2018-09-30: Star in the Darkness

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  • Log: Star in the Darkness
  • Cast: Lydia Seren, Riesenlied, Catenna, Ethius Hesiod, Jacqueline Barber, Mariel, Carina Wynne, Prissa
  • Where: Great Aveh Desert - Seven Sages Ruins
  • Date: September 30th, 2018
  • Summary: In hopes of strengthening her bonds with Rigdobrite, Lydia brings Riesenlied and the Caravan Kinship to the Seven Sages Ruins in Aveh Desert for the last time. There, she receives a gift...and they make a powerful enemy.

===========================<* Great Aveh Desert *>============================

The heart of the Republic of Aveh is its great desert. The rolling dones and blistering heat here are infamous, and all but the most foolhardy would ever dare to cross it on foot. Most do so via the great rail lines running north to south, east to west, leading as far as Krosse and Adlehyde. The ones who do cross it on foot will find the heat isn't the only danger. Mirages can lead men astray, oases are few, and great and terrible beasts sink beneath the sands until they find their prey.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ddOSJ8571M
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Filgaia is the world that Lydia's friends are trying to save and hey, maybe while they're at it, they can save Lunar too. Lydia paid a visit to Granny Halle and while she didn't really go in order to get advice on what she should do, Granny did have some advice all the same. She suggested that Lydia strengthen her connection to Rigdobrite and when asked how to exactly go about doing that, Granny suggested she return to where her adventures (Lydia doesn't really qualify kidnapping as an adventure) started. The Seven Sages Ruins.

The Caravan Kinship has a solid record of wrecking havoc in this facility but it is still in the same spot, at least, in the middle of the Aveh Desert and down a hidden staircase partially submerged in sand that one can slide down into what looks much like a lobby but there's some new elements at play since the Caravan was here last. The lights seem to be out except for one solitary light blinking near the elevator shaft. The elevator doesn't seem to be present anymore though the doors to the elevator have, weirdly enough, been smashed, pried, or exploded open several times. Hmm. Wonder who did that!

"I guess we'll have to jump down." Lydia says. "Thanks for coming guys." She frowns, looking around a bit before ending. "Careful, though, there might be debris around--" And the floor is hard enough to see.

"It wasn't this bad before... I wonder if something else happened while we were on the moon."

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y49b8aiQVBg

No words from Walkerton or Holly just yet, but there's a constant crackling from the speakers, a squealing whine of tension just loud enough to be heard, but faint enough to be forgotten about for a moment until it hits you again.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

        Riesenlied may not be part of the Caravan Kinship, but when she heard that Lydia wanted to revisit where her adventures started, she couldn't help but want to be there for her daughter. As she was when she came for closure for her parents... she's here too.

        She's ruminated quite a bit since the party at the Fereshte, but eventually... she decided that she wasn't going to hide it anymore, so she's in her typical Fereshte dress and capelet--

        --walking down the hallway and looking towards the holes where the elevator doors used to be with not one, but two solidly deformed draconic feet. It feels... distinctly odd, and a part of her definitely still misses footwear, despite shoelidarity. The degeneration is not to be stopped so easily.

        "... I can't well remember what happened here, but..." Riesenlied tilts her head, drawing her hand to her Tear. "it certainly looks like it's suffered more damage?"

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Catenna has been on edge. She visited Elder Halle earlier, and since then she's been quietly insistent that the CaraKin get moving to both stop Mother and find the Lost Sanctuary of the Guardian Lords. But she's also been doing similarly to Lydia: Strengthening her relationship with her Guardian, and trying to coax the Owlet back to health in so doing.

With all of that, helping Lydia is a no-brainer for her.

"You are my friend. I am happy to help you," Catenna, in her long Zortroan dress (sans capelet), answers Lydia with a faint smile pefore peering down the elevator shaft. Her jaw sets as a flicker of anxiety crosses her mind. "...Ruin raiders, perhaps. Or perhaps not...."

Unspooling her grappling hook, Catenna latches the hook onto a solid piece of metal. She tugs twice to ensure it's secure, then boosts herself to a seat on the edge. With a look up at Riesenlied, she nods gravely. "We shall have to be cautious."

She swings her legs over the ledge and begins to descend, bit by bit.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Ethius comes along as a matter of personal interest. Whether it is 'first and foremost' versus that of Lydia's own continues to be vague, but the desire to come along with her is unmistakably genuine even accounting for previous tensions. (Previous tensions that may yet remain current?)
        "I will see this through to satisfaction, Miss Lydia." Whose satisfaction, though?
        Like Lydia, however, he is in possession of a Stone Medium of Rigdobrite. At that fateful encounter in the temple, they were the Guardian that chose to lend their power to him - and then again, on Lunar. It's been a strange thing to account for since - an understanding and awareness of the gravity of their presence, but not a bridge into the past he has forgotten.
        The harness for the personal scale hot air balloon already affixed in anticipation of having to go down the shaft, Ethius only takes momentary stock of who is along. He closes his eyes for a few seconds, turns away, and looks to the shaft ahead. One Symbological casting ritual to produce the appropriate yield of heated air within the unconventional hovering device, he begins his descent.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Lydia had told them all of her plans to return to the Seven Sages Ruins a while back. It was a plan that Jacqueline approved of. If there was the chance it could help her in some fashion, then they had to try.

Fortunately, the Ruins are still where they remember them...but the inside doesn't look quite as they remember. Jacqueline frowns as she looks it over, following everyone along.

She reaches into her pouch of Crests, drawing one out and invoking it to create a sphere of light to help them see a little better.

"There've been a lot of reports of seismic activity about since we've been gone. I imagine it may have played a part...but with this place, it could be anything." Jacqueline assumes with a frown and a glance between Riesenlied and Catenna, but then sends Lydia a smile.

"Not a problem! I'm always glad to help out." She replies. ...Though, this place was just a little unsettling, seeing it like this. And then there was that constant crackling over the speakers...

She suppresses a shiver, and reaches for a different Crest from her pouch just in case, as she eyes the elevator.

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel did not speak to 'Granny' Halle this time she visited the Baskar village, as much to avoid awkward questions as anything else. Even she is not sure on whose end those questions were likely to be asked. She did agree to come with Lydia though. She thinks she likes the Beastman, even if Lydia is awfully high-energy.

She also has never been to Seven Sages before. She didn't even know it was here. So someone, at least, is looking at this place with fresh eyes.

One place she has not been looking is Riesenlied. Or, at least, not looking when the other woman can catch her. Riese has always unsettled Mariel and the combination of her increasing degeneration and the Filgaian situation in general are making it even more uncomfortable for Mariel to be around her. She has hidden behind Lydia at least twice, and Prissa once. She isn't sure what she feels about the Metal Demon and so she's just been trying to avoid her as much as is possible when you're on the same dungeon exploration team - that is, not much.

The feet worry her, though, and she couldn't say why. Mariel can tell when something is wrong, even if she has no connection whatsoever with the Hyadeans, and she knows Riese is not doing well. But, well, with everything else she's said to Riese in the past... she isn't going to initiate it.

Mariel hasn't been very talky, either. She's wearing her more sensible green travelling robe with the solid boots and the sturdy leggings, and has checked her bag a few times; she does it once more before climbing down the rope. Or, well, sliding down the rope, because Mariel has gloves and she can do that without ripping her hands up. Thanks, mittens!

<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

"Creeeepy..." Carina says, quietly.

Because yes, METAL DIGGER LOCUS is here, back to make Filgaian ruins safer once more. This particular ruin (and several more, really) seems to have become only MORE DANGEROUS in her absence, which really proves that heroes are good to have around.

"Only one way to find out!" Locus announces, posing dramatically, before running ahead of everyone else and proceeding to... run down the side of the shaft, mostly unheeding of gravity. Extra as usual, yes.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Going down the elevator isn't too difficult. Lydia has a moment where she reaches for her portal pistols only to find that she, well, no longer has them. She knew she no longer had them, but she's still used to having them all the same. Rebecca will make better use of 'em, she thinks, but eventually you're gonna need to find something you can use. But what? Hmm.

Lydia is accustomed to Mariel being shy but she seems to be on good enough terms with the Totally-A-Beastman to be used as cover. She smiles at Mariel in an attempt to be reassuring but Lydia's teeth are like rows of sharp fangs so there's some limits to how reassuring she can be when she's also smiling.

Carina's HOT BLOODED nature lets her readily take the lead as she literally runs down the shaft. Catenna uses SLOWFALL to follow after her and that works just dandy as well. No problems so far.

Lydia is worried about Ethius, but that's nothing new. She was worried about Ethius even when they were on good terms. "Alright--" She says to him and...that's it. She trusts him but also doesn't trust him it's complicated ok.

The sphere of light from Jay at least helps everyone navigate their way down the shaft and also avoid tumbling over a knocked over a (artificial, Mariel can tell instantly) potted plant.

Lydia and Mariel end up taking the rear, sliding down the rope. Therefore it's Carina, first, who sees something new ahead of her.

It's ... a door! A large door. In the middle of the hallway she just stepped into. There's even windows in the door that are difficult to see through even with Jay's light lending a hand--Jay's light being the only light at all down this particular hallway.

"Ah...." A voice crackles on the speaker. Wilkerton's. He sounds like Hayden Montag crossed with the Crypt Keeper. "You've returned. It's you, isn't it? It's hard to see...with the lights off."

There's another faint whine along the speakers before Wilkerton speaks again, "You should leave. Something has broken free it--"

The speakers die. And then...

The door suddenly bursts free of its hinges! It's windows twist to the side, forming eyes that focus down on Carina. Its knob bursts off and spirals into the air, attached to the door by a whip-like cable. It grows two mechanical arms and two mechanical legs and stomps towards you. One arm grabs the doorknob-whip and the other reaches back and draws a large battle axe.

It seems some problems were missed by adventurers when they explored the depths of these ruins. The 'upgraded' version of Duplicator technology, the Deadlycator Mk 1, lashes out at Carina with its door knob!

"DOOR!" Lydia shouts from behind. "DOOR!!"

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

        There's a contrite look from Riesenlied as she glances to Mariel. She well understands her trepidation involving her, but in the lull between their actions she-- stammers and speaks up: "Ah, um-- if it wouldn't be too much, would you like to come see our garden sometime? If-- you'd like. Val and the others have done a really good job growing the saplings into something great... and we have Lunarian species as well."

        She leaves it at that, though, since she knows the girl doesn't really want to talk much, looking towards Catenna, Ethius and Jacqueline with a nod. They're all here, and they're all close companions of Lydie, so she's sure she's in good company...

        ... before pausing to look at Metal Digger Locus for a moment. "Um, I'm sorry, but I don't think we've met...? My name's Riesenlied," she offers. Armored suits aren't exactly uncommon to her, but mostly in the Photosphere, she admits... but it isn't like it's unusual for Drifters either.

        She kind of drifts down at the end, since she isn't exactly the most aerodynamic or agile of people. She stares towards the door when Carina gets to it and-- tilts her head. Furrows her brow gently.

        "Something has broken free...?" Her eyes widen as the door suddenly flings outwards and becomes a whip-and-axe wielding monstrosity. "Ah--"

        She focuses distinctly and first casts a barrier of solid, but translucent light around Carina, since she's closest to the mimic. Then, it starts cascading around the room, providing cover. "Careful!"

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Don't chalk anything up to Catenna's hot-blooded nature. She's about as hot-blooded as an arctic front.

Her heels click as she touches down, leaving the rope for others. She steps aside to make room for Lydia and Mariel, smiling quietly at the pair. But soon they've got something else to see.

A door. A big door. And with it, a voice crackling over the intercom. With a little hiss of breath, Catenna reaches for her sword, drawing it and giving the silvery weapon a quick twirl. "Him again," she mutters, though not so loudly as to be heard over his teasing.

And then the door turns itself off its hinges and becomes a guy.

"What," Catenna says with dull surprise.

The doorknob-whip whistles dangerously close to her, and she ducks away with an involuntary flinch that spares her being hit in the face by it. For a couple of steps she staggers, but manages to collect herself with the dancer's grace she'd cultivated back on Lunar. Steeling herself, she darts forward. "We need to bring it down," she says quickly.

She makes her attempt. Ducking under the axe, Catenna swings her sword out in a quick slash aimed to sever one of those arms before she drops and rolls away. If she can find another opening, she'll try to duck back in. She'll never stand head-to-head with it, always trying for an opportunistic attack.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        "The matter will be dealt with expediently with your cooperation." Ethius remarks coolly to the crackling speakers. Why doesn't he just say 'surrender yourselves at once' and leave it at that? It's the same thing. He strides forth with a confidence and comfort that one shouldn't in an environment where space and time gets twisted into non-euclidian knots. The man is so distant and guarded about his character, even in movement, that any circumstance in which those descriptors can be applied may be cause for alarm.
        That was him responding about the 'lights off.' When 'something has broken free,' Ethius turns his gaze to some other part of the hallway that is not the way he should be looking. That is not the way to where the door is about to - no, just did - burst right free of its architectually-designated place. Ethius draws his quarterstaff and aggressively points it out at--
        The flat of the axe blade beats him to the punch, battering the weapon down and forcing him to a kneel. He has to get low to the ground entirely to avoid it cleaving him in two. Even then, the battle axe catches a small tip of his shirt, leaving a small tear as he tumbles back to a nearby wall.
        When the cover moves closer towards him, he twists his fingers in a quicker, middling Symbological spell of electrical nature as to not risk being interrupted when the cover leaves him, attempting to send electricity coursing down one of the mimic door's arms once he finishes chanting out the proper incantation accompanying the gesticulations.

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel is not afraid of Lydia's teeth, though that doesn't make them any more reassuring than anyone else's. At least she doesn't think she's going to be bitten. She might be wrong.

"...you kept your garden?" Mariel had assumed that Riese's garden was long dead, abandoned when they went to Lunar... though apparently she was wrong about that, and is happy to be wrong on this subject. "I would like to see it." That may be, in some ways, as close as Mariel is going to get to an offer of apology for the times she's yelled at Riesenlied (yes, even Mariel can yell) or the times she has avoided her.

It's a start.

When the group hits the bottom of the rope, Mariel digs in her satchel and pulls out a twist with powder in it and a small crystal vial. Some of the party has seen this before, when she mixes the powder into the liquid in the vial and gives it a good shake; the liquid begins to glow with an eerie green light the colour of foxfire, but much brighter than any natural phosphorescent mushroom.

This is what Mariel has in her hands when the door decides to be aggressive in ways not normally associated with doors. Mariel lets out a little squeak and shifts to the back of the group again; she holds the light between thumb and palm as she goes back into her bag for something else. Think, Mariel, think -

Mariel throws what appears to be a little silver coin at the door, smaller than a one gella coin - like a dime compared to a silver dollar. This would not ordinarily be a concern for the door, since it's far too small and light to actually hurt anything, but as soon as it hits the door, there is a weird stutter in time -

The party finds themselves back a few instants. The door is a door again, but rapidly unfolding into its combat configuration. Except this time the party has a moment of forewarning. Surprise: averted!

Mariel scrambles for the coin, which despite the stutter in time is still on the floor.

<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

Riese addresses Locus before the elevator shaft incident. "Oh!! Actually, we did," she says, pointing to herself. "I taught you about the true meaning of Christmas, remember? It turns out I WASN'T an hallucination!" Most of the things they saw that day apparently were, but Locus wasn't, despite looking, frankly, like the action figure every kid would want for Christmas.

"I am!! METAL DIGGER! LOCUS!" she announces, colorful pyrotechnics exploding behind her as she poses! C-Carina, don't waste precious resources on introducing yourself!!

But that was then, and now Carina is grappling with a dangerous door.

"A scary door!! I KNEW IT!" But just then, a door knob flies towards her, smacking her in the face and sending her flying! What?! Is this the end for our hero?

No, thanks to Mariel! She gets a do-over. This time, a sparkling barrier appears around the Warrior of Love, courtesy of Riesenlied. The doorknob bounces off, harmlessly. "Nice assist!" she calls out, flashing a thumbs-up before rushing ahead for a counterattack.

"Sorry for not knocking! Time to fix that!" She winds up a running punch, her fist crackling with electricity. "LOCUUUUUUS... KNOCK!"

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Fortunately, the descent isn't as worrisome as Jacqueline had expected. At least they had some light here, even if it was up to here to provide it. One of the advantages of Sorcery!

Eventually, they find a door. Jacqueline frowns. She tries to peer through the windows, but...it's not working. But as she's trying to do so, she hears a voice.

"Professor?" Jacqueline asks. She's not sure if he can actually hear her. Unfortunately, the speakers die before he can finish his warning.

It wasn't a very reassuring one.

This warning is punctuated by the door erupting from its hinges, arms swinging dangerously! Jacqueline yelps, backpedals-

-and finds herself standing in front of the door again, which is somehow back into the process of unfolding. Jacqueline blinks once, twice, then draws a Crest and brandishes it. This sends a spear of bright light heading directly toward the Deadlycator Mk 1's closest approximation to a face.

She'd equipped herself with light spells this time. She had a feeling they might be useful.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

When Mariel resets the fight, she senses that something else has changed besides the fight returning to its original configuration. As she reaches for the gimel coin, she feels something on her hand. Something strange. A claw of some kind? Feels bony, but with a strange semi-permeable substance crackling around it.

It's gone after a moment.

Most of the group is a little too busy to woryr about that though because DOOR is still a menace. Lydia, in this new reality, seems to have gotten a Schrodinger on her head though Schrodinger's fur is sticking straight up and the kitty is hissing at ... Mariel? It looks like that at first, but it starts hissing at the walls shortly after instead.

Meanwhile Lydia herself launches star shaped patterns that fail to illuminate the hall significantly that crash into the door. Jay's own light powered magic crashes in shortly after, pushing the door back but still, strangely at this point, not illuminating the hall overmuch. Ethius shuts down the whip arm before it can clobber Carina, electrifying it with his symbology. Catenna slams her blade into one of the other arms but it's not enough to sever it. The door retaliates by trying to clobber Catenna with the battleaxe, but a shimmering barrier from Riesenlied protects her from the strike.

Carina finishes off the DEADLYCATOR with a mighty LOCUS KNOCK that shatters the door into splinters.

"Huh." Lydia says. "That wasn't so bad. I had no idea Mariel controlled TIME ITSELF but y'learn something new every day, huh?"

The team moves forward as Lydia takes Schrodinger in her arms. Schrodinger continues to hiss about, clearly stressed and on edge. "I think, this is the closest way to the end of the ruin...?"

Red eyes start flickering in the darkness. Many copies of the same eyes appearing more and more and staring at Mariel and Lydia.

"Um." Lydia says, glancing to the wall. "Er..."

Pause.

"Run...!" Lydia shouts, but it seems the 'quick way' to go involves passing through a section of floor that has several bottomless pits broken through the floor (NOTE: pits actually do have bottoms but you can't see them).

The lights flicker on briefly. "There...!" Wilkerton's voice crackles over the speaker. "It's only for a moment but--"

The lights flicker back off...but perhaps you can remember which way to move. In that moment where the lights were on...the source of those eyes vanished momentarily, before returning with the darkness.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

        Riesenlied seems to get really confused about the momentary pause--

        --though her horns wiggling at maximum speeds (wiggle wiggle wiggle) seem to be her indicator that she briefly jumped back in time. Time-sensitive horns??

        Riesenlied winces for a moment as Ethius takes a nick and throws a shield his way as well, though she's straining a little under the way in which she's spreading her defence quite thin. At least she's managed to cover Catenna's approach with her blade.

        "Haah..." Riesenlied sounds a bit winded, looking through the door itself and tilting her head to Locus.

        "Ah... oh! Goodness, you're right, back in November City!" Riesenlied cups her mouth, sounding embarrassed. But-- bashfully smiling as she says, "It's nice to re-make your acquaintance, then, Metal Digger Locus...!"

        Jacqueline calls for a 'Professor', but Riesenlied isn't quite certain who she means... pacing next to Lydia as she stares towards the lights, then concentrates deeply. "If it's light, then..."

        She looks a little unnerved at the eyes, but--

        Riesenlied holds the Dragon's Tear up-- and with a flourishing cascade, she brings a large curtain of light around the group to flood the dangerous room with her luminance.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

God knows what Catenna would do without Riesenlied. She flinches away from the axe swing, but the barrier intercepts it, the weapon clashing against it and diverting away. "Riesenlied," she gasps, shooting the rogue Metal Demon a look of profound gratitude.

Having no idea that Mariel did something until she starts realizing she's moved, Catenna is left to deke back and look on quizzically as the door goes down. She tilts her head towards both Marien and Lydia when the latter begins to explain things a little. "...Interesting," she muses as she moves along.

To meet eyes in the dark.

Catenna just presses her lips together intently. "Problematic," she murmurs as she reaches for her Medium - but that won't do a lot in the dark. In the flicker of light, she can see those bottomless pits ahead - until Riese lights the Tear up.

That flare of light gives Catenna herself an opening. She dips into her dress and emerges with the traveler's stick she'd been carrying yesterday. With a quick snap of a match, she lights the tip of the stick up like a torch. A ruddy, flickering light dances from the flame as she lifts the makeshift staff, as if the light could ward off those eyes.

Catenna keeps her sword at the ready, giving some of those eyes a flat, warning look before looking down, trying to use the Tearlight and torchlight together to dart around the chasms as quick as she can.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Ethius takes this lapse in continuity a bit better than average, which is to say that he's not screaming 'hey what the hell what's happening' but instead exchanging sharp glances before commencing what he knows he was in the middle of doing. No, something else breaks his stride after the fact.
        "Miss Mariel controlled time itself, you say." Ethius was one of the first to really take Lydia's word at face value about ALIEN EXPERIMENTATIONS. That unnerving gaze of his goes towards the shy, mitten-clad Beastwoman. What manner of sorcery or device is in her possession--
        Red eyes pull Ethius out of the beginnings of an aggressive interrogation in the worst possible environs for it, setting his behaviors back to the more important priority of 'self-preservation.' He holds a palm up in the air towards the eyes he can see - but they're surrounded by them. The other hand still has the harness for the Hot Air Sack attached. Not wanting to risk tripping, he cancels the aggressive casting posture to instead hurriedly wave and chant the proper combination for the hot air to refill the hot air balloon in his hand anew and drift at the best speed he can. Unless something attacks the sack, he won't fall.

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel picks up the coin. She feels a touch on her hand for a moment, but when she looks down, it's gone.

Mariel's nervousness increases significantly. The hair on the back of her neck stands on end, which has the secondary effect of making the fur on her ears slightly frizzy-looking. It might be amusing other under circumstances.

"Oh, I don't," Mariel assures Lydia, trying to work past her nervousness. "It's, um, it's a token, see?" She holds up the coin between her finger and thumb. "I brought it with me. It doesn't work very often, or for very long... it's a charm to keep you safe." She's kind of glossing over the details, but that is what it is, more or less. "It, um, it..."

There are eyes.

Mariel trails off into silence and then, rather abruptly, makes a dive out of the way of nothing in particular just as the lights turn out again. When they come on, she's scrambling to her feet, picking a direction at random. She doesn't know which way to go and is mostly thinking 'not here' is a good place to stand, though she's pretty good at avoiding holes. Natural skill, perhaps... or she got a decent look in the light.

Well, she is also still holding that foxfire light. It's weird and green but it's probably helping her see. A little. It certainly makes her location obvious in the darkness for everyone else.

<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

"Nice job controlling TIME ITSELF, Mariel!" Locus says enthusiastically, echoing Lydia. Mariel explains further. "Oooh. Still neat, though." Carina has been making a point to try and keep an eye on the smaller Drifter, who seems a bit out of her element here, but it's nice that she has access to neat tricks like these, at least.

"Same to you, Riese!" she answers Riesenlied, giving another of her thumbs-up. Having a face-covering mask means your body language needs to be extra-friendly!

But meanwhile, the facility is being extra-spooky. Schrodinger is nervous, which is never a good sign. And soon... red eyes.

"Aaaah! Okay!" Locus was advised to run, and this is what she does. "Hop! Locus Jump!" She super-jumps over some of these pits, nicely bypassing the problem altogether, but as she feather-falls back down to safety, the lights flicker back off. "H-Hey! I'm not so sure about this anymore!" She flails her arms and feet in the air, pressing the side of her helmet with one hand in the hopes of turning on the night vision mode on her Matrix Eye. "Come on, come on..."

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Fortunately, with the power of teamwork everyone is able to defeat the deadly door! Jacqueline breathes a sigh of relief and starts forward again. Lydia leads them to what she thinks is the fastest way through...but they're met with a series of red eyes.

"...Ah." Jacqueline says, going pale. She doesn't know who or what they belong to, but she hopes not to find out. She breaks into a run along with the others, taking note of the openings that are visible in that brief moment. Fortunately, Riesenlied is there with them, and the light of the Dragon's Tear provides some extra illumination.

This is good, because Jacqueline stows her Crests right back in her pouch as she moves. She doesn't want to risk accidentally dropping one of them into the open pits, so this lets her focus on the getaway.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Riesenlied unleashes a wave of light that seems to temporarily banish the eyes. It's not going to last very long, but at least it allows the group a second chance to see where they are going. Lydia sees Mariel rushing off in a random direction but Lydia reaches out to snag her hand. "This way...!" She says and, if Mariel doesn't resist, she will rush along the platform jumps with her and help her get across. If Mariel does keep trying to run off in a different direction, Lydia will physically carry her. Alone Mariel won't stand a chance. None of them would, Lydia is certain, against whatever this is.

Catenna brings out a torch herself. This light is more persistent--the fact that it's fire seems to let it last a bit longer than other kinds of light, but it doesn't illuminate very far out from her body. It does help her catch the pits before tumbling down them at least. Lydia seems to be relying on memory and beastman instincts, however.

Ethius ends up taking the lead thanks to the hot air sack. As the light flickers back off, he can feel a faint claw brush across the neck but it doesn't seem to be here for Ethius and it does not attack him. The eyes start to open up again though as you pass the last of the platforms...

...Into a room with a giant cake in the center of the room. There's a lot of lit candles on the cake that provides some extra illumination.

"We're getting closer..." Lydia says. "I wasn't expecting anything like that..." She frowns. "If it hates light maybe we can..." Pause. "Is that red velvet? huh..." She starts walking around it. "Honestly all this back and forth between horrifying and adorable is kind of messing with me..." She frowns. "Is that red velvet...?"

She looks over to Riesenlied, then to Jay. "...Maybe we can ... block its path with this? Its a constantly regenerating cake, I remember, so...It might slow it down."

The cake could indeed block that passageway...if you so choose. Either way, there isn't much time to make a call. The eyes are starting to reappear.

The speaker crackles once more. Wilkerton again. Those who were here before may wonder where Holly is. "We nicknamed this creature 'The Hound of Tindalos'. It seems to hate chronal distortions. We had thought it contained but..."

Lydia looks down at Schrodinger accusingly. It seems the cat came with a Nemesis.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

        It certainly doesn't last very long -- if only because it's Literally Riesenlied, as those who are familiar with the rules of Tearlight are, and stretching herself out like that is deeply exhausting... but at least it gives the rest of the group a chance to get their own light sources out and make progress.

        "The Hound...?" Riesenlied whispers, pausing next to Lydia as she stares towards the giant cake. Why... is there a giant cake here? Riesenlied wisely shuts up before she can go 'What does chronal mean' because she doesn't want to look like a dummy.

        She clears her throat and says, "I won't be of much use pushing cake. I could play the flute and summon the cuccos, but..."

        There's a pause as, for once in her life, Riesenlied hesitates to summon cuccos. "They might just eat the cake instead..."

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

The nice thing about living in the woods is that Catenna's pretty resourceful when it comes to getting around in the dark. A torch won't replace the sun, but it'll give her light to steer by.

Into a room with a huge cake in it. Opening her mouth a little, she seems about to say something, but closes her mouth before it comes out.

"Do not eat it," she recommends, figuring it's not a bad idea to omit anone's name in that suggestion. Gotta be a nice kitty, after all.

When the eyes begin to pop into view again, Catenna readies her sword, then looks back the way they came, then out around the eyes. "...So this is the Hound," she murmurs. "Or at least, it would seem to be. One wonders what other madness is hiding in here...."

She won't be of much use pushing the cake either, to be honest, though Catenna will help if she's really needed. Instead she fans out to one side of it and keeps watch over things.

At least until a thought occurs to her. Catenna doesn' have a notepad to write mathematical equations on, but she does look up towards the ceiling, frowning thoughtfully. "...I do not think I could generate enough gravity to affect time...."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        There will be a momentary scare for the party as Ethius - in the lead, momentarily - touches down into present safety and forcefully jabs the quarterstaff behind him into thin air. It comes just shy of spearing someone. The idea that he might have been ambushed, taken about by the neck. That gaze of his, unnerving as it always is. He's been witnessed killing in cold blood with no provocation nor remorse to whatever indecipherable criteria. What if that gesture is a precursor to him deciding they all needed to die?
        "Something touched the base of my neck." Ethius remarks as he lowers his quarterstaff to allow others to come up to him and continue forward, to face the room full of cake.
        "Do not ingest any amount of this." Ethius remarks, because of course he hates fun!! He's a no fun allowed kind of guy, as the speaker crackles once more. Something that hates chronal distortions, and is loosed. "The information is appreciated," he remarks to the speaker. He has no interests in consuming, nor pushing, any part of a giant cake. Its candles are already lit.
        He goes about doing what comes natural to Ethius, and his approach to foodstuffs that to this day continues to make no sense whatsoever - he wants to burn this red velvet confection into an unpalatable crisp.

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel is perfectly happy to be guided in the correct direction. She's panicked, not stupid, after all, and it lets her pay more attention to keeping the light going. It's not magic, at least; just chemistry.

"I'm sorry, I didn't know!" Mariel actually has another Gimel Coin in her pocket, which she is increasingly aware of. She's certainly not going to use it up, but what if it can detect it anyway...?

So she rummages through her satchel, slowing down now that they're into a bigger room. Mariel isn't sure what to do with the cake, so she ends up doing nothing - oh no. Wait. Now she has an idea.

Mariel pulls out her other Gimel Coin. She doesn't really want to use it herself and draw more attention, but it might function as a distraction or lure... which explains why she drops it into a jar of glue, and then jams the entire jar deep into the cake just before Ethius starts to burn it solid. If it's busy trying to get it out of the cake, it might not follow them for a while - especially if it's busy trying to get the unactivated Gimel Coin out from glue. Without hands. If she's very lucky, it will glue itself to something for a moment, or jam its mouth closed.

"I don't have any more with me, so it can't follow us with them now," she says. "Let's go!"

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline yelps as Ethius touches down and jabs with his quarterstaff.

"B-be careful...!" She urges, then frowns as he mentions that he felt something touch him. She could understand why he was worried...but that was pretty close!

They find themselves running into a room with a giant cake. Jacqueline stares at it blankly, then back to Lydia.

"...It...is a little jarring, yes. But...good idea." She says in agreement, then frowns as she looks back to the doorway. "Hold on, I'll try to buy us a little time to get it in place..."

She draws a Crest and invokes some Earth Pillars in front of the doorway to seal it off. Quite frankly she doesn't expect them to last long, but they might give everyone a little more time to push the cake into the doorway.

As she does so, she listens to the speaker. She does, in fact, take notice of the fact that only Wilkerton has spoken to them.

"'Hound of Tindalos'...I see..." She murmurs, then looks to the others who are, hopefully, pushing the cake into place.

Some of them, at least.

<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

"I'm okay! I'm okay!" Locus says, pulling herself up from the edge of a pit just in time to go through the door with the rest. "Whew. That was close. I was almost a Locus-- Is that red velvet?"

"A chronic distortion? What?" Carina is confused, but she at least gets that this dog chasing her hates their cat friend. That's not great!

They are warned against eating the cake, even though it seems to be red velvet. This is truly a terrible situation. "Okay, well... Like the saying goes, if we can't have the cake OR eat it, we push it! Maybe that hound will like its taste better!"

She runs to the other side, then suddenly bounces back into the opposite direction, rocket-jumping with the help of another one of her colorful Sentai explosives. Her palms are extended forward, and her heart is resolved... but this price is too cruel. Too cruel! "LOCUS... CAKE-SHOVE!"

Is she tearing up a bit behind that mask?

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Sadly, Ethius's quarterstaff doesn't seem to make much connection with anything. Has it already moved on or is it even something that can be hurt?

"See," Lydia tells Carina. "Dogs can't eat chocolate and this cake has chocolate in it so..." She hasn't read Zeboim Century Literature and thus doesn't really know the reference. She nods to Mariel and says, "Hey it's okay. None of us knew. Sometimes it's just bad luck."

Eventually, though it takes likely longer than anybody would like, the cake can get put into position blocking the path they had just taken. Also Ethius can set the cake on fire. Luckily it doesn't spontaneously combust quickly though the fire does rapidly spread. It isn't so fast, though, that Jay can't prepare her rock pillars and pin it in place and Mariel has time enough to stick her Gimel Coin in there. Sounds like a smart idea though what is she going to do if the Hound of Tindalos shows up at Elw Borea looking to make a purchase?

"You can't solve everything with gravity," Wilkerton says to Catenna. "Only mostly everything."

"It is pretty OP, Catenna." Lydia agrees.

As the group moves on, you can hear the scratching and pawing digging away at the cake. The cake hardens into a mess but this could make it harder to chomp through. Even if it could just walk away from it, the fact that it's an eternally regenerating cake (even with the fire), the fact that there's a Gimel Coin stuck in there has indeed taken hold of its attention.

The next area is undoubtedly familiar to some. It was one of the areas near the end of the facility in their initial excursions since with the light Catenna's carrying, they can see the reality of the ruins breaking away into the darkness of space itself. The last time you were here, there were little flickering lights in the 'sky' that revealed platforms when they shone, but now those lights seem to be gone.

Gone except for one little light still twinkling far away. Or, at least, it seems far away.

Despite being 'space' there is no difficulty to breathe, indeed you don't even start floating away or anything.

"Is this the room we're looking for..?" Lydia murmurs. "But what are we supposed to do here?"

"I don't know, why did you come?" Wilkerton's voice crackles. "We wanted to explore new horizons at this facility. Were we destined to be trapped in this galaxy forever? We explored the very concepts of tiem and space at this facility for we were the sons and daughters of drifters and this research led to new opportunities of discovery. We knew it would be dangerous, but to avoid our dream simply because it was dangerous was far more akin to death than my current...state."

Lydia doesn't have any answer for the moment. She's not even entirely sure what to do here, right off.

"Catenna...anything you can do here?" She asks. "Mom?" She stares at that one star up in the 'sky' there. "I think...that's what we're here for."

Mariel can sense something there too. Something waiting patiently in about that area.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

        There's a part of Riesenlied that's very sad that cake is going to waste, but given the Hound is after them it might well be best that it's cindered to a dense crisp as Carina pushes it in their pursuer's way.

        "This is a very strange ruin..." Riesenlied has to admit.

        There's a look of surprise from her, however, as they just kind of come onto-- space itself. "Ah?!" she flails and nearly trips, but winds up, kind of... floating? At least she's not adrift in space...

        Lydia calls out to her, and she hesitates for a moment. What can she do about space...? Well, she doesn't know, but she missed her chance to summon cuccos earlier and she says, "Let me try--"

        She takes out a green flute and plays... the Melody of the Cucco.

        There's nothing for a moment... nothing... then...

        Dun... dunnnn... dunnnnnn...

        The one light that's far away seems eclipsed for a moment. The shadow is very evident, since it crests the light and out emerges...

        ... a mass of cuccos, each wearing a transparent fishbowl helmet that's equally round to their head. They're formed like a little nimbus cloud that some of them can probably... ride on?

        Riesenlied looks incredibly confused as to why her cuccos are wearing space helmets, for the record.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"Oh, don't you sass me," Catenna huffs, waving a hand at open air as if to indicate Wilkerton. Then she lowers her voice and glances at Lydia. "Not you. I will take sass from you. Some."

Lifting her torch again, Catenna begins to press onward, the flame glinting in the polished silver blade of her sword. The area they emerge into rings a bell, but it's hard to tell in the dark. Well, almost the dark - there's that light. Catenna squints towards it as if she could see something. Wilkerton rambles and Catenna tunes him out, focusing on that little glint of light.

"Lydia," she says quietly, "there is a Medium up there. Please do not panic... I am going to do something."

Stepping forward, Catenna takes Lydia in one hand. Her Medium is held in the other. Chanting in her own language, she pushes through the silence between herself and Celesdue to weave a spell rather more complex than her usual Arcana. Mariel can feel the power of the Moon building slowly and gradually.

And Lydia will feel herself leaving the ground.

The weightless sensation is gentle and uplifting at first. Catenna releases Lydia's hand, but keeps her own held out towards her. Murmuring a few guide words now and then, she carefully turns the spell - and as she raises the near-weightless Lydia, she rotates things.

Lydia will find herself in a slow, descending drift up towards the star - with her feet being oriented towards it. Catenna is trying to turn her upside down and orient her towards that distant point of light, then let her weightlessly float down-but-up to it like a falling feather.

Gravity, man.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

The cake is set in place, and...it seems to help! Jacqueline exhales out of relief, but she can't completely relax just yet. They're not where they need to be.

They eventually reach a familiar room - or at least it would be familiar if the light that usually shone through it was present. Jacqueline makes her way through cautiously.

"...I'm not sure..." Jacqueline murmurs, glancing to Lydia. And then, Wilkerton speaks again.

"...I can understand that. Even though it was dangerous, I left my home because I wanted more out of life. I wanted to create something of my own, something not provided to me by my family." Jacqueline replies. "...But can you really accomplish your dreams, stuck here like this?"

She hesitates, then speaks again.

"...What happened to Professor Dayes?" She asks.

Of course, she still has to find a way through this place. She's hesitant to move forward...but then, suddenly, Riesenlied calls upon a cloud of cuccos? Jacqueline stares at them nervously.

"...W-well...I guess it's...worth a shot." She says, very carefully approaching the cloud to try and get on.

...She hopes she doesn't aggravate it.

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Honestly, Mariel was just thinking it might be a good idea to not carry the Gimel Coin around if the monster was tracking by it.

Fortunately, it will not be able to buy very much with a single coin.

Mariel scurries away from the cake and leaves the Hound to deal with it. They make their way into the next room, which feels, suddenly - very different.

The Elw have been to space. This is known; it is said that, once upon a time, people could build kingdoms in the Sea of Stars, and Drifters have occasionally come up with stories about finding their way there by mistake. Everyone here (except Mariel), whether they believe that or not, has seen an Elw teleporter on Lunar.

But Mariel never has been. She has always been tied to the ground under her feet, and when there is no ground under her feet, she is uncomfortable at best.

Her first instinct is to hunch inward, which doesn't do much but make her look even smaller. It takes her a good ten seconds to get the courage to straighten up, which doesn't cause her to float away like her instincts tell her she should; Mariel has heard stories about the no-gravity of space, even if she hasn't experienced them, and expects to be drifting around a lot more than she is.

But this is false, Mariel tells herself. A simulation. They never went to space. They are still on Filgaia; she can feel it, however tenuously. They're still in the facility, and hearing Wilkerton's voice proves it. "She is right," Mariel says, suddenly. "There's... an energy, just waiting..." Huh. She is sensitive to it after all.

She pauses as Catenna starts to move Lydia up. She asks the voice, after a moment, "When did you build this?"

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Ethius steps out into the darkness of the stars - or maybe this twisted place's view of them, as he stares out into the void as Wilkerton waxes along. Something about the phrasing seems to strike him as... a thing. What is the 'thing'? Is it a good or bad thing that something's being described this way? He knows it's something he has an opinion on, but what is the opinion in relation to.
        He doesn't speak to them, as he stands stoically a ways behind Lydia and the other Shamans. This is of import them, their spirituality and connection to the Guardians. His stride is broken when there's a big cloud of cuccos forming a bridge, as to reunite two distant lovers between sta-- that's the wrong story.
        He declines and instead chooses to set adrift by the Symbologically-enhanced Hot Air Sack, once more. Something compels him to tread - or float - lightly.

<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

"Dogs can't eat chocolate???" Locus asks, sounding perfectly serious. It's a good thing the Wynnes have never owned a dog.

But the gambit succeeds, buying them enough time to escape from this room... and into SPACE.

Locus recognizes this place. This is where she said the thing about a 'cosmic mind' that she will never live down. Not that she really... minds. She looks around. "Whaddaya mean, current state?" she asks the radio voice, having not been filled in on that specific bit of info (or, more likely, having zoned out while it was being explained).

"Being trapped in a galaxy sounds rough, though," she says, not really putting much weight on her words. The thought of leaving the planet had seemed like a childish dream to her, until not so long ago-- "Ugh, eyes getting messed up, what the heck."

She taps the side of her helmet, hoping to dispel the sudden glitches that popped into her HUD, until the display switches back to the Matrix Eye's night-vision mode. At least this is an improvement over static. She taps again, twice, switching over the scan visor.

"Reveal your secrets to me, room!" she declares. "Nothing is hidden from the Matrix Eye~! --Oh, neat, cucco cloud," she adds, hopping onto the makeshift, bizarre vehicle.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia says, "Yeah. When I first came here with a team, uh, some of them didn't..." She frowns faintly. "Well, I doubt anybody's going to come here again after much longer." She seems to be thinking about the Professor's words, though she doesn't comment on them immediately.

This is because she's suddenly floating. She waggles her arms comically into the air for a bit. "Dahh..." She says. "Not again...!" But you sassed the gravity Lydia now you reap the newton's law of motion! Lydia gradually manages to twist her body around so that she's walking upside down on what must be a ceiling at this point. Lydia pokes the ceiling a few times with her foot before waving down at Catenna, "Nice job, Cat!....enna!" She is trying to be clear she is definitely not thanking Schrodinger.

Further, Riesenlied supplies cucco nimbus clouds for everyone to ride if they'd like. They float about cutely and still wear the space helmets even though they can totally breathe in here, as Mariel notices.

Of course Carina can skip all of that with the power of her MATRIX EYE revealing the clear paths that lead to a room at the far end of this 'simulation' room. As can Ethius, who has his own nimbus clou--hot air sack to ride in on. Jay may have to rely on cucco travel.

Jay's question shuts Wilkerton up for the most part. Eventually he says, since what Carina is asking is related, even if she doesn't know it yet. "Our time has been frozen, but the hound...The hound returned time to her. I will likely be next, should it find me, but I do not regret this end. I am starting to look forward to it. Another plane of existence to explore, perhaps, but even if not---you aren't the sort to just tend to the present. You can see to the future, can you not? I have something for you, if you wish it."

Lydia walks across the ceiling. She crouches down by the 'star' and pries it loose. She looks at it for a moment, eyes widening. "You were right, Catenna. Mariel...but...It's not a normal medium. It's...silver."

Does she feel closer to Rigdobrite in this moment? Lydia holds the silver slab close to her body for a moment, eyes closing for a moment.

She can feel the guardian far more clearly. It's almost as if mother hadn't awakened, in this moment.

"Is this your way of saying you trust me?" Lydia says. "Or were you just waiting here all along...?" She smiles faintly. "I couldn't have ever made it up here on my own. That's what you're really saying, isn't it? But don't worry Rigdobrite, I won't be alone ever again. And...no matter what darkness I walk through, I will try to be a light for othe--"

Her talk is interrupted by Catenna's gravity magic running out and her comically tumbling into a cloud of cuccos.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Catenna's name isn't even pronounced quite the same!

Blushing, Catenna hops aboard a particularly fluffy cucco - and she immediately feels guilty for doing so. Part of her feels like she should be riding an owl. But the cucco is soft, and the cucco is fluffy, and it's a good steed on which she can sit while floating Lydia up towards the ceiling. It's taking effort and she's running out of MP with eveyr tick.

'It's... silver.'

Catenna's eyes snap open. She blinks twice. "Silver...?"

Even as Lydia tumbles into the cucco heap, Catenna smiles, knowing that the girl's safe with Riesenlied's bird friends there for her. And besides - Lydia's received something rare and special. Something keen to both her heart and her faith.

"Lydia," she says with a little blush. "Congratulations."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Lydia will not fall far before Ethius reaches out to catch her with his free arm.
        When he came here, it was to ensure the veracity of her claims by the severity in which she stated them. His reason for swooping (well, drifting slowly with coincidentally perfect timing) is among the same reasons in which he violently took up arms against Castle as part of their experiments.
        He will not allow this place, in part or in whole, to bring her to harm.
        He'll help lower her down into the cucco heap without ceremony or commentary as the revelation of the Medium's character bears such incredible importance to the gathered, as if content to be an otherwise unseen or unheard element.

<Pose Tracker> Prissa has posed.

 
"What does it mean that it's silver?" calls

PRISSA LASTNAMEUNKNOWN, who has been trailing behind the group. The reason was no doubt clear from almost the moment they approached the place; she has been stuffing odd pieces of scrap into her Drum, which she is not bothering to conceal. It is already releasing a chromatic mist as it processes SOMETHING, and Prissa halts outside of casual chat distance at the sight of Lydia descending towards cuccos. Sweating, she waits -

For the hammer to fall.

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

'Our time has been frozen'. Mariel frowns, but she doesn't ask another question. One was enough. It sounds like they have been here a long, long time for Mariel to not have even heard of this place before.

A Silver Medium? Well...

"I haven't heard of those being given to shamans in a long time," Mariel says, more to herself than anyone else. But if ever there was a time for the Guardians to want to pick their chosen, this is it.

"Silver mediums are unique," she explains to Prissa. "In that there is only one for each Guardian. They give it to their chosen, or sometimes their high priest or priestess... though most of the Guardians don't have a specific high priest anymore. It shows that she has been blessed by Rigdobrite."

She looks at the Drum a little curiously, as if trying to tell what it is doing. That mist... Mariel focuses on the Drum for an uncomfortably long time before looking up at the now-falling Lydia. She winces.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline rides the cloud a little uneasily, but eventually they reach the 'star' at the other end. She listens for the Professor's words, but it seems that his words had caused him to quiet...at least until he responds to Carina.

"...I see. I'm sorry, Professor. I wish you luck on your...journey." Jacqueline replies, then glances toward Lydia as she finds the gift that was waiting for.

A silver slab...Jacqueline didn't personally know the signifance of this, but from the way Lydia and Catenna react, she can tell it must be something special to the Guardians' Shamans. And indeed, Mariel - thankfully - explains.

"Amazing...I'm proud of you, Lydia!" Jacqueline says as Lydia gives her speech...though she has to turn her head and stifle a giggle as Lydia falls mid-sentence.

She does, however, spot Prissa, and offers a wave! She's curious about what's emerging from the Drum, but now hardly seems the time to ask.

<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

"Wow..." Locus says, breathlessly, as Wilkerton tells his story. Frozen time and the Hound. "That's a raw deal, I'm so sorry..." At least he doesn't seem to mind so much. "--frick!" Her HUD glitches again. "What is even UP with my helmet?" she mutters, tapping it again.

But at least she can hear what Lydia is saying. "Silver??"

She... does not actually know the significance of Silver Mediums, but that sounds like a big deal!

And then Lydia falls back down. Locus flails to hopefully catch her like a very large baseball, but-- Nope, Ethius has it covered! Carina calls up, hands cupped around the 'mouth' area of her helmet. "Hey, Lydia, congratulations! I don't really get what's goin' on, but it sounds like you got promoted! You can count on us to help out with the light thing!"

She hasn't really had the chance to speak with Prissa much yet, and also does not know what is up with the Drum either! She looks down, because surely it must be interesting.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Riesenlied looks just a little nervous as Jacqueline sits on the cucco cloud, and she joins her on it as they head towards... the star. "Silver...?" she whispers, draping her arms around herself for a moment. She tries to think of whether or not Halle's explanations that she's had with her in the past turns up anything, but... there isn't a lot that she can recall, the way her mind is right now.

She yelps just for a moment as Lydia drops down and she pats her on the shoulder, gently.

Mariel explains, though, and she closes her eyes for a moment, then deeply breathes in for a moment, then nods to Lydia. There's a proud smile on her face. "Go for it, daughter... I believe in you."

<Pose Tracker> Prissa has posed.

 
Prissa looks towards Mariel as Mariel breaks it on down. Her lips purse in thought and she nods several time. "The meteor one, I remember. Forgive me, I am from Lunar," she says - and then, seeing the attention, she shifts the strap holding the Drum to her side. She gives the cover a little 'pap!' which produces a resonant sound and makes the faint trail of chromatic mist sparkle.

"Tu oui cbayg so myhkiyka?" she asks immediately, but afterwards she says, "This is my Drum. It is how I'm able to pull myself up by my own bootstraps to become the greatest swordsmith of two worlds. My name is Prissa."

"Congratulations!" she then says to Lydia, clapping her hands together vigorously and perhaps abruptly!

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Prissa's words make Mariel's ears perk up. Not because she understands, but because she *doesn't* - she doesn't even recognize what the language is, which is a far more common thing these days when encountering people who don't speak the common language than she would have expected.

"Ah, I'm sorry, I don't understand," Mariel says, apologetically. "I know who you are, though. I think we are to share a room? I have not been at the caravan for a few days because I went to the Baskar Colony... I'm Mariel. I, ah, I'm a gardener... an herbalist."

She gives Prissa a slight bow. This isn't really the time or the place for much more.

<Pose Tracker> Prissa has posed.

 
"AH! Roommate!" Prissa says enthusiastically. "Do you hug? I don't know what's proper here."

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia is caught...by Ethius?!

Lydia sweats faintly because now she has no idea why he does these kind things even as he does some ridiculous painful things. She doesn't understand it but she supposes she doesn't really have to understand. It's not as if she isn't happy to voice her frustrations as is. But Ethius is, at least, a friend even if she isn't a dad or any of these other things. Maybe one day, she will understand why he is the way he is on this or other matters, but until that time she will have to be patient but, of course, protecting herself.

Lydia's cheeks silver at all this chatter thrown her way. She does manage a, "Aw..geeze gals." Ethius is the minority here sorry bud. She says, "I guess with Mother awake... Or maybe we've just gotten closer to one another on Lunar."

Regardless Mariel explains it before Lydia can. Honestly, it's the sort of thing Lydia is genuinely surprised Mariel knows because even a lot of BASKAR don't know about them. "Man, Mariel." Lydia says. "You know a lot. If I ever accidentally fall into academia, I'm gonna ask you to be my fact checker."

The cuccos take the group into the final room. It is also a dark room, though significantly brighter than the others today thanks to the consellations running through the room. Wilkerton, a tired and gaunt looking older man in a labcoat is waiting for the party.

Lydia seems to finally have an anaswer for Wilkerton in this moment and she says, "I don't regret leaving the village at all. Even after everything that happened to me. Whatever awful is waiting for us up there--" She points to the sky. "--I'm still gonna make it to whatever horizons I can make. No regrets. Because that's also where the joy is for me."

Wilkerton nods to Lydia and approaches Jaqueline Barber. He draws out a long piece of poster-like material, wrapped up in a single band of string and hands it over to her.

"For all of you." Walkerton says. "The Seven Sages facility is a grouping of seven facilities. You destroyed the computer that contained this information, but of course I had a personal copy. This is a map to those facilities. And on the other side...well..."

The other side seems to be the schematic of some kind of craft or something? There's Zeboim writing on there that she can't read.

"This was our dream project." Wilkerton says. "And the other facilities were all ultimately about this project. I leave it to you to decide what to do with this knowledge."

He places a hand on Jaqueline's shoulder and says, "I know we were hardly friends, but it was nice to feel kindness once more before I passed. Take care of yourself, Miss Barber. I have set up a portal in the back for you to use to leave this place. I do not suggest returning."

And with that he'll move on forward, past his boss room towards whatever awaits him.

"Prissa is the best." Lydia asides as she cranes her head to try and get a look at what Jay has there.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

        Riesenlied drapes her hands to her chest again as she continues with the rest of the group, stepping away and petting one of the cuccos on their way out. She looks towards Professor Wilkerton as they await her--

        --looking towards the poster-like material with a schematic... for some craft? She doesn't really understand it, but perhaps Lydia does. She's a bright girl, after all. "There were more facilities...? Such wonders, just quietly tucked under the earth..."

        A pause for a moment, feeling a pang of-- something... as he passes on, nodding towards Jacqueline.

        "I'll support what you want to do, of course, always," she smiles towards her daughter. That it may one day take them up to the skies... well, their trip to Lunar made that dream seem all the more reachable, didn't it?

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

A part of Catenna just wants to give Lydia a hug.

Another part dredges up something else. She lowers her eyes to her feet and smiles a small smile, recalling all too well what it meant for her to be chosen to receive a Medium among a crowd of others - the pressure and shame that came from being her mother's favourite. With every reward comes a new set of burdens and responsibilities.

"I know that you are up to the challenge, Lydia," Catenna says quietly, folding her hands at waist level and smiling at the newly-minted Star Shaman.

When Walkerton makes his revelation, it is somewhat less earth-shaking for Catenna, who by Filgaian terms is actually more akin to a Lunarian in how much high technology she's used to. She blanks out at the word 'computer' and can't quite pick up what else is going on.

"Is that a bird of some kind?" she asks Jacqueline.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Somewhere while all of this exposition is being made - isn't Ethius usually on top of things like this, grabbing interesting items out of peoples' hands and sometimes (oftentimes, maybe even close to allofthetimes) not give them back? He doesn't seem too keen to intrude on the moment in which an ancient spectre held in place by a desire to see a dream come to fruition, to one still anchored by the limitations of time with their own dreams of the future.
        Ethius is suddenly by Prissa's side as if it were something even more urgent. "What you're taking is..."

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

"Please don't," Mariel says to Prissa. She doesn't seem like the huggy type.

Lydia comments that she knows a lot. "Well," Mariel says, but trails off rather than finishing that thought. She does know a lot. Mariel didn't even think of herself as knowing much out of the ordinary, but so much has been forgotten... maybe she does, even about things she hasn't seen in generations.

Mariel looks at Wilkerton for a long moment as if trying to recognize him. She doesn't, of course - but she does take some pains to stay out of his line of sight, just in case. Mariel's usual shyness? Or something else? She'll have to get a look at that poster later.

"So much has been lost and forgotten and buried," Mariel says, accidentally agreeing with Riesenlied. The world may be about to end.

Oh, wait. Too soon, perhaps.

<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

Locus continues to provide the cucco cloud with Matrix Eye guidance, and soon they've reached the room Wilkerton resides in.

It's an odd feeling, meeting for the first time someone whose time is apparently short. She remains at the back of the group, arms crossed as her ponytail waves in no particular wind at all. This isn't to look cool, so much as the aforementioned meeting awkwardness.

Lydia makes a short speech. Behind the mask, Carina smiles. "Atta girl, Lydia." Her words are more subdued than her usual, more distracted. A part of her wonders if she'll have a speech like this in her someday.

She leans back in, however, when the plans of... something are presented. "...Huh!"

"Wish we'd have kept some of the cake for you," she says, feeling a little awkward. "But thanks for the help either way!"

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline smiles as Mariel and Prissa seem to be getting along. That was good, she was glad to see putting those two together wouldn't cause too many problems. And to Lydia, Jacqueline offers a smile.

"Maybe so..." She replies.

Jacqueline continues to ride the cloud of cuccos, though a bit uneasily. She remembers what awaited at the end of the room...but this time, it isn't a bossfight.

Wilkerton himself is waiting for them, and he approaches her, handing her what appears to be a long piece of rolled-up material.

Jacqueline accepts it, nodding as he explains what it is. A map to the various Seven Sages facilities...and a schematic of some kind, as well? Jacqueline looks down at it briefly, noting the Zeboim writing, but looks back up at Wilkerton as she feels him rest a hand on her shoulder.

"Thank you, Professor. I'm...glad I was able to help you, in some way." She says, with a polite bow of her head. She watches as he departs, feeling a little...

...Sad. Sure, they were never friends, but...well, at least he was able to accept this.

Only once he leaves does she look back to the scroll.

"...I'm not sure. I can't read Zeboim, I'll need to ask someone who can..." She says. She can tell Lydia wants to see it...so Jacqueline holds it out to her, letting her take a look. Though...

"We should probably use that portal while we still can. The Hound might be on its way here as we speak..." She says.

<Pose Tracker> Prissa has posed.

 
"Understood," Prissa tells Mariel. She straightens up.

She nods at Lydia's judgement of her. Humility is apparently one of her many services. She takes a deep breath and lets it out, before her eye turns towards this apparent bird.. but then Ethius talks.

"What," she tells Ethius. "WHAT. WHAT. 'WHAT'"

She marches afterwards towards the indicated portal, as if heedless of Ethius's replies. To Mariel, she says, "With a little work, you can bring a lot back. They say 'maybe not as good,' but to that I'd say, 'ah, but we're here for this one, aren't we?" She may not know how old Mariel is, exactly.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        'What,'
        "What you're taking is--"
        'WHAT.'
        "What you're tak--"
        'WHAT.'
        "What you'r--"
        ''WHAT''
        "What--"
        To Ethius' credit, he's able to try and repeat the exact same thing he's saying with almost identical volume and inflection, not at all losing his stride every time he's interrupted. He has a hand to his forehead in seeming surrender as she turns away to speak again with her probable new roommate, before trying to reach out to the Drum proper--
        A fluctuation in the cucco cloud trips him flat face-first into cucco and let us be reasonable here, that is not the sort of thing one person easily comes back up from - if they do.

<Pose Tracker> Prissa has posed.

 
"I came in with the machina if you are anxious I am bringing calamity, Mr. I Wanted To Meet Sin," Prissa explains in a loud voice. Then she turns her nose up.

<Pose Tracker> Prissa has posed.

 
and it's nearly clipped by a cucco. Prissa turns her nose down.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Wilkerton pauses, glancing towards Mariel as he departs. He gives her a small wink as he leaves and...that's about it. He was a man who tried to make you all feel eternal unlife, but is now leaving to accept death. Perhaps he wasn't quite as unchanging as he thought, or perhaps he wishes to follow the path of his lost companion.

Lydia looks at the schematic. "...I can't read it either!" They might need to harass Lily about this, or someone else, but whatever it is--Wilkerton can't help with it anymore. There's nothing left in this ruin to loot, really.

Well except for the Big Joe action figure but that's lost forever. You'll have to get it on New Game +.

It is true, though, that this Silver Medium comes with new responsibilities and new expectations. Perhaps because of her friends here, Rigdobrite felt Lydia was ready to accept those responsibilities. Though Lydia is kind of subdued about it rather than bragging about it, that's probably a large change from the Lydia who declared to the world that Rigdobrite is the best medium and suck it, Celesdue.

Today she just smiles brightly at Catenna, "Heh... with you guys around, it won't be much of a challenge at all!"

She gives Catenna a brief hug. "Thanks." She hugs Riesenlied too no escape, this one a little more tightly because she just needs that but she doesn't keep it going for long because Jay's right--the group has to leave. It's one portal hop away to return to safety.

Of course, The hound will always be searching for you.

MEANWHILE

A circlet wearing man in strange robes receives an alert. He draws out a small pad and taps at it with an index finger. He reads the notification and his lips twist into a faint, amused smile.

<"It seems that Castle's failure has shown us something interesting."> He murmurs. <"Perhaps it's time to give him another chance."

<Pose Tracker> Carina Wynne has posed.

Hey, kids! It's been a while, hasn't it? But fret not, it's finally time for a new...

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~LOCUS 4-KOMA THEATER!~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Panel 1:
CAPTION:
Normal Ending scenario:

LOCUS, FIST CLENCHED, GIANT TEARS BEADING IN HER BUG EYES:
Everyone... Lend me your strength!


Panel 2:
LOCUS, ALONG WITH PRETTY MUCH EVERYONE ELSE PRESENT:
Locus... Cake-Shove!

HOUND OF TINDALOS, WITH ANIME SWEATDROP AND SHOCKED EXPRESSION:
Rowr! (Oh no!)


Panel 3:
CAPTION:
True Ending scenario (see Cake Ending FAQ for how to unlock):

LOCUS, CLENCHING HER FIST WITH DETERMINATION:
Everyone... Lend me your strength!


Panel 4:
EVERYONE, CHEERING BEHIND THE CAKE, UNDER A 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY' BANNER:
Happy birthday Lydia!

LYDIA:
Wow! I didn't even know it was my birthday! Is that red velvet?

HOUND OF TINDALOS:
Rowr! (Haha, happy birthday!)


Thank you for reading...

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~LOCUS 4-KOMA THEATER!~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~