to where Lydia is intending to poke through, and hopefully she hit the right spot. And hopefully she doesn't pop out through in the path of a barrel and and and uh. Yeah honestly Lydia, you might've had an easier time just doing the game mechanic this time.

Nevertheless, she is commited to not engaging in barrel jumping. She has some pride left, dammit!

She does look over to Ethius periodically and may try to pop onto his air balloon if he's not careful though.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Portal Pistols toward her party's challenge, Volatile Mixtures.
=======================<* The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory *>========================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Volatile Mixtures *>=======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 You know what the main problem with having so much funding is? Your lab gets  
 too big! How is a genius scientist supposed to traverse so much space         
 without so many time-sensitive experiments expiring before they can get       
 around to data analysis!? Fortunately, science is nothing if not good at      
 solving problems. Why not turn experimental setups INTO transportation        
 systems!?                                                                     
                                                                               
 And so, behold! The path ahead is entirely covered by enormous barrels        
 filled with bubbling, volatile chemicals, into which various pipes pump even  
 MORE bubbling, volatile chemicals. Every so often, the mixtures boil over in  
 a catastrophic way, blasting the top of each barrel high up into the air!     
 Half are perfectly calibrated to flip exactly four times on the way down      
 before slamming right back down where they started. The other half don't      
 flip at all! They just go launching back and forth between chemical vats. A   
 skilled experimentalist will be able to predict when each barrel will go off  
 and use the airborne vat-caps as makeshift platforms and launchers to         
 progress rapidly through the laboratory. Just be careful not to fall in!      
 Those vats are filled with deadly acids and possibly even worse things.       
=Dungeon Conditions: Hesitate=================================================
==================<* The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory - Round 5 *>===================
========================< Results - Volatile Mixtures >=========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       50 --(5)--> 55                 Pass
Hot Air Sack                        2   Agility Effects: Resilient            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   40 --(5)--> 45                 Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         45 --(5)--> 50                 Pass
Portal Pistols                      2   Agility Effects: Stalwart             
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
White Knight Leo                    55 --(5)--> 60                 Pass
Rope Ladder                         2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Ethius Hesiod               65 --(15)--> 80                Pass
Conditions: Bad Luck(1)|Hesitate(2)|Overwhelm
Effects: Quicken(1)|Resilient(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Ethius Hesiod has passed this challenge! The party gained 15 exploration! If anyone needs to use
party management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

        Screw those barrels, seriously.

        Jay makes it up Leo's rope ladder without incident--and thankfully, nothing horrible jumps out to attack while the group is either climbing, portalling around, or chancing the horrible exploding barrel transport system to get some airtime. "They would need to resupply, at least," Leo says, once everyone is at the door. "Wouldn't they?"

DG: Jacqueline Barber has drawn a new Challenge.
======================<* The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory *>=======================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Mysterious Machine *>=====================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Finally, you've arrived. The depths of the laboratory have been waiting so    
 long for you to reach them. Opening one final door, you find yourselves       
 facing what appears to be an enormous machine of mind-numbing complexity.     
 Tubes and pipes from all across the facility all end here. All the            
 experiments you have seen, all the churning machines and bubbling fluids all  
 seem to terminate in this room.                                               
                                                                               
 The machine takes the form of a monolithic, black capsule flanked by a pair   
 of massive pistons and an incredible number of syringes filled with           
 unspeakable concoctions. You notice as you approach that a humanoid           
 silhouette seems to be contained within the central capsule, its shadow just  
 barely visible, cast against the frosted glass. But then, just as you draw    
 near enough to try to examine the machine and figure out a way to get them    
 out, the process begins. Fluids begin racing inward toward the central        
 monolith as the syringes depress and deploy their payloads. The silhouette    
 within the machine vanishes beneath a flood of alchemical madness and the     
 entire thing begin coming alive, gyrating with flashing lights and terrible   
 sounds.                                                                       
                                                                               
 A number of controls, valves and consoles surround you. It may already be     
 too late for whatever was inside, but maybe you can stop the process, or      
 break the machine, or do... /something./ Maybe even... Allow it to proceed?   
 Tune the process? See what your genius can produce?                           
=Dungeon Conditions: Madness==================================================
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"That's a good question. It's possible they can procure most of what they need on site - this Withertallow Keep seems quite expansive..." Jacqueline comments. "...Assuming there's anyone left to resupply."

They proceed through the door, and find themselves at the core of the facility - the final terminus for all the tubes, pipes, other sort of transportation devices, experiments...everything they've seen throughout the facility.

This is where it all ends.

Looming before them is a massive black capsule and a pair of pistons...and within, is the silhouette of a humanoid figure. But before they can get too close, it vanishes as the process begins.

Like the machine from before, there are a number of control panels, valves, and consoles. Jacqueline stares at it, momentarily frozen in place.

"...It's...it's happening again. I hoped...I hoped it would stop after last time. I hoped that had broken it..." She murmurs. "It..."

She doesn't complete her sentence, instead, shaking her head.

"...We have to try and stop this, but...I-I don't know what to do. Nothing worked last time..." she says.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Mysterious Machine.
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

        "We'll simply have to keep knocking until someone answers," Leo says.

        The machine ahead is somehow even more complicated than the last, its purpose clear and hideous. Leo's eyes widen, and his ears flatten out in shock and anger; as Jay tries to explain, he rushes forwards, almost knocking over a vial of bubbling reagent in his haste to get to the controls. "Someone's in there!" Leo cries. The silhouette is gone, but he saw it, and that's enough to stir the White Knight to action. He thrusts a hand forwards, and a spike of earth rises from the floor to try and puncture that capsule--

        That is, unless anyone tries to stop him first.

DG: White Knight Leo has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Mysterious Machine.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Whatever Ethius gleans from chancing this horrible system, he keeps it to himself. Maybe he was just really interested in the ceiling and/or ventilation systems. (Based on how dry his eyes look, he must be really interested in the ventilation systems /right now/.)
        Ethius' eyes do seem to be pointed upwards, incidentally, as they go into the final door, rather than ahead - and they follow where they go, all through the way, into the massive black capsule and the pair of pistons full of...
        There's someone inside. Trapped? This place is in active use, then, Ethius recognizes. Leo cries and calls into action, and the only delay that comes is when Ethius gets out that fogged-up Spectral Lens - it seems it may have potentially been damaged by being in the vicinity of that reactor earlier, but it's clear enough for at least one more use. He gauges the way everything comes together as the White Knight moves into action.
        As it so happens, he finds that the White Knight's choice of action aligns best with his understanding of how to try and remedy this issue. The White Knight looks to rupture it.
        Ethius gets chanting, putting forth his own Symbologically-infused spin on the Earth element himself. The dust particles that form in the air are a reminder of a spell that tends to be used in a more horrifying fashion - one that stuffs foreign particulate matter in living bodies that is painful and sickening and cruel.
        Here, this application seems more... the sort it may have been originally intended for, as he tries to jam whatever mechanisms he can attempting to inject and/or pump whatever is going in there. It may be too late. The White Knight's moving to open it, but Ethius' sorcery moves to try and grind the injections to a decisive, ear-splitting halt.
        It may already be too late.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Spectral Lens toward his party's challenge, Mysterious Machine.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia finally pulls Schrodinger off of her back and she looks towards Leo, managing a small grin at his words. She doesn't comment on them, but it's funny how similar Leo's holy knight schtick is to her punk thug schtick if you think about it. 'Just keep hitting shit' moves across cultural boundaries.

Lydia barely has time to look horrified upon realizing that someone or something is being experimented on here. She ruhses after Ethius to try and disable it but she knows that her own knowhow will not be enough!

So she places Schrodinger on her head as her thinking cat to help her out here. She'll need everything she can get.

"Such bullshit, such bullshit..." Lydia mutters to herslef. "Come on, come on...!!"

Why does Lydia care so much about this all of a sudden?

Good question, but you probably already know the answer right?

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Schrodinger the Cat toward her party's challenge, Mysterious Machine.
======================<* The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory *>=======================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Mysterious Machine *>=====================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Finally, you've arrived. The depths of the laboratory have been waiting so    
 long for you to reach them. Opening one final door, you find yourselves       
 facing what appears to be an enormous machine of mind-numbing complexity.     
 Tubes and pipes from all across the facility all end here. All the            
 experiments you have seen, all the churning machines and bubbling fluids all  
 seem to terminate in this room.                                               
                                                                               
 The machine takes the form of a monolithic, black capsule flanked by a pair   
 of massive pistons and an incredible number of syringes filled with           
 unspeakable concoctions. You notice as you approach that a humanoid           
 silhouette seems to be contained within the central capsule, its shadow just  
 barely visible, cast against the frosted glass. But then, just as you draw    
 near enough to try to examine the machine and figure out a way to get them    
 out, the process begins. Fluids begin racing inward toward the central        
 monolith as the syringes depress and deploy their payloads. The silhouette    
 within the machine vanishes beneath a flood of alchemical madness and the     
 entire thing begin coming alive, gyrating with flashing lights and terrible   
 sounds.                                                                       
                                                                               
 A number of controls, valves and consoles surround you. It may already be     
 too late for whatever was inside, but maybe you can stop the process, or      
 break the machine, or do... /something./ Maybe even... Allow it to proceed?   
 Tune the process? See what your genius can produce?                           
=Dungeon Conditions: Madness==================================================
=================<* The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory - Round 6 *>==================
=======================< Results - Mysterious Machine >=======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       55 --(5)--> 60                 Pass
Spectral Lens                       2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   45 --(7)--> 52                 Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         50 --(5)--> 55                 Pass
Schrodinger the Cat                 2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
White Knight Leo                    60 --(7)--> 67                 Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Ethius Hesiod               80 --(0)--> 80                 Pass
Conditions: Hesitate(1)|Madness|Overwhelm
Effects: Enlighten(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Ethius Hesiod has passed this challenge! The party gained 0 exploration! If anyone needs to use
party management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
DG: Ethius Hesiod has drawn a new Challenge.
===========================================<* The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory *>============================================
===========================================<* CHALLENGE - Infinite Gravity *>===========================================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 What emerges from the monolith as it slides away is a disgusting fusion of    
 countless monsters, beasts and creatures, all arrayed around a tortured,      
 dying humanoid figure. This alone is horrible enough, but the worst ensues    
 as it draws its final breath... And collapses, suddenly, into a dreadful      
 singularity.                                                                  
                                                                               
 It is a black speck, as if someone had torn a hole into reality. The machine  
 around it suddenly begins to warp and twist, steel being shorn apart and      
 swallowed up by that ravenous speck of unreality punched into the world. It   
 pulls at its surroundings, forging a shell of compressed matter around        
 itself that continues to accumulate and densify as more and more is drawn     
 into the gaping black maw.                                                    
                                                                               
 You must struggle to hang on as the lab all around you is torn apart-- as     
 the demoniac machines are obliterated for the part they played in creating    
 this monstrosity. Powerful forces rip and tear at you as you struggle to      
 find some way- any way- to hold on and avoid being crushed by gravity gone    
 mad.                                                                          
                                                                               
 The sole saving grace is that this cannot last forever. The event horizon     
 shrinks even now, rapidly dissolving into nothingness and oblivion. All that  
 you must do is now hold on as the void devours itself.                        
=Dungeon Conditions: Collapse=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Ethius, Leo, and Lydia decide that, if they want to stop this, there's an easy and direct way to do that.

They aim to destroy it.

Leo sends a spike shooting straight toward the capsule, aiming to puncture it. Ethius seeks to clog every mechanism his Symbology can reach with dust particles. And Lydia places Schrodinger on her head, trying to use the cat's comforting presence to try to come up with a solution.

...The mechanisms slide to a stop. Steam emits from the machine.

The capsule opens.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        While they may not all share the same approach to the world at large, or even how much of the world to share amongst one another, they are all of the same mind - this can't be. This has to stop.
        Ethius reflects on how he doesn't have to say this to anyone for them to just do it, but in the aftermath, as it slides open...
        Something dark screams out. A humanoid face... female? In this flicker is the last possible vestiges of attributable personhood to what lies within the ruins of the monolithic capsule, because it is so much more now. As it exists - to say it 'moves' is wrong because nothing can possibly animate the way its mass does - an uncountable number of faces and features try to erupt, all at once, like they all occupy this same space and they can't, they shouldn't, but they are. Physically impossible. Spiritually theoretical. Theory is applied to impossibility, and this is the result, as it all collapses together into a swirling, pulling force as a black speck that draws in all surrounding light.
        Everything around it warps, twists, thins, turns to spaghetti, and disappears withi--
        "Back, now." Ethius tries to shout, his eyes uncharacteristically widened. Once more, a near-certain demise unfolds before them as more and more of the environs disappear within. They can't outrun it, before they feel the pull. They have to grab onto what they can - door frames, support beams - as the singularity grows bigger, wider, more dense, and so more gets pulled into it.
        Ethius grabs one arm around one such sturdy support beam. He has to release one hand to get casting, as a large piece of ceiling falls down ahead of them with a big clatter. It's necessary so he can complete the gesticulation to a more fine-manipulation heat spell he has to cast several times in succession to try and fuse the piece where it is in order to put something between them and... well, being sucked into a black hole.
        The writhing black hole looks as though it's preparing to shrink upon itself, but that could mean any number of terrible things. They have to hold on as long as they can. Maybe that's all they can do, now, just appreciate the last moments of their life and fight to extend them as long as they're able.

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

Lydia jerks back when there's a face there. And then more faces. And more and more faces. And it's impossible. It's spiritually impossible. But it's nonetheless present. And there's a black hole. And there's a portal, of sorts, at least that's how Lydia sees it and it's drawing everything in. And it's getting bigger. And fatter.

Lydia steps backwards, openly weeping before collapsing backwards, staring ahead.

Are you one Lydia?

Are you many Lydia?

How many faces do you have Lydia? Do you even have a singular brain anymore? Do those machines control you? Who is in charge, Lydia? Who is in charge?

She turns away and grabs hold of a workshop table leg. She grips it tightly, refusing to let go. She does not help at all.

"How could they--" She blubbers. "How could they...she's a person, she's a person! Can't we save her? Can't we..."

She brings her knees inward. "Save...her?" She squeezes her eyes tightly. And trembles.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Infinite Gravity.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

They'd already failed to stop it, it seems. It's far too late. But what happens next is not what Jacqueline anticipated. No...this was different - completely different. Was it because of the explosion earlier? Or was this what they wanted to happen all along?

Jacqueline cries out in terror. She does not need to be told twice to go back. She hurries back, finds something to hold onto...and then, with a gesture of her left hand, freezes her boots to the floor to try to give her some stability.

She rummages through her bags and draws out some bottles with her free hand. These throws...they're going to have to be perfectly calculated. She can already feel them trying to leave her grip before she's even thrown them. She hurls it with all her strength. If she's lucky, they'll all reach their targets.

...She doesn't see whether or not it does, though. She just holds on, and hopes desperately...

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Brewte Force toward her party's challenge, Infinite Gravity.
<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

        "No," Leo whispers. Everything comes loose.

        The machine belches forth not an unharmed person, but a horrific mass of flesh and spirit fused together in ways that should not be. A lifetime of armed conflict has left Leo inured to the sight of gore, but the abomination before him is something else entirely. Bile surges up his throat. He wants to scream, to demand to know who did this, but he keeps his teeth clenched. The Beastman doesn't have time to think. Space tears and bends in ways it shouldn't. Lydia all but loses her grip on things. The pinprick tear starts exerting horrible force; Leo staggers across the room towards the young shaman, cape billowing out behind him as though he were caught in a windstorm. It's sucking the air out of the room, and everyone might just go along with it. "YOUNG LADY!" Leo roars, over the howling of the air rushing into the singularity. He grabs the other leg of the sturdy worktable, and loops his other arm around Lydia's waist. The earth rises behind them in a shield, but proximity to the singularity wracks it with forces it wasn't meant to withstand, and it starts to crumble.

DG: White Knight Leo has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Infinite Gravity.
===========================================<* The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory *>============================================
===========================================<* CHALLENGE - Infinite Gravity *>===========================================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 What emerges from the monolith as it slides away is a disgusting fusion of    
 countless monsters, beasts and creatures, all arrayed around a tortured,      
 dying humanoid figure. This alone is horrible enough, but the worst ensues    
 as it draws its final breath... And collapses, suddenly, into a dreadful      
 singularity.                                                                  
                                                                               
 It is a black speck, as if someone had torn a hole into reality. The machine  
 around it suddenly begins to warp and twist, steel being shorn apart and      
 swallowed up by that ravenous speck of unreality punched into the world. It   
 pulls at its surroundings, forging a shell of compressed matter around        
 itself that continues to accumulate and densify as more and more is drawn     
 into the gaping black maw.                                                    
                                                                               
 You must struggle to hang on as the lab all around you is torn apart-- as     
 the demoniac machines are obliterated for the part they played in creating    
 this monstrosity. Powerful forces rip and tear at you as you struggle to      
 find some way- any way- to hold on and avoid being crushed by gravity gone    
 mad.                                                                          
                                                                               
 The sole saving grace is that this cannot last forever. The event horizon     
 shrinks even now, rapidly dissolving into nothingness and oblivion. All that  
 you must do is now hold on as the void devours itself.                        
=Dungeon Conditions: Collapse=================================================
======================================<* The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory - Round 7 *>=======================================
=============================================< Results - Infinite Gravity >=============================================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       60 --(100)--> 160              Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   52 --(100)--> 152              Fail
Brewte Force                        1   Brute   Effects: Fanfare and Strengthe
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         55 --(100)--> 155              Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
White Knight Leo                    67 --(100)--> 167              Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
-------------------------------------------------------< Party >--------------------------------------------------------
Leader: Ethius Hesiod               80 --(10)--> 90                Fail
Conditions: Collapse|Madness|Overwhelm
Effects: Strengthen(1)
===================================================< Dream Chasers >====================================================
DG: Ethius Hesiod is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Jacqueline Barber is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Lydia Seren is too exhausted to continue!
DG: White Knight Leo is too exhausted to continue!
DG: The party has failed this challenge! All party members are now Exhausted. This attempt is over.
DG: The party led by Ethius Hesiod has been fully Exhausted by The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory!
DG: The party will now draw a conclusion.
===========================================<* The Soul-Alchemy Laboratory *>============================================
============================<* CHALLENGE - Mayvin's Great Big Book of (Culinary) Alchemy *>=============================
|Type: Landmark    |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 By some miracle, your party survives its encounter with the greatest of the   
 laboratory's challenges intact but also thoroughly scathed. While you         
 couldn't best the labyrinth, that doesn't mean you walk away empty handed!    
 Far from it. For contributing so much to the sciences, you are to be          
 rewarded! Your party finds itself in a strange little laboratory, barely      
 bigger than a storage closet, but there are pots and vials boiling gently     
 over gentle, blue flames. An acrid but not unpleasant scent fills the air,    
 and there, sitting on top of a pile of unspeakable reagents and vegetable     
 trimmings from the local Menagerie is an enormous, leather-bound tome.        
 Investigating the front page reveals that the title of the tome is 'Mayvin's  
 Great Big Book of Culinary Alchemy - Vol. I.'                                 
                                                                               
 There's a note on the very next page that reads: Remember kids, love might    
 be the only ingredient you need, but it won't matter a single bit if your     
 cooking is so awful that it kills whoever eats it. So, learn to cook, it's    
 in a book!                                                                    
                                                                               
 The remaining pages are a collection of various recipes from all across       
 Lunar. Each recipe comes with a section filled with exhaustive information    
 about how NOT to prepare certain dishes, and includes little cartoon          
 sketches of some mopey-looking lady with black, fluffy hair in various        
 states of situationally appropriate culinary distress lining the pages. This  
 is bound to be useful for any aspiring chef, or just to reference while on    
 the road! An excellent find!                                                  
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

        The crushing gravity is too much. This is the clear result of man meddling in forces far too terrible for him to understand. Why did they do this? Why would anyone subject anyone else to something like this? It's too late to ask. Table legs snap, earth grinds away, ice cracks and shatters, support beams twist and collapse--

And then it all stops. And when you look up, there's... Something surrounding the dreadful singularity. A sphere of odd, shimmering liquid that swallows the singularity up and then disappears with a wink of symbological magic.

The lights die, alchemical circuits severed by the catastrophe of infinite gravity. Replacements flicker on, the dreadful crimson glow of what can only be emergency illumination filling the room. And in that dark red haze, someone-- something appears. Those who can perceive such things would feel a tremendous wave of wrongness. This malevolence could only belong to a hellion of incredible power.

It rises out from between the cracks in the ground as a jet-black ooze within which hundreds if not thousands of tiny lights wink and twinkle as if it were a clear night's sky rendered into liquid form. It manifests a blue cloak and robe out of its shadowy corpus, which seems to sprout tasteful golden embroidery, finishing with a sigil of a ringed star with nine rays materializing upon its chest. Finally, a pair of thin, gold-rimmed spectacles appear over eyes like great pulsars glowing against a murky nebula. It regards the shattered machinery with a tilt of the head and a slight adjustment of its glasses, and then...

And then it... speaks?

"Oh my my my," his voice is gentlemanly, deep and smooth with tones that bring to mind dark, warm velvet-- and yet, there is an unsettling disharmony there, as if it were being projected by means that were no longer human. "Another failure. Oh I feel awful. At least we were able to extract the singularity before-- There's a beat. The figure turns, notices your presence, and then seems to grow suddenly sheepish, gesticulating nervously with gloved hands. What do we have here? Guests? How terrible, how terrible, I am so terribly unprepared. Ah, but where are my manners! I am Professor Kihl Craymel- I am truly, terribly sorry for the state of things, I was not expecting visitors! And you caught me at such a bad time. Oh, I just have to clean up this mess, set up the next experiment. So much to do, so much to do..."

The strange entity makes a nervous sound and gestures, releasing several tiny sparks of light suspended in globules of unnatural energies, which then drop into the floor. The stone twists and transforms around the motes of starlight, transforming into what seem to be ambulating bookcases packed to the brim with terrible texts. They stomp menacingly towards you. "I'm so, so sorry. I would love to share a spot of tea, perhaps discuss with you the state of the outside world, but I really must take care of this. Please, take these books as a gift of my esteem." There's a beat. He stares for a long moment at the White Knight, then chuckles, his entire body seeming to vibrate with the sound. "Althena's White Knight...? I should inform the headmistress. Mmmn, after this, after this. Go on now," He gestures again, waving dismissively at the four intruders. The bookcases advance again, as if demanding that you procure a tome before shoving you slowly toward the exit.

...One of them happens to be... some kind of cookbook?

Who would leave something like this in such a terrible place?

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia Seren uses her mighty power to cower.

But she at least flicks the guy off with both fingers about halfway through his monologue.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

The ice holding Jacqueline's boots to the ground shatters. The support beam she's found breaks, too. She struggles against the pull. Her glasses begin to fly off her face...

...But before they go too far, it all stops. She reaches out, catching them quickly and putting them back on just in time to see someone emerge. ...Was it a 'someone'? Whatever it was, it speaks.

...Jacqueline stares in confusion.

"...Hello, Professor." Jacqueline says, kind of dumbfounded. She's not at her wittiest, being only just saved from what very well could've been impending doom.

But, she does recover, before too long - but, at the same time, after too long.

"W-wait a second! We need to talk about the sheer abundance of crimes against alchemy and decency in general you're-"

WHAM

One of the bookcases practically spits a book at Jacqueline - the cookbook, as it happens - interrupting her and causing her to stumble backwards. She does catch it...but before she can get her momentum going again, she's unceremoniously shoved away.

...At least she has a gift for a certain someone?

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        His grip is about to fail him. Then gravity itself does, and Ethius' knees slam into the ground with a grunt-inducing crash. Just as he finds himself having to let go to clutch one leg, he looks up... what is that? Is it something any of them di-- no, it's not, it does not match any of their known sorcerous techniques or devices. He doesn't know what it is.
        This, for his physical strength leaving him, seems to see Ethius have the strength to stand before the mysterious manifestation that... manifests mysteriously before them, eyes re-focusing back to that patented stare of his.
        "You--" It speaks over Ethius, gentlemanly and articulate, even affable. They seem sheepish, but even in this bit of humility for their otherworldly appearance, it is tough to say Ethius actually projects strength in this situation. He holds out a palm, threateningly, as if preparing another spell but it doesn't come to him. He has expended much of his energy with all the casting he has done. The fine welding from moments before requires multiple small casts at once, and it is not energy-efficient as the bookcase golems stomp their way.
        "Wait." Ethius slams down the butt of his quarterstaff against the ground. It is, as it usually is, deafening - but it is a feeble, impotent rage before he is swept off his feet and outside of the laboratory. What strength he has to resist is expended simply in having to say that one word. He would not accept his hospitality. What Ethius wants--
        He does not get, as he is swept aside like a house spider being gently deposited back out of doors. He is left kneeling outside, in the baleful rain of the environs. He offers little word of assurance to anyone, struggling to stand back up with help of his quarterstaff.
        He'll be back here, he resolves. As far as 'here' goes...
        He doesn't like this 'here' being here.

<Pose Tracker> White Knight Leo has posed.

        Leo holds on to Lydia with one arm and the desk with the other. If he lets go of either one, someone is going to die. Behind him, the earthen wall keeps crumbling until there's nothing left.

        And then it's over. Leo all but collapses onto the floor, still half-shielding Lydia with his body. He rises to his feet, wobbling--and almost immediately senses the horrible, cloying stink of Malevolence. And then, the Hellion. Leo is struck speechless for a moment, but only because his face is turning bright red with rage. "Wretched creature." He reaches for his blade, but his arms--which were put under horrible strain via the process of ensuring no one got eaten by a singularity--refuse to work. The one that held Lydia feels like it almost got pulled from its socket. "These are your works?!" The bookcases interpose themselves. Leo is all but shaking with anger. "ALTHENA'S JUDGMENT WILL COME FOR YOU, VILLAIN, IF--"

        WHAM.

        A few minutes later, Leo is gently swept outside, exhausted and agonized.

<Pose Tracker> Zed has posed.

As the quartet is escorted from the premises, the mysterious Professor Craymel takes a moment to marvel at the little pinprick of absolute darkness hovering just over the palm of his hand. "Althena's Judgment, is it? Indeed, we should hope that it does..."