2019-07-13: Robbing Robbers is Only Fair

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===========================<* Kilika - Town Center *>===========================

Kilika is an island off the southern coast of the Spiran mainland, consisting of a small port and village, a large jungle and a Temple of Yevon. The island is renowned for being the hometown of High Summoner Ohalland, who was a star blitzballer before retiring from the game to complete his Pilgrimage and defeat Sin. As a result of this history, the Beasts are one of the most-loved teams in the entire league, and even rival blitz players will stop to pray at the Kilika Temple before a particularly critical game.

The port of Kilika was recently ravaged following an attack by Sin, and the surviving residents are slowly rebuilding. They have received unexpected support in the form of the outlanders who serve the false goddess Althena. A few dozen soldiers and craftsmen are using their strange arts - as well as old-fashioned skill - to help with restoration. The Temple of Yevon has put out the word that this assistance will be tolerated so long as the Guardsmen refrain from proselytizing their false creed; an uneasy sort of feeling hangs over the entire village as a result.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXsmMuXLtuQ
DG: A party led by Loren Voss is now entering Mi'ihen Caverns.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
=============================<* Mi'ihen Caverns *>==============================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Gather the Evidence *>======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 You have gathered your group in order to get to the bottom of what is going   
 down in the Mi'ihen Highroad. All of you, the brave or otherwise Drifters,    
 have clustered together based on the facts you have found and the suspicions  
 that you have had.                                                            
                                                                               
 Like what, you might ask? Here are some trailheads that might lead you in     
 this perilous direction.                                                      
                                                                               
 * The bandits on the Mi'ihen Highroad that have specifically stalked          
 Filgaians and Drifters, largely to the exclusion of natives. Are you going    
 to put up with that?                                                          
 * Perhaps you have been in hot pursuit of those same bandits after a botched  
 attempt to pillage you.                                                       
 * Tracing a sudden supply of somewhat battered record Spheres into the        
 marketplace has pointed to an origin point somewhere between Luca and Djose.  
 * Enigmatic and highly localized rumbles have been traced back into this      
 region.                                                                       
 * Any other reason that might draw a group together.                          
                                                                               
 Work out your method. You approach a limestone sinkhole, easily overlooked    
 but which YOU can see bears a faint hint of light from within. As you         
 descend, cool blue spheres placed here and there provide enough light to see  
 by. It smells damp, and alkaline, but there is a nebulous and subtle          
 impression... a feeling of Filgaia.                                           
=Dungeon Conditions: Save Point===============================================
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    There have been a rash of thefts on the Highroad.

    This is, in the end, why Loren is here. He's been robbed.

    If it had been in just about any other situation, he would have had more options. But no. He'd been in the company of some mid-rank Yevon faithful, precisely the sort of people just important enough for him to avoid raising suspicions.
    After all, he has known ties to Maester Seymour's scribe, and he's under direct orders to avoid any suspicions falling upon the man. As a First Class citizen, he knows all about the sort of political jockeying that happens in an organization.
    Krelian's biggest threats likely come from the inside.

    So he'd been forced to hand over his things as a completely normal mundane person like he absolutely was, and in doing so, had lost his sword.

    AGAIN.

    He can't even think about facing down Leah and explaining that he lost it. Come hell or high water, he's getting it back. So he'd asked for help.
    Part of that help includes Lorelei. It may include other people, if Mignonette had suggested he go hiring.

    So. Now everyone is down in the dank depths of the caverns, which are lit by the pale blue light of the spheres.

    Loren looks displeased, though this is arguably just about his ground state as a person, anyway.

    "I wonder where they're hiding," he muses, fishing in his bag for a wrapped nutritional bar. He begins to shred it into smaller bits, casting them behind him as he stalks a distance down the entryway, purest irritation wafting off him as he walks along.

    "...this is a waste of time..." he mutters aloud, as if he could undo the situation he's in by complaining about it.

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Soylent Nutribar toward his party's challenge, Gather the Evidence.
<Pose Tracker> Lorelei Calice has posed.

"Merciful heavens, who would've thought that these scoundrels would have hid in so dank a plac" murmurs LORELEI CALICE, Senior Etone and Elite of Granas, laying a hand at one cheek as she gazes down into the limestone sinkhole. "Thomas, surely they must have brought some of those lights with them? It hardly seems like a technology that normally exists in Spira, does it?"

Stepping up beside the alleged medical student, Mignonette Stirling, Etone apprentice, looks up at Loren with a cant of her head. "I don't think it's that much of a waste of time, Mr. Blackwell." Outwardly deferential. He's a nice man and she's a student, after all. "It's important that we help Maester Seymour if there is indeed a crime wave here."

Clasping her hands, Lorelei gasps and widens her eyes, her tiger-like ears perking sharply. "Ohh, that would hardly be good at all! I would hate to turn away from something as terrible as banditry! It may be a very simple thing, but this is a way we can help, yes?"

"Quite so," Mignonette concedes, folding her hands. "We are, after all, bound to help where we are needed."

With a flick of one ear, Lorelei nods, then bounds forward, moving past an outcropping and peering down the hallway. She rises on her toes and leans herself forward just slightly, wiggling her hips thoughtlessly as she tries to get a better look into the darkness.

"Yes, I definitely think there is an air of something non-Spiran at work here," she murmurs with somewhat more focus. "And not something I'd associate with Althenians, either, Thomas... and likely more organized than that silly Amen Cult."

DG: Lorelei Calice has used her Tool Mignonette's Hot Tips toward her party's challenge, Gather the Evidence.
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

It's been a rough time for those fleeing Luca. To no surprise, this includes Ashton Anchors. Sellsword, Symbologist and draconic host, he has been following the road with the refugees.
 
Several times, in fact.
 
It's good coin to have made the trip a few times - as well as good for the soul. Some of those fleeing are faster than others, and the slower are usually the ones more in need of help.
 
At the moment, however, he isn't playing escort for anyone. No, right now is a time for something far simpler and far more satisfying: bandit hunting.
 
It's paid Ashton's bills for a long time, and there's rarely a shortage. And while working as a group means splitting the pay... the company is most certainly worth it. (There may be implications in later Acts of being - even briefly - on Solaris' payroll but we'll deal with those when the time comes.)
 
Three sets of eyes - two without pupils - look down into the sinkhole. All three mouths frown at the strange feeling coming from below - though none seem able to entirely place it.
 
"On the plus side," Ashton notes aloud as he starts ahead into the hole, "There's no WAY the Guard could fit another one of those giant golems down in here as a trap while pretending to be common bandits."

DG: Ashton Anchors has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Gather the Evidence.
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

This isn't Layna's first time into the bandit's lair. The last time she found something of interest - but, it was something that she wanted to try and gather more information on. So, it's back into the caverns again.

"Aye, they'd have a difficult time of that, I'd wager - fortunately, I don't think they've got anythin' to do with what's goin' on here, anyway." Layna comments with a glance toward Ashton. And then, she hops in, where she spots three familiar faces! And working together, too - that was a surprise.

"Fancy meetin' you here, Thomas." Layna comments, acknowledging the young man with an incline of her head and a tip of her hat. "Never took you for the type to go diving into a dump like this - you going after these bandits?"

She definitely remembers him - she'd made a good bit of coin off of him. And when she looks at who's accompanying him, and a genuine smile crosses her face.

"Well, if it isn't Lorelei and Mignonette! How ya been?" She says. Of course Rosaline's sister and Rosaline's sister's friend would get a cheery greeting.

She lets the others do the actual figuring out, meanwhile - she might've been this way before, but it looks like the terrain has shifted a little since then. Her information might not be as useful.

DG: Layna Manydays has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Gather the Evidence.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia has not been robbed largely because even if she's not a great fighter she is practically indestructable and is pretty good at freaking out any bandits that try to assault her but she IS officially a treasure hunter (not a thief) these days so she is happy to try and check out the caverns again with Ivan.

Even if Lydia has to visibly drag Ivan along the ground to make it happen. It turns out you don't need to be a great fighter to have an ironclad grip either. "It'll be fine," She's telling Ivan, maybe completely misunderstanding his concerns right now. "It's okay to rob bandits because they stole it from the first place but it's also like practical so you don't have to say you're being heroic, you can just say it's enlightened self interest or whatever."

Her eyes sparkle with the idea that free loot may be in her future. "It was a long trip last time but now we can really rob 'em blind! And mayybe take some of their stuff their 'didn't' even steal as a lesson for next time!"

She pauses as she sees Lorelei and Mignonette, throwing a wave towards them and even grinning briefly towards Ashton. "Oh Ashton is cool," She tells Ivan. "He's kind of an asshole sometimes but like the kind who isn't a dick and you want to hang around him and be his pal because he's pretty friendly and clever otherwise."

She looks over to Loren then and blinks at him a few times.

And then a few times more.

"Oh hey! That's Thomas!" Lydia babbles at Ivan. "I know him from Filgaia. He's into astronomy." Of course that's what she remembers.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Schrodinger the Cat toward her party's challenge, Gather the Evidence.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan is still wearing his hood up and a scarf around his face. Is Ivan the bandits??? No, but you might be forgiven for thinking that, perhaps, Lydia has already caught a bandit! But then why is she trying to convince the bandit to come along treasure hunting with her and introducing the bandit to her friends? Maybe she's just like that?

Ivan is grumbling all sorts of excuses for not coming along with her (and yet walking along begrudgingly), but the excuses grow more absurd and profuse when he sees that there's a large group of people already on this mission.

"Wait, actually I remembered that I set something on fire in Luca and forgot to put it out. If I don't go back right now the entire city will burn down. So it's really important--"

Oh hey! That's Thomas

Ivan stops short and makes a sort of choking gasp noise.

"I KNEW YOU KNEW HIM."

Then a wince. Shouldn't have said that one out loud.

Ivan is probably not going to be much help with any sinkhole related quandaries.

DG: Ivan has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Gather the Evidence.
=============================<* Mi'ihen Caverns *>==============================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Gather the Evidence *>======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 You have gathered your group in order to get to the bottom of what is going   
 down in the Mi'ihen Highroad. All of you, the brave or otherwise Drifters,    
 have clustered together based on the facts you have found and the suspicions  
 that you have had.                                                            
                                                                               
 Like what, you might ask? Here are some trailheads that might lead you in     
 this perilous direction.                                                      
                                                                               
 * The bandits on the Mi'ihen Highroad that have specifically stalked          
 Filgaians and Drifters, largely to the exclusion of natives. Are you going    
 to put up with that?                                                          
 * Perhaps you have been in hot pursuit of those same bandits after a botched  
 attempt to pillage you.                                                       
 * Tracing a sudden supply of somewhat battered record Spheres into the        
 marketplace has pointed to an origin point somewhere between Luca and Djose.  
 * Enigmatic and highly localized rumbles have been traced back into this      
 region.                                                                       
 * Any other reason that might draw a group together.                          
                                                                               
 Work out your method. You approach a limestone sinkhole, easily overlooked    
 but which YOU can see bears a faint hint of light from within. As you         
 descend, cool blue spheres placed here and there provide enough light to see  
 by. It smells damp, and alkaline, but there is a nebulous and subtle          
 impression... a feeling of Filgaia.                                           
=Dungeon Conditions: Save Point===============================================
========================<* Mi'ihen Caverns - Round 1 *>=========================
=======================< Results - Gather the Evidence >========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Soylent Nutribar                    2   Wits    Effects: Resilient            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lorelei Calice                      0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Mignonette's Hot Tips               1   Wits    Effects: Enlighten and Fanfare
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Schrodinger the Cat                 2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Layna Manydays                      0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ashton Anchors                      0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Save Point(1)
Effects: Enlighten(1)|Resilient(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss 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> Loren Voss has posed.

    Technically, no, it's not a waste of time. If it gets the sword back, it's not a waste of time. But, this is still time that he could be spending searching for a way back.

    It's possible that there could be good outcomes if all goes well. Perhaps it'll help curry favor within Yevon. Perhaps it will help deflect undue attention away from the Maester's scribe. But these are factors that, here and now, Loren is not considering. All he can think about is how badly things are going, again.

    Lorelei, perhaps, can see the silver lining on this particular dark cloud best.

    He's a short way down the tunnel when Mignonette's comment prompts him to regard the lights more closely. "...Now that you mention it, Spiran lighting doesn't look like this at all," he remarks, reaching up to investigate one more closely. "Another Filgaian group? And they're robbing people traveling on the road..."

    His expression flattens as Ashton brings up the subject of the Golems. "No, but there's plenty of other, smaller things that could be lurking down here. A machine that hurls flames, for example. That could be hiding just around the corner, waiting for the first person to..." He trails out, looks down at the path, and takes a careful step back from where he had just about been the first person to walk blindly around a corner.

    "...right."

    A familiar voice wafts from behind him; he turns. "...Captain Manydays." He looks a little less-than-thrilled. The last time they'd crossed paths, he'd ended up buying intelligence from her at a very high price. Fortunately, he'd had other means then. Unfortunately, he doesn't have those means now. "It's been some time."
    He's still convinced she pulled one over on him, but it's not like he had any other options then.

    And as if to make his sort-of humiliation somewhat complete:

    Here's Lydia.
    And a recent, familiar face. Well, voice.

    "What are you doing here?!" he blurts out, at more or less the same time that Ivan makes his accusation. Loren pauses, still pointing at Ivan.

    And then: "...What?"

    First, the good news: there's definite signs of Filgaian influence here. And the pathway seems clear!
    As for the bad news...

    (see the next card)

DG: Layna Manydays has drawn a new Challenge.
============================<* Mi'ihen Caverns *>=============================
====================<* CHALLENGE - Sinkhole Interrupted *>====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Stepping into this cavern room is briefly delirious, because it is in the     
 process of collapsing.                                                        
                                                                               
 It's very clear. The floor is giving way. It's falling downwards, into what   
 looks like a cavern that is full of spiky garbage and limestone detritus.     
 You can tell this quite clearly because the vast space between 'about two     
 yards into the cavern space' and 'the exit, northeast of you about thirty     
 yards' has been somehow frozen in time. It gleams with an amber light. There  
 is a sense of tension in the air, and if you look closely at some of the      
 cracks between pieces of stone, they appear to be bound together by chains    
 of light.                                                                     
                                                                               
 Someone did something. Sorcery? An ARM? It is not clear. And yet the entire   
 situation has an air of frailty. Pick your way forwards. Feel the stones      
 tremble beneath your feet. Feel your steps translate into strange trailing    
 red streaks of light, frozen behind you. Get across with as little force as   
 you can.                                                                      
                                                                               
 Nothing can stop forever.                                                     
=Dungeon Conditions: Hesitate=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

That look on his face, and that tone in his voice. Layna can tell that Loren isn't exactly thrilled to see her. That smile on her face obtains a hint of smugness.

"Aye, indeed it has, lad." She replies.

He's probably not wrong, when it comes to his suspicions about her.

And then, two more arrive, Lydia and her friend Ivan. Layna raises a bit of an eyebrow. Last she knew he was working for the Guard, wasn't he?

...Well, she wasn't exactly the sort of person to judge someone solely for that.

"It's a little late for that, wouldn't ya say?" She comments, in regards to Luca. There's no actual animosity in her voice, so she's probably just intending it as a bit of dark humor.

And then, with a shrug, she continues forward.

The bad news, as it happens, is that the floor ahead of them is cracked, broken, and in the process of collapsing. It's very obvious - there are parts where sections of it have clearly fallen away...but, rather than having dropping into the abyss, they merely float a distance below. The entire section of cavern glows with an amber light, and it's almost as if chains of light are keeping larger sections of earth together.

"...What in the hell...?" Layna says, perplexed. It's a rare emotion for her. She was usually very sure of herself, so this outright confusion is new...but then, she probably isn't the only one feeling it.

She takes a step forward onto the gleaming earth. She can feel it shift, just ever so slightly, beneath her feet. It's...a very precarious situation.

"...No tellin' when this is all gonna go down. Best we don't disturb it more than we have to." Layna warns. With that said, she draws out a bottle, takes a deep swig, and gets to walking.

This is usually where she'd just whip up some wind and try to jump across - but right now, she figures she'll save that for if she needs to escape suddenly.

DG: Layna Manydays has used her Tool Quartermaster's Stash toward her party's challenge, Sinkhole Interrupted.
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

It is perhaps fortunate that Ashton doesn't hear Lydia's commentary. He would likely at least have to pretend to be huffy at being called 'an asshole, but a cool kind of asshole'. Even if it was mostly complimentary.
 
He does quip at Ivan, however. "Near everything in Luca was on fire last I was aware. I suspect your worry is both correct and yet not overly concerning." Ashton has no idea who Ivan is, and that's probably a good thing. Or at least not a bad one.
 
Then a glance to Layna as they descend. "Agreed. As the gentleman says, however," he comments with a slight motion of his head to Loren, "There are still many things below to worry over. But after what happened, I feel not overly concerned at less than a war-golem or one of the Heroes. A machine that bursts into flame would be a relaxing change of paaaaaa---"
 
It's at this moment they come into the cavern frozen in time. The swordsman stares at it.
 
"---aaaaa what."
 
He stares for a few moments longer, unsure of how to even process what's happening right now.
 
Then - Ashton closes his eyes. He takes a deep breath. And he decides he just isn't going to mentally deal with this right now.
 
The enchantments on his boots kick in with a click of the heels, causing tiny rabbit ears to blossom out of the toes.
 
Then in a burst of speed, Ashton simply runs UP the wall and along the outside edge to get to the other side.
 
Hopefully he remembers Looney Toons 101 and will not remember that gravity exists until he gets to the other side.

DG: Ashton Anchors has used his Tool Bunny Shoes toward his party's challenge, Sinkhole Interrupted.
<Pose Tracker> Lorelei Calice has posed.

"Ah-- goodness, if it isn't Lady Layna!" Lorelei breathes as she cups her hands to her cheeks with a wide, shining smile. "Tell me, how is dear Rosaline? I haven't seen her in far too long! Please let her know I'd love to meet with her soon, alright? Ah, if it isn't too much of an imposition--"

Lydia and Ivan turn up. Lorelei blinks as the two make their mutual exclamations.

"I sense we've walked into something of a reunion," Mignonette murmurs in a very dry tone.

They breeze ahead and come upon something remarkable enough that Lorelei and Mignonette come up short. Frowning deeply, the rosy-haired Elite Etone peers at the spectacle before them. "...This is certainly an odd sort of magic, isn't it? I wonder whose spells might be responsible? It doesn't appear conventional...."

Mignonette's lips press together. "I'm not sure it was intended to last as long as it has, even if it was cast relatively recently. And it definitely portends one thing."

"That these are not ordinary bandits," Lorelei finished the sentence, uncharacteristically serious as she glances towards Loren. "It seems that it may have been a good thing that you were robbed after all, Thomas. We must figure this out, and quickly."

Stepping over to Lorelei, Mignonette hesitates a moment, then moves to put her arms around her waist. The taller Etone cradles the smaller tensely before kipping up and springing forward.

Lorelei jumps, long and far. The toes of her boots touch down on one of the suspended chunks of floor, but for no longer than a split-second before she's bounding off with the grace of a cat. It's all she needs, her leaps long and sailing as she springs from foothold to foothold nimbly, carrying her apprentice along.

DG: Lorelei Calice has used her Tool Sassy Boots toward her party's challenge, Sinkhole Interrupted.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydila says, "Oh Ivan's my treasure hunting partner." to Thomas. "We're here to rob the bandits so they stop robbing people." She looks to Ivan. "Come on, I don't know everybody." She frowns faintly with that hood and scarf around his face it's weirdly Ethius-like and she's not sure how she feels about that.

"What are you doing here?" She counters at Loren. "For a drifter you sure seem weirded out by the presence of other drifters. Are you hiding a dark secret? Like your name is not really Thomas but like just Tom??" She shakes her head. "Anyway, we're going to rob the bandits and you're welcome to come if you can keep up with us, Thomas!"

She looks to Ivan and whispers, "How was that? Do you think he thinks of us as cool treasure hunting drifters now? Not like the newbies we used to be--"

She is kind of loud whispering this though so it's pretty easy to hear her but she seems to think she's being sneaky here as it doesn't seem to be intentional.

"And it's okay," She adds a bit more loudly. "Luca's kind of a shithole right now after you guys invaded it with giant robots so, I mean, how much worse can you make it, really?"

She then looks towards Lorelei and tilts her head at her and Mignonette before looking to Ivan. "Do you want me to carry you as I jump?" She pauses. "Nah it's okay, you probably don't. That's fine."

And with that she activats SKATE OR DIE mode and charges forward and, "HE RAN UP THE WALL???"

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    He makes eye contact with Layna. His expression flattens further, which might be her indication about how he feels about that last deal they made.

    He decides in the next heartbeat that follows that if she tries to sell him information again, he's definitely absolutely saying that he's dead broke.
    If he tries to hit up the Maester for cold hard cash he's pretty sure he'll just be dead.

    Which, relatedly! When Lorelei mentions he was robbed Loren visibly wilts as if someone has trod right across his soul. It may be because of current company (to a large extent, and including more than one individual). "Yeah... yeah... just stop talking about it," he mutters.

    Naturally, Lydia choses this moment to come up and pester him directly-like. He stares at her as if he's been poleaxed, and utters again a, "...what?"

    Which is followed by, "...I'm here to get my sword back."

    And further followed by: "Just leave me alone."

    This expedition is going to go swimmingly-- haha no it's going to be terrible. He can feel it in his bones.

    But as for his feeling that this situation may be about to tilt belly up...

    Maybe he's right when they all venture into the next chamber.

    The floor is falling in.
    It looks like it's stuck like that, in fact.

    "What in the..." he starts to utter. He reaches out with one hand, reaching downwards with a brief sympathetic pulse of earth Ether. Something isn't... isn't...

    His hand rips away from the wall, his face a mask of shock. "It's not stable," he utters, shaking his head. To the others, he explains: "If you make any forceful movements, it's going to fall apart. Whatever's going on here isn't natural." Which may be obvious, really, given the look of things.
    But it isn't as if he's willing to give an Ether 101 on what precisely is absolutely wrong here, or that they have the time even if he was.

    "Come on. Just move quickly, and don't linger. I'm not pulling anyone out if it breaks."

    He fumbles with what looks like a thin wire bracelet, looped around his right wrist. Fleetingly, he winces. Threading Ether through the Tuner is not precisely comfortable to do. But it works, shredding its enchantment outwards among the gathered group.

    And surges forward across the unstable ground, barely daring to breathe as races for the opposite end, his heart just about in his chest.

    Don't fall. Come on. Don't fall.

    It really is unfair that that guy can just run up a wall, he thinks distantly.

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Ether Tuner toward his party's challenge, Sinkhole Interrupted.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Loren demands to know why the universe inflicted Ivan on him twice in such quick succession. Ivan is having similar thoughts.

"Why am I here?!" he says. "You're the one who's here!"

Lydia suggests she does not know everybody. "But you do know everybody," Ivan protests quietly, yet emphatically. He thought he was exaggerating about it, but now it is starting to spook him. She also asks him how she is doing at making them sound cool.

"I... I don't know, I think it might be too late for that this time." he whispers back. "I think he knows too much already."

Layna and Ashton both point out that perhaps it's a bit late to keep Luca from flaming peril. Ivan grimaces because not only is that a fair point, but he was a part of the assault.

"I mean, most of it is still standing..."

They come upon a bizarre room, frozen by magic in the midst of falling apart, and seemingly ready to break under the slightest strain. Lydia invites Ivan to be carried across, and he gives her a scandalized look that she probably can't see very much of, but successfully interprets regardless. She skates off without him, sparing him from having to agonize over whether to offer to carry HER across. He summons his whip and lashes it around the handiest overhead protrusion before attempting to swing over the treacherous-looking ground. Right around that time, Lydia exclaims about the guy racing up the wall. ...How DID he do that? Ivan wants to to that...

DG: Ivan has used his Tool Whip toward his party's challenge, Sinkhole Interrupted.
DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Radical Skates toward her party's challenge, Sinkhole Interrupted.
============================<* Mi'ihen Caverns *>=============================
====================<* CHALLENGE - Sinkhole Interrupted *>====================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Stepping into this cavern room is briefly delirious, because it is in the     
 process of collapsing.                                                        
                                                                               
 It's very clear. The floor is giving way. It's falling downwards, into what   
 looks like a cavern that is full of spiky garbage and limestone detritus.     
 You can tell this quite clearly because the vast space between 'about two     
 yards into the cavern space' and 'the exit, northeast of you about thirty     
 yards' has been somehow frozen in time. It gleams with an amber light. There  
 is a sense of tension in the air, and if you look closely at some of the      
 cracks between pieces of stone, they appear to be bound together by chains    
 of light.                                                                     
                                                                               
 Someone did something. Sorcery? An ARM? It is not clear. And yet the entire   
 situation has an air of frailty. Pick your way forwards. Feel the stones      
 tremble beneath your feet. Feel your steps translate into strange trailing    
 red streaks of light, frozen behind you. Get across with as little force as   
 you can.                                                                      
                                                                               
 Nothing can stop forever.                                                     
=Dungeon Conditions: Hesitate=================================================
=======================<* Mi'ihen Caverns - Round 2 *>========================
======================< Results - Sinkhole Interrupted >======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          0 --(0)--> 0                   Fail
Ether Tuner                         1   Agility Effects: Quicken and Rally    
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lorelei Calice                      5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Sassy Boots                         2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Radical Skates                      3   Agility Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Whip                                2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Layna Manydays                      5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Quartermaster's Stash               2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ashton Anchors                      0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Bunny Shoes                         3   Agility Effects: Quicken and Efficient
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  20 --(20)--> 40                Pass
Conditions: Hesitate(2)
Effects: Quicken(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss 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> Layna Manydays has posed.

Loren makes eye contact with her. Layna's expression becomes even more smug, if that's even possible, but it lightens up at Lorelei's greeting to her.

"Seems to be doin' alright - last I saw 'er, at least." Layna replies to Lorelei with a smile. "An' sure, I'll pass the message along for ya."

She looks toward Mignonette and Lorelei as they consider the type of magic involved here. True...it was rather unusual. There might be a bite more going on here than she realized initially.

Maybe it was a good thing she decided to come back here. She was already learning more than she did last time - including the fact that Loren got robbed, apparently?

"Not to worry, lad - we'll get back whatever it is they took." Layna replies. This might just end up make things worse.

They all make it over, in their own ways - Layna lets out an appreciative whistle at the way Ashton just runs up the cavern wall, and she's apparently not alone in that. Loren's the last one to make it cross - and it's very close, as the sorcery that was keeping that chamber up gives out just a moment before he reaches the other end, necessitating either a quick jump or a helping hand to make it out without dropping into the pit with the rest of the rubble.

"...Huh. I wonder if it just happened to run out, or...someone noticed we were here." Layna comments, with a slight frown...and then shrugs. "...Well, no use worryin' now, aye? No way we're gettin' out that way, might as well push ahead."

DG: Ashton Anchors has drawn a new Challenge.
============================<* Mi'ihen Caverns *>=============================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Vouivre Nest *>========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
                                                                               
 https://i.imgur.com/HzEOZWf.png                                               
                                                                               
 Fiends, of course, do not lay eggs, nor do they reproduce their kind as do    
 more conventional beings, such as Drifters or chocobos. Nonetheless, here we  
 are. A heap of more or less ovoid stones lays in the middle of this chamber   
 and a pair of furious vouivres take offense to your presence. Violent         
 offense.                                                                      
=Dungeon Conditions: Wound====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

The room out of time is passed - but perhaps that's not the hard part.
 
The other side of the limestone cavern opens up into a fair-sized chamber full of shallow depressions. Each low dip in the floor is full of egg-shaped stones in clusters - a curious place for a nest, given the room just before.
 
Upon entering, Ashton immediately has his hands on his blades. "Captain Manydays, I suspect we have -grave- reason to worry. And I am also beginning to wonder about these bandits. Their choice of lair is either the result of terrible desperation or the worst real estate agent in all of Spira."
 
Almost on cue, there's a low hissing growl. Claws click ominously on stone. And several large lizard-beasts emerge from some of the less-filled depressions in the limestone. All look hostile - defensive, angry and deep into the fight side of fight-or-flight.
 
The Symbological Swordsman takes a step to the side, giving room for everyone to maneuver. "I begin to favor the second more."
 
Even as the hulking beasts advance, the sellsword comes up with a plan.
 
It is a dumb plan.
 
This should not be surprising.
 
What IS surprising is that the moment everyone looks away, he is suddenly holding a barrel. Why does he have a barrel? Because Ashton.
 
The lid is popped off - the barrel is kicked over. And the raw stench of salt cod starts to fill the room. Hopefully easy food will distract the monsters.

DG: Ashton Anchors has used his Tool All Purpose Barrel toward his party's challenge, Vouivre Nest.
<Pose Tracker> Lorelei Calice has posed.

A rather more serious Lorelei touches down safely and releases Mignonette to her side. She tosses her hair back before centering herself with a drawn breath. "...Yes, something curious is definitely afoot," she murmurs with a glance towards Loren.

Her gaze drifts back and settles on Ivan. "Oh, dear heart," she sighs with a little roll of her eyes, her smile small and sweet. "Whyever you're here... you're here. And we do so love to have you. Now be a dear and do your best to help, alright? I'll be so grateful."

She winks, once. A little star twinkles in the air.

Pivoting back, she moves after Ashton, but pauses as the young man draws his blades. The senior Etone drops back a step with a deep frown before sweeping her arm out. "Mignonette, step back."

"Of course, Dame Calice." Mignonette recedes a few paces, quickly popping a Remedy or some similar status pill.

Lorelei brings both hands up above her head, her priestly robe streaming dramatically with a sudden upwell of magic. Flame and light dance around her fingers as she holds them apart, gathering energy between them.

She levels them forward with a shout. Flame bursts from her palms and explodes out in a massive eruption. The magical force behind the blast is enormous, swelling to fill the corridor with wind and fire in roaring billows. Plumes gutter up and wash towards the pair of fiends in enormous waves, ready to consume them.

DG: Lorelei Calice has used her Tool Curious Capsule toward her party's challenge, Vouivre Nest.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Okay," Lydia tells Loren. "I'm sorry."

She whispers to Ivan. "Thomas is really shy but he does the best he can and isn't as bad as he looks, sounds, acts, and so on. He actually saved my life once, that's how I know." She is completely wrong about Ivan but she sounds confident in herself because Ragnell, who recently tried to murder Nimue, said she was a good judge of character and she usually seems to know what's up.

Lydia doesn't know she recently tried to murder Nimue.

"But he's kind of enough of a dick that I don't really mind avoiding him anyway but it's kinda fun to tweak him a bit." She keeps her voice low in the hopes of not being overheard by Loren over there.

She frowns a little over Lorelei. Is she trying to--no actually she's just that way with everyone it's okay calm down Lydia.

When the fiends appear he steps back rather than try to hit them with a meteor because as she tells Ivan, "I don't think benevolent crashing will help while we're underground."

nNor will giant space laser and those are her two real options here.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Vouivre Nest.
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

Layna's got a quick eye, so when it looks like Loren's about to fall, Layna reaches out and grabs his hand to pull him to land.

"That was a close one there, aye?" She remarks with a grin, stepping back to give him some space. Thankfully, she's not the type to charge him just for a quick save.

She looks toward Ashton, then.

"I've got a hunch 'bout what these guys're after. I've been here before...I just need somethin' that puts all the pieces together." Layna explains.

But before she can elaborate, trouble appears. Layna grins, and cracks her knuckles.

"Oh, good - I was gettin' in the mood to punch somethin'." She remarks. With that, she charges right in, fists flying. She's careful to watch out for her ranged party members - and to take advantage of Ashton's plan when he puts it into action.

However dumb the plan might be, on its face, if it works, it can't possibly have been that dumb.

DG: Layna Manydays has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Vouivre Nest.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    He lands, as it happens, in the worst possible places. Rocks crumble and fall away where his feet touch down, forcing him to move before he can tumble after them. He barely has time to think, let alone reach out, to figure where is most stable, where is best.

    Where the chamber isn't coming apart under him.

    He jumps, in despiration, for the stable edge of the room.
    It's not enough to cross.

    No. I'm going to--

    His face is a mask of shock even before Layna grabs his wrist and pulls him the rest of the distance. Afterwards, he is simply dumbfounded.

    She gives him some space. This is a good thing, because he needs it. "..."

    This is a bad thing, because it also means he overhears the whispering from Lydia. At his sides, both hands clench into fists. He says nothing, simply moving after the rest of them as a caldera forms within.

    It is likely a fortunate thing, then, that they encounter monsters in the chamber beyond. "...Tch. Guarding their young," Loren opines, reachine for the bag at his side. "...Wait, Fiends don't reproduce, do they?"
    He considers this for a half-moment more before withdrawing a few small potion vials. "Forget it. Catch!"

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Solarian Medical Kit toward his party's challenge, Vouivre Nest.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Lorelei winks at Ivan. His eyes widen, but the rest of his expression is largely lost behind the folds of his scarf. It's pretty clear he looks disproportionately startled, though. He takes a few steps backward and tries to fall in behind Lydia a little.

Lydia meanwhile attempts to explain Thomas to him. When she gets to the part about how he's enough of a dick to want to avoid sometimes, he looks back at Loren as if he has suddenly become a daunting personage. After all, Ivan burned Lydia's face off twice and she still wanted to hang out with him all the time. The bar for making Lydia want to avoid you must be impossibly high.

"What did he DO?" he asks, still in conspiratorial whisper mode.

But soon: Fiends arrive! Ivan is eager to set them on fire, but Lorelei already has that extremely covered. He watches the pyrotechnics wistfully for a bit, and when things have died down sufficiently, he summons a short sword and charges in to try to stab anything that's still moving.

DG: Ivan has used his Tool Memory toward his party's challenge, Vouivre Nest.
============================<* Mi'ihen Caverns *>=============================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Vouivre Nest *>========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
                                                                               
 https://i.imgur.com/HzEOZWf.png                                               
                                                                               
 Fiends, of course, do not lay eggs, nor do they reproduce their kind as do    
 more conventional beings, such as Drifters or chocobos. Nonetheless, here we  
 are. A heap of more or less ovoid stones lays in the middle of this chamber   
 and a pair of furious vouivres take offense to your presence. Violent         
 offense.                                                                      
=Dungeon Conditions: Wound====================================================
=======================<* Mi'ihen Caverns - Round 3 *>========================
==========================< Results - Vouivre Nest >==========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Solarian Medical Kit                1   Combat  Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lorelei Calice                      5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Curious Capsule                     1   Combat  Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Memory                              3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Layna Manydays                      5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ashton Anchors                      0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
All Purpose Barrel                  2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  40 --(20)--> 60                Pass
Conditions: Hesitate(1)|Wound(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Embolden(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss 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> Ashton Anchors has posed.

The pair of fiends are - to put it simply - outclassed. They're a danger to be sure, but against a group of Drifters who aren't afraid to alpha strike something? Merely 'dangerous' isn't enough.
 
The barrel of fish is mostly ignored, but it's a bit harder to ignore a MASSIVE WAVE OF FIRE AND WIND. The creatures aren't put down by just that, but Lorelei's opening strike is enough to toss both of the vouivres to the ground and stun them.
 
Which makes them very short work for Layna and Ivan's more up-close solutions.
 
The battle is short, brutish and the leftover heat from the flames are more damaging than the fiends. But for that, there's Loren's little vials - and no lasting harm is done.
 
As for the question posed by the Solarian... no, fiends don't reproduce. A closer examination of the room shows the truth of it: the egg-shaped rocks are just rocks that are shaped like eggs. Perhaps the monstrosities were merely following something from life? Or imitating it. But there's no life within the orbs.
 
Which is likely good because you monsters, you would have murdered their parents! Orphan lizard-monsters everywhere! ...Good thing that's been avoided.

DG: Lorelei Calice has drawn a new Challenge.
==============================<* Mi'ihen Caverns *>===============================
================<* CHALLENGE - The Penitent Drifter Shall Pass *>=================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The way into the depths of the Mi'ihen underground is abruptly occluded       
 by... height.                                                                 
                                                                               
 A tunnel so short that a child would have to duck their head presents itself  
 before you. It looks scuffed -- there are lighting spheres within, and you    
 can see bits of passage, tiny scrabbles and stains. In order to progress      
 further you will have to sink to your knees single file and move forward.     
 Your foe is claustrophobia... but at least it is not dark.                    
=Dungeon Conditions: Hesitate=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Lorelei Calice has posed.

When the flames and light pass, Lorelei slowly brings her arm back down to her side. A light behind her eyes dims, and the look of fcus in her face eases back to a mellow smile.

As if catching Lydia's frown, the rosy-haired Beastwoman winks at her. Another little sparkle dances in the air.

"Well! I think there may be an opportunity to punch things sooner than later, Lady Layna. We do seem to be getting farther in!" Striding forward, Lorelei breezes passed the rock formations without stopping to check for loot, turning a corner and--

"Dame Calice, surely there is another way around." Mignonette stares grimly at the incredibly low tunnel in front of them. It's so low that the only way through would be to get on one's hands and knees - and then some. Even a child would struggle.

With a pained look, Lorelei wraps her arms around herself, rocking her hips and shoulders in a twisting motion as if trying to squirm out of this situation. "Ooooohhhh no, that doesn't look pleasant at all -- oh, and they even lit it, so we definitely have to go through to follow them, don't we? Ah, how terrible--"

"Terrible for you?" Mignonette's face pales slightly. Then she huffs and draws herself up. "Ugh. Whatever. I suppose this is part of the job for us."

Inhaling, Lorelei steps reluctantly forward. She wiggles her foot around in the mouth of the little tunnel, nudging at the ceiling to test its give. "...Ugh. Then I suppose we crawl."

The senior Etone and her apprentice are both tense as they stoop, creeping down to all fours. Lorelei takes the lead, Mignonette bringing up the rear. It's tight and low, and even crawling is sure to scrape one's back a bit.

On the plus side, whomever follows Lorelei is treated to a good look at her boots. They are too high-heeled for any woman of the cloth.

DG: Lorelei Calice has used her Tool Sassy Boots toward her party's challenge, The Penitent Drifter Shall Pass.
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

There's a long silence as Ashton simply.... stares at the tiny, tiny tunnel.
 
He looks around at the others.
 
And then he sighs deeply.
 
"The rest of you should go first. If anyone's going to get stuck, it's going to be me." And there's a truth to it - Ashton himself isn't overly large or unwieldy. But Creepy and Weepy? With two dragons sticking out of his back, the result is that Ashton is rather bulky. And even on his belly, he's a fairly hefty boy.
 
And thus, he does go last. And gets ready a rope so somebody else can pull him the rest of the way through when he inevitably gets stuck.

DG: Ashton Anchors has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward his party's challenge, The Penitent Drifter Shall Pass.
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

"Nah. They're basically like...those pyreflies all globbed together, aye? I don't think there's anythin', y'know, physical, 'bout them." Layna replies with a shrug to Loren's question.

"...Though I guess they do still have ways o' makin' more o' themselves." She comments, chuckling darkly.

Layna follows Lorelei and Mignonette forward...and then frowns, folding her arms in front of her as she stares at the tiny tunnel that looms beneath them.

"...Aye, this feels like someone's havin' a laugh at our expense." Layna comments with a sigh. With that said, she draws out her bottle again and takes another swig - this time, though, she offers it around to anyone else who might want some.

"Guess there's nothin' else for it..." She decides, crawling through the tunnel after them. She has to remove her hat first, though, so that it doesn't scrape across the ceiling.

DG: Layna Manydays has used her Tool Quartermaster's Stash toward her party's challenge, The Penitent Drifter Shall
Pass.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"He's just kind of grouchy all the time," Lydia says as she apparently hasn't noticed that element in Ivan or anything. "Like... I don't know...It just felt like he was looking down on me the whole time, you know?"

Lydia seems pretty sensitive to that whereas settting her on fire a couple times is, well, it was pretty terrible the first few times but it's happened enough now she's just kind of deadened to it all whereas most days whereas as a beastman she's very used to being looked down upon, yes, but it always feels like it comes out of nowhere all the same and so she's always on edge.

Maybe even a knife's edge.

Lydia sweats silver beads faintly as she sees the tiiiiny little hole she's supposed to be pushing herself through.

"Do uh... do we have to go this way?" She asks, crouching down. Despite often acting like a gremlin she's actually quite tall and tight spaces like in a ruin can be pretty, uh, ough for her if there isn't a technological component here.

She looks to Ivan hopefully.

"Can you um... I don't know..." She looks back to the hole. "I'm kind of uh... nervous... going into that hole. Uh..."

She kind of makes a halfhearted attempt to shrink herself down before giving up.

"Can you uh..." He probably won't want to, she thinks with a grimace as she tentatively pushes in a bit and--

--she probably needs a helping hand of some sort, Ivan, even if it's just a reassuring word or something.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Penitent Drifter Shall Pass.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    Loren takes the time to (rudely) rub at his temples when Layna chimes in about the Fiends in the aftermath, once he's taken the time to buckle his bag shut. "Yes. They're accretions of Pyreflies and don't form -- or breed -- by any other means. So what these think they're doing... I have no idea. I suppose even a Fiend can go mad."

    This is when they come across the real big tragedy of an obstacle before them:

    A very small tight hole. Just about big enough to crawl through.

    "Is it really lit in there?" he says, peering inside. "Huh. Guess it is. ...Whoever's in charge of these bandits really has it in for other people," he observes, frowning both lopsidedly and with all the world-weariness a man of 20 can muster.

    He glances over at Lydida, who is showing all the signs of concern over the tight passage. "Then go last, or wait out here," he suggests, moving to take the line ahead of her. He doesn't know what she's so worried about, it's not like they're going to get stuck -- none of them are really big. Someone like Commander Ramses might have a problem. In fact, they're all about... er...

    His attention shifts towards Ashton.

    "They don't come off?" he asks, eyeing Ashton. A pause follows.

    "Are those real."

    On second thought, he decides, moving ahead towards the small hole and getting down on hands and knees (fidgeting with the Tuner, just because he can already see a future where something gets caught on something in there and it's not a bright one), maybe he'd really rather not know.
    Mutants just keep getting weirder.

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Ether Tuner toward his party's challenge, The Penitent Drifter Shall Pass.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan thinks that squeezing through the small tunnel looks kind of fun, actually. Or would if he ever had fun under any circumstances. He has a strange fondness for absurd physical challenges that come with a chance of death, even if that possible death is one as ignoble as getting stuck in a tiny tunnel until you starve.

It's only the fact that there are so many other people involved that makes it awkward.

But he looks over and finds that Lydia is kind of ... frozen up. And is asking him to do something to help her un-freeze. But what?

He looks around at the others to see if maybe they know, but most have gone on ahead, except for Ashton, whose dragon things are aparently real, so maybe he's got other problems to worry about right now. And Loren, who kind of tries to help, but Ivan is kind of doubtful that was the kind of encouragement she was hoping for.

He makes all sorts of faces that he hopes she can't quite see, and then reaches out and squeezes her hand.

"You won't get stuck," he says quietly. "You can be all kinds of different shapes, remember? So you'll be okay."

He pauses. "But if you really want, we can just go back the other way and get treasure another time."

DG: Ivan has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward his party's challenge, The Penitent Drifter Shall Pass.
==============================<* Mi'ihen Caverns *>===============================
================<* CHALLENGE - The Penitent Drifter Shall Pass *>=================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 The way into the depths of the Mi'ihen underground is abruptly occluded       
 by... height.                                                                 
                                                                               
 A tunnel so short that a child would have to duck their head presents itself  
 before you. It looks scuffed -- there are lighting spheres within, and you    
 can see bits of passage, tiny scrabbles and stains. In order to progress      
 further you will have to sink to your knees single file and move forward.     
 Your foe is claustrophobia... but at least it is not dark.                    
=Dungeon Conditions: Hesitate=================================================
=========================<* Mi'ihen Caverns - Round 4 *>==========================
==================< Results - The Penitent Drifter Shall Pass >===================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Ether Tuner                         1   Agility Effects: Quicken and Rally    
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lorelei Calice                      5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Sassy Boots                         2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         5 --(5)--> 10                  Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Layna Manydays                      5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Quartermaster's Stash               2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ashton Anchors                      0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------< Party >-------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  60 --(20)--> 80                Pass
Conditions: Hesitate(2)
Effects: Quicken(1)
================================< Dream Chasers >=================================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss 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> Lorelei Calice has posed.

"It would appear that we do," Mignonette answers Lydia, her expression grim. She is actually shorter than the nanomachine colony shaman, though she's trying to do a better job of concealing her discomfort.

Lorelei, for her part, squirms through the tunnel with a few huffs and grumbles as this prominence or that scrapes something. "Ugh! Whoever decided to do this had a cruel sense of humour," she grumbles acidly before pulling herself past a few light globes.

The trip is claustrophobic and miserable. Even for the smaller members of the group, the tunnel is uncomfortably low. Ashton, true to his prediction, gets the worst of it, nearly catching Creepy on an outcrop - but he's able to wiggle through. Lydia similarly runs into a bit of trouble and might bump her head after a certain point.

But wiggle through they do. Coming out the other side, Lorelei immediately bounds to her feet and stretches. "Oh, thank Granas," she breathes, pushing her arms out at her sides and twirling briskly a couple of times. "I thought I'd never have headroom again!"

Just ahead of Ashton, Mignonette crawls out of the tunnel, her face very pale. "Let's never do that again, Dame Calice."

DG: Loren Voss has drawn a new Challenge.
=============================<* Mi'ihen Caverns *>==============================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Odessa Guards! *>========================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 In a moment, much becomes clear. In a narrow turning passageway, you          
 abruptly run into a half-dozen individuals wearing jackets in a certain and   
 distinctive style, as well as lightweight ushanka hats. The uniform, in       
 short, of Odessa.                                                             
                                                                               
 Inexplicably there is another man with them. Thick of beard, seeming to be    
 in his undershirt. This man is one you may have met in another world. His     
 name is Dario. He has a big fat gunsmoke pistol.                              
                                                                               
 He shoots first.                                                              
                                                                               
 The battle will be brief and vicious, come what may. And afterwards --        
                                                                               
 What the hell is that noise?                                                  
=Dungeon Conditions: Reckless=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    It's not a great adventure through the tunnel, no. But mercifully, at last -- and fortunately he's not in an awkward position or anything like, say, being pressed up against the backside of the daughter of one of the greatest biomedical minds of her generation -- Loren makes it out unscathed.

    With a minor crick in his back, yes, but unscathed.

    "Come on. Let's get moving. There has to be something--"
    He rounds the corner.
    Right into a uniformed man.

    "Mf," Loren articulates, backing up in a hurry.

    First the bad news: Loren has no idea what Odessa's uniform is.
    But the good news: he can absolutely tell what a uniform for a paramilitary group looks like, and this matches the bill.

    "Damn, it's--"

    They're not alone.
    There's a man in his nightshirt, with a gunsmoke ARM, who is, again, not someone Loren has met previously. But that doesn't really matter because said man is loaded for bear!

    Loren dives out of the way, rising with an assortment of potions in hand. He's got a number of them in there, and they might come in handy given the fact that they are all now in pitched combat with a bearded guy and a paramilitary group, none of which apparently feels much like chatting at the moment.

    "Try not to kill them! I've got questions!"

    Like, 'what the hell' and 'where's my sword' specifically, but also some actual intelligent questions, like 'what's the purpose of this operation' 'you're only targetting Filgaians' and 'who's in charge'.

    But first, they all have to win.

    ...And what's that noise?

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Solarian Medical Kit toward his party's challenge, Odessa Guards!.
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

Helpfully (unhelpfully), Creepy and Weepy respond to Loren's question by swinging around and both just -looking- at him. In that simple, sarcastic way that needs no words to say 'really?'.
 
And Ashton simply sighs. "Thomas, meet Creepy and Weepy." The two dragons bob slightly as they're named, as if nodding. "My companions-slash-pets-slash-curse."
 
"And yes," he comments with a wink, "They're real."
 
The squirming crawl through the tunnel is, as predicted, terrible and troublesome. On the other side the dragons express their discontent in their usual fashion: Creepy starts to gnaw on Ashton's head as the group continues on. He treats it as if nothing were happening at all.
 
And then - Odessa! The uniforms are recognizable instantly, and Ashton is quick to draw his blades. "Villians! Prepare to face the wrath of--" And he stops, because Creepy is still gnawing on his head and this utterly ruins any chance of being serious and dramatic.
 
"--You know what, forget it." And Ashton simply barrels forward into the fray.

DG: Ashton Anchors has used his Tool All Purpose Barrel toward his party's challenge, Odessa Guards!.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia, for once, doesn't comment on any faces that Ivan might be making because she has kind of gotten riled up enough as is already and she is mostly thiknking about all sorts of horrible things that could happen to her while she's down there. But she is jarred out of all that when Ivan squeezes her hand which DOES threaten her actually seeing his expressions but he she (thankfully??) doesn't look back towards him. She just listens. She lets out a long exhale, squints her eyes closed, nods rapidly, "Okay." She tells Ivan, still not looking directly at him. "Right. If I get stuck... Just gotta...shift a bit. It's fine."

She opens her eyes again. "We're gonna nab the shit out of this treasure."

Of course, that's easier said than done because Lydia still bonks her head and grumbles through a large chunk of that tiny path but she does ultimately get through at which point she A) First breathes a sigh of relief and then B) beams at Ivan and says, "Thank you!" so emphatically and genuinely it might burn, but she then winces a bit and says, "Sorry--right." She turns away. "But... Thanks, really."

"It's okay! You can kill Dario!" Lydia calls over to Loren while her arm turns into a silver blade which she lashes out at the Odessa-ites before her.

Sometimes Lydia is not entirely internally consistent unfortunately.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Odessa Guards!.
<Pose Tracker> Lorelei Calice has posed.

Lorelei, however, does know what a military uniform looks like. So does Mignonette.

The man with the gunsmoke ARM fires, and both of the Etones take a dive. Lorelei lets out a squeak and rolls behind a piece of scenery, the shot nearly tearing through her hair. "Goodness! How sudden!" she gasps, her voice clear even over the noise of battle. "Ah- are you sure you wouldn't like to talk this over? Surely Odessa can't have designs on this silly cavern--"

With a grumble, Mignonette hauls a small pistol from her robe and squeezes off a couple of shots of her own. "What are they doing in a cave? This seems like an odd place for them," she mutters.

Blinking, Lorelei peeks over the rock she's behind, then gasps and ducks down as another bullet slices by. She quickly raises her hand to her mouth.

Whatever she does, it seems to steady her. Raising up from behind the rock, she thrusts her hand out.

A bullet partway to her suddenly incinerates in midair as an immense wave of heat screams from Lorelei's palm. Fire, light and wind combine into a single massive bolt that explodes from her hand and bursts through the chamber. The light is so bright that it's nearly blinding, the screeching sound of the blast ringing off the cave walls and straining eardrums.

"See the light of Granas and be gone!" Lorelei roars over the sound of the magic as she lets fly.

DG: Lorelei Calice has used her Tool Curious Capsule toward her party's challenge, Odessa Guards!.
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

Unfortunately, they're not alone when they get to the other end of the tunnel.

"...Ah, hell. I knew it had to be a trap of some kind." Layna mutters with a sigh. Then again, it could be worse - they could've fired at them when there was nowhere for them to go.

With a pop of her neck Layna rushes forward, dodging gunfire and unleashing a wave of wind in her wake to send several of the Odessa members flying into right into a wall.

"I'd tell ya...but from the sounds of it, you're about to find out!" Layna calls over to Lorelei, over the sound of something drawing closer to them.

Something big.

DG: Layna Manydays has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Odessa Guards!.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan is pretty much useless with embarassment after encouraging Lydia -- he makes it through the tunnel but doesn't really register whether it's fun or hideously uncomfortable because his brain is just kind of a blur of WHY DID I DO THAT.

Her bright words of thanks afterwards don't help, and he tries to pull his scarf up even higher. Except... then he can't see at all, and someone is firing an ARM at them.

Fortunately, the bullet doesn't seem to have been aimed at Ivan specifically, so he lives long enough to pull the scarf out of his eyes and gets to see another impressive show of fire magic he regrettably was not part of.

There are mixed messages regarding whether they should be killing people, so Ivan summons a bludgeoning weapon--his warhammer--and starts swinging it at enemies and lets the chips fall where they may.

DG: Ivan has used his Tool Memory toward his party's challenge, Odessa Guards!.
=============================<* Mi'ihen Caverns *>==============================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Odessa Guards! *>========================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 In a moment, much becomes clear. In a narrow turning passageway, you          
 abruptly run into a half-dozen individuals wearing jackets in a certain and   
 distinctive style, as well as lightweight ushanka hats. The uniform, in       
 short, of Odessa.                                                             
                                                                               
 Inexplicably there is another man with them. Thick of beard, seeming to be    
 in his undershirt. This man is one you may have met in another world. His     
 name is Dario. He has a big fat gunsmoke pistol.                              
                                                                               
 He shoots first.                                                              
                                                                               
 The battle will be brief and vicious, come what may. And afterwards --        
                                                                               
 What the hell is that noise?                                                  
=Dungeon Conditions: Reckless=================================================
========================<* Mi'ihen Caverns - Round 5 *>=========================
==========================< Results - Odessa Guards! >==========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Solarian Medical Kit                1   Combat  Effects: Cleanse              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lorelei Calice                      5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Curious Capsule                     1   Combat  Effects: Cleanse              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         10 --(5)--> 15                 Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Memory                              3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Layna Manydays                      5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ashton Anchors                      5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
All Purpose Barrel                  2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  80 --(0)--> 80                 Pass
Conditions: Hesitate(1)|Reckless(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Embolden(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has passed this challenge! The party gained 0 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    Loren meets two dragons attached to a man's back.
    This is completely normal and fine.

    "Charmed, I'm sure," he says, flatly. Particularly when Ashton confirms that, yes, they're real.

    It's somewhere halfway along the crawl that it occurs to him that Ashton said it was a curse.
    There are, apparently, worse curses out there than 'ruin your family's name forever' and 'death'. However fleeting it might be, Loren Voss counts his blessings.
    (Particularly when he sees one of those dragons gnawing on the side of Ashton's head later.)

    He says they should try not to kill them in case they know anything.
    Lydia says it's ok to kill Dario (the man with the large gun apparently).
    "Why? Does he know nothing? Noted," Loren says, falling back as an Odessa guard who had been too close by is laid low. He reaches in his bag to check for anything else he has on hand that might be of use. ...Well, if it comes down to it, he can always try to hit someone with a scalpel. He doesn't like those odds.

    Suffice to say, the following quickly happens vis-a-vis those entering combat directly:

    Ashton rushes in (possibly with the barrel) which has the benefit of seriously knocking the Odessa guards off-balance, in more than one way.
    And then, they're set on fire. And light and wind, for good measure. En masse, courtesy of Lorelei.

    Lydia gets in a few good hits, but is soon forced back by Dario's wild gunning -- but fortunately, Layna has her back and sends him flying... which is the point where Ivan enters.
    With warhammer.

    Things reach a head shortly thereafter.

DG: Layna Manydays has drawn a new Challenge.
============================<* Mi'ihen Caverns *>=============================
================<* CHALLENGE - Break the Sphere Extractor! *>=================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Ah. That is that noise.                                                       
                                                                               
 The device makes sense at a glance, which much machinery does not. It is      
 cobbled together from local machina -- huge drums bearing massive blades of   
 thick iron and glittering hardened blade-edges turn and rumble, scorching     
 through limestone, chewing methodically. You can see the Sphere Extractor     
 move at a rate of approximately one yard per thirty seconds as you come into  
 the space where it is working.                                                
                                                                               
 The output runs down a range of chutes, which rattle and rumble. Smaller      
 grinders break up larger chunks. The name Sphere Extractor is well earned     
 because these rattletrap pipes and chutes seem to be separating out           
 glittering spheres, embedded in the rock, and leaving billowing dust and      
 gravel in their wake. The air here is barely breathable between the stench    
 of the thing's operation and the dust it produces.                            
                                                                               
 Nevertheless, here it is -- the secret in the bowels of this base, the thing  
 which has been protected. And now it is not protected. It seems to be         
 operating on automatic pilot.                                                 
                                                                               
 mess it up                                                                    
=Dungeon Conditions: Maim, Overwhelm==========================================
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Well I mean he doesn't know anything but that wasn't the logical throughline and now that you have asked why I am kind of wondering if I'm maybe just holding a grudge because his friend nearly murdered me??" Lydia babbles at Loren. "I'm sorry Dario I forgive oh nevermind."

She cut that off when Layna clobbers him the heck away.

<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

"Whoops, sorry, lass! Didn't realize you were havin' a heart-to-heart." Layna calls back to Lydia.

As the fight continues, the rumbling gets louder and louder. And then, through the darkness, it appears - a huge, cobbled together machine chewing its way through the caverns. A series of pipes and chutes sort through its take, leaving dust and gravel in its wake.

Needless to say, between the debris, the dust, and the stench of struggling machinery, the air quality is pretty awful.

"Looks like they managed to stitch it back together...ah, well, nothin' to do but bust it up again!" Layna decides, drawing out her drill and slotting it over her right arm. It begins to whir dangerously as she leaps at the machine, looking to punch right into it.

DG: Layna Manydays has used her Tool Arm-Mounted Drill toward her party's challenge, Break the Sphere Extractor!.
<Pose Tracker> Lorelei Calice has posed.

What comes lumbering out of the darkness is indistinct through the dust at first. Coughing, Lorelei shields her face with one arm. "Ugh! What on Filgaia have they built?"

"Whatever it is, it's more than a little worrisome, Dame Calice." Mignonette continues to hang back, her pistol in her hand. She adjusts her glasses with the other, squinting through the dust and fumes to try and get a better look at the grinding machina before them. "It doesn't look purpose-built. Odessa probably kludged it together here."

With a scowl, Lorelei pushes back the folds of her robe, revealing the vest and shorts beneath it. "Then that gives us one alternative," sheproclaims. "Un-kludge it."

"Let's try not to damage the Spheres it's harvesting." Mignonette's tone is more crisp and level now.

Lorelei's hand falls before she can belt a spell off, and she exhales, scowling with an uncharacteristic flicker of irritation. Her usual airheaded joviality has flown out the window at this point, replaced by a professional focus as she begins to move forward, into the dust.

It gets in her hair. She brushes it back but bears with it.

Bounding up onto the machine, Lorelei unslings the long rifle she's been carrying beneath her robe. "Thomas, see what you can do with it," she calls over the noise of the machine before planting the rifle against a crack between two plates and beginning to fire bursts of energy into it, trying to blow out this or that piece of machinery.

DG: Lorelei Calice has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Break the Sphere Extractor!.
<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

The Odessa goons go down just like Ashton likes his-- you know, there's basically no way to end this metaphor gracefully. They go down fast and easy.
 
By the end, he's barely broken a sweat. He does have a smile on his face, though. "I take it this was the suspicion you had, Captain? If so, kudos and if not I'll pretend it was."
 
The whole situation seems well in hand... aside from that noise. Which, of course, the team finds the source of quite suddenly.
 
Immediately, Ashton looks from the Sphere Extractor to Loren. "I would like to point out for the purposes of later reference that this machine does NOT seem to hurl flames. Despite that it was indeed waiting just around a corner to ambush the first person it was able to."
 
Satisfied with that clarification and callback, Ashton does what a mercenary does in this situation: he rushes forward and starts to quite simply start to smash at the vulnerable pipes to try and disable it.

DG: Ashton Anchors has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Break the Sphere Extractor!.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia considers the people present here because, okay look she likes Ivan and doesn't want him to be embarrassed but sometimes Ivan does something that she can't help but be caught by and, like, it's hard to just keep her trap shut about it because, like, it's impossible to keep her trap shut about these things! She doesn't really have anybody it's easy to just talk properly about Ivan with because a lot of the people she knows also knows Ivan and those htat don't Lydia is way too embarrassed to mention any of this stuff to.

That is as she approaches the machine, wondering just how many of these there are down in the caverns, she ends up actually approaching Lorelei because she's Rosaline's sister and thus is trustworthy but also not, like, someone who seems to actually know Ivan too well so she can talk to him about this and uhh maybe most importantly she seems to understand what it's like being thirsty?? So yes, she goes towarsd Lorelei.

Lydia glances briefly back towards Ivan who has just gotten done not exactly pulling up his scarf higher and thus blinding himself but at least made some kind of gesture of that kind and then back to Lorelei.

"He's so sweet annd cute sometimes I'm just like 'arrgggh' you know?" She whispers to Lorelei. "But it's tough to talk about directly, what do you think I should do?"

And then of course she starts smashing things with her bat as if trying to act out that she didn't just ask this random catgirl for advice.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Good Luck Bat toward her party's challenge, Break the Sphere Extractor!.
<Pose Tracker> Lorelei Calice has posed.

The rifle in Lorelei's hands pulses with energy as she squeezes off a shot.

Then Lydia starts whispering to her as they work. Lorelei blinks - and her demeanor quickly shifts, her serious look giving way to a small, knowing smile as she lowers her lashes just a shade. The expression fades to one that's a little more sympathetic.

"All you can do is give him time," she murmurs, her voice not carrying over the sound of grinding mechanisms and exploding devices, pitched for Lydia's ears only. "Some men are very alert for feminine affections, but there are those who don't understand it. Be patient and let him realize things. If you push him too hard, you'll only scare him."

As she's dishing out advice, Lorelei is continuing to fire the Able Archer into the guts of the machine, as if these two tasks were completely congruous with one another.

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Seeing the machina back in action, Ivan has to pause and wonder -- how do machina even work? After somebody smashes them, you can just fit the pieces back together and have it go back to doing the same complicated stuff?

He quickly realizes he is more interested in smashing it than in pondering that question. His warhammer is still at the ready, so he gets back to swinging, this time with a target that doesn't complain as much.

He is mercifully unaware of any discussion about himself that may be taking place nearby.

DG: Ivan has used his Tool Warhammer toward his party's challenge, Break the Sphere Extractor!.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Ugh," Lydia says. "Patience is for nerds."But she has to admit Lorelei is probably right since that was sort of what she was figuring anyway but she was sort of hoping for the clearly experienced lady to have a more convenient answer for her. "Well thanks for the help!"

SMASH SMASH SMASH.

<Pose Tracker> Lorelei Calice has posed.

"You'll probably have to kiss him first, mind you," Lorelei remarks with a quick wink, still keeping her voice down.

BLAM BLAM BLAM.

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    He just... kind of watches Layna drop the ex(?)-bandit with only the faintest of winces.

    "We'll just check on them later," says the medic, because there is something a little more pressing.

    Namely: what the heck is that noise?

    It's a mystery that is admittedly soon solved. Slinging his forearm over his mouth, he quickly digs in his back in search of something that might filter out the...

    He comes up with a scarf. He'd thought he'd left this back in the barracks ages ago. Did someone pack it for him?

    MANY MONTHS AGO:

    Lan blithely assists in preparing for the mission they've been assigned to back out in Elru. She adds a few things from Loren's personal belongings to his bag.

    It reads, in traditional Aveh calligraphy, that the wearer is 'Top Stud of the Sands'.
    Loren does not know how to read traditional Aveh calligraphy.

    But it is a suitable makeshift sand and grit filter, which is the purpose to which it is now put.

    "Like what? I don't have a bomb," he points out, his voice muffled. But on one thing he and Mignonette are aligned: "Try to shut it down, not break it!"

    He's got an idea, if he can get close enough. "Hey, you, with the dragons, try and cover me--"

    He pauses.

    "I wasn't being literal!" he protests.

    Without much else but his 'talents' the best he can do is try to disrupt it with a jolting burst of stress through the system.
    If he can get close enough.

    Or maybe, now is the time to try what he's been learning through all these months of practice and reach for a distance to seize the tender heart of the machinery and jerk it to a stop.
    With a pulse of Ether, that is.
    It may end up being not unlike a small localized quake.

DG: Loren Voss has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Break the Sphere Extractor!.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia's entire face goes bright silver for the rest of the scene.

============================<* Mi'ihen Caverns *>=============================
================<* CHALLENGE - Break the Sphere Extractor! *>=================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Ah. That is that noise.                                                       
                                                                               
 The device makes sense at a glance, which much machinery does not. It is      
 cobbled together from local machina -- huge drums bearing massive blades of   
 thick iron and glittering hardened blade-edges turn and rumble, scorching     
 through limestone, chewing methodically. You can see the Sphere Extractor     
 move at a rate of approximately one yard per thirty seconds as you come into  
 the space where it is working.                                                
                                                                               
 The output runs down a range of chutes, which rattle and rumble. Smaller      
 grinders break up larger chunks. The name Sphere Extractor is well earned     
 because these rattletrap pipes and chutes seem to be separating out           
 glittering spheres, embedded in the rock, and leaving billowing dust and      
 gravel in their wake. The air here is barely breathable between the stench    
 of the thing's operation and the dust it produces.                            
                                                                               
 Nevertheless, here it is -- the secret in the bowels of this base, the thing  
 which has been protected. And now it is not protected. It seems to be         
 operating on automatic pilot.                                                 
                                                                               
 mess it up                                                                    
=Dungeon Conditions: Maim, Overwhelm==========================================
=======================<* Mi'ihen Caverns - Round 6 *>========================
==================< Results - Break the Sphere Extractor! >===================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lorelei Calice                      5 --(5)--> 10                  Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         15 --(5)--> 20                 Pass
Good Luck Bat                       2   Brute   Effects: Strengthen           
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                5 --(5)--> 10                  Pass
Warhammer                           3   Brute   Effects: Rally                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Layna Manydays                      5 --(5)--> 10                  Pass
Arm-Mounted Drill                   3   Brute   Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ashton Anchors                      5 --(5)--> 10                  Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  80 --(35)--> 115               Pass
Conditions: Maim|Overwhelm|Reckless(1)
Effects: Strengthen(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: You have overcome the dungeon's trials! This run is a success!
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has successfully explored Mi'ihen Caverns!
============================<* Mi'ihen Caverns *>=============================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Wardrobe Call *>========================
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Discovery |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 After busting up the Sphere Extractor, your retreat is swift but relaxed.     
 You probably did not take out all of the Odessa agents, but you can depart    
 before anyone on patrol gets back.                                            
                                                                               
 OR CAN YOU? Rounding a corner you are faced with sixteen Odessa soldiers in   
 perfect rank and file...                                                      
                                                                               
 ... or so it seems. It is actually a rack of uniforms arrayed for drying      
 using divots of wood to spread them out. The effect is rather surprising.     
                                                                               
 If you are short on clothing you may be able to help yourself to some of the  
 inexplicable bounty of this evil operation on your way out.                   
                                                                               
 ((If you intend to keep an intact private's uniform please drop Erzebet an    
 @mail. This may be useful in the future.))                                    
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Layna Manydays has posed.

"Aye, but I can't take too much credit - this is my second time tanglin' with this particular beast." Layna asides to Ashton with a one-armed shrug, as she continues punching the machine. "It's easy to make all the right wagers when the cards are already stacked in your favor, aye?"

Such was the pirates' way.

And so, to use Lorelei's terminology, they unkludge it - quickly and violently. Between all of them, the machine can't really withstand it. It doesn't really possess any means of fighting back, either, so it can't even resist as they soon enough reduce it to its component parts - and then some. It's even easy enough work that they can discuss matters of the heart - Layna eavesdrops, a faint smirk on her face. She doesn't comment on it though.

Layna takes a step from the machine once it's all said and done, a satisfied smile on her face.

"...I think that's the best we can do for now." She says, nodding to herself. "Alright, let's book it before anyone else shows up. This oughta set 'em back a good bit."

With that, she turns and leaves...but it isn't far before she stops dead in her tracks at the sight of what initially appears to be at least sixteen soldiers lined up.

She pauses...and then, laughs to herself.

"...Oh, it's just their clothes. And here I thought we we 'bout to get into another fight." She says, moving up to investigate the clothing. "Hmm..."

The wheels turn in her head.

"You know...I think it's time to embrace the golden rule." She says. Treat others the way you want to be treated? "'Finders keepers'."

And with that, she steals some of the uniforms for herself. They might come in handy later.

<Pose Tracker> Ashton Anchors has posed.

"Captain Manydays, you are a -pirate-," Ashton quips. "I would be horribly disappointed if you didn't stack your deck as much as you swab it."
 
And now the best part of any adventure: LOOT!
 
There is a pause in everything as Ashton rummages through the wreckage and associated mess.
 
Though there are other priorities to handle first.
 
Sweaty, covered in dust and grease - a hand is extended out to Loren. "Apologies. In my haste to introduce my shoulder lizards I had forgotten my own. Ashton Anchors. A pleasure."
 
Each one of his shoulders is loomed over by a dragon. Who now have ushankas stolen from the wreckage. They look pleased with this development.

<Pose Tracker> Lorelei Calice has posed.

Lorelei can't help but curl her hand near her mouth as Lydia drifts off.

"Ohoho~"

When it's all said and done, she hops down from the damaged machine and tosses her head, doing her best to shake some of the dust out of her hair. "Well! Nicely done, everyone! Personally I think I could use a shower after that, though." With a bat of lashes at Loren, she smiles sweetly. "Do you need one too, dear Thomas? I'm sure there are plenty of nice places to clean up after a dusty evening- ah, it's such messy work handling machina, you know--"

"Dame Calice," Mignonette points out. "Look."

"Oho?" Lorelei widens her eyes at the sight of the uniforms. "Ah- how interesting! There are at least sixteen of them stationed here."

Lorelei glances to one side, then the other, before she picks out a pair of the uniforms and passes one to Mignonette. "These may come in handy!"

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia walks back towards Ivan afterwards, face still completely silvered up. She flinches briefly at the clothes but ultimately relaxes once she sees it's just that. clothes.

Lydia draws out a lighter and sets one of the uniforms on fire.

"So um," Lydia says to Ivan at what is now a fire-side chat. "How ya doing?"

She wobbles back and forth on her feet awkwardly. "Um, if it's okay, I would like to go back to being able to see each other's faces again." That shouldn't be too much of a push right? She does draw out one of the uniforms and offers it to Ivan.

"Do you want to set one on fire too??" She asks this as if that's what qualifies as a make up gift.

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    Between the lot of them, they unstick what was stuck, so to speak. The machine comes to a stop... and then some. Loren at least tugs the scarf down from around his face one the dust in the air settles out a bit.

    "Wait, I wanted to ask..." Loren starts to say when Layna says this is about where the buck stops, for now. He pulls away and walks back to the entryway they came in through and looks around the corner.

    ...Yeah, those guys are all out, if not actually dead. He deliberates for a moment just how much effort he's willing to put in, compounded by time, compounded by difficulty, compounded with the chance of being caught and makes nis decision.

    "Fine. But I'm not leaving without my sword," he says, returning to the group.

    So they make their way into the room adjoining and--

    "Oh. The laundry," he comments, before glancing at Mignonette and Lorelei thoughtfully. Now, what if...

    Lorelei interrupts that line of thought with something that could be innuendo. Maybe. Loren makes a strangled sound, before Mignonette interrupts.

    It's really a relief when Ashton, comparatively, makes a benign introduction of himself. "Ashton, is it? Right." He, meanwhile, thinks he delivered his name in passing, at least.
    Mignonette or Lorelei probably handled the actual hiring.

    "Mignonette. I'll leave the uniforms to you," he says, before heading into the back to rustle through some of the cabinets. Just on the off chance, maybe...

    Bingo. Not everything has to go as badly as possible. There, piled with some other things that have probably been taken from Filgaians, is his sword.

    It's a good thing he's been keeping it in a beat-up scabbard with the hilt well-wrapped with burlap or they might have taken it for somethin more valuable.

    "Alright. Let's get out of here," he says, buckling it back onto his belt.

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan looks at the array of uniforms, which several people are helping themselves to. Come in handy? What for? Is it useful to look like these guys? They're from the other world, aren't they?

He looks at Lydia (who is blushing furiously about something? Perhaps the thought that there are 16 unclad soldiers off somewhere nearby?) he looks at the uniforms. He frowns.

"Is this treasure? I guess someone would buy these..."

If only he had people skills, he might have a better sense of what people were willing to buy off of a stranger.

Lydia asks about maybe seeing his face again.

"I mean... probably? Eventually? I'm working on it." What does that mean, though, Ivan!

He accepts the offered uniform somewhat automatically, and contemplates it. Burn it or try to sell it... a difficult choice?