2018-12-02: A Visit to Mother

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======================<* Photosphere - External Defenses *>=======================

The Photosphere is not of this world. From a distance, it looks like a massive orb -- the size of a large city -- smashed down against a local mountain, and cracked open. The orb is made of interlocked hexagons of some translucent golden substance, and within, powerful technology can be seen.

This place is not safe to approach. First, one without the proper mechanisms will encounter a shimmering barrier of light that repulses all but the strongest ARMs. Second, there are patrols of Metal Demons and their beasts, all keeping a close eye on the Photosphere.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygpjMbQeBas
DG: A party led by Catenna is now entering Photosphere - Alien Catacombs.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
=======================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs *>========================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Running the Gauntlet *>======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The entrance to the Photosphere has been carved, rather than created. A       
 massive blast from the Dragonship Destiny's cannon has tore a hole through    
 the outer shell of the Photosphere. The wall has been carved open, leading    
 to the tunnels on the inside. However, crossing that ground is no easy        
 thing: a veritable swarm of Metal Demons is clashing with representatives of  
 Althena's Guard, the surviving guard members of New Arctica, and some         
 Drifters.                                                                     
                                                                               
 The result is a fierce, violent melee outside of the Photosphere. Blasts of   
 energy from Metal Beasts, shots from gunsmoke ARMs, and sorcerous fire and    
 lightning criss-cross that space. To get inside the Photosphere, one must     
 run through the crossfire.                                                    
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow, Injure=============================================
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

The Photosphere was looking impregnable until Cecilia Adlehyde and Asgard arrived to shatter its barrier and the Dragonship Destiny opened fire into the golden sphere's hull. Now there's an opening in the side of the sphere, the perfect place for Drifters to infiltrate. All that's left is the climbing.

And the violence. Metal Beasts fire away, Drifters answer with ARMs and magic, and the chaos only grows deeper.

Through it all, a slim figure darts across the field. Catenna ducks under a Metal Beast's blast, then twists and leaps, jamming her heel into the creature's head and flipping off of it as it crumples in a kickflip that she probably picked up from Jean in some way.

When she lands, she looks up to the little white Owlet fluttering along with her. "Then we must get up there. Mother waits for us."

Saarda-Shanta bobs her head, owlish eyes focused on the Moon Shaman. <Yes. I know you are worried about Riesenlied, but Mother must be defeated at all costs.>

Catenna presses her lips together and tries to ignore the ache in her heart. As much as she wants to help Riese - they are, in a way, kin, if indeed part of her heritage is Fereshte - Mother's more important.

Another Metal Beast bears down on her, roaring like thunder. With a hiss, Catenna jumps back and fires an arrow. The projectile slams into the Beast's head; it hits the ground with a shriek, and Catenna rushes onward, rolling under another blast to try and keep from getting blasted.

A quick look around follows as she tries to catch sight of friends. It would be better not to do this alone; Catenna isn't a good solo fighter.

DG: Catenna has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Running the Gauntlet.
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

On one hand, Ashton feels the urge to get involved in the fight that lays before them. He could do some good in that wild melee - but then that would be a distraction. A diversion from what needs to be done. Not pushing forward into the Photosphere would taint the efforts being put forward by those fighting, not help them.
 
This isn't a fight that can be won by grinding force of arms. They're not an army. Pushing around battle lines isn't the way.
 
Plus, the best place to fight is going to be inside, not out.
 
While not normally known for blazing speed, Ashton keeps a trick up his sleeve: the Bunny Shoes. No good for sustained running, but in a sprint? There's little better.
 
So the Symbological Swordsman moves through the chaos like a bladed missile - debris kicking up behind him as he zips past many of the Beasts and pitfalls that lay in the path. One Metal Beast - a great cat of some form - gets in front of him. Only to find that untrue as Ashton's sorcery flashes him forward in a quick, short-range teleport.
 
"Eyes to the prize, as it were!"

DG: Ashton Anchors has used his Tool Bunny Shoes toward his party's challenge, Running the Gauntlet.
<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin darts after Catenna, quite agile and quick, with Spirit by her side, the ever loyal companion. Behind her, the trick rope plays out, helping yank any of the group that seems to be in the line of fire out from immediate danger. Metal Demons who get too close learn the hard way about Kourin's ice magics--especially the new ice claw she's been trying out recently on her icy left hand. Also Kourin's sword. Sometimes by being crashed by one into the other.

It'd be almost beautiful to watch her do this, if it was like, a movie or something, but no, this is all too real...

DG: Kourin has used her Tool Trick Rope toward her party's challenge, Running the Gauntlet.
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel seriously considered just... not coming in the Photosphere. She could have hid somewhere. Maybe behind Asgard - though seeing Asgard was as big a surprise to her as it was to most of the Drifters, she recognized it and had a vague idea of what it could do, from half-forgotten memories as a child and slightly less half-forgotten memories from later on. Hearing Mother's words brought back those terrifying memories - the information was new but the voice was not.

But she didn't. Here she is, loaded down with her usual satchel and a bigger backpack securely fastened to her back. It doesn't slow her down much and she felt that whatever was in it was necessary.

So instead she is hiding behind, in no particular order and moving whenever other people do, Catenna, Cyre, and Kourin. Once she hid behind Ashton, but she got distracted by trying to figure out how the heads attached to his back and she is pretty sure one of the dragons gave her a dirty look, so she went back to the people she knows.

Her current strategy is just to run. She's a small target. Maybe they'll overlook her? Hopefully, because Mariel does not seem to have a weapon on her and isn't attacking anything, and her path is a little winding as she particularly avoids Metal Demons, trying not to draw their eye for... whatever reason.

She has reasons.

DG: Mariel has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Running the Gauntlet.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Ethius is slow to move again after the Dragonship Destiny blows open the hole - after Riesenlied's dramatic escape - after taking in the ambient atmosphere of fear, fury, and desperation that permeates this part of Filgaia. Slower than he ought to be. Slower than he usually is... as though he were untouched by the tension.
     As always, a distant character who seems to do and act as he pleases. In spoken word, he professed he would utterly annihilate Riesenlied in no uncertain terms. He has lost his chance to enact whatever destructive intent he has in mind, as many of the key figures retreat further in.
     Filgaia's champions follow.
     Ethius is missing his bandanna after the narrow avoidance of the Ley Dragon's most powerful, barely held-back(?) blast. His right hand tries to hide his face from view. Where is it--
     Metal Beasts quickly swarm the area whence he came. To try and go through them for what is ultimately a trifling piece of fabric is... shall one say... unwise.
     He has to retreat back up the rocky outcropping in which he prepared the casting of a Solar Storm, which is in itself a dead end because of a significant drop. The Metal Beasts begin to close.
     He has to lower his hand to tie the harness to the Hot Air Sack to one hand, which he does with unmatched speed and precision. Even now, staring probable death in the face as the Beasts clamber up the outcropping, his composure is pictureesque to those few who might have the time and/or inclination to look up there (this would be exceedingly few).
     The Symbological incantation is made, the gesticulating component done with the hand inside the sack. It's a spell of significant enough yield that he risks scalding his hand as he leaps off the outcropping at the last possible moment.
     He drifts across the battlefield, above the snarls and the shouts and the cries and the clangs and the bangs. Nothing diverts his course. Nothing distracts him. He drifts through the turbulent air as the Metal Beasts leap across the outcropping in seeming vain as he stares dead ahead to the opening made.
     Even now, he appears unperturbed - the free hand over the lower half of his face aside.
 
     ...

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Hot Air Sack toward his party's challenge, Running the Gauntlet.
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

For those curious - Creepy did not give Mariel a dirty look.
 
Creepy was trying to beg for food.
 
He just looks like that.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

The Photosphere - it all lead up to this. Jacqueline was...nervous. Afraid, and understandably so. This would be the greatest fight of any of their lives up to this point. Mother's declaration had put their actions into perspective - she would consume Filgaia, as she had consumed countless other worlds. As she had consumed Hyades. As she would many others, if they failed here.

So, they couldn't fail.

No pressure.

And so that's how Jacqueline finds herself racing through an active battlefield within a crashed, and now majorly beaten-up alien spaceship, using rapid invocations of her earth pillar to propel her past any enemies in her way. She wasn't looking for a fight.

...Or, rather, she was - but only with Mother. Jacqueline would prefer to keep the casualities to a minimum on either side, Filgaian and Hyadean alike.

As it happens, Jacqueline would be the last one of the group inside - she had entered Photosphere once before through a hidden path...but that pathway lead into the Gutter, and away from her destination.

Away from the chamber where Mother awaited them. Hopefully Jacqueline will be able to hold out, she's starting to look a little tired. In mid-jump she draws out a potion, downing it quickly to give her a little more energy. There'll be some for the others when she finally rejoins them, too.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Rapid Remedy toward her party's challenge, Running the Gauntlet.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

This is it. The final battle that will decide the fate of Filgaia. Of course, it's only right to have been going all out. In the skies above the battlefield, the brave drifters taking the fight to the Photosphere would have seen quite an unusual sight. A great, divine tiger took to the air towards the middle of the battle, and turned the very sky against great throngs of winged demons and dragons.

Of course, it was not JUST an amazing sky-tiger, but in fact just Cyre H. Lorentz, Nahual and herbalist to the Caravan Kinship.

But now that the Earth Golem Asgard has torn a hole straight into the front door, it's time to rest his wings in anticipation of the fight still to come. Not that this is going to be all that much of a rest, necessarily. There's still probably all kinds of obstacles to overcome, but the big one is out of the way-- and their work has gone from impossible to merely improbable.

The shaman drops out of the sky, descending on a large cloth folded up to be less of a parachute and more of a glider. He sweeps down, darting across the battlefield to one location in particular--

"Catenna!" Cyre yells as he approaches, "Grab on to my hand! I'll give you a ride!"

No cats left behind...!

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Reverse Parachute toward his party's challenge, Running the Gauntlet.
=======================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs *>========================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Running the Gauntlet *>======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The entrance to the Photosphere has been carved, rather than created. A       
 massive blast from the Dragonship Destiny's cannon has tore a hole through    
 the outer shell of the Photosphere. The wall has been carved open, leading    
 to the tunnels on the inside. However, crossing that ground is no easy        
 thing: a veritable swarm of Metal Demons is clashing with representatives of  
 Althena's Guard, the surviving guard members of New Arctica, and some         
 Drifters.                                                                     
                                                                               
 The result is a fierce, violent melee outside of the Photosphere. Blasts of   
 energy from Metal Beasts, shots from gunsmoke ARMs, and sorcerous fire and    
 lightning criss-cross that space. To get inside the Photosphere, one must     
 run through the crossfire.                                                    
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow, Injure=============================================
==================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs - Round 1 *>===================
========================< Results - Running the Gauntlet >========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Hot Air Sack                        2   Agility Effects: Resilient            
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Rapid Remedy                        1   Agility Effects: Cleanse              
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ashton Anchors                      0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Bunny Shoes                         4   Agility Effects: None                 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kourin                              0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Trick Rope                          2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mariel                              0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Reverse Parachute                   1   Agility Effects: Rally and Quicken    
------------------------------------< Party >-------------------------------------
Leader: Catenna                     0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Injure(2)|Slow(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Quicken(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> Catenna has posed.

There aren't many occasions in which Catenna understands Ethius Hesiod's singlemindedness. Here, though, she does: Mother must be defeated here and now. And if nothing can be done for Riese....

...she leaves that for others. They will help her, she believes. Please, Guardians, let them help her.

As she spots friends closing in, she widens her eyes as she realizes just who one of them is. "Mariel!" she calls out, before turning to fire an arrow at a Metal Beast well-positioned to menace the tiny Elw.

It doesn't slow the Beast down. Catenna widens her eyes and reaches for a knife - before the Metal Beast is blown away by a gust of wind. "Cyre!" Catenna exclaims, reaching out to try and pick up Mariel as well even as she grabs ahold of Cyre's hand.

Across the field they sail...!

By the time they get there, Ethius has floated his way up towards the hole, there in time to meet Cyre, Catenna and Mariel. Kourin and Spirit slash their way through the crowd and clamber up into the opening in the side of the Photosphere. And soon enough, Ashton's reaching them as well, a flicker of short-range sorcery carrying him the last of the way.

"Is everyone alright?" Catenna asks, a bit breathless. "We need to take care of Mother."

As for Jay, she's last to come, and--

Suddenly, the world pulls out to a TV screen. The Video Game Master watches the screen go black as little Catenna and Jacqueline sprites appear on the monitor. A fluffy ball of white walks out to stand between them.

                         "Choose a scenario, cucco~!"

"Jay's definitely my waifu," opines the Video Game Master as he picks Jay first.

And that's how Jay plays out an entire scenario before rejoining the group in a surprisingly brief amount of time. "Jay!" Catenna exclaims, none the wiser.

DG: Mariel has drawn a new Challenge.
======================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs *>=======================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Metal Hound Pack *>=======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Four-legged, wolf-like Metal Beasts are among the most common of the beasts   
 that inhabit the Photosphere. These creatures, with wicked jaws and           
 sharpened claws, pose an extreme danger. They move quickly, and when you      
 round the next bend, you see a pack of them rushing towards you.              
                                                                               
 They charge, a wicked gleam in their eyes -- and then leap, jaws snapping     
 and trying to bite at your flesh.                                             
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken, Injure===========================================


<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel is, as it turns out, not very good at reading dragon expressions. (In all fairness, it doesn't come up much.)

Mariel makes it through the gauntlet without getting destroyed by Metal Demons or Beasts, albeit with some assistance. And as it turns out there's a convenient place to meet up: the side passage from the opening, which seems to be a promising way in that probably isn't as guarded as the main halls.

"I'm glad there are others here," Mariel says, and means it - she'd never get anywhere by herself inside the Photosphere. "Maybe we should stick together, though..." That with another look at Ashton, and then Ethius. "Is your jaw hurt?" she asks, because if it is she probably has a bandage for that.

It might have to wait, though, because the side passage has a corner and the corner has Metal Beasts. Mariel gets about one step toward Ethius before they round the bend, and with an audible 'yeep' she throws herself to the side, preferring to slam herself into the side wall than let one of the Metal Beasts pounce on her. She digs into her satchel, pulling out a bottle, which she hastily opens and scatters; invigorating fumes rise up from the droplets of whatever liquid was inside for the party to take advantage of.

DG: Mariel has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Metal Hound Pack.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"We absolutely should," Catenna answers Mariel with a brisk nod. "We need to support one another."

Quizzing Ashton about his dragons will have to wait. As they advance, the Metal Beasts appear, and Catenna gasps as Mariel throws herself out of combat range. Immediately she fires off another arrow, lobbing it towards one of the lupine metal pests.

A scowl etched across her face, the Moon Shaman darts away from one of the Beasts as they close. She trades her bow out for a knife and slashes at the second one. The Owlet flutters above the fray with a hoot.

Even as Mariel casts her fumes about, Catenna pivots and levels one hand, chanting a couple of power words in her own language.

The feeling is much clearer now that Catenna's wielding the Silver Medium - Celesdue's Arcana flows with the utmost ease. Gravity clutches around the wolf Metal Beasts as Catenna attempts to seize them and hurl them violently into a wall.

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Celesdue Medium toward her party's challenge, Metal Hound Pack.
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

Panting a little, Ashton arrives nearly last. He'd wanted to be there sooner, but you can only change your fate so much. He is, after all, wearing heavy armor and carrying around two dragons. That slows you down.
 
"Good here. It's going to take more than a short jog to stop--" Ashton's words come to a halt as the first set of guardian Beasts arrive in a pack. "Alright.. more than a short jog and a horde of ravenous Metal Beasts to stop me."
 
Metal sings as he draws his paired blades and steps forward to the fray. "You are correct, however, miss. Mother is the priority." A quick glance is given to the others in this ersatz team. Then his eyes set on the Beasts. "Remember - we don't need to defeat them. Just get through safely."
 
Then - he's in the midst of them. Slashing, stabbing, pausing occasionally to let one dragon or the other unleash a blast of fire or ice. This part - fighting feral monsters - is at least familiar.

DG: Ashton Anchors has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Metal Hound Pack.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Mid-drift, Ethius narrowly avoids being shot down by beam fire. Very narrowly - there's a tinge of pain going up his lower back. It's providence it didn't destroy his means of travel, because that would have been quite the drop. As he touches down, he starts hastily trying to assert himself ahead. The sort of assertion made that suggests he's ready to shove a number of people aside - callously.
 
     That was my one opportunity.
 
     Mariel, out of concern for the strange man, unwittingly intercepts his walking warpath and finds him taking momentary pause as that gaze of his seems to bear down upon... everything.
     "I am unharmed." He says, while still holding his mouth. It is mysterious - Mariel won't notice any blood. She can see short white beard hairs poking out the side of his obscuring hand. There really doesn't seem to be anything wrong with him, at all, but he's still holding a hand to his mouth. The end of the world is demonstrably the worst time imaginable to have an unexplainably weird character quirk. He blinks once and stares ahead as the suggestion is made to stay together--
 
     He notices it moments before the Metal Beasts pick up enough speed that their footsteps will announce their presence. He takes several steps away from the group - a very much unwise number of them, for their environs!! - to pull one of the satchels from his belt and by necessity remove his hand from his face. He's standing as such that no one can take a clean look at it. With the freed hand gesticulating, his chants lost to the ambient sounds of battle, he casts down a smoke cover with the same smooth, practiced routine he always does.
 
     Another complication.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Powder Grenade toward his party's challenge, Metal Hound Pack.
<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin produces a rimebomb as the foes approach--she'd arrived quickly, but as usual, remained silent. However, unlike her usual habit of tossing the ice-grenade, she simply *crushes it* in her left hand, using it to hasten the reforming of the giant icy claw she now wields alongside her blade. These beasts are in for a pretty scary fight--Kourin's claw is several times the size of a normal gauntleted hand, after all...

DG: Kourin has used her Tool Rimebomb toward her party's challenge, Metal Hound Pack.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"Don't worry about Ethius," Cyre says as he passes That Quirky Asshole in the hallway. "He's weird sometimes. I think he's worried that anything he says will be somehow recorded for posterity and end up destroying the world or something." There's a secret corkboard in the Carakin somewhere that has a whole list of Possible Reasons Ethius Is Weird. Cyre may have turned it into an impromptu betting pool. NOBODY WILL KNOW (until certain revelations are made).

But she does have a point. Ethius is holding his mouth for some Ethius-y reason. But there isn't much time to worry about what he may or may not be hiding this time.

There are monsters afoot.

But in this case, Cyre is... Not using his mediums? Instead, he's unslung that great big rifle Ida made months ago and begins laying down a harrowing field of cover-fire. "Trigon over there is right! We just need to break through. Don't worry about killing them unless they pursue!"

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Metal Hound Pack.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"Catenna! I'm glad to see you're all okay...I lost sight of you all with everything that happened outside." Jacqueline says in response, her expression brightening as she reunites with her friends. And one person she doesn't know!

"Ah...I'm afraid we've never met, sir." Jacqueline says, looking toward Ashton. It seems like he arrived just before she did. ...And then her eyes track to the dragons. Should she...correct herself? "...Um, sirs??"

...Sure, we'll go with that for now. This isn't really the time or place for introductions, though Jacqueline would say this is exactly the time - unity would be more important now than ever. Speaking of unity...Jacqueline's eyes stray toward Ethius for a brief moment. There's a hint of hard to read emotion before she looks away, drawing out a book as a group of Metal Beasts approach them.

"I agree - they're only here to delay us." She says, then looks something up in her book. As she does so, she can feel Mariel's mixture wafting over her - its effects invigorating her alongside her own potion from earlier. She certainly needed it, after everything.

"These are quadripedal Metal Beasts - their claws are dangerous, but its the jaws you have to look out for. Absolutely do not get caught by them. As with most Metal creatures their primary weakness is Sorcery, but their joints are vulnerable, too." Jacqueline says. As she reads she casts out her right hand. Tendrils of earth tear out of the Photosphere's metal floor and walls, grasping for Metal Beasts and attempting to immobilize them.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool The Lifeweaver's Codex toward her party's challenge, Metal Hound Pack.
======================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs *>=======================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Metal Hound Pack *>=======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Four-legged, wolf-like Metal Beasts are among the most common of the beasts   
 that inhabit the Photosphere. These creatures, with wicked jaws and           
 sharpened claws, pose an extreme danger. They move quickly, and when you      
 round the next bend, you see a pack of them rushing towards you.              
                                                                               
 They charge, a wicked gleam in their eyes -- and then leap, jaws snapping     
 and trying to bite at your flesh.                                             
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken, Injure===========================================
=================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs - Round 2 *>==================
=========================< Results - Metal Hound Pack >=========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Celesdue Medium                     2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Powder Grenade                      3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
The Lifeweaver's Codex              2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ashton Anchors                      0 --(2)--> 2                   Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kourin                              0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Rimebomb                            3   Combat  Effects: Rally                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mariel                              0 --(2)--> 2                   Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     0 --(2)--> 2                   Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Catenna                     20 --(20)--> 40                Pass
Conditions: Injure(2)|Weaken(2)
Effects: Embolden(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> Mariel has posed.

If Ethius isn't hurt, Mariel won't press - but she still thinks he's hiding something. (Well, no. She *knows* he's hiding something. She just doesn't think most of it is relevant right now.) Similarly, she thinks Ashton must be hiding something, but that's for completely different reasons - nobody normal has heads like that.

And if she's being honest, there are more pressing matters to worry about. Like Metal Beasts!

Mariel really doesn't know how to fight. She defends herself mostly by hunkering down behind other people and pulling out several different items. A Heal Berry, for instance. She never draws a weapon, though she does shove one away from her with the weight of her satchel once, which may be as close as she's going to come.

Fortunately, other people do. Catenna launches several at a wall before Ashton finishes them off; Ethius raises a smoke cloud and Kourin summons ice; Cyre uses a rifle while Jacqueline uses the ground itself, even if it doesn't actually come from the ground.

Eventually, Mariel peeks around her current combat buddy (Jacqueline). "...are they gone?" For the moment, the answer appears to be 'yes', but it might be a good idea to move along quickly.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has drawn a new Challenge.
==========================================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs *>===========================================
=========================================<* CHALLENGE - Friendly Fire Isn't *>==========================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 The next room is L-shaped. You hear some commotion ahead, as a few shouts     
 reach your ears:                                                              
 "More of them are coming!"                                                    
 "Damn, damn... we have to take them out!"                                     
 "On it!"                                                                      
                                                                               
 This is when you find a hail of gunsmoke ARMs, Symbology's tell-tale          
 elemental blasts, and the periodic Demon Fang shooting from around the        
 corner, trying to hold you back. It seems another group of Drifters, having   
 encountered some trouble inside this place, have decided to open fire and     
 assume you must be some of the Metal Demons or Metal Beasts underneath        
 Mother's command. Somehow, you have to convince them otherwise.               
                                                                               
 (NOTE: At your discretion, you can assume that the Drifters firing on you     
 unknowingly include another of your alts, in a cameo appearance!)             
=Dungeon Conditions: Exhaust, Reckless========================================
<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

"Trigon?" Kourin asks quietly.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"Double Dragon," Cyre says. "I don't actually know his name."

<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

"Oh." Kourin nods. "That Trigon."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    The Destiny may have opened a hole into the Photosphere, but the ensuing warfare is ensuring it's not the only way people are filtering in. The labyrinthian metal structure and its immense dangers ensure different teams are taking entirely different routes further in. It's inevitable, then, that some will criss-cross.
     Ethius breaks ahead of the group, already holding an activated Spectral Lens. Its soft blue light fills the space, casting the tiniest warmth in a space where there is none to speak of. That there is warmth to be felt speaks to the unwelcome environs here - it's cold.
     "More of them are coming?! Whoa."
     "Damn, damn... we have to take them out!"
     "Yuuuuuup."
     There is a fourth shadow present but they're not saying anything.
     Ethius stows away the Spectral Lens just as everyone approaches. He doesn't say so much, but he doesn't need to say anything - that he tries to take a step forward means that this is the right way.
     "Dragons!" Shouts someone.
     "Yuuuuuuuuuuup."
     There is an unspoken sense of grumpiness.
     Moments later, just around the bend, four Drifters - one guy smiling widely, a rotund fellow, a gazelle Beastwoman, and a tall grumpy guy (maybe a bat Beastman? maybe?) get fighting. The first two with indistinct but some very strange-looking ARMs, the gazelle Beastwoman waving around a strange stick and hurling Air Slashes, and that last one's casting.
     Those four look kind of familiar, maybe?
     "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH"
     "YEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH"
     "Yuuuuuuuup."
     "..."
     Ethius starts to wiggle his fingers. That's not going to end well unless someone steps in to defuse it.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Spectral Lens toward his party's challenge, Friendly Fire Isn't.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"Jay," Catenna says with a smile of relief. "Yes... I'm glad you're safe. We have to hurry... we must stop Mother before it's too late."

Ashton gets a curious look now that she has a moment to look at him; she remembers delving into Linga with him. "I'm glad you are still well."

Before she can start up a conversation, though, someone starts shooting at them. With a gasp, Catenna recoils back behind the wall as a few blasts of gunfire and magic shred past her and slam into the wall. "Those are other Drifters," she breathes, pressing a hand to her chest, her eyes a little wide with surprise. "They must think we're Hyadeans. That was close...."

From Catenna's shoulder, Saarda-Shanta leans in a little bit. <We need them,> she points out. <Let me try something.>

"What do you mean," Catenna begins to ask before the Owlet hops on down.

The four Drifter around the bend will find something unlikely appearing. Toddling out from around the corner is something that cannot possibly be a Metal Beast.

It is a soft white Owlet. The bird looks at them, cocks her head, then says something.

"Hooh."

You wouldn't shoot an owlet, would you, Gazelle Lady?

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Saarda-Shanta toward her party's challenge, Friendly Fire Isn't.
<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

"Perhaps if we make no offensive action," Kourin suggests calmly, eyeing Ethius in particular. Spirit barks, once. Maybe he's seeing if there's any doggo with the others? Maybe they'll wonder if a doggo would hang around with metal demons?

Maybe Spirit's a secret wits tool? He follows after the Owlet, curiously, tail wagging patiently.

DG: Kourin has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Friendly Fire Isn't.
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

It's a tough fight - and to be fair, Ashton's trying to do more than he should. Looking around the crew, several of them aren't exactly front line combat sorts.
 
As a result, he's a bit beaten up in the process of it all. It's nothing critical - but his robe is torn in a few spots, armor is nicked and there's a little bit of blood. He'll live, but that hurt.
 
And there's a lot more and a lot worse ahead for them. Pausing for a moment, he braces against a wall. "Ashton Anchors. And my companions are Creepy and Weepy." Well, if they're going to bring it up... "This may not be the best time for introductions, however. We can save that for after we're in a safer place?"
 
They enter the next room. Ashton smiles and walks forward to check the corner. "This actually seems like a perfect chance for a quick breather and--" Wait, did someone just shout the word 'dragons'? Wait wait, what do they mean 'take them out'?
 
Oh, that barrage of incoming fire is what they meant.
 
Ashton yelps loudly in surprise, saved only by quickly tracing a sorcerous ice shield in front of himself to intercept the worst of the ARMfire.
 
Hearing Kourin's suggestion, he doesn't go on the offensive. But he does seem limited to shouting. "HOLD YOUR FIRE!" This is not Ashton's strong area.

DG: Ashton Anchors has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Friendly Fire Isn't.
<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

"Kourin Icehand," Kourin returns the introduction quietly while watching Spirit carefully.

<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel is, as previously established, not good at fighting. She doesn't like it; she avoided doing it for most of her life. But she has gotten pretty good at not fighting over the years.

"Wait!"

Mariel rushes out in front of the group, spreading her arms wide; her ears flop as she turns her head quickly left and right to look amongst the group. The satchel she wears slung over her shoulder threatens to slide off. "We're not Metal Demons! We're Drifters! I'm - " Mariel's voice catches for a moment as if she reconsidered yelling something out; she switches to: "An herbalist - I'm a doctor, Mariel... Are you hurt? We can treat you before you continue." She doesn't look much like a doctor, given she seems to be about fourteen, but she certainly doesn't look like a Metal Demon either.

Also, she holds up what is clearly a Heal Berry. She has a lot of those.

DG: Mariel has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Friendly Fire Isn't.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"For now, at least, but there's no telling when more might show up... I'd suggest staying close." Jacqueline recommends, looking back at Mariel. Jacqueline is understandably concerned for her, but she's not about to tell her to go back. If Mariel wanted to be here, Jacqueline wouldn't stop her - she trusted her well enough.

While there may not be any Metal Beasts around, that is not to say that they are entirely out of danger...except this time, the threat is not another demon at all.

"Drifters?" Jacqueline repeats, looking at Catenna. She sighs, then, shaking her head. "Infighting is the last thing we need..."

Trigo- er, rather, Ashton, seems to be the...source of the dispute. Jacqueline sends Ashton an apologetic look before stepping out into the open, her hands raised in a sign of surrender. Saarda-Shanta is there, too, and how could you feel aggression while looking at an adorable little owlet?

"Please, we are not your enemy! I'm Jacqueline Barber, of the Caravan Kinship...we're here to help. Please, lower your weapons." Mariel offers to treat them, and Jacqueline nods. "Yes, and I can offer you some curatives to take on your way."

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Friendly Fire Isn't.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

The Owlet promptly toddles over to Mariel, hops a couple of times and springs her way up to the little herbalist's head, perching on top of her hat.

You wouldn't shoot a short herbalist and a little white owl, would you?

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"Cyre Lorentz. Nice to meet you... And your dragon friends," Clearly this Ashton guy is some kind of weird beastman variant. That just means they need to stick together. Animal-y buddies forever!! Though Cyre honestly has no idea how he'd ever deal with three brains at once. That seems like it'd get complicated quick.

Of course, the introductions are interrupted when a bullet suddenly screams through the air and almost decapitates one of Ashton's heads. "Ugh, this is the problem with these tight corridors. With the lighting the way it is, it's impossible to tell what's what. Hold on..."

Cyre rummages around in his robes and eventually finds what he's looking for. While he can't really afford to spend much energy on the flashy stuff, this much... This much should be doable.

And so Cyre proves that abusing Guardian arcana is a family tradition when he conjures a series of bright, colorful spheres to illuminate the area. Solais Emsu probably won't mind much, right? Right??

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Friendly Fire Isn't.
==========================================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs *>===========================================
=========================================<* CHALLENGE - Friendly Fire Isn't *>==========================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 The next room is L-shaped. You hear some commotion ahead, as a few shouts     
 reach your ears:                                                              
 "More of them are coming!"                                                    
 "Damn, damn... we have to take them out!"                                     
 "On it!"                                                                      
                                                                               
 This is when you find a hail of gunsmoke ARMs, Symbology's tell-tale          
 elemental blasts, and the periodic Demon Fang shooting from around the        
 corner, trying to hold you back. It seems another group of Drifters, having   
 encountered some trouble inside this place, have decided to open fire and     
 assume you must be some of the Metal Demons or Metal Beasts underneath        
 Mother's command. Somehow, you have to convince them otherwise.               
                                                                               
 (NOTE: At your discretion, you can assume that the Drifters firing on you     
 unknowingly include another of your alts, in a cameo appearance!)             
=Dungeon Conditions: Exhaust, Reckless========================================
=====================================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs - Round 3 *>======================================
===========================================< Results - Friendly Fire Isn't >============================================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Saarda-Shanta                       1   Wits    Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Spectral Lens                       2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   0 --(15)--> 15                 Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ashton Anchors                      2 --(0)--> 2                   Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kourin                              0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mariel                              2 --(0)--> 2                   Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     2 --(0)--> 2                   Pass
Investig
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.
[OOC] Mariel says, "I was going to use my tool but I couldn't think of how to throw my book at them"
[OOC] Jacqueline Barber says, "...I haven't been doing too well on Wits rolls lately..."
[OOC] Jacqueline Barber clearly must look the most intimidating.
[OOC] Mariel says, "I look like an adorable mascot, nobody can shoot me"
[OOC] Mariel says, "Seriously how could you hurt this adorable face"
[OOC] Mariel says, "https://i.imgur.com/eQfEtR9.png"
[OOC] Catenna says, "Owlet hoots"
[OOC] Jacqueline Barber says, "Aww. So precious."
[OOC] Catenna says, "nnnn such a precious pumpkin"
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Saarda-Shanta walks on in - a soft, white, cute Owlet, followed by someone arguably just as harmless-looking as they are accompanied by greetings and offerings of medicine.
     The gazelle Beastwoman looks kind of disturbed, looking into the Owlet's eyes. Like their understanding of a specific turn of phrase has just blown their mind open. Like they can comprehend new levels of cute-eyeness when Spirit joins the friendly fluffy ambassador parade as Solais Emsu's light dawns upon them.
     "I don't know, Metal Beasts come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and," the portly guy gets long-winded, "it kinda stands to form maybe that they'd attack like that?"
     "Well, he's already holding his fire!" The smiley guy - turns out he's missing some teeth - points towards the surly silent guy who is indeed, literally, holding fire as Ashton yells for such. This looks so painful that the surly one's frown is slowly turning into a grimace.
     "So yes! After he's done putting the fire down." Smiley guy gives the big dumb thumbs up.
     "Caravan Kinship? Ohhh, hey, sweet, we gotta put in our orders while we're here, you see--"
     "No." Ethius remarks as he walks ahead, still covering his face. "See to their aid quickly."
     At least that defuses the situation, as Ethius stands ahead on the other side of the L-shaped room to serve as a look-out for trouble.
 
     Too many variables.
[OOC] Ethius Hesiod says, "bah"
[OOC] Ethius Hesiod says, "oh well it can stand"
[OOC] Ethius Hesiod says, "who wants next?"
[OOC] Cyre H. Lorentz says, "HOT PINK"
[OOC] Cyre H. Lorentz says, "Should be Ethius' color"

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has drawn a new Challenge.
=====================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs *>======================
=====================================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs - Round 3 *>======================================
==================<* CHALLENGE - Malfunctioning Elevator *>===================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Being a sphere, the Photosphere requires navigating the Y-axis, as well as    
 the X-axis. When you enter this elevator and press the button, it rises       
 upward. Then it /jerks/, slamming upward, before it begins to plummet         
 downward in a sharp descent. Metal screeches upon metal in the elevator       
 shaft outside, and you realize that this elevator is direly out of control.   
 Worse, there are no obvious controls beyond the buttons -- and you feel       
 reasonably certain the "Call Help" button will go unheeded.                   
                                                                               
 Somehow, you need to find a way to stop the elevator, before it slams down    
 into the bottom of the floor below -- and costs you either precious time or   
 precious life. Of course, if you can manipulate the elevator just so, you     
 may be able to skip past a few obstacles, too...                              
=Dungeon Conditions: Madness, Secret==========================================
[OOC] Mariel says, "dare you to push the Call Help button anyway"
[OOC] Cyre H. Lorentz says, "do it"
[OOC] Jacqueline Barber says, "Hey, for all we know we might get some disgruntled Metal Demon IT worker who decides to
help us out just for kicks."
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"Jeez, Eth. There's always time for a sale, you know?" At the very least, he could have allowed them to offload some surplus healing equipment. It looks like that group will probably need it a little more than they will. But then, maybe not. The CaraKin is fixing to go fight the final boss and planetary scourge known as the Mother, so they might need all the healing items they can get.

But then, it's also possible that this other ragtag group might find an ENGINE ROOM or COMPUTER SERVER something equally important to their progress through the Photosphere. So...

Well, it's a hard question to answer.

One way or another though, they do need to get to where they're going. As the party turns another corner down an unusually quiet corridor, they find their way to... Well, it's definitely an elevator, that's for sure! It even has a control console! Unfortunately, all the characters are in Hyadesian. "We should probably figure out how this thing works, get it moving. Maybe we can get to the Mother a little faster."

Or, that's what WOULD have happened, if this were any other old ruin. But this is the Photosphere. And like everything else to do with the Metal Demons, the Photosphere's elevators are HARDCORE.

As soon as the party enters, the doors hiss shut and something goes *click.*

"Hey," Cyre frowns, "Did anyone just hear something go click--"

Suddenly, as if propelled by a series of high-power maglevs, the lift shoots straight up. Cyre hisses a curse as he's slammed down into the floor of the strange hemispherical chamber. It's only because he manages to get his arms around the main console that he doesn't immediately go flying when the thing suddenly pivots at ninety degrees and goes shooting off in a totall different direction.

Someone better tell him what these buttons do before this crazy thing kills everyone!

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Malfunctioning Elevator.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

The Owlet flutters off of Mariel's head and resumes her spot atop Catenna's shoulder.

Falling in behind Cyre, Catenna takes off after him, her boots clicking against the tile with the quickness of her step. As they reach the elevator, she frowns as she realizes that all the controls are in a language she doesn't understand.

"We must hurry. Surely there is a button for up--"

Nope. The elevator takes off. Catenna yelps as she's slammed back against the wall of the elevator. She grits her teeth as she grabs ahold of the edge of the panel to try and keep from being pasted into the floor.

Until it changes direction again. With a gasp, she's hurled off the floor and hits the ceiling. Wincing, she strains against the pressure of G--

<We are falling,> Saarda-Shanta points out perfectly calmly, fluttering to perch upside-down on the ceiling.

"I know!" Catenna groans as she fights to try and pry herself off the ceiling.

<No you don't,> Saarda-Shanta points out. <Catenna, we are falling.>

The Moon Shaman - or is she High Priestess now? That's a bit of a mind bomb - pauses as another mind bomb hits her. She stares at the Owlet a moment.

Understanding breaks through her mind like a crashing wave, and she hunches over her Medium and begins to chant. Gravity builds and swells as she gathers as much power as she can. The elevator shrieks against its guiderails as Catenna fights as hard as she can to slow it down by reversing the pull of gravity on it altogether.

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Saarda-Shanta toward her party's challenge, Malfunctioning Elevator.
<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin seems to panic as the elevator starts dropping. Then she drops back into her more competent, silent self--and uses ice to try to freeze the elevator's workings, hopefully holding it in place for long enough to allow Catenna's magic to take hold...

DG: Kourin has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Malfunctioning Elevator.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline begins to rummage through her bag for goods to hand out, but Ethius shuts her down quickly. She shoots him a look...but relents, instead helping Mariel provide treatment quickly before they move on, further into the Photosphere.

And that's where they find...an elevator! It's a little cramped.

"Hopefully it still works...with the damage its sustained, a lot of the machinery seems to be going haywire." Jacqueline murmurs. She can't help but feel as if she might have cursed them all when they hear a sudden click and the elevtor rockets upward - and if that's not bad enough, soon it starts going down. Jacqueline winces and braces herself, looking up at the keypad.

Catenna and Kourin attempt to bring it to a stop with sorcery, while Jacqueline...presses a button that she absolutely hopes is an emergency stop. It might be the help button, or it might be bring an army of Metal Demons right to them.

She couldn't know for sure, but right now they had to do something.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Malfunctioning Elevator.
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

That the incoming attacks slack off and stop is a blessing. As they cease, Ashton lets out a deep sigh of relief.
 
It could have been a lot worse. Last time this happened, Ashton got a fair bit beat up AND lost a round of rock-paper-scissors to Fei.
 
In the moments between crisis situations, Ashton takes a moment to shoot a smile at Catenna. "It's good to see you're well, too. Things have been rather.. harried for everyone lately. Hopefully we'll be back to calmer moments of simple ruins and wandering monsters soon, eh?"
 
Then - THE ELEVATOR. Ashton's actually a little confused by it to start, looking closely at the buttons. But before he can do something, everything goes... -sideways-.
 
To his credit, Ashton doesn't scream in fear as they enter freefall. He even manages to act! Both blades jam into the small maitenence access hatch on the cieling - mechanic access is universal - and leaps up to it.
 
He does not jump out, however. No - he braces himself against the gap. "Oh, is this going to hurt.."
 
From his shoulders, Creepy and Weepy lash out. Two fierce iron-tearing sets of dragon jaws clamp onto the rails, attempting to slow the fall to a more controllable state.

DG: Ashton Anchors has used his Tool Dragon Assistance toward his party's challenge, Malfunctioning Elevator.
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel is indeed going to provide some medical tinctures, herbs, and berries. She cannot be stopped. Fortunately, she can also do that quickly before scooting off with the party, because she doesn't want to be left alone and there aren't any injuries here that require her to take a long time to treat.

"I don't know if this is a good idea," Mariel says, as they enter the elevator. But how else will they get around? She hasn't seen any stairs since she came in here. She looks at the Hyadean buttons with distaste.

Oh look. It *wasn't* a good idea.

Mariel wedges herself in the corner so she doesn't slip as the elevator starts to fall. She reaches into her satchel and pulls out a book - an old, old book, bound in some kind of material that still looks new even though the pages are yellowing. She flips it open to a page with...

Well, it has more writing on it Cyre can't read, but only part of it is Hyadean. The rest of it is annotated in some weird shorthand that looks sort of but not quite like Baskar formal writing; he gets the idea that he might be able to read part of it if he just stared at it long enough. It's Elw, but not quite the Elw engraved in their ruins; simpler, less ornate Elw written casually.

Mariel reads it fluently, looking between it and the elevator buttons. She never learned Hyadean (how would she?) but she had some guesses, way back when, and after a few moments of looking between them she reaches forward and mashes one of the buttons as hard as she can. She thinks it is the brake. Probably. Maybe?

DG: Mariel has used her Tool Millennium Diary toward her party's challenge, Malfunctioning Elevator.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Ethius doesn't look anyone in the eyes as he continues down along the path to the elevator. He already has the Spectral Lens back in hand. There is no choice but to take the elevator ahead, for what little time they all have in which to mount their attack on Mother.
     "Don't l--" Don't l-word what? It's too late, as the elevator goes haywire. Ethius crouches down as G-forces start to have their way with the lot of them. It's curious - for all the jostling, Ethius seems to take the 'landing' (i.e. hitting the ceiling) reasonably well. No yelp of surprise, no concussing himself (...yet). He blankly stares out to the passing scenery. It is just a blur of colors.
 
     Everything keeps escaping my grasp.
 
     Calmly(?), Ethius turns and flutters the fingers of the hand against his mouth juuuust well enough he can cast the electrical spell to activate the Spectral Lens. He could feasibly call what does what as he holds it to his face - impeccable control and composure for what he is being subject to, as he holds it up while Mariel goes to work with the buttons.
 
     ...Including my own understanding.
[OOC] Ethius Hesiod says, "huh, weird display discrepencies even when typing the same color prompt, hmm."
[OOC] Ethius Hesiod says, "oh well"

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Spectral Lens toward his party's challenge, Malfunctioning Elevator.
[OOC] Cyre H. Lorentz says, "Your new color"
[OOC] Cyre H. Lorentz says, "Is hot pink"
=====================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs *>======================
=====================================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs - Round 3 *>======================================
==================<* CHALLENGE - Malfunctioning Elevator *>===================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Being a sphere, the Photosphere requires navigating the Y-axis, as well as    
 the X-axis. When you enter this elevator and press the button, it rises       
 upward. Then it /jerks/, slamming upward, before it begins to plummet         
 downward in a sharp descent. Metal screeches upon metal in the elevator       
 shaft outside, and you realize that this elevator is direly out of control.   
 Worse, there are no obvious controls beyond the buttons -- and you feel       
 reasonably certain the "Call Help" button will go unheeded.                   
                                                                               
 Somehow, you need to find a way to stop the elevator, before it slams down    
 into the bottom of the floor below -- and costs you either precious time or   
 precious life. Of course, if you can manipulate the elevator just so, you     
 may be able to skip past a few obstacles, too...                              
=Dungeon Conditions: Madness, Secret==========================================
================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs - Round 4 *>=================
=====================================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs - Round 3 *>======================================
====================< Results - Malfunctioning Elevator >=====================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             5 --(5)--> 10                  Fail
Saarda-Shanta                       1   Wits    Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Spectral Lens                       2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   15 --(0)--> 15                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ashton Anchors                      2 --(0)--> 2                   Pass
Dragon Assistance                   3   Wits    Effects: Rally                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kourin                              0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mariel                              2 --(5)--> 7                   Fail
Millennium Diary                    2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     2 --(5)--> 7                   Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Catenna                     60 --(20)--> 80                Pass
Conditions: Madness|Reckless(1)|Secret(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Enlighten(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.

Who knows where this runaway elevator might have gone if it wasn't for the LAWS OF PHYSICS getting in the way? Of course, Catenna's gravitic manipulation wouldn't have been enough on its own. There's simply too much momentum to stop right away. That's where the others come in. Frost magic chills the elevator's rails, jagged crystals grinding and smashing against the mechanisms that propel it forward. Ashton's twin dragon pals chomp down on the frozen rails, slowing the elevator further while also earning themselves one hell of a double brainfreeze.

With their transit being slowed to more reasonable (though still frankly unsafe) velocities, Mariel is able to find that... Actually, this Hyadean is maybe a little more technical than she had expected. It takes some time to figure out what the control panel is actually saying, but with Jay hammering at the buttons and clearly finding the ones that definitely won't work and Ethius taking a more first-principles approach to the computer systems, it isn't long before the answer reveals itself.

...And so Jay pushes the final button...

And the elevator jerks one last time before grinding slowly to a halt. Cyre groans, pushing himself up off the floor. He looks... A little bit nauseous. Who can blame him, honestly? The door chimes with a cheerful *ding and slides open with a hydraulic hiss, to reveal...!

DG: Catenna has drawn a new Challenge.
=======================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs *>========================
====================<* CHALLENGE - Golem Lolithia - Phase 1 *>====================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 Deep within the Photosphere, Mother has a sentinel.                           
                                                                               
 A cavernous chamber stretches out, providing a final choke point before the   
 control center of the Photosphere can be reached. Filling the chamber is the  
 same Golem stolen by the Metal Demons during the Battle of Adlehyde:          
 Lolithia. This dark blue, armored Golem towers over the room and the many     
 Drifters engaging it in combat. Indeed, as you enter the room, the sound of   
 battle greets you: blasts of energy, gunshots, and flashes of swords all      
 meet the mighty armor of the Elw Golem.                                       
                                                                               
 The Golem's eyes flash with golden light. Then, it rears back a huge claw,    
 and slams it down into the ground. A moment later, blasts of energy come      
 raining down... and the battle is joined!                                     
                                                                               
 (NOTE: This card assumes that all of the people running the Dig, and          
 possibly a few named NPCs, are in a massive brawl against a Gear-sized        
 enemy. If you pass this card, you will have Quick and Shield for the final    
 battles. If you fail, you will have Slow and Break.)                          
=Dungeon Conditions: Suffer, Exhaust==========================================
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"Ow," Catenna says as she picks herself up from the bottom of the elevator with some difficulty.

Polite as a mindless mechanical system can be, the elevator door dings at the group and slides open, to reveal....

...a laser blast that's ripping towards the elevator.

"WHAT," Catenna shouts.

Thankfully, someone's aim is off. The blast hits the wall above the door, and it gives everyone a second to scramble out amid a spray of debris and flaming metal. Shards of it pepper Catenna as she staggers into the open, scrambling to try and find something even slightly resembling cover.

Not that there's moch cover against a Golem the size of the Lolithia. Spotting the Moon Shaman first, it reaches out to slam a massive claw into the ground, missing her just narrowly. With a gasp, Catenna rolls out of the way by a hair, then backs up as fast as she can even as the monstrosity opens fire again, filling the room with the thunder and flare of energy blasts.

"So that's what they did with it," she breathes as she scrambles for her Medium. Clutching the silver tablet in one hand, she clenches her jaw and begins to focus.

"We've come too far," Catenna whispers as she begins to pull a spell together. "We've come too far to be stopped by this. Not now." Her voice trails off into low, echoing chanting as she gathers energy.

Catenna's no Gear, but the bigger they are, the better gravity works. The Lolithia shudders and creaks as gravity seizes it, fighting to anchor it momentarily in place....

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Celesdue Medium toward her party's challenge, Golem Lolithia - Phase 1.
<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin responds to this in the most unexpected possible way.

She quips.

"It seems our enemies prepared a warm welcome for us. Shall we...cool it off?"

With her rimebomb crushed in her left hand again, the ice claw forms instantly and then she and Spirit are off, though Kourin uses the ice claw more to hurl gigantic, Artillery-size ice lances at the Gear rather than to engage it in melee.

She's full of surprises today!

Please note that she has no idea that she quipped and just thinks it was a normal thing to say.

DG: Kourin has used her Tool Rimebomb toward her party's challenge, Golem Lolithia - Phase 1.
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

As the party emerges from the elevator, there is a conversation going.
 
"Yes, I know you don't like it cold. I didn't know she was going to do that!" Ashton is arguing with his red-head dragon. Both heads are currently craned around in front, looking at him.
 
No words are said back, but he wheels and looks over to the blue. "Don't you laugh about this! You know full well that if it were the other way around, Weepy, that you'd be complaining just as much!" The blue dragon just.. looks at Ashton. "Well yes, but that's besides the point!"
 
This will continue for quite a while if not interrupted.
 
Oh look, an interruption.
 
In the first moments, Ashton scrambles to cover behind a rock. Not the most heroic thing, but it allows him to get a view on the situation. That makes him frown. Then there's another brief conversation as he looks to his two cohorts. "Shall we?" And the dragonheads nod.
 
Coming out from behind the rock, Ashton advances towards the huge golem. One would think he's a fool to engage it in melee. And one would be right. And he's not.
 
A short distance back, the swordsman drops to a knee to brace himself. Under that mop of dark hair, his eyes change color - one to blue, the other to red. And the dragons on his back
 
G R O W
 
In moments, the two dragons dwarf the body that they're latched to, necks stretching long and heads once more the size of a true dragon's. Then - both unleash a torrent of flame and frost at the golem, blasting it with their full force.

DG: Ashton Anchors has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Golem Lolithia - Phase 1.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

The door chimes with a cheerful *ding and slides open with a hydraulic hiss, to reveal...!

Oh. Well, that's a giant, angry golem, isn't it? Jacqueline quickly, instinctively, presses the 'down' button, hoping for the door to shut and for it to take them to a floor that hopefully isn't guarded by...well.

One of the ancient Elw Golems revived and wanting to destroy them.

Unfortunately, the elevator refuses to work any further...and soon enough a massive burst of energy tears through it, rendering it inoperable.

There was no turning back now. Jacqueline takes a deep breath...and nods.

"...Right. You're right." She says, agreeing with Catenna. She moves quickly, reaching into her bags once more for the Codex and paging through it. But...

"There...really isn't much information I can offer for an enemy like this! Just...watch its eyes carefully! When they begin to flash, it's about to attack...its attack power is overwhelming, so try to dodge rather than hoping you can take it directly!" Jacqueline shouts. And then, she stows the book away, taking a deep breath.

It would mean using up some valuable energy, but...

With a gesture of her left hand, energy tears at the floor beneath Lolithia's feet, assaulting the golem and sending debris flying upward. With a gesture of her right, lightning begins to fall, striking Golem and debris alike. The metal debris melts from the sheer heat, falling toward Lolithia in a molten rain.

It would not be enough to destroy the Golem - not nearly enough. But it may be enough to buy them some time.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool The Lifeweaver's Codex toward her party's challenge, Golem Lolithia - Phase 1.
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Unfortunately, the aim was not quite as off as first thought: Mariel has part of the ceiling fall on her as she exits the elevator, having had to do it last since she had wedged herself in the back corner to avoid falling in the first place.

Fortunately, it doesn't seem to matter; there's a strange stutter in time, and Mariel is climbing on top of the wreckage, which appears to have landed just behind her. Credit her 'lucky charm'; she shoves the little etched coin back in her pocket afterwards, no more hurt than when she entered the elevator.

Then Mariel sees what she's up against, and wishes she was right back in there.

"Lolithia..." The Inhibitor Golem, the Frost Disaster; Mariel remembers it from the first war, and from Adlehyde, and seeing it on the wrong side is terrifying given what it can do. To see something of the Elw under the control of Mother... she quails, pressing herself back against the wall.

But everyone else is fighting...

Mariel screws up her courage. It takes a couple attempts. Then she raises her voice. "Lolithia can freeze you," she calls. "It has a magnetic molecular arrestor. But it doesn't handle fire well! Don't use ice - use fire, if you can!" Mariel is more concerned about surviving - and making sure everyone else survives - than keeping her secret. Now, it may be too late to hide, if the Metal Demons see her.

That's scary, too. But it's something she can handle.

Mariel reaches into her bag. She pulls out a blue liquid in a very heavily stoppered bottle; it's so tightly sealed that it takes her almost five seconds to get it over. Rather than use the liquid on anyone else, she pours it into her cupped hands, a faint purple-pink shimmer dancing over the liquid, and then she raises them, scattering droplets in all directions.

Pink sparks like fireflies raise from her hands, along with the liquid. But more than that - there's a spiritual sense of energy; a presence like Mariel rarely shows, preferring to be quiet and unassuming. It feels right, and healthy - and the mystic sparks recover energy, even knitting wounds. If the Metal Demons didn't see her before, well, they will now.

DG: Mariel has used her Tool Gimel Coin toward her party's challenge, Golem Lolithia - Phase 1.
=======================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs *>========================
====================<* CHALLENGE - Golem Lolithia - Phase 1 *>====================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 Deep within the Photosphere, Mother has a sentinel.                           
                                                                               
 A cavernous chamber stretches out, providing a final choke point before the   
 control center of the Photosphere can be reached. Filling the chamber is the  
 same Golem stolen by the Metal Demons during the Battle of Adlehyde:          
 Lolithia. This dark blue, armored Golem towers over the room and the many     
 Drifters engaging it in combat. Indeed, as you enter the room, the sound of   
 battle greets you: blasts of energy, gunshots, and flashes of swords all      
 meet the mighty armor of the Elw Golem.                                       
                                                                               
 The Golem's eyes flash with golden light. Then, it rears back a huge claw,    
 and slams it down into the ground. A moment later, blasts of energy come      
 raining down... and the battle is joined!                                     
                                                                               
 (NOTE: This card assumes that all of the people running the Dig, and          
 possibly a few named NPCs, are in a massive brawl against a Gear-sized        
 enemy. If you pass this card, you will have Quick and Shield for the final    
 battles. If you fail, you will have Slow and Break.)                          
=Dungeon Conditions: Suffer, Exhaust==========================================
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Well.

That certainly explains a few things.

As the corrupted Ice Golem unleashes its fully fury upon the world's most polite homicidal elevator, Cyre whispers a curse and braces for impact... Only to discover that maybe Lolithia's aim is off. Or maybe, just maybe, the Golem is still trying to execute its original programming.

In either case, what stands before them now is nothing less than a mechanical god. A lesser one, perhaps, in comparison to what assuredly waits beyond this monster, but... The golems were created for a reason. They are weapons of war, produced by some of the most advanced science Filgaia has ever witnessed.

What could they possibly do against something like this?

"Ethius!" Cyre yells, his hand wrapping around the cool metal of the Silver Medium. "You up for lighting this one up like you did the last one? I'll give you a hand, just tell me when...!"

For now, Cyre is going to spend most of his effort channeling the winds to deflect great gouts of killing frost and desperately fighting back against Lolithia's terrible, world-chilling might. Wind might not be able to do much against something that can drop temperatures to near zero or beyond, but... Well, if it can't, then high intensity lasers might just be enough to make up for it!

But then--

Cyre stares at Mariel for a moment longer than he maybe aught. "...Right. Okay. We're really going to need to have a talk later, Mari."

But for now, to the fight!!

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Golem Lolithia - Phase 1.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Ethius' landing against the bottom of the elevator floor is much smoother than it has any right to be, for how much anatomical real estate is being taken up by 'covering his face for some reason' and 'holding something in the other hand,' landing and rolling in such a way that much of the imapct is lessened.
     He gives a sharp gaze as he catches sight of the oncoming laser blast. He steps ahead of the lot of them, throwing his eyeglass-holding hand inward with the slurring of syllables to some Symbological spell.
     The odd ARMs-fire deflection forcefield spell he has, invisible to the naked eye. This proves to be a mostly pointless gesture against the laser itself... but not the spray of debris and metal that deflects off of him, their velocity seeming to cross over some vague threshhold in which to summon loud, bright sparks of electricity on impact. What should be a series of almost-certain fatal lacerations and impalings are just a lot of rude finger pokes, impact-wise.
     He follows suit as he touches down nearby, taking in the sight of everyone and everything that have come together to descend upon the apparent core of the Photosphere.
 
     What can be done?
 
     Stoically, Ethius dives aside from more vague- but-very-deadly weapons fire. He noticeably moves ahead of others, as though willingly throwing himself into certain death. The man before them has shown blood-chilling comfort with coming in proximity to things that could crush him in the slightest movement, burn him to a crisp if he gets too close... as a mere flesh-and-blood human, by anyone's estimate, bereft of the circumstances and strengths granted upon the likes of Lydia, or Lily.
 
     Every scenario that has presented itself has moved beyond my sole ability to contain.
 
     This is one of the Golems that were taken from Adlehyde. The man before them is the one who greatly damaged one of them - unfortunately, the one that was in the middle of being secured by 'the good guys.' A chaotic action unto itself that may have complicated matters ever more.
 
     My worst fears... is this what I am feeling?
 
     The man unflinchingly draws one of the satchels at his belt. He observes the other collected fire and sorcery and blades from those other teams that have come in this far.
 
     I...
 
     He pulls his hand away from his face. He doesn't have time to really gauge everyone's eyes, where they're looking, or where he is in orientation to the others as he goes about the gesticulating component of the spell needd to activate the other smoke bomb. His face is... actually, completely ordinary, with laughing lines suggesting he's in his thirties. Maybe mid? Maybe late? His mouth is a thin, flawlessly straight horizontal line.
 
     Cannot comprehend the entirety of these circumstances...
 
     Ethius listens in on Jay's advice about the eyes, and awaits how the Golem adjusts to the change in gravitational force. He gauges how the dragons may mess with thermal tracking - if that is their means - as he draws so close he risks being taken up by the gravitational compression himself. The bearer of the technology-destroying flames of the sun - in fanciful terms - feels a chill standing this close.
     It has nothing to do with the ambient temperature of Lolithia.
 
     The span of time... the arrangement of key structures... the shared languages... this very location.
 
     Without apparent hesitation or fear, the man hurls the smoke bomb up high to try and disrupt the Golem's ability to locate and target anyone - to try and give an opening in which to get people to move.
 
     What comes next... I...
 
     He goes to hiding his face again as he tries to move clear to a spot and direction in which to gauge whether the Golem's movements will go as he may yet predict - can he provide them all an opening in which to continue further on, unscathed? His stare does not relent. The same piercing gaze that seems to scrutinize all, take in everything without giving back. The eyes of someone who appears entirely unfettered as to what he does and who it impacts.
 
     ...I know not. Only that...
 
     His body language continues to impart little. None of the nervous tics and idle movements common to a living body, so completely suppressed as to make him seem sort of robotic. Statuesque.
 
     I am afraid for...
 
     It will be a moment until he can give Cyre the proper signal. If... he does.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Powder Grenade toward his party's challenge, Golem Lolithia - Phase 1.
=======================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs *>========================
====================<* CHALLENGE - Golem Lolithia - Phase 1 *>====================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 Deep within the Photosphere, Mother has a sentinel.                           
                                                                               
 A cavernous chamber stretches out, providing a final choke point before the   
 control center of the Photosphere can be reached. Filling the chamber is the  
 same Golem stolen by the Metal Demons during the Battle of Adlehyde:          
 Lolithia. This dark blue, armored Golem towers over the room and the many     
 Drifters engaging it in combat. Indeed, as you enter the room, the sound of   
 battle greets you: blasts of energy, gunshots, and flashes of swords all      
 meet the mighty armor of the Elw Golem.                                       
                                                                               
 The Golem's eyes flash with golden light. Then, it rears back a huge claw,    
 and slams it down into the ground. A moment later, blasts of energy come      
 raining down... and the battle is joined!                                     
                                                                               
 (NOTE: This card assumes that all of the people running the Dig, and          
 possibly a few named NPCs, are in a massive brawl against a Gear-sized        
 enemy. If you pass this card, you will have Quick and Shield for the final    
 battles. If you fail, you will have Slow and Break.)                          
=Dungeon Conditions: Suffer, Exhaust==========================================
==================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs - Round 5 *>===================
======================< Results - Golem Lolithia - Phase 1 >======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             10 --(10)--> 20                Pass
Celesdue Medium                     2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       5 --(10)--> 15                 Pass
Powder Grenade                      3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   15 --(10)--> 25                Pass
The Lifeweaver's Codex              2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ashton Anchors                      2 --(10)--> 12                 Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kourin                              5 --(10)--> 15                 Pass
Rimebomb                            3   Combat  Effects: Rally                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mariel                              7 --(10)--> 17                 Pass
Gimel Coin                          3   Combat  Effects: Rally                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     7 --(25)--> 32                 Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------< Party >-------------------------------------
Leader: Catenna                     80 --(0)--> 80                 Pass
Conditions: Exhaust(1)|Secret(1)|Suffer(1)
Effects: Embolden(1)
================================< Dream Chasers >=================================
DG: The party led by Catenna has passed this challenge! The party gained 0 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

It helps that there are a lot of targets in play and Lolithia can't possibly hit all of them at once. Not only is this group in the thick of the battle, other Drifters are attacking from different sides of the chamber. There's even what looks suspiciously like a few volleys of dark magic - at least one of the Valmar cultists made it this far.

But the Elevator Seven comport themselves as well as any other, and perhaps even better than many. Seized by the clutch of gravity, Lolithia is simply anchored to the spot - and it gives the others time to make their plays. Ashton's dragons lash forth with flame and frost; individually small blows, but portions of Lolithia's armour buckle. It fires back, swinging a claw.

Jacqueline upheaves the floor, calling forth energy and lightning. Debris pounds the Golem. It is not enough to destroy it, but it joins other blows. It joins the roaring wind that Cyre calls forth. The Nahual makes his presence felt, Guardian magic budging the massive Golem. It swings at Cyre, molecular arrestor lancing towards him, dangerously close--

But Mariel brings forth that sense of energy. if Cyre is hit, the tiny Elw herbalist has his back. All of their backs. Her warning is well taken and her healing well-timed.

Then come the lances of ice Kourin drives into the creature, punching through the Golem's armour in places.

It keeps coming, even as ARM fire and spells slam into it - even as swordsmen strike at it. The battle's longer than it seems. Each member of the group strikes, again and again.

Ethius's smoke bomb seems, on top of it all, innocuous. But it gives everyone a moment to strike. Lolithia, battered already, churns and groans, the Golem seemingly baffled by the powder grenade, encumbered by yet another surge of gravity Catenna has levied at it.

The punishment descends. Ice, dragons, wind, more ice.

When it's done, Lolithia is left slouching, blasted and battered and beyond mobility anymore.

<A sad fate,> Saarda-Shanta says with quiet gravity, settling to Catenna's shoulder once more.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has drawn a new Challenge.
=====================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs *>======================
==================<* CHALLENGE - Golem Lolithia - Phase 2 *>==================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 After some time, the battle against Lolithia finally strikes a blow that      
 makes the Golem wheel backward. Lightning explodes and shoots up and down     
 the length of the Golem's body. Then, its shsoulders shudder. The massive     
 blie Golem lists forward. It leans over, without falling over entirely, and   
 it does not stir.                                                             
                                                                               
 A precious opportunity has been bought: the chance to strike at the Golem,    
 and do no small amount of damage to it. Lolithia can be potentially           
 disabled, if everyone strikes now... and with all of the might they have!     
                                                                               
 (NOTE: Lolithia will not be destroyed by this attack, but it will be          
 disabled. If you pass this card, you will have Hyper and a Hi-Heal for the    
 final battles. If you fail this card, you will have Weaken and Disease.)      
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline does send a glance in Mariel's direction as she starts talking about 'magnetic molecular arrestor's. Jacqueline...doesn't know what that means, but she can reason it out based on the words.

That...sounds dangerous. But even so, they must fight. The seven - or, nine, rather - assault the legendary Golem as one, with a unity born of all the struggles they've been through together. The damage they've inflicted as immense. The Golem wheels backward, slouching and shuddering. It leans forward, made immobile.

...But not completely.

No, it still moves...if only slightly. If given time, it would no doubt pick itself up. If that occurred during their fight with Mother...

...The results would be disastrous.

Jacqueline exhales.

"Shalune is probably going to yell at me for this, but...we need to capitalize on this opening. We might be able to disable it." Jacqueline says. She rummages through her bags, drawing out some potions and passing them all around. They'll need every bit of energy they can get.

With that said, she looks toward Mariel.

"You said it doesn't handle fire well, right? I'm not as good at it as Ethius is, but..." Jacqueline turns her attention back to Lolithia. "I do have some at disposal."

She takes a deep breath and focuses. A spear of flame appears before her. It grows...and then with a gesture of her right hand, it goes flying towards a point between Lolithia's eyes.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Brewte Force toward her party's challenge, Golem Lolithia - Phase 2.
<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin simply sets to work smashing and tearing with her claw. She got *vicious* somewhere!

DG: Kourin has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Golem Lolithia - Phase 2.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Catenna doesn't know what a magnetic molecular arrestor is, either.

But she does know that, while Lolithia may be still, it's not fully still. The Moon Shaman looks on as the Golem shudders a little. There is some life still within it.

<Jacqueline is right. We must find our way to Mother,> Saarda-Shanta opines quietly. <We cannot allow the Golem to interfere any longer.>

With a puff of breath, Catenna begins to collect her energy again. "Then we must destroy it now... or at least disable it."

The Owlet hops up to the top of Catenna's head. <I believe that can be arranged.>

"Pardon?" Catenna asks, but the Owlet's already jumping off her head and fluttering up into the air - and there's a blur of blue light.

The Owlet's shape shines and swells outward, sailing higher and higher - until the glow fades, and what's there is no longer an owlet, but a massive, full-sized snowy owl. With a deep, echoing "HOOOOOH" that rings through the room, the Great Owl sails upwards, circling, shadow cast as if by rays of pale moonlight. Near the very top of the room, she reaches the peak of her climb, drawing up and snapping broad wings open in a double arc.

That light builds again - and with a snap of her wings, Saarda-Shanta unleashes with a double ray of pale blue-white lunar energy. The sickle-shaped beams shimmer as they slash through the chamber, carving down towards Lolithia.

The obstacle must be removed - but Catenna can only watch with surprise. She didn't realize the Owlet could do that.

DG: Catenna has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Golem Lolithia - Phase 2.
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

The dragons taking control is taxing on Ashton - even as they shrink back down to their regular size, he's left on his knees and panting.
 
What they needed to do was enough, however. The massive golem is staggering and badly beaten. They've got their opening.
 
The Double Dragon Duelist struggles to his feet, sweat on his brow despite the chill of the land outside. "Disable or destroyed, right now I would accept even it just being asleep."
 
There's little time to discuss the subject, however. Now is the time for finishing the job.
 
There's a glow of Symbological tattoos under his robe as Ashton tries to focus the power he's got. And after a few moment's concentration? He strikes - hurling his blades. Not just once but again and again, tossing swords of magical energy at the staggered Lolithia before it can get up and magnetically arrest someone's molecules. (That really does sound like it would hurt a whole heck of a lot.)

DG: Ashton Anchors has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Golem Lolithia - Phase 2.
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

Mariel gets called out by Cyre, and sort of by Jay. ...Well, she can deal with that later. "Not now," she says, as she pulls out a different tool - oh, it's a Potion Berry, the blue big brother of the common Heal Berry. They only really grow by Surf Village and don't cultivate well.

Usually, anyhow.

Mariel runs around the room, scattering the power of her berries - and not just for the group she came in with - while people continue to fight Lolithia. She returns to the group proper after what isn't ultimately very long at all, but it feels longer, just as the giant Golem slumps forward.

"..." It feels wrong to Mariel to keep damaging Lolithia, one of the great remnants of the Elw-human cooperation during the war. It's not like she's ever really seen it in operation before... but they're right. It can't be allowed to be called by Mother. And she doesn't exactly have the shutdown codes in her book.

Mariel walks up toward Lolithia. She pushes at one leg. Absolutely nothing happens.

After a highly embarassing ten seconds, she steps backwards to let someone else get access, and instead gets out what appears to be some kind of oil, which she splashes on the legs. Maybe it will be easier to trip up now. "I don't feel right just destroying it, or even trying... but we can stop it."

Though the Owlet is doing a better job than she thought she could. Her eyebrows raise.

DG: Mariel has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Golem Lolithia - Phase 2.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

For a moment there, Cyre thought he saw his life flash before his eyes--

And maybe it might just have, considering how Mariel is casually carrying around currency capable of tampering with the fundamental powers of time and space themselves. But regardless, he spends a moment being in excruciating pain and then... Not being in that state. The shaman releases a long, hitched breath. "What even is a magnetic molecular arrestor...? Whatever it is... It hurts...!"

No time to complain. Owlet is right. The shaman staggers upright and unhitches his personal incense burner and immediately sets it alight. Is he planning on bludgeoning Lolithia to death with his personal stash...!?

No. He just needs something to clear his head.

Instead, Cyre removes several large, corked bottles from his pack. As he undoes each of the seals, an intense combination of fragrances filter into the room. Plant oils, extracted from the many herbs he works with... but he's not pulling them for the sake of throwing a perfume party. Cyre grabs hold of each of the bottles by their necks and hurls each of them straight at the mighty golem.

A burst of pressure shatters each of the bottles into so much glass and rapidly spreads the herbal oil into a concentrated fog. Cyre then fires a single, white-hot beam into the heart of the cloud, and...

What ensues is essentially a (particularly nice-smelling) fuel-air explosion.

...Apparently, Cyre has been spending some time learning how to make improvised bombs.

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Invigorating Vapors toward his party's challenge, Golem Lolithia - Phase 2.
<Pose Tracker> Mariel has posed.

"It makes molecules stop vibrating, I think," Mariel says, which probably doesn't help at all because she has had the benefit of a significantly better scientific education than 95 percent of Filgaia.

Honestly, she just guessed, anyway.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    The collected forces gathering at the heart of the Photosphere make some headway against Lolithia, in that the great Golem recoils. The people of Filgaia have heeded the call for war, and their number - at least four dozen, all together - prove strong enough together to make the legendary ancient weapon turned against Filgaia flinch.
 
     ...I cannot complete that thought.
 
     Ethius, positionally, stands alone. Most of the others gathered stand alongside their comrades-in-arms, but somehow, Ethius has found a way in the limited space allotted this deep within the Photosphere to truly stand by himself. He closes his eyes for two whole seconds, curiously. There's a hand on his face when Lolithia demands all hands on deck, for a rare opportunity that may not come again. Not all hands except for one on their own mouth.
 
     ...What am I expecting to find? I must have an expectation.
 
     Jay drops his name specifically as one most skilled with flame among them. She implicitly trusts him, by name, for a specific feat. The young Beastwoman(?) florist among them namedrops some complex concepts that he does not appear inherently phased by. The same one who showed initial comfort in attempting to handle the elevator controls. In the heat of the moment, he seems utterly focused on the task at hand.
 
     What am I doing here?
 
     Ethius gives Cyre that signal he waits for with his free hand. ...A signal, at least. It's kind of elaborate, actually. His fingers flex in purposeful ways and it's certain that he is positioning them in ways meant for the others to see, but he's never prior said what it means. He watches as so many divine signs fill the air - the Owlet taking the offense is but one of them.
 
     I have been aware of myself for a number of years without a satisfactory answer.
 
     He starts to move again as Kourin draws close to wail away on it. As the young Beastwoman(?) moves in against the Golem's leg, as some of the subtext apperas to go right over his head.
 
     ...Only that...
 
     He goes through the familiar gestures for that higher-yield heat spell, but the incantation doesn't come. The one that rang out through Adlehyde as three competing powers tried to claim the Golems - where he targeted the 'wrong' one, in the end. Through every vulnerability and opening presented, his form is as precise and exacting as ever. Practiced, every twitch of a muscle as he swings his palm down to the finishing of the incantation.
 
     ...they are my responsibility.
 
     There is a great burst of bright flame from above, product of a highly proficient Symbologist whose focus, dedication, and skill must be unwavering. Unflinchable. Unquestioning.
 
     ...

DG: Ethius Hesiod has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Golem Lolithia - Phase 2.
=====================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs *>======================
==================<* CHALLENGE - Golem Lolithia - Phase 2 *>==================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 After some time, the battle against Lolithia finally strikes a blow that      
 makes the Golem wheel backward. Lightning explodes and shoots up and down     
 the length of the Golem's body. Then, its shsoulders shudder. The massive     
 blie Golem lists forward. It leans over, without falling over entirely, and   
 it does not stir.                                                             
                                                                               
 A precious opportunity has been bought: the chance to strike at the Golem,    
 and do no small amount of damage to it. Lolithia can be potentially           
 disabled, if everyone strikes now... and with all of the might they have!     
                                                                               
 (NOTE: Lolithia will not be destroyed by this attack, but it will be          
 disabled. If you pass this card, you will have Hyper and a Hi-Heal for the    
 final battles. If you fail this card, you will have Weaken and Disease.)      
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken===================================================
================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs - Round 6 *>=================
====================< Results - Golem Lolithia - Phase 2 >====================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             20 --(100)--> 120              Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       15 --(100)--> 115              Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   25 --(100)--> 125              Fail
Brewte Force                        1   Brute   Effects: Fanfare and Strengthe
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ashton Anchors                      12 --(100)--> 112              Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kourin                              15 --(100)--> 115              Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mariel                              17 --(100)--> 117              Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     32 --(100)--> 132              Pass
Invigorating Vapors                 1   Brute   Effects: Cleanse              
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Catenna                     80 --(10)--> 90                Fail
Conditions: Weaken(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Strengthen(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: Catenna is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Ethius Hesiod is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Jacqueline Barber is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Ashton Anchors is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Kourin is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Mariel is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Cyre H. Lorentz is too exhausted to continue!
DG: The party has failed this challenge! All party members are now Exhausted. This attempt is over.
DG: The party led by Catenna has been fully Exhausted by Photosphere - Alien Catacombs!
DG: The party will now draw a conclusion.
=====================<* Photosphere - Alien Catacombs *>======================
=========================<* CHALLENGE - Fall Back! *>=========================
|Type: Escape      |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The Photosphere has been too much for you. You have been forced to fall back  
 -- whether to a beachhead established within the Photosphere or further,      
 back to the gaping hole torn into the Photosphere by the Dragonship Destiny.  
=Dungeon Conditions: Injure===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Lolithia teeters under the final assault. With a groan, Lolithia comes crashing down and slams against the ground. Chunks of armor plating pop off; a loud crack of the interior crystal sounds. The machine lays there, still and terrible, in the wake.

...unfortunately for you, you were among the Drifters in its path. It comes crashing down at you -- and you must run away, lest you be squished like a bug underneath it.

However, after the dust clears, the way ahead awaits: the inner sanctum of the Photosphere, and what dangers await.

<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

The ancient giant falls. They've done it.
 
But a dark shadow casts itself over the victory. ...And the crew.
 
Three sets of eyes look upwards. And get shrink to tiny pinpricks. "....crud...."
 
Cue a wild scramble as the mercenary - who is not particularly fleet of foot in the best of times - runs for his collective life. The dragons attempt to 'help' by swinging around and literally nipping at Ashton's butt to try and get him to go faster.
 
In the end? He does manage to make it clear - diving the last meter and tumbling on the ground before landing in a heap just barely outside the crash zone.
 
And he lays there, gasping for air.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Upon firing those rays off, Saarda-Shanta begins a steady descent, rapidly shrinking back down until, with a flutter, she lands on Catenna's shoulder as the tiny Owlet she started as.

It's enough - Lolithia begins to topple. Catenna checks on the Owlet quickly, but then a shadow falls over her.

"That's bad," she says, before gasping and scrambling away as fast as she possibly can. The enormous shape of the falling Golem looms over them all like a freshly-felled tree.

The Golem crashes into the ground. A few feet away from its shoulder, Catenna pants for breath, eyes wide as she struggles to pull back to her feet.

"...Then... then we must finish Mother," she manages, unsteadily.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Together, they bring their might against the great, ancient Golem. Attacks slam into it from all sides, from Drifters of all kinds. Unable to defend itself, the Golem Lolithia has no choice but to take the attacks. It gives one final shudder before it teeters and begins to fall.

...Unfortunately, whether it is one final act of spite before its systems shut down or whether it is just terrible, terrible luck, it begins to fall straight toward the largest assortment of combatants.

The Caravan Kinship and Ashton, unfortunately, happen to be a part of this.

"Move!" Jacqueline calls out. She doesn't attempt to work any fancy magic, and she doesn't any advance chemicals. No, there is only one way to escape this alive.

She runs.

Thankfully, there do not seem to be any casualities as the Golem falls, but its sheer weight causes a shockwave that kicks up an immense cloud of dust and knocks Jacqueline(and potentially) clear off her feet, sending her crashing to the floor.

Jacqueline lays there in a still heap, much like Lolithia does...but then, with a cough she hauls herself up, body trembling. That wasn't a pleasant fall...but she's still alive, if slightly injured.

"Is everyone alright...?" She calls out before her gaze is drawn forward.

The pathway into the Photosphere's inner sanctum awaits.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    It chooses the most (in)opportune direction to collapse - but everyone is alert. Everyone appears to be alert enough to avoid being underneath where the growing shadow lies. Names are doubtless called from all about the chamber, from those aware of their presence and the growing situation that might claim them before the very end.
     Ethius' own escape is uncomfortably narrow, for how close he's come to it. His mind grows blanker, running on rote instinct. It is not just the growing shadow. It is every creaking sound, every twist and turn of the hulking weapon that seems to speak volumes to him far more than any yell to 'run' could, and it is in that moment that the seeming unflappable veneer falls as one final seismic event from its collapse hurls Ethius further away.
     The dust doesn't quite settle. It stirs, it flits, it blinds, it chokes within the frigid, unwelcoming depths of the Photosphere. A place not meant for them to live - let alone exist - as residual flickers of power from where architecture is damaged teases the eyes.
     Ethius shakily comes upright, casting something of a nefarious silhouette even within all of this. One hand remains over his mouth, in some show of physical vulnerability. In this case that's true, because he's got nothing stopping him from having to cough out anything trying to enter his lungs.
 
     ...One item can be confirmed.
 
     He removes the hand from his mouth, back turned to the lot of them. In one hand, a compass. In the other, the Spectral Lens - itself growing more opaque from the amount of use it has seen. He prepares one last Symbological spellcast for it. From what he's seen of the architecture and snippets of discussion he may have heard from the More Knowledgeable, only one thing can be ahead.
 
     ...