2019-05-13: Survivors, Scavengers, and Saviors

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  • Log: 2019-05-13: Survivors, Scavengers, and Saviors
  • Cast: Ida Everstead-Rey, Ethius Hesiod, Isolde, Ivan, Layna Manydays
  • Where: Mushroom Hill Road
  • Date: May 13, 2019
  • Summary: An assortment of Drifters take up Sinscale hunting duties along Mushroom Rock Road one day after the Sending, in wake of the disastrous Operation that failed to put an end to Sin. Even when it is too late to prevent the worst, it is up to them to make the best of what's left - whatever they'll make of what's left, to whatever meaning there is still left to cling to.

===================================================<* The Moonflow *>===================================================

The Moonflow is a large river that bisects Spira's largest island into southern and northern halves. Strange flowers called Moonlilies grow on the Moonflow's banks, attracting pyreflies that gather on its surface at night, making the water sparkle. Although a beautiful area, the weather tends to be overcast more often than not, the souls of the dead providing the most reliable source of illumination.

The primary method of crossing the Moonflow is aboard a shoopuf - an elephantine creature that can swim across the expansive river. The crossing service is funded by the Temple of Yevon and is free of charge.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wcVnJQ-FN4
DG: A party led by Ida Everstead-Rey is now entering Mushroom Rock Road.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
============================<* Mushroom Rock Road *>============================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Sudden Triage Unit *>======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The wounded are in no small supply along Mushroom Rock Road. Be it at the     
 entrances to the winding mountain pathway or the beach where Sin was          
 battled, injured Crusaders are not uncommon. To make matters worse, the       
 fiends have grown far more common since Operation Mi'ihen, as the Crusaders   
 lack the numbers to clear fiends out regularly.                               
                                                                               
 As you start your journey, you come across over a dozen people with various   
 types of wounds; some are severe, some are minor, and a couple are mere       
 scratches that still have the unfortunate in a lather. It will take some      
 work to decide who to treat first, and who has to wait until the truly dire   
 wounds are tended to.                                                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify, Tire============================================
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Where Sin goes, Fiends follow. Countless Sinscales died in battle, but that doesn't mean there aren't more lurking nearby. With so many of the Crusaders dead or wounded, someone has to perform their duty for them. Ida awakened from a drug-induced sleep, took her medicine for the first time in almost three weeks, and resolved to do just that. She set out, hitching a ride with a group of kind, pious souls who'd heard about the devastation and come to help. She saw them safely to the cove, and then headed north.

    Ida walks along at a smooth, steady pace, but she hasn't said much of anything to her fellow Fiend-hunters. She bathed, and bound her hair up, and put on a shirt to replace the one she sacrificed, but she still doesn't look completely there. About half a mile north of the cove, the group gets its first sign of trouble.

    "HELP! HELP, SOMEONE!"

    Ida's head snaps up. She glances about, trying to pinpoint the source of the voice--it echoes from a deep, cavernous hole in the rocks to the right.

    "This way!" It's not quite a command, but it's getting there. Ida doesn't wait around to humor other opinions. She dashes into the gloom, well aware that this could be a trap.

    It isn't--not for them, anyway.

    A dozen young people--all of them wearing Crusader uniforms--occupy what was probably an improvised camp about fifteen minutes ago. Now, it's thoroughly wrecked; three of the Crusaders lie on the ground, bleeding from slash wounds. One of them--a young woman, bleeding from a contusion on her forehead--looks at Ida, equal parts thankful and desperate. "Praise Yevon," she whispers. Her voice is slurred. She was the one calling for help "Please--you have to."

    "Sit down," Ida says. Again, her voice isn't quite an order. Her heart lurches against her ribs as she takes stock of the wounded, and begins the cold calculus of triage.

    "Sinscales," someone else says.

DG: Ida Everstead-Rey has used her Tool Multitool toward her party's challenge, Sudden Triage Unit.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Ethius has not allowed himself to rest. He is filled with a sense of urgency that prevents him from allowing a number of biological necessities to take proper hold of him out of sheer determination, to some inscrutable cause. Much of his time before - and after - Yuna completed her Sending rituals for those that were recovered and shrouded to that point were spent scavenging.
     The only thing he hasn't taken from any dead bodies are their clothes, as if respecting their necessity for funerary purposes. It would have been very convenient for him to do so, as he had to sacrifice scraps of cloth from the Hot Air Sack to assist in shrouding some of the bodies for the Sending. He is unwilling to take any further scraps of cloth from what's on his back, and there is no more clothing scrap to go around in which to repair it.
     This inconvenience does not serve to stop him overly much, as he's swept into a group of Fiend hunters as a means to whatever ends he's pursuing.
     Someone calls for help. Ethius takes a moment to signal to the rest to wait and be sure the way to them is clear as he takes out that sorcery-powered eyeglass and goes about casting the usual yield of electrical spell to power it on. Many exotic devices where employed by Otherworlders - some may still be active.
     It's to narrow down the possibility they're about to run into the equivalent of a minefield. Once satisfied with the cursory sweep, he signals everyone onward to the waiting injured ahead. At that point, he stands guard for any emergence of Sinscales.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Spectral Lens toward his party's challenge, Sudden Triage Unit.
<Pose Tracker> Isolde has posed.

 
Isolde, the swordswoman, has gotten here late, which is something of a winning survival strategy for her. Of course, you can only be so late before you become, truly, late. She had drifted round the fringes of the former battlefield that is turning into a blend of memorial and hospital, soon to be far more the former.

Isolde walks that way. She ducks her head into the cavern. Her face turns towards the woman with the contusion and she sets down on a stone, on the other side of the path in and out. She is not making herself too comfortable, but she is getting more on that figure's level.

Her voice is warm. "You must have had a time of it," she tells the Crusader. "I'm going to let the others do the hard work because I have to. All I'm good for here is to carry a heavy load. But I want you to tell me, how did you all get into this cave?"

"I can smell from the tension in here that you were using it as something of a hiding hole. Was there some follow up attack from Fiends or similar?" Isolde asks as she reaches into a coat pocket, finds something, and draws out the fat little ivory cubes, rattling them in her hands as she listens. She waits. She asks prompting questions. Questions that require a little focus but not too much.

When there are no more questions, she asks the woman with the head strike - and perhaps the less wounded as well - "Would you like me to teach you a game?"

DG: Isolde has used her Tool Cubic Prisms of Stochasticism toward her party's challenge, Sudden Triage Unit.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan is here in his capacity as a Guardsman, helping to patrol for fiends and aid the wounded, as one of the lucky few who made it out of the battle with Sin in relatively good condition. He startles a bit as he runs into Ida on his way to investigate a cry for help.

"You again?" he asks, though he's too off balance to be quite as unwelcoming as he might have intended to come off. There are wounded to see to, and helping with that is his job at the moment, as strange as that is.

He's come equipped with some potions and first aid supplies, though he hasn't got much in the way of medical knowledge. He does have some experience with this from the other side of things, so he lets himself be guided by his--well--familiarity with death, giving attention to whoever looks to be showing the most serious signs of shock.

It takes him a while to notice another familiar face in Isolde. "Aren't you... from the temple before...?"

DG: Ivan has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Sudden Triage Unit.
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

Layna hadn't been around often. It wasn't that she wasn't sympathetic to the plight of those who had taken part in Operation Mi'ihen, but it wasn't her fight to fight.

But, in the wake of Sin's devastation, she had called her crew into action. Someone had asked for her help, and she wouldn't say know.

And so, she finds herself following along with the others as they seek to help deal with the rising Fiend problem.

Most of her crew is elsewhere, having taken a different route.

Suddenly, there's a voice. Ida goes toward it so Layna follows, whereupon they locate a devastated Crusader camp.

Layna grimaces. These people are hurt. She's no healer, unfortunately...but she does know someone who is. Layna takes a breath and whistles in a specific pattern - it's a signal.

After a moment of waiting, three men arrive - two of them are armed, but the third is dressed as a priest of Althena. His clothes are lacking any of the identifying symbols, however.

"Lysander. Good timing. These folks are injured - give us a hand." Layna says. The priest, Lysander, looks upon the injured.

"...Oh. Oh my, yes. Right away, Captain." He moves to assist, providing healing litanies to mend the wounded - he'll follow Ida's lead on the matter.

"Sinscales..." Layna repeats in mutter with a frown on her face, as one of the Crusaders brings them up.

Layna briefly eyes the Guardsman currently with Ida, but she's never seen Ivan before, in any of his capacities.

DG: Layna Manydays has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Sudden Triage Unit.
============================<* Mushroom Rock Road *>============================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Sudden Triage Unit *>======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The wounded are in no small supply along Mushroom Rock Road. Be it at the     
 entrances to the winding mountain pathway or the beach where Sin was          
 battled, injured Crusaders are not uncommon. To make matters worse, the       
 fiends have grown far more common since Operation Mi'ihen, as the Crusaders   
 lack the numbers to clear fiends out regularly.                               
                                                                               
 As you start your journey, you come across over a dozen people with various   
 types of wounds; some are severe, some are minor, and a couple are mere       
 scratches that still have the unfortunate in a lather. It will take some      
 work to decide who to treat first, and who has to wait until the truly dire   
 wounds are tended to.                                                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify, Tire============================================
=======================<* Mushroom Rock Road - Round 1 *>=======================
========================< Results - Sudden Triage Unit >========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ida Everstead-Rey                   0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Multitool                           2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Spectral Lens                       2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Layna Manydays                      0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Isolde                              0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Cubic Prisms of Stochasticism       1   Wits    Effects: Cleanse              
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Ida Everstead-Rey           0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Stupify(2)|Tire(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Enlighten(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Ida Everstead-Rey 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> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Somehow, Ida is able to stay in the moment, despite everything. She can't allow herself to remember Senna, or any of the others she saw die on that beach. All that matters now is ensuring the Summoners don't need to perform yet another Sending. Fortunately, the group came well-prepared to minister to the wounded. Ivan identifies one of the worst casualties, a young man with a bloody wound along his left side, and administers a potion. The bleeding slows. Ida shows up a moment later, with a multitool in one hand and lengths of sterile gauze in the other. She looks at Ivan as she packs the wound and binds it shut, and finally answers his question. "Yes," she says. She manages a small, weak smile. She looks like an entirely different person than the confident woman Ivan's seen in the past. "Me again."

    The woman with the head injury nods to Isolde, mutely. "Sinscales," she says. "They were--they were laying in ambush." Fortunately, Ethius can't see any--but his watchful eye provides a degree of security for everyone. This is still a very dangerous place. "I--thank you, ma'am. I--I just don't want to lose anyone else," the young woman continues. She looks at the dice in Isolde's hand, and swallows. "I--" Lysander's healing litany washes across the room. The woman sags against the wall, sinking into merciful, painless unconsciousness as the man's magic gets to work on what is definitely a concussion.

    The work continues. The team binds wounds, administers curatives, and reassures the handful of terrified, lightly-wounded Crusaders that no one else will die today. No one else does.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has drawn a new Challenge.
================================================<* Mushroom Rock Road *>================================================
============================================<* CHALLENGE - Avalanche Risk *>============================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 Giga-Graviton, Sin's ultimate attack, caused considerable damage to Mushroom  
 Rock Road. In places, the hillsides and cliffs have been shattered... but in  
 others, such as this stretch of the road, they have been weakened. If you     
 get a good look, you can see that the rocks and boulders overhead tremble     
 when you approach. You will need to be very careful -- and very quiet -- if   
 you don't want to trigger a landslide.                                        
=Dungeon Conditions: Reckless, Exhaust, Injure================================
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    It is a small solace, a miracle unto itself, that no one will die there today. Were it possible to be holed up and live the rest of one's life in safety... well, Spira is not afforded that luxury. The Fiend hunters cannot stay in this cave. They stay only so long as to ensure the position is safe for the wounded before they continue along the road - there's that tip they need to follow up on as regards the Sinscales.
     A twenty minute journey later, none yet surface. Their path takes them back through the battlefields, where Giga-Graviton leveled the locale.
     Ethius comes to a stop as he sees some of the loosened rock ahead tremble. He is probably not the first to notice this, for the lot of them are seasoned adventurers (with one exception due to a lack of sight) and can plainly see that this path is on unstable ground. It's an avalanche waiting to happen.
     Ethius, once again, does another minesweep with the Spectral Lens just to be safe. It is growing cloudy from heavy use. He has no doubt that the rest will respect the need to tread carefully and quietly to avoid a landslide or worse, but it is important to identify a potential problem no matter how obscure or unlikely it is for it to still exist where Giga-Graviton struck.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Spectral Lens toward his party's challenge, Avalanche Risk.
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

Layna helps where she can - she might not have any real healing ability, but she's at least a second pair of hands that might be able to help somewhere.

In the end, no one dies. Layna exhales a sigh of relief.

"Good work." Layna says with a nod, then looks at the gathered Crusaders - the ones that are still conscious, anyway.

"...You lot stay strong, aye?" She says, then looks toward the two men who had arrived with Lysander.

"You two, stay with 'em, make sure they get back alright." She says.

They may not be able to stay with the Crusaders, but having some fresh sword arms to look after them should at least ensure they don't have to worry about them.

Layna follows along after the others with Lysander following along...and then pauses. She's not the only one - Ethius stops, too. Layna raises a hand as a signal halt before drawing her telescope, using it to gain upward.

She frowns.

"...I was afraid of this. That cliffside don't have long - it's gonna be comin' down any second now. Sooner, if somethin' disturbs it." Layna says. "We'll need to think about how to get around it."

DG: Layna Manydays has used her Tool Captain's Telescope toward her party's challenge, Avalanche Risk.
<Pose Tracker> Isolde has posed.

 
Ivan addresses her. Isolde turns her head towards him. "Aren't I?" she asks, before laughing. "Yes," she says. "Unless I have a twin I've never met. But that's unlikely."

Her attention turns back to the woman - but she heard the litany. "A charm on your sore head, arise not thou sleep-dead," Isolde says, which has an air of something archaic, before getting back up to her feet. "Then I suppose we're for movement."

Why is she coming with them? Well, she isn't eager to gamble with the wounded, perhaps.

As she walks, Isolde speaks to some of the others. "How do you do," she says to Ida, and approximately towards Layna and Lysander as well (if Lysander has accompanied them.) "Call me Isolde. I can hear a lot of tension in your voice, but you don't seem like Crusaders... what's brought you out this way? I'll be honest with you that I thought for a moment that I should turn back from that nice Al Bhed man's travel a-"

Isolde is interrupted as she walks into something. Something is Ethius. "Oh," Isolde says, just behind Ethius's left ear. "Hello there."

She falls back a pace.

"... Ah - it's rough going ahead, isn't it?" She brings out those dice again, rolling them round her fingers. Layna explains in more detail. She nods once, and then takes a step back, a step to the left, one forwards and further to the left, and extends a hand -- to Ivan.

Her fingers wiggle expectantly, the other hand still rolling the dice over her knuckles. "I'll slay a Fiend for you," she tells Ivan, as if by way of saying 'fair's fair.'

DG: Isolde has used her Tool Cubic Prisms of Stochasticism toward her party's challenge, Avalanche Risk.
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    The group of Crusaders moves on under escort, wounded but alive. Some of the weight falls from Ida's shoulders. "Stay alert," says the naturalist. "There may well be more of them."

    Ida turns to look at Isolde, and frowns thoughtfully. "I remember your face from somewhere," she says, "but not where. Forgive me, it's been a... trying few weeks. My name is Ida. A pleasure to meet you, Isolde." And then Layna and Ethius stop in their tracks, and Ida stops, too. "What's wrong?" she says. Her hands clench into fists, and she glances up at the cliff faces, scanning them for movement. "...Oh." Well.

    Ida reaches into her pocket and pulls out the multitool, promptly putting it to fidget-toy duty. "Lead the way," she says. The slightest misstep could send everything tumbling down, and Ida is nothing if not jittery. The feel of the metal between her fingers calms her, helps her focus as she puts one foot in front of the other with exacting care.

DG: Ida Everstead-Rey has used her Tool Multitool toward her party's challenge, Avalanche Risk.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

It seems like everyone in the cave is going to make it. Ivan is more relieved about that than he'd be willing to admit to; the ones who lived through the initial attack, but died soon after anyway, have unsettled him more than the ones he saw disintegrated in the event itself. Something about the hope of survival getting dangled and then snatched away, probably. It's not really the kind of thing someone like him is supposed to have opinions about.

Ivan finds himself traveling with the small group that helped out in the cave--Ida, Isolde, and another few people he doesn't think he knows from anywhere. He initially tries to pull back and let them get ahead of him, but he keeps catching up to them, and eventually gives in to the temporary team-up.

He keeps an eye on Isolde, in particular, as he isn't entirely sure how she gets around in unfamiliar territory without incident. Apparently not entirely without incident, though, as he watches her walk into one of the group members at one point.

She falls back into step with him, and he's looking curiously at her dice, when she offers to slay a fiend on his behalf?

"What? Why?"

But they've come up on a dangerous area, with rocks that look ready to give way crash down at the slightest provocation.

Ivan goes into stealth mode, stepping smoothly and soundlessly as he was trained to do--even if he learned the technique for more unsavory purposes than simply sneaking past rocks.

As he does so, he offers his own arm to Isolde in turn, not sure if that's what she was going for, but seeing it as perhaps a practical option for helping her keep balanced and clear of the cliff wall.

DG: Ivan has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Avalanche Risk.
================================================<* Mushroom Rock Road *>================================================
============================================<* CHALLENGE - Avalanche Risk *>============================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 Giga-Graviton, Sin's ultimate attack, caused considerable damage to Mushroom  
 Rock Road. In places, the hillsides and cliffs have been shattered... but in  
 others, such as this stretch of the road, they have been weakened. If you     
 get a good look, you can see that the rocks and boulders overhead tremble     
 when you approach. You will need to be very careful -- and very quiet -- if   
 you don't want to trigger a landslide.                                        
=Dungeon Conditions: Reckless, Exhaust, Injure================================
===========================================<* Mushroom Rock Road - Round 2 *>===========================================
==============================================< Results - Avalanche Risk >==============================================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ida Everstead-Rey                   0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Multitool                           2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       0 --(15)--> 15                 Fail
Spectral Lens                       2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Layna Manydays                      5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Captain's Telescope                 3   Wits    Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Isolde                              5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Cubic Prisms of Stochasticism       1   Wits    Effects: Cleanse              
-------------------------------------------------------< Party >--------------------------------------------------------
Leader: Ida Everstead-Rey           20 --(20)--> 40                Pass
Conditions: Exhaust(1)|Injure(2)|Reckless(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Enlighten(1)
===================================================< Dream Chasers >====================================================
DG: The party led by Ida Everstead-Rey 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.
DG: Isolde has drawn a new Challenge.
============================<* Mushroom Rock Road *>============================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Breaking Mushrooms *>======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The path through Mushroom Rock Road is subject to landslides and avalanches,  
 after Sin's blast tore through the land here. You come across where one of    
 those mushroom-shaped rocks has collapsed... creating a massive, mushroom     
 cap-shaped pile of rubble that must be cleared to advance.                    
=Dungeon Conditions: Overzealous, Tire========================================
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Aside from the very sound of his footsteps, Ethius does little to indicate his presence - his inconsideration for Isolde's lack of sight is brought upon himself as she bumps into him while he's in the middle of getting a look at something connected down there. Too deeply buried to be a surface mine, but maybe something--
 
     *low-key catastrophic bump*
 
     "Hn!" A rare grunt of surprise as the faintly glowing lens pops up out of his grasp. His lack of sleep wreaks havoc with his hand-eye coordination as his careful control of his body language evaporates on the spot, less-than-gracefully grasping for the thing as it pops up. He's before a short drop. The rock underneath him gives out, and he goes sliding down a good ten feet. It lands with a 'thunk.'
     Layna's scope will be drawn towards one of the bigger avalanche risk rock piles, as the faint sound of clinking dice echoes ominously across where they tread... and it rumbles again.
     Some rocks collapse, a foreboding crackling that could be the trumpeting harbinger of their impending demise... but then the small stones wedge themselves in between bigger ones, stabilizing their balance.
     A hell of a lucky dice roll, in metaphorical terms.
     Ivan, well-trained in stealthy movement, steps lightly through the path afforded to them as he takes point on the higher road. Even with the newly stabilized rocks directly above, it is nervous going, and Ida may be compelled to squeeze her fiddling duty doodad out of sheer anxiety that worse could happen.
     It doesn't. Ivan's training and gracious guidance of those who require it see them through on the other end. Ethius has to continue along a lower path for a while. There's another startling rumbling of smaller rocks as he instinctively thinks to bring a hand over his head.
     A decent-sized chunk of rock clips him in the foot instead. The mask on his face just barely holds back the hiss of pain, but at least this time it's not his head. This time.
     ...
     Two minutes later, where there is a reasonably safe and solid way back up to rejoin the others, he stands a good fifteen feet away from Isolde.
     "Yes, belatedly, hello there." His voice does not betray whatever irritation and/or fear he may have felt from that entire harrowing exchange as he stows away the Spectral Lens.
     Still no Sinscale ambush... but it is possible their attentions migrated elsewhere.

<Pose Tracker> Isolde has posed.

 
Isolde takes the proffered arm. She draws her blade with the other one. And then... Well, she moves with Ivan. That's the easy part.

To Ida, she says, "It's good to meet you again, but I must ask. Are you with that ship and the relief people?" It's a generic sort of category but Isolde was rarely with the main thrust of folks in the previous encounters.

As the ground becomes a little steadier - as they pass out of the zone of peril - Isolde straightens and lets go of Ivan's arm, without prompting. She sheaths her blade and breathes out with some force.

AHEAD OF THEM -

Oh look, a flashback opportunity.

EARLIER...

Crusader Snafu and his new comrade from Filgaia, Pistolera Tarfu, look up at the carefully positioned rocks above them. "I've got an idea," Snafu says: "Why don't you -"

"Shoot 'em so they fall in a perfect pattern? Yeah!" says Tarfu, who raises up one pistol and takes aim. She pulls the trigger.

BANG!

The broken fragments of mushroom rock slump before them.

Tarfu and Snafu gaze at the wreckage. "I never should've married you," Snafu says.

BACK HERE AND NOW:

Isolde nudges one of the rocks with the toe of one boot. She sucks on her teeth. "Well," she then says cheerfully as she crouches down to pick up that rock and hurl it merrily in the direction of the ocean (it does not reach the ocean, but it does get out of the road bed and lands in a patch of low-tide wet sand), "a little work never hurt anyone, unless they were already injured."

Isolde then asks Ida, "You're from away from Ignas, aren't you?"

DG: Isolde has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Breaking Mushrooms.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan is not generally a physical contact-y sort of a guy, so between the arm-holding and the sustained risk of sudden rock-collapse-doom as they make their way down the path, he is significantly wound up by the time they arrive safely on the other side of the perilous stretch. But, nonetheless, he didn't make any weird movements that get anyone killed, and they even manage to reunite with the guy who fell down to the lower levels, so all seems well. He sighs and tries to will his nerves to uncoil.

"Congratulations on surviving," he unenthusiastically tells the guy who fell partway down the cliff and just rejoined them.

The rubble pile they find blocking their path is... in a strange way... promising, to Ivan. He looks about to make sure there are no more precariously poised rocks ready to avalanche them, and then advances toward the rockpile, calling a Very Large Hammer into his hands from a flash of his ring. A few of the rocks are currently too large to cart away, and targeted demolition is one of the few unblemished joys that Ivan allows himself in this world.

He raises the outrageously-sized warhammer to smash!

DG: Ivan has used his Tool Warhammer toward his party's challenge, Breaking Mushrooms.
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

"Pleasure to meet ya. Name's Layna Manydays - captain o' the Ruby Empress." Layna replies to Isolde. Lysander, who had accompanied them, bows - both to her and for the others gathered who don't know him.

"I am Lysander, her ship's appointed chaplain and medic." He explains. "I am no fighter, but I will do what I can for the injured."

Fortunately - except for an unfortunate slip on Ethius's part - they manage to get past without any real incident. That could prove dangerous in the future...but for now, they're safe.

And Ethius does rejoin them not long after, so there's that.

Ahead of them, however, there is a large pile of rubble, presumably from a different avalanche zone. Sin had really done a number on this place.

"Well, we're not goin' anywhere unless we get to work..." Layna says, rolling her left shoulder. She pauses for a moment with an eyebrow raised as Ivan draws out a rather large hammer and goes to town, but then shrugs.

She recites an incantation and then punches forward toward a separate section of rocks, unleashing a focused shockwave of wind with enough force to pulverize a good number of them.

DG: Layna Manydays has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Breaking Mushrooms.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Ethius has to take it slow for a bit because a rock confused his foot for his head. It's an honest mistake for any falling piece of debris to make, everything kind of squishes the same when something falls on it.
     "Your congratulations are appreciated," he says as though the phrase were being read off a script, seemingly not too intent on being too conversational, too attention-grabbing. Only now he has taken the extra step of making sure he won't be standing in the way of someone who might bump into him unwittingly, a hand to his forehead as he considers a glint of something in the pile.
     An expended gunsmoke ARM bullet. He goes over to retrieve it deftly, but from the corner of his eye he sees something that stops him mid-acquisition of oddly specific debris.
     The way the warhammer gets in Ivan's hands. He starts to size up his manner of dress, the way the weight of his equipment may be distributed versus his balance. He is not at all being subtle about it, as several start to roll up their sleeves and start to move along piles of debris.
     "We are in an open space with the capacity to allow runoff into the water." He states simply states after almost everyone has gotten ready to pick up and move things. "If allowed clearance, I will move to melt the offending obstruction."
     If allowed to do so... with a sequence of Symbological spell casts, one hand fluttering fingers as he chants the appropriate syllables, faint lights appear where his Symbological tattoos are as he completes the spellcasting rituals in question, looking to melt the pile of rocks and have it all just ooze off into the water nearby.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Breaking Mushrooms.
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Ida stifles a cry as Ethius goes tumbling--more out of surprise than certainty he'll fall to his death. Once the group is reunited, she turns to Isolde, and shakes her head. "The Outreach? No. I know some of them, though." The conversation pulls her mind away from the lingering possibility of death by Sinspawn, as does the rockfall. Ida pockets the multitool and gets right to work, picking up smaller chunks of debris and tossing them aside, like Isolde's doing.

    "...Aquvy, actually," Ida says, with just the barest pause between Isolde's question and her response. It's like she's trying to sound like she wasn't caught off-guard. "But I've spent so much time in Ignas over the past few years--gotten to know it. Where are you from?"

DG: Ida Everstead-Rey has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Breaking Mushrooms.
============================<* Mushroom Rock Road *>============================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Breaking Mushrooms *>======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The path through Mushroom Rock Road is subject to landslides and avalanches,  
 after Sin's blast tore through the land here. You come across where one of    
 those mushroom-shaped rocks has collapsed... creating a massive, mushroom     
 cap-shaped pile of rubble that must be cleared to advance.                    
=Dungeon Conditions: Overzealous, Tire========================================
=======================<* Mushroom Rock Road - Round 3 *>=======================
========================< Results - Breaking Mushrooms >========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ida Everstead-Rey                   0 --(3)--> 3                   Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       15 --(3)--> 18                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                0 --(3)--> 3                   Pass
Warhammer                           3   Brute   Effects: Rally                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Layna Manydays                      5 --(8)--> 13                  Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Isolde                              5 --(8)--> 13                  Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Ida Everstead-Rey           40 --(20)--> 60                Pass
Conditions: Overzealous(2)|Reckless(1)|Tire(2)
Effects: 
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Ida Everstead-Rey 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> Isolde has posed.

 
"Appointed by whomst?" Isolde asks Lysander. She has a tone in her voice as if she's winking. Then, "It's a pleasure to meet you. I have to wonder something... and I realize this is trivia, but..."

"How WAS the voyage over? I had thought travelling more than twelve or so leagues past the farthest point of Glenwood was a recipe for sure death," Isolde continues. Another rock gets tossed.

Isolde never sees it, presumably, but Ivan's hammer is the keystone to these efforts, mostly because it lets him break up friable rock into smaller, chunkable pieces. Especially when Ethius uses the power of HEAT to turn a lot of it into -- well it must have been largely something near sandstone, because what's left melts readily and looks a lot like glass. Isolde, sensing the heat, lays off.

"Nowhere in particular," she tells Ida. "But I'm pleased! I picked out your accent. What kind of card games do they have in Aquvy?" After a short break, the passage becomes a question of 'crossing over the hot pavement courtesy of Ethius,' rather than 'tiptoing through jagged rocks.'

SOMEWHERE ELSE...

"So you want," Belgemine tells the two -

"A divorce," Tarfu and Snafu say in chorus.

Belgemine is struck silent by this turn of events.

DG: Layna Manydays has drawn a new Challenge.
===========================<* Mushroom Rock Road *>===========================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Trapped Survivors *>======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 When the final blow against the combined Crusader, Guard, and Al Bhed army    
 came, many of the back ranks simply broke and fled. Unfortunately, the        
 damage done to Mushroom Rock Road means that many of those people were        
 trapped up in the hillside. You come across one group -- who are caught       
 between two cave-ins, which have blocked their access to the road.            
                                                                               
 "Help!" one shouts. "We have some wounded back here!"                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken, Exhaust==========================================
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

"Appointed by me." Layna replies with a friendly smirk. As Isolde asks about the trip, though, captain and chaplain both share a look.

"Ah...we're currently separated from our ship, actually - you could say we're in the market for a temporary replacement, aye?" Layna remarks with a laugh. "But aye, so I thought, too, but somehow they managed it."

She sends a look in Ivan's direction, as if nonverbally asking for an explanation.

She talks as she walks and works, and as they progress further they can see even more results of the damage wrought by Sin. Two cliffsides, collapsed precariously against each other. Any moment one of them could give out, bringing both of them down.

Just as Layna is about to suggest they go around, she hears a voice from within.

"Help! We have some wounded back here!" Someone shouts. Layna curses under her breath. This was a perilous situation

"...Alright. Let's see what we can do, aye?" Layna says. From somewhere within her clothes, she draws out a drill which she slots over the bracer on her right hand.

"Don't worry, we're here to rescue you! Just sit tight, aye? We'll get you out in just a sec', an' then we can see to those wounded o' yours." Layna shouts back, then looks back at the others.

"...Try not to do anythin' that'll bring the lot of it down." She warns. She activates the drill and gets to work - it's a lot more precise than just trying to punch the rocks away.

DG: Layna Manydays has used her Tool Arm-Mounted Drill toward her party's challenge, Trapped Survivors.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

The melting of the rocks is of some interest to Ivan, both aesthetically because molten rock is amazing, and as an extension of his general enthusiasm for the art of destroying stuff. He's also not sure what those magic tattoos are all about.

"Do the tattoos make the magic go, or just power it up?" he asks, perhaps rudely, but if magic-enhancing tattoos are a thing that exists in the world, he would rather like to know about it.

When gets a Look from Layna regarding, presumably, the Guard's sea voyage, he responds, "I don't remember anything special about the trip. Just a lot of ocean and ending up somewhere impossible at the end. Maybe somebody did something magical I didn't know about."

When they come upon the trapped group, he brings the hammer back out, but pauses at the warning not to destabilize the rocks.

It's... a good point. He does his best to make strategic strikes on pieces that aren't currently load-bearing.

DG: Ivan has used his Tool Warhammer toward his party's challenge, Trapped Survivors.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    The path paved forward, somewhat literally, Ethius happens along towards the back of the crowd. There's still no Sinscales as reported from within that cavern. It is possible that they were given the wrong direction, given the apparent panic that led to the situation that created the number of wounded present... but he doesn't dwell on that too much right now, as he incidentally picks up a few more random scraps of metal along the way. It doesn't matter how insignificant or useless the scrap in question is, he grabs it. None of them look or seem all that interesting or distinctive from what anyone else has seen.
     "It is Symbology." Ethius remarks flatly to Ivan's curiosity. It doesn't quite answer the question as to the specifics as to whether one is the cause or if one just enhances, but there's no heightened irritation in his answer. His voice has a sort of detached quality to it.
     He listens to the explanation about the seafaring trip, and a hand goes to his forehead. He adds little commentary to it.
     There is a call for help. Layna charges ahead and takes point with a drill. The solution that Ethius should take seems obvious, for what is before them. Someone is trapped underneath a precarious arrangement of rocks. The answer should be for him to demonstrate that Symbology again, to maybe fuse together some of the load-bearing rocks in order to stabilize the structure and afford more room for error as regards helping someone get free.
     He doesn't apply any of this creativity unless asked to, defaulting to moving rocks someone else is already moving to remove.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Trapped Survivors.
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    "Largely without incident," Ida says. "Things only started getting rough after we arrived." She hops over a patch of smoking glass, arms spread to help her keep her balance. "I can, ah, show you some, if you want." She does not look at Ivan when she says this, but the memory of a certain card game returns to her.

    "Did it--" Ida says, as she surveys the cave-in--but then she thinks better of it. Of course Sin unleashed the same power that leveled Azado. Ida shakes her head, and feels foolish for asking. She snaps out of it as the voice cries out, a sense of urgency settling on the forefront of her mind. "If we could stabilize this," Ida says, looking at Ethius, and then Ivan, "this might go easier." Ida herself contributes much the same thing she did earlier--she picks up smaller stones, and sets them aside. If nothing else, they might be able to make a hole people can crawl through.

DG: Ida Everstead-Rey has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Trapped Survivors.
<Pose Tracker> Isolde has posed.

 
Isolde frowns a little. To herself she wonders: Weren't we just...

She moves rocks, sounding distracted. "Ah," she answers Layna. "Still. It's quite something for you to have kept your identity as a crew without the ship. One might think you might segue into something else."

Isolde doesn't reply to things for a few moments. She mostly moves rocks other people have already shifted. But the air has changed, and the wounded are nearby. Now it is her turn to mutter a litany...

And it is not just a prayer, or at least, if it is a prayer, it is effective. One pinned Crusader in particular finds his leg sufficently repaired to start kicking in some help.

"Oh, really! I'd love that," Isolde tells Ida. "You might have to bear with me if it has to use a special deck. I still get a bit out of the left one here, you see, but once I learn the patterns I'm right as rain. Of course if it's the usual, or your one that doesn't have the knights, you can just explain it straight away."

"What's it called?"

DG: Isolde has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Trapped Survivors.
===========================<* Mushroom Rock Road *>===========================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Trapped Survivors *>======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 When the final blow against the combined Crusader, Guard, and Al Bhed army    
 came, many of the back ranks simply broke and fled. Unfortunately, the        
 damage done to Mushroom Rock Road means that many of those people were        
 trapped up in the hillside. You come across one group -- who are caught       
 between two cave-ins, which have blocked their access to the road.            
                                                                               
 "Help!" one shouts. "We have some wounded back here!"                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken, Exhaust==========================================
======================<* Mushroom Rock Road - Round 4 *>======================
=======================< Results - Trapped Survivors >========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ida Everstead-Rey                   3 --(33)--> 36                 Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       18 --(18)--> 36                Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                3 --(18)--> 21                 Pass
Warhammer                           3   Brute   Effects: Rally                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Layna Manydays                      13 --(18)--> 31                Pass
Arm-Mounted Drill                   3   Brute   Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Isolde                              13 --(33)--> 46                Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Ida Everstead-Rey           60 --(10)--> 70                Fail
Conditions: Exhaust(1)|Overzealous(1)|Tire(1)|Weaken(2)
Effects: 
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Ida Everstead-Rey has failed this challenge! The party gained 10 exploration! If anyone needs to
use party management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
DG: Ivan has drawn a new Challenge.
============================<* Mushroom Rock Road *>============================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Plotting a Course *>=======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Sometimes, the damage caused by Sin is akin to an earthquake. When you round  
 the next bend, whether to look for survivors or to simply make your way       
 through, you find that the road here has become a tangled mess. Moreover,     
 you can't be sure that the road actually leads where it should; landfalls     
 and damage may have made it lead into dead-ends. It may help to take some     
 time and plot a course, both for your own safety and to help others in the    
 future.                                                                       
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify, Slow============================================
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

"Nothing special, huh...?" Layna considers this. She wonders what changed...maybe there was something magic to it, or maybe they were just lucky.

Either way, she sends a nod in Isolde's direction.

"The ship might not be with us physically, but it's with us in spirit, aye? It's our home, an' our way o' life besides - that's not gonna change." Layna replies.

She talks as she works, drilling carefully to avoid the possibility of a collapse. It's difficult work for all of them, however - it would be bad enough if they simply needed to do it to get through, but the fact that there are lives on the lines requires a level of precision that's exhausting to maintain for long.

But, eventually, they do manage to get everyone out safely. The cliffside collapses not long after the last person is out - a very close call.

From there they'll be able to tend to the wounded, though they're all, understandably, rather shaken.

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Feeling a bit rebuffed about the tattoos, Ivan assumes you're apparently not supposed to ask that, and mumbles a noncommittal 'okay fine whatever' in response. He turns his attention to Ida instead. "Did you ever find anything worthwhile in that sunken ruin, or did you give up on it because it was awful...?"

The group lingers a bit to help the escapees of the rockslide, then continues on their way, but finds that the path has been turned into a veritable maze of rocks and debris, with no obvious, safe path forward that seems to clearly lead anywhere in particular. In some cases, winding one's way around a rock reveals nothing worthwhile in front of it, just slippery, unstable footing down the edge of a hill; in others, what seems to be a partly obscured piece of the path forward seems to just lead into dense underbrush. But, surely, there is a path in here somewhere.

Ivan isn't really one for carefully reasoning situations out, so he takes to the rubble itself and just climbs the tallest rock pile to see if he can spot wherever the path picks back up and point the group in the right direction as they seek to mark the best and safest path to navigate around the rocks.

DG: Ivan has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Plotting a Course.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    It was a narrow save, but Ethius' manner does not seem to reflect that of someone who might be feeling that residual burst of adrenaline or relief. The whole of the drama there seems to just brush off of him, in favor of picking up another piece of something or another off the ground rather than go over and reassure the frightened, wounded survivors.
     It's not long before they come across a mess of road that is more mess than road - it calls into question whether this even used to be a 'way' to begin with before Sin decided to stop by and rearrange the topography of Mushroom Rock Road.
     "If I am not mistaken," Ethius speaks up, "we will not be too far from the Highroad." He already remembers having caught Filgaian outlaw activity. He gets out the eyeglass whose surface has started to grow too opaque to see from heat. He considers the virtues of ensuring there isn't anything buried here, as this is the way their path is taking them thus far.
     Moments later, another Symbological spell-cast. The same phenomena observed previously, but if Ivan's watching, he'll notice that the hand movements are noticeably different from the spell that melted the rocks earlier. The chanting is hard to make out, but the gestures are much different. The heat spell usually has his fingers flutter. The electric spell he uses here requires he point his fingers in cramp-inducing ways.
     This might be a useful tell down the line.
     The spell completed, one small bolt of electricity from one hand into the the lens later, Ethius brings it up to an eye to give the local area one more thorough scan to ensure the way forward is free of landmines or mechanical equivalents before they all proceed.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Spectral Lens toward his party's challenge, Plotting a Course.
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

The road ahead is possibly worse than the one they left they behind, if that's possible - it's torn and tangled, and with that level of damage there's no telling whether or not it still goes where it should.

Moreover, there's still the possibility that there were trapped survivors. Layna frowns, thinking things over.

"Any signs of anyone?" She asks, peering out. She hoped there wasn't anyone stuck out here - this would be a difficult place to remove them from, that's for sure.

She'd do what she had to in the end, of course.

DG: Layna Manydays has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Plotting a Course.
<Pose Tracker> Isolde has posed.

 
Isolde smiles at Layna. It's hard to say if it's sad or not. It's honestly kind of idiotic-looking now that you get a few examples. This is probably why Isolde seems to have a good vocal range.

Her head cocks a little when she hears Ivan scrambling up a hill. When he stops, she clicks her tongue - and then calls up to him, "Do you see anything?"

To Layna, she says, "You could get a new ship, you know. I mean, in theory. I suppose the Metal Demons burned two ships in three on the Ignas coast, but on the other hand we aren't even on Filgaia any more!"

DG: Isolde has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Plotting a Course.
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    That was far closer than Ida would've liked. As the rattled survivors regroup, she takes a moment to triage the wounded, assist with the worst cases, and then guide the others back towards civilization. She's visibly rattled.

    "We should check," Ida says, to Layna. As Ivan clambers up to a high perch, Ida walks around at ground level, searching for footprints, bloodstains, or other signs of passage.

    "We found... a considerable sum of money," she says, raising her voice so Ivan can hear her.

DG: Ida Everstead-Rey has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Plotting a Course.
============================<* Mushroom Rock Road *>============================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Plotting a Course *>=======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Sometimes, the damage caused by Sin is akin to an earthquake. When you round  
 the next bend, whether to look for survivors or to simply make your way       
 through, you find that the road here has become a tangled mess. Moreover,     
 you can't be sure that the road actually leads where it should; landfalls     
 and damage may have made it lead into dead-ends. It may help to take some     
 time and plot a course, both for your own safety and to help others in the    
 future.                                                                       
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify, Slow============================================
=======================<* Mushroom Rock Road - Round 5 *>=======================
========================< Results - Plotting a Course >=========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ida Everstead-Rey                   36 --(5)--> 41                 Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       36 --(0)--> 36                 Pass
Spectral Lens                       2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                21 --(5)--> 26                 Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Layna Manydays                      31 --(5)--> 36                 Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Isolde                              46 --(0)--> 46                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Ida Everstead-Rey           70 --(20)--> 90                Pass
Conditions: Slow(2)|Stupify(2)|Weaken(1)
Effects: Enlighten(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Ida Everstead-Rey 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> Ivan has posed.

"What? You did?!" Ivan calls down to Ida. "That figures..."

Alas, in Ivan's dissappointment over being cheated by the water dungeon one last time, he misses his footing and ends up tumbling back down to the ground from the rock pile he was climbing. So much for that strategy.

Layna alerts the group to the possibility of trapped survivors. Fortunately, they don't find anyone pinned, but they're able to keep a lookout. Ida, likewise, looks for signs of those who had been through the area before--either to rescue them, if need be, or follow in their footsteps, if they made a successful path through the rubble. There is little in the way of a trail left to follow, however, but at least no signs of blood or injury among the rocks.

Ethius makes a visual sweep of the area for traps and other pitfalls, allowing them to keep to stable and favorable ground. And Isolde proves surprisingly intuitive in determining which way to go in cases when the best way is unclear and mostly a matter of chance. Bit by bit, they pick their way through the maze, emerging on the other side of the rubble-strewn area to find a clear pathway presenting itself again.

DG: Ida Everstead-Rey has drawn a new Challenge.
============================<* Mushroom Rock Road *>============================
=================<* CHALLENGE - Electrified Machina Wreckage *>=================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Finally, you start to see clearing skies -- and no more towering cliffsides   
 -- as you reenter the main part of Mi'ihen Highroad. Before you do, however,  
 you come across something: one of the Al Bhed cannons that was on the         
 hillside. Worryingly, sparks fly from inside, and occasionally, an arc of     
 electricity jumps down to the ground. It seems its engine is still working,   
 but the rest isn't.                                                           
                                                                               
 You could walk past. Then, however, you hear something else:                  
                                                                               
 "Ramb..."                                                                     
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    The Highroad is just up ahead. Ida, who's returned to her place at the head of the group, smiles at the sight of it--a thin, fragile smile, but a smile nevertheless. "Almost home free," she says. A moment later, she realizes how inappropriately optimistic that was. As she walks up the slope joining the cliffs to the Highroad, a familiar sound catches her ear, distinctive in how out of place it is:

    The sound of sparking electricity. Ida steps off the path, plants a hand on a fallen boulder, and vaults over it. Beyond, half-buried by a landslide, is a chunk of steel that looks like it was once a turret--one of the turrets the Al Bhed set up for the Operation. "...It must've gotten flung all this way," Ida says, her voice hushed. She turns--

    "Ramb..."

    Ida doesn't speak a word of Al Bhed, but there is no mistaking the pain and fear in that voice. "Damnation!" Ida hisses. Yet another life has fallen into their hands. "Hesiod, make yourself useful, and cut that power!" She glances back at Ethius, eyes narrowed. Ida inches closer, and sees some sort of shielded cage on the side of the cannon, half-crumpled by the impact. Inside are a pair of women, both wearing goggles and sleeveless jumpsuits.

    "Ramb," says one of the Al Bhed technicians. Her leg bends at a sickening angle just below the knee.

DG: Ida Everstead-Rey has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Electrified Machina Wreckage.
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

"Aye, lass. That's the plan - if the opportunity presents itself, that is. But the Empress will always have my heart." Layna replies. "We'll meet again, one o' these days. 'Til then, I just gotta deal with it."

They don't come across anyone...at least, not at first. But, as they're approaching the Highroad, they hear a mechanical sound. Sparking electricity? Layna glances around and follows Ida's lead, hopping down...

...where they hear a voice. Layna curses under her breath, and looks upon the wreckage of the cannon.

It's not great...and the electricity complicates things. Another situation that would require a lot of precision. Layna brings out her drill again.

"It's alright. We're here to help." Layna says. She doesn't know if they can understand her, but she hopes the confidence in her voice makes it through.

"Just tell me where to drill - I don't want to just start breakin' things all recklessly." She offers.

Lysander remains off to the side - he won't be much help with the cannon, but he can help with the mending afterward.

DG: Layna Manydays has used her Tool Arm-Mounted Drill toward her party's challenge, Electrified Machina Wreckage.
<Pose Tracker> Isolde has posed.

 
The air smells of ozone. There is a tesla-crackle in the air. Isolde's nose twitches, and her response to this and the groan of pain is to unbuckle her greaves. As they fall to the ground, she steps clear, and then she seems to turn her face towards the machinery in silence for a long second. Then a second second. A third second - this is when she puts her hand on the hilt of her sword.

She steps closer. Closer yet. She seems to focus intently on the machina.

"MmmmmmmmmmmMMMMMMMMMM"

And then Isolde leaps up and whips out the blade with one hand, tosses it in the air, grasps it with two, and slams it down onto the body of the machine with her legs held in the air! At the angle, her weight pushes down, which she helps with several calculated thrashes, her shirt coming untucked from thick bandaging about the waist -

Push -

PUSH -

She actually twists herself to the side while holding her entire body upright, and explains to the others, "Lightning dogs," followed by sort of... hanging, trembling slightly, sweat sheening her body from the acrobatic posturing she has committed herself to. "Ugh - goddess name - COME - *ON* -" She kicks her legs up high, throws them down, and RIPS the blade free.

She lands on the ground. This drama show may have accomplished nothing but she did not make a circuit of her body. She does pause to tuck her shirt back in.

DG: Isolde has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Electrified Machina Wreckage.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

They've made it back to the highroad, only to stumble across a broken, sparking cannon there that looks like it's about to blow -- and technicians who seem to be trapped in the attached cage. There's nothing Ivan can think of to do to the cannon that wouldn't potentially explode it even faster -- adding fire or concussive power to the wrong part of it sounds like a recipe for disaster.

He focuses his attention instead on the crumpled cage, bracing a foot against one side of it and pulling with his bodyweight at the other to try to bend the metal into a wider openining to allow for an extraction and rescue.

DG: Ivan has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Electrified Machina Wreckage.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Ethius isn't that far behind Ida - in fact, practically side-by-side - about the same time electricity is heard sparking. This should be seen as curious. He seemed passive and hands-off when it came to the makeshift triage within the cave, borderline apathetic in helping pull people out from the collapsing rocks. Callously cold, even, like little mattered other than picking up random pieces of machina scrap and seeing themselves to the other side.
     This seems different.
     Ida seems to have the right of it, by his estimate, though he takes the time to circle the perimeter of the displaced cannon. Already, his mind is rapidly profiling the individual pieces of what he sees, interlocking into any number of possibilities of the construct's composition from the surface. There's only a few unanswered questions a casual glance fails to tell him.
     "I cannot discount the possibility of live munitions," he remarks. He holds up a hand as if to try and intercept any pleading or objections. "This will be delicate."
     Not so delicate that he doesn't throw himself onto the cannon construct. While it's sparking, at random. It must not be so random by his estimate, as he comes up the side of it. He leans in closer with the side of his head as if to listen carefully to any other internals in there.
     He's going to have to get in deeper.
     This involves daring to slip through an opening where electricity occasionally sparks which is madness. From within, he takes a glove off for he lacks finer tools to work with. He has to use his bare hand.
     His bare hand, he'll use, to quietly disassemble any problematic element. This would be a simple detonation job were there not lives involved. Compromising its ventilation or attempting to otherwise coax something to explode with raised heat, while usually his favored approach, is not an option. He is still mapping out probable places to send an electrical shock to disable it after his cursory investigation.
     "Miss Layna." Ethius' voice is muffled, twice over, because he's everything-deep in a cannon and also wearing a mask. So he has to lift it off slightly to repeat. "Miss Layna."
     He can't go out the same way he came in unless he's certain he has to bail. Too risky. Going in that way to start was putting his life in his hands, as he starts to manually pull apart a few things by hand with a speed and accuracy that's all too well-trained to be coincidental. He shouldn't be familiar with any of this.
     "Miss Layna," he repeats one last time, voice slightly raised without breaking the near-monotone character of his speaking style, "facing the way we came, right-hand side. Start with the rivets. If I cannot disengage the engine from this side, it will rely upon the rest of you to do so once the plating is removed."
     His instructions are thorough, but they are based entirely on well-educated guesses. The composure he takes as Isolde takes her whacks at it is commendable, but nobody's in there to look at his face.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Electrified Machina Wreckage.
================================================<* Mushroom Rock Road *>================================================
=====================================<* CHALLENGE - Electrified Machina Wreckage *>=====================================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 Finally, you start to see clearing skies -- and no more towering cliffsides   
 -- as you reenter the main part of Mi'ihen Highroad. Before you do, however,  
 you come across something: one of the Al Bhed cannons that was on the         
 hillside. Worryingly, sparks fly from inside, and occasionally, an arc of     
 electricity jumps down to the ground. It seems its engine is still working,   
 but the rest isn't.                                                           
                                                                               
 You could walk past. Then, however, you hear something else:                  
                                                                               
 "Ramb..."                                                                     
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken===================================================
=======================<* Mushroom Rock Road - Round 6 *>=======================
===================< Results - Electrified Machina Wreckage >===================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ida Everstead-Rey                   41 --(100)--> 141              Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       36 --(100)--> 136              Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                26 --(100)--> 126              Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Layna Manydays                      36 --(100)--> 136              Pass
Arm-Mounted Drill                   3   Brute   Effects: Fanfare              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Isolde                              46 --(100)--> 146              Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Ida Everstead-Rey           90 --(10)--> 100               Fail
Conditions: Slow(1)|Stupify(1)|Weaken(2)
Effects: 
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: Ida Everstead-Rey is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Ethius Hesiod is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Ivan is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Layna Manydays is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Isolde is too exhausted to continue!
DG: You have overcome the dungeon's trials! This run is a success!
DG: The party led by Ida Everstead-Rey has successfully explored Mushroom Rock Road!
============================<* Mushroom Rock Road *>============================
=========================<* CHALLENGE - Phoenix Down *>=========================
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 On your way out, you come across a group of pilgrims. Some are civilians,     
 finally braving the road to head towards Djose; some are Crusaders,           
 traveling to seek redemption.                                                 
                                                                               
 A young priestess from the nearby Temple jogs up when she sees you. She       
 waves a hand, before extending a red and orange feather out. "Here, please    
 have this! If you see anyone who's fainted, or on the edge of death... this   
 may save them before it's too late."                                          
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Ida creeps closer to the wreck of the cannon, tense as a coiled spring. "We're here," she says to the woman, forcing a smile onto her face. She doesn't feel it. Ida glances at Ethius as he gets into position, and realizes just how much of this is in his hands. She doesn't trust him as far as she can throw a motorcoach, and his bizarre fixation on ARMs is bothersome at best and deeply worrying at worst.

    But Ethius does his best. Isolde can't get through the heavy armor, despite her efforts--but repeated impacts reverberate through the rock. Debris falls and settles, revealing an access panel. Once it's opened, Ethius has access to the guts of the machine, giving him a fine view of its capacitor just as it starts to smoke. Sparks fly everywhere.

    Ida smells smoking machinery, and remembers Senna's face. "Layna!" she screams.

    The drill saves the day. It shears through the protective cage, allowing Ivan to wrench part of it loose with main strength alone. Ida grabs one of the gunners, and hauls her loose. Adrenaline surges through her. Before she knows what she's doing, she has the Al Bhed woman slung across her shoulders, and is stumbling away from the cannon. Ivan manages to grab the other gunner, and gets clear.

    The capacitor explodes a moment later, showering the cage and everything nearby with shrapnel.

    "Dryhg oui," says the gunner Ivan rescued. The one Ida hauled free just starts to cry. Both are wounded and dehydrated, but they'll live.

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

Layna is often sceptical of Ethius. The two of them rarely see eye to eye, though her opinion of him had improved begrudgingly through certain actions in the past. She often did not fully trust him...

...But now, when lives are on the line, she listens to his advice. It is thanks to his instructions that her drill can find the weakpoints, allowing her to break through the cage so that it can be pulled away and the gunners freed.

And then, she gets out of there, just in time. The cannon's capacitor explodes. She feels the heat on her back.

...But as bad as things seem, the Al Bhed are alive. Not in great condition, but alive. Layna collapses on the ground nearby, rolling onto her back.

There, she laughs, quietly, out of relief.

"Damn...that was close. What a day..." She says, exhaling.

Nearby, Lysander clasps his hand together and bows his head.

"Thank the Goddess..." He murmurs, similarly relived. This could have ended in tragedy - and there had been far too much of that lately.

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

They manage to pull the trapped technicians free and just barely clear the blast radius of the cannon, themselves, before it blows. Another intense close call that Ivan is intent on pretending to be unruffled by, to himself as much as anyone else.

But what he is undeniably ruffled by is the aftermath. Ivan is unfamiliar with rescue and the etiquette thereof; he deposits his charge on the ground as gently as possible, and then, for lack of a better word, flees, in order to avoid having to field any misplaced gratitude or other emotions in a language he doesn't understand. He doesn't go too far immediately, just hovering on the outer edges of the group and lingering there uncomfortably.

<Pose Tracker> Isolde has posed.

 
Isolde sheaths her blade. Another unworthy... something something.

"Well done," Isolde murmurs. She seems to turn her attention on one of the hauled-loose people. She murmurs that litany again, as if it was familiar. She even works in a tossing back of the hair with one hand before there is that passage of energy--

-- enough to help, at least.

"It really has been," Isolde tells Layna. "Time enough to put our feet up, eh?" She collects her greaves, and as she straps them back down, before she turns her head and says, "You're like a kitten."

To Ivan.

Right in front of everyone. Isolde's lip quirks up.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Ethius slowly picks and pries apart the guts of the machine, until he draws his hand back from a violent sparking. The capacitor. That's what he needs to do, as daylight filters in from Layna's drilling work. His breathing has not accelerated in any appreciable way. There is a comfort afforded in this situation he should not have, aware that his own margin of error is slim. From his vantage point, the capacitor seems well-fastened--
     It slips. What he assumed to be engineered with care and concern for the possibility the cannon would be oriented this way has been corrected - this cannon was always a death trap.
     "Clear out now!" That's an exclamation mark. That is rare from Ethius. He considers it something of a miracle that it doesn't first explode on contact with the ground but he's too busy throwing himself the hell out of there from a direction opposite of the others as the whole thing goes kablooey. he allows himself to roll across hard rock to keep his head low and allow shrapnel to go clear.
     Go clear, it does. If his head were any level higher, he'd have been stabbed through his brain.
     In the process, a few things jostle loose. A smooth, metallic-looking ston-- it is not allowed to be out in the open long enough for anyone to read what it is, let alone say what it is, as though it were never to be seen by any eyes.
     A two-ringed coin of some kind, partially smashed as though the hoof of a war horse came down on it is the next one picked up, placed within his hands as some of the machina pieces throughout this battlefield are scattered about it. He comes up to a kneel and thinks to himself as Ida and the others are seeing to the health of the trapped Al Bhed technicians.
     ...Hmm.
     He looks over his shoulder to make sure no one is looking too closely as he takes the strange bent 'coin' shaped thing and starts to piece it against the machina, as if attempting to reconstruct something...
     ...none of it fits.
     He leaves the scattered machina pieces from the battlefield on the ground as he stows the coin away, taking a hand to his forehead. He exhales audibly. He has not slept in some time. As they are at the Highroad, he should probably hurry to the Travel Agency, regroup with the CaraKin, and sleep... but there are thoughts worth committing, first.
 
     Every piece I have found appears to coincide with local constructs. Though Hyland has brought their riflemen, I have found nothing that should seem out of the ordinary.
 
     Where did this ringed coin come from, then? ...No. There is another consideration to make. Did the owner of this have a stake in Glenwood's conflicts, but not in this matter? A matter that appears to have unified the armies of Meribia and Glenwood... that is strange. It is possible they did not make the trip here to begin with... hmm.
 
     ...The stakes as they appear to have been for this joint operation, that is odd. I know that she is present, and must have some stake, some interest. Hyland did not conquer Glenwood, and yet, she still yet holds considerable influence. Their presence cannot be altruistic in nature.
 
     ...
 
     The other possibility... though I cannot confirm outside of hearsay...
 
     ...is that they have yet to show their entire hand.
 
     Ethius doesn't rejoin the others, as though the thoughts were all-consuming.
 
     What could they have held back from the Operation and why, if their sole objective was to deal with Sin? This is presumptuous a thought... but this warrants further observation.
 
     ...
 
     Even then...

<Pose Tracker> Ida Everstead-Rey has posed.

    Ida lends a shoulder to the gunner with the broken leg, bracing the woman as her comrade helps right her. The two of them exchange words, and then look to Ida. Slowly, the group makes its way up towards the Highroad. The sounds of turning wagon wheels, idle chatter, and chocobos filter down towards them. As they reach the Highroad proper, they run across...

    "Yevon," says a very surprised woman in Yevonite clerical robes. "Survivors?!" Her eyes widen as she sees the Al Bhed, but she covers her mouth with a hand and coughs politely. Behind her, two separate caravans and their guard contingents look on in amazement.

    "We need passage to the Travel Agency, south of here," Ida says. Her tone is polite, but firm. "Are any of you headed south?"

    "We are!" says one of the caravaneers. "Did you--did you survive that thing?"

    "They did," Ida says. She looks at the Al Bhed woman leaning against her, and notices how she's stiffened up. "I'm seeing them to safety."

    The priestess nods. "Of course. Here, take this--" She produces something from a small box coated in gold leaf--feathers, each brilliantly-hued and softer than the finest down. "The Down of the Phoenix," the priestess says. "If you find others on the brink of death, this will buy them time."

    Ida stares at the feathers a moment. She reaches out, and plucks one from the box, before tucking it in a pocket with the greatest of care.