2021-05-01: Siddim Canyon (Side E)

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  • Log: Siddim Canyon (Side E)
  • Cast: Ratatoskr, Day Muirwall, Ivan, Lydia Seren, Ruth Pauling
  • Where: Celesti Wastelands
  • Date: May 01, 2021
  • Summary: A Malevolent Domain that has formed from Siddim Canyon in Northern Zoara needs be addressed... and the story of the ill-fated village that fell in the late years of the Celesti Civil War is told. Several teams descend upon the location to deal with it - and its Domain Master, should they be present. This scene ICly takes place on May 1st, 503 PC. (Final of five runs.)

============================<* Celesti Wastelands *>============================

Decades ago, the nation of Celesti ripped itself apart in a vicious civil war. Outside of a handful of settlements, its former territories are lifeless. The remains of trenches, bunkers, and barbed wire lines serve as lingering reminders of the conflict--scars that have yet to heal. The earth is dry and barren, and much of the groundwater has been contaminated by biological or chemical weapons.

Travel through the Wastelands is treacherous. The roads are pockmarked with shell craters, and Reapers have been known to haunt its blasted plains. A handful of functional rail lines cross the wastes, but these travel directly to their final destinations. The shattered remains of ghost towns dot the landscape. Some may yet hold things of value, but experienced travelers know better than to go treasure-hunting on a whim. The war-dead of Celesti do not rest.

Ghosts aren't even the strangest things one can find here. As the war dragged on, both the Congressional Knights and Aquvy Union dug up ancient weapons to aid their efforts--including, it's rumored, ARMs from Zeboim. These rumors draw both the daring and desperate into the wastes, and more often than not, to their end.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92HwM11d2FQ
DC: Day Muirwall switches forms to Church Knight Day!
DC: Lydia Seren switches forms to The Star That Fell Up!
DG: A party led by Ratatoskr is now entering Siddim Canyon.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
==============================<* Siddim Canyon *>===============================
=================<* CHALLENGE - The Knocking on Death's Door *>=================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The trail you've followed takes you to Siddim Canyon - and sure enough,       
 there's that whiff of Malevolence within. A powerful Hellion is - or has -    
 been here, away from the remnants of society that dot the Celesti landscape.  
 The ambient Malevolence carries the distinct feelings of guilt and regret.    
                                                                               
 You don't get much time to appreciate it (...in a sense), as you are          
 interrupted by the sound of four cracks of a gunsmoke rifle. There are no     
 bullets whizzing by, no sound of something being impacted. There's enough     
 boulders and rocks along the way you can move to for cover, and you might     
 want to do so to be safe. By the time you figure out whether or not the       
 source of those four shots might be trying to shoot at you, it may be too     
 late.                                                                         
                                                                               
 (NOTE: Failure only indicates your team taking a long time to learn they are  
 in the clear.)                                                                
=Dungeon Conditions: Fright, Slow=============================================
<Pose Tracker> Ratatoskr has posed.

    May 1st, 501 PC. Things are less than great right now, with the shake-ups at St. Heim... but that's also off the tail of an unrelated incident involving Hellionized wildlife coming right the hell towards Port Rosalia. Solaris is a complicated problem and a dangerous enemy where answers about how to stop them are... not yet forthcoming. A Malevolent Domain, though? Four years after Filgaia has been infiltrated by Malevolence at Port Timney, the Drifter community is much better equipped with knowledge, resilience, and power to deal with it. That's something that can't be left to fester any further.
 
     'Uncle' Abe, notorious corporate thug, was rendered shy of being a gibbering mess upon seeing those animals attack - it turns out they're from a region he himself hails from. One that suffered tragedy, like so many throughout the Celesti Civil War. He was able to provide everyone directions as to how to get to there - Siddim Canyon. He wanted nothing more to do with the subject after.
 
     Turns out it's true. Siddim Canyon is now home to a large Malevolent Domain, with despair, shame, regret, and negative feelings of that ilk being its particular flavor. It's a place still capable of sustaining life, going by the greenery. This part of Northern Zoara gets more rainfall than the rest of the region, and so it's one of the few places that can still attempt to pretend it's not surrounded by inhospitable war-blasted wasteland.
 
     It's true it's not wasteland, nor is it inhospitable... but...
 
     "Hyahaha--!" Here comes Ratatoskr, who was not with the Drifter teams approaching the Canyon. "I found it... the site of the last stand of some of the best warriors of the Congressional Knights..." He looks up to the purplish haze underneath an overcast sky, with a certain reverence in his tone. "...It's only been... twelve years... thirteen years...? But it's so hard to find solid records of anything about the Celesti Civil War--"
 
     Suddenly, the sound of four gunsmoke ARM shots. Bang, bang, bang, bang! They're distant, and it sounds like a door knocking. Nobody sees or hears anything fly by them, nothing sounds like it's been impacted, but that's ARM fire. That's dangerous, out in the open like this.
 
     Ratatoskr palms a busted-looking crystalline thing or another, and light warps and bends to deposit him behind a boulder, the solid yellow of his eyes lighting up. As he's always grinning in some form or another, it's impossible to read if he's afraid, excited, or... well, maybe he can only be emotionally rated on a gradient of 'being Ratatoskr.' Right now he is somewhere between 'moderately Ratatoskr' and 'elevated Ratatoskr.'

DG: Ratatoskr has used his Tool Teleporter Fragment toward his party's challenge, The Knocking on Death's Door.
<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

There has been a lot on Day's mind lately, but a quick route back to Glenwood has been challenging to come by. Even if could get that route, however, he's not entirely sure he'd take it. All he can do is try to do the right thing for others where he can.

There's nothing he can do about Solaris. He barely understands what they are.

Hellions are a more immediate problem. It's why a sound can be heard drawing near. The clack of horseshoes against stone.

"This must be the place," the young knight murmurs from saddleback, peering down the canyon with a visible shiver entirely unrelated to the chill held by his armour. The negative feelings rolling through the area are palpable - and they tug at strings dangling off his psyche.

Day does not need more guilt, shame and regret in his life. He lowers his head for a moment and rests a hand over his heart, murmuring a quiet prayer to Althena.

Riding on Guingryph's back just behind the knight, Seraph Vesna lays a delicate hand on his shoulder and bites her lower lip. "It'll be alright. You don't have to feel--"

Whatever she was going to say is cut off by the resound of ARMSfire. Knight, Seraph and stallion all look up with a start.

Day's eyes dart instinctively, trying to find the source of the gunfire - but he only spots Ratatoskr. "Hold on," he urges Vesna, tapping the Shiro Tail tucked at his saddlebow. Guingryph grunts and bursts forward in a short sprint, catching up to close ground with Ratatoskr.

"Ho!" Day calls shortly. "You there - Odessan. Are you responsible for this? Answer, in the name of Althena."

DG: Day Muirwall has used his Tool Shiro's Tail toward his party's challenge, The Knocking on Death's Door.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan has been making an effort to increase his spiritual strength and ability to withstand Malevolence, which made reports of the stuff showing up where it doesn't belong stand out to him. He thought to investigate, and sent an invitation to Lydia to come with him, since they've been overdue for another adventure together. (Is traveling into a palpably evil domain really the best way to mend your relationship with someone after breaking their heart? Well, only one way to find out.)

Ivan still considers himself new to Malevolence, and it takes him a moment to realize the feelings hanging in the air aren't his own ruminations on the past interrupting his thoughts, but instead the particular flavors of the Malevolence here.

He is surprised to find Ratatoskr here -- a figure he hasn't seen in a while, but who... made quite an impression nontheless. And that knight... isn't he with the Guard...?

"Maybe call me Vlad!" he suggests to Lydia, like that has ever helped with anything related to concealing his status as an outlaw.

The report of a firing ARM is cause for concern, though. Ivan calls his whip to his hand with a flash of his ring, and lashes it to a rock up above, pulling himself up onto one of the rock formations for a higher vantage point, scanning for signs of a sniper.

DG: Ivan has used his Tool Whip toward his party's challenge, The Knocking on Death's Door.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia Seren isn't the best sort to try and murder with bullets and this is the sort of place that makes Lydia think 'Maybe I should NOT come here in the first place?' but all the same--

--Ivan asked her to come. And so, she has to come. She isn't sure if traveling into a palpably evil domain is the best way to mend a relationship but, TO BE FAIR, that is sort of how they started their relationship in the first place. Maybe it will work out. Regardless, refusing would have felt PRETTY HEEL and more to the point--she really does want to mend it. She's felt really lonely lately. She even had to fight Rebecca. Azoth has been--

"Sure thing Vlad...! But to be honest I forgot my fake name! Was it Rydia???"

She attempts to use her wings to rocket herself behind some boulders. She probably crashes into said boulder and cracks it because stopping is still something she's working on, but she will at least be behind cover.

"Though maybe they don't care about names? Maybe we should just say we're with them!"

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Icarus Wings toward her party's challenge, The Knocking on Death's Door.
=========================<* Siddim Canyon - Round 1 *>==========================
===================< Results - The Knocking on Death's Door >===================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ratatoskr                           0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Teleporter Fragment                 2   Agility Effects: Stalwart             
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Day Muirwall                        0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Shiro's Tail                        2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Whip                                2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Icarus Wings                        2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Ratatoskr                   0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Fright(2)|Slow(2)
Effects: Quicken(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Ratatoskr has passed this challenge! The party gained 20 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
DG: Ratatoskr has drawn a new Challenge.
==============================<* Siddim Canyon *>===============================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - With Great Power... *>======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Siddim Canyon used to be home to a small village, and several of their        
 structures remain. It is more apt to say that several ruins of their          
 structures remain, for they have rotted into piles of rubble. They have       
 settled in such a way that your way is blocked, and the only alternative      
 would be to climb a dangerous side-road. (You do not want to climb that       
 side-road.)                                                                   
                                                                               
 Sheltered from the elements is a Civil War-era cannon. Its wheeled cart has   
 completely worn away and collapsed, but the rest of it is functional and all  
 the necessary components are right there. You can load it, light it, and      
 blast away a lot of the obstructions in front of you, though it seems far     
 more practical to--                                                           
                                                                               
 No. A sense runs through the party, the idea of wishing to be strong enough   
 to wield a weapon. This one? One wouldn't settle for anything less than what  
 would bring out the best of their talents, and for whatever reason right      
 now, it's this cannon. That one has that fixation is a little odd. One's      
 faith will not be misplaced, so long as one can actually move it into         
 position. (This odd urge will leave you after you fire it, or give up.)       
=Dungeon Conditions: Overzealous, Exhaust=====================================
<Pose Tracker> Ratatoskr has posed.

    "Me? Me!" Ratatoskr looks up, making way too much noise for the possibility they're under live fire as Day asks whether he's responsible for this. It doesn't take much for anyone of Odessa to pick a fight with the rest of the world. They did, in effect, declare war on All Of The World, And Then Some.
 
     His grin shrinks, now at 'moderate Ratatoskr.' "I just got here..."
 
     Iva-- Vlad and... and... Rydia? Both take a higher vantage point as Ratatoskr and Day hide behind a boulder (that violently rocks because Lydi-- RYDIA crashed into it, but don't worry, it stays upright).
 
     Iva-- arrrgh, sorry, Vlad.
 
     VLAD has an excellent set of eyes on him, and can see there's no shooter. There's no sign any could have gotten up the canyon walls. No ladders, no roosts. There is no further danger to them at the moment by someone shooting at them - but this is still a Malevolent Domain. (It's thinner than at Krosse, or at Mount Manfred - but it's a Domain that's covering a wide area, and Filgaia has almost nothing in its spiritual ecosystem to stop it from spreading.)
 
     Ratatoskr gets bored of waiting for them to shoot again and just takes off. HE will continue to be bored about not being shot at, because nobody shoots at them. Some way or another, they all approach and see for themselves that Siddim Canyon is, without doubt, war-blasted like most of Northern Zoara.
 
     The collapsed ruins have blocked the way through the valley, save for a path that goes up the canyon walls that... no one is going to want to take, it's lousy with mud and moisture, but they may not have much of a choice. There's so much rubble here, of homes and livelihoods destroyed and discarded...
 
     "...There's one of these...?" Ratatoskr's excitement builds. He's a Hyadean, and for whatever reason, Malevolence does not get to their ilk the way it may others. He dashes over to an intact Civil War-era cannon, its cart long since rotted - but the shelter it has been laying within has shielded it enough from the elements that everything works! Even the gunpowder stocked within.
 
     "...I want to fire it." Ratatoskr says. There is an urging in the air, a suggestion, to be strong enough to be worthy of a weapon. This one? That is a lot of rubble ahead of them. Could this clear it? All they'd have to do is set it somewhere, load it, light the fuse, and...
 
     If one's not careful, the excitement might overtake reason. (If one is Ratatoskr, that's normal.)
 
     "Come onnnnn," he urges, drawing forth a busted gunblade-like relic and flaring its barrier function to try and pry the cannon out of where it rests, "you don't ever see these models intact these days..."
 
     It may not be a bad idea to save your strength and actual destructive equipment for situations where alternatives like this are not present, and... the other option is to go up that path. (It's not an attractive one.)

<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

A suspicious Day peers at Ratatoskr for a moment before Vesna leans over his shoulder, her voice a whisper.

"I'm not sure he's smart enough to do much more than be kind of a pest, Sir Day."

The young knight blinks at the quiet observation, but the arrival of 'Vlad' and 'Rydia' seems distraction enough that he lets Ratatoskr off the hook. He slides his helmet off and hangs it off his saddle, peering at Ivan in particular for a moment, but soon shrugs and spurs his horse onward. "Very well. If we're going to investigate this, stick close together. Malevolence is dangerous."

It occurs to him that he still has no way to cleanse it from a person. It bothers him - deeply. Guilt gnaws at the pit of his stomach again.

    you haven't learned anything, you honourless young fool.

The sight of the ruins ahead leave Day pressing his lips together in quiet anxiety, the ambient negative emotions of the place raising the hackles on the back of his neck. With so much of the place ruined and blocking the path, it seems they'll have to find another way around. Until....

"...Maybe firing it wouldn't be such a bad idea," Day muses with a nod towards Ratatoskr. Entrusting Guingryph to Vesna for a moment, he slides out of the saddle to join the Hyadean by the cannon, kneeling to try and figure out how it works.

"...What does it fire?" he asks, sticking his head inside the cannon barrel like an idiot.

DG: Day Muirwall has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, With Great Power....
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

"Rydia is a good name--" Ivan realizes they've already caught the attention of the others. "A good name that you have always had! Ha ha." FLAWLESS SAVE.

It doesn't seem, after all, like there is anyone shooting at them. Strange. Then what was that noise?

Frowning, he leaps back down to the ground, using the whip to arc downward into a flip before landing and joining the others.

"Yes, well, like Rydia said, we are here to investigate, just like you. She was just kidding about fake names, though. Fake names are unethical and would be frowned on by Althena."

They come across a great deal of debris and... a cannon. Ordinarily, Ivan finds himself irrationally jealous of pyrotechnic devices, but this time he finds himself mildly intrigued by its potential. "I can light it," he offers, calling a small fireball into his hand. Then he draws his hand back sharply when he sees Day peek inside it. "...I will will... wait until your head isn't in it!" he amends.

DG: Ivan has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, With Great Power....
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia says, "Thanks VLAD, a name you also always had and shouldn't be questioned by anyone, especially not all these people who found us??"

She helpfully pulls her head out of a boulder. She flicks pieces of orck off her body and then glances towards Ivan who has--

--just hopped off to land with everyone else.

She jumps down shortly thereafter and says, "ACHEM THAT'S RIGHT. Rydia and I--" She pauses. "Vlad and I are here to investigate. This. Nonsense. All names are real if you really think about it."

She tries to hit the cannon with a baseball bat. She probably DOESN'T think to wait until Day's out until after she swings it.

"Shit--!" CLONG!!

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Tiebreaker V 2.0 toward her party's challenge, With Great Power....
DG: Ratatoskr has used his Tool Derelict Relic toward his party's challenge, With Great Power....
=========================<* Siddim Canyon - Round 2 *>==========================
=======================< Results - With Great Power... >========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ratatoskr                           0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Derelict Relic                      2   Brute   Effects: Stalwart             
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Day Muirwall                        0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Tiebreaker V 2.0                    4   Brute   Effects: Efficient and Rally  
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Ratatoskr                   20 --(20)--> 40                Pass
Conditions: Exhaust(1)|Fright(1)|Overzealous(2)|Slow(1)
Effects: 
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Ratatoskr has passed this challenge! The party gained 20 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
DG: Ratatoskr has drawn a new Challenge.
==============================<* Siddim Canyon *>===============================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - The Black Reaper *>=======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Your path has forced your team to take a higher road along the canyon,        
 already treacherous from mud, debris, and whatever manner of hostile          
 creature you can think of. This stretch of road warps into the sight of a     
 city unfamiliar to most of you - one that doesn't look like this glimpse of   
 it these days, as shouting and weapons fire come from those clad in dark      
 brown uniforms with shiny chrome helmets.                                     
                                                                               
 There's too many of them. Even with your accomplishments, there's the sense   
 there's too much - you need to find a place to hurry and hide, through the    
 cross-fire and chaos. Not all hope is lost: something moves quickly, clad in  
 black - but there is no fear in their appearance. They brandish an ARM        
 unlike anything seen before, single-handedly repelling them. A famous event   
 of the Civil War, circa 477 PC, is unfolding before you. You just need to     
 get somewhere and hide until it's safe.                                       
                                                                               
 (NOTE: Those who fail this challenge get a closer look at who this is: a      
 tall man dressed in black with nothing but kindness in his eyes who will      
 take anyone caught out to safety without any sort of dark                     
 Malevolence-infused twist... save for one of the sharpest pangs of guilt by   
 the Domain in their wake.)                                                    
=Dungeon Conditions: Overwhelm================================================
<Pose Tracker> Ratatoskr has posed.

    "It's true," Ratatoskr says with a grin as 'Vlad' talks about fake names, "lots of people from there have only one name, so they can't possibly have two names..." Um. This logic doesn't track in terms of whether they're true and correct names, but that's good enough for him even if he should blatantly recognize some of them.
 
     Rydia is able to help get the cannon loose with the help of a baseball bat, seeing it rolling around out in the open for a moment before Ratatoskr catches hold of it. Thankfully, Vlad sets the record straight that no, one shouldn't put their head through it, and as it is set...
 
     What follows is Ratatoskr saying - as an excited young nineteen-to-twenty-five-year-old genetically engineered super soldier - a whole lot more details about the cannon than is strictly necessary. Its make, the years of service, how this might have been intended for celebratory purposes rather than conventional warfare during the Civil War. He doesn't seem to mind who, exactly, is hearing it as long as someone does.
 
     Perhaps he not smart enough to do much more than be a pest, but this is someone passionate about the subject. Passionate above and beyond the gloom of the Domain, as if he might be the only person to be happy here. (That is not praise.)
 
     The cannon gets set in some other rubble, it gets loaded and lit... and the explosion is deafening, the smoke blinding, and the rubble ahead obliterated. The cannon itself rips free of where it's braced, loose and free to tumble back the way it came - which is probably a metaphor for something that maybe some things are a bit too powerful.
 
     They can continue along... to a completely different, less difficult path that leads up the canyon walls compared to the detour they would've had to have taken. It's still damp, and slippery, but not overly dangerous unto itself.
 
     Until the area warps in appearance from a walk along a canyon wall unto an urban landscape unfamiliar to most - unless one has been in Guara Bobelo recently, and even then, it doesn't look so much like this any more. Dark brown uniformed soldiers in shiny helmets are storming the city, shouting and firing off ARMs every which way. There's a bunch of them, too much to fight.
 
     Ratatoskr's eyes light up as he engages the crystalline thing-a-ma-bob again, disappearing in a blink of light and reappearing somewhere else up higher. "...This isn't there... but it is?" His tone of voice is indescribable, as if knowing what's going on isn't quite 'real' but it sure feels it.
 
     A blur of black appears through the battle, brandishing an ARM unfamiliar. They're strong, they're fast - they're forcing those in brown to scatter. Are you being rescued? Are you under attack? What 'side' is the viewer supposed to be on?
 
     It is instead for the best that one not take a guess and just get the hell to safety. Duck into alleys, fences, rubble... anything!

DG: Ratatoskr has used his Tool Teleporter Fragment toward his party's challenge, The Black Reaper.
<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

Guingryph gives Ivan a suspicious look. Horses cannot talk, but the message is clear. Vlad sus, vote him out.

Day, fortuitously, pulls his head out of the cannon before anything bad happens. "You might want to load it first. There's nothing in there."

They load it. Things get fired from their comfy plode jobs. Day stands back to watch the cannon go off, scratching his temple with one gauntleted fingertip - and then covering his ears with a wince once it goes off.

Grumbling through the ringing in his ears, Day climbs back into the saddle as the group rides along. The path winds on, slippery and perilous, but Guingryph handles it adeptly enough, moving expertly over the more even parts of the terrain.

That is, until things shift. With a hiss, Day draws his sword and jerks his reins, warhorse rearing with a startled whinny. "Hold!" he barks, as if any of the three with him are inclined to take his attempts to help seriously. fool. why would they listen to you? you've only ever hurt those you protect.

Chaos breaks out as illusory soldiers clash with an illusory... someone. As Day and Guingryph pivot to try and get a bead on the dark blur, it's Seraph Vesna who makes a suggestion. "Ratatoskr is right - this is an illusion! It's Malevolence at work and getting caught up with it will only hurt us!"

Squaring his jaw, Day grips his reins and lowers his sword. "Right. Then our best bet is to run through it and get past," he decides, tapping the Shiro Tail once to let the magic flow. "Let's go!" He gives his reins another quick, jolting movement. "Yah!"

Guingryph doesn't need to be told twice. The big white stallion breaks into a dead gallop through the thick of the illusory fighting as Day and Vesna attempt to simply barrel through and right on past.

DG: Day Muirwall has used his Tool Shiro's Tail toward his party's challenge, The Black Reaper.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

All names are real if you really think about it.

"Are they?" Ivan proceeds to contemplate this more deeply than is necessary. "I guess all ideas are real ideas, so if names are real ideas, they would be real, too..."

After Ratatoskr has thoroughly educated them on more cannon-related facts than Ivan's brain is capable of containing, the cannon triumphantly clears away the rubble. As they continue on, they find themselves caught up in what the others are calling an illusion of a great battle that seems like it must have taken place here once. Ivan is starting to follow the plot of the vision -- who is that figure in black? -- when Day calls out: It's Malevolence at work and getting caught up with it will only hurt us!

Ivan doesn't know if the illusory weapons can harm them, but it seems like a bad idea to stand still long enough to find out. He moves swiftly, using his whip to hook onto to rock formations overhead and propel himself from one to the next as he swings.

DG: Ivan has used his Tool Whip toward his party's challenge, The Black Reaper.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia Seren glances to Ratatoskr. Maybe she should probably... murder him? She thinks about this for a moment. It's an odesssa guy. But it's also a Hyadean. And Riesenlied would probably be sad if she did. But she has standing orders--

Oh, but those orders apply to LYDIA Seren, Lydia realizes, not Rydia Seren. Rydia Seren is a different person who gets to do what she wants.

"I mean, if I named myself Awesome McCool you'd call me that right? That makes it real. Though I wouldn't name myself that it's kinda tacky."

She pauses. "Rydia I probably would. I mean it's basically like Lydia, which is the best name, but with an R instead so it's still like an A minus name."

She looks to Ratatoskr. "But I'm Rydia."

....She naturally is gonna go fast here, but holds off on activating JET FLYING WINGS as she does her best to follow Ivan's whip-path.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Black Reaper.
=========================<* Siddim Canyon - Round 3 *>==========================
=========================< Results - The Black Reaper >=========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ratatoskr                           0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Teleporter Fragment                 2   Agility Effects: Stalwart             
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Day Muirwall                        0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Shiro's Tail                        2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Whip                                2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(5)--> 5                   Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Ratatoskr                   40 --(20)--> 60                Pass
Conditions: Overwhelm|Overzealous(1)
Effects: Quicken(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Ratatoskr has passed this challenge! The party gained 20 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
DG: Ratatoskr has drawn a new Challenge.
==============================<* Siddim Canyon *>===============================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Earthbound Dead *>========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The lost nation of Celesti is swarmed by the restless dead like few other     
 places on Filgaia. Siddim is hardly any different in that regard, as spirits  
 and reanimated corpses turn the corner and aggress with the same antipathy    
 for the living as any other - so consumed by torment without discord in       
 their lingering feelings, they give no ear to the surrounding Malevolence.    
                                                                               
 Most of the corporeal ones appear to have met their end by ARMs fire, and     
 none of them are fresh. The most astute among your party may notice instead   
 that some of the wounds' inflicted are recent - bullets can be retrieved      
 from them once put down. All of them come from the same kind of gunsmoke      
 ARM: a sniper rifle.                                                          
                                                                               
 It appears honest attempts were made by the perpetrator to see them on their  
 way to the Garden of Toldoka, the afterlife set aside for those who suffer    
 beyond death in the teachings of St. Calucion - but it will be by your        
 party's hands that they can find peace.                                       
=Dungeon Conditions: Exhaust, Treasure========================================
<Pose Tracker> Ratatoskr has posed.

    "That's the thing? That's the thing!" Ratatoskr calls above all of it. "...This looks like Guara Bobelo... but it's not. Guara Bobelo's to the south! I've been there!!" He shouts, incredulously. Of course he'd go on a pilgrimage to one of the most famous events of the Celesti Civil War, even if everyone would scoff at the idea it's a place worth seeing - let alone being.
 
     This is an odd thing for him to hold in high regard as he is technically on the side of those who fought with the Congressional Knights during the Civil War, but Odessa has found his bizarre fixations and thorough research to occasionally be useful.
 
     With Day's leadership and clear understanding of what's going on, he's able to guide everyone to safety and leave all of this behind in the dust of history. Ratatoskr looks upon the fading scene, unable to get a clearer look at the blackened blur. A part of him wants to know (a big part of him, which is to say, ALL OF HIM) if that was what he thought it was - but that mystery is lost to the mists of Malevolence and time.
 
     "Rydia!" Ratatoskr shouts to Rydia. He should recognize her. "...Hello." He grins. Does he? Sometimes when the dice rolls an Intelligence check, the die stops rolling, looks up, shrugs, and walks away. This is one of those times.
 
     Day and Guingryph round the 'corner' back into reality, happening upon the sight of the undead ganging up on a pair of Lion Dog Hellions with a fervor that goes beyond a mere hunger - it's like they absolutely, positively, without reservation, hate those Hellions. The vast majority of them appear unafflicted by the ambient Malevolence - a phenomena that is beyond unusual, for how easy it is for the miasma to seep into and take hold of the dead. (Of the ones that are, most of them are the disembodied spirits that have all curled up into spheres - the Ignasian folks like Ly-- Rydia would call them 'Balloons.') Those that are, are similarly struck at.
 
     The Earthbound Dead, despite this, are not friends to the living. They see Day, his loyal steed, and the rest coming along the path about the canyon wall, and they lunge at them just the same. All of them appear to bear wounds related to ARMs fire, and a few even look sort of recent.
 
     Ratatoskr is already in there, wrestling with one - but it's less with hostile, killer intent and more like a guy trying to hold a decent conversation with something beyond that. "You got shot..." He says the obvious, able to wriggle out a fresh, yellow-colored large caliber bullet. "Did you live here?"
 
     It is a little too sad to print out the endless litany of questions he has for what's trying to kill him, and how he is not taking 'graaaaaagh' for an answer.

<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

The understanding comes from Seraph Vesna as much as anyone, entrenched as she is on the back of Day's horse.

Day, at least, seems to be doing his best to keep tabs on the little gaggle of adventurers. They emerge back into reality soon enough, and the young knight looks back towards the group with pursed lips. "Are you all alright?"

    they hardly need your help. why do you want to protect them so much? you'll fail. just like you failed HER.

Day closes his eyes for a couple of seconds and exhales through his teeth.

    you'll fail. you always fail. no one will ever love you because you'll always fail them.

The voice in the back of his mind nags him even as Vesna touches his armoured shoulder again, worry etched into her green eyes. But Day shakes his head and pushes his horse onward, into the encounter with that horde of undead - undead unaffected by the ambient Malevolence roiling through the valley. "The dead," he murmurs as he reaches for something at his side.

It is not his sword. It is a curved horn, a ram's horn inlaid with silver, and he raises it to his mouth and draws a breath.

The note he blows is shattering - high, resonant and commanding, powerful enough to slash through the malevolence with a startling burst of noise. Perhaps it'll startle the undead - but the noise is not for them. It's for him, for 'Vlad' and for 'Rydia' and for Ratatoskr. A sharp jolt to the soul to jerk the mind away from the doubts and guilt being laid at their feet by the Malevolent Domain.

"For the Goddess!" Day shouts as he exchanges his horn for his lance, spurs his horse, and barrels into the fight, aiming to skewer a couple of undead on the polearm before falling back on his sword and cutting them down.

DG: Day Muirwall has used his Tool Warhorn toward his party's challenge, Earthbound Dead.
DG: Ratatoskr has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Earthbound Dead.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

I mean, if I named myself Awesome McCool you'd call me that right?

Ivan blinks. "--Oh, that's what you meant! That makes a lot more sense than where I was going with it. Yes, I think in that sense, if a name is whatever you call yourself and then any name you want to use would always be real." He glances to their companions with mild concern. "But our current names -- uh, which have always been our names -- are extra real." This ruse remains flawless.

They soon find themselves dealing with the hostile dead, whose threat Ratatoskr seems both well equipped to handle and entirely unaware of. Ivan boggles momentarily before summoning a sword from his ring, swinging for the animated corpses. With his other hand, he unleashes a swirl of fire. The sound of Day's warhorn cuts through the haze of Malevolence, helping to sharpen his focus.

DG: Ivan has used his Tool Memory toward his party's challenge, Earthbound Dead.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Wait, where were you going with it?" Lydia asks.

She listens carefully to what Ivan UM I MEAN VLAD has to say. Then she nods firmly. "That's right...! They were always our names, that we had, but even if they weren't theoretically, which is just a hypothetical situation, they would still be our names, but they were always our names."

Lydia glances towards Day for a moment and gives--well he's on a horse, so she just sort of gives the horse a pat for Day. There we go.

'Rydia!' Ratatoskr shouts.

'Rydia' doesn't look to him for a few moments before startling and says, "Y-yes? I'm Rydia. That's me."

Hello.

"...Hello?"

A zombie shoots her in the eye. "MOTHER FUCK--"
Shehe stabs the heck out of that zombie.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Rachiel Medry Is Doing Her Best toward her party's challenge, Earthbound Dead.
=========================<* Siddim Canyon - Round 4 *>==========================
=========================< Results - Earthbound Dead >==========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ratatoskr                           5 --(10)--> 15                 Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Day Muirwall                        5 --(10)--> 15                 Pass
Warhorn                             1   Combat  Effects: Embolden and Fanfare 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                5 --(10)--> 15                 Pass
Memory                              3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         5 --(10)--> 15                 Pass
Rachiel Medry Is Doing Her Best     3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Ratatoskr                   60 --(25)--> 85                Pass
Conditions: Exhaust(1)|Overwhelm|Treasure(1)
Effects: Embolden(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Ratatoskr 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.
DG: Ratatoskr has drawn a new Challenge.
==============================<* Siddim Canyon *>===============================
==========<* CHALLENGE - Friendly Neighborhood Hellionized Wildlife *>==========
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Ahead of you is a climb up a crumbling fortification from the Civil War,      
 itself behind a completely different climb of a steep hill. Fortunately, all  
 of you are secure about the path you are taking through this ruin without     
 fear of anything crumbling or going wrong. You just have to make the climb -  
 and it is arduous, stressful, and taxing.                                     
                                                                               
 It is made all the worse when more of the Hellionized wildlife appear.        
 Creatures of instinct without greater capacity for higher thought, slaves to  
 negative emotions. Nothing good can come from their involvement... until at   
 least one of them makes a gesture that seems kind. Maybe they move something  
 out of the way, or throw down a rope. It is as though they can sense the      
 mounting distress, and feel drawn to it in some form.                         
                                                                               
 The question is whether or not your party notices this in time, as the        
 situation grows ever more tense with their presence. It is a novel            
 experience, but Hellions have always been creatures of contradiction.         
 Helping outsiders get to the heart of a Domain does seem against their best   
 interest, and yet, here they are doing just that anyway.                      
=Dungeon Conditions: Overzealous==============================================
<Pose Tracker> Ratatoskr has posed.

     The Earthbound Dead are dealt with thusly, and efficiently. Vlad does in several with a flaming sword, evaporating the corporeal and letting some bullets fall out of them. Rydia takes a nasty wound to her eye, but goes all YOUR ENTIRE FUCKING EXISTENCE for an eye and it's okay. Day does not fail to protect his charges, however suspicious or enemy-like they might be, rallying with a warhorn. Ratatoskr picks out a few more bullets, a bit too happy with the find to be that sad about how some of them have to... well, go away. He holds up a time-worn yellow bullet, and a fresher one.
 
     "Are these from the same ARM...?" He grins some more. "Are these from the same ARM!!" What does it mean? He's not saying, but he's in a great mood. (This is still not high praise.)
 
     Rain starts to fall, as they continue along. They can see, in the distance, the ruins of a fortification up ahead. They have an excellent vantage point along their current path... and as it so happens, as the rain falls, the pressure of the Domain lowers. The gnawing guilt lessens, the visibility improves. It is an eerie effect, and not... typically what happens in Domains. Malevolence never lightens up. It never gets better. It's something that builds, builds, and builds...
 
     But it's more bearable, for some reason, even if it's still the same concentration.
 
     The path grows treacherous again - much like the side path they narrowly avoided having to take when they came across the cannon. This is really the only way ahead, and it's one all of them are equipped to do even as the stone ground is slick with rain, and mud threatens to bog them down or otherwise invite them to slip. As long as nothing... bad... happens...
 
     Like a mighty Qilin, positively radiating great amounts of Malevolence, standing at the apex of the climb ahead. It catches most of the rain threatening to come down upon the gathered as it stares down upon them. Hellionized animals are creatures of base aggression and fury, but from there, it's... passive.
 
     A colorful hawk - a Simurgh - perches a short ways off from Day, who has visibly struggled the most emotionally. It cocks their head at him, then takes off flying up above as it takes the end of a rope in its beak and throws it over.
 
     A Shedu - a bearded bull - rushes across and butts into a tree, sending it toppling over the path, getting stuck between several rocky outcroppings. It looks stable enough to throw another rope or grappling hook around.
 
     Not one of them moves to attack the gathered... directly. Are they lying in wait? All of them look upon the troubled Rolance knight with eyes that don't seem particularly hostile...?
 
     But they are Hellions, and this ascent is treacherous. Can the gathered keep their cool? Should they be prepared to aggress upon them?
 
     Ratatoskr's nose is too deep into his Hyadean datapad over some minute detail or another to notice, which we are going to count as a Tool use and a probable success, because he can't possibly choose horribly while he's distracted. (...or can he)

DG: Ratatoskr has used his Tool Corrupted Records toward his party's challenge, Friendly Neighborhood Hellionized
Wildlife.
<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

Sometimes you've just gotta trust, even when your comrades are sus.

With the zombies cleared out for now, Day flicks his hair back and rests his sword across his saddlebow, looking back towards 'Rydia' and 'Vlad.' "This is going to break the air of silliness we've cultivated here," he says with a cant of his head, "but it's obvious that you two aren't who you say you are. But that doesn't matter right now. Whatever has happened in this valley is beyond any particular grievance we might have. If you're afraid that I'm going to come at you because I serve the Goddess, don't. Right now, we're comrades, and a knight does not turn on comrades in the hour of need."

Backing into honour seems to help, at least a little. But a voice in the back of his mind continues to nag at him.

    your honour was worth nothing on that day.
        you failed her and you will fail these three.
            /your nobility can't erase your selfishness.
        /your arrogance.
                just kill yourself, idiot boy.

        everyone hates you. and you deserve it, for what you did.

The internal feelings of guilt and self-reproof are almost as stinging as the way the Simurgh and the other mythic beasts stare at them as they make the ascent. Creatures without instinct - Hellions, of course. But they don't move to fight.

Day glances at them with lips pursed, lines etched beneath his eyes. It dawns on him quickly that they aren't truly evil creatures. They're creatures affected by something beyond their control. Something he can do nothing to remove from them. If they were to come against him, his only recourse would be his blade.

    just like it was the last time.
        you're going to kill another innocent.
            because you're not good enough.

Guingryph snorts with anxiety as Day slouches visibly in his saddle, pressing a gauntleted hand to his forehead. He doesn't say anything. He doesn't need to. The haunted look behind his eyes tells at least one story. The air of guilt is gnawing at him.

Delicately, Seraph Vesna rests a hand over Day's and leans to one side of him, voice quiet and full of sympathy. "You shouldn't hate yourself forever, Sir Day... this isn't the same as what happened."

"Yes it is," Day answers, his voice nearly inaudible and pinched with the sheer effort of suppressing his inner anguish.

DG: Day Muirwall has used his Tool Vess's Guidance toward his party's challenge, Friendly Neighborhood Hellionized
Wildlife.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

For all of the hard (if inept) work Ivan and Lydia have done on the false name front since they showed up, the first thing he does when Lydia gets shot in the eye is blurt "Lydia, are you okay!?" He's gotten used to the idea that she can recover from most anything, but some of the things that happen to her seem so painful...

It's obvious that you two aren't who you say you are. It seems they were about to be called out, regardless.

Ivan's posture straightens at the self consciousness of being caught. "...Ah. Yes, well... we don't mean any harm. Thank you for working with us regardless."

Ultimately, they press on, and it begins to rain. Ivan pulls the 'sword' from his sheath, which as always, is actually an umbrella, and pops it open to serve its true purpose. He shelters beneath it, angling it a bit to invite Lydia to squish in under the canopy if she wants. That kind of thing doesn't have to change.

As the path becomes more treacherous, they come across a group of Hellized animals. It seems another battle is imminent, except... it isn't? The creatures seem to be trying to help. "Is that...normal?" he asks. Ivan is still learning about Malevolence, but he thought it either made creatures into monsters or it didn't.

Meanwhile, Day seems to be going through something, distracted by some difficult inner conflict.

"...Is everything all right?"

DG: Ivan has used his Tool Judgemental Umbrella toward his party's challenge, Friendly Neighborhood Hellionized
Wildlife.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia says, "I'm fine....! Agghh no it hurts fuckkkk...! How bad is it?"

She looks towards Ivan, revealing the sort of... 'hole' where the eye used to be. She's recovered from worse but it doesn't look great.

Day says it's obvious she isn't who she says she is. Lydia's cheeks silver faintly, "Hey come on..." She says. "You don't have to call it out."

She seems oblivious at the dark PURPLE going on with Day but she does agree with Vesna. "Hating yourself forever is for nerds. It's okay to hate yourself a little from time to time though so long as it doesn't become a habit. By which I mean it's better if you don't hate yourself but you don't have to hate yourself if you hate yourself sometimes I guess is what I'm trying to say and hating yourself forever is kinda awful. I try to hate myself as little as possible."

That's not really a no about never hating herself though. She is so focused on htis that she notices absolutely nothign.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia Seren will join Ivan under the canopy though and give him a smile.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Friendly Neighborhood Hellionized
Wildlife.
=========================<* Siddim Canyon - Round 5 *>==========================
============< Results - Friendly Neighborhood Hellionized Wildlife >============
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ratatoskr                           15 --(0)--> 15                 Pass
Corrupted Records                   2   Wits    Effects: Stalwart             
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Day Muirwall                        15 --(0)--> 15                 Pass
Vess's Guidance                     1   Wits    Effects: Cleanse              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                15 --(8)--> 23                 Fail
Judgemental Umbrella                2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         15 --(0)--> 15                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Ratatoskr                   85 --(0)--> 85                 Pass
Conditions: Overwhelm|Overzealous(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Enlighten(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Ratatoskr 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.
DG: Ratatoskr has drawn a new Challenge.
==============================<* Siddim Canyon *>===============================
====================<* CHALLENGE - The Tragedy of Siddim *>=====================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Your party comes out on top of a derelict fortification - and there are       
 screams underneath an overcast sky, as Malevolence shifts the world to        
 something else. There are people here, far below. Those knowledgeable of the  
 Celesti Civil War would know immediately: they are bearing witness to the     
 Tragedy of Siddim, early 490 PC, where an oligarchy-sympathetic village saw   
 to the health of several high-profile Congressional Knight soldiers wounded   
 in another battle. They were tracked down by the Aquvy Union, and...          
                                                                               
 The details are not important. The ambience of regret tells you all you need  
 to know: this was wrong. What happened here was wrong. In the past-present,   
 the memory's owner felt much differently: they did not relent. Four booming   
 shots of a gunsmoke rifle at a time, they kept shooting. They kept killing.   
 They kept going. You are bearing witness to the act of a heartless monster.   
                                                                               
 A heartless monster not far off to the group's right, in the form of a        
 cloaked woman wielding a bayonet-fitted sniper rifle that looks too large     
 and too heavy for her to bear. Exact features are hard to make out, but you   
 know more than enough that she's the one you need to stop.                    
                                                                               
 Signs of weakness in her left shoulder does nothing to slow nor dissuade her  
 from turning that against people who can fight back. She wields that bayonet  
 with a skill rivaling that of any duelist, and wields capable Crest Sorcery   
 in the form of offensive water spells. All of it comes together with a        
 ferocity and skill that might have given a Quarter Knight pause (if they had  
 proper equipment to match them).                                              
                                                                               
 Stopping her is a token gesture at best - but one worth making, if it helps   
 bring anyone here any peace. (There is a faint sense it also includes who     
 you're fighting.)                                                             
=Dungeon Conditions: Vault====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Ratatoskr has posed.

    The Hellions never aggress. (The Simurgh at one point perches on Ivan's umbrella. This is as bad as it gets.) As self-loathing is discussed, and Ratatoskr remains kind of silent and on autopilot as he follows the rest, the Malevolence thickens as they all step out towards the derelict fortification. Their trail leads right to the battlements, whether that's an intentional architectual decision or a result of the elements, time, and previous battles eroding it is...
 
     A question for later, for the scene shifts and then there is screaming.
 
     An overcast sky gives way to a vivid scene of violence with the faintest tinges of Malevolence distortion, first punctuated with four deafening bangs - the same sound heard before the valley they all came together to investigate. That the level of distortion involved is not as severe as it could be... is not reassuring.
 
     Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang.
 
     To their right, a cloaked woman fires a sniper rifle ARM that seems too large for them to hold, moreso when it has the bayonet blade attached. Each shot has a hell of a kick - she has put more of her left arm around it. Her right hand dances across the length of the rifle with every shot to chamber the next round and account for the recoil. It's painful to watch that. She sets another clip to repeat the process.
 
     ...But if that's 'painful,' there's no words for what that's being used for - and even the most innocent, unknowing eye can discern what sorts of people are being shot at.
 
     People who aren't fighting back. Someone who looks much like a younger 'Uncle' Abe - that thug one got the lead from - trying to run to cover with someone who doesn't make it out into view before they're shot. Even when he makes it to cover, the shooter hits something heavy above them to try and crush them underneath.
 
     "...It truly is," Ratatoskr speaks up. "That make of rifle... there's not many of those... and that rate of fire, only possible in the hands of one..." He is not looking to the tragedy. He's looking to the soldier.
 
     No. The heartless monster. That is not a person. That's a heartless monster who just happens to be wearing the skin of a person. The voice bleeds something resembling reverence, and the only virtue that can be said in the moment is how excited he might be to meet that in combat. "Death's Door...!"
 
     This monster - a 'Death's Door' - turns to the lot of them and lunges that bayonet blade through the Hyadean. Curiously, through the lens of a Malevolent Phantom, there is a realistic attention to detail - a seeming weakness, a shaking, in their left shoulder. It doesn't stop them from lifting Ratatoskr up, stepping back to cover... and kneeling as the cover in question turns into a fulcrum as they shove their end of the rifle down with a foot to keep the impaled Hyadean up into the air. They draw a revolver and shoot them with the entire clip, come kneeling back down, and pull that trigger to the rifle itself.

<Pose Tracker> Ratatoskr has posed.

GS?: Death's Door has activated a Force Action!
GS?: Death's Door has activated a Force Action!
GS?: Death's Door has activated a Force Action!
GS?: Death's Door has attacked Ratatoskr with The Sky Shall Weep For All Graves Beneath!
GS?: CRITICAL! Ratatoskr has taken a solid hit from Death's Door's The Sky Shall Weep For All Graves Beneath for 524 hit points!
GS?: Ratatoskr has Fallen! He is no longer able to fight!
 
     Ratatoskr('s body?) is ejected thusly from the battlements into the chaos below, and the monster doesn't stop to admire their handiwork or the novelty of the color of the blood staining the battlements - quicksilver. They draw a Crest Graph to cast a wide wave of water to try and wash the rest of them off... and then take up the rifle to come at them with a martial skill and ferocity that only just overcomes the difficulty they have with the weight of the weapon.
 
     It feels like it's happening right now, but it's over a decade too late to stop this from happening. Did someone - no, something - like that pull that maneuver on someone else? They just shredded Ratatoskr like it was trivial, and he's... despite himself, an elite warrior. Who did they do that to?
 
     How many more are they - did they kill that day? Too many.
 
     Are the gathered noble enough... no, honorable enough... no! Are they good enough people to stop this? The regret hangs in the air, as if... someone might wish this could be stopped.
 
     Is Day Muirwall that hero? Could slaying a monster like this be a step towards redemption?

DG: Ratatoskr has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward his party's challenge, The Tragedy of Siddim.
<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

"I'll survive." Day's answer is short, but his voice is steadier as something occurs to him. Whoever these two are, they're counting on him.

Lydia's exhortations are a little more fulsome, if unfocused. The blond knight breathes out through his nose and presses his lips together in a tight line. Much of the colour has drained from his face, drawing all the more attention to the pained shadows beneath his eyes.

"Some things deserve to be hated," he says, finally, looking off into the distance. "And some actions are beyond the ability of one to forgive him or herself. If I could absolve myself of my own guilt, I would be a man with no morals beyond my own arrogance."

The details are left unfilled, and only the thunder of ARMS floods into the void as the scene shifts. What plays out before them is a horrible thing to witness. In the saddle behind Day, Seraph Vesna cups her hands over her mouth.

Day looks on with wide eyes for a couple of beats before reaching for his sword.

His fingers are surprisingly cold within his gauntlet, and it's all he can do at first to lift the weapon. His eyes fix on the figure even as they lunge at Ratatoskr.

Or what used to be Ratatoskr. Day opens his mouth to shout in protest - a sound lost in the roar and rush of oncoming water. Seraph Vesna yelps as she's flung off Guingryph's back, the big horse foundering in the water as the wave attack crashes over both knight and rider.

"Gh-- stand strong!" Day shouts into the wave, raising his warhorn and blowing loudly into it to try and punch through the Malevolent pall with an uplifting resound. But it feels empty to him.

Here he is again. A Hellion. A woman Hellion doing horrible things to the innocent. And he has nothing in his arsenal that can heal her.

Only kill. Kill a person driven mad by a power outside themselves.

        just like last time. a blow he landed to save the innocent.
    a scream. a cry, like sobbing. life spilled onto the stones.
    more than life. the creature was no longer. something else was left now. something all too familiar. someone all too familiar.
     his tears joined the blood on his cloak.

For a horrible, soul-withering moment, Sir Day is paralyzed in the saddle - not by the violence of the encounter, but by a guilt far deeper than anything the Malevolent Domain could ever pour into him. There is simply no more it can pump into him without overflowing the basin. And yet, through it all, something unexpected cuts through his memories.

The scent of churros. The sight of Zed sitting on the edge of his bed, reaching out to him when he had no other reason.

    A sense of right and wrong like yours... Someone who can look at their own misdeeds, done with good intent but evil results, and who works to Become Better? That's a rare thing in this world. A rare and magnificent thing.

Day clicks his teeth together, squares his jaw, and grips his lance and shield. His eyes flash with sudden intent. The grief is suddenly pushed aside by a single, clear, profound thought.

The sound of the wave is overcome by the thunderous boom of the warhorn, and by the pounding of hooves against the turf. With a loud roar, Day and Guingryph come storming through the assault, shield raised and lance leveled. The knight bears down with shocking speed, barreling straight into a range too close for any sniper to bear - and the lance is well-aimed for the centre of mass, aimed to punch through the Hellion before them. That thought burns through his mind like an active thruster.

    Not to act is a greater evil than to do what good I can for as many as I can.

DG: Day Muirwall has used his Tool Warhorn toward his party's challenge, The Tragedy of Siddim.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

How bad is it?

"Um... you do seem to still be alive, but I think that's about all I can say for it..." Ivan says, grimacing at the damage. There isn't anything visibly left of the eye right now, but it will probably be back soon... right? She's lost her whole face before and it's come back...

At the exchange about self hatred, Ivan shuffles uncomfortably. It's not that he's unfamiliar with the emotion, but it doesn't seem like his place to try to chime in with any sort of advice or consolation.

They come upon a grisly, troubling sight -- another vision of the past? -- wherein a woman fires upon fleeing noncombatants. Can they stop her? Or is this long over and done with?

The scene horribly merges with reality when her bayonet pierces Ratatoskr, firing into him before flinging him away.

Ivan draws in a breath of shock with the suddenness of it.

A summoned wave of water soon crashes over the party, soaking Ivan as it throws him back. That's its own kind of shock, and Ivan finds himself shivering with the chill of it, even as he calls a blade into his hand.

There's a strange push and pull to the energy of this place, something almost pleading with them to right this wrong, while another voice seems to ask if they're good enough, morally, to be the ones to do so. The answer to that would have to be no, but he'll hope the world can overlook his unworthiness one more time.

Day charges ahead on horseback, an assault that will hopefully forestall any further fire from the ARM for the moment.

Ivan uses a burst of flame to launch himself into a flying leap, using the momentum and gravity gained to pierce down with his sword from the air.

DG: Ivan has used his Tool Memory toward his party's challenge, The Tragedy of Siddim.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Someone else is absolving you of your guilt though. She isn't you." Lydia says stubbornly, but she isn't going to press much harder than that.

She looks towards the sniper. She quirks her head at it. There are all these feelings pressing into her and hse doesn't like it. She doesn't like it that there are outside feelings pressing in on her.

Ivan... does his best to console Lydia. RYDIA no the jig is up Lydia it's over. At least for today. They can be other people another time again.

"Aw geeze..." Lydia says. "That sucks. It'll probably be back but eyes huuurt."

She does try to help with the fighting though.

By throwing meteors at the lady via the summoning of Rigdobrite. Look, when you have METEOR everything starts to look like Golbez. That's just life.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Rachiel Medry Is Doing Her Best toward her party's challenge, The Tragedy of Siddim.
=========================<* Siddim Canyon - Round 6 *>==========================
======================< Results - The Tragedy of Siddim >=======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ratatoskr                           15 --(5)--> 20                 Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Day Muirwall                        15 --(5)--> 20                 Pass
Warhorn                             1   Combat  Effects: Embolden and Fanfare 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                23 --(5)--> 28                 Pass
Memory                              3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         15 --(5)--> 20                 Pass
Rachiel Medry Is Doing Her Best     3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Ratatoskr                   85 --(35)--> 120               Pass
Conditions: Overzealous(1)|Vault(1)
Effects: Embolden(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: You have overcome the dungeon's trials! This run is a success!
DG: The party led by Ratatoskr has successfully explored Siddim Canyon!
==============================<* Siddim Canyon *>===============================
=============<* CHALLENGE - Where You Best Serve The Light (3/4) *>=============
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Your team manages to overturn the perpetrator of one of far too many          
 tragedies during the Celesti Civil War. You see gray eyes under their hood,   
 filled with tears. They whisper as they fade: "I can't stop. I won't. They    
 won't let me. The world won't let me. I... won't let me, if it's all I can    
 give back."                                                                   
                                                                               
 You see a vision of so many Reapers before you, their putrid scent filling    
 the air magnified by the rain. 'Your' shoulder shudders in pain, 'your' left  
 ear ringing as a heavy sniper rifle goes off four times (with the help of     
 some deft hand movements with your right) to bring down even more of them.    
 There is no excitement, no fear. For a life-threatening situation, it is...   
 empty. Dull, beyond the physical discomforts. It happens again, and again,    
 like clockwork. To 'your' left, an aging man in Etone robes finishes          
 reloading a shotgun, his words faint in volume as 'you' turn to face them     
 but clear in tone - one of disdain. "Why the long face, Sister? This is       
 where the likes of you best serve the Light." 'You' reload the rifle once     
 more, and... it gradually fades.                                              
                                                                               
 As the memory fades, you return to where you fought the ghastly memory: the   
 top of a rotted fortification in the present. The same as where you fought    
 them... and the heart of this Domain. Its Master appears to not even be       
 here, so you have time to spare in exploring and preparing for the            
 opportunity to purify the Domain.                                             
                                                                               
 While preparations are being made, a cursory examination reveals nearby       
 farmland tended to by - presumably - the Domain Master. There's no            
 Malevolence cheating at play: the work is sound, and the field has a decent   
 harvest of fast-growing vegetable crops that are edible (though you should    
 purify them first, to be safe). They've even managed to grow Kuko Berries     
 here, non-native to the region but famed for helping 'make the corners more   
 round' when chewed. There is also a pen full of chickens that have            
 Hellionized into Cockatrices, but they are well cared for. (They are docile   
 so long as it is raining, lest one suffer a case of temporary                 
 petrification.)                                                               
                                                                               
 You can tell that the place is lived in, but devoid of much in the way of     
 creature comforts. You don't see a bed, a blanket, or a proper tent - as if   
 the tenant would rather sleep in the elements. The fortification does have a  
 few rooms that are protected from said elements, and upon closer inspection   
 you can see they save that space specifically for things that should. Things  
 such as maps of the area around Halim, and all sorts of scribbled notes       
 about its local mines.                                                        
                                                                               
 You see this level of organization and planning with would-be bandits.        
 There's no sign there's more than one person who lives here, but it's sign    
 enough that the settlement of Halim is in danger of a Hellion attack of       
 unknown scale.                                                                
                                                                               
 Your team gets ready to coordinate with the others.                           
=Dungeon Conditions: Vault====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Ratatoskr has posed.

    Meteors rain down around the heartless monster that accosts them as they seem ready to intensify their offensive anew. They just did what they did to innocent people. They just did what they did to Ratatoskr. They're still going. Malevolence twists everything into something worse, but the level of distortion has less... emotional static, than usual. As if it can't get much worse than how it may have happened, to the Domain Master's recollection. Were they not strong enough to fight against someone like this? That would be a source of shame... regret... guilt, that they let it happen.
 
     Ivan swings forth with a sword from the air, swinging down to be met with a parrying blow from the rifle... in his favor, forcing her to a kneel and a stagger as a horse's hooves beat where one might not have been able to reach before. Day and Guingryph take advantage of the opening, and the lance runs the monster through. There's a weightlessness there, as discordant sight and sound fill the air - as if a disconnect from the memory.
 
     Day, alone, can look into the hood that moves from the end of his lance. Gray eyes, wet with tears. "I can't stop. I won't." This memory is not that of someone victim to her. It's... it's her. "The world won't let me. I... won't let me, if it's all I can give back," the voice whispers as it fades... to the scene of something else.
 
     Reapers, their foul stench magnified by the rain. From your point of view, you can watch 'your' hands manipulate...
 
     That same rifle. The same technique observed in the monster they just fought. The pain in 'your' shoulder is immense. 'Your' left ear rings - and its boom is not as loud as you are familiar with, any more. Yet, in this life-and-death scenario... there's no thrill, just... emptiness, emotionally. The pain is the only thing that anchors 'you' to reality, beyond half-catching the words of someone to 'your' side, who 'you' have to turn towards in order to better hear them - or sometimes even at all.
 
     "Why the long face, Sister?" An aging man in Etone robes, reloading a shotgun. "This is where the likes of you best serve the Light."
 
     The vision ends after 'you' reload your rifle and once again prop it up and support it from cover. Every day, it feels heavier...
 
     ...And then it returns to the dilapidated fortification in the present, where it is raining gently. No one shows up to scream at them to leave, or to fight them further. No Hellion of a strength adequate enough to be the Domain Master accosts them... because they're on their own (aside from any other Drifter teams). Did they flee? Were they not here? The Malevolence remains most concentrated within the fortification. That's the Domain's heart.
 
     They have time to search, and gather themselves.
 
     Nearby, there's farmland. Notably, Kuko Berries, plenty of them. They aren't native here! It's a miracle anyone got them to grow at all - the farmwork here is solid. (There's also more boring regular vegetables. But Kuko Berries. ...They should all be purification-washed first though.)
 
     There's also a pen full of Hellionized chickens (they're all Cockatrices now, and... some of them might have been Cockatrices to start?), but they're well cared for. It's raining now, and they're largely docile. This is a place that someone has lived in for a while, so... it may be the result of a single Hellion having been here for some time. How long 'some time' is isn't clear.
 
     The fortification itself... there's maps of the area around Halim, with notes about the local mines. This is the sort of planning would-be bandits do, but... remembering Port Rosalia's roads? Halim is in danger of a Hellion attack.
 
     It's not clear to what scale. This place does seem lived in, but without creature comforts. No beds, as if the Domain Master would rather sleep outside. (Like they spend so much of their time just on these battlements... being sad?)
 
     There's no further time to sit around or lament, though. Everyone needs to come together, prepare to purify this Domain before it can do any more damage, and figure out the next step in locating and stopping this Hellion before anything worse happens.
 
     ...
 
     Ratatoskr, bloodied but still alive, crawls up the side of the fortification people aren't looking. He sees whoever did that to him isn't around any more, and his spirit sinks... but maybe, just maybe, for once he's all right with going through what he did. That was an experience he could treasure.
 
     But not do that again. (he's learning.)