2019-08-29: Through An Impossible Forest

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  • Log: Through An Impossible Forest
  • Cast: Loren Voss, Talise Gianfair, Lydia Seren, Seraph Lanval
  • Where: Macalania
  • Date: August 29, 2019
  • Summary: Heading north for Lake Macalania, Loren encounters others -- including one particular person of note -- while he's en route to the necessary-to-cross Macalania Woods; a temporary alliance is formed while they make the trek on through.

DG: A party led by Loren Voss is now entering Macalania Woods.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
=============================<* Macalania Woods *>==============================
====================<* CHALLENGE - A Disorienting Element *>====================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 North of the Thunder Plains lies the Macalania Woods; in order to reach
 Macalania Lake and the temple there, a traveler has no choice but to
 traverse the woods.

 Unfortunately, the woods are a nightmare to traverse; the woods have been
 altered by the power of the Fayth. Between the paths that spiral into
 impossibility amidst glittering trees and the shimmering illusions courtesy
 of the light reflecting from the same, it's easy to get turned around in
 these woods.

 Oh, and there are the Fiends to contend with as well. Many a traveller has
 found to their dismay that the Fiends that lurk here are no small matter. In
 fact, speak of the devil--

 Here are a quartet of Blue Elements, spinning disorientingly as they
 advance, here to greet you now. If by 'greet' we mean 'attack', that is.
=Dungeon Conditions: Madness==================================================
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    He had made up his mind. He was heading north. Gathering what supplies he needed and borrowing an unused blade, he'd set out on that journey through the Thunder Plains and to Macalania.

    It just so happens that he had encountered a few heading in that same direction. Loren hasn't decided yet whether this is a blessing or a curse.
    Possibly more the former than the later, he considers, as almost immediately upon stepping into those strange woods he is taken aback by the way in which it has shifted, even from his last passage through to the Lake region upon which he is intent. He hesitates, his gaze shifting to rest on this or that oddly twisted path and pseudo-path.

    He feels alert, though. Alert instead of rattled, or even confused. His hand slips to the blade at his hip.

    His mind is buzzing.

    "--There," he says, his gaze coming to rest on a set of twirling Blue Elements. His right eye feels like something twitched behind it. Fleetingly, he has the impression of blue.
    But he knows what he's doing.

    Reaching now into his bag and pulling out a set of bolstering potions; he off-handedly tosses them to the others.
    The guilt doesn't drag him down now as it propels him forward. As it always (?) had.

    And he draws the blade and closes on the nearest Blue Element.

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Solarian Medical Kit toward his party's challenge, A Disorienting Element.
<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Not so long ago, Talise and the Fox Company had come through these woods - but she'd had a feeling they'd be far from the only ones.

"Fancy meeting you here," she'd said a couple of moments ago, a little smile on her face as she'd fallen in with none other than Thomas the Medical Student. It's an unlikely pairing, but Talise likes those best.

For all of Loren's alertness, Talise seems relaxed about things. She's even left her armour behind in favour of her light Spiran attire and an overcloak trimmed with feathers. Her eyes drift across the landscape, then to Loren now and then, as she stretches an arm up and behind her head. "You're awfully tense," she muses. "Do you need a backrub or something?"

The Blue Elements are not about to provide. With a cant of her head, Talise looks towards them, then exhales and reaches back.

There's a hiss of steel, then the sound of metal singing through split air particles as Talise swings through emptiness. Her casual demeanor vanishes in a rough shout of challenge - and that in turn vanishes in a screech of green lightning.

A burst of power rips from Talise's sword and swells into a green wave shaped like a dragon's head, aiming to plow through the Elements.

DG: Talise Gianfair has used her Tool Dragon Courage toward her party's challenge, A Disorienting Element.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Woah Thomas," Lydia says. "You're going this way too? Sweet." Seems the positive regard she found for the FELLOW SPACE NERD hasn't exactly faded somehow. Somehow might be a key word but even despite that affectation of cheer, she does seem rather distracted--constantly looking this way and that as if expecting to get jumped. She seems twitchier than normal and that's certainly saying something but at least she isn't trying to get fellow explorers killed with traps again.

I mean,what are you talking about? That never happened.

Anyway, as usual Lydia isn't too much help during a Fiend attack, charging up a too big attack since honestly it's kind of her one thing, like the shaman equivalent of Vanderkam. The fight might be finished before she unleashes a single spell.

She doesn't blink twice at the medic having a sword since she's pretty sure all medical professionals are also swordsmen. It's a dangerous job.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, A Disorienting Element.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    Macalania Woods has resisted every attempt to apply Etrian Odyssey to it. This place is going to see a lot more foot traffic in time, so many surmise, so it's for the best that some brave Drifters somehow pave the way and master sure routes in, out, or wherever else.
     Talise is accompanied by a Cannibottle - sorry, a Seraph of the element of water who radiates a bit more of it than usual. They look like a portly fellow with a big silvery beard who is putting on fresher, swankier robes of an aquamarine hue than their manner suggests they ought to.
     "Mmm... I think it'sh the blue onesh shpittin'--" sploosh. Lanval gets splashed with water, and a bunch of pyreflies flit about on impact as though they have been evicted from their clear water home. They don't seem to have any strong opinions of it, but Lanval's staggering slows as if it were not a point of amusement.
     "Yep... shuuuuure ish," Lanval remarks, but he's a bit slower to the draw there than Talise and 'Thomas' are, over there. "...Ha ha ha! Guessh I don't gotta shay that sho much now, huh," he says as he takes a bright white bottle and just splashes some of its contents back at the Blue Element sneaking up near Lydia to dissuade its approach.
     He's not sure that it is possible to dissuade a Fiend, they seem to have their mind made up on what they're going to do (ruin your day) that they don't seem capable of much else, by his experience.

DG: Seraph Lanval has used his Tool Holy Bottle toward his party's challenge, A Disorienting Element.
=============================<* Macalania Woods *>==============================
====================<* CHALLENGE - A Disorienting Element *>====================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 North of the Thunder Plains lies the Macalania Woods; in order to reach
 Macalania Lake and the temple there, a traveler has no choice but to
 traverse the woods.

 Unfortunately, the woods are a nightmare to traverse; the woods have been
 altered by the power of the Fayth. Between the paths that spiral into
 impossibility amidst glittering trees and the shimmering illusions courtesy
 of the light reflecting from the same, it's easy to get turned around in
 these woods.

 Oh, and there are the Fiends to contend with as well. Many a traveller has
 found to their dismay that the Fiends that lurk here are no small matter. In
 fact, speak of the devil--

 Here are a quartet of Blue Elements, spinning disorientingly as they
 advance, here to greet you now. If by 'greet' we mean 'attack', that is.
=Dungeon Conditions: Madness==================================================
========================<* Macalania Woods - Round 1 *>=========================
======================< Results - A Disorienting Element >======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Solarian Medical Kit                1   Combat  Effects: Cleanse
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talise Gianfair                     0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Dragon Courage                      1   Combat  Effects: Embolden and Fanfare
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Lanval                       0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Holy Bottle                         2   Combat  Effects: Resilient
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Madness
Effects: Cleanse|Embolden(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.

    And there's, naturally, Lydia. "Hm. Looks like it," he had remarked, before, and barely slowing a step, continuing onwards.

    Suffice to say, he's crossed paths with people he regards more or less neutrally (Talise), people he regards as a recurring problem (Lydia), and someone who quite frankly caused him several points of SAN loss (Lanval). Things are... looking up?!

    (Someone else might later find the report on this expedition illuminating. For now, Loren still has to live it.)

    But even things like 'annoyances' or 'mind-melting existences' seem to pale in comparison to...
    To...
    Is it a sense of purpose? Even he's not entirely sure, but it is the place he has landed upon and he has no intent of turning back to jump into that sea of grief.

    Is he tense? Quite probably.
    (In a point of fact: Yes.)

But the fact of that being true doesn't stop him from narrowing his eyes at Talise's comment. "I'll pass," he mutters, and some things don't change no matter how your internal state has shifted.

    The sword is oversized for him; he has to readjust his stance to accomodate for the fact that it was made for a taller person than he is. But in the end--

    Two Elements are swallowed up by Talise's iai-strike. Another is felled when Loren runs it through. Yet another is dissuaded from Lydia's presence as she casts -- Loren's eyes narrow at the sight of the bottle -- and it'll be a simple matter for Talise to end things.

    Starlight shimmers in the aftermath, and of all things, Loren thinks of Lan.

    "....Come on," he says, ultimately, shaking his head. He needs to make good time to get to the lake before it gets too dark. And the forest's status is not... helping.

DG: Seraph Lanval has drawn a new Challenge.
=================================================<* Macalania Woods *>==================================================
============================================<* CHALLENGE - No Littering! *>=============================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          |
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 The path through the forest is also the path to the temple at the lake --
 and thus, a path of pilgrimage for Summoners and their Guardians. But it
 seems that other people have also traversed this path of late -- it would
 explain the debris that's been left behind. No Summoner would be so
 careless, would they?

 At any rate, all of this has to go. It simply won't do to leave Macalania
 Woods looking like this. The discarded packs and scrap paper and ripped
 cloth and rotting food and /are those Machina parts/

 Maybe it's true that one person's trash is another's treasure -- but you
 will still have to go through an awful lot of garbage to get there.
=Dungeon Conditions: Overzealous, Treasure====================================
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    They have dealt with Blue Elements with aplomb. For a time, the Woods do not throw any weird curve balls, no strange bends in the road, no shallow pools of water with crazy currents, no blinding reflective lights... for all they've traveled about Macalania, they may have finally attained a modicum of familiarity. A route! A route, the greatest treasure of all.
     Lanval steps ahead, eyes opening half-lidded. "Mmm... yep, looksh clear sho far," inviting the worst, "ain't even been shtruck by any Fie--"
     Lanval slips on something, and his eyes widen without the bright colorful brilliance that tends to befall it, his mouth a comical cringe as he slips, slides...
     "Fiends!!" Lanval calls as he slips and falls on his back, kicking up a... peel, of some exotic Spiran fruit? It flies into the air, flares its peeled skins out like a predator opening its mouth wide, and... harmlessly crashes down onto the ground with a quiet 'plop.'
     Lanval stirs to action, standing upright as he channels incredible water energies. He is beset upon by someone's empty, ripped burlap sack that tries(?) to envelop any of them.
     Purple liquid splashes out from an overturned rotten fruit, dyeing whatever it touches purple, which may mean it is a poison that cannot be cured so easily by antidotes (oh noooooo!!!! ...?)
     "They're everywhere," Lanval remarks as he swings the ever-heavy drinking gourd by its attached rope to bat away a half-eaten head of those vegetables that chocobos like, which explodes into... smaller green rotting leaves, and not into pyreflies.
     "They even shplit into shmaller onesh!" Lanval calls, brushing more water in exaggeratedly large amounts.
     ...
     These aren't Fiends! It's GARBAGE.
     Also it's everywhere.

DG: Seraph Lanval has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, No Littering!.
<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

"Never change, Thomas." Talise flashes the alleged medical student a wry smile. "Never change."

They continue on swiftly enough, but Talise doesn't put her sword away. She does, however, give Lydia a look and a faint smile. "Hey. Long time no see, huh? Seems like a lot's been going on since we last ran into each other."

Understatement of the year, Talise. But then, she's not sure if Lydia still dislikes her.

Lanval calls out, then. Talise blinks, watching the fruit spill through the air and then come down.

"Man," she sighs, pushing a hand through her hair as she looks around at the rotting trash. "This is kind of discouraging. I mean, I grew up on a pirate ship and I have more respect for nature than this. Guh." She sets her sword back in its sheath and starts forward, considering the volume of trash.

As she reaches for her backpack, there's a light 'wark,' and a tiny chocobo head peeks out, a mouthful of gysahl greens in its bill. Talise smiles crookedly and gives the bird a little scritch before pulling a bag out, giving it a good shake and pulling on a pair of gloves.

She spares little time in beginning to collect the worst of the trash. Someone's gotta save the planet, after all, and the power... is YOURS.

DG: Talise Gianfair has used her Tool Reinforced Gauntlets toward her party's challenge, No Littering!.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia doesn't even remembering disliking Talise in the first place. In fact, neither does her player though there was a fair amount of time when she had a chip on her shoulder and an ax to grind against pretty much everybody but that time has long since passede.

"Uh yeah." Lydia says. "I guess so." She's still kind of a punk though. "Guess not really surprised to see you here." In fact Talise is a beastman so Lydia tends to be more accomodating towards them because beastmen have hard enough lives. Maybe not on Lunar, but old habits die hard.

"To be honest it's kind of hard to relax on Spira. Not that it's all bad or anything."

She seems oblivious to bottled suspicions regarding bottles.

Luckily Lydia is nothing if not willing to get all up in some garbage. She says, "Sweet!" as she dives in, shifting through the garbage with a baseball bat even as she filters through the junk to gather up machina parts she can find. She is largel y interested in that though she takes some glances at the ripped clothing. She leaves hte rotting food.

"Hehh hehh...can't believe they wasted all this stuff!" Pause. "Or ran away from something real scary and left it all behind heh heh... well your loss is Lydia's gain, nyeh hehhh..."

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Good Luck Bat toward her party's challenge, No Littering!.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    His response to Talise, perhaps predictably, is to glower.

    Other than the initial dizziness of the woods -- and the Fiends -- there's little else the matter with Macalania that's thrown their way. Sword again sheathed, he continues onwards in relative silence (at least, on his part).

    Until Fiends attack, that is. The sword is slid free from its sheath and Loren waits at the ready for...

    For...

    He watches in silence as the peel plops back onto the ground. As a disgusting purple liquid sloshes everywhere.
    He curls his lip in disgust. Then, regarding Lanval, simply shakes his head. "It's garbage," he says, as if patiently explaining this to a child. He reholsters the blade. "You're fighting garbage." He exhales a long weary sigh then and picks his way carefully through the trash.

    The smell's enough to prompt him to cover his mouth and nose with a hand. Here and there, something glints in the light.

    It's not exactly cleaning up the trash. But he does pluck a few pieces of metal from the waste. An empty bottle that could be useful.
    Things like that.

DG: Loren Voss has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, No Littering!.
=================================================<* Macalania Woods *>==================================================
============================================<* CHALLENGE - No Littering! *>=============================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          |
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 The path through the forest is also the path to the temple at the lake --
 and thus, a path of pilgrimage for Summoners and their Guardians. But it
 seems that other people have also traversed this path of late -- it would
 explain the debris that's been left behind. No Summoner would be so
 careless, would they?

 At any rate, all of this has to go. It simply won't do to leave Macalania
 Woods looking like this. The discarded packs and scrap paper and ripped
 cloth and rotting food and /are those Machina parts/

 Maybe it's true that one person's trash is another's treasure -- but you
 will still have to go through an awful lot of garbage to get there.
=Dungeon Conditions: Overzealous, Treasure====================================
============================================<* Macalania Woods - Round 2 *>=============================================
==============================================< Results - No Littering! >===============================================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talise Gianfair                     0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Reinforced Gauntlets                1   Brute   Effects: Strengthen and Fanfar
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Lanval                       0 --(0)--> 0                   Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Good Luck Bat                       2   Brute   Effects: Strengthen
-------------------------------------------------------< Party >--------------------------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  20 --(25)--> 45                Pass
Conditions: Overzealous(2)|Treasure(1)
Effects: Strengthen(1)
===================================================< Dream Chasers >====================================================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has passed this challenge! The party gained 25 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    Lanval fights this strange new array of Fiends with a fervor and ferocity that only rarely surfaces, treating every flitting thing being kicked up into the air like it might be a deadly thing looking to decisively end any of their lives. "...They're shure shtrong...!"
     Talise gets equipped with 8x units of Garbage, which can be eaten(?!) for a 10 HP recovery!!! Also there's an X-Potion in there, the seal's not even broken. Wow, that's a good catch! Just got to throw out the useless X-Potion and make out with the Garbage!! (...wait)
     Lydia fights with her bat! She deals so many critical hits! This is the best she has ever fought before! She even gets an OVERKILL on a tomato-analogue just by gently nudging it, and gets a goodly amount of AP that maybe she should sink into her Sphere Grid sometime! She finds a few Luck Spheres, whatever they do.
     Lor-- Thomas, sorry. Thomas lays down the truth as Lanval prepares some great big nasty blast o' water of some kind, and he slows, stops, and looks at the inanimate floating piece of cloth robing that now just drifts harmlessly along. "...Ohhhhh."
     Lanval laughs, and sits down (in the garbage?! eww). "Shorry~! Kinda had me goin'... ahh, truth be told, it'sh a li'l harder fer me ta tell when a Fiend ish bearin' down." Lanval, for a moment, feels oddly nostalgic with his environment. "...Shoooo that meansh there'd been othersh down thish way... huuuuuh..."
     Which means a consistent route may yet be in reach! In reach like those useful steel Machina scraps that Thomas picks out. They'll be able to clear out enough of it in time to continue along their way, confident that others can pass without incident and that they also harvested everything of use.
     But will Macalania Woods be so easily charted?

DG: Talise Gianfair has drawn a new Challenge.
==============================<* Macalania Woods *>===============================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Many Blinkenlights *>=======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          |
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 Simply put, Macalania Woods looks like something out of a dream. The trees
 themselves, already twisted into unearthly shapes, appear to sparkle, and
 the air itself seems to swirl with a shimmer of light.

 In particular there is a glimmer shining in the air not far from where you
 stand now that seems to be somewhat stationary -- and it isn't the only one.
 But is this a waypost of some sort, or is it really only a trick of the
 light?
=Dungeon Conditions: Reckless=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Talise is not eating the garboj.

"Yeah, I figured folks would be coming this way. You're with Jay's bunch now, right? She's a good one - take good care of her, alright?" The swordswoman bags the garbage and then stuffs it into her inventory to dispose of later.

The route they find is easy enough to follow - at least until the path ahead comes into an area with more crystalline spars and gnarled trees than usual. Everything sparkles subtly, the air eddying and swirling with perceptible shimmers of light. Squinting, Talise holds a hand up to her forehead and peers into the morass of illumination. "Hey Lanval," she asks, "don't suppose you can see that glint of light over there. Is that actually a thing?" She sighs. "Feel like I'm trying to navigate through a few beers."

Talise pauses.

"That is a brilliant idea," she decides as she pulls a bottle out and flips the cap off before knocking it back for a long swig.

    Old Man Ettlesbury's Olde-Fashioned Heal Berry Brewski

Wiping her mouth with one arm, Talise starts forward confidently, eyes fixed on the glint. "Well, who knows!" she says gaily. "Even if it's not a landmark, we're going in the right direction!"

DG: Talise Gianfair has used her Tool Old Man Ettlesbury's Olde-Fashioned Schnapps toward her party's challenge, Many
Blinkenlights.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    "Is that normal for your kind?" he asks, leaving the bulk of the garbage behind. The few pieces he did come away with he rubs on the hem of his shirt before tucking them away. "You're a Seraph, aren't you. I've learned a thing or two."

    But there's still more that he doesn't know, he's sure of it.

    In silence afterwards he trails after the rest of them down that apparent trail. Whoever's been here lately has made a mess of things -- that or this is a common enough route for travelers.

    He emerges, as it were, into the light.

    He squints for a moment.

    "Fiends?" A pause. "No. Just lights." Another pause. "...Great."

    He rubs at his right eye, as if it were bugging him in some lowkey way. His hand drops away after and he watches the lights for a moment. Tries to make sense of where they are, what they are, and whether they might be worth trusting.

    And then he decides that it doesn't matter.

    Loren digs in his bag.

    And comes up, ultimately, with a wrapped bar of some sort. It's a simple matter to rip open the packaging and tear off a handful of... whatever it is.

    This, he starts to shred, casting crumb after crumb onto the path as they walk. "If we're going in a circle," he explains, apparently feeling more like being helpful, "we'll know we've been here before."

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Soylent Nutribar toward his party's challenge, Many Blinkenlights.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia only knows Loren as Thomas and she's in a pretty good mood now that she has some 'treasure' collected for some absurd project or another. Apparently Thomas collects garbage too, Lydia realizes, and understands that perhaps the two of them...have more in common than she thought!

Well honestly they probably don't but Lydia can't be sure! Her help as people start getting lost and concerned they may be walking around in circles is to set down a black cat (Schrodinger) and follow the cat. It's 5050 odds with Schrodinger Lydia is pretty sure but that's better than 0100 odds!

"Hey Lanval," Lydia says. "How have you been anyway? Haven't seen you in a while. I fought some masked killers lately it was pretty awful but like whatever you know we totally won so, like, whatever. IT's cool. We're cool."

Lydia tries to act like it's cool and fine.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Schrodinger the Cat toward her party's challenge, Many Blinkenlights.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    "Far ash I can tell..." Lanval starts as he lies down in the garbage for a moment, picking up one of the weird fruit peels. "My kind ain't never been here 'till, uh... 'bout when we all firsht showed up."
     His memories go back to a time where he considered picking stuff up off the ground as close enough to be considered a tribute. Boy, did the mortals of that time like to throw and spill so much on the floor.
     Mairvel at last answered a centuries-long question, some time back, as to why they didn't pick back up their blood, at least.
     "Yep," he gives the (further) affirmation, as he comes along with the rest further ahead. "Iiii... I dunno how I'd be able ta put it fer a mortal. Mmm. I'll try, it'sh, uh... shmell! Oh! That'sh a good one. Shmell, kinda like... we're pretty good at knowin' when Malevolence ish about."
     Lanval explains as he follows along to bright lights. So bright! "...Clarine'd know more 'bout that than I would..." He's hoping she's all right, as he is now wearing the dumb amber-lensed novelty beer lens glasses. Talise gives a wonderful idea! A wonderful idea he accidentally undercuts as he tries to get his fill of DRINKS.
     "With Fiends... ya shee, mmm. The feel in the air, it'sh like... the shame shmell... everywhere," which means maybe he shouldn't stumble around drunk off his rocker! Nonetheless, the light reflects off his glasses lens and maybe into other things of interest?
     Lydia tries to open conversation. "Ahhh... well, it ain't been eashy, but we're keepin' shpi--" Lydia casually drops that she's been fighting masked killers and it was pretty awful (maybe even ugly awful?) but like whatever. Lanval quiets a bit.
     "...Were they after ya?" He asks, along the way.

DG: Seraph Lanval has used his Tool Amber Tinted Glasses toward his party's challenge, Many Blinkenlights.
==============================<* Macalania Woods *>===============================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Many Blinkenlights *>=======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          |
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 Simply put, Macalania Woods looks like something out of a dream. The trees
 themselves, already twisted into unearthly shapes, appear to sparkle, and
 the air itself seems to swirl with a shimmer of light.

 In particular there is a glimmer shining in the air not far from where you
 stand now that seems to be somewhat stationary -- and it isn't the only one.
 But is this a waypost of some sort, or is it really only a trick of the
 light?
=Dungeon Conditions: Reckless=================================================
=========================<* Macalania Woods - Round 3 *>==========================
=========================< Results - Many Blinkenlights >=========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Soylent Nutribar                    2   Wits    Effects: Resilient
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talise Gianfair                     0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Old Man Ettlesbury's Olde-Fashioned 1   Wits    Effects: Cleanse
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Lanval                       0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Amber Tinted Glasses                3   Wits    Effects: Fanfare
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Schrodinger the Cat                 2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten
------------------------------------< Party >-------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  45 --(20)--> 65                Pass
Conditions: Overzealous(1)|Reckless(2)
Effects: Cleanse|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> Talise Gianfair has posed.

"Masked killers?" Talise glances back towards Lydia. "That kind of sucks, but at least you won, right?"

She takes another drink. When she looks back to the path ahead, she widens her eyes as she realizes who else has joined them. "Oh man, it's a kitty!" she exclaims, zipping after Schrodinger with a delight she can't even begin to hide.

Loren's trail of crumbs proves to be more useful and practical than anything else they're trying, and Schrodinger's able to turn away from an obvious turnback and trot towards the glint, Talise trotting along behind. With Lanval focusing in on that spark, they soon find what they're seeking: A particular spar of crystal that juts through the trees with all the impudence of a man-made waypoint, though it's clearly not.

Talise scoops up Schrodinger with a goofy grin, scritching the cat between the ears. "Always worth trusting a cat," she says emphatically before turning to glance back towards Loren and Lanval again. "Fortunately we've only run into Hellions here once or twice. Actually if you see any, I'd appreciate a heads-up. Especially if one of them's a rat bastard named Joe Clark!"

DG: Loren Voss has drawn a new Challenge.
=============================<* Macalania Woods *>==============================
======<* CHALLENGE - Follow The Butterflies -- WAIT NO NOT THE RED ONES *>======
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 3          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 You come around a bend of the low branches of a great crystalline tree, only
 to be approached by one of the three friendly humanoid species that call the
 forest (and only the forest) their home. This one is an avian harpist, and
 they have a proposition for you. A little game they'd like you to try.

 Simply put: If you can collect enough blue butterflies for them within a set
 timespan, they will grant you a prize in the form of a useful sphere they
 have found. If you can't meet the target, well, too bad.

 Oh, and they add, before waving you on ahead to the place where butterflies
 dance, try not to run into any of the red ones. Why? You'll find out*.
 (*it's because they're Fiends)
=Dungeon Conditions: Vault, Tire==============================================
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    Masked killers... huh.

    "Any idea who they are?" he asks, apparently out of idle curiosity.

    'He' might want to know about it, he's considered.

    Dusting his hands off once they find their way onto what appears to be the main road again, he rounds a bend--

    And nearly walks smack into an avian-appearing fellow.

    He wants, he says, to play a game.
    There's a prize involved.
    They just have to do this one simple thing to play, and that's catch blue butterflies.

    Loren regards the birdman in incredulous silence for a good long series of moments.

    Then: "...You're serious."
    And also then: "Fine. We'll play your game, bird."

    Resolute, the storm within him stirred wildly again by sheer agitation, he approaches the sloped branch leading upwards.

    Tugs at the band looped around his wrist.
    Winces.

    Ether threads through the Tuner; it always feels like its trying to rip a bit of himself out with it. He's heard that a proper personal Amplifier is worse, and some of the higher end ones can kill someone who doesn't have the ability to use them properly.
    He's only got the fairly standard ones in Schiehallion to compare to.
    Probably, you'd need to have the ability to use AERODS to even be able to use the highest-end Amplifiers...

    ...which is probably why they designated him for a Tuner, a thing that extends his 'range' but not his power.

    ...

    ...He'll show them.

    The wave of Ether wafts outwards for the others, though they're unlikely to note it as anything other than 'an enchantment'.

    After that, he's off and running, racing for the nearest blue butterfly.

    Not red, right--?

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Ether Tuner toward his party's challenge, Follow The Butterflies -- WAIT NO NOT THE RED
ONES.
<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

Talise rests a hand on one hip as she looks back towards Lydia, curious as to the questions Loren's asking. "Althena's pants," she sighs. "Between Hellions and masked killers and the Guard and whatnot, it feels like everyone's coming out of the woodwork here...."

She doesn't have much more time to moon over things. There is a birb. A birb who wishes to play a game.

"Catch blue butterflies?" Talise echoes with a curious blink, her eyebrows going up in a shallow arch.

Then she grins. A twinkling smile crosses her face, reaching her eyes. "Shit, why not? That sounds fun."

This is mostly because Talise knows she's not going to do well and figures she might as well enjoy it. The problem with being six foot two and muscular is that she's not particularly agile compared to her smaller and more lithe companions.

Shifting her sword out of the way, Talise pulls an empty back from her inventory and begins to barrel into the butterflies, aiming to try and sweep the bag through the air and collect some of the blue ones. She laughs in spite of herself. "C'mere, butterfly!" she calls out.

"Hey Lanval!" she calls. "It's the red ones we need to not touch, right? Or was it we should?"

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    The lot of them meet some friendly birds! Lanval assumes they're friendly because they aren't Hellions, they aren't Fiends, they aren't brandishing weapons, he's pretty certain there aren't any others around preparing to brandish weapons... they're meeting perfect strangers, who live here in this strange wood that tricks the sight more often than not, who just want to play a game.
     This is legit!
     Lanval is among the most agile among the gathered, in spite of his manifestation's appearance, so it means that he might be best served 'running' around (he has a very strange idea of how walking/running works) taking up butterflies.
     "Ha ha ha!" Lanval laughs as he sits down and enjoys the company of the harp-playing bird-people, his fancy kiseru-style smoking pipe out... as Talise asks him a question. "...Uhhhhhh..."
     uh oh
     "I washn't payin' much attention, I jusht heard 'em shay they wanna play shoooo I took a load off," he says as he peacefully exhales some bubbles, as per that weird habit he has picked up off of mortals. Breathing is weird but it feels so nice to do.
     That these bubbles that flit about seem to be enveloping most of the red ones is... maybe good, then?

DG: Seraph Lanval has used his Tool Bubble Pipe toward his party's challenge, Follow The Butterflies -- WAIT NO NOT THE
RED ONES.
DG: Talise Gianfair has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Follow The Butterflies -- WAIT
NO NOT THE RED ONES.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Uh, yeah, I guess the assassin cult is pretty bummer," Lydia manages with a straight-faced expression. "But nah, they weren't after me though they did snap my neck so, you know, that was a rough minute." Mysteriously she chooses to not share just WHO they were after because honestly people who deserve to know probably already can infer the details. At least regarding the targts.

For the people who 'snapped her neck', well, Lydia is all too happy to let people know wabout the shadowy cult since the less shadowy a shadowy cult is the more easily you can fight them and such. Besides, she is a Star Shaman. Shedding light on a situation is sort of her thing.

She lets Talise pick up Schrodinger too who seems happy to be away for a bit from the lady who sometimes uses them as a projectile.

"Yeah they're the Shadow Dragon Cult. No idea who the leader is but they wear masks. One of em punched a hole through me once. This time I sort of punched a hole through them. Uh. Well. Some of them. I mean. Uh. Like.... it was less of a hole and more ... vaporizing them? It was pretty awful."

She kicks the floor. She sounds less ethically traumatized and more like gut-traumatized. Like she's sick to her stomach thinking about it but figures it had to be done and whatnot.

"Anyway--oh shit the butterfly game! This is amazing!"

She pops the skates out from under her feet.

"YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!" She starts chasing butterflies. She's pretty good at it to the surprise of probably nobody actually.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Radical Skates toward her party's challenge, Follow The Butterflies -- WAIT NO NOT THE
RED ONES.
=============================<* Macalania Woods *>==============================
======<* CHALLENGE - Follow The Butterflies -- WAIT NO NOT THE RED ONES *>======
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 3          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 You come around a bend of the low branches of a great crystalline tree, only
 to be approached by one of the three friendly humanoid species that call the
 forest (and only the forest) their home. This one is an avian harpist, and
 they have a proposition for you. A little game they'd like you to try.

 Simply put: If you can collect enough blue butterflies for them within a set
 timespan, they will grant you a prize in the form of a useful sphere they
 have found. If you can't meet the target, well, too bad.

 Oh, and they add, before waving you on ahead to the place where butterflies
 dance, try not to run into any of the red ones. Why? You'll find out*.
 (*it's because they're Fiends)
=Dungeon Conditions: Vault, Tire==============================================
========================<* Macalania Woods - Round 4 *>=========================
========< Results - Follow The Butterflies -- WAIT NO NOT THE RED ONES >========
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          0 --(0)--> 0                   Fail
Ether Tuner                         1   Agility Effects: Quicken and Rally
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talise Gianfair                     0 --(0)--> 0                   Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Lanval                       0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Bubble Pipe                         3   Agility Effects: Rally
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         5 --(0)--> 5                   Pass
Radical Skates                      3   Agility Effects: Fanfare
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  65 --(30)--> 95                Pass
Conditions: Reckless(1)|Tire(2)|Vault(1)
Effects: Quicken(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has passed this challenge! The party gained 30 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
DG: Lydia Seren has drawn a new Challenge.
============================<* Macalania Woods *>=============================
====================<* CHALLENGE - Spherimorph Showdown *>====================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 You arrive, at last, at what seems to be the heart of the forest, a gnarled
 tree standing atop a deep pool. According to the locals, the water taken
 from here is sometimes used to make spheres. Certainly it is clear enough --
 and in contact with sufficient Pyreflies -- to be of most excellent quality.

 But while the water is a treasured resource, it is also a danger.

 The same force that allows one to make spheres can sometimes result in the
 formation of a Fiend.

 The pool bubbles at your approach. Arising slowly from the water, there soon
 floats a massive sphere of Macalania water, a type of Fiend called a
 Spherimorph. With its mighty magic and amorphous weakpoint-free form, it
 promises to be fearsome foe.

 But you didn't come all this way to run now, did you?
=Dungeon Conditions: Injure, Suffer===========================================
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    Broke her...

    One can see the point where the reality of this one sort of dawns on him. Loren slowly makes a face, the sort of face someone might make when hearing of something that is both unprecedented and a little bit horrifying and possibly some sort of weird exagerration.

    One... hopes.

    "What assassin cult," he says at significant length, as if that were an important part that nearly became 'afterthought' in the wake of... the rest of it.

    Eventually he gets his answer.

    "Shadow Dragon, huh. And you put a hole through..." He folds his arms over his chest and glances downward, thinking. 'He' will want to know about this.

    ...'He' is Leah's...
    Maybe he can try and get...
    And he rejects it out of hand.

    His mind is set. He knows what he's doing.
    It has been a hard road, from despair to clarity.

    Shaking his head, he rouses himself from such thoughts and then makes use of the Tuner.

    The enchantment... might work well for others. Lanval and Lydia in particular surge and float after the blue butterflies and catch them handily in a mixture of speed and grace.
    It does not start to work well for Loren. He leaps for one fluttering blue butterfly... misses it...
    and then misses the landing.

    There is a dull thud from a few feet below them.

    Talise, meanwhile, meets with her own trouble.
    What she's reached for now is... a red one.
    The good news is that it's a Fiend handily felled.

    At length when they all return to the avian fellow (Loren picking a leaf out of his hair) they have their catches judged... and earn a nod of satisfaction. The sphere is handed over.
    And the butterflies released.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia was distracted by butterflies which sort of ended up interrupting her whole talk about the Shadow Dragon and, to be fair, she was probably looking for a reason to deaden the blow of adding like 6 dead people to the list of dead people she has made. Lydia isn't entirely sure but it feels like to her that if you start killing enough people, even if your cause is noble enough, then eventually regardless of whether it was self defense or not it's still kind of messed up.

And it just feels weird to her. She doesn't like doing it. Sick to her stomach. And if Lydia has learned anything--for her, at least, it does not get any easier.

The worst part is, she's not even like a pacifist or anti-violence or anything!

"Point is, uh, there's a lot of 'em around so... be careful arright? I don't wanna see any of you get murdered by cultists. And uh. I mean. They're kinda cheap so even if you're tough or have a cool sword, um, it might still kind of...it might not matter. Because they don't fight fair or nothin'. I'm hoping they don't do much for a while though." She perks up at that. "Like maybe they learned their lesson for a bit? And are like 'maybe we'll wait a month before trying to do more murders? Uggh."

She shakes her head. "It was a close one too. But we made it out. Just--you know--be careful. They're fucking crazy."

Again from Lydia. Nevertheless, she comes to a stop as the group enters the heart of the forest.

"Okay yeah--uh--be careful of the water here--" Lydia begins as she gestures towards a pool.

...A pool that bubbles as the group gets closer and shortly thereafter, a massive sphere of water floats up and blasts Lydia back with a swath of Fiend-Water.

"Bluggh!!" Lydia shouts.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Spherimorph Showdown.
<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

"Uaaaaah, this isn't what I wanted to get!" Talise exclaims before chopping the red butterfly in half.

By the time the game's over, Talise exhales and moves to lean against a tree, folding her arms across her midsection as she listens to Lydia explain. She smiles faintly, shaking her head. "I think we'll be alright. It wouldn't be the first time someone tried to shank me. Though that said...." She raises a hand. "There's a Hellion out there I'm looking for. A strong one. It might use the name Joe Clark, or it might not. The bastard did something terrible and I've got to hold them to account, but if they're out there, they're dangerous. Be careful."

With a thump of heels against turf, the swordswoman starts after Lydia. The bobbling bubble, however, is there to greet them.

Water burst towards Lydia. Talise widens her eyes and boosts herself forward, drawing her sword with a steely hiss. "Hang on, Lydia!" she calls out.

Powerful shoulders bunching in readiness, Talise digs a heel into the turf, throwing up a shower of debris. She swings hard, Rastaban rising in a high arc. "HUOOOAHT!" she roars as she lets green energy explode from the ancient weapon.

The lightning twists into the shape of a green dragon's maw once more, the blast preceding her before she lunges in her own right to follow up the blast with a descending slash aimed to tear into the bubbly fiend.

DG: Talise Gianfair has used her Tool Dragon Courage toward her party's challenge, Spherimorph Showdown.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    "I'll keep my eyes open," Loren says, on the matter of cultists, though the fact that he doesn't even look at her when he says it and is in fact already starting to head down the pathway further in might suggest that he may be less than worried about the threat they pose.

    'He' should know about this. It's another wrinkle in the plans.

    "If there are Hellions in Spira, I haven't seen any," he says, to Talise's own warning of danger in this land. He's still walking along. "I'll worry about it if I see them."

    'He' might want to know about that, too.

    But in the more immediate future, Loren has other fish to fry, as it were--

    The water, he's realized, as he comes into the clearing, is moving. "What the-- that's water--"

    He squints.

    "...No, it isn't, is it?"

    He doesn't hesitate. As before, he retrieves a handful of vials from his bag. Potions, this time, which he tosses to the others before drawing his blade. Engaging this one is going to be tricky if he can't lure it down here so he can strike at it.

    The idea comes to him suddenly. Drawing that glass bottle from before from his bag, he hurls it at the watery Fiend.
    The plan is to lure it over towards him.

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Solarian Medical Kit toward his party's challenge, Spherimorph Showdown.
<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    While the game is (mostly) enjoyable, there are some disturbing things being shared by Lydia. Talk about how her neck got snapped, and all that - but that they weren't after her specifically. When Lanval hears 'neck snap' or 'punched a hole through (her) once' he sure thinks of a lot of the grisly ways mortals have met their end just... all of a sudden. One act of violence, and done. It's a lot harder for him to appreciate the shock that brings to one young life - or to have seen people do what they believe to be horrible things and grapple with that for maybe the rest of the time they're on creation.
     "...'m glad yer all right, at leasht," Lanval says with an uncharacteristically more sullen tone, as if doing his damndest to try to get on that level of shock and dismay. "Shometimesh... ya don't jusht get a choice about what life'll do--"
     The water appears. That weird water that takes an elemental aspect that can be water but despite its shape often isn't, and it's one where Lanval has goofed up the elemental opposites. He has to act when it's hurling lightning and not fire, and that makes absolutely no sense to him. It's even weirder because the magic Spirans use are of Althena's Blessing, and-- well, enough of that.
     Mutual warnings and exchanges are given in turn about a Hellion that is bound to be on the loose in these parts that they need to find and put a stop to. The Water Seraph's eyes open half-lidded over to Thomas as he moves. There's a different air to that one. For the most part the people Lanval travels around with are so tightly knit that they can treat even life-threatening situations with some light-heartedness to spare. Light-heartedness and small joys that he just does not see in Thomas' demeanor.
     Lanval splashes out some water early, pulling back in the nick of time when that sphere is flinging fire - waiting patiently for it to cycle to lightning before he splashes some contents of that bright white bottle he carts about.
     "Mmmm... hey," asks the Bottle That Drank Another Bottle to Thomas, as if making conversation in the middle of their attempt to be the bait, "are ya really holdin' up all right?"

DG: Seraph Lanval has used his Tool Holy Bottle toward his party's challenge, Spherimorph Showdown.
============================<* Macalania Woods *>=============================
====================<* CHALLENGE - Spherimorph Showdown *>====================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 You arrive, at last, at what seems to be the heart of the forest, a gnarled
 tree standing atop a deep pool. According to the locals, the water taken
 from here is sometimes used to make spheres. Certainly it is clear enough --
 and in contact with sufficient Pyreflies -- to be of most excellent quality.

 But while the water is a treasured resource, it is also a danger.

 The same force that allows one to make spheres can sometimes result in the
 formation of a Fiend.

 The pool bubbles at your approach. Arising slowly from the water, there soon
 floats a massive sphere of Macalania water, a type of Fiend called a
 Spherimorph. With its mighty magic and amorphous weakpoint-free form, it
 promises to be fearsome foe.

 But you didn't come all this way to run now, did you?
=Dungeon Conditions: Injure, Suffer===========================================
=======================<* Macalania Woods - Round 5 *>========================
======================< Results - Spherimorph Showdown >======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Solarian Medical Kit                1   Combat  Effects: Cleanse
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talise Gianfair                     0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Dragon Courage                      1   Combat  Effects: Embolden and Fanfare
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Seraph Lanval                       0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Holy Bottle                         2   Combat  Effects: Resilient
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         5 --(5)--> 10                  Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  95 --(25)--> 120               Pass
Conditions: Injure(2)|Suffer(1)|Tire(1)
Effects: Cleanse|Embolden(1)|Resilient(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 Macalania Woods!
============================<* Macalania Woods *>=============================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Nibelungenlied *>=======================
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 With one final blow, the Spherimorph is downed. It dissolves into Pyreflies,
 which swarm for the light making its way through the tree leaves overhead.
 All is quiet and still.

 From the water, you can see something shimmering in the shallows. Once
 plucked free, the source reveals itself to be a ring, to all appearances and
 touch carved from unmelting ice. It shimmers like crystal, and does not harm
 the skin when worn, lending only the sensation of a chill.

 It would be most handy when venturing into a place of great heat, and might
 lend some protection against the chill touch of winter as well. Most
 peculiarly, it seems to fit any finger, regardless of one's size.

 Did someone make this, or did it somehow form naturally?
=Dungeon Conditions: Vault====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia supposes she was afraid of cultists until one punched a hole through her either.

Though Lydia doesn't turn out to be much help, Loren IS able to draw its attention by throwing a bottle at it. Unfortunately for Loren this gets the Spherimorph to focus the onslaught of its spells towards HIM instead of bothering Lydia more and you know what that means: Lydia thinks Loren has saved her again!! Well, Thomas. This is probably tragic.

Nevertheless, even as the Fiend is approaching Loren, Talise unleashes a wave of electricity towards the fiend which makes it shrink back before it adapts and starts crackling with electricity itself--and then Lanval throws that bottle at the fiend--

--and it shrieks before...evaporating into pyreflies.

"What the hell was in that thing??" Lydia asks but nevertheless, in the water--there's a shimmering something that can be plucked free if someone would wish to.

Lydia seems pretty cool where she is since she's kind of just chilling out on the floor over there.

<Pose Tracker> Seraph Lanval has posed.

    "That wash a Fiend, yep." Lanval's answer is correct by letter but maybe not so much spirit, as things calm down and the water doesn't start making overt gestures about doing that sort of thing again. Lanval ambles over in the way he always does - stumbling, staggering, never quite walking straight - as he sees a little shimmering something in the water.
     It's not the first time he's seen it, and it's full of pyreflies that could decide to just become a Fiend again at any time - their very existence feeling like a promise that Sin's always going to breathe down their necks if it darn well pleases - but the way the light catches and reflects off the water... and the way at least half of the gathered just seem so grim, disturbed, out of sorts...
     Time for small joys.
     "...it'sh pretty," Lanval says as he falls onto his seat, "hey... Lydia... ya shure ya don't wanna come shee it?" The shiny ice ring. Still, one eye remains half-open in case something tries to form and jump out of the clear water about them...
     He doesn't move to pick it up himself. It's still pretty out of the water but he wants them to see it in the water before it gets fished out.

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    And on top of all of that, he's gotten a little more information about Seraphs. Namely: they aren't from Spira and haven't been here until recently.
    And neither is Malevolence. Or Hellions, things that found a fertile soil even on a land as blasted as Filgaia.

    There's a lot to consider, and he doesn't nearly think he can make sense of it all. But maybe 'he' can.

    The question that comes, in those moments after Loren hurls a bottle at the Fiend and readies himself for its approach, yanks his attention away from the watery creature. "Am I... what?" Pause.

    "I'm fine," he insists, gritting his teeth as he hisses out the words.
    He feels wild now. Wilder. Like something in him is just begging to be let loose, regardless of what remains afterwards. Guilt and despair have thus honed him.

    Why does everyone keep asking him if he's alr--

    Introspection is nastily cut short as the spell rebounds off the distracted Spherimorph. Knock backwards, Loren sprawls for a moment on the turf near the bond.

    And then there is Talise.
    And there is no more Spherimorph.

    "...Guess it was a Fiend," he says, climbing to his feet, in time to watch Lanval reach into the water. "?" is a pretty good rendition of the noise he makes, before he dips his hand in similarly and pulls out a...

    "Ice? Wait, it's not melting." He stares at it in his palm, he turns it this way and that, before ultimately tucking it into his bag.
    Securely.

    Before he turns back to retrieve his fallen sword.

    "I'm heading onwards," he says, walking away from them. "To the lake."

    He needs to find it. His brother's sword.

<Pose Tracker> Talise Gianfair has posed.

With a flourish, Talise twirls Rastaban in one hand, then brings the blade around to rest along her shoulders in a dramatic stance. She bows her head and closes her eyes a moment.

She breaks the pose, flicking her sword once before sheathing it smoothly. "That's that," she says steadily. "But yeah - it was a fiend."

Opening her eyes, Talise begins to move forward, strolling towards Loren as the young man reaches into the water. The big swordswoman leans forward in her own right.

"Sure, I'll take one." Reachingout, she picks up a ring from the water - there were two, apparently, and she holds the second one in her hand, giving it a curious look, then slipping it on.

She immediately shivers a little. "'s coooold."

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia meanwhile thinks Thomas is acting as usual--well maybe a little nicer than usual, but it's kind of hard to tell with the guy. He sure keeps the cards close to his chest.

"You need backup?" Lydia asks Loren as he departs, but isn't goingg to force her company upon him.

She can't help but snicker at Talise's own reaction. "Sure good for preservin' food I bet. Or tendin' to a bruise!"

She stands herself up, hobbling over to Lanval whom, upon being asked if she wishes to see it, gets 1xlydiehug.

"Thanks, man." She says.