2019-05-10: Can We Keep Our Spirits Highroad

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  • Log: 2019-05-10: Can We Keep Our Spirits Highroad
  • Cast: Cyre H. Lorentz, Ethius Hesiod, Jacqueline Barber, Naelle Sylkirk, Ida Everstead-Rey
  • Where: Mi'ihen Highroad (not Mushroom Rock Road, but some people like it better that waaaaaaaaay o/`)
  • Date: May 10, 2019
  • Summary: Settling back into a routine is proving difficult, after the failed Operation has ensured that Spira's melancholy routine life will continue. The Caravan Kinship, Ida Everstead-Rey, and someone who is totally not a spy for the Guard make the best of it on what should be a routine supply moving trip going from the edge of Mushroom Rock Road into Mi'ihen Highroad.

=================================================<* Mi'ihen Highroad *>=================================================

Many years ago, a man named Lord Mi'ihen, commander of a mercenary group known as the Crimson Blades, was summoned by the Grand Measter to Bevelle to answer the challenge that his group was a threat to Yevon. Though his followers suspected he would be executed and begged to follow, Mi'ihen ordered them to stay behind and walked along an old path to Bevelle, without stopping to rest. 

Moved by the display of piety, the Grand Maester formally adopted Mi'ihen and his soldiers into Yevon as a defensive force, known now as the Crusaders. In recognition of the momentous moment, the path Mi'ihen walked now bears his name.

...except not really, because the original one was wrecked by Sin a few hundred years ago. You can still see bits of it as you pass along the Highroad, on which the Djose Temple can also be found.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8tfe_H7bzw
DG: A party led by Cyre H. Lorentz is now entering Mi'ihen Highroad.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
============================<* Mi'ihen Highroad *>============================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Fellow Travelers *>======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 No sooner has Luca receded into the distance behind you, than you encounter   
 a wagon bearing the livery of the Crusaders. The wagon sits alone with a      
 single Crusader, the chocobo, presumably, having been unhitched to ride for   
 aid. The Crusader looks at you hopefully, though, and is willing to explain   
 that the wagon is not badly damaged, but the axle won't turn any more.        
                                                                               
 This seems like it might be an easy repair.                                   
                                                                               
 But these aren't the kinds of wagons you're used to... can you bang things    
 into shape and receive the thanks of a warrior of Yevon?                      
=Dungeon Conditions: Overzealous==============================================
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

In the aftermath of Operation Mi'ihen, there's been a sense of... Melancholy hanging in the air. There was a lot of hope building up to it-- a sense that Sin could finally, with the help of heroes from across two different worlds, be defeated. But...

Well.

That clearly didn't happen.

But that doesn't mean that people's lives just stop. The Caravan Kinship's Spira-approved choco-cart has been busy in the wake of Operation Mi'ihen, travelling between Luca and the Sin-shattered battlefield, ferrying supplies and wounded back and forth as needed.

But they aren't the only ones. The Crusaders are nothing if not determined. Even now, there are still supply wagons moving along the Mi'ihen Highroad. But one of them is... apparently experiencing some difficulty.

The wagon, piled high with supplies, is half-tilted into a ditch. Its chocobo has gone off to parts unknown, but the wagon isn't unguarded. There's a single sentinel sitting atop the load, chewing on a long blade of swampgrass. He perks up as the Cart-a-kin draws near and starts waving his arms through the air!

"Hey! HEEEEY!" The Crusader yells, "You guys mind giving a guy a hand? Our cart's axel won't budge-- We need to get these medical supplies out to the front quick!"

For his part, Cyre, who (happily) was not anywhere near the front line of Operation Mi'ihen during the Sin Calamity, hops down from the Cart-a-kin and sets a little incense burner down near the damaged cart. Why is he burning incense? Because hey, why not? It'll help keep the chocobos calm and help ease everyone's nerves and aching muscles. "Alright," he says, bracing at the side of the downed cart. "Don't worry, we're here to help. Right guys--?"

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Invigorating Vapors toward his party's challenge, Fellow Travelers.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Ethius has been quiet since the disastrous Operation. Something about the way he carries himself, once more, reveals an element of detachment to his person. Sorrow and resignation fill the air, but there's a constancy to this man that... may not be considered an improvement. He had himself a near-death experience and might have relented from further action for all of three hours before he went into what he is still doing now.
     As Cyre asks if they're 'here to help,' he'll see a man he hasn't seen in a short while for the first time - one Ethius Hesiod, who seems to be dispassionately scavenging the battlefield like some sort of vulture. As though the search he were going on were so important to him that he not stop and reflect upon the amount of sacrifice that has come to naught.
     If someone calls for him to come help, he'll quietly comply alongside the directions given, but otherwise he seems more intent to continue scouring what's left for, well, what's left. Whatever that might be.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Fellow Travelers.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

It really was fortuitous that Jacqueline befriended a chocobo when she did. The timing was awfully convenient - with the help of her new friend, they were able to bring larger amounts of supplies faster than they would if they had to carry everything by themselves.

The bird is a bright, cheerful sort, and seems rather protective of Jacqueline. After the incident with the Chocobo Eater, she rarely let her out of her sight, though Jacqueline had eventually managed to get the chocobo to cooperate.

And so, now she and the other Caravan Kinship members find themselves heading down the Mi'ihen Highroad with some supplies...when all of a sudden, they run into a Crusader who has run into a bit of trouble.

"Yes, absolutely! Let me see..." Jacqueline considers, dismounting. She takes a look. ...Unfortunately, it's not like anything she's familiar with. But she can do one thing.

"Here, let me lift it up for easier access..." She says. With a gesture of her left hand, a pillar of stone rises up, slowly and gently so as to avoid damaging it, to give the vehicle a bit more support.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Fellow Travelers.
<Pose Tracker> Naelle Sylkirk has posed.

Naelle is here as an a semi-official attache from Althena's Guard. She's not, in fact, official. She's not, in fact, doing very well. In truth, the death of the Dragonmaster has left Naelle shaken to her core, and she spotted the Cart-a-kin and more or less attached herself to it, muttering something about commandeering the vehicle for evacuating the wounded and carrying supplies.

Which they were already doing, so mostly she's just along to spy on them (her self-assigned mission to Impress the Boss by Getting Those Carakin Folks at work) and more practically, to lend the visibility of Althena's Guard to the mix in case anyone tries to block their path.

The usually energetic and enthusiastic beastwoman is despondent and quiet, her ears drooping, her tail often in her hands as she trudges along, or hugging her knees if she hops a sneaky ride.

But, Naelle is still Naelle. The question of repairing something comes up, and something inside her perks up at the thought. Out comes the wrench.

"Huh. This is a pretty interesting design. I think I see what the idea is here. If we can just straighten this bit here, and--"

Muttering to herself, she sets to work with the wrench and a fix.

DG: Naelle Sylkirk has used her Tool Trusty Wrench toward her party's challenge, Fellow Travelers.
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Ida had not gone to Operation Mi'ihen. She'd spent that time with the Kinship, performing small, miscellaneous tasks: Sterilizing vials, writing labels, preparing first-aid supplies that didn't need an apothecary's touch. At some point, she took Jay aside and spoke to her in confidence about something, but she hasn't mentioned what.

    Now, the Operation is over, and Ida has spent hours assisting in a different, grim task: helping the wounded, and identifying the bodies. Her eyes grow more hollow with each passing hour. The very same inner voice that insisted that the Operation was doomed is now berating her for her cowardice.

    Ida looks up from her perch on the back of the cart. Her colorful Spiran outfit is spattered, here and there, with other people's blood. Her hands aren't quite still. Most telling, though, is the way her head snaps up as the cart-driver calls out--a startle reflex. Ida puts a hand to her chest, and breathes. "Coming," she says. She hops off the cart, and trudges over to the Crusaders' cart. Ida kneels beside the damaged axle, and starts inspecting it. She doesn't say more than necessary the entire time.

DG: Ida Everstead-Rey has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Fellow Travelers.
============================<* Mi'ihen Highroad *>============================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Fellow Travelers *>======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 No sooner has Luca receded into the distance behind you, than you encounter   
 a wagon bearing the livery of the Crusaders. The wagon sits alone with a      
 single Crusader, the chocobo, presumably, having been unhitched to ride for   
 aid. The Crusader looks at you hopefully, though, and is willing to explain   
 that the wagon is not badly damaged, but the axle won't turn any more.        
                                                                               
 This seems like it might be an easy repair.                                   
                                                                               
 But these aren't the kinds of wagons you're used to... can you bang things    
 into shape and receive the thanks of a warrior of Yevon?                      
=Dungeon Conditions: Overzealous==============================================
=======================<* Mi'ihen Highroad - Round 1 *>=======================
========================< Results - Fellow Travelers >========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Invigorating Vapors                 1   Brute   Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Naelle Sylkirk                      0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Trusty Wrench                       2   Brute   Effects: Strengthen           
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ida Everstead-Rey                   0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Cyre H. Lorentz             0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Overzealous(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Strengthen(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Cyre H. Lorentz 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.

One of the best things about hanging out around the Carakin is that you start to pick up a whole bunch of different technical skills! Of course, today that's mostly Naelle's show. The rest of the team is mostly just there to hold up the damaged cart and provide moral support. The good news is that the axle really isn't that jacked up-- it looks like a discarded dagger got caught in the gears somehow, and a little bit of twisting, turning and yanking manages to liberate it in short order.

"Thanks for the help," the man aboard the cart says, a twinkle of cheer glowing in the tired pits of his eyes. "I'll stick around here and wait for my chocobo to show back up. You guys can go ahead if you like; I'll be fine! Really."

Really.

But... Cyre...

Is over there.

"Ethius," Cyre calls over at the guy picking bits and pieces of steel off a bunch of dead bodies. "What the balls are you doing? Leave that stuff alone. Bodies are meant to be buried, not scavenged off of. Let's go."

At least... he's probably going to leave it at that?

There's been enough carnage, the past few days.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has drawn a new Challenge.
=================================================<* Mi'ihen Highroad *>=================================================
=====================================<* CHALLENGE - It's More Of A... Djose Item *>=====================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 A man in a red-and-white striped suit and straw cap rides an overburdened     
 chocobo coming the other way. He sees you, goads his bird closer, and does a  
 little somersault before he starts to go into a lay-up combo of hard sell     
 methodologies, pressuring you, suggesting you're not interested, and talking  
 up some mysterious Items that he has for sale. His name is Rialranly, and-    
                                                                               
 Oh, are you interested?                                                       
                                                                               
 The mysterious Items are in the chocobo saddlebags. They seem to be strange   
 collections of herbs and ointments from across Spira - why, he promises a     
 cure for almost anything, and at only two thousand gil or five for two, or    
 if he's got you listening maybe he can interest you in three for five? It's   
 hard to keep track.                                                           
                                                                               
 It's not completely impossible something here would work... or give you some  
 kind of future advantage, but the real challenge is to AVOID buying           
 something. He's a charming guy! The bird's just old, you see; tired; but      
 they're old friends. He's not overworking it, honest.                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Overzealous, Bad Luck====================================
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    In his gloved hands, Ethius pulls out a piece of metal from one body as Cyre is giving him a look, and he shows what exactly he's just been looking for.
     Ethius doesn't say it, but Cyre can see it - it's a gunsmoke ARM bullet. He doesn't give it any further verbal clarity as he rejoins the rest with the usual chattiness expected of him.
     But enough of that, because hey look what we got over here--"Hey, look what we got over here!" Interjects a man in a red-and-white striped suit and a straw cap as an exhausted, overworked, overburdened chocobo comes to a stop before the lot of them. He somersaults right off the chocobo before them with a winning smile. "Surely you're in the market for... hm, no, no, you don't seem like someone in the market for a new set of traveling shoes--"
     "You are correct." Ethius attempts to interject.
     "Oh! So I'm correct that you might be interested innnnnn getting something off of ol' Rialranly, then?! Well, have a look at what's in here," he taps at the saddlebags of the chocobo, "boy! I got medicines up the wazoo, you sure look like you've been in... need of them, what with all the blood, and that look in your eyes, hey, sell you six for four, what you say?"
     "I am--"
     "You're up for it? Great, great, here, that'll be one thousand and five-hundred gil and--"
     "I would rather be interested in--"
     "Oh, you mean this tincture? That'll run you another seven-hundred, here," he just throws it into Ethius' hands. It's incredible. For every gesture the man may make to refute or deflect him, a product ends up in his hands.
     This may need the help of an expert merchant.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, It's More Of A... Djose Item.
<Pose Tracker> Naelle Sylkirk has posed.

Naelle does not want medicines that have been up this man's wazoo.

Therefore, Naelle attempts to avoid his gaze, hoping that not making eye contact will be enough.

When Ethius starts racking up the bill, Naelle takes drastic measures:

She pulls out her book of blueprints and pretends to be reading.

Her heart's not really in it, though--mostly she's just looking sad with a book in her hands instead of just looking sad.

DG: Naelle Sylkirk has used her Tool Big Book o'Blueprints toward her party's challenge, It's More Of A... Djose Item.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Of all the things Cyre might have expected to be on a bunch of corpses off a Spiran highway, a discharged gunsmoke bullet is definitely not one of them. "Is that--" he starts, crooking a brow. He never gets to finish.

Because this guy just showed up with medicines up the wazoo.

Cyre does not want medicines that have been up this man's wazoo.

Like, seriously, can you imagine how unsanitary those conditions might be? Seriously! Seriously unsanitary! Super unsanitary and terrible.

Fortunately, Cyre isn't the one suffering from this particular nuisance. Ethius is! Unfortunately, Cyre is a nice friend.

And so, instead of... anything reasonable, he just kind of hooks his arms around Ethius' waist from behind and immediately starts hightailing it toward the party's most expert merchant. "WE'RE NOT INTERESTED, BUDDY," Cyre yells, "JAY, WE'VE CAUGHT A SHARK!"

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, It's More Of A... Djose Item.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline didn't mind Naelle's presence - and didn't make any comments when she spotted her slipping onto the wagon. She could tell she wasn't acting like her usual self, and was concerned. She had an idea what it was, but she wasn't sure if condolences from her would help.

So, she figured the best thing she can do is keep an eye on her, and be there if it looks like she needs some support. Besides, she was being helpful.

Ida's assistance, too, is appreciated - there were a lot of preparations that needed to be made for sending supplies to the survivors of Operation Mi'ihen, so even one other extra pair of hands is helpful.

She, too, hasn't mentioned a single word of what she and Ida spoke about.

And so, with some help, they manage to get the Crusader's wagon in working condition again. That was fairly important, on a road and in an environment like this.

Unfortunately, this kind of environment spawns the other kind of merchant, as well. The type that looks to take advantage of a bad situation, and people suffering from said situations, for their own earnings.

Jacqueline's glasses flash dangerously as 'ol' Rianranly' approaches Ethius, and she nods toward Cyre as he offers her the warning.

"We have plenty of medicines and tinctures, thank you very much." Jacqueline says, her voice cold, as she approaches the scene. The intimidating aura of merchantry radiating off of her is palpable.

"But what about you? Your chocobo is looking a little pale. Have you been taking care of them properly?" Jacqueline asks. Before he can respond, Jacqueline continues, cutting him off. "I'm sure you have. You're a savvy merchant, I'm certain, and you would know that looking after your livelihood is important. I would hate to think that a fellow merchant was doing something I would need to report them for."

Jacqueline gives him a second to get one word out before she rummages through her bags, producing a bottle of brightly-colored liquid.

"I like you*, so I'll give you a good deal on this Choco Tonic. Administered over the course of a few days it'll put the spring back into any chocobo's step, and make them faster and stronger than ever before. You have let them rest throughout the entire process, though, or else it won't work. But it's very effective, isn't it?" She says, looking back at her own chocobo. The bird lets out a cheery 'wark'.

She doesn't actually understand her. She just knows she's being talked to and appreciates that.

"It's normally fairly expensive...but I think you'll find my prices agreeable." Jacqueline concludes. It's not really deception - the 'Choco Tonic' does work, but only in that the process will give the chocobo time to finally rest and relax after being overworked.

    (*Note - She doesn't.)

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, It's More Of A... Djose Item.
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Ida does not get back on the wagon. She trudges alongside, staring down at the ruts worn in the road by countless wagon wheels over the course of decades. She says nothing. She doesn't even comment on Ethius's scavenging, beyond shooting the man a venomous look when he returns. She doesn't have the energy to deal with him.

    'Hey, look what we got over here!'

    Ida ran into her fair share of patent-medicine salespeople back on Filgaia. The man's tone and patter put her on edge; she looks at him for a while, staring through him, before she realizes what he's doing. Anger surges in her chest. She steps forwards, locks eyes with the merchant, and glares at him. She reaches into a pocket, pulls out a smooth block of metal, and starts stroking it with her thumb. She flips out the multitool's knifeblade, and flips it back in. Out, in. Out, in. "We're not interested in supporting charlatans," Ida snaps. "Did you come here to profit off the suffering of better people than you, or--" Jay walks up, and takes command of the situation. This is probably for the best.

DG: Ida Everstead-Rey has used her Tool Multitool toward her party's challenge, It's More Of A... Djose Item.
=================================================<* Mi'ihen Highroad *>=================================================
=====================================<* CHALLENGE - It's More Of A... Djose Item *>=====================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 A man in a red-and-white striped suit and straw cap rides an overburdened     
 chocobo coming the other way. He sees you, goads his bird closer, and does a  
 little somersault before he starts to go into a lay-up combo of hard sell     
 methodologies, pressuring you, suggesting you're not interested, and talking  
 up some mysterious Items that he has for sale. His name is Rialranly, and-    
                                                                               
 Oh, are you interested?                                                       
                                                                               
 The mysterious Items are in the chocobo saddlebags. They seem to be strange   
 collections of herbs and ointments from across Spira - why, he promises a     
 cure for almost anything, and at only two thousand gil or five for two, or    
 if he's got you listening maybe he can interest you in three for five? It's   
 hard to keep track.                                                           
                                                                               
 It's not completely impossible something here would work... or give you some  
 kind of future advantage, but the real challenge is to AVOID buying           
 something. He's a charming guy! The bird's just old, you see; tired; but      
 they're old friends. He's not overworking it, honest.                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Overzealous, Bad Luck====================================
============================================<* Mi'ihen Highroad - Round 2 *>============================================
=======================================< Results - It's More Of A... Djose Item >=======================================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Naelle Sylkirk                      0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Big Book o'Blueprints               2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ida Everstead-Rey                   5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Multitool                           2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
-------------------------------------------------------< Party >--------------------------------------------------------
Leader: Cyre H. Lorentz             20 --(15)--> 35                Pass
Conditions: Bad Luck(2)|Overzealous(2)
Effects: Enlighten(1)
===================================================< Dream Chasers >====================================================
DG: The party led by Cyre H. Lorentz has passed this challenge! The party gained 15 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> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Cyre's intervention is timely. His only issue is that somehow Ethius has become hilariously encumbered in Products, and so Cyre has to do a whole lot heavier lifting than he might need to. Even Ethius' protests about being lifted are met with a summary attempt to further add more and more to the bill. This man cannot win a war of words with this expert snake oil salesman.
     That's when the cavalry arrives. (The cavalry is Jay.) Jay enraptures the man so much that he doesn't notice that Cyre is basically carrying off Ethius and the merchandise he's already loaded on him, and Rianraly now meets face-to-face with an equal.
     ...No, not an equal.
     "This here chocobo's an ol' friend of Rianraly! Don't you worry, miss, I--" He gets cut off. "There's--" no need to worry, he might say, but then Jay goes and sells him on this Choco Tonic. He looks at the health of the chocobo already with Jacqueline, but also has an eye for the idea that this one is not as 'weathered.' But she is very persuasive...
     "Oh, sure, sure, sure, of course--" Ida intimidates him just as he does some math on an abacus, accidentally moving a bead in being startled.
     Once the prices are all worked out, turns out, even after all of the stuff he offloaded on Ethius...
     He owes Jay three hundred and fifty gil. It is one hell of a transaction.
     Naelle, when looking at her blueprints, might feel a bit of inspiration about doing something to the wagon here on the fly that'll reduce mechanical stress and let it go longer. It might help take her mind off... a little.
     "I assure you I had the situation under control," Ethius remarks flatly to Cyre. (HE SO DID NOT)

DG: Jacqueline Barber has drawn a new Challenge.
============================<* Mi'ihen Highroad *>============================
=========================<* CHALLENGE - Pnetka Uid *>=========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 A long peaceful stretch of travel over the Highroad, suitable for a           
 heartfelt discussion about your feelings or simply relaxing, is interrupted   
 by a muffled thump, a brief smell of burning powder, and the abrupt sagging   
 and slow-motion collapse of the road about fifteen yards ahead of and behind  
 you.                                                                          
                                                                               
 The Oldroad is beneath you - so all is not lost - but it's about forty feet   
 beneath you... and that scent suggests something is going on, other than      
 poor road maintenance.                                                        
=Dungeon Conditions: =========================================================
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Everyone unites to deal with the merchant, and it makes Jacqueline feel good. Hopefully he took a lesson away from that...but even if not, she got some coin out of it.

But with that done, it's time to move on. There's a long, quiet stretch ahead of them. The sun is shining, and the air is clear and peaceful...but then, there's a brief scent.

It's the scent of burning powder - something all, or at least most, of them are familiar with in someway.

"...Watch out!" Jacqueline warns, looking around in concern. Nothing visible occurs...at least until there is a muffled thump underfoot, and the road ahead and behind sags and collapses.

Jacqueline takes a deep breath and exhales.

"...This isn't good." She muttered. Her chocobo begins to look concerned, so Jacqueline reaches over, petting the bird gently.

"We'll need to either find a way across, or...try and make it down to the Oldroad safely, without losing anything." Jacqueline comments.

And, of course, there is the unvoiced question - who is responsible for what just happened?

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Rapid Remedy toward her party's challenge, Pnetka Uid.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Ethius only misses the scent because he's wearing a mask, but then he hears some of the other signs of impending trouble from where they're standing as he is finishing up unloading everything that's been placed upon him.
     "The bridge." He remarks, just as Jay calls for a warning. He takes three decisive steps forward as he wraps the harness of the Hot Air Sack around one wrist-- but then looks back and realizes there's an issue.
     He goes through the Symbological spellcasting ritual to cast the spell that'll fill the patchy former loot sack with hot air - moreso than usual, accounting for the need to carry more than just his body weight.
     He holds out his free hand to offer to help someone drift across.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Hot Air Sack toward his party's challenge, Pnetka Uid.
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    The sun is shining, the air is clear and peaceful, and Ida seems to be at the center of a small, localized cloud of gloom. She's not talking. She just sits on the wagon, staring down at the road.

    And then, the scent of cordite fills the air. The naturalist blinks--her eyes widen, and she glances around, her breath and pulse quickening. Hypervigilance takes over. She grips the side of the wagon, scanning the area for snipers--

    It's not snipers. It's a very precisely-engineered trap. "Damnation," Ida hisses. She freezes in place, swallows, and then hoists herself off. "We're sitting ducks!" Ida's eyes settle on the Old Road, and she bolts towards it. "This way!" Glittering motes of green light rise from her heels. She leaps for the other stretch of road, and behind her, the wind rises up to help support anything and anyone that follows.

DG: Ida Everstead-Rey has used her Tool Zephyr Boots toward her party's challenge, Pnetka Uid.
<Pose Tracker> Naelle Sylkirk has posed.

Naelle is a catlike catgirl. Landing on her feet isn't a problem for her. Trouble is, she's not alone.

"Were those...were those *explosive charges?* she asks, eyes wide. "On *Lunar?* But--"

Well, she's not so sure she wants to be the cat who gets killed by curiosity, so along she goes!

DG: Naelle Sylkirk has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Pnetka Uid.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Cyre definitely does not miss the scent. How can he? The smell of gunpowder might be ubiquitous on Filgaia, but up here on Spira, the acrid scent among the fresh sea air is like a punch right across the mouth. "This isn't an ordinary collapse, OR an earthquake," Cyre mutters. He would have noticed THAT too. Cats and natural disasters, and all that. "Someone intended to collapse this stretch of road. What's going on here...?"

Whatever it is, it's... definitely got Ethius and ESPECIALLY Ida spooked. Seriously. For someone to be more paranoid than Ethius is just... unnatural...!

"Calm down!" Cyre yells over at the running woman. "We're not just trying to get ourselves across this thing, damnit! Think of the Chocobo!" Cyre growls, quickly lashing a series of cloths to the top of the Cart-a-kin and its bird. He focuses for a moment, visibly straining as he begins channeling the might of the silver medium. A great wind stirs, filling the sails and carrying the cart and bird both across the collapsed road.

For once, for today...

The chocobo... shall taste the joy of flight...!

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Reverse Parachute toward his party's challenge, Pnetka Uid.
============================<* Mi'ihen Highroad *>============================
=========================<* CHALLENGE - Pnetka Uid *>=========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 A long peaceful stretch of travel over the Highroad, suitable for a           
 heartfelt discussion about your feelings or simply relaxing, is interrupted   
 by a muffled thump, a brief smell of burning powder, and the abrupt sagging   
 and slow-motion collapse of the road about fifteen yards ahead of and behind  
 you.                                                                          
                                                                               
 The Oldroad is beneath you - so all is not lost - but it's about forty feet   
 beneath you... and that scent suggests something is going on, other than      
 poor road maintenance.                                                        
=Dungeon Conditions: =========================================================
=======================<* Mi'ihen Highroad - Round 3 *>=======================
===========================< Results - Pnetka Uid >===========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Reverse Parachute                   1   Agility Effects: Rally and Quicken    
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Hot Air Sack                        2   Agility Effects: Resilient            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   5 --(5)--> 10                  Fail
Rapid Remedy                        1   Agility Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Naelle Sylkirk                      0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ida Everstead-Rey                   5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Zephyr Boots                        2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Cyre H. Lorentz             35 --(20)--> 55                Pass
Conditions: Bad Luck(1)|Overzealous(1)
Effects: Cleanse|Quicken(1)|Resilient(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Cyre H. Lorentz 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> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Ordinarily, this situation wouldn't be too much of a problem - they just needed to either cross over to the other side or get to the Oldroad below. But right now there's a problem, in that they need to get the chocobo and the wagon across, as well - which Cyre points out.

A series of cloths are attached to the cart and the chocobo and they start to move. Cyre calls upon the power of the Silver Medium, creating wind that will carry the cart and chocobo both across.

Jacqueline remains in the cart, herself - she just keeps patting the chocobo, unused to flight, to keep her calm. In the end, this means she doesn't really contribute much except for offering a potion to Cyre replace the energy lost from his spell once they land safely on the other side.

Meanwhile, Ida, Ethius, and Naelle take a different route, separating from the wagon for a moment. The sorcery from Ida's boots creates a path of wind as she leaps. This will serve Ethius well - his Hot Air Sack begins to descend only halfway through his flight, but is buoyed back up thanks to Ida.

Naelle, of course, will have no trouble getting across thanks to her catlike agility.

In the end, everyone makes it through safely and in one piece.

"That was...concerning. We should probably be on our guard from here on out." Jacqueline murmurs. The last thing they needed was an ambush.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has drawn a new Challenge.
=================================================<* Mi'ihen Highroad *>=================================================
==================================<* CHALLENGE - Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Mi'ihen *>===================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 Whatever strange force is knocking stones in the road - some kind of stony    
 Fiend, perhaps? Poorly trained megalithic engineers? - has really given you   
 a giant load of work to do here, having thrown a good half-dozen boulders     
 into the road ahead of you. Somehow, given that this section of the highroad  
 is on something of a rise...                                                  
                                                                               
 This is something that needs a demolition crew. You may have to inform the    
 Crusaders, if you don't feel like climbing. And yet, there is something       
 nearby... something that bears promise. These strange free-floating           
 entities, with their loose resemblance to Rigdobrite and their easily-goaded  
 temperament...                                                                
                                                                               
 Yes.                                                                          
                                                                               
 Perhaps these BOMBS can help you get past this.                               
                                                                               
 https://i.imgur.com/eScrDEo.png                                               
=Dungeon Conditions: Hesitate, Injure=========================================
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    The Hot Air Sack springs a leak at an inpportune time, and it is the path of wind that sweeps Ethius up and sees him on the other side in a somewhat overdramatic tumble, like there was an action movie script he needed to adhere to once he improv'd past a botched stunt.
     There's another explosion further ahead, and as everyone comes back together to move forward, they find that their path is blocked by a new pile of boulders. They can't take the birdge back (obviously) and the Oldroad is another, longer walk in which to find a new route for the wagon.
     The only way out, then, is through.
     "I will deal with the matter," Ethius remarks as he starts to cast a higher-yield heat spell. That might be one way to go about it, but the rest may catch glimpse of something else by going just a ways down-hill.
     Cackling, free-floating balls of fire with jagged-lined mouths, burning hot and making aggressive noises and gestures towards one another. Why, they look like they're about to explode--
     One of them does, away from the group, harmlessly, as an unwitting demonstration. Hmm.
     This could stir the imagination.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Mi'ihen.
<Pose Tracker> Naelle Sylkirk has posed.

Naelle's sadness is obvious. The reason for her sadness is also, probably, pretty obvious to anyone who was at the battle.

Now, there's another big pile of inanimate rocks, after another possible sabotage.

And some BOMBS.

Naelle's ears flatten back and her tail gets straight and puffs out.

Naelle, explosions won't fill the emptiness inside you.

But they might help.

"Batter UP!" she says, hefting her wrench like a baseball bat. (Or a cricket bat possibly, who knows about the canon existence of various stick-and-ball games on Lunar and Filgaia?)

shhh. explosions.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"I'm not saying that there aren't bandits around these parts," Cyre says as he begins taking down the makeshift sails, quaffing a quick restorative between folding jobs. "Actually, if I'm going to be honest, between what Ethius found back at the Crusader cart and the gunpowder in the air, I'm willing to bet that the guys in question are probably from Filgaia, too. These tactics are real close to stop-and-ambush style stuff back planetside. We need to keep moving--"

Which is made difficult by the... the rubble.

The rubble... that looks like it DEFINITELY was not here until relatively recently.

Cyre's eyes narrow suspiciously.

Ethius is already getting going, but Cyre... Cyre sees another opportunity.

Strange, floating explosion elementals. Ones that go boom REAL good. Cyre clicks his tongue and hops down off his perch. He mixes a few herbs into his censer and sets it alight, filling the air with...

...

That... that smells oddly similar to the scent of a freshly uncorked devil bottle.

Is he trying to taunt the bombs into attacking the rubble!?

(Yes, that's exactly what he's doing)

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Invigorating Vapors toward his party's challenge, Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb
Mi'ihen.
DG: Naelle Sylkirk has used her Tool Trusty Wrench toward her party's challenge, Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Mi'ihen.
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Ida meets Cyre's eyes, and seems to shrink back into herself. Her eyes are still wide. She's shaking. "I'm not well," she says, after a few moments of silence.

    Once the cart is back on solid ground, Ida clambers aboard, and stays there. She observes the Bombs with a distant sort of wariness, and winces at that first explosion. "I--I think I'd best stay here," she says.

DG: Ida Everstead-Rey has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb
Mi'ihen.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

"...We seem to cause trouble like this wherever we end up, don't we..." Jacqueline comments with a sigh. She felt a little bad about it. Both here and on Lunar's mainland, it seemed like people from Filgaia were intent on causing trouble.

Jacqueline watches Ida, as well, and the way she reacts. She feels like she should say something, but at the moment she's not entirely sure what she can say that'd help.

Soon, however, they run into trouble - this time involving rubble, blocking their path. They don't know it's bandits, but...it's probably bandits. Ethius is already preparing a spell, and Naelle brings out some explosives.

Cyre, meanwhile, spots some explosive fiends...and comes up with a rather clever plan.

"Those are...Bombs." Jacqueline explains, for the sake of those unfamiliar with the fiends.. "They can utilize fire-based Sorcery, but their specialty is, well..."

She doesn't need to explain, really - they can see it for themselves.

"Hold on. Allow me to assist..." Jacqueline says. She removes a Crest from her gauntlet and sets a different one in - an earth-based Crest for largescale manipulation. And then she gestures with her left hand. As she does so, rubble begins to be pushed to the side. Some will still need to be cleared out, but it will make things a little easier.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Landscaper Crest toward her party's challenge, Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb
Mi'ihen.
=================================================<* Mi'ihen Highroad *>=================================================
==================================<* CHALLENGE - Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Mi'ihen *>===================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 Whatever strange force is knocking stones in the road - some kind of stony    
 Fiend, perhaps? Poorly trained megalithic engineers? - has really given you   
 a giant load of work to do here, having thrown a good half-dozen boulders     
 into the road ahead of you. Somehow, given that this section of the highroad  
 is on something of a rise...                                                  
                                                                               
 This is something that needs a demolition crew. You may have to inform the    
 Crusaders, if you don't feel like climbing. And yet, there is something       
 nearby... something that bears promise. These strange free-floating           
 entities, with their loose resemblance to Rigdobrite and their easily-goaded  
 temperament...                                                                
                                                                               
 Yes.                                                                          
                                                                               
 Perhaps these BOMBS can help you get past this.                               
                                                                               
 https://i.imgur.com/eScrDEo.png                                               
=Dungeon Conditions: Hesitate, Injure=========================================
============================================<* Mi'ihen Highroad - Round 4 *>============================================
====================================< Results - Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Mi'ihen >=====================================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     5 --(0)--> 5                   Fail
Invigorating Vapors                 1   Brute   Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   10 --(0)--> 10                 Pass
Landscaper Crest                    3   Brute   Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Naelle Sylkirk                      0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Trusty Wrench                       2   Brute   Effects: Strengthen           
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ida Everstead-Rey                   5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
-------------------------------------------------------< Party >--------------------------------------------------------
Leader: Cyre H. Lorentz             55 --(20)--> 75                Pass
Conditions: Hesitate(2)|Injure(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Strengthen(1)
===================================================< Dream Chasers >====================================================
DG: The party led by Cyre H. Lorentz 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> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Jay lays forth an alternative before them. Cyre seems to have the right idea in so much as trying to draw the Bombs towards their problematic obstruction ahead of them. Add some incense! The thing is, it just leaves the Bombs more incensed. (The pun makes them even angrier.)
     One starts chasing Cyre around. Cyre will be able to get away, but it's going to be a scary game of cat and mouse. Er. Cat and bomb...? That implies the cat is the one doing the chas-- er. Let's leave the analogy at that.
     Naelle just throws herself wholesale into the horde of mounting bombs like she has something to prove, and bravely bats them at the rubble. Ethius withdraws from casting the spells, saving him a lot of energy, backing away as Bombs explode into the boulders in the way. Jay can use the Landscaper Crest to help shift the balance of the rubble so that further batted bombs can get rid of what's left.
     Ethius moves instead to assist Cyre with getting rid of the Bomb chasing him, firing off an electrical spell at an opportune moment. His gaze sweeps to a reluctant, dejected Ida who has taken rest within the wagon through all of this excitement, and over to Naelle who seems to be throwing all her feelings into an extraordinarily dangerous feat for the sake of it.
     He looks back ahead as the road ahead clears, missing a key opportunity to inquire about their well-beings.

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has drawn a new Challenge.
============================<* Mi'ihen Highroad *>============================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Fill Your Hands! *>======================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Not all Drifters are good people. The Sorcery Globe sent many people to       
 Spira by the will of Vinsfeld Rhadamanthus... and not everyone who was there  
 to oppose him, was there out of altruism.                                     
                                                                               
 With a sudden crack-snap-BANG of gunsmoke ARMs, you realize that you have     
 stepped right square into a classical Filgaian dry-gulch ambush. Whether or   
 not a leader calls out demands - and the terms will be nothing short of       
 "everything down to your undershorts and walk back the way you came" -        
 you're about to get fired on, and they have you surrounded. The Drifters      
 turned to banditry have a supply of gunsmoke ARMs supplemented by at least    
 one Symbologist.                                                              
                                                                               
 They've seen you coming, and they've prepared. What's more, they have you     
 outnumbered - the best case is three of them for every two of you. This       
 aren't great odds.                                                            
                                                                               
 Beat 'em.                                                                     
                                                                               
 ((If you have a memorable head bandit or signature weapon, please feel free   
 to @mail a summary or a link to the log to Erzebet Lefanu. These characters   
 may re-appear in future Digs... please be sure to include a summary of what   
 happened to them, even if they died.))                                        
=Dungeon Conditions: Overwhelm, Suffer========================================
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    "Nyeh heh heh~!" An obnoxious laugh rings out. It's so obnoxious that it's easy to miss the crack fire and ping of a gunsmoke ARM going off and bouncing right off the ground near the wagon. It's not so obnoxious as to cover the cloud of smoke, though. Clouds of smoke are always more obnoxious than laughter.
     "Another one for Curly Stache's stash!" Comes a tall, gangly sunburnt man who does not have a curly moustache at all. There are lily white burn marks going across his upper lip where a moustache might have once been. A finger twirls a nonexistant bit of facial hair, out of equal parts habit, denial, and habitual denial of having had that part of his face burnt off.
     There's at least fourteen others here. Various forms of Filgaian bandit, having to make due with local dress. Hidden faces. Gunsmoke ARMs, mostly revolvers. There's at least two Symbologists present. One has tattoos that light up as they ready a spell. The other doesn't, despite making similar gestures. Weird and probably indicative of something but that's not important right now.
     "So, here's how it is, see?" Curly says as he puts a foot atop a rock. "You all savages place all your goods in the cart and walk away--"
     "--Clothes too," says one of the ARM-wielding bandits whose clothes are much too small even for this kind of environ, "mine don't fit--"
     "FINE! Clothes too!" Curly snaps as he gets out a bullwhip and snaps it in the air.
     "Give you a count to... see?" To what? The number is mumbled. This is an unfair demand.
     Ethius closes his eyes. Knowledge of uncertain origin but a familiarity that couldn't be called anything short of initimate, he takes in every sensory stimulus within the range of human perception. He can hear the clicks of hands fiddling with triggers. Who is ready to fire, and from what direction. From the short glance he has of his surroundings, he can tell which side of a person one is packing heat or other hidden weapons on. The mask presently suppresses his scent, but otherwise he'd be able to tell who fired most recently and have an educated guess as to how many bullets are in their clip. When he re-opens his eyes, he catches even the softest reflections and changes in lighting from sunlight reflecting off of the weapons.
     If it were just him, he would be set.
     "One..."
     Ethius takes one of the satchels off his belt and puts it in the cart, as a cursory examination. He gently signals to the others to do the same.
     "Two..."
     He 'drops' the other satchel on the ground. Someone mouths to him to pick it up. He kneels down and takes in the sights and sounds of how people move, where he is certain the armed may be pointing their weapons.
     "Three..."
     "Four..."
     And then, Curly puts on a wicked smile. "A, B, C! Nyeh heh h--"
     POOMF. Ethius transitions from 'picking up dropped satchel' to 'rapidly cast activation spell for Powder Grenade' and hurls it in a direction behind Ida, where he gathered the most ready trigger finger was ready to go. The gunsmoke ARM explodes in their hand with a pained yelp as the field's visibility lowers.
     Ethius throws in his forearm as he slurs out another spell to activate the Symbological shield that deflects ARM fire, and moves mostly to try and cover everyone else as they do what they will.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Powder Grenade toward his party's challenge, Fill Your Hands!.
<Pose Tracker> Naelle Sylkirk has posed.

Despite her best efforts to impress her Boss, Naelle is not known as one of the Guard's best fighters. Under normal circumstances, Naelle would make up for it with enthusiasm.

Under normal circumstances, Naelle would have some kind of comeback. It wouldn't necessarily be witty, but it would be a comeback.

Under normal circumstances, Naelle would praise the power of Althena, knowing her Goddess' righteousness would imbue her with the power of kickass.

These are not normal circumstances.

"Clothes too," says one of the bandits and Naelle just snaps. She lets out a yowl, like the wildest stray cornered in an alley, and, tears streaming, leaps for the nearest of the bandits.

She doesn't even get out the wrench for this one. Just her claws.

I guess that guy *really* needs new clothes now.

DG: Naelle Sylkirk has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Fill Your Hands!.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

There's an obnoxious laugh and Jacqueline frowns. She sighs, covering her face with a hand for a moment.

"...I was afraid of this." She says, massaging her forehead. The powder, the conspicuous blockade...this was all a set-up.

Jacqueline stands up to her full height, stepping out of the wagon. The chocobo, who's looking a bit concerned, looks at her. Jacqueline offers the bird a brief, reassuring pat, before turning her attention to the bandits.

"...You...should be ashamed of yourselves." Jacqueline says, her voice cold as she folds her arms in front of her. "These are medical supplies, for injured and hurting people. They're not for you. Do you understand me? You should be doing what you can to help, not attacking travelers!"

She shakes her head.

"We can solve this peacefully. Please, put away your weapons and walk away." She urges.

...But, that doesn't seem likely. Soon, Ethius drops a Powder Grenade.

"Please, don't kill any of them!" She requests. Mostly to Ethius.

As for her own actions, well...she still has the Landscaper Crest equipped, so she might as well make use of it.

She gestures with her left hand and the earth just tears open beneath several of them, dropping them into a pit that they're unlikely to climb out of anytime soon.

"I'm not letting you out until you apologize, and promise to turn over a new leaf." She states.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool The Lifeweaver's Codex toward her party's challenge, Fill Your Hands!.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

It's a special kind of bracing that you experience when you're running at top speed from an angry living bomb. You don't quite realize how precious life is until you've taunted a self-destructing fire elemental into wanting to kill you, specifically. But everything is fine! Everything is under control. Cyre dives for safety right when Ethius slaps the bomb with a quick jolt of electrical energy, triggering its autoexplosive reproductive instinct. The bomb goes boom! A multitude of tinier bombs drift away on the wind, gathering dust and slowly increasing in size as they go.

As for Cyre...

Cyre is... taking a moment. He's back aboard the Cart-a-kin, getting ready to mosey when suddenly...!

...THAT GUY.

That guy... And his posse.

"You... You're the one who--" Cyre starts, about to start accusing this particular bandito's gang of the myriad obstacles they've encountered along their trip thus far. And why shouldn't he? This road is one of Luca's lifelines. For it to be damaged so severely...

To put so many people at risk...!

Ethius gestures meaningfully. Cyre gives him a look that seems to say 'I hope you know what you're doing.' He grumbles, moving to slip the robes from his shoulders, revealing a toned musculature beneath, when suddenly--

Ethius does know what he's doing.

The dust cloud rises, and suddenly explodes outward, carried by a tremendous wave of wind. A thunderous roar rises from the cart as Cyre's form disappears into an emerald flash...

What is left behind... Is more than just a mere beastman.

The Nahual of Fengalon surges forth, barreling right into the spellcaster and those nearest to him, the world around him screaming with galeforce winds--

But don't worry. He won't kill them.

He'll just... be making them hurt really, really bad.

How?

Lots and lots of pressure does awful things to eardrums, you know?

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Gale Claw toward his party's challenge, Fill Your Hands!.
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Ida was waiting for the other shoe to drop, but when it finally does, she's still not quite ready to deal with it.

    A gunshot rings out. Ida startles, jerks upright--her right hand darts for her thigh, for a holster that isn't there, before she stops herself. As the bandits step into view, Ida glances around at them with wide, shell-shocked eyes. Her lip trembles. The gunpowder charge didn't make sense for Lunar, unless the saboteurs were Al Bhed, but--but these are Filgaians. Here, on Lunar, she's being held at gunpoint by common Badlands ruffians. Just like Lost July. Just like when--

    Ida sucks in a breath as the 'countdown' starts. Her fingers tremble. Fear twists in her guts.

    You're going to die here.

    Ida breathes out, allows the fear to flow through her. She's scared. She's so very scared, even though she knows the others have her back, and the worst part is this isn't even half as frightening as some of the things she's seen.

    You know what to do, Ida reminds herself.

    You're going to die. Someone's going to die.

    Inhale. Exhale. Inhale, aim. Exhale, fire. Flawless focus.

    Ida's hands become a blur. When the bandits can see them clearly again, she's holding a strip of metal in one hand and Devil's Due in the other. Ida presses her thumb to the glyphs engraved in the Crest Strip, and wills it to release the spell within--streamers of brilliant light flicker off the crest, flowing across Ida and her companions. Time seems to slow for them. It's just the thing Ida needs to bolster her focus.

    Ida takes aim with her ARM, and fires. A bullet screams across the space between her and Curly--or, more specifically, between her ARM and Curly's. She moves too fast for the eye to clearly follow as she flows through a Chained Devil kata, aiming and firing at each of the other bandits in turn. Her aim isn't perfect, of course, but she heard Jay, and she's remembering another encounter with bandits that ended very poorly. She doesn't know if she can kill, like this.

DG: Ida Everstead-Rey has used her Tool Haste Cap toward her party's challenge, Fill Your Hands!.
=================================================<* Mi'ihen Highroad *>=================================================
===========================================<* CHALLENGE - Fill Your Hands! *>===========================================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 Not all Drifters are good people. The Sorcery Globe sent many people to       
 Spira by the will of Vinsfeld Rhadamanthus... and not everyone who was there  
 to oppose him, was there out of altruism.                                     
                                                                               
 With a sudden crack-snap-BANG of gunsmoke ARMs, you realize that you have     
 stepped right square into a classical Filgaian dry-gulch ambush. Whether or   
 not a leader calls out demands - and the terms will be nothing short of       
 "everything down to your undershorts and walk back the way you came" -        
 you're about to get fired on, and they have you surrounded. The Drifters      
 turned to banditry have a supply of gunsmoke ARMs supplemented by at least    
 one Symbologist.                                                              
                                                                               
 They've seen you coming, and they've prepared. What's more, they have you     
 outnumbered - the best case is three of them for every two of you. This       
 aren't great odds.                                                            
                                                                               
 Beat 'em.                                                                     
                                                                               
 ((If you have a memorable head bandit or signature weapon, please feel free   
 to @mail a summary or a link to the log to Erzebet Lefanu. These characters   
 may re-appear in future Digs... please be sure to include a summary of what   
 happened to them, even if they died.))                                        
=Dungeon Conditions: Overwhelm, Suffer========================================
============================================<* Mi'ihen Highroad - Round 5 *>============================================
=============================================< Results - Fill Your Hands! >=============================================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     5 --(25)--> 30                 Pass
Gale Claw                           3   Combat  Effects: Sacrifice and Embolde
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       5 --(25)--> 30                 Pass
Powder Grenade                      3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   10 --(30)--> 40                Fail
The Lifeweaver's Codex              2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Naelle Sylkirk                      0 --(30)--> 30                 Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ida Everstead-Rey                   5 --(25)--> 30                 Pass
Haste Cap                           2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
-------------------------------------------------------< Party >--------------------------------------------------------
Leader: Cyre H. Lorentz             75 --(35)--> 110               Pass
Conditions: Hesitate(1)|Overwhelm|Suffer(1)
Effects: Embolden(1)
===================================================< Dream Chasers >====================================================
DG: You have overcome the dungeon's trials! This run is a success!
DG: The party led by Cyre H. Lorentz has successfully explored Mi'ihen Highroad!
=================================================<* Mi'ihen Highroad *>=================================================
=====================================<* CHALLENGE - Travel Agency - Buy Buy Buy *>======================================
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 At the end of the Highroad - or at least at a place where it begins to be     
 called something else, in the judgment of Spira, for any road goes ever on -  
 is a travel agency. Part roadhouse, part inn, part chocobo stables, it        
 serves Summoners on their pilgrimage as well as irregular travelers... such   
 as you!                                                                       
                                                                               
 The proprietor, Rin, is currently out on some venture or other. The front     
 desk is being manned by Ropp, a Blitzball free agent, who is glad to talk     
 about the game but is also discreetly eager to obtain stuff from "the other   
 world." Any miscellaneous Filgaian stuff could easily be sold here for a      
 good price... particularly any literature, although Ropp is also interested   
 in obtaining Heal Berries, Mini Carrots, and - if you happen to have one - a  
 REAL premium price for a Sorcery Apple...                                     
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    They are badly outnumbered by these Filgaian troublemakers. Pound for pound, the five of them should be overrun and left to have their bodies bleach under the Spiran sun. Maybe eventually get sucked up by Sin the next time it decides it wants to Giga-Graviton a locale for giggles, and have their pyreflies stir about in anger and jealousy for an eternity.
     It sure might look it, for a moment, as Naelle finds herself out-wrestled by the guy in clothes that don't fit, throwing her against the ground. Jay gets an arm snagged by Curly's whip as he 'nyeh heh hehs' about his odds--
     --the other three deliver.
     Cyre, emerging with the power of Fengalon coursing through him, throws damn well all of them on their backs right then and there as gale force winds overwhelm them. Two of them collapse and fall over down a nearby ravine - the Symbologist with non-glowy tattoos seems to put together a fire spell in like no time flat (no chanting, no gesticulating... weird) as if to try and feed off of Cyre's winds, but to no avail. Too much wind, for too little fire to eat and grow from.
     Ida finds her resolve as she enables the spell that appears to make the world go slower. Her aim is true. Every shot she cracks is expertly done, firing at weapons seen through the smog and the soot that Ethius has put up, stirred ever more by Cyre's winds. One by one, she disarms them. There are only two instances where her bullets hit wrists rather than guns, but that should fulfill Jay's request nicely.
     The bullwhip is severed right at the handle, somehow, by one of Ida's shots, and Curly no longer has hold of Jay's arm, allowing her to use the Landscaping crest to entrap at least five others. Almost everyone is down, disabled, or just too aghast at what's going on. (If they aren't, it's because they have yet to be cat-scratched by Naelle. When she gets a new opportunity to rise and strike, will she! And how!)
     As it all clears... there's Ethius, who is now behind Curly, hands around his throat.
     "Nyeeeerrrrrrrgh~!" They struggle in vain. Didn't Ethius hear what Jay said? (Yes.)
     Ethius' body language and expression is almost unreadable, devoid of the emotional tells of heightened tension. Almost like putting his hands around someone's neck like this were as ordinary and comfortable as carrying a box.
     "You... you damned... Spiran savageeessss!" Curly strains. "S-Sitting ducks...! Ripe... easy for the pickin'... we could live like kings off of... their stupid, worthless lives...!"
     Ethius' fingers curl tighter. Jay may recognize something from their first journey together, what Ethius did to someone who was surrendering. This one is unrepentent.
     "Their lives are not for you to determine the worths of." The way he speaks is the same as always, but there's a flash of something else that somehow shines through even with the mask on.
     Anger.
     Ethius starts to tense his fingers as if to take the motion to snap his damned neck, unless someone intervenes...
 
     HAPPIER NEARBY CIRCUMSTANCE
 
     The chocobo gets scared and runs off with the cart... but not very far, before Ropp of Rin's Travel Agency happens by, able to calm the troubled beast down as he signals to everyone.
     "Hey! Hey! Friends!" He recognizes them. "Got a moment? Have a deal to discuss." He's willing to lead everyone interested inside to the nearby Travel Agency to discuss 'a deal.' (Ethius isn't, and won't be following.) Something about exotic goods from afar, where he discusses distant plants. Apparently he came across a Heal Berry and a Mini Carrot, ate them, and found them so great he wanted more.

<Pose Tracker> Naelle Sylkirk has posed.

Naelle tackles Ethius, suddenly. "NO!"

<Pose Tracker> Naelle Sylkirk has posed.

"You don't get to be judge, jury and executioner. There are laws! Althena's laws, and the laws of the Spirans, and there's *been enough death* and could we just...not?"

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline winces as her arm is caught by the whip. But, thankfully, the whip itself is severed by one of Ida's bullets, and Jacqueline sends her a nod of thanks before she casts her spell.

Eventually, most of the bandits are dealt with...except one, and he's in Ethius's hands. Jacqueline frowns, as the man persists in shouting against the 'Spiran savages'. She doesn't seem to pay attention to him, instead looking toward Ethius himself.

"You're right, Ethius...but do not kill him. This isn't a request anymore, this is an order." Jacqueline demands. She eyes him carefully...but in the end, Naelle is the one who makes the first move to stop him physically.

Jacqueline makes a mental note to thank her for the intervention. And someone else has approached, as well - the Blitzball player, Ropp, who had managed to catch a hold of the cart.

"Thank you. I'll do business with you in a moment, but first there's something I need to address." She says with a nod toward him, before looking toward Curly.

"We're from Filgaia too, you...you oafish reprobate!" She says, directing a frown toward Curly. "The people of Spira have suffered enough trouble, without us tracking our metaphorical mud on their land. You're acting like the savage here, not them."

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    "On the ground," Ida demands, as the tide starts to turn. There's steel in her voice--in her bearing--that wasn't there a few minutes ago. She's exhausted, drained, and struggling with a sense of hopelessness and helplessness she thought she'd left behind. Her fight-or-flight response is running with a hair trigger, as though something could go horribly wrong at any moment. Behind it all is a sort of numbness, punctuated by flashes of loss and bloodshed.

    But then the enemy is surrendering, or running, and everything feels so much lighter.

    "No," Ida says. she reaches out and grabs for Naelle with one hand, trying to pull her away from Ethius. Is she going to let him kill Curly? Ida turns to Hesiod, and her lip trembles. "Truth," she says. "And I would argue the same of you. Deliver them to the Crusaders, or the Yevonites. Let them cast judgment."

    Somehow Ida doubts Yevon will go easy on people using machina to terrorize travelers.

<Pose Tracker> Naelle Sylkirk has posed.

Pulling Naelle off Ethius is not actually too hard. The girl's hair hangs wild, some of it in front of her face, making her look truly wild-eyed. Rather than resist, Naelle just...drops to the ground to sit, bawling.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"There has been enough death, it's true," Cyre says. Cyre, not the incarnate form of Fengalon manifest in the world. He's still dragging that strange symbologist (currently unconscious) by the scruff as he returns to the rest of the group. He looks to Curly and gestures, the wind forming a high-pressure dome around the bandit before he attempts to flee. But--

"Child of Althena. Know this," he says, apparently directed at Naelle, "Sometimes, laws don't matter. In the badlands of Filgaia, sometimes there is no law. What we do in this kinship isn't always lawful, but it's always what we believe is good. More importantly, Ethius--"

"Wouldn't you say that it's more appropriate if the locals deliver their own judgment? We're all visitors here too, after all." Though the guy he was strangling is ALSO a foreigner... Still though! "Come on, let's get these bastards hog-tied. I doubt the Crusaders will be any happier than we are that their medical supplies were almost intercepted by these jerks."

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"Chances are, they're all dead men anyway, but if nothing else, bringing them in will give the Crusaders something to do," he adds, leashing his particular catch to the back end of the Cart-a-kin. "They'll need direction after what happened, even in the short term. Getting a few of them patrolling the highroad will at least keep their minds off it. I doubt these are the only bandits to set up shop out here, you know?"

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Naelle is possessed of great strength, bolstered ever further by her adrenaline high of moments before. A singularly-focused Ethius on the man he has in a death grip stands no chance against a tackling catgirl. She has enough momentum and strength to carry the both of them at least ten feet and drive Ethius onto his back as Naelle pleads.
     Fearful for his life and realizing this might be the only shot he has at getting away, Curly Stache sputters, picks up what's left of his bullwhip, and tries to stagger away from Jay's direction. He knows she's sparing him and he's going to exploit that for all it's worth.
     Some of his compatriots call to be let out of the trap they're in, only one of them mouthing anything that genuinely sounds like 'I'm sorry' and even the use of that descriptor might be reaching.
     Curly doesn't get far before he trips and falls on his face again. He could be easy enough to have someone pick up off the ground and deliver to the Crusaders, the other Yevonites... whatever passes for law, in these parts.
     When Ida helps remove Naelle, Ethius takes a moment to rise. Turns out Naelle knocked him flat against stone, and took all the wind out of him. He didn't get concussed this time, but he's lost the breath to speak up as Ida and Cyre lecture him about the idea of leaving their fate to the locals.
     They know full well what this man is capable of. At any moment, he could go on ahead, cast any manner of terrible spell, and strike Curly there in a way that would be more painful and drawn-out rather than sudden and efficient.
     Ethius comes up in a kneel. Him having free hands at all is a threat to just about anyone's life.
     "If that is an order," he regards to Jay. He returns to that guarded, reserved nature where any idle movement of his body is conscious and with purpose - as though this were the only concession of logic he would make, even when confronted from three different angles about respecting the law of the land.
     He will ensure their ARMs are confiscated and disposed of, at least, but that seems to defuse the situation as much as it's going to. All of them were company to so much death and loss in such a short amount of time, to feel a great void in its wake - but this man seems, in some way, almost untouched by the magnitude of what transpired.
     The rest of the journey, short as it is, to the Travel Agency may pass in awkward silence.