2018-09-14: Her Doorstep

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<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Most of the gathered are probably familiar with the Sword-Saint Temple by now, and its myriad of challenges and traps. Much can be said about its dedication to the art of swordplay, and the rigors involved in mastering oneself to the point it becomes an extension. This much is known - what's less known is why Ethius wants people to come here, of all places. The man is not one that's easy to trust, with how much he keeps to himself... or how often he seems to move to destroy or remove things that might be of interest to people. His lacking character is not the most pressing issue here.
        Mother is awakened. There cannot possibly be any more business to be had here with this urgent development. It is a dangerous side-trip to make, and the powers that be which govern this place continue to challenge the Drifters as earnestly as they did when they first came here. The spectre at the end fights as fiercely as ever... this place does not suffer intruders.
        They overcome it because they must.
        As the spectral guardian of the temple dissipates to another respectful bow, Ethius coaxes them away from the pedestals holding all sorts of interesting information on swordplay to instead guide them down the derelict, collapsed path to a completely different 'treasure.' He doesn't give much time to nurse any wounds. Definitely not his own - earlier he took a blow that was just shy of having the necessary force and angle to take his head clean off, but he remains unflappable in the face of... whatever his reason is to be down here, to go visit this different 'treasure.'
        One that should not be of any further concern, for the most part. That's the Guardian Statue of Equites, in all of their sword-spine-headed glory. Before everyone was teleported to Lunar via the Pleasing Gardens, there was the revelation that the enemy had developed the means to smash already sealed statues, so... if Ethius was worried about this one being smashed despite being sealed previously, good, his curiosity in this place is done and they can all go home.
        The way he stands before the statue, facing his back to it to address the gathered... that is not so.
        "Your cooperation is appreciated... as is your discretion in your decision to gather at the appointed time." The usual boilerplate quotes of his, as he stands erect with his hands behind his back. "This is the Guardian Statue of Equites. Each Guardian Statue is charged with overseeing the seal upon Mother." Duh. "Of the known locations of the sealed Guardian Statues, this location is among the most secure while also yet remaining accessible to us."
        Ethius retrieves something from under his poncho. That weird eyeglass he has. Come to think of it, he didn't use it throughout the trip down... at all. One could have been forgiven for believing he lost it, but no, he's had it all along. (That might've been helpful earlier!)
        "There is something I must show you." Ethius continues at that nearly emotionless delivery of these words as he holds the eyeglass before him in one hand. The other is starting to gesticulate as part of the usual Symbological casting rituals. "Please form an orderly line. As I activate this lens, you are to look towards the wall to my left - your right - and heed what you see. Do not look directly at the statue itself."
        Ethius drops off from coherent words to go into the chanting of proper syllables in which to activate a low-yield electrical spell to activate the device. One by one - among those willing to follow his instructions - they will all get to see it.
 
        A wavy line - like a connection - violently being tugged in thin air, like forces are trying to tear it asunder even as it maintains coherency and form. A connection visible only to the unassisted eye through this Spectral Lens. The further down the line it goes for those lining up to view, the foggier the view gets... but everyone, if they want to, will be able to see this before Ethius has to let the lens cool down.
 
        "I use this device to determine whether mechanisms are connected within a given space." Ethius elaborates as he stows it back away. He once more folds his arms behind his back. "With what you have seen and heard just now, what conclusion can you draw?"
        It might be faster for him to say it, but perhaps he wants to be certain they're on the same page before they proceed.

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Talise was familiar with the Sword-Saint Temple. She's pretty sure she got a swordtech here. She can't actually use it because she has 0 MP.

She is less familiar with Ethius. She knows him mainly as the CaraKin member who least seems like he belongs in the CaraKin.

Nevertheless, she came. She fought the Guardian again and saluted it with a flick of her sword. And then on she goes after Ethius as he leads them down a completely different route than she might've expected.

"Ethius, what in the vile world are you doing," she asks immediately as he starts herding the group into lines. Talise does not in fact get in line. She in fact deliberately steps to one side and somewhat forward so that she's annoyingly out of sequence. "This opacity shit is getting really old. Stop herding us around like and explain yo-"

He does. Ethius shows them something. Frowning, Talise leans back a little to squint at the wavy line on the wall. It incidentally puts her in line with everyone else.

"...Your machine's on the fritz?" she surmises.

<Pose Tracker> Sephilia Lampbright has posed.

Sephy has told Talise *all* about Ethius trying to steal her journal on the trip here. Repeatedly. The girl holds a grudge. She snorts at Talise's comment in amusement.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

        Ragnell hasn't been to the Sword-Saint Temple before, but she's aware that the Statue within was sealed rather than shattered. Listening to the rumors among Drifters gives one a pretty good grasp of which Statues have met what fates... and which ones have, say, bullshit traps and such built in around them. Not having had a reason to visit before now, she thus has to deal with, well, some bullshit traps before showing up, along with a spectre at the end. But hey, a good fight cleanses the soul, or something like that--and Ragnell really wants to know what Ethius knows.
        
        Because it's clear he knows a lot more than he wants to let on. And if there's anything that's catnip to Ragnell's katzsoul (she is not really a Katz-soul), it's secrets and finding them out.
        
        The guardian spectre is defeated. Ragnell holsters her gun and follows Ethius, nursing a limp after she took a bad hit on one leg. It's not a big deal, she can heal herself later as needed. And soon, they all reach the Statue of Equites, and Ethius begins to speak...
        
        Huh. As tempting as it is to ignore Ethius's instructions and look directly at the Statue anyway, he's the type who wouldn't say something like that without good reason. Ragnell thus looks solely at the strange, wobbly lines over someone's shoulder, because lines are for people who are visible to everyone, then leans back with a, "Huh."
        
        A device for determining whether mechanisms are connected. Ragnell rests a hand on her chin, even as she chuckles at Talise's snark. The point of the Statues is to maintain a seal on Mother. This one's been sealed already, but Mother has awakened, and its line-tether is getting tugged at violently, as if someone's trying to tear it off. Meaning...
        
        "The seal that remains on the Statues that weren't shattered," she says aloud, "is at risk of failin' entirely now that Mom's up, sealin' rituals be damned." She eyes Ethius. "Is that what you're gettin' at?"

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

At best, Layna was dubious of Ethius. She was by no means his biggest fan, so when he requested individuals make their way to the Sword-Saint Temple for unclear purposes, she was understandably sceptical.

But she's here, along with a few of her friends. Primarily, she's just here to make sure he isn't doing anything untoward. But one of her friends has a different motive - keeping Layna in line to make sure she doesn't start anything.

A short, stern-faced woman carrying a mean-looking two-handed boarding axe - the Quartermaster, Dahlia.

Layna takes her turn...and frowns. She's never been all that good with this kind of technology, though she still somehow makes a good Gear pilot.

"Hell if I know." She says with a shrug, and then Dahlia steps up behind her. She looks through the device and folds her arms in front of her pensively.

"...Something is trying to interfere with the connection. Attacking it, maybe. Is that what you're insinuating?" Dahlia asks. Layna sends her a glance and a raised eyebrow, but Dahlia ignores it and instead glances toward Ragnell as she comes to a similar conclusion.

<Pose Tracker> Chime Isa has posed.

A bouncing, cheerful, smiling spiral curls red-haired elf is more than happy to bounce up to look through the lens among the first. Chime doesn't even have hopefully have kick Ethius in the shin to lower his device so the four and half foot tall ARMs Meister needs to look through it. She glances through it, and hums softly as she moves away so others can look~

She finds a nearby spot to sit and kick her feet, backpack dropped to the side of her as she does and watches smiling. She does volunteer "Given it looks like what happens when two children play tugging war with a length of rope, it's probably safe to assume the same between Guardians and the Metal Demon's Moth no? Only they'd be happy to break the rope in this case." in a warm, cheerful voice.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        Ida's interactions with Ethius Hesiod have largely involved the man making a nuisance of himself in ways ranging from 'inexplicable' to 'potentially extremely dangerous'. People don't do things for no reason, though, and that incident at the Fairgrounds sticks out in her mind. It couldn't have been coincidence that he tried to steal that blood. Out of all the relics present at the fairgrounds, that was what he chose--did he suspect what was going to happen? Did he know?

        If nothing else, the invitation is another point of data, and Ida accompanied Talise through the Temple to gather that data. She's a little sore from having stumbled across that workout room, and deciding to see if she could still do the exercises Claude taught her months ago. (The answer: yes! Sort of. She's got a lot of work to do to get back to where she was before the Guardian Temple.) She appears completely unharmed by the sword-spirit, though she's still sweating visibly, and dabbing discreetly at her brow with a handkerchief.

        Ethius explains his rationale. Of course it can't be the statue itself, Ida concludes. That would be too simple. She steps into the forming line with no complaint, and does as instructed--apparently, she trusts Ethius not to waste her time. Ragnell steps into line next to her, and Ida straightens a little, looks right. Her eyes widen.

        "...A good point," Ida says, of Ragnell's conclusion. That seems to be what's happening, but not... all of it. Ethius said this thing measures connections, and... "The Statues. They're connected to one another?"

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        A night or two ago, Janus visited Gwen's campsite, in order to talk. Talking was had, and many things were learned about.
        And it really, really made Gwen think long and hard about many, many things she rather not have to think about at all.
        Now, she needs to think on even more sobering subjects. And Gwen's kind of ready to chuck the entire concept of thinking about anything serious and go back to more simple things, like being a courier. Being a problem solver for things that need punching and shooting. Being a swell, casual, easy-going Drifter that's fun to be with. Those sorts of things.
        But she's here, looking much like she'd prefer having a nice drink someplace than be present. Her easy-to-be-with status is slipping. Still, she's here.
        Gwen slips her hands into her pockets, gazing at the line conjured by Ethius's lens. She glances towards Ragnell, then to Ida, then shrugs.
        "We're... back at square one, more or less. Just with higher stakes. But where do we go from here? That's the main question. Do we seal the statues we can extra well, or somethin' else? The cat's outta the bag, so I guess we can't really seal her back to sleep."

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei Fong Wong is particularly concerned with Mother for pretty obvious reasons, but also of Ethius who tends to make him wary. The strange ways he acts and behaves that seem to defy common sense tend to stick in his mind and also, lets be totally real here, Ethius has personally set Fei Fong Wong on fire multiple times. Fei isn't sure all those times were unintentional either and in fact at least one of them was not unintentional at all.

Still, between Mother and Ethius, Fei has to consider that the former is far more dire than the latter. He arrives with Elly and Cecilia, figuring both of them would also be interested in any news regarding the Metal Demons.

"I'm not sure what he wants from us," Fei mururs. "But it can't hurt to listen. I think I've been here once before, actually? Maybe twice." He is frankly just grateful he doesn't have to do the test again.

Ethius gives his instructions and Fei blinks a few times before turning his gaze towards that wavy line. His mouth gradually opens up as his eyes widen. "A connected system... That makes sense, but if it's connected, then..."

He trails off dramatically because that's how it goes. He looks over to Ragnell, frowning at her words, that's not what he was getting at, but it's not like he's going to stop Ethius from actually saying what he's been up to for once. It's a Filgaian miracle and not one he's going to risk by opening up his trap any more than neccessary.

"It's still maintained for the moment," Fei murmurs. "But we were going to have to deal with Mother as soon as possible anyway."

He closes his eyes, remembering a room full of corpses even as desperate hope still lingered. He remembers the conversation with Mariel and he sighs ever so faintly, glancing back to Cecilia.

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

 
PRISSA swaggers forwards. She has, for the most part, come here for the temple, but the matters Ethius describes are important too. She takes her turn looking through the lens, not loitering at great length. "Doubt it," she tells Talise, before looking Ethius dead-ass in the eyes with her weird swirly green irises.

"I regret," she says, "I cannot inform you at this time." Then she flips her braids and walks back.

ELLY VAN HOUTEN was not RAISED by WOLVES, and has MANNERS. She is looking a little wan but her arm, in addition to smelling way better despite being bandaged up, seems a lot less... crippled at the moment. As she looks at the wavy line, she says, and we quote, "!!"

"This looks like a Carid-space graph," Elly says to Fei. Then back to Ethius, "It's under tension. The construction could break down. Do you think there's any way to reinforce it temporarily?"

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Talise may have learned a lot from Ida, Rosaline, Lynnai and Lestaci about Filgaian machines, but she doesn't know much about magic. Ragnell catches the truth first. All Talise can do is frown deeply, folding her arms across her chest. "Well. That's not good news at all."

Prisa also turns out to be smarter than Talise. Again Talise looks into the lens, blinking, then looking up to give Prissa a look.

"Oh, I like you," she says with a growing smile.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Lydia Seren says, "Prissa!" with a gasp from behind her, scandalized.

Then in a whispered voice, "Just kidding that was awesome."

<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

Generally when Cecilia Adlehyde has to go into a dungeon with Ethius, it's a toss-up between whether she leaves wanting to thank him or cast him into the dungeons for a thousand years. But this time he said the magic words to get her along for the ride, and so she arrives in the company of Fei and Elly. "I can't say I remember myself," she admits to Fei, tucking her pocketwatch back away from whatever dire challenge the time-twisting relic got used on. "Still...that's definitely a Guardian Statue."

When she's taken her turn with the lens she stares blankly, because she's a wizard, not an engineer; but she looks to Ragnell and Layna('s crew) in equal alarm as their explanations come up. Then to Elly, then back to the statue - turning her own mystic senses against it.

...and gets bupkis, because thanks Mom.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Ethius weathers Sephy's hazing with the usual stoicism he generally manages to maintain. What she says is something that aligns with a general consensus of the man's character - he's a jerk of some proportion equal or greater than 'kind of' but doesn't yet exceed 'real.' A jerk of vague mathematical proportion, but definitively, a jerk.
        "Indeed, Princess Cecilia. I am appreciative of your affirmation." This is about as genuine as he can ever really sound, but her confirmation once again cements that this is a Guardian Statue, as the majority complies with his requests and instructions.
        "Your witnessing is enough, Miss Prissa." Ethius remarks, although he closes his eyes at saying this for a short while (to surrender the staring contest or acknowledge her impression of him is basically dead on?!). Come to think of it, he doesn't like to close his eyes at length for long in the company of much of anyone. But moving on...
        "It is true something is on 'the fritz' as you put it, Miss Talise." Ethius remarks with a nod. "As Miss Layna, Miss Chime, and and Miss Ragnell speak," there's a half-beat pause after addressing her name, which probably means something but it's just one curious data point on top of many, "Mother is awakened, but the limiters on their power appear to remain at present... if tested to their breaking point." They have time, then, to address this. Ethius brings a hand to his forehead as if in contemplation - one of his weird repetitive physical tics. "It would have been convenient, Miss Ida, had the Guardian Statues been interlinked to one another as per a grid. It would have proven much easier to locate them." Wait, if they're not interlinked to each other, but are linked to something, then...
        "As it so happens, Miss Gwen, Mister Fei," Ethius says as he pulls the hand away from his forehead, back to that stiff, military-man-standing-at-attention thing he does in spite of being a ruffian with a mismatched vocabulary. "We are not at square one. Miss Gwen, Miss Elly, though I do not know of a means at present as to how to reinforce the seal," that's not good news, "for the stated function of the Guardian Statues, I am to believe we are witness to the live connection between a given part of the seal, and Mother herself. To see the seal itself may yet be a reminder of its continued function... but the visual imparts yet another vital piece of information."
        Ethius rustles under the poncho again for something else. What could this something else be? Something that fits in one's hand--
        A compass. Just an ordinary compass. Well, a nicer one than usual, but that's still a compass one could get anywhere that sells traveling supplies.
        "It tells us where Mother is located."

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

        Ragnell glances at Ida without any particular emotion. She'd heard from Beast that the woman had been cleansed of her Malevolence and returned to being human; it's clear at a glance that this is true. A few others come to similar conclusions as she did, taken in somewhat different directions--but it turns out that Ethius has something else in mind beyond what they've assumed.
        
        "Huhhhh," she murmurs, eyebrows rising when he makes the big reveal. "That's a good point. If the seals are there to seal Mom, an' Mom is testing her bonds, then tracin' 'em back ought to lead us to her. Smart."
        
        ...
        
        Is that her only reaction?!

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Something about Ethius makes Talise want to throw him through a plate-glass window. Maybe it's how damned opaque and machine-like he is. She resists her baser impulses because in this case, he's saying something interesting. "Well, Elder Halle did say we had four hundred and forty-four days to finish the job. We've probably spent... what, probably a bit over three hundred and seventy so far? And that's not counting the gap between when we got the quest and when we sealed the first one. So we're getting on towards the end, unless Elder Halle undershot it. Or overshot it for that matter." Talise muses with a tilt of her head. "It'd stand to reason that the spell would start to weaken, especially with Mother out and around...."

Ethius reveals something else of interest. Talise leans in and checks out his compass.

"Do I want to know where you got a Mother compass," she asks, giving Ethius a brief, slightly dubious look. But then, most things are slightly dubious when Ethius is involved.

"...I take it she isn't on this continent," Talise says.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        Indeed, that would've been too easy--for both the Metal Demons, and for the people badgered into service by the Guardians. Ida folds her arms, which takes far more effort than it should, and settles her weight on her back foot. Ethius sounds like a bizarre mix of lecturer and automaton, stilted and off-putting but clearly not reciting this from rote. She thinks back to what little she witnessed of him in Castle Rabenstein, where he was (probably) (almost certainly) responsible for destroying her Mannikins while she slept. That was his priority then. This, however...

        'It tells us where Mother is located.'

        Ida's eyes gleam with something approaching confidence. Things click into place. "Triangulation," she says, because while she's not familiar with the magical variant, determining the location of a specific point based on other points is basic math. "It's not a Mother compass," she says, to Talise. "He took measurements off the seal at each statue, and used those to plot out where the thing they were sealing was located." Ida frowns, slightly. "...If I were to make a guess based on past evidence, I'd guess Elru somewhere, probably in the north. The Demons' base of operations cannot be far away, and she may even be inside it."

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

 
PRISSA replies to Lydia and Talise: "I am very attractive," before becoming a background figure.

Elly opens her mouth to ask an obvious question of Ethius, but Ida pre-empts her. Her mouth closes. Her head tilts for a moment, frowning in thought, because hey: it makes sense. Elru, she thinks, glancing back to Fei and the Princess.

<Pose Tracker> Chime Isa has posed.

Chime tilts her head slightly, and says "That's a large claim~ But given the direction it's pulling that's north east by east from here. Assuming you're accurate in that it leads directly to." still smiling. "And I think Lacour could be ruled out or else rumors would've already started I'd think long ago of a ruin or base hidden there no?"

Chime hums softly to herself as she looks from person to person speaking, she listens intently. "If as the others mention she's no on Ignas, Elru would be the next stop in the direction, unless it's pulling from almost half-way around Filgaia." she chimes in, "Anyone going will need transportation to cross the ocean~" glancing towards Layna.

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

There are others here, too. A lot of others, as it turns out, and most of them are familiar faces. Layna folds her arms in front of herself and glances to each of them in turn as they add their own input to the situation, while Dahlia muses on the situation at hand.

Eventually, Ethius speaks again. Layna looks a little smug as he says her name, even though she didn't actually have anything useful to say. Dahlia just frowns...and then he says something interesting. They can find out where Mother is located. A wide grin begins to appear on Layna's face.

Triangulation, Ida says - now that was something Layna knew well enough about. It was an important thing to know when you were the captain of a ship.

"I figure it's as good a hunch as any. So what you're sayin' is, we can go find Mother and put her back in her box before the seal weakens any further, aye?" Layna says, cracking her knuckles. "'Course, there's probably gonna be 'bout a thousand Metal Demons between us an' her...but that's a bet I'm willin' to take."

She hesitates.

"So, uh...where is she, then?" She asks. Ida says northern Elru, but that was still pretty broad, especially when one considered how dangerous Elru could be.

She looks toward Chime, then grins and nods.

"Aye, I've got a ship - best ship on the sea, in my humble opinion!" Layna laughs. "I'd be willin' to take passengers. Wouldn't charge ya for it...but I'd expect you to do your part while you're aboard."

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        Leave it to Gwen to seize on that tiny nugget of hope that Ethius just cast out.

        "... She's not at her full strength, huh..." The courier begins to perk up. "So, just maybe... We can use this channel to hook up a bomb and it'll get sent to... damn it, okay, I know that's not how it works." She laughs, shrugging. "Would be real nice if we didn't have to fight her directly, because doin' that'd be nigh impossibl...." She frowns, pressing a few gloved fingers to her forehead. "That's what we're gonna do, isn't it."

        Overhearing Talise, Gwen is about to help, but Ida steps in for her. "Elru, huh. Never been there. It'll, uh, be quite the adventure. We'll need t'figure out what might be awaitin' us there. Maybe if we can pick the brains of those who've defected from Mother's command? We could build up some kinda idea of what'd be waitin' for us."

        There's Elru, and there's Arctica. Two areas devastated, offering nothing of help to anyone who dares go there.

        "Well, that's one part of the equation solved already." Gwen gives Layna a nod. "Though I wonder if comin' all in one boat'd be real safe. The more ways we get there, the more ways we can convene in case one of us gets shot down or has to withdraw. We'd be walkin' into the lion's den, so we need all the advantages we can get. Well, er, I guess, the lioness's den?"

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

        Ragnell chuckles and pats Gwen on the shoulder. "Wouldn't be a challenge if it weren't nigh impossible."

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

"...That's impressive, Ethius... To think you were doing this under all our noses." He glances over to Ragnell though because, let's face it, all this secrecy of Ethius's might mean little simply due to her presence here! Fei has a hard time trusting her after learning that she and Elly aren't the BFFS she claimed they were, even if it's not exactly made him give up on her either, otherwise he'd probably be saying something about that right now!

Of course, maybe it's more of a compliment to the Sorcery Lens but it takes a man to use the tools given to him. Fei doesn't seem surprised by the idea of Mother being in Elru. Honestly, it's entirely possible he could've just asked Riesenlied for the location but he can understand why folks might have a hard time trusting HER information too.

"But," Fei says. "Knowing where she is isn't enough." He glances over to Cecilia but does not spill what they had learned at their strategy session just yet either. Best to keep that one under wraps for a bit longer and at the very least, he trusts Cecilia to know whom to trust with that information.

"But I don't think we can go yet." Fei says. "I mean, for starters, we should probably take more than one boat. They'll probably try to stop us from reaching Mother while she is recovering."

He frowns. "And to be honest, I don't think we'd survive if we tried to fight her as we are. We should make sure we're as prepared as possible before we go to Elru." MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ALL THE ITEMS YOU WANT AND SIDEQUESTS COMPLETE GUYS SOME OF THEM MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE LATER. "Even with the seal, we've had a hard enough time fighting the Metal Demons without their God."

And we need Asgard, Fei thinks, whatever it is. "Maybe I can talk to Bart about Diablo..."

<Pose Tracker> Sephilia Lampbright has posed.

Sephy has stopped teasing and sneering. She's not saying anything, just...staring.

<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

Cecilia has thought of this as religion, as magic. To see it broken down as simple science makes a certain sense, but nonetheless feels...weird. Still, she considers, cupping her chin as she thinks, as the others explain. "A way to pinpoint Mother using the way the Seals are set up..." She purses her lips. "I don't think they'll have done that on purpose," she mutters, mostly because by this point it's extremely obvious to the Shaman of the Guardians that NOBODY had a plan at ANY STAGE of this process.

Well, that's not true, apparently Ethius did. Good work, bandana guy. She glances to Fei. "She's going to be at the heart of their citadel. The Guardians tried to teleport us there, once, at Guardian Temple. Siegfried deflected the will of all the Guardians at once with his terrible dark spear. We can't assume that just getting there will be all we need." Huff. She stands up straighter. "Still. This will be extremely helpful. Thank you."

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

         Gwen laughs, glancing back at Ragnell. "Ain't you suppose t'be the one tellin' me to not take so many risks?"

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        Ida gives Cecilia a look at that grandiose claim. Her eyebrow arches, ever-so-slightly.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        As they all converse about this revelation, Ethius brings forth a parchment from somewhere else under his poncho. (He either has a poncho full of pockets hidden underneath, or this is a bad case of animation recycling.) It's a list of written locations and coordinates as agreed upon by the system the Adventurer's Guild uses for marking locations, and their popular names. By coincidence, Talise is the first one it gets handed to.
        The parchment contains six data points to be applied to one's map of choice (Ethius additionally circulates a map of his own moments later with this already applied). Most of them originate from roughly the same general region, but each one has a roman numeral attached as though the order he made the measurements were of importance - along with an admitted potential margin of error.
        The first one holds the greatest margin of error and originates from the location of Wayside prior to its untimely end. Schturdark's statue, which was later destroyed. Riesenlied bid they wait to seal it, and a price was paid for it.
        The second one, located within Nortune... Aru Solatu's statue. Ida might even remember being exasperated when requested they put off sealing it for a short time while he did something odd - holding the Spectral Lens in one hand, and presumably a compass in the other. That's what he was doing, then...!
        The third is here, in the Sword-Saint Sanctuary, when he broke off from the gathered while he investigated the sealed statue of Equites. If someone looks at the compass now, even without the jagged, strained line in front of them, the directional heading does not appear to have changed at all from what he previously recorded.
        The fourth one might be the most important, as it is located somewhere geographically distinct from most the rest - Krosse Cave, where Leitea Salk's was located as everyone present had moved to save Virginia from the depths of her battle with Malevolence.
        Wehaca marks the fifth... Noua Shax's statue. The same one Ethius damn near destroyed himself in a fit of... something or another, as they all struggled to fight against a monstrous Sword Dancer as part of K.K.'s machinations.
        The sixth and last one comes from the Decaying Labyrinth's location, where Duras Drum's statue lies. Where Ethius conducted his work as others decided to have a conversation with thin air full of earth-shattering revelations.
        Putting all the points together leads to... exactly as Ida says.
        "Correct. Mother is not to be found on Ignas." Ethius reaffirms the consensus. "Every map I have taken my data to, each one puts her location at the region of northern Elru." Maps do vary in quality and detail, but the individual data points do not lie. They all point exactly in this direction, and with six points of data recorded...
        Hand on forehead again. "It was my intent to see to the process of disposing of Mother while much of her forces were focused on locating the statues." How, exactly? What resources or influence could this man have possibly commanded to this end? This speaks of delusion on his part. "The events of the Pleasing Gardens and the passage of time - as well as the news of her awakening - has dictated otherwise."
        Fei brings up an important point about how difficult and dangerous it would be to go there now, even with her in a weakened state. They have the where to deal with her - but how? Ethius may not have gotten that far. Fei discusses the matter of Diablo - that's the Golem he toasted at Adlehyde. (Why the hell did Ethius go on and try to destroy one of their best shots at dealing with Mother, way back when? That remains mysterious and inexplicable.)
        The thanks, the appreciation, the compliments, and the lack of further snark seem to roll off of him as he returns to standing with his arms folded behind his back. "I understand a number of you may yet harbor doubts or concerns about the timeliness of this disclosure. Had a Metal Demon, their allies, or any sympathetic," what is the difference between 'their allies' or 'any sympathetic'? This is a curious division in terminology of otherwise similar words, "became aware of this, what small advantage - or perhaps mere chance, now - would have been surrendered. This location, at this very time, remained the best window of opportunity in which to disclose this matter."
        It has been nearly two weeks since the second attack on Adlehyde. Could he not have spoken up sooner? Little does anyone else suspect that there are two others who know of this information. He is hoping that this is enough of a head start for their own preparations with the dire news afoot.
        "What you do with this information from here is up to you. All I ask in turn is your discretion." They can do anything with this information, but be discrete?! Like not tell anyon--
        "You did not receive this from me." Oh. That kind of discrete. "It is difficult to work underneath the magnifying glass of the enemy."

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

 
"... Do you know if Weltall..." Elly begins to ask Fei, before trailing off in deference to the large number of shady people around (mostly Ethius) but also because she doesn't feel that she can press too hard on Fei, given everything, to 'pilot it'.

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Talise flashes Prissa a little grin. "I noticed." She'll probably flirt with her more offscreen later, unless she de-backgrounds.

Ida explains something that Talise didn't figure out. "Right, that makes sense. Like a starmap with statues," Talise muses, scratching at one of her cheekstripes.

Tilting her head back, she smiles thoughtfully. "Elru. Sounds like an interesting place... I've heard a little about it." Here she flashes Layna a broad grin, her eyes bright. "Good thing we're back on the waves, huh?"

Chime gets a quick wave from Talise too. "Yeah! C'mon travel with us. It'll be pretty great."

Ethius hands her the pad, and Talise takes it, pursing her lips and checking it over. She tilts it to show Sephilia, Layna and Chime even as she pulls her own notebook from her pocket with her other hand. Balancing the book against the crook of her arm, she takes down the sets of coordinates for future reference. Gotta triangulate, after all.

"...Yeah, the detour to Lunar did take a lot of time," she murmurs, lowering her eyelids ever so slightly. Then she gives Ethius an odd look. "...Okay there, bud." Then she pauses. "...Thanks for doing this," she says, more genuinely.

<Pose Tracker> Sephilia Lampbright has posed.

Sephy jots notes too, grudgingly.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

        Ragnell gives Fei a jaunty smile and wave. Who couldn't trust this face? Then to Gwen, airily, she drawls, "I don't know what you're talkin' about." Cecilia chimes in with a brief story about getting baseball-batted back to the Guardian Temple by Siegfried's mighty spear. Ragnell pats her on the shoulder, too. "That musta been rough, Cece."
        
        Ethius talks again. Ragnell raises an eyebrow at his use of 'sympathetic,' but nods slowly. She half-smirks when he asks for their discretion, specifically that they didn't hear this from him, but she doesn't remark.

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

"Aye, you've got a point. A fleet would probably better - arrivin' at different times and at different locations. Keep 'em guessin'." Layna agrees with a nod toward Gwen. And the others raise some valid points, too - it wouldn't be an easy fight. A part of Layna was hoping for that, admittedly.

And Cecilia mentions that apparently the Guardians tried to teleport her and her team into the enemy's base??

"Might be for the best that didn't work out." Layna comments.

At this point, Ethius passes around a parchment. While Talise has it in hand, Layna looks it over and Dahlia takes a moment to jot down some notes.

...So, now they've got a better shot at doing something about this. Layna looks toward Ethius.

"...This don't excuse everythin'...but you did good, lad." She admits with a shrug. She didn't like it, but she was ready to admit when she was wrong.

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        The parchment gets passed around. Ida takes it, rummages in her duster pocket for a pencil and notebook, and copies down the coordinates. When the map comes around, she cross-references, because double-checking measurements is just what you do in her line of work. "So that's what you were up to," she says. If she'd known he was triangulating at the time, she wouldn't have been so angry at the delay, but then again, Ethius may or may not think of her as a 'sympathizer'. After Rabenstein, it's not exactly secret that she has feelings for a Demon who is still loyal to Mother.

        "Why now?" Ida says. "Why not sooner?"

 <Pose Tracker> Chime Isa has posed.
<poem>Chime continues to kick her feet back and forth as she listens, and watches. Despite her height, her forty years is on display as she quietly with a bright smile sits there watching the gathered people. A large leather bound journal appears from the backpack beside her, and she begins to write into it softly taking her own notes note just on what was discussed, but everyone present too if anyone takes a moment to look at her writting.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei says, "Siegfried deflected a teleportation with a spear?" Apparently he hasn't had a flashback about him doing that before, judging from his expression.

Man I could totally punch out a teleportation.

Then why didn't you??

Nobody tried to teleport at me before

Fei finds himself frowning deeply and also skeptically. Still, if nothing else, he understands exactly what the difference is between 'ally' and 'sympathetic'.

"Of course," He murmurs. "We can't take it slow either. We're standing on a wire here."

And of course, Elly makes mention of Fei's own secret weapon that he hardly ever uses. "Weltall." Fei says. "...Hah, yeah. I guess it's been a little hypocritical of me, saying something like that while I'm holding back something that powerful when we're fighting something so dangerous." He looks up to the ceiling for a long moment. "...I mean, I guess if I think about it, if it goes out of control in a place like that...it'd still probably mostly take out problems rather than..."

He trails off. "I don't want that to happen of course, but I think I'm...we're out of options."

SUDDENLY

A black haired man with glasses that is wearing a light green long sleeved qipao walks into the Sword Sanctuary. "Ah, I'm glad to hear you say that Fei," He says. "--Though I seem to be a little late. I'm sorry everyone, I got held up."

Fei blinks in surprise, "Doc!?"

'Doc!?' looks over to Fei and says, "Ah, hello there." He looks to Elly. "Ah, and you Miss Elly. Hello there." His gaze shifts over to Ethius's work for a long moment. He pushes up his glasses. "Well done, well done. My name is Citan Uzuki. Ethius Hesiod, correct? Very clever, you have my esteem."

"Doc, what are you doing here??" Fei asks.

"Well," Citan says. "I thought you might have need of Weltall with the seal on Mother broken, so I took the opportunity to recover it from Lost July and refuel it. I believe it's already in New Petra, waiting for you."

Fei stares at Citan, then he rubs the back of his neck. "Cecilia, this is Citan. Citan, this is uh, Cecilia. Um. Adelhyde."

Citan gives Cecilia a small bow. "Ah, the pleasure is mine."

Fei looks to Elly, "I guess that answers that."

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

 
Elly, making a face that can be summarized as '-', asks in a small voice, "Weltall was in Lost July...? I suppose..."

That was so long ago, Elly thinks, except it actually wasn't, was it

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

"Yes, it's strange. Its fuel reserves were utterly exhausted." Citan says.

Fei blinks uncomprehendingly.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Ragnell has posed.

        Ragnell, too, takes a look at the parchment as it gets passed around, though for some reason she's not terribly interested in it. Then again, that might be sensible with everyone else making notes and copies and double-checking and so on. Why do extra work when other people are doing it for you?
        
        Then a simple country doctor comes in talking about Fei's giant death machine and Ragnell decides this might be a good time to fade into the background and practice active listening for a while.


<Pose Tracker> Cecilia Adlehyde has posed.

Cecilia flushes at some of the incredulous looks and Ragnell's possibly patronizing quip. "It worked out," she says, defensively. "It taught us a lot about what we were up against." She grimaces, then. "And how desperate the Guardians were to get the Teardrop out of their hands..."

Then, to Fei, she says, "Yes. It was rather disorienting to say the least, though it seems to have done the Guardians more harm than the dizziness I suffered."

She glances to the side, then. She doesn't want to start another fight about Siegfried being an impossible beast that has to be stopped. Not in public, anyway.
 question doesn't...even really occur to her. She finds herself glancing at the martial scholar, curious of her state after all that transpired.

Then a wizard shows up! Wait no it's just a doctor. She does not bow to him because she is a princess and is the one people bow to. "Nonetheless, fine to meet you, ah, Doctor? Are you...with Bart's crew...?"

She made this stunning leap from the fact that Citan appears to be Fei's Gear caddy.

<Pose Tracker> Gwen Whitlock has posed.

        Wehaca. Ah, yes. That Time When Ethius Nearly Killed Gwen With That Weird Magic Stuff. Gwen remembers well.

        Looking up from the supplied map from over Talise's shoulder, Gwen glances back to Fei.
        
        "It won't. You're not the same person you were then."

        There's a flash of a grin as she looks away.

        "So you were planning ahead." Gwen tilts her head at Ethius, her mouth moving to one side. "I can't argue the logic there, but it certainly was a stroke of luck that what happened was the sorta thing you were makin' plans for." Though, if it hadn't... wouldn't it just not be brought up? Maybe there's dozens of little side projects Ethius was doing in the event of some future possibility.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Whatever it is with this man's obsession with not being named when his name has been passed around so openly for some time - or why someone just simply seems to want to be so distant as to maybe even eschew the very possibility that history will acknowledge him as someone who may have given Filgaia the beginnings of a fighting chance by already knowing where to go find Mother - is just something that looks like it won't get a satisfactory answer.
        Ethius doesn't seem to have much commentary on the idea of the Guardians having tried to fling Cecilia and others straight into the heart of the Metal Demon stronghold. He takes the praise by Talise and Layna in stride. It may be more telling that he has nothing to say about whether any of this excuses what he's done and/or will likely continue to do.
        "Any sooner, at any other location, would have invited the possibility of further complications that would have undone my observations." A roundabout way to say 'no comment' at heart. Ethius says everything in a roundabout, overly verbose way at the best of times. He quietly takes watch and stock of others' discussions and plans. The possibility of using a terrible weapon that Fei cannot contr--
        The strange man - the one already present who had everyone's attention - visibly flinches at the new arrival. That's not easy to get out of him, certain painful stimuli from beating him about the dang head notwithstanding.
        "You are familiar with--" Ethius doesn't get to finish that statement as the simple country doctor states his name - and his own - in greeting. He is moved to speechlessness, and his gaze never leaves the man in green the entire time.
        He might not even blink at all.
        "...Yes." Yes to what? There's a lot of things he could be saying 'yes' to, but he appears very noticeably taken off-guard. A hand goes to his forehead. "It is time to move forward on preparations." It's almost dismissive, at this juncture. "Your cooperation is appreciated."
        Back to that same scripted line of his - but with the information given out, there is no further point in lingering around. In a way, though they ended up having to rely on another to relay such, the Guardian Statues themselves had one final important message to give, a critical piece of information, that would enable the gathered to stand and fight for Filgaia by taking the fight to the Metal Demon hordes, and their Mother.
        To bring themselves right to her doorstep.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

"I...wow." Fei tells Cecilia. "Well I bet they can't deflect boats." Hearing that someone can knock away beam teleportation with a spear is not something you usually want to hear about someone before you're about to go fight them for the fight of humanity but he supposes it could be worse.

........It's actually kind of nice to not be able to figure out what a worse case scenario is in the moment.

Fei is assured that Weltall 'won't go out of control'. He smiles sheepishly at Gwen, "Heh, well, I suppose that's true." Is it, Junior?

Citan talks with Cecilia first because she is the royalty in the room. He doesn't seem to mind not being bowed at back or bowing in general. "Ah, well, in an unofficial capacity you could say. I'm an old friend of Fei's from Lahan." He pushes up his glasses again in his rote animation. "I've been looking after him when I could since the unfortunate happenings there." Unfortunate?? The place blew up! "You could say I'm his guardian angel." He laughs it off as if it's a joke.

"Doc's saved me from countless jams," Fei says though really this isn't true and Citan mostly gives him philisophical advice periodically, but Fei seems to believe it when he says it. "Also, Ceci, you should definitely try his wife's cooking sometime. I still haven't found anything that beat it since, well..." He shrugs a shoulder.

Citan says, "Of course, who wouldn't be aware of the famous Ethius Hesiod." He laughs. "I joke, I joke... Fei mentioned you had set him on fire before?" Pause. "Well, he mentioned it a few times actually. Nevertheless..." He extends a hand towards Ethius. "Your cooperation is appreciated." Wait isn't that what Ethius just...

"Thank you for being discreet about what you've found." Citan adds.

"He's my only friend from Lahan left," Fei murmurs to Cecilia. "I'm glad he's okay."

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

        Ida recognizes the man in the qipao. "Doctor Uzuki," she says. She only met him once, but it was during a trying time, and the simple fact that he helped patch her up made an impression.

        ...And also the fact that he brought Weltall to the city, somehow, despite Fei referring to him as the village's doctor. Out of fuel? ...Hm.

        Ethius is caught flat-footed by the whole thing. Curious.

        Ida looks back at Cecilia, a thoughtful frown on her features. "If nothing else," she says, "it's a lead." Now all that's left is the oh-so-minor matter of traveling halfway across the world, sneaking into enemy territory undetected, infiltrating an enemy fortress, and either negotiating with or assassinating an entity that the enemy worships as a living god.

        Just a small matter. But there are other matters, too.

        "Princess," she says, taking a step forwards and lowering her voice. "We have... another matter that deserves attention as well." It's awkward, talking to her as though nothing happened, and that things are still the same as they were before the Guardian Temple. But the things she's been hearing... "Saint Centour." She doesn't elaborate at first. Cecilia's reaction will likely help her narrow down what she has to elaborate on. She doesn't look directly at Fei--it's like she regrets bringing this up when he's already wrestling with so much.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

While Citan is harassing poor Ethius--

Fei says, "Yeah, I don't know where she's staying right now but...yeah, it's to..." He was going to say die for but instead says, "...live for?" He grimaces awfully.

Meanwhile, Fei's ear twitches. Saint Centour.