2018-11-29: Moonlight Over Fereshte

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===========================<* Lost Village Fereshte *>============================

A long time ago, the village of Fereshte was one of the most prominent steppe tribes within the Arctican region of Elru - they were nomads and healers, travelling around the frozen wilderness with an open hand and a strong heart. They were vital to the continued survival of the scattered tribesmen of the tundra, for their worship of the Guardian of Life, Odoryuk, allowed them to provide crucial services in such unforgiving lands. Central to this service was the chosen of Odoryuk, called the Heritor, who wielded a Medium of Life and devoted their life to the service of the Guardian.

This all vanished when the Veruni descended upon Filgaia.

The tribe was reportedly vanquished overnight, their lands and people eradicated. The Heritor was slain, and the Medium reportedly lost. Those that escaped the slaughter were absorbed into other tribes, and the name was lost to the annals of history...

... yet, why does the village stand before you, as if nothing had ever happened? They say "Life will go on," yet... by no means should life continue in this way.

DG: A party led by Catenna is now entering Lost Village Fereshte.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
===========================<* Lost Village Fereshte *>============================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Behind the Aurora *>========================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The Fereshte were once a prominent Baskar nomadic tribe in the steppes of     
 Arctica. Those versed in Ellurian history commonly know them as experienced   
 nomads and traders, and their priests are renowned for their worship of       
 Odoryuk, possessing healing powers. But the story ends the same anywhere you  
 dig -- the village of Fereshte was destroyed a long time ago, and no longer   
 exists now. Central to this service was the chosen of Odoryuk, called the     
 Heritor, who wielded a Medium of Life and devoted their life to the service   
 of the Guardian.                                                              
                                                                               
 Which makes the rumours all the more wild, that the once-lost village of      
 Fereshte within the Veruni Control Zone now lives on in the present age... a  
 sheer impossibility in every manner of being.                                 
                                                                               
 Whatever the case may be, you have decided to strike out for the village --   
 and find that the rumours are, bafflingly, true. A bustling village of        
 perhaps fifty-odd people is visible below you past the roots of a great       
 petrified tree, its yurts and other buildings surrounding a totem of          
 Odoryuk, the Guardian of Life.                                                
                                                                               
 But something feels quite wrong as you approach -- the air is thick and       
 suffused with energy.                                                         
                                                                               
 Those with the means to know feel a strong veil of positive Ley energy        
 permeating the atmosphere... and it has manifested into a beautiful barrier   
 that shields entry. You will need power to break through the shield of life   
 and descend into the village.                                                 
=Dungeon Conditions: Hesitate=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Something Saarda-Shanta had said to Catenna stuck out in her mind: 'Daughter of Fereshte.'

The owl in question - once again back in her tiny Owlet form - has been close-mouthed about it since, simply recommending the group visit the village, in some cases returning there again. It's Catenna's first visit, though, and she approaches the village with quiet trepidation, her bow in one hand and the bird riding on her shoulder.

Laying a hand on the shimmering veil of energy lying before them, the Moon Shaman bows her head and closes her eyes. "I should've done more to bring Riesenlied here," she murmurs. "I feel as though I did not do enough to talk with her about our ways, and about Odoryuk. And now...."

And now the Metal Demons have done something to her. She doesn't want to say it. All she can do is try to figure out what it is Saarda-Shanta meant.

From Catenna's shoulder, the snowy white Owlet watches her intently. The Moon Shaman folds her hands together and exhales in a soft rush, beginning to murmur a soft prayer in the Zortroan language. She's no shaman of Odoryuk, but perhaps a prayer will help.

DG: Catenna has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Behind the Aurora.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline had here twice before, and each time had been for an important reason. This visit is no less important - she was here with Catenna, pursuing something she had heard from the Owlet. Or, rather, Saarda-Shanta, as she had told them.

Jacqueline would do what she could to support her friend, and so she offers her a gentle smile as they approach the veil of energy surrounding the village.

"It's alright. I'm sure...we'll figure out a way to help her. And then the two of you will be able to talk all you want about them." Jacqueline says to try to reassure her. She...desperately hoped so, at least.

With that said, she rummages through her bags. It's a little cold up here, so she dispenses a few bottles of red liquid to everyone - a warming potion, to help ward off the chill in the air at this height.

It also has a pleasant cinnamon flavor.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Brewte Force toward her party's challenge, Behind the Aurora.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Cyre is here, of course. Whenever there are mysteries of the Guardians to uncover and long-lost Baskar tribes to contact, it's (probably) the duty of the High Priest of The Wind (the wind travels, nomad-like, you see?) to find them. That's logic. That logic makes perfect and total sense. But...

Really he's here because Catenna is here.

Cyre quietly squeezes at her shoulder as her thoughts turn toward Riesenlied. "It's alright," he says, quietly. "We managed to bring Ida and the others back from being Hellions. If we're able to purge an internal poison, then we should be able to bring Riesenlied back from an external one."

They just need to have faith.

But for now, they also need to get through this haze of intense ley-energies, and Cyre has just the thing. He pulls his censer from his side and lights the incense within. "Breathe deep, everyone," he says. "This is a diluted form of the stuff we use to Spirit Quest. Should make you a little more... permeable toward the barrier."

"Just let me know if you start seeing anything weird, okay?"

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Invigorating Vapors toward his party's challenge, Behind the Aurora.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    Lanval's along, at first, due to his unquenchable thirst for Brewte Force, and he just happens to be at the right place at the right time to come along with the Caravan Kinship on what is said to be part of a quest of utmost importance. He's not sure of what until they're almost there.
     ...Well, at minimum, he figures maybe he could help watch out for Metal Beasts. After what happened with Riesenlied - what little he understands about it - he doesn't like the idea of anyone else being taken by them. This plan hits a snag because he spends most of the way snoozing.
     He's about as alert as he's going to be as they approach the barrier of positive Ley energy, probably precisely because it's so... loud, potent to his senses.
     He quietly rubs his chin as Catenna voices her regrets about events, what could've come to pass that might not now. It's... not the first time he's been in the company of mortal regrets of that nature. They only have so much time.
     Then, some time later, he's just laying up against the barrier like it were a big ol' comfy rug on the ground, except perpendicular and thus up in the air, as hazy smoke and really tasty (to him) warming beverages are distributed.
     "Sheein' anything weird, or... feelin' anything weird?" Lanval asks. "'Caushe thish feelsh niiiiice~"
     He might need a hard shove.

DG: Seraph Lanval has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Behind the Aurora.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia, despite being very fond of Riesenlied, hasn't really stuck around in the village all that much and really didn't have much inkling to in the first place. It's a spooky place and she isn't, like, a shaman of Odoryuk or anything. But hey--maybe she can lend a hand here or there since Catenna wants to go.

And maybe she can like help spirits rest. Or whatever!

Needless to say, this doesn't stop her from clobbering a magical barrier with a baseball bat. It probably doesn't make a CLANG noise though because magical barriers probably go more ZORRRP or something like that.

"Everything is weird." Lydia says cheerfully.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Good Luck Bat toward her party's challenge, Behind the Aurora.
===========================<* Lost Village Fereshte *>============================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Behind the Aurora *>========================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The Fereshte were once a prominent Baskar nomadic tribe in the steppes of     
 Arctica. Those versed in Ellurian history commonly know them as experienced   
 nomads and traders, and their priests are renowned for their worship of       
 Odoryuk, possessing healing powers. But the story ends the same anywhere you  
 dig -- the village of Fereshte was destroyed a long time ago, and no longer   
 exists now. Central to this service was the chosen of Odoryuk, called the     
 Heritor, who wielded a Medium of Life and devoted their life to the service   
 of the Guardian.                                                              
                                                                               
 Which makes the rumours all the more wild, that the once-lost village of      
 Fereshte within the Veruni Control Zone now lives on in the present age... a  
 sheer impossibility in every manner of being.                                 
                                                                               
 Whatever the case may be, you have decided to strike out for the village --   
 and find that the rumours are, bafflingly, true. A bustling village of        
 perhaps fifty-odd people is visible below you past the roots of a great       
 petrified tree, its yurts and other buildings surrounding a totem of          
 Odoryuk, the Guardian of Life.                                                
                                                                               
 But something feels quite wrong as you approach -- the air is thick and       
 suffused with energy.                                                         
                                                                               
 Those with the means to know feel a strong veil of positive Ley energy        
 permeating the atmosphere... and it has manifested into a beautiful barrier   
 that shields entry. You will need power to break through the shield of life   
 and descend into the village.                                                 
=Dungeon Conditions: Hesitate=================================================
======================<* Lost Village Fereshte - Round 1 *>=======================
=========================< Results - Behind the Aurora >==========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Brewte Force                        1   Brute   Effects: Fanfare and Strengthe
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Lanval                       0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Good Luck Bat                       2   Brute   Effects: Strengthen           
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Invigorating Vapors                 1   Brute   Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------< Party >-------------------------------------
Leader: Catenna                     0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Hesitate(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Strengthen(1)
================================< Dream Chasers >=================================
DG: The party led by Catenna 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> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia Seren hits the barrier one more time with the bat.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Catenna liks cinnamon. She downs the potion Jay hands her with a small, grateful smile.

When Cyre lights up his censer, the fumes help - a little. They work to bring people's minds to the right place, anyway. It certainly works to focus Catenna. The actual words of her prayer are not all that decipherable, though it's clear she's appealing to Odoryuk given that the Guardian's name, at least, can be made out.

Then Lydia clobbers the barrier with her bat and it goes 'ZORRP' and flickers out. Lanval falls through it and lands in a heap of drunken ragamuffin.

Catenna cuts off in mid-prayer and blinks a couple of times.

The Owlet bobs her head a little. <Oh, I like you.>

DG: Seraph Lanval has drawn a new Challenge.
==============================================<* Lost Village Fereshte *>===============================================
=====================================<* CHALLENGE - Something to Make You Quiver *>=====================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 An arrow lands near your feet!                                                
                                                                               
 Several warriors garbed in Fereshte leather armour have taken position        
 around your party, displaying naked aggression as they whisper:               
                                                                               
 "Repel the... Invaders..."                                                    
                                                                               
 Curiously, their bodies are visibly burnt and riddled with what look like     
 shots from flame or perhaps high-energy... ARMs? Curious. They don't appear   
 to hear reason, hunched over with numerous butterfly sigils emerging out of   
 their skin. The warriors charge in with dao sabers, backed by their archer    
 brethren.                                                                     
                                                                               
 They appear to regard you as some kind of existential threat, clearly not     
 seeing reality -- you'll need to defend yourself to go further.               
=Dungeon Conditions: Injure===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    Lanval hits the ground with a little grumbling. Maybe the air is weird and wrong, but there was really something altogether pleasant about it that has now subsided. He helps himself up... in time... to stagger along. How he gets ahead of the group when he takes his time getting up is an exercise best left to an editor.
     "Mmmm... that'sh a nice village ahead," Lanval says, "really peaceful... kinda like the resht of the world ishn't a thing." It sort of reminds him of that village in Glenwood, where all the people have silver jewelry for some reason. Lanval has a good-natured laugh as people in simpler leather armor start to approach, carrying dao sabers with a number of archers following from behind.
     "Heyyyyyy~," Lanval waves a hand open in hello, excitedly waving them over. They probably can't see him - odds are they can't - but in a place so suffused by this energy, a part of him thinks--
     "Invaders..."
     "Invadersh to ya too~" Lanval laughs.
     "Repel them..."
     Then arrows fly towards everyone's feet, and Lanval stops where he 'walks' with eyes opening half-lidded. "Oh. That'sh not a greetin', they're... callin' ush..."
     "...Repel," they repeat, though the words are not very spirited. They look like they've already been in a fight... or maybe a 'fight.' Their bodies bear many burn marks. Fire? Something else...? With butterfly sigils, eye-catching in their eerie coloration, emerging out of where skin is visible.
     Lanval falls to his seat. "Huh. Maybe they ain't completely wrong 'bout that," he muses aloud as he idly pours a white bottle full of shining liquid on the ground. They don't seem inclined to rush past the little stream that forms.

DG: Seraph Lanval has used his Tool Holy Bottle toward his party's challenge, Something to Make You Quiver.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

For a moment Jacqueline thinks they'll be able to get through the barrier without the use of brute force for once...but then Lydia smacks it with her bat and a hole opens up. Jacqueline sighs, but she's not upset.

"Oh, Lydia..." She says with a fond smile and a shake of her head.

Either way, they're through and able to walk their way through the barrier...at least until they're greeted by a force of armed soldiers, clearly bearing wounds of a battle long since passed.

"This...didn't happen last time..." Jacqueline says, backing away with a hint of nervousness. Their stance is aggressive, and the words...they clearly mean them harm.

"Please, we're not here to fight!" Jacqueline urges. She backpedals, drawing a book from within her belongings.

"I haven't seen that sigil before...everyone, be careful! I'm not sure what it means... And watch out for the archers in the back!" Jacqueline warns, flipping through the pages of the Codex before gesturing with her left hand.

Pillars of earth begin to rise, forming walls to block the archers' lines of sight.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool The Lifeweaver's Codex toward her party's challenge, Something to Make You
Quiver.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"I'm pretty sure you feel weird all the time though," Cyre grouses in Lanval's general direction. "But yeah if you start feeling like you're about to slip between the boundaries of reality and fantasy, let me kn--"

Arrows.

Cyre whispers a curse. Surging forward, he strikes the earth with the narrow-end of his travelling stick. A thin vortex of wind erupts from the ground and then expands, forming a vast wall of protective gusts. "Stay behind the wall! They'll have a hard time hitting us from back here."

But... What's with this? "Are they... zombies? Kept alive by Odoryuk's power, or something? They're definitely not right in the head! Let's try to stun them if we can!"

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Catenna opens her mouth to say something to Lanval, but she can't find the words.

Not when she catches sight of those villagers - or are they truly villagers? They're burnt and riddled with energized ARM shots, and they seem to hear no reason, riddled with butterfly sigils. The Moon Priestess drops back, recoiling a little as though the prospect of fighting were simply anathema to her.
<They will not hear you,> Saarda-Shanta opines from Catenna's shoulder as she looks towards Jacqueline. Her voice is more felt than heard.

A sick feeling wells in the pit of Catenna's stomach. The Great Owl is right, but she doesn't want to admit it. Nevertheless she looses an arrow from her own bow, trying to hit one of them somewhere non-sensitive, before dropping her free hand.

Long fingers brush a Medium not familiar to her. One of cool silver. The blessing Celesdue gave her. Swallowing the lump in her throat, Catenna begins to draw power.

It comes more easily than it has in a long time. She flicks her hand out with a quiet power word, echoing like a water drop amidst silence - and several of the shambling entities begin to draw backwards, tugged inexorably towards a powerful source of gravity that pulls in both bodies and arrows. She's attempting to anchor them there, in that little circle.

"The memories of this place live," she murmurs, her eyes dipping for a moment. "But many things live, in places where Odoryuk is strongest...."

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Celesdue Medium toward her party's challenge, Something to Make You Quiver.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"I like you too, Saarda." Lydia smiles cheerfully, though she will offer Lanval a hand up if he'll take it but she doesn't try to force it on him.

And then she's being called an invader! By her own people! Lydia's cheeks puff out in irritation and she looks away, arms crossed. "I know they're ghosts forced to repeat past actions, but I am so not an invader." She huffs faintly.

Naturally, Lydia just summons the shine of Rigdobrite from her medium, glowing with his light. She doesn't attack, however.

"See? Not an invader!"

Hopefully the answer to this isn't arrows.

Unless you like comical levels of violence in which case hopefully it is.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Something to Make You Quiver.
DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Something to Make You Quiver.
==============================================<* Lost Village Fereshte *>===============================================
=====================================<* CHALLENGE - Something to Make You Quiver *>=====================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 An arrow lands near your feet!                                                
                                                                               
 Several warriors garbed in Fereshte leather armour have taken position        
 around your party, displaying naked aggression as they whisper:               
                                                                               
 "Repel the... Invaders..."                                                    
                                                                               
 Curiously, their bodies are visibly burnt and riddled with what look like     
 shots from flame or perhaps high-energy... ARMs? Curious. They don't appear   
 to hear reason, hunched over with numerous butterfly sigils emerging out of   
 their skin. The warriors charge in with dao sabers, backed by their archer    
 brethren.                                                                     
                                                                               
 They appear to regard you as some kind of existential threat, clearly not     
 seeing reality -- you'll need to defend yourself to go further.               
=Dungeon Conditions: Injure===================================================
=========================================<* Lost Village Fereshte - Round 2 *>==========================================
=======================================< Results - Something to Make You Quiver >=======================================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Celesdue Medium                     2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
The Lifeweaver's Codex              2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Lanval                       5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Holy Bottle                         2   Combat  Effects: Resilient            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
-------------------------------------------------------< Party >--------------------------------------------------------
Leader: Catenna                     20 --(20)--> 40                Pass
Conditions: Hesitate(1)|Injure(2)
Effects: Embolden(1)|Resilient(1)
===================================================< Dream Chasers >====================================================
DG: The party led by Catenna 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 Lanval has posed.

    Lanval does accept the hand up then - and later, if offered since he's seated as chaos breaks out.
     "...They're ghoshtsh? ...Ohhhhh. That makesh shome kinda... shenshe." Lanval murmurs. If they are reliving past actions...
     They all might notice something curious as Jay throws up the protective earth walls. One of them straight up falls over, clutching themselves from a blow that none among them even inflict. This is an idle curiosity at best, as the pillars cut the majority of the sight lines.
     Arrows further scatter out from the wind wall to elsewhere, as the very sight of Rigdobrite appears overhead. There's some further chattering that seems to be missed under the roar of wind ahead, but there is a notable lack of sound of blades clashing against the earthen walls.
     Catenna fires back through one of the few visible cracks. She may not see where it lands, if it does, but there's an unsettling silence to it all as she draws upon the very highest blessing of Celesdue. Bodies rise into the air, visibly from where everyone stands, as they are all held within the well of gravity. Their call to arms repeats, as do some of their shuddering and collapse from grievous wounds they seem to be suffering from something unseen, unheard, unfelt. It's... unsettling. The pieces are being rearranged, but they still play out the same way.
     "...Mmmm." Lanval contemplates, hand to his chin. "Ahhh... shorry. I'll make shure I don't call over more trouble."
     ...Did he not listen to how Saarda-Shanta just said 'they won't hear you?' Their fate was probably sealed the moment that barrier got breached.

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has drawn a new Challenge.
=========================<* Lost Village Fereshte *>==========================
===================<* CHALLENGE - 99 Potions on the Wall *>===================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 This yurt belongs to the herbalist, acting as an item store for the village.  
 There is a traditional sign that advertises its many curatives and sundries   
 for Drifters and homefolk alike. The herbalist within is hard at work with a  
 mortar and pestle, as well as a distiller bubbling away...                    
                                                                               
 "I'm busy right now. But take a seat and I'll be right with you, Drifter..."  
                                                                               
 ... and it would seem she's been at this for a while, because the store is    
 piled high to the brim with various bottles of potions, herbal essences,      
 protective powders and just about any supplies you can care to mention. She   
 hunkers down and mumbles:                                                     
                                                                               
 "Heal berry... peppy acorn... wolfsbane..."                                   
                                                                               
 You'll need to be deft and precise if you're going to get through the store   
 without accidentally dropping and mixing something and producing unpleasant   
 results!                                                                      
=Dungeon Conditions: Exhaust==================================================
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"...No, I suppose we won't," Cyre answers the voice in his head. It's a strange feeling, to be able to answer a voice in one's head without it necessarily being a world-shattering event or possibly evidence that your sanity is long gone. "What happened here? It's like the Ley's gone... haywire, or something? Hold on-- I think I can smell something over this way."

Smell something?

Smell what-thing?

Cyre makes his way over to a rather expansive yurt with a wooden plank dangling over its front curtain. "Herbs, I think. Maybe there's someone in here who might be able to tell us what's going on."

And indeed there is! Well. Maybe. Maybe... Maybe not? There's an old woman hunched over an old workdesk, grinding a concoction of colorful plants and seeds together within a mortar and pestle. That alone isn't necessarily weird-- all Baskar villages have their withered old medicine women who perscribe strange but effective remedies. This one... seems to have been at work for a very long time, though. The place is practically stacked floor-to-ceiling with merchandise. "Uh, hello?"

"I'm busy right now. But take a seat and I'll be right with you, Drifter..."

"Yeah," Cyre murmurs, "I'd really just like to ask a few questions--"

"Heal berry... peppy acorn... wolfsbane..."

"Well, she's not saying anything," The shaman mutters, running a hand down his face. "Where are they even getting all the stuff to make these potions...? Come on, there might be some clues inside."

Cyre produces his favorite parachute and holds it open to catch any of the bottles that might topple over during the course of their investigation. The medicine woman doesn't seem to mind anyone snooping around, but she might not particularly enjoy having her hard work spoilt by these meddling kids...

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Reverse Parachute toward his party's challenge, 99 Potions on the Wall.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

<There are those of us who are not intruders here. It is simply a matter of following their footprints,> Saarda-Shanta observes from her perch on Catenna's shoulder. The tiny Owlet hasn't really held anything but a simple, serene moo through the whole affair.

Catenna frowns a little and gives the white birdlet a curious look. "What do you mean?"

Saarda-Shanta cocks her head 90 degrees to the left and blinks at her.

Sighing, Catenna moves into the yurt just behind Cyre - and she pauses a moment as she realizes that, once again, someone is alive here. But then, she shouldn't be surprised. Things live on in the domain of the Guardian of Life, especially when they're being tested.

"I do not think they will have much to say to us," Catenna opines as she scoots closer to Cyre, ducking beneath his parachute a moment to give his cheek a quick kiss. Then she begins to move through the rows of bottles and beakers with utmost care, keeping the skirts of her long dress tucked in close to herself so as not to accidentally hit anything or anyone.

"I should have thought the test would be Riesenlied's," she murmurs with a glance at Jay. "I wonder why it is that Odoryuk causes Fereshte to persist in this state of being, even in her absence...."

DG: Catenna has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, 99 Potions on the Wall.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline is quiet. No matter how many times she experienced it, it was still...unnerving. Cyre raises a valid point - what happened here?

Even with this being her third visit, she is still no closer to figuring it out. It bothered her.

Cyre smells something and Jacqueline looks up from his thoughts. He leads them to one of the many yurts littered about. The scent within is familiar to Jacqueline, as well. It's a herbalist's store...it's a trade she's very familiar with.

"They can hear us, but they can't...acknowledge us. I'm not sure how to put it..." Jacqueline says, as Cyre tries to speak to the woman. "And then, as soon as you leave, it's like you were never there..."

Nothing to do but try to get through this place quickly and carefully. Jacqueline passes out some potions to everyone, to help negate some of the fumes. ...She pauses, however, as she takes note of something.

"...Ah, try not to bump this shelf. The contents are...incredibly volatile." Jacqueline warns. She points it out, then looks toward Catenna.

"Riesenlied claimed the Medium, but...she was still having difficulty adapting to it. It's almost as if it rejected her...perhaps that has something to do with it." Jacqueline considers. "...Or perhaps there's something else here, that the Guardian is trying to protect..."

There were too many unknowns here for them to figure anything out for certain just yet.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    "Not jusht herbsh~" Lanval comments with a dumb cat-like smile on his face. Not to say Cyre's smiles would, by default, be dumb. Lanval's is just dumb, and also cat-like. There's mischief on there. He smells something else, and he sure likes that smell - medicinal, sure, buuuut...
     He ambles in after Cyre. Given that his gait very rarely approaches 'walking straight' and oft seems more akin to drunkenly dancing across creation like nothing else, this seems like this is a brewing Bull in China Shop situation.
     'There are those of us who are not intruders here,' Lanval overhears(?)... actually, more like overacknowledges, and he gets a bit more sullen-looking.
     "...I'd count, huh." He's not of this world, after all. Is his presence merely bringing trouble upon them...? As Catenna muses aloud, he flops against the wall(!!!!) and slinks down into a sitting position.
     "'m gonna hazard a guessh... maybe the tesht ain't jusht for her," Lanval says. "Mmmm... or, uh, if ta take what Fengalon'sh priesht there shaysh," Lanval means 'Nahual,' but he's not completely hip to all the proper lingo yet, "Odoryuk ish... all the life of Filgaia? I mean, if they're life, their domain'sh 'bout life, makesh... a whole lotta shenshe the place ish shtill... alive."
     Can they call the burnt corpse-warriors they just made it past 'alive?' Lanval takes a sip from his gourd. One eye opens half-lidded to some other bottle on the shelf. He starts to reach up to it...

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Rapid Remedy toward her party's challenge, 99 Potions on the Wall.
DG: Seraph Lanval has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward his party's challenge, 99 Potions on the Wall.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"I'm not sure if it's a matter the Guardian can control. Her physiology might just not be adapted for its use." Lydia says. She blinks a few times at this latest ghost which may be the creepiest yet because it seems to be in similar work as Jay. Could this fate be what's in store for her favorite alchemist?! She'd rather it not be!!

Lydia looks down at her feet.

She looks up at the various piled up items.

She looks down at her feet again.

She activates the rad. skates.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Radical Skates toward her party's challenge, 99 Potions on the Wall.
=========================<* Lost Village Fereshte *>==========================
===================<* CHALLENGE - 99 Potions on the Wall *>===================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 This yurt belongs to the herbalist, acting as an item store for the village.  
 There is a traditional sign that advertises its many curatives and sundries   
 for Drifters and homefolk alike. The herbalist within is hard at work with a  
 mortar and pestle, as well as a distiller bubbling away...                    
                                                                               
 "I'm busy right now. But take a seat and I'll be right with you, Drifter..."  
                                                                               
 ... and it would seem she's been at this for a while, because the store is    
 piled high to the brim with various bottles of potions, herbal essences,      
 protective powders and just about any supplies you can care to mention. She   
 hunkers down and mumbles:                                                     
                                                                               
 "Heal berry... peppy acorn... wolfsbane..."                                   
                                                                               
 You'll need to be deft and precise if you're going to get through the store   
 without accidentally dropping and mixing something and producing unpleasant   
 results!                                                                      
=Dungeon Conditions: Exhaust==================================================
====================<* Lost Village Fereshte - Round 3 *>=====================
=====================< Results - 99 Potions on the Wall >=====================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Rapid Remedy                        1   Agility Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Lanval                       5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Radical Skates                      3   Agility Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Reverse Parachute                   1   Agility Effects: Rally and Quicken    
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Catenna                     40 --(20)--> 60                Pass
Conditions: Exhaust(1)|Injure(1)
Effects: Cleanse|Quicken(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Catenna 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> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

What happens under the catsheet stays under the catsheet. Or... something. There's a lot of smooching that goes on under there. Cyre chuckles and grins. Catenna's having a bit of fun even in this kind of place, huh? Is it just the atmosphere or...

Is it that Cyre is just... That irresistable...!

Well, regardless! Between the ruthless exploitation of a parachute, Jacqueline's good advice and Lydia...

Um.

Doing sick tricks off entire stacks of potions!?!?

They manage to get through in one piece. The medicine woman doesn't even seem to have noticed their departure as she continues repeating the same old routine she's carried on with for the past... However long it's been. Cyre frowns and quietly heaps a few potions into his parachute, leaving an appropriately eyeballed quantity of silver behind. "If we don't take some, she's going to run out of room. I don't want to know what happens if she can't keep repeating the same thing over and over again."

Cyre shakes his head as they emerge from the other side of the Yurt, a few potions richer but otherwise bereft of any additional clues, except an idea of the time-scale they might be looking at here. "I wouldn't call this place alive," Cyre says to Lanval. "You don't know this, but on Filgaia, we actually have Guardians for things like... Hope, Bravery, Love, Desire. That sort of thing. If this is all just the result of Odoryuk's power, then it makes sense that these people are... 'alive' in a sense. But if it's just Odoryuk, then that might explain why they're so empty at the same time."

"Or maybe that's just conjecture. I dunno, we'll find out."

DG: Seraph Lanval has drawn a new Challenge.
==============================================<* Lost Village Fereshte *>===============================================
========================================<* CHALLENGE - The Horses Are Bolted! *>========================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 The rapid roar of horse hooves fills the air, and in moments, a stud of       
 horses besets your party. These must be the Fereshte's steeds, but they are   
 in no way ordinary -- their flesh is pale, their coat mottled with the        
 gleaming mark of a butterfly wing. Sparks of electricity bounce from one      
 tumor to another, setting fire to blades of grass as they march, their        
 whinnies filled with misery.                                                  
                                                                               
 They turn towards you -- you'll need to be extremely quick and sure to avoid  
 damage from these electrified horses!                                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow=====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    Lanval has a filched potion that smells like something highly potable in the way he really, really likes it, kind of half-paying attention as Cyre discusses some of the finer points of what's going on. Just like that, bottoms up... and then Lanval stops, eyes going open briefly in surprise as he takes the thing out of his mouth.
     "Sho empty, ya shay," well duh, yeah, Cyre did just 'shay' that. His eyes shut, one eye partially open to look in the bottle, and then...
     He puts it back on the shelf. That would be gross, but then again his manifestation only looks human. Unless there's something distinctly unhygenic about his very essence, but thaaaaaat's a scientific discussion for another time.
     "Huh. Hope... Courage... Love.. Deshire." Lanval contemplates this. This world is dying. If the Guardians are so strained, then...
     ...
     Horse hooves thunder across the village. They're loud, but they generally are. There's something 'snappier' about the sound, though, in ways that Cyre might be able to readily identify. More on that in a moment.
     "I think we're gettin' closhe ta the center." There is a nicely-sized yurt a ways ahead of them, though they have to take a winding, muddy road to it. It does seem inconvenient for the herbalist to be located a ways off from the rest, but, there they are anyway. The road feels as though a rain had freshly passed through... meaning that it's kind of slow going getting through it to start, as peoples' ankles sink into it.
     The horse hooves get louder. It's unsettling because it sounds like they're approaching, but they aren't able to be seen too clearly--
     Thundering. Cyre could identify the sound as being like lightning striking, and that is what it is, as pale-hued horses seem to flash into sight like lightning itself, their coat mottled with the gleaming mark of butterfly wings. Electricity surges with every step, and tiny flames form where blades of grass turn into embers.
     Their whinnies are haunting - as if panicked and in pain - as they start to bear down upon them. They do not appear to have riders. If this is like the militia they had to deal with, this may be part of the same phenomenon they are reliving. The sight of someone or something spooking them so...
     Lanval sits down in the muck and gets out a kiseru-style pipe. Now is really not the time to relax and have a smoke. Or a bubble.
     But he's having a bubble anyway, as bubbles flit out the Water Seraph's nose.
     "What'sh got them sho shpooked," Lanval murmurs aloud as larger bubbles form. Bubbles people might be able to escape to, in which to float to safety, "can't have been ush thish time..."

DG: Seraph Lanval has used his Tool Bubble Pipe toward his party's challenge, The Horses Are Bolted!.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"Odoryuk is the essence of life," Catenna answers Lanval with a dip of her head. "A lot of things can be said to live... memories as much as people. As one of the greatest of the Guardians, Odoryuk appears in all things...."

She shoots Lanval a sidelong look even as she keeps close to Cyre. "I am not sure I would drink that, Seraph."

And then comes the rumble of horses' hooves. Straightening with a blink, Catenna turns to try and find the sound - and soon enough, they appear in a flash of thunder, pale horss marked with those butterfly sigils. "The butterflies again," Catenna murmurs as she begins to move. Her first thought is a bit odd for her: Perhaps she could try and ride out of here on one.

The sight of those electric buboes kiboshes that idea, as does a glance from Saarda-Shanta. The little Owlet hops off of Catenna's shoulder and flutters in the air as the Moon Shaman darts through the ranks of the horses, diving between a pair, coming up to juke around another, going low to roll beneath one more. Sparks and arcs of electricity fly around her in a dazzling show.

Catenna looks up, glancing to check on the others, Lydia in particular. Lanval seems to be doing just fine, after all.

DG: Catenna has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Horses Are Bolted!.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Fortunately, there aren't any catastrophic explosions! That was thankfully averted. Jacqueline frowns as Cyre shovels potions into his parachute, but sighs when he gives his reasoning. She supposes she isn't too sure what'd happen, either...

The exit the yurt, and Lanval contemplates the Guardians. But before anyone can get too far...the sound of thundering hooves can be heard in the distance. They proceed, and they get only a bit further before the source reveals themselves.

"What in the world...?" Jacqueline breathes out, shocked(figuratively, not literally). "Everyone, look out!"

With that Jacqueline dives to the side, a gesture of her hand bringing up a pillar of earth to act as cover. Hopefully, the horses would go around or over it, rather than trying to barrel on through...

Once the situation is clear, she'll pass out potions to patch up any injuries her friends might have acquired.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Rapid Remedy toward her party's challenge, The Horses Are Bolted!.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Just then, Cyre's terribly sensitive ears pick up... Something. "Hey," he murmurs, "Anyone else hear thunder?"

A stampede of horses turns and charges down in their general direction. That isn't why Cyre's worried, though. "Look... Look at them. Those are tumors. It's like life has just gone crazy here!" That would explain the excess of plants. The wild overgrowth of these poor animals. The wind-shaman clicks his teeth and unfurls his parachute again. This time, he uses it for its intended purpose and goes shooting off into the air. "Everyone, stay clear! I don't want to know what'll happen if we get injured in here...!"

Would they end up becoming sick and malformed like these unfortunate creatures here? Or... Something else?

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Reverse Parachute toward his party's challenge, The Horses Are Bolted!.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Woohoo!" Lydia shouts as she performs sick tricks.

Of course if she keeps shouting like that, it's inevitable that she'll get...horse. Why is this happening, Lydia wonders as she sees them approaching. This isn't what Odoryuk would want...right? It's the Guardian of Life not the Guardian of Unending Torment!! There's a balance involved there, but it's clearly disrupted here.

But ... why?

Lydia slows down, at first, then grinds her fangs tightly together. She turns to look at Catenna. She gives her a shaky thumbsup.

And then she gets back to skating, trying to confuse the horses by running around at high speeds!

But is it ghost unicorn speeds!?

"I get they were all murdered and shit but this is a little wacky!!"

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Radical Skates toward her party's challenge, The Horses Are Bolted!.
==============================================<* Lost Village Fereshte *>===============================================
========================================<* CHALLENGE - The Horses Are Bolted! *>========================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 The rapid roar of horse hooves fills the air, and in moments, a stud of       
 horses besets your party. These must be the Fereshte's steeds, but they are   
 in no way ordinary -- their flesh is pale, their coat mottled with the        
 gleaming mark of a butterfly wing. Sparks of electricity bounce from one      
 tumor to another, setting fire to blades of grass as they march, their        
 whinnies filled with misery.                                                  
                                                                               
 They turn towards you -- you'll need to be extremely quick and sure to avoid  
 damage from these electrified horses!                                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow=====================================================
=========================================<* Lost Village Fereshte - Round 4 *>==========================================
==========================================< Results - The Horses Are Bolted! >==========================================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Rapid Remedy                        1   Agility Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Lanval                       5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Bubble Pipe                         3   Agility Effects: Rally                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Radical Skates                      3   Agility Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Reverse Parachute                   1   Agility Effects: Rally and Quicken    
-------------------------------------------------------< Party >--------------------------------------------------------
Leader: Catenna                     60 --(20)--> 80                Pass
Conditions: Slow(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Quicken(1)
===================================================< Dream Chasers >====================================================
DG: The party led by Catenna 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 Lanval has posed.

    They're coming in fast, like, well, lightning. Both Owlet and Catenna deftly maneuver through the panicked horses, and Catenna will find that maybe their coming this way is purely coincidental. Any one of them could diverge and try to crash into her at any time, but they don't. They're dead-set on this direction, in order to get away from something.
     Something Catenna will see in... a moment.
     Jay's avoidance is narrow as she throws up pillars that the horses leap over, providing a small cover space for those who can't run away in time so long as they're of the presence of mind to run towards Jay.
     Cyre flits overhead over the passing horses, and he can feel the crackle of electricity that might make his everything stand on end... but he's in the clear from any sort of resulting injury.
     Now, as for what Catenna sees for the cause, as she looks up. Jay's behind cover, Cyre's above, Lanval is now floating along in a bubble, and as for Lydia...
     ...She sees Lydia skating across the mud like it ain't mud, and before long it's starting to look more like Lydia is chasing the horses. (Lydia is obviously not the original cause of them running away, but no strange butterfly wing-possessed lightning husks should ever feel they're higher on the food chain than an AWESOME RADICAL SKATING STAR-POWERED HIGH PRIESTESS.)
     Lanval has a good-natured laugh at the whole picture, but maybe this whole thing isn't exactly a light-hearted affair... then again, he's always been the sort to just enjoy life as it happens when he's able to.
     Up ahead, a great yurt awaits...

DG: Catenna has drawn a new Challenge.
===========================<* Lost Village Fereshte *>============================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Life is too Short... *>======================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 4          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 Finally, you navigate your way successfully around the lost village and come  
 towards the most impressive building deep in the heart of the settlement, an  
 octagonal yurt with large doors adorned with the iconography of Odoryuk.      
 This place is purportedly the chieftain's hut, and the dwelling of the-once   
 chosen of the Fereshte's Medium of Life, the Heritor.                         
                                                                               
 When you step in, the chill winds take hold once more. The aurora veils the   
 night sky of Elru where the tent's fabric is shredded. The floor is           
 bloodstained and littered with broken furniture. The only object to survive   
 without even a scratch or tarnish upon it is a wall-length mirror on the      
 back...                                                                       
                                                                               
 ... which shines with the icon of Odoryuk emblazoned upon its frame.          
                                                                               
 The moment one of you steps in front of it, a humanoid figure emerges from    
 the radiant glass. One, then another, then another, until there is one for    
 each member of your party. At first nondescript, the Leyline exhumes power    
 as it pulls upon the myriad facets of life itself...                          
                                                                               
 ... coalescing into clones of yourselves. But these are not dark or           
 malevolent or memory clones as you may have encountered in the past -- this   
 clone instead embodies the question that lingers in everyone's minds, at      
 some point in life:                                                           
                                                                               
 What could I have become?                                                     
                                                                               
 This is the you who took risks when you backed away. The you who didn't let   
 hang-ups and personal pains drag them into a mire of their own creation. The  
 you who owned up to that painful mistake and learnt from it. The you who      
 answered tough, lingering questions and made impossible decisions to get to   
 where they are today. Pure and certain, a beacon of someone who lives their   
 life to their fullest.                                                        
                                                                               
 (BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTNhgb0s6qE )                           
                                                                               
 The Ideal You.                                                                
                                                                               
 That is who your opponent is.                                                 
                                                                               
 (OOC Note: Round runners, keep the Ideal self around for the Finale, do not   
 dispatch them in your resolution poses!)                                      
=Dungeon Conditions: Secret, Save Point=======================================
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Breathing out softly, Catenna rises and dusts her dress off. As they approach the yurt ahead, she looks over as Saarda-Shanta settles to her shoulder. "I still do not understand," she says quietly. "You said 'daughter of Fereshte,' and yet all these trials appear to be for Riesenlied. I have no memory of this place."

The Owlet gives Catenna a long, silent look. And then, with a flutter, the bird boosts from her shoulder again. Catenna gsps as the bird flaps into the yurt. Without even needing to think, she takes off after her.

And into a place splattered with blood and torn with broken furniture, where only a mirror survives. Catenna gasps as she catches sight of the icon of Odoryuk upon it.

And the reflection in it.

Her reflection in it. But the reflection is not her - and yet, it is.

The woman looking in the mirror at her wears her hair out in big, blown-out waves. She has exchanged her grey and blue outfits for a flashier one in rich burgundy, white and silver. But she is not alone in the mirror - and it is the companion that makes the first move.

Out of the mirror lunges a massive, savage-looking griffon, much larger than even Riima's, hurtling at Catenna talons-first. So startled is the Moon Priestess that she doesn't think to evade.

A talonious swipe lands solidly. With a gasp, Catenna's hurled across the yurt, crashing through a chair. Groaning, she begins to pull to her feet even as the griffon begins to prowl towards her - and the other Catenna steps out of the mirror, silent and with a certain pride and confidence to her smile, a strut to her step that the real Catenna can only match in her masquerades as a dancer.

But the Mirrored One does not join in the battle. She merely levels a hand and barks out a few commands, short, commanding and crisp - and the griffon screams in again, its hooked beak yawning. Powertul talons slam into Catenna as she pushes her hands up to try and hold them at bay, the beast snapping at her with its beak and forcing her against the wall. Catenna's eyes are wide with surprise and panic as she belts off a spell, pushing the griffon back and trying to throw her into the Mirror Catenna - but it's only a brief respite. The monster is on her again, too fast and savage to be denied.

The mirror has summoned something, it's true. But the Catenna in the mirror is only, in some ways, Ideal. Or perhaps, an Ideal that Might Have Been.

From a perch high up in the yurt, Saarda-Shanta looks on, silent and impassive.

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Celesdue Medium toward her party's challenge, Life is too Short....
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia Seren's ideal self is Lydia Seren. This doesn't mean there isn't an ideal beyond, but Lydia is actually pretty self-assured these days and so she isn't inclined to dream up something too far different from who she already is.

So the mirror version of Lydia Seren is Lydia Seren except a little shorter, a few inches really.

The two Lydia Serens stare at each other for a moment.

"Oh great, your ideal you is just you but shorter!?" Mirror-Lydia complains. "That's lame!"

"W..well...shorter is cuter okay?" Lydia crosses her arms. "I don't like towering over the other ladies, it makes me feel weird. In my heart..." She smacks her chest with her fist. "I am smol!"

"Ugghh I'm supposed to test you but I'm short and you won't take me serioussssly..." Mirror-Lydia complains.

"I'm not a heightist!! I believe in you, other Lydia! You can do it!" Lydia tries encouraging Mirror-Lydia.

Mirror-Lydia flops back onto her back. "I'm not even real. This is the worst. You suck."

"Uggh! You suck!! I'm trying to help!"

"HA! I am a mirror! Anything you say about me reflects off me and sticks to you!!"

Lydia grimaces, taking a step back. "Jay....my opponent..."

She sweats faintly.

"...it's powerful..."

"GA HA HA HA HA HA!" Mirror Lydia cackles.

"Mrgrgrgr!!"

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Life is too Short....
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    Lanval plops back down onto terra firma face-flat when his bubble pops, just as the Owlet flies off into the yurt. "Mmmm... ya think we should wait for her ta come back out--" When Catenna takes off, Lanval takes that as a 'nope, we're following.' So he does, into a ghastly scene. The only thing intact ahead of him is a mirror, which seems to be stainless and clean compared to the blood and destruction surrounding it. To look within the reflection...
     That's not dumpy ol' Lanval. (Hmm, has this phrase come up before?)
     Another water elemental - much younger-looking - sits down in meditative bliss. Between his hands is a chalice held not in their hands like they were using it to drink, but instead were in preparation to give to someone. They are much slimmer. Their clothes are much cleaner - more robe-like, akin to Althenian clergy of a bygone era, with shining aquamarine hues contrasting spotless whites. (They still aren't wearing shoes... maybe the idea just never had appeal to the Water Seraph... this whole paragraph seems familiar.)
     "Mmmph. That shight," Lanval drinks from his gourd calmly.
     Their face is youthful. Their long silver hair flows like a gentle waterfall, the aquamarine tips flitting like--
     The Lanval everyone knows and likes (or tolerates) in varying degrees steps forward and throws his right arm - balled up into a proper fist - towards the surface of glass as if he already knows what's going to happen.
     The Lanval on the other side doesn't even stand up, holding an open palm as if to say 'hello.' Paper beats rock, and there is an explosive burst of watery energies from this point of impact as this other Lanval climbs on through the mirror from this outstretched fist. The younger-looking Lanval's eyes don't even open any, face still flush and pleasant.
     "You are troubled." Speaks the younger(?) water spirit.
     "'M gonna be honesht with ya," the regular spirit uncharacteristically has a more severe tone in his voice, "I kinda already been through thish."
     The younger one has a hearty chuckle to the tune of 'hm, hm, hm.'
     "Well, I have... ya shee, back on Lunar, there wash thish whole row 'bout a Malevolent Domain... the Umbral Mirror..."
     ""This is not the Umbral Mirror! Ha ha ha!" The younger-looking one light-heartedly mocks. "You've had enough to drink..."
     "That'sh what I told it," the older Lanval whines as he grasps his gourd to chant up a Seraphic Arte.
     Much more calmly, the younger-looking reflection holds up his chalice, and the two cups of differing sorts - one a hollowed-out gourd, another a hallowed chalice - collide.
     A great wave of refreshing energy fills the room on impact, a flash of a powerful Blessed Domain that flickers only momentarily before subsiding. Calming, easy-going... it takes a momentary edge off of the situation, but that leaves Lanval and Lanval in probably the most combative toasting ritual ever recorded.

DG: Seraph Lanval has used his Tool Holy Bottle toward his party's challenge, Life is too Short....
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Lanval isn't the only one who's already been through this shindig.

It was even a mirror the last time, too.

Cyre stares deadpan as a familiar face appears in the looking glass. This time, addled only by the scent of his own vapors and not by the cloying, fetid influence of Malevolence, his double again emerges. Again, he wears the traditional robes of the Nahual elders. Again, a dispassionate, contemplative face coldly judges his scruffier counterpart from underneath a vicious, ceremonial mask.

"You know," Cyre-A says to Cyre-B. "We've kind of gone through this before, haven't we?"

"Have we? Maybe. I don't think I'd remember someone as scruffy-looking as you."

Cyre-A shrugs, "Yeah. Back on the moon. It was... A lot worse then? Our souls were laid bare and all that. But you know, now I get to do something that I've always wanted to do with that guy in the mirror." Cyre readies himself, the wind swirling and churning around his arms and legs. His double quirks a brow and mimics the stance, but it's more perfect, more practiced, infinitely more discipli--

Oh, wait, no, Cyre-A just went to straight-up judo-toss Cyre-B straight into Catenna-B.

"Yeah! I always thought you'd looked like you had too much of a stick up your ass! Go talk to that pretty lady over there and get that fixed!"

...Cyre is maybe getting a bit too used to fighting twisted mirror-versions of himself.

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Life is too Short....
===========================<* Lost Village Fereshte *>============================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Life is too Short... *>======================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 4          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 Finally, you navigate your way successfully around the lost village and come  
 towards the most impressive building deep in the heart of the settlement, an  
 octagonal yurt with large doors adorned with the iconography of Odoryuk.      
 This place is purportedly the chieftain's hut, and the dwelling of the-once   
 chosen of the Fereshte's Medium of Life, the Heritor.                         
                                                                               
 When you step in, the chill winds take hold once more. The aurora veils the   
 night sky of Elru where the tent's fabric is shredded. The floor is           
 bloodstained and littered with broken furniture. The only object to survive   
 without even a scratch or tarnish upon it is a wall-length mirror on the      
 back...                                                                       
                                                                               
 ... which shines with the icon of Odoryuk emblazoned upon its frame.          
                                                                               
 The moment one of you steps in front of it, a humanoid figure emerges from    
 the radiant glass. One, then another, then another, until there is one for    
 each member of your party. At first nondescript, the Leyline exhumes power    
 as it pulls upon the myriad facets of life itself...                          
                                                                               
 ... coalescing into clones of yourselves. But these are not dark or           
 malevolent or memory clones as you may have encountered in the past -- this   
 clone instead embodies the question that lingers in everyone's minds, at      
 some point in life:                                                           
                                                                               
 What could I have become?                                                     
                                                                               
 This is the you who took risks when you backed away. The you who didn't let   
 hang-ups and personal pains drag them into a mire of their own creation. The  
 you who owned up to that painful mistake and learnt from it. The you who      
 answered tough, lingering questions and made impossible decisions to get to   
 where they are today. Pure and certain, a beacon of someone who lives their   
 life to their fullest.                                                        
                                                                               
 (BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTNhgb0s6qE )                           
                                                                               
 The Ideal You.                                                                
                                                                               
 That is who your opponent is.                                                 
                                                                               
 (OOC Note: Round runners, keep the Ideal self around for the Finale, do not   
 dispatch them in your resolution poses!)                                      
=Dungeon Conditions: Secret, Save Point=======================================
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline holds her breath as the horses leap over head. This was a calculated risk - she couldn't entirely predict what they would do, so there was always the chance that she would make a miscalculation and end up getting trampled. But thankfully she doesn't, so she exhales in relief and stands up with the support of her pillar, her legs shaking.

"Is everyone alright...?" She asks, looking about. It looks like everyone had avoided it, one way or the other. Jacqueline looks toward Catenna, who speaks to Saarda-Shanta.

Once they've got their bearings, they make their way to the structure in the center of the village, where they are greeted by a familiar sight.

The mirror bearing the icon of Odoryuk. Jacqueline knew what was to come...though she is surprised when, after Catenna's other self, a massive griffon emerges. Jacqueline gasps in surprise.

Unfortunately, she doesn't have much room or time to assist her. The other other selves are emerging, as well...

And Jacqueline is not exempt from this. By this point, she thinks she knows what to expect - she'd encountered her Ideal Self twice by now, after all, and had obtained something of an agreement with the other her, even if they didn't quite see eye to eye. So, she assumes this will be easy...

But the Jacqueline that emerges is not the Jacqueline that one she expects. This Jacqueline's hair is longer, for one, and though she has the other's confidence she's wearing what looks to be an expensive dress in extravagant colors.

"...Looking for someone else?" She asks. Our Jacqueline - Jay, for short - finds herself staring in confusion.

"...Um, yes, admittedly..." She says, massaging the back of her neck. The other Jacqueline - just 'Jacqueline' for the sake of convenience - chuckles.

"Hm hm hm...well, there is more than one Ideal, after all...I'm another side of the same coin, you could say." She comments, taking a step closer. Jay gets into a ready stance, but Jacqueline shakes her head.

"Oh, no, no, no...I'm not interested in fighting, really. I'd prefer to avoid violence. Let us handle this our way - the merchant's way." With a gesture, a table appears with a chair on each side. Jacqueline takes a seat, and gestures for Jay to sit.

She hesitates, taking a moment to look over toward Lydia after her friend calls out to her.

"It's okay, Lydia! Tall people can be cute, too!" Jay says, trying to reassure her, before accepting the offered chair.

And then, they begin to speak quickly, rapidly...! It's a flurry of words that would be completely dizzying to the onlooker that wasn't familiar with mercantile lingo...

Jay even breaks out the Codex at some point, showing her other self something within...

What's going on over there...!?

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool The Lifeweaver's Codex toward her party's challenge, Life is too Short....
===========================<* Lost Village Fereshte *>============================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Life is too Short... *>======================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 4          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 Finally, you navigate your way successfully around the lost village and come  
 towards the most impressive building deep in the heart of the settlement, an  
 octagonal yurt with large doors adorned with the iconography of Odoryuk.      
 This place is purportedly the chieftain's hut, and the dwelling of the-once   
 chosen of the Fereshte's Medium of Life, the Heritor.                         
                                                                               
 When you step in, the chill winds take hold once more. The aurora veils the   
 night sky of Elru where the tent's fabric is shredded. The floor is           
 bloodstained and littered with broken furniture. The only object to survive   
 without even a scratch or tarnish upon it is a wall-length mirror on the      
 back...                                                                       
                                                                               
 ... which shines with the icon of Odoryuk emblazoned upon its frame.          
                                                                               
 The moment one of you steps in front of it, a humanoid figure emerges from    
 the radiant glass. One, then another, then another, until there is one for    
 each member of your party. At first nondescript, the Leyline exhumes power    
 as it pulls upon the myriad facets of life itself...                          
                                                                               
 ... coalescing into clones of yourselves. But these are not dark or           
 malevolent or memory clones as you may have encountered in the past -- this   
 clone instead embodies the question that lingers in everyone's minds, at      
 some point in life:                                                           
                                                                               
 What could I have become?                                                     
                                                                               
 This is the you who took risks when you backed away. The you who didn't let   
 hang-ups and personal pains drag them into a mire of their own creation. The  
 you who owned up to that painful mistake and learnt from it. The you who      
 answered tough, lingering questions and made impossible decisions to get to   
 where they are today. Pure and certain, a beacon of someone who lives their   
 life to their fullest.                                                        
                                                                               
 (BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTNhgb0s6qE )                           
                                                                               
 The Ideal You.                                                                
                                                                               
 That is who your opponent is.                                                 
                                                                               
 (OOC Note: Round runners, keep the Ideal self around for the Finale, do not   
 dispatch them in your resolution poses!)                                      
=Dungeon Conditions: Secret, Save Point=======================================
======================<* Lost Village Fereshte - Round 5 *>=======================
========================< Results - Life is too Short... >========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             5 --(20)--> 25                 Fail
Celesdue Medium                     2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   0 --(15)--> 15                 Pass
The Lifeweaver's Codex              2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Lanval                       5 --(15)--> 20                 Pass
Holy Bottle                         2   Combat  Effects: Resilient            
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(20)--> 20                 Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     0 --(20)--> 20                 Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------< Party >-------------------------------------
Leader: Catenna                     80 --(0)--> 80                 Fail
Conditions: Save Point(1)|Secret(2)
Effects: Embolden(1)|Resilient(1)
================================< Dream Chasers >=================================
DG: The party led by Catenna 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: Catenna has drawn a new Challenge.
===========================<* Lost Village Fereshte *>============================
===============<* CHALLENGE - ... to Wonder What Could Have Been *>===============
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The battle is intense.                                                        
                                                                               
 Both you and your Ideal self have been tested to your very limits.  And what  
 did you glean upon the mirror in the midst of that battle?  Perhaps it was    
 an aspect or two about yourself that you refused to face up until now.  Or    
 perhaps, you turned even deeper away from pernicious thoughts that            
 nonetheless have a nugget of truth in your heart.  Only you can answer that   
 question.                                                                     
                                                                               
 But it is nonetheless evident, at the climax of the battle, that you and      
 yourself are fairly evenly matched... and if you or your Ideal self           
 continues, no one will walk away from this cleanly.                           
                                                                               
 In other words, the price is life itself.                                     
                                                                               
 (BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5l6XPZxZ8c )                           
                                                                               
 Battle is not the answer here.  The Ley continues to flow throughout the      
 room, the very power of the reflection that has borne manifest here, sourced  
 from the mirror itself.  If you gaze deep enough into the mirror, and search  
 deep into the Ley itself...                                                   
                                                                               
 Perhaps it is there that you will find the hint.  A seemingly minor clue,     
 but one that could be the first step to resolving the dissonance...           
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

For the most part, the battles are about even - even those that are not battles. Jay and Jay discuss heatedly in a corner. Lydia and Lydia debate whether or not it's better to be Li'l Lydie or Big Lydie, and there's truly no answer, for we love both big Lydia and smol Lydia equally.

The other battles are more straightforward. The old, decrepit Lanval and the young, fresh Lanval bring Blessed Domains to bear in a rush of easygoing calm. Cyre, meawhile, just judo-flips his double towards the second Catenna.

"Why would I want to get to know some scruffy cultist," Catenna-B remarks with a blink as she sidesteps Cyre-B.

Flicking her hair back, Catenna-B takes a few steps away, clearing out of the way of the Cyres and letting them fight - because her attention's elsewhere, namely on the back of the room, where the huge griffon is simply doing what it will.

There's an ugly thump as the real Catenna hits the floor. She's covered with slash marks and bleeding heavily, groaning as she rolls onto her side. Shrieking madly, the griffon descends on her, claws splayed for the kill.

It gives Catenna a moment. Lifting her Silver Medium, she begins to belt out a spell. It's enough to hurl the griffon back--

Until a high-heeled foot hits the Medium. Catenna gasps as Catenna-B kicks the Medium out of her hands. It bounces across the floor and stops in front of the mirror.

"Honestly, I'm not sure how I could even have turned out like that," Catenna-B says with a small, introspective frown. "I mean, the Beastman over there is clearly a Baskar. I don't know in what world I would get mixed up in their weird cult, though."

Before the real Catenna can say anything, Catenna-B's snapping her fingers and taking a step back. "Daraanti. Let's just deal with her and go back."

With an affirmative shriek, the griffon lunges again. Catenna scrambles to try and draw a knife.

Until a blur of white suddenly slams into the griffon. The huge hippogriff hurtles away, crashing into a pile of bloody furniture.

<I'm sorry it's like this,> the fully-grown Saarda-Shanta says with genuine regret. The huge snowy owl touches down between Catenna and her mirror opponents and looks back. <If you would kindly look into the mirror, things will become clearer.>

Catenna's mouth opens a little, but before she can respond, the Great Owl hoots and hurls herself at the griffon. What ensues is a violent clash between owl and lionbird, leaving Catenna a moment to approach the mirror. Scrambling to her feet, she does so.

"Hold on a minute," Catenna-B says as she asserts herself in Catenna's way. "I'm not--"

Catenna doesn't break her stride. With a scowl, she winds up and punches Catenna-B square in the face.

With a yelp, Catenna-B crumples in a heap, clutching her nose. Catenna the Original strides right over her, stooping to collect her Medium before planting her heel on her double's back and leaving it there as she looks into the mirror.

...and images begin to take shape....

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Saarda-Shanta toward her party's challenge, ... to Wonder What Could Have Been.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    The aggressive toasting recedes. In the easygoing calm that follows, the younger, slimmer version of Lanval seems to hold control of the 'fight's' momentum as they take a seat as though they were in no distress at all - like they were part of an entirely different, more peaceful world where nothing ever spiraled out of his control.
     Compare the older Lanval, who goes for another punch. The Water Spirit very rarely lays his own (manifested) hands directly on anyone in battle - unless it is to deliver immense force. Something about the whole picture just seems to draw out his aggression - his strength - to the forefront, of which there is far more than his portly, unkempt appearance lets on.
     The leisurely sit of the younger seems timed just as the more familiar Lanval takes his swing... which passes harmlessly overhead, seeing them pirouette twice before falling flat on his back clumsily like a drunken, uncoordinated oaf. He looks the part. In this instant, he is the part.
     "Hm, hm, hm." The younger-looking spirit chortles. "Unchanging... my life is as it was, as it always will." They take a dainty sip from their own chalice, a knowing cat-like smile. "That is how it should be. That is how it will be."
     The Seraphim, long-lived as they are, do value stable, unchanging existences. "For over five centuries, my life never changed. For another five centuries... for five millennia... it will not change. Rylia will forever flourish under my watch."
     The older Lanval lies on the ground, grunting aloud.
     "Such is within my power! I am the Mirthful Wellspring. Joy will flow from my Blessing forever more." The younger-looking spirit raises a chalice on high--
     --and the older Lanval rests a hand upon it too. The younger's eyes open slowly, as if setting a hard time limit for him to remove that fat hand from it before he unleashes his own full might.
     "Yer wrong." Lanval says.
     "..."
     "...Mmmmaybe... n-nah... m-maybe I wash wrong." The older Lanval drops his hand from that chalice. The 'camera' cuts back to the regular Lanval wearing a mood-ruining swirly lens glasses attachment. (Seriously, why ruin cutscenes with that?) "It'sh true... I... I really did wish that it all shtayed the shame." Lanval didn't really have to confront that as heavily with the Umbral Mirror, because he punched that double before it could get much further into the pitch. Something this Odoryuk Mirror would not humor.
     "...We live shoooo long," the older Lanval says as he rubs his hand on his chin, "ushually... mmmm. Even ash Lord of the Land, Rylia changed sho much... washn't Rylia for mosht of my run ash Lord of the Land... ha ha ha!"
     The younger one sets their chalice on their lap, grasping it in both hands as the older one continues.
     "Nnnnot a whole lot of it wash really in my control then either... yep. I jusht watched over it, it did whatever it wash gonna." The elder Lanval stands up. It's not too shaky. He stays upright. "Jusht like mortalsh, 'n hey, I long ago accepted they were gonna do what they were gonna."
     The younger is silent.
     "...'m never gonna go back to thoshe timesh... 'n I'm shure shcared 'bout what it'sh like fer my own kind back home, knowin' what I do." The older one holds his drinking gourd aloft, the old-looking hollowed gourd on its ratty attached rope... a far cry from the luxury and beauty that radiates from that chalice. Is it better? Is it worse?
     "I guessh I kinda dump on 'em shometimesh, but, that'sh one way mortalsh and my own kind're like... we shure get trapped thinkin' 'bout what wash, what coulda been..."

DG: Seraph Lanval has used his Tool Amber Tinted Glasses toward his party's challenge, ... to Wonder What Could Have
Been.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

MOMENTS LATER...

Lydia Seren and Lydia Seren-B are sitting next to each other, splitting a sandwich right down the middle.

"You know it turns out we have a lot in common." Lydia says.

"Yeah, yeah...I wish I was a little different just so I could be a cooler mirror-rival." Lydia-B admits.

Lydia wraps an arm around the other Lydia's shoulders. "Hey...hey... you know, just because this mirror thing is like that, you don't have to do it. You can buck convention. You're Lydia after all!"

"Oh yeah!" Other Lydia grins, showing off many fangs (she may have more fangs than normal Lydia). "This is an inherently oppressive system!"

"That's right!" Lydia turns her head towards Catenna and sees she's having some trouble at first. "CATENNA!" She shouts. "You're way prettier and cooler than your reflection! Reflections add 5 pounds!"

Lydia-Mirror shouts, "Also you're way sweeter! And sexier!!"

"Wait, are you cheering on my Catenna? Not your Catenna?"

Lydia-B smirks. "What, your ideal self wouldn't cheer on a FAKE Catenna."

"Oh yeah!" Lydia says, taking another bite of her sandwich.

"Anyway...there is one thing I wanted to ask you. Why didn't you want me to have bigger hands?"

Lydia goes quiet at that, lowering her head with a faint frown. "..."

"I mean...you could've caught mom's--"

"--It's dumb." Lydia says. "To want something like that for that kind of reason. We're stlil going to save her, so who needs huge hands..."

"Huh..." Lydia-B says.

"..But I really do miss her."

"Me too." Lydia-B says. "So you're living your dream."

Lydia laughs a bit at that, wiping at her eyes. "Anyway..."

Lydia holds up a Schrodinger. "So you don't get lonely."

A Schrodinger reappears by Lydia-B, a mirror Schrodinger perhaps.

"Aw geeze..." Lydia-B says. "You're not so bad yourself."

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Schrodinger the Cat toward her party's challenge, ... to Wonder What Could Have Been.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

The heated discussion continues, and neither one seems about to backdown. They're at a stand-still - a complete deadlock, that doesn't seem any closer to being resolved.

But in the end...Jay raises a hand.

"...Why are we doing this? Where is this getting us?" Jay asks. Jacqueline is taken aback.

"...I don't understand. Are you giving up?" Jacqueline asks. Jay shakes her head.

"No, I mean...all this arguing. Over what? We don't have to do this." Jay says. "When has it been our way to argue? We'll do this our way - not through fighting, or through arguing...but by understanding."

And with that, she extends a hand toward her other self. Jacqueline hesitates and then takes it with a smile.

"...I can agree to that." She says. And together, they shake. "And maybe that's what I was hoping for. I've always preferred a peaceful resolution. But you know...this won't always work."

Jay nods.

"...I know. That's what the other me tried to get through to me. That sometimes, you have to fight. But even so, if I can solve things peacefully, I'll try to. And if not...well, I'll figure that out when it happens." She explains.

The other Jacqueline smiles and nods.

"...Good. Don't forget that."

They're both distracted for a moment as Catenna clocks her other self right in the face.

"...Wow." They both remark in unison.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, ... to Wonder What Could Have
Been.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Now is a moment for quiet introspection. Now is a moment for looking into the depths of the self and finding what it is that you've been missing all your life-- lest the real and the ideal both are irrevocably scarred by the encounter. This is an opportunity that so many people seek in the world. A chance to... Reflect. To really, truly, reflect.

But one here... Isn't taking it?

Cyre-A, the Original Cyre, simply looks on happily as Catenna-A clocks Catenna-B right across the face and stomps all over her back. He breathes a happy little sigh, "I'm going to marry that woman someday."

"What? But she called me scruffy!" Cyre-B protests, moments before double-taking incredulously, "Where are you going? We're not done here!"

Cyre-A... Strolls out toward the edge of the room and takes a quiet moment to lean back and take a swig of what smells distinctly of gin. "No, she called you scruffy. My Catenna rather likes my scruff. I keep extra fluffy just in case. And I think we're done here, honestly."

"What," Ideal Cyre looks briefly flabbergasted. "You're just going to run away again, just like that!?"

"No, I'm just gonna watch," Cyre says with a shrug. "I've never been the type to find my truths in mirrors or by gazing into my navel. The life I want to live is out here, with the fucked up people I care about. Not in some kind of weird fantasy world where I somehow aced the test of Life. But Catenna seems to have found something interesting in that dusty old mirror, so I'm interested in seeing just what that is."

Ideal Cyre huffs and rubs tiredly at his weary shoulders, "Ugggghhhhh, why did you have to be the Me who screwed himself straight into a decent life? Whatever, as long as you don't forget what you just said, you should be fine. Probably."

Beat.

"You should probably finish that drink before the Seraphs find out about it though."

"Oh, yeah," Cyre says thoughtfully. He looks at his gin flask for a second. Then Other Cyre looks at the flask. Both Cyres look at each other. They smile.

"HEY MIRROR-LANVAL," OG Cyre yells, and then straight up hucks his gin-flask right at the much more sober seraph. "You look like you could use a drink!"

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, ... to Wonder What Could Have
Been.
===========================<* Lost Village Fereshte *>============================
===============<* CHALLENGE - ... to Wonder What Could Have Been *>===============
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The battle is intense.                                                        
                                                                               
 Both you and your Ideal self have been tested to your very limits.  And what  
 did you glean upon the mirror in the midst of that battle?  Perhaps it was    
 an aspect or two about yourself that you refused to face up until now.  Or    
 perhaps, you turned even deeper away from pernicious thoughts that            
 nonetheless have a nugget of truth in your heart.  Only you can answer that   
 question.                                                                     
                                                                               
 But it is nonetheless evident, at the climax of the battle, that you and      
 yourself are fairly evenly matched... and if you or your Ideal self           
 continues, no one will walk away from this cleanly.                           
                                                                               
 In other words, the price is life itself.                                     
                                                                               
 (BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5l6XPZxZ8c )                           
                                                                               
 Battle is not the answer here.  The Ley continues to flow throughout the      
 room, the very power of the reflection that has borne manifest here, sourced  
 from the mirror itself.  If you gaze deep enough into the mirror, and search  
 deep into the Ley itself...                                                   
                                                                               
 Perhaps it is there that you will find the hint.  A seemingly minor clue,     
 but one that could be the first step to resolving the dissonance...           
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
======================<* Lost Village Fereshte - Round 6 *>=======================
=================< Results - ... to Wonder What Could Have Been >=================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             25 --(0)--> 25                 Pass
Saarda-Shanta                       1   Wits    Effects: Cleanse              
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   15 --(0)--> 15                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Lanval                       20 --(0)--> 20                 Pass
Amber Tinted Glasses                3   Wits    Effects: Fanfare              
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         20 --(0)--> 20                 Pass
Schrodinger the Cat                 2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     20 --(0)--> 20                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------< Party >-------------------------------------
Leader: Catenna                     80 --(35)--> 115               Pass
Conditions: Secret(1)|Treasure(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 Catenna has successfully explored Lost Village Fereshte!
===========================<* Lost Village Fereshte *>============================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Crested Cranequin *>========================
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 With a loud and harrowing burst, the mirror's lustre fades. The clones give   
 you one last look -- a confident look, before dissolving into clouds,         
 returning deep into the mirror's surface. For now, the bizarre artifact has   
 lost its power and must recover, and you are safe from its strange            
 reflective machinations.                                                      
                                                                               
 Searching the Heritor's tent, you find an old, but still functional crossbow  
 with a particularly unique gear-loading mechanism -- this must be one of the  
 Fereshte's famed cranequin crossbows, enchanted with the sigil of Wing. If    
 you're so inclined, you could add this weapon to your arsenal, or pawn it     
 off for a handsome sum.                                                       
                                                                               
 (NOTE: If you choose to add the enchanted crossbow to your attack             
 repertoire, some ideas may include a TEC-based attack with the Accurate,      
 Headshot or Riposte flags to represent its connection to the Wing crest!)     
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"Lydias!" Catenna splutters with a fierce blush in spite of the heavy situation.

But there's work to be done. One by one, Jay, Lanval and Lydia resolve their disputes, even befriending their mirror selves. Cyre takes a bit longer, but he manages. It's the little group by the mirror that's the holdout bunch.

Again the griffon slams across the yurt as the Great Owl does her work, buying Catenna the moment she needs. Taking ahold of the edges of the mirror, she gazes into it...

...and the face of the mirror blurs into a soft shimmer of blue.

The light resolves itself into little motes of light - and they resolve themselves further into little shapes. Tiny blue butterflies. They drift lazily through the face of the mirror, but soon quicken, drawing out faint, glowing blue lines in the glass - and within seconds they've sketched out a hazy scene. A deep forest, shimmering with blue.

Into that forest, a figure walks tentatively, also composed of thin filaments of blue light. It's a man, that's for certain, with long hair and a cloak patterned with bold geometric patterns. The patterns are recognizable to certain folks here.

They are patterns which almost exactly resemble those Riesenlied tends to wear.

The man in the patterned cloak - one of the Fereshte, perhaps? - is holding something in his hand. It's a simple tablet. The icon of the Moon can be seen upon it. A Medium? He holds it close as he looks around, as if drawn by a sudden noise.

From within the treelines, more filmy blue figures appear. Their features are hard to make out, save for angular eyes and a few braids - they superficially resemble Catenna in ethnic features and clothing style. And there are monsters accompanying them. The first figure stops and holds his hands up...

The face of the mirror shimmers; the scene disperses into little sparks of shimmering blue. Catenna opens her mouth, her eyes widening as she confronts a dawning, even as those little motes of light trickle out of the mirror and whirl slowly around her Silver Medium. They course on down her arms and drift around her.

"...I think I understand," she murmurs as the battle behind her stills. "The Fereshte pass their Mediums down through Heritors. Which means...."

She draws a finger across the face of her Silver Medium. "...there must have been someone in this village, or close to it, who held a Medium of Celesdue," she murmurs. "And that person fled here for some reason, and came to the land of the Zortroa. And that Medium descended through their family....

"...to me," she finishes with a bow of her head. "Which means that mother's ancestors must have been that Baskar, and they must have brought her Stone Medium from this part of Elru."

"...daughter of Fereshte...."

Coming to her feet, Catenna sends a quiet, sad look towards her bloody-nosed doppelganger. "...which means that you can't exist," she remarks quietly. "Can you? The ideal me could never be purely the perfect Zortroan... not if there is a little Baskar in me."

Catenna-B lowers her eyelids a little. "I thought the little Baskar in you was the catboy over there."

Catenna calmly decks her double in the mouth again before sighing and shoving her back into the mirror anticlimactically. "Honestly, if I'd have turned out as sassy as Riima I'd have never wanted to be that person anyway," she grumbles even as the giant griffon breaks down into motes of light and disappears.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    It's not Mirror-Lanval that catches the flask. It's the usual one, whose insatible appetite for alcoholic beverage is - in this respect - unmatched. The Mirror-Lanval doesn't budge or complain, letting themselves quietly fade back into the mystical depths of the mirror as the more familiar Water Seraph just guzzles the thing down.
     He opens an eye half-lidded as the scene plays out between Catenna and what the mirror shows... huh.
     "Oh, wait... mmm, that one musht be-- mmm, it'sh not my place ta shay," he mumbles the latter half of that sentence. Lanval actually gets it before some of the others do? That's new, but then again, he's a Seraph who has seen quite a few human generations come and go. Even as big of an idiot as he often is, that sort of sensation, that idea, isn't new to him. His restraint in saying it aloud suggests at least a baseline respect for what this is supposed to represent, and for whom.
     This all makes some sort of sense, as Catenna lays out what the revelation means in further context... and how that relates to her relationship with her supposed Ideal self.
     He decides not to comment any more about that, because there is no need to. There is a flask of gin that needs tending to as the most important business at-hand after a wholesome round of self-reflection and possible actualization to come from it all.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

The two Jacquelines listen as Catenna speaks...and the truth is revealed. Catenna is descended from the Fereshte, through a refugee who stumbled across the Zortroa.

"...Fascinating..." Jay comments, surprised. She never would have guessed. Across from her, Jacqueline begins to emit light. With a sigh, she stands up.

"...Looks like it's time for me to go. Take care, alright? And don't forget me." She says, standing up and offering Jay a smile. She nods, returning it.

"...Of course." She says, standing up. She extends her hand, and the two shake...but as soon as they finish, the other Jacqueline becomes motes of light, disappearing.

Jacqueline stands there for a moment...then walks over to Catenna, offering her a smile.

"...I think you're perfect as you are, anyway. The ideal Catenna is the one standing right in front of me - the one I can call my friend." Jacqueline says.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Bowing her head, Catenna smiles quietly over to Jacqueline when the woman moves beside her. She's hurt, but the pain's manageable now. "You always say such kind things," she murmurs, a soft blush reaching her cheeks. "I am glad that I joined you and your friends. I could never have learned this without you. I had always wondered why my mother was unique among the Zortroa...."

<That line was always unique,> muses Saarda-Shanta; once again in the form of the owlet, she flutters to Catenna's shoulder, looking up at her soberly. <This was a village of Odoryuk. Perhaps that wanderer changed his ways to follow the Moon later... but in their way, the ones who Descended kept to the spirit of Life. Life exists not only in bodies, but in traditions.>

Catenna looks down at the Silver Medium in her hand, quiet and thoughtful. "...Then my mother kept the tradition alive after however many generations it was," she murmurs. "And so must I."

Tightening her hand around the Medium, she nods slowly and seriously. "Then I will."

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"Wow," Cyre says, strolling back up to the mirror at the heart of the chamber. "That's... Kind of a hell of a revelation there, isn't it? I guess maybe the Zortroans of the past were a little less suspicious of Guardian-worship. I wonder what might have changed..."

Or whether Catenna's unfortunate ancestors were just constantly being sniped at by catty beastmistresses with weird mutant bird-lions.

"For what it's worth," Cyre says, wrapping an arm around Catenna's shoulders as he rests his crossbow against the floor. "I think I like the Catenna I ended up with the best. The other-you was just way too... Urgh. Can you believe she called me scruffy?"

Cyre is fluffy, not scruffy.

"...Though I guess we're probably going to have to deal with the other side of your family soon enough, too, won't we? One way or another."