2018-09-17: Sharing Memories

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============================<* Ruins of Memory *>=============================

The Ruins of Memory are located in the Ranchlands, as a towering structure nestled in the foothills. The temple's outer layer has been thoroughly pilfered, with large and emptied rooms that have little but inscriptions on the walls. The Ruins allegedly date back to the Metal Demon War. The lower levels of the Ruins of Memory, however, have not been breached. There, one can find fiendish puzzles and drop traps that make this a dangerous place to explore. Nonetheless, it is said that ancient treasures and ancient history lay within.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C55flOnlXMg
DG: A party led by Talia is now entering Ruins of Altered Memory.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
=========================<* Ruins of Altered Memory *>==========================
==================<* CHALLENGE - Speed-Running Old Content *>===================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 To reach the Ruins of Altered Memory, one must first cross through the Ruins  
 of Memory proper. Although many of the dangers in the Ruins of Memory are no  
 longer so great, and you may know of them, it still takes time to get         
 through them -- unless you do something to shave time off. Perhaps some pits  
 are leaped over; perhaps some secret doors are known. Whatever the reason,    
 you should hurry!                                                             
                                                                               
 You will know when you reach the door into the depths of the Ruins. The       
 large, double doors are covered in Elw runes. Those runes are inert, without  
 any light to them. Nonetheless, when you approach, the double doors of stone  
 open -- revealing chambers of dark green stone, occasionally alight with the  
 glow of strange, spectrally lit blue torches.                                 
=Dungeon Conditions: Reckless, Injure=========================================
<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

    EVEN EARLIER

Rumors had circled back to Adlehyde, after the recent influx of Drifters took to the countryside. Talia ignored it at first; she was content to stay in a city, not worry about who she needed to murder, and try to relax -- and try to keep the ever present fear that her brother had been in Azado, after all, to the back of her mind. But, eventually, days spent at the Festina Lente and Adlehyde's streets couldn't keep her occupied. Even pitching in and helping rebuild...

She was, at heart, an adventurer. She just didn't always admit it.

Which is why one of the doors of the Festina Lente opens up, and Talia has a grin on her face as she looks across the way at Katherine Weaver. "So~o~o... I found an interesting rumor, no? About a place that..."

    A LITTLE EARLIER

"...has some amazing things located deep underground! Ancient ruins, which have an eerie blue light, and they supposedly might have wonderful treasures!" Talia says. She winks, as she stands before a group of people that she asked to meet her by Memory Cube-sent message.

Except, of course, for Katherine. She asked Katherine in person. The reason becomes clear:

"And I know that I tried to murder most of you, or tried to murder your friends, or both, but... that... actually is nearly everyone I know. And beggars can't be choosers, no?" Talia asks. She winks at them, then looks sideways at Katherine and Lydia, with an expression that says: 'How did I do?'

"I thought... it may be worth exploring!"

    HERE AND NOW

To get to the Ruins of Altered Memory, though, they have to go through the Ruins of Memory first. Which is why Talia is running behind a massive boulder that is rolling through the hallway. It smashes into a group of Spartoi, shattering the skeletons and sending them flying away. Talia's hand swings Mirage out to a side, and she takes a couple of long, deep breaths. "W-Well... I think..."

She watches as the boulder rounds a corner, and then bulldozes clean through a large, locked door. Dust and dirt fly everywhere. "...We are almost to it, no?"

DG: Talia has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Speed-Running Old Content.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

A LITTLE EARLIER

"It's okay," Lydia says, twirling a portal pistol around a finger. "One lady's attempted murder, is another lady's friendly greeting." Pause. "But don't ask me, I forgave you ages ago." She isn't exactly going to force everybody to forgive Talia or anything but honestly, there's a significant portion of 'Deangroup' around so she frankly expects most people present to forgive her and of course there's Jean, who honestly Lydia can't imagine not forgiving Talia.

Wait, is Katherine also a former assassin? How many assassins does she know? Why does she know so many ninjas? She isn't a ninja herself. Sure she might be able to catch somebody in the back with a knife but she can't make her fists glow with evil shadow energy or summon shadow portals, in fact as a Shaman of Rigdobrite she's really more affiliated with the light side of the spectrum even if, okay, sometimes stars become black holes and such but that's not really an element of the Rigdobrite philosophy that is particularly relevant to her superpowers. She ain't that OP.

HERE AND NOW

--Does this mean other people she knows are secretly assassins and she just hasn't figured it out yet? That's kind of bummer, she thinks, that so many people have had rough lives like that even though she--

"Huh?" Lydia asks. "What?"

She blinks. "When'd we get here? hmm. Okay." She snaps out some portals to help people use CHEAT HAX STRATS to get through the ruins more quickly. With careful portal use you can save off SECONDS off of your final time and if you use them correctly that's the difference between a WORLD RECORD and merely Top 100.

Reach for the top, Portal Gunbuster.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Portal Pistols toward her party's challenge, Speed-Running Old Content.
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

    PREVIOUSLY
    "Oh, hey, it's Talia!" Dean says, perking at the message from the Memory Cube. He doesn't know Talia well, but he does know she helped protect Avril when everyone was fighting that giant dog Hellion in Uzda Il-Jam. Much like that Hellion, Talia is a good boy. Girl. Human. When she brings up the murder part though, he blinks rapidly, smile fading. "Wait, what?"
    
    ABOUT TEN MINTES AGO
    "So, that part about the murder was a joke, right?" Dean asks Talia.
    
    CURRENTLY
    Dean is also running because of the boulder! Knowing him, he probably triggered the trap in the first place. BUT HE HAD TO, OKAY. Fortunately, there's a cubby he can duck into, which he does while sliding on a patch of ice he froze with his Freeze Ray to boost his speed and make sure he gets out of the way in time, allowing the boulder to pass by. He pokes his head out, then looks at Talia and the others. "Yeah, I think so," he says.
    
    His lips twist into a brief frown as he recalls Talia's answer from before. Then he looks over at Avril, who's gone through this dungeon more than he has, and, regardless of who Talia has murdered or attempted to murder, still protected, and that's worth something to him. (Rebecca will probably yell at him a LOT later, but that's just what Rebecca does. It's fine. (it's probably not fine)) "What d'you think?"
    
    Lydia asks when they got here. "We've been here? Or do you mean, like, HERE here. Because we got here just now!" Dean supplies helpfully. Though given that one is generally arriving at new places 'just now,' well...

DG: Dean Stark has used his Tool Freeze Ray toward his party's challenge, Speed-Running Old Content.
<Pose Tracker> Jean has posed.

After the flash of light that marked the Elw machinery's activation, Jean did not appear in the midst of a battlefield. She did not appear in the midst of a crowd, even. Jean ended up appearing in one of the ranch houses the dot the Adelyn farmlands, and into the middle of an adventure. ...But that was then. Slightly less long ago...

A LITTLE EARLIER

"...Guess you've probably heard of me by now, huh?" Jean asks Talia, not quite sighing but kind of close to it. But she straightens her shoulders and puts on a smile, putting out her hand towards Talia's. "I'll go with you. It might be fun!"

A beat, "But you'll owe me a drink later for my trouble!"

HERE AND NOW

Leaping across a chasm--no, not even leaping across it, leaping to the side and kicking off of the other wall to bypass an otherwise annoying path--Jean, dressed in dancer's attire, comes to a stop on a platform near Talia once the boulder crashes through. "Looks like," she answers, setting her fans back to her sides and looking towards the others. "It might help if we can find something in one of these ruins..."

Jean stops to stretch a little. "Everybody okay?"

DG: Jean has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Speed-Running Old Content.
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    EARLIER

    They must go east. Word had spread quickly; where Mother and the Metal Demons awaited was on the continent of Elru, far to the east.
    Elru, the land where apparently someone was seeking her and hoped she might there return.
    But to get there, they needed a boat.
    And as Avril had discovered, boats were eather expensive, to charter or to buy.
    So it seemed they would need to obtain the money to do exactly that.

    So it's almost a pragmatic reason as to why she had agreed when the request had come from Talia.
    That, and the hope that possibly they might find something useful down there in the depths. Either related to the Metal Demons and that distant war... or to herself.

    (Avril, for her own reasons, apparently takes the commentary on murder completely in stride. Then again, Greg had sort of tried to kill them too...)

    NOW

    "It should be somewhere around here, Dean--"

    One glance is tossed back over a shoulder. Briefly, Avril's eyes widen at the sight of the boulder in those instants before she takes to running.
    At least... it's not an unexpected danger, and likely one of the reasons why she's kept that Medium of hers in hand throughout the upper reaches of the Ruins of Memory.

    "Lucadia!" The basic ability sunk into the artificial Medium still works even if the Guardians' voices are muted; the Sea Guardian's power wraps around them in an embrace of blue light.

    It's still a narrow one no matter how you put it.

    Ducking back into an alcove she stands there stockstill as the bolder grinds on past, her silver hair whipping out to one side as it continues on its route towards a door of destiny.

    "Yes, I believe so," she says, once the dust settles. "Let us continue onwards!"

DG: Avril Vent Fleur has used her Tool Sea Medium toward her party's challenge, Speed-Running Old Content.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Amaranth has posed.

    A LITTLE EARLIER

    Katherine just seems to be all hearts and doves (literally, because she's manifested big puffy balloon hearts and mrrpy-doves around her) as she claps her hands gently and laces her hands together. "You did great, you did great~!" she smiles just a little more brightly as she tilts her head. "I'm sure they'll be happy to come with us!"

    A pause. "Oh, wait, it's dangerous, isn't it...? H-hmm..."

    HERE AND NOW

    Katherine is not a... Drifter. Drifter? Is that the term? She's not even familiar with that term until just now. The Ruins of Memory is about the right challenge level for Katherine Weaver, as she faux-pants behind Talia and goes, "T-t-this is a bit more exciting than I th--oooought!"

    Says the weaver who's still wearing her pretty blue and white dress with the red sash, carrying her grimoire in one hand as she slumps. "Is it going somewhere even more dangerous...?"

    She pinches her nose and just jumps straight through one of Lydia's portals like it's going to splash her underwater and-- blinks as she looks to Dean and Jean and Avril, gasping, "Oh my! Hello!"

    You know, even when Lydia and Talia kinda know about her real background, she's playing up that ingenue angle somewhat hard...

DG: Seraph Amaranth has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Speed-Running Old Content.
=========================<* Ruins of Altered Memory *>==========================
==================<* CHALLENGE - Speed-Running Old Content *>===================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 To reach the Ruins of Altered Memory, one must first cross through the Ruins  
 of Memory proper. Although many of the dangers in the Ruins of Memory are no  
 longer so great, and you may know of them, it still takes time to get         
 through them -- unless you do something to shave time off. Perhaps some pits  
 are leaped over; perhaps some secret doors are known. Whatever the reason,    
 you should hurry!                                                             
                                                                               
 You will know when you reach the door into the depths of the Ruins. The       
 large, double doors are covered in Elw runes. Those runes are inert, without  
 any light to them. Nonetheless, when you approach, the double doors of stone  
 open -- revealing chambers of dark green stone, occasionally alight with the  
 glow of strange, spectrally lit blue torches.                                 
=Dungeon Conditions: Reckless, Injure=========================================
====================<* Ruins of Altered Memory - Round 1 *>=====================
====================< Results - Speed-Running Old Content >=====================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia                               0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Amaranth                     0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jean                                0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Avril Vent Fleur                    0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Sea Medium                          2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dean Stark                          0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Freeze Ray                          2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Portal Pistols                      2   Agility Effects: Stalwart             
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Talia                       0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Injure(2)|Reckless(2)
Effects: Quicken(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Talia 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> Talia has posed.

    A LITTLE EARLIER

"I was rather surprised, no?" Talia says with a glance to Jean. She shakes her head. That's one down!

And the rest seem somewhat accepting, at least. She flashes a bright grin at Lydia; then, she looks at Katherine, and nods with some pride that is a little forced. "Why, thank you!"

A beat.

"Well," she says, "Yes. But I'll try to keep you safe, no?"

    ABOUT TEN MINUTES AGO

"Ah, well, no," Talia stammers out to Dean. "It wasn't a joke. I was an assassin, you see--ah. Working for... some rather unpleasant people. And I decided to stop, but before that, I did..." She trails off, as she spots something, and then declares: "Oh, a large boulder that could roll through much of the obstacles! H-How well-timed!"

It will not, she realizes, be all that easy to explain these things to people. She glances at Dean, just as she gives the boulder a push. "...If it helps, I really am sorry about it?"

The boulder slams down with a crunch.

    HERE AND NOW

Talia nods along, and then she pumps a fist as the final doors are broken. A large red lizard stands up, roaring -- which is when the boulder, made slick by ice, slams into it and smashes it against the wall. "Bravo!" she calls out. "Wonderful timing! Now, then--"

She looks at the next set of doors. They swing open: into a hallway that is a deep emerald color, with torches that glow a spectral blue. Talia's red eyes widen, as she starts walking forward. "Ah!" she declares. "It is pretty, no?"

DG: Avril Vent Fleur has drawn a new Challenge.
=========================<* Ruins of Altered Memory *>==========================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Orc Hellion Spectral *>=====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 When you enter this room, the dark green walls shimmer. Phantom images of     
 the city of Lastonbell appear, as it looked during the invasion by Hyland.    
 Flames lick off roofs; crackling embers can be heard. Then, in the center of  
 the room, a hulking, green-skinned figure appears -- a Hellion, save made     
 only of solid blue light. Even the 'Malevolence' roiling off it is, in fact,  
 an illusion.                                                                  
                                                                               
 However, the hammer in its hands is more than capable of causing real harm.   
 Which you may discover, as it swings it for you.                              
=Dungeon Conditions: Wound, Injure============================================
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    "I had heard some of it," she mentions to Dean. "...It is similar to Noeline and Riesenlied's situation, in a sense. I..." She trails out, then at length shakes her head.

    "Perhaps, you might discuss it with Rebecca?"

    ...Why Rebecca?

    At any rate, the way before them -- thanks to careful manipulation (?) of the boulder as it slams through obstacles and foes alike -- is made clear, and they exit out into a room with emerald walls.

    "I do not think I have seen this place before," Avril starts to say.

    The walls shimmer.

    "--Wait a moment," Avril says, holding out a hand to prevent Dean and anyone else behind her from advancing.

    It's an impossible thing, but for the moment -- in a ghostly afterimage that flickers across the room -- Lastonbell's siege happens once again. Flames kiss the rooftops, fleetingly. Walls crumble.

    And there in a hard solid blue stands a Hellion, baked in plumes of ersatz Malevolence.

    "An illusion...?" Avril utters, gaze lingering on it. "Wait, no-- get back!"

    The floor doesn't shake as it lumbers forwards and swings.

    But there are still cracks in the floor where the hammer lands.

    Absolute Zero nearly leaps into Avril's hand. Weaving around the oversized illusory Hellion, she swings the empty ARM and pulls the trigger. Light erupts outwards--

    Perhaps even cutting a figure of light in twain.

DG: Avril Vent Fleur has used her Tool Beam Whip Mode toward her party's challenge, Orc Hellion Spectral.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Oh, yeah, I meant like 'here' here." Lydia says.

She puts her hands in her pockets and looks over to Katherine. "Hey Kat," Lydia says. "So what kind of cute outfits are you thinking for Talia next? Like, she has just undergone a major life change, that leaves a lot of options for new outfits. That's how it works, yeah? If you need any advice, you shouldn't ask me because I don't have a lot of fashion sense, but I have a good gut instinct so I can probably be like 'yeah I think this'd look good' if you know what I mena?"

And then there's Lastonbell. Last time Lydia was in Lastonbell she got melted to the bone and it was honestly a pretty awful experience for her, thinking that Talia was murdered and well Kaguya too probably. And that reminds her of Kaguya trying to kill Talia for some reason, and that sucks too! And then there's this orc hellion, which Lydia remembers blasting with a Guardian, which makes her wonder if that was a bad choice??

"Ahh...." Lydia says, backing away. "Since when did the Ruins of Memory actually care about memories???"

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Orc Hellion Spectral.
<Pose Tracker> Jean has posed.

"Ah, ha..." Jean glances to the side for a moment--and then smiles back to Talia. "We all are what we are. But we can choose what we do."

-=-=-

The boulder is pretty well-timed. Jean keeps an eye on Talia and Dean, but doesn't step in yet.

-=-=-

But Jean, once she's settled herself, looks to Katherine and gives her a friendly smile. "Hi there," she answers. "...It's going to be a little dangerous, but don't worry--we'll look out for you!" The dancer offers her a thumbs-up and adds, "I can't let down somebody as fashionable as you are!"

Good-nautredly she moves for the pretty emerald room. "It is--but be careful. Pretty can mean trouble."

...This isn't the kind of trouble she expected, though. She blinks, and feels before she sees; the feeling of war, of estruction... of Malevolence. The dancer stops abrubtly--and then drops back into a ready stance, tension write in her muscles. "...War..."

Jean turns her head to the side for an instant, and straightens. She pulls a flask from her things and uncaps it, taking a deep drink before she does anything else, letting the burn suffuse her, hold her a little against what's to come.

"...I'll keep it off everyone," she says after that, and her brown eyes narrow.

What she does next is... like a dance, in its intricacy and grace, but anyone with a passing familiarity with martial arts can see the way she leaps in front of the illusion and drops into a crouch. "If it's an illusion, it's stronger than anything I can make!"

She swings a claw-held hand forward though she is technically unarmed, and delivers a slash followed up by a spinning set of kicks meant to drive the monster back. "Hah!"

DG: Jean has used her Tool Emergency Flask toward her party's challenge, Orc Hellion Spectral.
<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

When the shimmering light takes on the traits of the walls of Lastonbell, Talia tenses almost immediately. She recognizes it instantly; she helped make the original version of this battle happen. This place, she decides, is less pretty than she thought. Her jaw clenches, and cords are visible in her neck. She is fighting back a panic reaction with visible effort, and mentally chiding herself.

Since when did she panic?

The way the hammer slams into the ground and leaves cracks knocks her out of it.

"This happened on Lunar," she says, her voice quiet. "How did it know--" Her lips curl back, into a grimace, and then she looks up. Mirage is still out; the grey-and-black short sword glints in the torchlight of the place. "Katherine, try to stay behind us."

Maybe it is an act, but she would rather not ask Katherine to fight again. That said, she throws the weapon for its side, a moment after Absolute Zero fires.

She hopes Mirage can find purchase -- for a moment after the blade strikes, she reappears. Her body splits into strands of thick, black smoke. Then, she reappears, and pushes up on the sword to swing her foot around for the orc Hellion's face.

"Demonic Swallow KICK!"

DG: Talia has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Orc Hellion Spectral.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Amaranth has posed.

    Katherine's looking really pleased that people seem to be really helpful and accepting of Talia, but at the same time, after they cross the boundary towards the green-laced walls...

    ... and surface towards what looks exactly like Lastonbell, the look of nervousness is very apt on her face. "Oh no no no, why are we here again? Were we-- were we teleported again?"

    She looks towards Lydia as she starts to natter to try to calm herself, "E-eerrhmmm, something Filgaian! She needs to look the part of a Drifter, so I've been thinking long and hard about what kind of look would be dashing and cute and pop--"

    Katherine really should know better, given that illusions are her forte, but scary illusions are still scary nonetheless. She stares towards the orc hellion and the following things happen:

    happens:

    Katherine goes 'EEEEEEEEEEK'

    Katherine jumps into her grimoire!

    The grimoire jumps into the nearest bag it can find!

    The grimoire starts quivering in terror!

DG: Seraph Amaranth has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Orc Hellion Spectral.
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

    A LITTLE EARLIER
    Dean listens to Talia's answer with a thoughtful frown and without interruption. At the end, when she says she really is very sorry about it, he nods once. "Okay," he says, then offers her a smile and a handshake. "That's good enough for me."
    Then folks have to deal with a boulder, and, well, here we are. Rebecca won't like his easy acceptance, he's sure, prompting his frown later, but again--that's just how Rebecca is. Though, when Avril weighs in on that matter, he blinks at her. "Why Rebecca?" he wonders, echoing that unspoken question.
    
    NOW
    Jean, once the dust settles, asks if everyone's okay. "Yeah, I'm okay! You doing all right yourself?" he asks her back. Katherine, an unfamiliar face, bids greeting to Dean. He smiles back at her and waves, completely not realizing that only a month or two ago, he wouldn't have been able to see her. "Hey! Nice meeting you!" He'd introduce himself next, except then he's distracted by Avril's response, looking over at her with a nod. "All right! Let's get going, then!"
    
    The group reaches the strange Elw rune-carved doors, which open up for them, and then pass beyond. And when they enter the room... Fiery illusions light into feigned existence. Dean stops in his tracks in surprise, held off when Avril reaches an arm out in front of him--he's not familiar with Lastonbell, especially not how it looked during the Hyland invasion, but that doesn't change the fact that this is the image of a once-beautiful town under attack.
    
    "What's going on?!" he calls, Twin Fenrir flashing into his hands. "This can't be real, can it?!" After all, they were just underground, and now they're--not. Even Dean's not oblivious enough to not realize something's wrong. It's at that moment that the green-skinned, blue-light Hellion appears, growling threateningly as it turns towards them. Avril identifies it as an illusion, but even so, there's something dangerously real about the cracks that form when its hammer connects with the ground.
    
    "You're not gonna push *us* around! And you're not gonna fool us, either!" Dean shouts. He charges forward, paired ARMs lashing through the air as he assaults the false creature with his combat rods. "Take THIS!!"

DG: Dean Stark has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Orc Hellion Spectral.
=========================<* Ruins of Altered Memory *>==========================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Orc Hellion Spectral *>=====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 When you enter this room, the dark green walls shimmer. Phantom images of     
 the city of Lastonbell appear, as it looked during the invasion by Hyland.    
 Flames lick off roofs; crackling embers can be heard. Then, in the center of  
 the room, a hulking, green-skinned figure appears -- a Hellion, save made     
 only of solid blue light. Even the 'Malevolence' roiling off it is, in fact,  
 an illusion.                                                                  
                                                                               
 However, the hammer in its hands is more than capable of causing real harm.   
 Which you may discover, as it swings it for you.                              
=Dungeon Conditions: Wound, Injure============================================
====================<* Ruins of Altered Memory - Round 2 *>=====================
=======================< Results - Orc Hellion Spectral >=======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia                               0 --(25)--> 25                 Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Amaranth                     0 --(25)--> 25                 Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jean                                5 --(15)--> 20                 Pass
Emergency Flask                     3   Combat  Effects: Rally                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Avril Vent Fleur                    0 --(25)--> 25                 Fail
Beam Whip Mode                      3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dean Stark                          0 --(25)--> 25                 Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(25)--> 25                 Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Talia                       20 --(10)--> 30                Fail
Conditions: Injure(2)|Reckless(1)|Wound(2)
Effects: 
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Talia 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> Talia has posed.

Talia cries out, as she goes flying from a spectral backhand: "WAIT, ARE YOU PLANNING TO DRESS ME UUUUUUP--"

THWUMP.

"Ow."

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Amaranth has posed.

    Ammy cries out from inside her grimoire (which kind of stretches in polygon to accomodate for her speaking): "YES I AM--" before she gets tossed ontop of Talia, with a band-aid fixed on its leatherbound cover. Ow.

DG: Seraph Amaranth has drawn a new Challenge.
========================<* Ruins of Altered Memory *>=========================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Ring the Bells *>=======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 When you enter the next room, you discover a cavernous hallway, with a        
 stairwell leading down to a door at the center of it. The door at the end of  
 the stairwell is locked.                                                      
                                                                               
 Over the hallway is a massive set of wind chimes, writ large and far bigger   
 than any one person. Some large wooden mallets offer one, but not the only,   
 way to play the chimes. This is when a song from someone's childhood is       
 remembered unbidden. If the song is played upon the chimes, the doors will    
 open -- and a soft, refreshing light washes over all.                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Save Point===============================================
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia is also whalloped and flying and lands on top of Amaranth.

"I'm just trying to get more comfortable about talking about topics that both interest me but also embarrass me as part of my self-actualization!"

This is only like half true she also wants to give Talia a bit of a hard time.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia is also whalloped and goes flying and lands on top of Amaranth.

"I'm just trying to get more comfortable about talking about topics that both interest me but also embarrass me as part of my self-actualization!"

This is only like half true she also wants to give Talia a bit of a hard time.

[OOC] Lydia Seren says, "*bluray that one"
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    JUST A LITTLE BIT AGO

    "Perhaps you might ask her yourself," Avril answers, uncharacteristically coy on the subject. Then again, even she knows that it might be best not to mention to someone that their best friend since forever had been in a fight with someone who has just admitted to attempted murder on several occasions...
    Might be better to wait on that one.

    NOW

    "I do not think it is real, but nevertheless--!" Avril calls back as she rushes in to engage the illusion. Absolute Zero lashes out.

    The beam does go right through the illusory Hellion. It doesn't cut, or indeed, seem to do anything at all. The orc stands there leering at the lot of them. Even when Talia emerges moments later to drive a flying kick at the creature's head, it barely seems to flinch. And then drives a hand to smack Talia aside.
    At which point as Dean and Jean both lunge in to similarly attempt to batter the blue-light figure back it responds with a startlingly fast sweep of its club to smash into the lot of the combatants of the moment. Likely only Jean might be able to -- through the power of alcohol? -- escape the worst of it.

    And there as they lie (some alone, some draped on one another) the walls shimmer again. Cityscape and monster both vanish into silence, the only sign they had ever been present at all the bruises that might be left behind.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Amaranth has posed.

    Amaranth eventually, eventually digs herself out of her grimoire and shivers for a moment, placing a hand to her forehead -- then to Talia's shoulder as she offers Gel for the group as they lie and have some time alone to themselves.

    "--now that the immediate danger is out of the way," Katherine huffs rather annoyedly as she looks towards the rest of the group, winking. "It's nice to meet you! My name's Katherine Weaver, a seamstress. I'm the owner of the Festina Lente in Adlehyde!"

    Some part of her is continually overjoyed that she keeps finding Resonant people, over and over and over again, in such a short amount of time. It really helps to make her dreams feel like they could come true...

    She puts her hands behind her as she tilts her head forward. "You're all very fashionable people, I must say! But if you ever have a--"

    A song starts to echo throughout the chamber, prompting a flat look from Katherine as she twitches.

    It's a children's nursery rhyme -- Talia and maybe Jean's likely very familiar with it, since it's a known chant around playgrounds and nurseries and such in Glenwood, Rolance in particular:

                                  Hexennacht,
                             A night for witches.
                            The court doth packed,
                            Too big their britches.
                                                                               
                                  Hexennacht,
                              A girl with wishes.
                              Her life attacked,
                          Now she sleeps with fishes.

    ... yeah, the subject matter is pretty grotesque if you stop to parse it, but it's been in parlance for so long that no one stops to think about it. (Sort of like 'ring around the rosies...')

    They come upon a chamber with a stairwell leading down to a door within its midst; wooden mallets are centred around a set of wind chimes. Katherine sighs a little bit, and says, "Ah... well-- maybe if we play the melody in order? Sixth-Eights time, in F sharp..."

    She starts weaving her fingers around like she's conducting.

DG: Seraph Amaranth has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Ring the Bells.
<Pose Tracker> Jean has posed.

"Doing fine!" Jean returns to Dean, and in the meantime she hasn't even noticed that Katherine is actually a Seraph. It's just not something she tends to expect. She does, however, notice something else. Amidst the fighting, and the danger, and the fear in the room...

Amaranth dressing Talia up. Amaranth with some kind of bond...

It all works in the back of Jean's mind, ready to be processed as soon as she finishes the moment of danger. ...Because in that, there is the focus of the creature's presence; its sweep of its club, the approach of others--

Maybe through alcohol, maybe through something else, Jean sees the club coming and, though she can't evade it, she simply relaxes in place, letting the hit knock her away as she flows around it to minimize the damage. And...

"That's... a great plan, Lydia..." Jean shakes her head and gets back up, sighing. "Not great." She pauses. "But, ah..."

How do you ask 'how did you hide in your book' without making it weird? Jean, after all, is quite Resonant--but in part because she is constantly steeped in incredible Malevolence, and somehow has not been corrupted by it despite that. She is a companion of the so-called Lord of Calamity, after all. But--

"At least you got caught by somebody nice," Jean says to Amaranth with a wink, and accepts a gel, though she doesn't seem to act hurt at all. She then smiles back. She starts to answer--

...But she, too, goes quiet. The truth is that Jean has fewer memories of playgrounds or nurseries, little recall of the innocence of childhood. But this song, she knows. It takes her back somewhere, and her look is not flat--it is distant, vulnerable in a way. Jean does not often linger on memories of her childhood, for good reason.

"...Hexennacht," she murmurs, singing quietly, and for a moment can't speak.

She wipes at her eyes when she thinks no one can see her, and moves to the chimes. "Right!" she says, false bravado good enough to fool some at least. "It goes like..."

DG: Jean has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Ring the Bells.
<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

Talia gets up last. Katherine and Lydia both have to get off her. She stands up, dusting herself off with her hands. She looks sideways at Katherine -- flashing a smile when she feels the hand resting on her shoulder -- and then she nods her head, once. "W-Well... it does sound fun. Oh, you should all go visit the Festina Lente! It's a wonderful little place, no? I was there before we met up!"

Then she gives Jean a glance, and rather quickly coughs, once, into her hand.

Then she stops; her eyes widen a moment, at the tune. She recognizes it. The staff at the manor, who really did the early work in raising her and her brother, sometimes sang it to them when tucking them in. Talia even hums, softly, with it.

Then, she glances at Katherine. Talia hesitates for a moment; she catches the twitch. She looks down into the little chamber, though. She hesitates, and steps into the room. Her hand grips the mallet, before she looks back at Dean and Avril. "It is a nursery rhyme, from Glenwood," she says. "I remember some of my father's aides sang it to me. Now, then..."

She hefts the mallet -- and gives one of the chimes a ring. It rings out, in time with Jean's. Talia is, however, observant. She catches wipe of Jean's eyes.

"What were your nursery rhymes like?" she asks. "Dean? Avril?"

DG: Talia has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Ring the Bells.
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    Picking herself up, Avril takes the moment to brush the dust off her clothing. "At least it seems that the illusion did not linger. ...It reminds me of the passage through Uzda Il-jam. We had fought a beast made of light in there, as well. Is everyone alright?"

    Likely, everyone is fine outside some possible injuries to their pride, but she still feels the need to ask after it.

    "The 'Festina Lente'. Hmm... Dean, perhaps we should visit? Rebecca may like to see it." Her gaze lingers on Katherine for a moment more. Perhaps if Avril knew more about Seraphs --
    But unfortunately, 'always having been able to see them' is as much of a curse as a blessing in such things. She's never known differently.

    "...Who is that who is singing?" she asks, moments later. There is no immediate or obvious source of the song, but...

    Others are able to identify it. Avril blinks, as if puzzled. "A nursery rhyme?"

    It is indeed a question. Even if Avril has been in close enough proximity to children playing to know that particular lilt of a song sung by a child, the concept itself...

    Which is why she tilts her head to one side as if mildly baffled and asks: "What is a 'nursery rhyme'?"

    First the concept of marriage, and now this. Avril's knowledge of cultural practices is a mixed bag.

    Which also might be why she lingers a moment, watching as Talia and the others pick up a mallet and play a note on the chimes before stepping forward to do so herself. It's a tentative, questioning ring that echoes through the air.
    And thus she shakes her head and says simply, "I do not know."

    And clarifies further: "I do not remember."

DG: Avril Vent Fleur has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Ring the Bells.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia Seren says, "U--uh I should? But um. Uh." awkwardly, and silver in the face, but it probably is good to know where Weaver has been working. She could drop by again, maybe, if she can work up the gumption to.

What she can't work up the gumption to is to play those chimes. She tries to think of a nursery rhyme to try. Of course, Weaver already has one to go, but Lydia's attention is largely drawn to her childhood. She lowers her head quietly, listening to the music. She senses false bravado from Jean, but she isn't going to comment on it. Why should she? Lydia uses false bravado all the time and it'd be pretty mean of her to drag Jean's out in the open like that. She better just let it be. If Jean wants to talk about it, she is a cool big sis type who can handle such decisions on her own, perhaps while inebriated.

She can't think of a nursery song. She's sure her mother must have sang one to her when she was a child, but she can't think of it. She can't think of them at all. She can't remember.

All she can remember is how, even when she was very young, her mother would have her wear a hat to cover up those tiny little stubs on the top of her head. She remembers the warnings to never take such hats off. She can see her mother's lips moving in song, but all she can think about is that hat.

It's frustrating, Lydia thinks. All this time she knew what she wanted from them and it was such a simple thing, but that was the one thing she'd never get from them.

Perhaps she should cry, but she doesn't really feel sad about it anymore. She just feels tired about it. It happened. It's in the past. It's done and that life might as well have belonged to someone else. She is happy now. She is very happy. H A P P Y happy.

But in this room, in this moment, she can't help but wonder what happiness would have felt like back then, if she could be allowed to remember it.

"You have messed up nursery rhymes." Lydia says. "I guess that's what nursery rhymes are, though."

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Ring the Bells.
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

    Dean's look at Avril doesn't turn any more comprehending, but, well, she *is* his best friend along with Rebecca. He trusts her judgment, even when the two of them (three of them, sometimes) disagree. His confusion changes to acceptance, and he nods. "Okay, I will." To Jean, he beams and says, "Good to hear it!"
    
    But then an illusory fight happens with an illusory enemy with a very real-feeling hammer. The Hellion clubs them all, sending them flying; Dean in particular hits the nearest wall with a nasty crash--nothing broken, but he'll have a nasty bruise up his left arm. At least he didn't hit his head (again). Lastonbell shimmers away along with the creature, and he blinks up, rubbing his shoulder.
    
    "...Huh--it's just... gone?" Despite knowing it was an illusion, he's still confused as he looks around, back and forth. He settles in on Katherine when she recovers from her shrieking fit a moment ago to introduce herself, then rubs a finger under his nose and stands up. "My name's Dean. It's great meeting you too, Katherine! You think I'm fashionable, though? I never really thought a lot about clothes, but there was this one shirt that came up to--"
    
    Before Dean can get into the story of the belly shirt, though, a nursery rhyme begins to play out of nowhere. He blinks, looking around for the source of it. It's not a bad song, especially since he doesn't read anything into the lyrics, but... it's kind of an odd follow-up to something as intense as that last illusion.
    
    "Huh? Oh, yeah, I bet she would," he says, looking over at Avril. He breaks into a grin. "I'm sure you've seen those fancy socks she wears under her boots, even though they're too short for anyone to see them! And she called *my* look over on Lunar ridiculous!"
    
    Jean seems unusually quiet about the song. Dean doesn't notice her wipe her eyes, though, because Talia is explaining what's up with it. "Oh, huh," he says. He glances at Avril when she admits to not remembering her nursery rhymes, then nods to Talia. "She has amnesia," he explains. "For me... Uh..." He scratches his head. "I guess they were normal? I haven't thought about nursery rhymes in years. They're just songs for little kids. So, uh... I'll just play along with yours!" Firm nod, and he pulls out his shovel, which is as good an instrument as he's going to get for playing a set of wind chimes. That's what Katherine suggested, anyway, and between Avril's amnesia, Dean's lack of interest in nursery rhymes, and Lydia's... issues, that's probably the best way to go.
    
    "Messed up? Really?" he echoes, though, blinking over at Lydia. "I guess I never noticed that either. I bet Rebecca'd know more than I would." She usually does. Even if she's TOTALLY not right all the time like she sometimes claims, or more accurately, Dean's TOTALLY not wrong all the time.

DG: Dean Stark has used his Tool The Trusty Shovel toward his party's challenge, Ring the Bells.
========================<* Ruins of Altered Memory *>=========================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Ring the Bells *>=======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 When you enter the next room, you discover a cavernous hallway, with a        
 stairwell leading down to a door at the center of it. The door at the end of  
 the stairwell is locked.                                                      
                                                                               
 Over the hallway is a massive set of wind chimes, writ large and far bigger   
 than any one person. Some large wooden mallets offer one, but not the only,   
 way to play the chimes. This is when a song from someone's childhood is       
 remembered unbidden. If the song is played upon the chimes, the doors will    
 open -- and a soft, refreshing light washes over all.                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Save Point===============================================
===================<* Ruins of Altered Memory - Round 3 *>====================
=========================< Results - Ring the Bells >=========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia                               25 --(5)--> 30                 Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Amaranth                     25 --(0)--> 25                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jean                                20 --(0)--> 20                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Avril Vent Fleur                    25 --(0)--> 25                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dean Stark                          25 --(0)--> 25                 Pass
The Trusty Shovel                   2   Brute   Effects: Stalwart             
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         25 --(5)--> 30                 Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Talia                       30 --(20)--> 50                Pass
Conditions: Injure(1)|Save Point(1)|Wound(1)
Effects: 
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Talia 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> Seraph Amaranth has posed.

    Katherine's Seraphic aura is kind of just... there. She doesn't torque it up to advertise except on occasions where she thinks someone's juuust on the cusp of becoming Resonant.

    She's sensing Lydia feeling rather sad, though, moving up to her. She decides to address a topic she commented on before -- clothing: "Lydia, sweetie. There's no shame when it comes to dressing up with me, okay? I love all kinds of body types and shapes and sizes and there's nothing wrong with big or small, lumpy or smooth, potato-like or strawberry!"

    wait what

    She winks. "All that matters is that we have a little fun doing it, and maybe feel a little better in the process! So come around and I promise I'll fit you to feel confident, no?"

    GOSH JEAN the way ammy just cribs talia's speech tic casually

    A pause, as she smiles just a little bit more beamingly to Jean and says, "Hehe, you think so?" Wow, not even denying it? At least from the heartmarks that have just appeared around her...

    "... ah, you two know it too, huh?" she comments of Jean as she smiles at Talia. She has a pause at Jean's reaction to it, but decides to not bring it up. "That doesn't surprise me -- it's surprisingly common for children to tease too, given how nasty it actually is..."

    She pauses at Avril, having a bit of a sympathetic look as she says, "It's... usually a simple, catchy song children like to sing at each other."

    She laughs somewhat dourly for a moment and says, "Sometimes they can be based on nasty cultural artefacts of the past..."

    There's a laugh from the seamstress as she winks at Dean. "You've got a natural talent for picking like colours, or do you have someone looking after your look? And-- ooh, do tell--"

    It's hard to tell whether Katherine is more distracted by Rebecca's phantasmagoric fancy socks or Dean's belly shirt, but either way, she's interested.

    A pause, as she claps her hands together. "But! I've actually also opened up a bakery side-business, so feel free to also have an Apple Gelly Donut while you visit!"

    oh god talia she was serious about monetizing gels

DG: Jean has drawn a new Challenge.
=========================<* Ruins of Altered Memory *>==========================
====================<* CHALLENGE - Remembering the Dance *>=====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 As you set foot into this next room, two people appear: a man and woman,      
 wearing the finery of a ball in Rolance. They take one anothers' hands, and   
 then begin to waltz. You may remember the waltz; it bares shocking            
 similarity to couples who danced at the ball at House d'Armagnac, where La    
 Fille du Temps first struck.                                                  
                                                                               
 However, each tile that they step on lights up blue. The remaining floor      
 tiles do not -- and when the couple begins to spin, sometimes there are gaps  
 in the lit up tiles. The result is a twisting, treacherous path across the    
 room. It leads to a platform with a doorway... and a locked chest.            
                                                                               
 The couple turns and bows to you. Which is when every tile /not/ lit up       
 explodes in columns of flame. Then, the tiles all grow dark. Your memory and  
 your surefootedness will be tested today.                                     
=Dungeon Conditions: Overwhelm, Treasure======================================
<Pose Tracker> Jean has posed.

"Hm hm~" Jean answers Talia's glance and cough. It'd be nice to just focus on that, instead. She would like to try this Festina Lente. ...And right now she sees heartmarks, she can totally tell. "You--You're that Weaver?" Jean asks, and says, "Now I'm really tempted to visit! Aah, but my tailor might feel left out..." Of course Jean has a tailor. Her costume comes from somewhere, after all.

But this happens. This... song, this challenge, and Jean keeps quiet at first as the others talk about it. 'What were your nursery rhymes like?'

Jean lets the echoes of the chimes answer for her at first; they have something to do. She thinks for a moment about just ignoring the question. But she doesn't do that. Instead, she listens to the others first, and hears Avril's question amidst the din. ...She notices Lydia look at her, and appreciates that she doesn't ask. That Katherine doesn't, despite the pause. But... Talia asked, Talia who was forced into being what she was, so--

"A nursery rhyme is something people sing to children, or that children sing to each other. They rhyme, they tell old stories... They really can say a lot more than people realize."

Jean looks to Talia as everything is handled. "I didn't have a lot of them," Jean admits. "...But some nights, some of the younger children, before they forgot where they came from... They'd sing. Only out of the way, only when our instructors weren't there to punish them for it."

"...I sang that one, too, once. Before I stopped. The punishment..." She shakes her head.

"It's okay not to remember," Jean says to Avril, quietly. Her usual aura of easygoing joy is briefly replaced by a distant sadness. "Your past isn't everything." A beat, as she looks to Katherine, "I'd love one of your donuts! Hey, do you serve cider too? Apples make me think drinking!"

Doesn't everything? Jean is back to normal all of a sudden, already fine. "C'mon. We've got farther to go."

And as they walk ahead... Ah, the finery of the pair--the man and woman in silks and gild, in beautiful attire suited to any court. Jean wasn't there that day, but she knows this waltz, has practiced it herself. She knows its steps, knows the rhythm of it, could do either part. They dance, and dance, spinning and spinning with tiles alighting. And--

"...That's... not great," Jean says, practically sweatdropping as the floors burst into flames and grow dark. She pauses for a moment, considers.

"...I need a drink," she says, and then turns to the others, "But this, I'm good at. I know this dance, though it's been a while. I think..." A beat, "Anyone want to dance? I can't remember the path, but I know I could retrace the steps with a partner."
<DICE ROLLER> Lydia Seren rolled 1d100 <14> + 0 = 14

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

Talia's eyes are on Jean, as she explains. Her red eyes widen slowly; the realization isn't an instant one. She heard of Jean's role in the tournament, but her distrust of the nobility and those in power ran deep. She thought it was a lie.

It wasn't, she realizes. Talia's mouth opens; then, she closes it. "I... I didn't realize," she says, quietly.

She sounds distracted, as she glances at Katherine, again. But, only a brief glance. She gives Avril a long look. She doesn't know what one is? Maybe, she thinks, they aren't universal. Except... except that Lydia knows what they are. She gives her a concerned look, but Katherine's reply really covers it.

Then, Dean explains. She hesitates, before looking between them. "Ah--well, that explains it, no? I am sorry, though. I did not know, Avril."

She looks back at Katherine. There is a brief smile, there -- and she nods her head, once. And then, her mouth hangs open.

"Y--You actually are selling gels," she says, quietly, with wonder.

She starts down the steps, too. Talia slows to a stop, though, as she comes face to face with a nicer memory: one of a fine ballroom, and a dancing couple, which looks so familiar. "Ah--this is...!" She staets to exclaim, and then the fire blasts.

She swallows.

"W-Well." She looks at Jean, as she asks the others. "Please, do lead the way for us, Jean." And then she turns. Mirage is still out, but the way she twirls it in her hand is like a cane. She looks at the others, then she smiles, and extends a hand out towards Katherine. "Miss Weaver."

She winks. "Shall we?"

DG: Talia has used her Tool Mirage toward her party's challenge, Remembering the Dance.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia is jarred out of her thoughts by Katherine. She blinks a few times at her, uncomprehendingly. "Huh?" She blinks a few times. At the very least, Katherine is probably helping Lydia feel better by confusing her enough that she is no longer thinking about the past. It dawns on her a moment afterwards and she says, "I'm not a potato!" Pause. "Or...a strawberry?" She frowns faintly. "What is a person who is a strawberry..?" She shakesa her head quickly, sending curls bouncing every which way. "Gahh--- Okay, okay, I want to try again but like, with a minded comfort level. And...patiently, and shit...you know? Sorry. I. Aggh."

LYDIA.EXE has crashed

Lydia treats her head like a computer and raises a fist into the air and bonks herself on the head a few times so her brain gets back to work. Now with super silver cheeks from all the INTENSE BLUSHING, Lydia looks over to Talia and Weaver as the former offers to dance with her. She looks away, crossing her arms faintly. You'll be alone, they told her, because nobody wants to be with a beastman.

She shakes her head quickly, glowering. No! New life, happy time, she gets to be happy now. That's what she decided. She approaches Jean, glaring because this is how she's forcing herself to stay chill.

"H..hey Jean." She says, drawing out her portal guns. "Since you're such a good dancer.... have you ever danced with portals before?"

DIFFICULTY INCREASE

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Portal Pistols toward her party's challenge, Remembering the Dance.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Amaranth has posed.

    There's a kind of wan look at Katherine once they get past and head towards a dance floor. She chuckles weakly to Jean as she says, "I've certainly got wine to spare, if you're the discerning type of palate." She winks as she moves towards Talia and laughs to say, "Well, if it isn't House d'Armagnac..."

    She doesn't comment on the antics of a certain phantom thief.

    "Who knew this dungeon could be a bit romantic too?" she smiles at Talia as she nods and accepts her hand. "Lead the way, Miss Talia," she luxuriously smiles. She nods at Lydia as she smiles and crashes a little-- "Patiently," she promises.

DG: Seraph Amaranth has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Remembering the Dance.
DG: Jean has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Remembering the Dance.
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

    What *does* a strawberry-shaped person look like? What about potatoes? Dean scratches his head, unable to follow this particular metaphor, even if Katherine wasn't directing it at him. "Maybe she's saying you're sweet? Or nutritious?" he offers to Lyida. This probably does not help.
    
    Jean goes into the significance of nursery rhymes for herself, though, and Dean sobers. He only knows a bit about her background, but... it's sad. He can't even imagine a life like that, where even something as simple as a song for children might mean so much. It makes him think--not that he's ever disliked his hometown, but he really is lucky to have grown up in a nice town like Capo Bronco. Maybe nothing ever happened there, but compared to some people's stories, that's a good thing. Maybe, after he's grown up and become a great Golem Hunter, he'll go back there to start a family. (That last thought is rather abstract, though--more an assumption that he *must* start a family once he grows up. But that's neither here nor there.)
    
    Amaranth's compliment on his look gets her a pleased grin. "Hehe, you think so? I like to pick my own clothes, but I have this friend who likes to pick at stuff--that's the girl I mentioned, you know, with the socks under her boots--and I know I'm not big on fashion but I wear what I like!" His eyes widen in open interest at the next part, though. "Wow, really?! We'll definitely come, then!" he enthuses. Nothing to sway a growing young man like an Apple Gelly Donut.
    
    The group eventually reaches a new room, and there, an illusion comes up of fine and beautiful dancing. This, too, is of a country and style that's completely beyond Dean. His stay on Lunar was mostly on Meribia, and while he did travel through Rolance on occasion, his travels did not include... any part of Rolance where he might be exposed to this aspect of the country's culture or history. The tiles light up blue where people dance, around gaps in the floor, eventually leading to a doorway and possibly treasure. Then the couple bows to everyone else, and an implicit offer to dance hangs in the air...
    
    "Uhhhh," Dean utters, blinking at them, then at the path they just danced. "I... don't really know how to dance..." He looks over at Jean when she makes her offer and Lydia when she accepts it, then at Talia and Katherine when they take hands with each other. He smiles, and while he has no interest in romance, well... There's nothing wrong with doing one's best with a friend in hand! "Guess we may as well give it a shot, Avril," he thus says to his best friend, holding a gloved hand out to her. "I can try shooting down those flames with my Freeze Ray while we go if we get any steps wrong. Maybe Lucadia'll do us a favor and make us more graceful?" He laughs. "Sorry in advance if I step on your feet, though!"

DG: Dean Stark has used his Tool Freeze Ray toward his party's challenge, Remembering the Dance.
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    "I think they are nice socks, myself," Avril says quite placidly, though she does follow that one with a brief giggle. "I wonder if Rebecca's sort of clothing would suit me? ...Though it may be worthwhile to consider an alternative wardrobe, if we do head east."

    Someone is looking for her. Dean suspects they must be her family. And yet, there's this squirm of uneasiness that Avril can't quite squash.

    "Oh, I see. Yes, then I do know of what you speak," Avril says, at the collective explanation of what a nursery rhyme is. In Wayside, the children had been singing.
    In many places across their travels, in fact. In places debilitated by Filgaia's decay or ruined by war, there had been children singing, laughing, and playing.

    "Yes."
    Thus is her answer when Dean elaborates that she's an amnesiac. "Oh... it's quite all right. I am journeying with the both of them to recover my memories," even if she has the vague sense that she might not like or want them very much, "and truth be told... I remember nothing, so it is difficult to feel as if I have lost anything." She pauses, tilting her head to one side. "Does that make sense?"

    Onwards they walk, before there, manifesting before them, are a pair of dancers.
    This particular dance, Avril was not present at. The nature of a formal dance at all, even, is a foreign language to her.

    But the body remembers things that the mind does not. "I remember how it had gone," she says, when Jean speaks of not knowing the direction. "Dean, would you care to dance with me? ...I do not know for certain how, but I mean to try."

    As if to underscore this point, she cradles the Medium in her left arm as Dean suggests the very idea of the Guardian's power, reaching out with her right.

    Lucadia's power -- however silent her voice might be -- burns a brilliant blue in the darkness.

    "It was... this way."

DG: Avril Vent Fleur has used her Tool Sea Medium toward her party's challenge, Remembering the Dance.
=========================<* Ruins of Altered Memory *>==========================
====================<* CHALLENGE - Remembering the Dance *>=====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 As you set foot into this next room, two people appear: a man and woman,      
 wearing the finery of a ball in Rolance. They take one anothers' hands, and   
 then begin to waltz. You may remember the waltz; it bares shocking            
 similarity to couples who danced at the ball at House d'Armagnac, where La    
 Fille du Temps first struck.                                                  
                                                                               
 However, each tile that they step on lights up blue. The remaining floor      
 tiles do not -- and when the couple begins to spin, sometimes there are gaps  
 in the lit up tiles. The result is a twisting, treacherous path across the    
 room. It leads to a platform with a doorway... and a locked chest.            
                                                                               
 The couple turns and bows to you. Which is when every tile /not/ lit up       
 explodes in columns of flame. Then, the tiles all grow dark. Your memory and  
 your surefootedness will be tested today.                                     
=Dungeon Conditions: Overwhelm, Treasure======================================
====================<* Ruins of Altered Memory - Round 4 *>=====================
======================< Results - Remembering the Dance >=======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia                               30 --(0)--> 30                 Pass
Mirage                              3   Agility Effects: Fanfare              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Amaranth                     25 --(5)--> 30                 Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jean                                20 --(5)--> 25                 Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Avril Vent Fleur                    25 --(0)--> 25                 Pass
Sea Medium                          2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dean Stark                          25 --(0)--> 25                 Pass
Freeze Ray                          2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         30 --(0)--> 30                 Pass
Portal Pistols                      2   Agility Effects: Stalwart             
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Talia                       50 --(25)--> 75                Pass
Conditions: Overwhelm|Treasure(1)
Effects: Quicken(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Talia has passed this challenge! The party gained 25 exploration! If anyone needs to use party management
commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Okay I get the sweet thing, but what's a 'nutritious' person--" Lydia says because really.

Meanwhile Avril and Dean are dancing THIS IS YOUR JUDGEMENT REBECCA YOU WERE WARNED

<Pose Tracker> Jean has posed.

Not a lie at all. Jean moves on though as if she'd said nothing at all, just shaking her head at Talia as if to say it's fine--and that's that. She'd rather talk and think about gels, or dancing. Definitely dancing. The matter of all this--

"I'm definitely in," Jean answers Amaranth with a grin, and she assumes potatoe, strawberry, the whole thing is fine. "Rebecca?" Jean asks as she turns, "She's pretty stylish. I think..." She considers to Avril, "It's worth a look! There's no harm in trying on a variety of things--that's how you decide what you like!"

"...I see... Well, I hope you can find them. And that they're good to find."

Lydia is clearly feeling awkward. ...Jean thought that was fine. But, now she looks to see her blushing, and sees her... glowering. "Uh?" Jean asks, and looks Lydia up and down. "Are you okay?" she asks, and then--

"Wait, what--"

In point of fact, Jean does not dance with portals as a rule. Rather than leading the way as she'd expected, she finds herself twirling along the tiles, stretching out to force her muscles to keep herself up as she almost falls on a fire tile before another portal appears to whisk her further--

"Lydia this is NOT" portal, "what I had" portal "in MIND!"

Meanwhile--Avril and Dean's dance of friends, lit by the silent power of a Guardian, is not the most technically sound. It isn't perfect, it isn't sweeping... But there's a sweetness to its simplicity, and the two friends respond to one another well; they keep from falling, and stay secure on the path thanks to an amnesiac's memory.

Talia and Amaranth have a romantic time that, without the guidance Jean was hoping to provide, ends up being rather... Tiring. There are starts and stops, there's the need to rush along, and of course, no less than three close calls with the portals.

...And Jean, by the end, is on the other side. On the other side, and--

"Just for that," Jean says, scowling, "I'm going to make you learn to dance for real," she announces to Lydia. "Hope you're ready to follow."

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

    "I dunno," Dean says to Lydia, "but potatoes are nutritious. *And* tasty!" (Not helping, Dean.)

DG: Jean has drawn a new Challenge.
=========================<* Ruins of Altered Memory *>==========================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Alone in the Dark *>=======================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 4          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Your trek through the emerald halls of the Ruins of Altered Memory ends in a  
 spiral staircase. It leads down into an oxagonal chamber, cut of the same     
 emerald stone as the rest of the room. A hallway leads beyond -- into a       
 honeycomb of treasure rooms, nooks, and hiding holes. Those are visible       
 through a shimmering portal, where a blue energy field has risen and blocks   
 your way forward.                                                             
                                                                               
 When you step into the room, however, darkness pervades your senses. You are  
 driven to your knees, as your memories are pulled forth -- and you are        
 overwhelmed by them. The torches all go out, and darkness overtakes the       
 room.                                                                         
                                                                               
 You are trapped within a memory. It may be pleasant or unpleasant. However    
 -- until you succeed this Challenge or are helped in the next -- you are not  
 aware of reality. It is STRONGLY suggested you OOCly do your +acts and then   
 draw the next card immediately. It may affect what happens.                   
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify, Injure==========================================
DG: Dean Stark has used his Tool Standard Cartridge toward his party's challenge, Alone in the Dark.
DG: Talia has used her Tool Lt. Keil's Notebook toward her party's challenge, Alone in the Dark.
DG: Jean has used her Tool Bejeweled Hairpin toward her party's challenge, Alone in the Dark.
DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Schrodinger the Cat toward her party's challenge, Alone in the Dark.
DG: Seraph Amaranth has used her Tool Queer Eye for the Digger toward her party's challenge, Alone in the Dark.
DG: Avril Vent Fleur has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Alone in the Dark.
=========================<* Ruins of Altered Memory *>==========================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Alone in the Dark *>=======================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 4          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Your trek through the emerald halls of the Ruins of Altered Memory ends in a  
 spiral staircase. It leads down into an oxagonal chamber, cut of the same     
 emerald stone as the rest of the room. A hallway leads beyond -- into a       
 honeycomb of treasure rooms, nooks, and hiding holes. Those are visible       
 through a shimmering portal, where a blue energy field has risen and blocks   
 your way forward.                                                             
                                                                               
 When you step into the room, however, darkness pervades your senses. You are  
 driven to your knees, as your memories are pulled forth -- and you are        
 overwhelmed by them. The torches all go out, and darkness overtakes the       
 room.                                                                         
                                                                               
 You are trapped within a memory. It may be pleasant or unpleasant. However    
 -- until you succeed this Challenge or are helped in the next -- you are not  
 aware of reality. It is STRONGLY suggested you OOCly do your +acts and then   
 draw the next card immediately. It may affect what happens.                   
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify, Injure==========================================
====================<* Ruins of Altered Memory - Round 5 *>=====================
========================< Results - Alone in the Dark >=========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia                               30 --(20)--> 50                Fail
Lt. Keil's Notebook                 2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Amaranth                     30 --(15)--> 45                Pass
Queer Eye for the Digger            4   Wits    Effects: Efficient and Rally  
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jean                                25 --(20)--> 45                Fail
Bejeweled Hairpin                   2   Wits    Effects: Cleanse and Efficient
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Avril Vent Fleur                    25 --(20)--> 45                Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dean Stark                          25 --(20)--> 45                Fail
Standard Cartridge                  3   Wits    Effects: Fanfare              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         30 --(20)--> 50                Fail
Schrodinger the Cat                 2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Talia                       75 --(0)--> 75                 Fail
Conditions: Injure(2)|Overwhelm|Stupify(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Enlighten(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Talia has failed 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: Lydia Seren has drawn a new Challenge.
========================<* Ruins of Altered Memory *>=========================
===============<* CHALLENGE - With Some Help from My Friends *>===============
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Finally, at least one of you emerges from the illusory prison of memory.      
 With that, you can enter the other's memory -- and help draw them out of it.  
 You can choose who helps who, based both on successes and desires. The        
 degree to which memories might be seen by others is left to player            
 discretion.                                                                   
=Dungeon Conditions: Save Point===============================================
<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

Talia looks proud -- and nods, with that knowing, playful smile -- that the Festina Lente is getting business already.

Mission accomplished!

Talia takes Katherine's hand, then her fingers squeeze together around hers. "It is," she says. "Who would have thought? Now, though--keep close, no?" She tilts her head, smiles, and steps out after Jean. Then, Jean vanishes. Talia's eyebrow twitches.

But, they get through -- despite the tiring movements and near brush with portals. When it ends, Talia is a little hesitant to step back from her.

There is only a little further to go. A trip down a spiral staircase, leading down and down, until they reach the octagonal chamber. Talia does, however, step away from Katherine. She turns, as she walks, moving backwards. "Why, it seems we're nearly there! It seems--"

Darkness.

It overtakes Talia suddenly. She turns, as the room -- and her companions -- are gone. The darkness pervades, into her very mind, and she opens her mouth. "No, no no no--" Because she can feel the memory coming back, the way it does without sorcerous interference, and she knows. This time, though, she loses herself in it.

The blast of rain and wind from the shattered window hits her first. Talia steps back from it, rain mixing into the pool of red blood on the floor. Her eyes turn away from the letter in her grip, to the pale fingers covered in sticky bloody already covering the floor. The arm disappears behind the wooden frame of the bed.

Talia's eyes turn, slowly back to the letters in her hand. Her fingers shake as she reads them -- as they're crystal clear, unlike her memories. Her fingers start shaking, the paper halfway crumpling in it. Her clothing, without a cloak to protect her from the rain, is getting thoroughly soaked.

But it doesn't stop. The memory always stopped, before she had to look down at the signature. She makes a noise that sounds halfway between a scream and a sob.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    "It appears that we both know how to dance after all," Avril states, once they have crossed over the distance the phantom pair had laid out for them. "I wonder if the person I used to be liked to dance...?" She releases her grip on his hand and takes a step back, regarding him in silence for a moment more before moving to join up with the others and proceed down the steps into that peculiar octagonal room.

    "Could this be where--"

    She's cut off, very suddenly.

    Darkness descends.

    There isn't enough time for her heart to start pounding, in response to a buried distant fear that she knows only the shape of and not the cause.
    After all, in truth, she's aware of only one thing before the fog lifts:
    The terrible brittle rage that kindles in her heart.

    No, that would be two things. The fragile ancient piece of metal and glass that she holds in her hands. Streamers of light burn off of de Soto's Mirror and piece through the darkness, echoing the full moon that begins to loom in the sky overhead.

    "Promises must not be broken so casually. Promises must be kept."

    She can feel the fury crackling its way up from within, as if it were spreading out through to the furthest reaches of her body from her heart.

    As long as he can kill humans, nothing matters. He doesn't care. If she interferes, he will be next.
    The mirror blazes with brilliant force. Avril, caught up in the memory, takes a step forward.

    "...I will never forgive you," she tells the Veruni Executioner, voice as steady and clear as a winter morning. The light enrobes her, burns with the absolute rage that consumes her very being.

    The rest of memory lurches forward at a rapid pace. She exists within it, cannot remember what happened after it, not anymore.

    he broke his promise
    promises are sacred
    do as i say or face the consequences
    this is your final warning

    Even with the mask on the Executioner's face she can sense the fear. She approaches him, steady and unrelenting, the smoking mirror a blaze of light up into the sky.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Amaranth has posed.

    There's a light, heartful laugh as Katherine lets Talia lead her around the dance floor, chuckling and swanning around even as she overextends herself and starts and stops... it's not quite a real romantic dance with the way the floor is set on fire and there's PORTALS as well but--

    --but, well, she still has a lot of fun. She's merilly laughing and swanning down as Talia says they're nearly there and--

    Darkness.

    She can hear Talia echoing 'no's into the distance, but before she can even move, something snares her at her neck and yanks her hard. She lands upon a cold, barren throne ensconced with a black and sweltering flame cascading with a presence oh so familiar to her.

    Malevolence.

    Oh, for most any other Seraph it would be so, so deadly, yet so set upon their path in their very existence to reject it. But as Amaranth continues to struggle, the tendrils weave around her and coalesce as a wine glass upon which the sickly-sweet liquid stuff threatens to touch her lips once more.

    Centuries you've kept yourself clean of that stuff.

    There's a mocking, taunting figure in the distance; something indistinct and disparate, yet laughing as it approaches her. As it draws closer, it's rather clear that it has draconic features.

    But you never forget the sweet, intoxicating kiss...

    Amaranth lets out a more fragile little noise, as that vague draconic figure's scaled finger touches her chin. There's a deep and wicked chuckle, as the appearance of flame and figures skewered upon metal emblazons itself onto the background...

    Once an addict -- always an addict.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia remembers.

She remembers being wheeled in, constantly drugged. She thinks she was drugged. She can't really think too well. She had dreamt once of aliens coming to rescue her from Filgaia before. She wondered when the rescue would come. No, a small part tells her, these aren't aliens. You know that now. They're Elly's people. How can someone as sweet and kind as Elly come from people like this? She can't think that now, it's not what she knew back then. It's not what she knew.

Blond men and women in strange robes wheel her into a new laboratory. A man with large knuckles punched her a few times so she was bleeding silver--no it was red blood, back then. Her blood. Her blood was leaving her. No, her blood was still normal here.

"??? ???? ??? krellian project." They said to her. She only understood the word 'project'.

She's set on a med-table. There's so many flashing screens. Of course they must be aliens. Only aliens would keep such wonders from the surface. Even bad people would use it to conquer the world, at least.

She's left alone for a moment. She wonders if this is why her dreams told her to leave the village so she could travel to another world (They were right, though, you did travel to another world).

Another man in robes wearing some kind of circlet. Robes? He stepped inside. Long hair. Like the others?

No, he spoke her language.

"They treated you roughly. They're shortsighted fools. You saw the creatures? Such work is beneath me."

Lydia was held firmly to the table. She couldn't move. She couldn't even fathom what was pinning her to it.

"The Baskar are curious to me." The man continues. "I've studied their traditions. Through their admittedly primitive methods, they are capable of communing with their gods through their mediums." He held up the Rigdobrite medium before her. The one Halle gave her. This time, Lydia did struggle. She writhed about but every bit she tried to move, it caused her pain and she had to stop to keep breathing.

"You're very lucky. You were going to be turned into a monster, but because I am curious about you, you get to be used for something much more important." The man turned, holding a needle in his hand as he approached her body.

"The Baskar seem to act as terminal interfaces for their Guardians. Humans cannot become God," The man says. "But you may become a worthy interface with your Guardians,"

Lydia had no idea what he was saying at this point, but the needle was getting a little close to her eye for her comfort.

"And perhaps one day, you will entrust yourself to God. Surrendering yourself to God, of course, always involves a great deal of pain."

He stabs the needle into her eyes. It isn't a vicious stab or anything like that. He moves so slowly, so methodically, that it isn't even over quickly. He takes his time with an inhuman patience and Lydia screams.

Something is injected inside of her. And again. And again. She convulses. She vomits. She dies. She is reborn. She dies. She is reborn. She begs Rigdobrite for help over and over again but cannot maintain the focus she needs. Over, and over again. Something is entering her body. Something that makes her feel cold and heavy.

The moment lasts for an eternity and when eternity is done and the man is wiping off his gloves, she finds her skewered eyes open, but her vision isn't the same. Text she doesn't understand scrolls along her vision, trying in vain to inform her of this, or that. She hears a faint clicking noise in her head with each blink.

There's so much blood, she thinks. Is that hers?

And then, from the first injection, the memory repeats. There is no escape, and there never would be.

<Pose Tracker> Jean has posed.

Emerald, everywhere; Jean is fond of green, but... This is different. As they make it to this spiral staircase, Jean climbs up and up, and when they find the hallway--"Maybe this is what we're looking for?" Jean asks. ...It makes her think of Hiro for a moment, hidden treasure; he'd probably have something from his Grandpa that would say something about this.

"...Let's keep our eyes open." Jean steps inside, and--

Darkness falls.

-=-=-

Sand stretches out across the landscape, dunes in the distance. A green-haired girl looks forward, then glances to her sides, seeing the sun glint off of swords and spears among the guard. She wears the black of her rank, her arms left bare, sweat glinting off of brown skin, the muscle and strength in each bicep clear. ...Ordinarily, she would be wearing her mask, but it lay on the ground now. The claws strapped to her forearms glint with blood.

"...You defeated him. He wasn't strong."

Jean lifts both of her hands, and stares down the leader. "But I am. And you chose the wrong path through the desert."

She shifts to the side, bends at the knee and leaps, somersaulting through the air to land on the wagon they came on--

And under the roiling violet of Shadow Dragon ki, the seat of it shatters.

But wood isn't bone. And Jean can taste what's coming as she whirls in place and places hands together, firing a great burst of dark power towards a boy her age holding a sword--whose eyes drop unseeing as his heart bursts in his chest as the two beside him charge on ahead towards her.

...She doesn't look much at the body of the boy in grey beside her. If he lives, he lives. It isn't her place to drag him on unless he can pull himself up.

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

    It may not have style or technical skill, but Dean and Avril's dance continues their affection for each other as friends as well as their depth of their mutual caring. Lucadia helps guide their steps, and following along the amnesiac's memories, they dance across the ballroom on the correct steps. Dean doesn't even step on Avril's feet, even once, along the way.
    
    Once they're on the other side, Dean is laughing in delight. "That was really fun! Way more fun than I thought it'd be!" he enthuses. "We should do that again sometime!"
    
    Forward they go with everyone, into a room of emerald as far as the eye can see. They all climb the stairs and reach the hallway. "What *are* we looking for, anyway?" he wonders. "Talia just said we were going to explore." He was happy to come with friends, as he's always happy to help... well, anyone, not just friends, but he never really stopped to think of what he was going to actually *do* here. Does Dean perhaps have a problem with overextending himself? With taking on so much that in the end, it ends up drowning him?
    
    Darkness.
    
    Water rushes in all around him, filling up an enclosed arena, rushing up to his knees, his waist, his neck, and beyond. Vicious, rubbery creatures shoot through the sudden lake of rapids, and it's only by grabbing hold of one that Dean avoids meeting his end this very day. The feeling of nothing but water under his feet is terrifying, as is the way water splashes in his face, the way he can't stop himself from gulping it down whenever the bucking creatures submerges the both of them. Each time his head breaks the surface, he coughs and gasps, but he doesn't dare let go, because even the barest lungful of air is better than nothing at all, and he knows if he lets go, he will sink, down, down, down, all the way to the ground.
    
    He's not alone in this place, but he may as well be, because those same rubbery, squeaking, shrieking creatures are assaulting his companions. All but one. Nearby him, sitting upon the creatures back with legs tucked primly together, Avril smiles at him. She smiles as though nothing in the world is wrong, as though this were just a lighthearted adventure rather than a literal matter of life and death. Dean sputters and coughs, trying to form the words, but all he can grasp are small scraps of air, each one like a bullet filling the chamber of his ARMs. Each bullet is precious, and expending even one could be deadly to him. But he just--needs enough--of a breath--to let her know--how much he needs-----
    
    And her eyes meet his, and her lovely lips part: "Look, Dean!" she cries cheerfully, gesturing to the maddened, wicked creatures who buck and flail and screech and give no quarter or mercy. "Dolphins!"
    
    With his last gasping breath, Dean yelps back, "AVRIL HELP I'M DROWNING"

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Amaranth has posed.

    Suddenly, very suddenly--

    Amaranth seizes the wristof that vague draconic figure. Wrests it away from her chin.

    "... just remember what I said just now, Lydia, everyone."

    There's a splendid whirl as Amaranth draws forward into a grand-jete, landing to twirl on one toe as she draws her arms in and thrusts it out. She's ballet-dancing on darkness, twirling on nothing in particular. She can't see their dreams and memories clearly, and perhaps it's for the best that she can't--

    "The world's out to shame us in every shape and form it can take.
     Parents that have eyes all too judgemental..."

    The vague sensation of pain and horrific experimentation threatens to lash at her, from Lydia's direction.

    "Reputations that threaten to choke us with public scorn..."

    More lashes threaten to pull her under as Talia's horror upon the reflection of the red pool of blood passes by.

    "Pasts that seek to drown us in inky blackness..."

    The destruction brought forth by the Shadow Dragon that Jean and Amaranth are all too familiar with.

    "Guilt that shackles us to a sea of regret everlasting..."

    That might be a little bit too snarky given Dean is literally drowning.

    "And then there is the unknown. All the unknown we fear..."

    The fear that emits a righteous fury, as Avril marches upon a man who broke his promise.

    There's a scoff as she effortfully weaves into that dance and snaps her fingers--

    And bursts into an explosion of colour!!

    "Foul, I say to that! The foulest of the foul!
     We are splendid souls, every one of us, and we all deserve love!
     No task too small, no ardour too sweltering!
     For this is the proof of our living!"

    Strands of ribbons begin to endow each and every one of them with a -- albeit temporary -- boost in emotional confidence! In this unusual memory-space, the ribbons eventually meld and coalesce like a magical girl's outfit, manifesting for each of them as a wonderful outfit that their minds, hearts and souls have only ever dreamed of! No belly shirt too risque, no colour off-season!

    "I am Katherine Weaver, the seamstress of everyone's dreams!
     Where there is darkness and despair, then recall--
     'Tis always darkest before the dawn. And for the day to break...
     All you need is a..."

    She contorts once more as she actually just literally pulls her leg up and starts pirouetting and strikes another vivacious pose, an explosion of doves and confetti and hearts rocking the landscape behind her! The happiness is very evident in her as she exclaims:

    "H A P P Y Booost!"

DG: Seraph Amaranth has used her Tool Queer Eye for the Digger toward her party's challenge, With Some Help from My Friends.
<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

The rain is soaking through the crumpled paper in Talia's hand. It isn't readable, now. She tries to find something to say or do, but it feels like too much. It seems hopeless -- pointless. It makes her ask, not for the first time, how she can claim that she has a life or deserves mercy, much less forgiveness. Her hand slips down.

'Pasts that seek to drown us in inky blackness...'

Amaranth's voice is barely heard. It feels dissonant with the nightmarish surroundings of a shattered window and a blood-soaked floor in Pendrago, and yet that dissonance is comforting with how awful that place was. She looks up, crimson eyes wide, and she takes a couple of stumbling steps forward.

"Ammy!" she calls out, stumbling forward. "Don't--don't look, please, I--"

The ribbons come up around her, and it isn't the binding or condemnation she suspects. She looks down to see her cloak -- but the bright blue color she might have picked, if she was thinking of more than how to hide herself. It is woven around her, with a traditional set of dark blue leathers that fits her garb; it is accented, however, with lighter blues and blacks.

She blinks. In the blink of her eyelids, the rain is gone; her clothing and hair are dry again, and her fingers fall limp around nothing. Her other hand pats her side -- finding that stolen notebook there, and finding Mirage sheathed in a scabbard, instead of...

She quiets that thought. She looks up, instead, slowly, at the seamstress finishing a pirouette. Her fingers reach up, wiping at her own eyes, "A--Katherine," she says. "You.. you pulled us all out, no?"

DG: Talia has used her Tool Lt. Keil's Notebook toward her party's challenge, With Some Help from My Friends.
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    Her walk is steady, measured. A walk that stretches on into eternity as the Veruni Executioner before her is gripped with an almost ancestral bent of terror. What will happen to him if she should reach him?

    Someone drops down from higher up, booted feet thumping against the sand.

    'And then there is the unknown. All the unknown we fear...'

    She blinks, still holding the brilliantly glowing Mirror of de Soto. She blinks, and there is no longer the sunset-lit gallows.
    She blinks, and the mirror is gone from her grasp. All there is for the moment is brilliant light.
    The ribbons find and catch her, too, wrapping her in their embrace to transform her garb into a pure-white garb tinged with pale blue, an only slightly-more-elaborate version of the dress she wears beneath her wrap.

    "Ah, it was a memory," she murmurs, before reaching out a hand. "You awoke me. It was only a memory. --Dean!"

    Light blurs and burns. She reaches down into the waters that threaten to bring him under.

    "Wake up!"

DG: Avril Vent Fleur has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, With Some Help from My Friends.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

There are no words that can really comfort Lydia in this memory, is there? There are no words that can spare the pain of torture and bodily mutilation. They say that after the first time, it becomes easy, but being killed is one task only gets harder every time.

Her head hurts so much. It hurts so much, but she hears a voice all the same. It isn't a voice she is expecting to hear either. The eternity lasts a little longer partway through the experiment, and a Lydia that looks more like a corpse. There's a H A P P Y boost.

Something leaps into Lydia's arms. It's a cat. It's Schrodinger. Lydia hugs the feline close to her body and sits up. The robed man isn't moving. Lydia looks down at the cat and asks to herself, "How did you get in here?"

"Meow," Schrodinger says.

Lydia stands herself up and she straightens. With each step her form shifts and changes. An outfit, gradually materializing around her with each step.

"He didn't hate me for what I was. At least, he didn't hate me because I was a beastman. I think he hated everybody." She says, perhaps to Amaranth. "I remember being angry that the man who did this to me still respected my identity more than them."

She lowers her head. "I held onto that anger for a long time. I lashed out at people. Rosaline. Lan. Others. People who could've been friends. Or better friends, just because I didn't want to be alone with my pain."

Her body shifts back to her normal form, or at least Lydia's face does though her eyes are now silver. A mechanical body in place of her old one, a body that on some level Lydia has chosen thanks to the power of Weaver's power, shines nakedly in the lab's light. Faint glimmering light whizzes by in her frame, shifting colors from orange to others. Stars are painted onto her shoulders, her articulated fingers stretch outward. Is this how Lydia sees herself now? Sees herself so much like this that even with Katherine's magic it's what she dreams up? It's constantly modulating. She gains and loses purple armoring, sharp blades disappear and reappear along her arms.

"But when you decide to be miserable, you can't get better. Even if it's a lie, you have to decide to be happy first. And then you can become happy. You can make the lie true. Riesenlied and Noeline weren't my moms, but they are now."

She sets Schrodinger on top of her head.

"And now I'm happy. Because I want to be. Because I let myself be. And even if I never find the affection and love I want, I can still be happy because I am happy to be me! Because I'm FUCKING AWESOME!"

She punches through and--

--she sees sand. She sees a green-haired girl murder a guy in cold blood. Because she's strong, and that's what strong people do, she guesses. She dragged Talia kicking and screaming away from that life, but that life always sticks with you a bit. Even for people like Jean and Weaver.

Lydia comes to an understanding, then. Still in that mechanical shifting body of hers, she says to Jean. "You were one stone cold killer, huh?"

She then raises her head. "But you decided not to be. It might not be entirely true yet, but it will be." She offers a hand. "Let's get out of here," She says, the light of Rigdobrite shining brilliantly with her. The warmth of a star this close is blazing.

"You said you were going to make me learn how to dance and we can't do that in here."

Despite the agony of the dream, it wasn't all that difficult to wake Lydia up. Perhaps this understanding of herself is why.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Schrodinger the Cat toward her party's challenge, With Some Help from My Friends.
<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

    Through the dark and murk of these choppy waters, a voice sounds. It reaches through the waters to Dean, before bursting into an EXPLOSION of color, with H A P P Y resonating even trhough the water. He isn't feeling guilty or regretful right now--he's just panicking from drowning--but when one is surrounded by something that can and will easily kill you, that's probably enough, isn't it?
    
    And so the rainbow bursts, and happiness is boosted, and Dean might be no less capable of swimming, but he does now have a hand reaching out to him. This time, Avril understands his position, and she calls to him, reaches out to him--and he reaches back, releasing the vengeful dolphin to grip her hand. The dolphin turns as if to attack, but Twin Fenrir appears in his now-free hand, firing bullets that ward it away into the deepening waters. His grip tightens on Avril's hand, and she *pulls*--
    
    And his head breaks water, and reality, and all of a sudden all of him is dry and not drowning and safe. After a brief psychosomatic coughing fit, he looks around, then up at Avril, and breaks into a relieved grin. "Avril!! You saved me!" He steps forward to give her a big hug. "I knew you would!!"
    
    After a hug, or not, though, he leans back to look at the others. "Wait, does that mean that everyone else--?" If he was just suffering under the illusion of a memory, then that means the others were, too. How are *they* faring?

DG: Dean Stark has used his Tool Standard Cartridge toward his party's challenge, With Some Help from My Friends.
<Pose Tracker> Jean has posed.

Jean remembers how good it felt. She took on an entire group of guards, had every single one of them in her power. One at a time, she struck them all down, sliding amongst them like a shadow. 'Mercy' was not in the cards; she was not to reveal herself or others to those outside the Cult. But the blood was hot, and her heart was pounding, and the stretch in her muscles sang. Next two with their spears close, aiming to run her through, but she catches the haft between her claws, and the scraping of metal rings through the air as she twists out of its path, turns to face the woman behind her--

It felt good, didn't it?

Jean blinks, looking up as she seems to come to awareness, somehow. She sees the widened eyes of the woman who had been behind her with her friend's spear thrust through her. Jean is only a girl in this memory, but the weight of years brings back meaning to it all. Bleeding from her mouth, one soldier falls--and the others are on Jean quickly, the man she'd trapped dropping his spear and lunging at her with a cry.

She doesn't have to try to respond; the momentum is there, an inertia that naturally takes her body through the motions at that time, surging with violet ki that only grows more powerful with each moment--with each part of the experience, with the feeling of pain as a sword cuts open her arm, with the bloodlust that builds, and builds--

It still does.

But she hears something else, too. The figures seem to fade, existing and not at the same time, no longer as important--no, it's time that's going still. And she feels it, a joy building despite it all--'Guilt that shackles us to a sea of regret everlasting...'

Yes. These are regrets. Jean stops, looks as an attack is still coming, slowly, slowly, looks down at the boy who is part of the Cult. She remembers; she would bring him back, and when asked what the punishment for failure was, she would be the one to deliver his punishment. He disappeared one day, and she never knew how it had happened--but she knew what. Only one thing happened to those who left.

The ribbons wrap around... but they can't find purchase at first. They, too, seem slow, until Jean looks towards Lydia. She shifts, and it takes a moment for her to remember--"You...?"

The girl's hands fall to her sides. "...my Master taught me that this is what strength was. The power to crush the enemy; the means to deal terror, and pain." Lydia is so bright, so radiant, and Jean looks to the bodies around her. None of these would remain.

"...The proof of our living..." Jean looks down, and closes her eyes. "There's so much we can do, alive. So many things I never knew..."

The ribbons form, and Jean is in a daring yellow dress, intricate needlework patterning wide sleeves that only serve to accentuate her movements; a skirt that shifts with each movement, a faint shimmer to the sheer luxury of the fabric. It is risque to be sure, a brilliant costume, and Jean's hair is down for once in it, brilliant gold hoops as earrings. Bracelets hang from her wrists; the costume is for moving, for seeing... It is nothing like the sharp battle uniform.

Jean stops, and offers Lydia her hand. "...You don't know what you're missing," she says to her, heartfelt. "Come on. I'll lead."

It felt good. ...She can't do away with that knowledge. But neither does she collapse. A brilliant pin in her hair begins to gleam, its magic soothing, its gem bright as it helps to clear her mind, offers light and clarity to all.

DG: Jean has used her Tool Bejeweled Hairpin toward her party's challenge, With Some Help from My Friends.
=========================<* Ruins of Altered Memory *>==========================
================<* CHALLENGE - With Some Help from My Friends *>================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Finally, at least one of you emerges from the illusory prison of memory.      
 With that, you can enter the other's memory -- and help draw them out of it.  
 You can choose who helps who, based both on successes and desires. The        
 degree to which memories might be seen by others is left to player            
 discretion.                                                                   
=Dungeon Conditions: Save Point===============================================
====================<* Ruins of Altered Memory - Round 6 *>=====================
==================< Results - With Some Help from My Friends >==================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talia                               50 --(0)--> 50                 Pass
Lt. Keil's Notebook                 2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Amaranth                     45 --(0)--> 45                 Pass
Queer Eye for the Digger            4   Wits    Effects: Efficient and Rally  
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jean                                45 --(0)--> 45                 Pass
Bejeweled Hairpin                   2   Wits    Effects: Cleanse and Efficient
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Avril Vent Fleur                    45 --(0)--> 45                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dean Stark                          45 --(0)--> 45                 Pass
Standard Cartridge                  3   Wits    Effects: Fanfare              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         50 --(0)--> 50                 Pass
Schrodinger the Cat                 2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Talia                       75 --(35)--> 110               Pass
Conditions: Save Point(1)
Effects: Cleanse|Enlighten(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: You have overcome the dungeon's trials! This run is a success!
DG: The party led by Talia has successfully explored Ruins of Altered Memory!
=========================<* Ruins of Altered Memory *>==========================
=================<* CHALLENGE - Empty Memory Storage Crystal *>=================
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The honeycombed treasure rooms cannot all be explored in one trip. Many are   
 empty; others contain only a few scraps and gems. You find a small blue gem   
 within one of the treasure rooms. When you touch it, you feel a pulse -- and  
 then nothing. Although it takes some testing and work, you come to realize    
 that by focusing on a memory, you can put a memory inside of the crystal and  
 allow others to view it.                                                      
                                                                               
 This would doubtless fetch a price in Linga. It may also have other uses      
 besides, should you wish to keep it.                                          
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

They all escape from the prison that was made. Talia couldn't explain what happened, but as the light returns to the chamber, she reaches a hand up to her hair. When she feels that it is dry, and her boots are not wet with blood or rainwater, there is a sense of relief that floods through her. She looks at Amaranth, then at the others.

"W-Well..." She swallows.

They all helped each other out. She looks them over, one after the other, and then back at the doorway at the end -- leading into the treasure rooms. Talia doesn't rush for it.

Instead, she looks to the others. "...That happened for everyone else, no? And--" She looks down. "--Oh! Our clothes!"

She looks up, and nods. She looks shaken, still, but not as bad as she could have been.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Amaranth has posed.

    Amaranth had a pretty good bravado face going on, but at the end of it... well, she's kind of running on fumes, really. She slumps down with a breathless sigh and rubs her forehead and murmurs, "I-- I really, really, really don't like ruins that play with your mind, I just want to point out for the record?"

    A pause. "We have a record, right? Is that a Drifter thing...? I'll make a journal if not," she sulks.

    She does give a little bit of a smile to Talia, even if it's shaky as she turns towards the rest. "Anyone want Gels?" she asks while munching on one. "Not for recovery but for, uh--" she swallows. "Emotional care."

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia says, "gahhhhh!!" because she's still in that ridiculous getup and can't figure out how to turn it off because, in part, it's mostly Amaranth's magic here at work. She wraps her arms around her body and says, "How come this weird shit always happens??"

She looks over to Talia, then Jean, then Avril, then Jean again.

"Gosh everybody is super hot." She pauses. "And rad." Pause. "As people. And friends."

She then looks towards Amaranth and says, "I know right??" She seems, uhhh, to be pretty much herself honestly. Sure she's freaking out but not, like, more than she freaks out all the time. It's a stable emotional arc!!

"I want a therapy gel." Lydia adds.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    "I had not expected such a thing."

    It reminds her much of their encounter with the black mirror that Ida and the rest had been in possession of, and that alone is enough reason to be troubled. Though, unlike before, at least this seems to have been drawn from her real memories.
    As near as she can determine, at least.

    She takes a look at the crystal in her hand, holding it up to look at it momentarily. "...Those were Elw ruins, were they not? And these crystals..."

    She has noticed that her clothing has changed, right? She certainly carries on as if things were more or less normal on that front.

<Pose Tracker> Jean has posed.

Jean isn't exactly at her best, either--the boost from Amaranth keeps her from falling into her memory, but as she opens her eyes, she looks around and... she's her age again; the same old scars, the same body... But the new clothes, for the moment, daring and bright. She glances around over all of them--

"...I guess it did," Jean answers, shaking her head. She's... quiet. She looks to Lydia and--

And actually laughs, despite herself; slow at first, and then for a good few moments. "We do look pretty great in these, don't we?" A beat, "Nice taste, Katherine," as she looks herself over.

"...Yeah, though, I could do without the mind games too," Jean agrees with Amaranth. "I'm sure not going to make a record," she says, shrugging, seeing as how whether or not the others know it, she can't read more than a little bit that Lemina's taught her. ...Which mostly means numbers, frankly, Lemina is a practical girl.

"Sure," Jean says about the gels, walking over. "Though what I really want is a drink, maybe a date." Pause. "...Two drinks, two dates."

Siiiigh. She leans on the wall, coming down off of... that stress.

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

    Dean steps back from Avril. Everyone... seems to be okay? He nods in relief, then scratches his head. "That's what I'd like to know," he says to Lydia. "But at least we're all okay." He makes a face at Amaranth's comment, his nod indicating that it's in commisseration. "No kidding. Why *are* there so many ruins that get into your head and mess with it?" Then Talia points out that they're all still dressed fancy, and he looks down at himself. "Hey, you're right!" A broad smile creases his face. "My crop top!!"
    
    Fun facts: for a seventeen-year-old who looks like he's maybe fourteen years old, Dean has some rock hard abs.
    
    "Nah, I'm feeling more or less normal temperature," Dean adds to Lydia. "I think I'm okay for a gel, but..." He looks at Avril, who's taking all of this with remarkable aplomb (which is normal for her, so that's good), and Jean, who's leaning on the wall and lamenting a lack of drinks and dates. "...Now what? What'd we come here to get again?"

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

"I didn't realize," Talia says, with a shake of her head. She pats Amaranth on the shoulder, before she blinks. "Is it? I--well, I've heard the saying before. Someone must keep a record, no?"

She looks at Lydia, and opens her mouth -- and then shrugs her shoulders, once. "Well... I wish I knew. I wonder if this served a purpose once," she says. She glances sideways at Avril, her head tilted. "An Elw? Is that--ah... is that something from Filgaia?"

She also takes a therapy gel. She glances sideways at Katherine, then smiles. She glances back at Jean, and then at Dean. Her eyebrows knit together, before she cracks a smile at Dean. She nods. "It suits you!"

Then, she leans back against the wall. She hesitates for a moment.

Talia looks to the side, awkwardly. "...I heard there were treasures down here. But, honestly, ah... I wanted to do something exciting and memorable, and I--well... after everything, it wasn't easy to ask people to come along. There is treasure ahead, I'm certain! But I had no grand plan, no?"

She laughs. "I did not, however, factor in the memory manipulation." She swings a hand back -- and presses into a loose brick. Which is when there is a *click*.

Talia leaps from the wall; a moment later, six small green gems roll out from a small chamber hidden behind the wall.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Amaranth has posed.

    "Lydie, Lydie shhh it's okay," Katherine tries to reassure her and says, "It's just a little bit of my magic, okay? There's nothing harmful with it. It'll go away soon enough, like with Tadpole and Amber." A pause, as she looks towards everyone, and Jean, and Avril, and Dean--

    Winking a little at Jean with a bit of redness as she says, "That's a bit more daring than I'd go for... but it's great!"

    Then Dean as he points out, 'My crop top!!'

    A visual representation of an Apple Gel blobs ontop of Ammy's head and kind of bristles.

    Is Ammy... gelly???

    The Apple Gel poofs in a burst of pink smoke, and she laughs softly, "E...lw? Is that some kind of type of ruin?"

    "I--whah!" Katherine nearly jumps back as Talia pushes on a brick and stares at the green gems rolling out. "Is that... the treasure?"

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia looks over to Dean and reminds herself that Rebecca wants him so she really shouldn't afflict him with the danger gaze.

She says instead, "I'm going to take that as you being very confident in yourself." Lydia says gratiously before looking towards Jean.

She then snaps her fingers and points towards Talia. "Memorable! I get it! Nice one!!" And then, of course, Talia summons a bunch of green gems and Lydia blinks a few times.

"Sweet! Loot!" Lydia says. "This wasn't just emotional trauma, it was also pocket-lining!"

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

    "Hm? Well, yeah, why wouldn't I be?" Dean says to Lydia, puzzled by her reaction and by Katherine's spikey apple gel. But then Talia compliments him, and he grins proudly. "Right?? I like the way it looks!"
    
    Somewhere, Rebecca groans and palms her face. Probably.
    
    "Oh, the Elw are this, like, really old race that used to live on Filgaia? They're not around anymore, but nobody knows where they went. Or if anybody knows, they're not sharing, I guess," Dean explains, because Dean is absolutely the right person to explain things. "But they left behind a lot of really advanced ruins with weird things going on with them, and a lot of their traps are, uhhh--" He makes a face, thinking of the Pleasant Gardens. "--godawful? Yeah, I think that's the word. Godawful."
    
    Lydia jokes about memorable. Dean laughs along with it, until Talia hits a button and treasure pops out. "Woah!! You were right about the treasure!"

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    "Dean is correct, I do not feel any warmer than usual," Avril chimes in, thus possibly demonstrating why Rebecca is an essential part of their trio. "As for a gel, I would not refuse." It's hard to tell if she's noticed her change or if she's noticed and just doesn't care one way or the other.

    "An Elw? Oh, that's right, you would not have known. The ruins in here are similar to other Elw ruins that we have encountered. I believe that there was also a rumor regarding this place that named them as being of the Elw."

    She pauses, as if to consider something carefully.

    Her blue eyes widen as she realizes what she's left out. "...Oh, yes, that's right. You would also not know of the Elw, would you. I understand they were-- yes, as Dean said."
    She elaborates no further.
    ...That's it, that's all she knows, other than the style of their architecture.

    It's probably good timing as just as Talia explains that she had no particular plans nor knew what might be down here does she lean against the wall and... gems pop out.

    She lifts a hand to her cheek. "Oh! I see, so that is where the Elw store their treasure..."

<Pose Tracker> Jean has posed.

Jean beams at Amaranth at the compliment. "When you're a performer, you can't go halfway!"

...She'd rather think about that than about what she was remembering--she grins at Dean a moment later. "Nice," she answers. ...And, well, yeah he's pretty jacked, which, Jean obviously approves of. But to Talia, "...I can think of a lot of things that'd be good about sharing memories," Jean says to Talia's suggestion. "Not you know, invasive and unpleasant like this, but it'd be a good way to teach people, or to help them understand something."

A beat, "You're fine! Honestly we could all use the chance to get out anyway." A beat, "...Though this isn't usually my idea of fun.."

Dean starts explaining, "Yeah their ruins are pretty... serious. I've been in a few by now--Elw ruins are the ones that took us back to Lunar, and then here again."

It's fine. It's super fine. But--

"--!" Jean tenses, ready for some kind of trap... but instead, gems.

"Treasure, huh? Not bad." She laughs to Lydia, "I guess it's fine then?"

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

Talia turns, to look down at Amaranth, and she blinks at the image of the gel. Then, she grins, putting a hand over her mouth to hide her laughter. She certainly looks charmed.

She leans down, scooping up a crystal. "So... a long lost civilization? Hmm, it is sort of romantic. But a shame about their terrible traps."

She looks down at the gem that she picked up. There is a pinprick in the back of her mind. She blinks, shaking her head, and then looks at Lydia; then, at Dean. "Memo--" Her eyes widen. She glances at Ammy, and then back at the two younger members of the team, and she nods.

Like she meant to say that pun. "Why, thank you."

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Amaranth has posed.

    "O-ohh... they're gosh-awful then..." Katherine muses as she chimes in with Dean and... decides that she has a much lower threshold for curses than a 17-year old boy!! Maybe it's just something you pick up when you've lived that long.

    Or, y'know, Just Ammy Things (tm).

    "Honestly... why do lost civilisations have to place so many traps in their ruins? If *I* ever made such a place, I would be certain to fill it with so many attractive things like chocolate lakes and carousel rides and a dinner party at the end."

    just self-advertise some more, ammy...

    She looks to Jean and laughs just a bit. "I agree. Sharing memories in a supportive space... well, that could help more than one of us, I think." She winks at Talia again.

    She glances up towards Avril as well and says, "You're all experts in these ruins compared to me -- but I suppose being the novice is pretty fun too!"

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

    Avril chimes in on what the Elw are. Dean nods at her, then looks over at the others. Cursing is not a thing he really does often, but... Elw ruins sort of deserve it. See: what they all just went through. Meanwhile, a thousand-plus year old being has a more conservative mouth than he does. Guess it's true what they say about the elderly.
    
    "That would be really cool!" Dean says, perking at Katherine's comment. Then he pauses and frowns, eyebrows knitting. "Huh... I feel like I've been to a place that was like that before..." A long, dangerous pause. "But it didn't have a carousel ride," he concludes firmly. Ph-phew?!
    
    "Sharing memories, huh... That *does* sound nice," he says thoughtfully. He looks at Avril. "What d'you think? Maybe if we could do something like that, it'd be easier for you to get your memories back, Avril."
    
    He grins again at Talia, beams at Jean and her compliment, then walks over to the gems that popped out, picks up two, and hands one to Avril. "Gems, huh," he says, holding one up to the nearest light. He pauses, then squints. "...Huh. Is it just me, or is there something inside it?" It could just be the natural flaws of a jewel. Or it could be... something else. He looks at Lydia. "What d'you think?" Why ask Lydia? Because she's smart, obviously.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    "I'm afraid I only know as much as I have heard on the Elw. The same can be said for other ruins besides. ...It seems that there is much that is not known of this world's past," she explains, as best as she is able.

    "Sharing memories..." Avril murmurs, brow faintly creased as if something is on her mind.

    Sharing memories, as she had done with Rebecca?
    She... hasn't forgotten.
    These memories don't belong to her. And yet, they still cling.

    "It's a nice thought, isn't it?" she says, a slight smile on her lips. "However... they wouldn't be my memories, would they? Unless, of course, you already had one that had belonged to me, Dean." For once she's almost a little teasing, at least by tone. Her gaze is not entirely along for the ride, so to speak.

    "Hmm. Now that you mention it," Avril says, gazing through the gem, "It does seem that way. Of course, it is difficult to determine for certain in this light. Perhaps we might see more clearly if we were to take them outside?"

<Pose Tracker> Jean has posed.

Jean looks knowingly, amusedly between Talia and 'Katherine' at their exchange. But she doesn't comment. ...Yet. This time. Maybe soon. Since--

Gosh-awful, is it...? She's adorable.

Jean laughs about the traps at least. ...Or is it about the pun? It's hard to say. It might even be about...

"Sure, but that almost sounds like you want people to visit." A beat, "I could go for a dinner party though... Ah, with... Let's see, duck. And game hen. ...And curry, and roasted potatoes, and spiced carrots, and... beer. Good dry beer."

Jean sighs. But then she glances sidelong to Ammy, "...Maybe so." A laugh, "I just managed to make friends with a ruin hunter and... well, things got complicated from there. We always seem to have trouble somehow."

Jean at that takes one of the gmes too, glances thoughtfully. "Well, it's pretty anyway."

<Pose Tracker> Talia has posed.

Talia looks down at Ammy. She blinks a couple of times.

Then, she looks up -- smiles in that playful way, and nods quickly. "Mm-hm! A carousel and a chocolate fountain does sound much preferable! People would flock to it!" Not suspicious at all, she thinks.

Talia looks back down at her -- and winks back. "It could be quite useful," she says. "And... nice, too, no? Catching people up on the good times--letting them see something they might have missed..."

Like, she thinks, she could record things to show Ivan: life on Filgaia, the way the Festina Lente looks, and other things. She taps a finger against her chin; she looks sideways at Jean, her head tilted. "That does sound tasty."

Finally, though, she looks to Avril. "Maybe so," she says. "It wouldn't hurt. And... we may want to leave soon, no? It would be best to get back before dark."

<Pose Tracker> Dean Stark has posed.

    "Oh, yeah, good point," Dean says sheepishly to Avril, rubbing the back of his head. "I didn't think of it that way. There goes that idea, then." He brightens. "But I'm sure we'll get your memories back somehow, some other way!"
    
    She takes a look at her own gem. He nods. "Yeah, I think we're done in here anyway. At least, we went through the traps and found a treasure, so we might as well go." He makes a face. "Besides, I'm not in a hurry to deal with any more memory-illusions."
    
    Dinner party... Dean's eyes sparkle at the memory of the dinner party *he* attended a long time ago. Except for the beer, Jean's taste in dinner is impeccable. (Despite his chiseled abs and potty mouth, Dean is ultimately still underage.) And then there's Talia with the addition of the chocolate fountain to the chocolate lake. "Man, now you guys are making me hungry!" He grins as he looks around. "Let's all go get dinner once we're out of here!"
    
    Even if they don't all go, at least he and Avril will have a nice time. WITHOUT REBECCA (sorry Rebecca, this is just your life now).