Difference between revisions of "2019-09-30: Ride On"

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(Created page with "*'''Log: Ride On''' *'''Cast:''' Character :: Riesenlied, Character :: Noeline, Character :: Leon Albus, Character :: Emeralda Kasim, Character :: Fei Fong W...")
 
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[[Category:Chapter 2]]
 
[[Category:Chapter 2]]
 
[[Category:Chapter 2, Act 1]]
 
[[Category:Chapter 2, Act 1]]
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[[Category:(Plot) In From The Cold]]

Latest revision as of 22:56, 8 October 2019



<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

A SHORT WHILE AGO

Riesenlied has much reason to despair.

Her daughter is there. In the midst of Macalania Temple, where Odessa is rallying all their forces in a battle that seems the largest in recent memory -- since Operation Mi'ihen. Where the Veruni and Guard are. Where Sin, the very monster of her trauma in Azado, has arrived -- and now, where Lombardia has come to fight it...

Lombardia, who she has tragic news to share with.

But she isn't despairing.

The Heritor of the Fereshte is seated on her wheelchair on a cliff overlooking this entire incident... and though a quiet frown and thoughts of trepidation and fear fill her link with her beloved--

She lifts her head up and whispers:

"No more hesitation. No more regret. I... will fight. For our daughter. For my friends. For my father... and for Lombardia too. Because... I know now why love carries a sword."

She looks towards Noeline and lays her hand on her, smiling confidently, exuding resolve. It's an energy she doesn't wear often, but right now, she knows what it is that she has to do.

"I need your help, Noeline. Be my guide, and my eyes..."

She closes her eyes.

"And I shall be your wings."

The Hyadean quietly slides out of her wheelchair with the help of her partner -- and once she's sure it's far enough away to not get crushed, she lowers her head and braces against the snowy ground. There is concentration, there is a sensation of the Ley -- no matter how far -- building within her.

And she speaks the word she won't think of as dirty anymore:

"Accession."

NOW

Hell has come in a handbasket for the Wolves -- a handbasket the size of a small mountain range in the form of infernal armour, Sin. The battle with Lunata had gone terribly sour, and now she and Shalune are both seemingly lost to the lake -- though the latter seemed confident and optimistic.

But Heaven has come too -- in the form of the Queen of Metal Dragons, Lombardia; her first skirmish cuts across Sin and elicits a powerful groan from the creature, buying them time.

Time to run and...

And see a /second/ Metal Dragon skimming to their direction at high speeds.

It is a familiar dragon to many, from the fateful final battle at the Photosphere. A misshapen dragon that some would say a 'failure' -- unlike Lombardia's perfect and immaculate form as Queen -- criss-crossed with glowing lines of the Ley, dim as far as the very vein of the world is here in Spira.

Yet it is here, spreading its wings out as it perches nearby the ring, in safe hopping distance. Her equally aberrant jaw opens, and there is a low trill, a beast's noise... but the thoughts of Riesenlied ring true in the mind. She sounds -- a bit timid, a bit uncertain... but her resolve rings clear nonetheless:

<It's... it's Riesenlied.> A pause. <I'm so glad we found everyone... hurry, climb onto my back.>

Sin, however, is already fast on the take -- and Sinspawn emerge in a cloud of pyreflies, towering twisted networks of coral pulsing with a green glow. The Ley Dragon turns to face them even as they approach, several points glowing into a crescendo of energy on her metallic body.

(BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVcc16o0SaY )

Large bursts of Ley energy expel from those points, careening and slamming into some of the Sinspawn to buy the Wolves time for their voyage to the frosty skies of Maclaania.

DG: You use your Tool Dragon's Impulse against your party's Challenge, Sinspawn Lolona!

DG: Riesenlied has used her Tool Dragon's Impulse toward her party's challenge, Sinspawn Lolona.

<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

Leon slows to a stop on the steps of Macalania Temple, staring as Lombardia tears into Sin. He grits his teeth -- he hesitates for a second as he gets a good look at her, but there isn't any real doubt. He will pick a Metal Dragon over Sin. He will pick anything over Sin.

His decision is made for him, when Riesenlied comes. He gasps, softly. He glances briefly at the place where Lunata fell -- and then it's back to the cliffs.

"Let's hurry," he tells the Wolves. "We need to help Riesenlied."

He runs, and then catches up -- hurling himself up onto the back of the Ley Dragon that he knows well. He lands, crouching -- and stares at the Sinspawn that forms. "Glad you're here, Riesenlied," he says. "We--" He glances down at the ice, once more.

He swallows. "...We better hurry. Those Sinspawn look troublesome."

The Raid Funnels were already deployed. They move with a shocking speed -- whisking around to form a barrier, and a blast of green gas slams into the shimmering barrier between them. Then, Leon lifts his shotgun, and fires a blast down into the Sinspawn Lolona.


DG: Leon Albus has used his Tool Raid Funnel toward his party's challenge, Sinspawn Lolona.

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

There are days where one could fairly ask: Can it get any worse?

A wedding reception, however tense, interrupted.

Lunata in grief and despair, having been set as a guard dog by the man, Seymour, revealed to be a patricidal maniac. And now there is something out there greater to Elly than the mission. She must trust Lunata to her sister and to Jay; she must trust Yuna to her Guardians; because right now, there is someone up there, in the sky.

Elly owes her.

Elly knows enough about the comparative military power of these individuals to realize that Lombardia, even in the height of her power and fury, would only survive longer than most against Sin - perhaps she might rend and mangle the beast long enough to produce a lull in its rampage, but Elly has doubts that even that would come to pass. Sin seems to be an onion of horrors. She might simply give it six new mouths, to produce six horrid giga-gravitational blasts at once.

And yet she keeps going. There is no choice. Even if it doesn't work out... There's no reward for perishing well rested.

And if she hadn't kept going, she wouldn't have found -

"Emeralda!! Hurry!!" Elly says, reaching up without thinking into the nook where a familiar green-haired tan face had peeked out. In her current situation she does not feel the weight difficulty, although she does stagger and immediately puts her down. "Hold our hands if you need to. We have to run. I -" She falters for a moment, and then leans down as if to kiss the green mop of hair.

And then forwards--

Leon was slightly ahead of them, which means largely that Elly has the advantage of a running start as she approaches the Sinspawn. Technically, this particular coralline protrusion is now the subject of a pincer attack. Elly reaches behind herself, rummages, and tears loose the collapsible staff, twisting it round and spiralling the far end of it in an effort to crush through the stone before it can solidify!


DG: Elhaym van Houten has used her Tool Three-Section Staff toward her party's challenge, Sinspawn Lolona.


<Pose Tracker> Josephine Lovelace has posed.

BEFORE

Lunata slips into the void, followed close on her heels by Shalune. There is no gasp of shock, no cry from the archaeologist turned ARMs Meister. Josie simply runs for the brink of the gap--

--and Lily's hand reaches out to grab her and hauls her back, away. Indignation, fury even, colors Josie's expression.

"What do you think you're /doing/?!"

Lily's response is simple. Even. "That's not how to help either of them," the ex-soldier replies. "They can survive that fall; you may not. We'll meet up with them as soon as we're able."

Josie had grit her teeth, visibly caught in some silent rage...

But she had relented and drawn away.

Only as they head back to collect their equipment and make their way outwards had Lily leaned in to admit, "...but I'd thought about it too."

NOW

Bearing the cannon with difficulty as usual, Josie emerges out into the hell that the Macalania Lake field has become. "Guardians-damned-- of all the--" she swears, and other oaths beside, staring at the spawn that have been shed by Sin. "I can handle a few of these likely enough, but, arrgh, this is going to be hell and a half!"

She's agitated, moreso than even the circumstances may warrant. Other things may be on her mind.

"...Is that..." A certain shape, above, has caught her eye. She lingers a moment, gazing at it. "Sunshine... you'd better know what you're doing," she murmurs to the dragon in the sky. "...Guess we've got an edge on all this now, huh."

There's little else that can be said to describe it: Josie applies her game face and with a noise of assent, follows after Leon, doing her best to keep up.

Before she leaps, still bearing the cannon.

She leans against it after, panting. "Sunshine-- take us in low! We'll lay in on that bastard down there!"

She, for her part, starts powering up the cannon, thumping on the side as if to speed the time it needs to reach peak operational capacity. The lights flash green just as she's brought into line with the spawn. "Fire in the hole!" she shouts... even if there's no way anyone could be in the line of the shot that follows. It's just a good habit to have.

DG: Josephine Lovelace has used her Tool Cannonfire toward her party's challenge, Sinspawn Lolona.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Where IS Lydia right now?

Oh right she's helping Lombardia because she knows her mother likes her a lot. This is the problem with all this cute, you try to protect someone or fight for something they believe in or care for only to find they are trying to do the same for you and then you collide in midair and it's super embarrassing.

Fei watches after where Lunata fell. Though maybe not. It's hard to tell with time being so confusing sometimes, but either way, he is disturbed enough to be shaken when Sin and Lombardia show up. His first thought is that Lombardia is there to eat him but, well, apparently not. He isn't really sure he at least frankly deserves a giant flying dragon's protection but by the same token he's not about to reveal tht maybe he's kind of a monster to a tenuous ally.

He's worried about Emeralda but the problem with worrying about Emeralda is that she is the proud owner of the

HIDE AND SEEK BADGE

And she can be real hard to find when she doesn't want to be found.

rFei reaches out with a hand to help take one of Emeralda's, giving it a quick squeeze before saying, "Let's stick together for now alright?" He suggests, heart pounding.

It's strange, he thinks, to actually have something to lose again.

Fei grimaces, seeing the Sinspawn ahead. He d oes not let go of Emeralda's hand (though if she pulls free he won't stop it). Instead he channels his chi, gripping that RPS badge of his for comfort like a magic feather, and punches out a wave of fire chi towards the creature.

"They'll be okay," Fei murmurs to himself. "They'll have to be. We have two dragons helping us. How can we lose...?" He seems to be trying to convince himself of this rather than believing it persay.

DG: Fei Fong Wong has used his Tool RPS Badge toward his party's challenge, Sinspawn Lolona.

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

'Oh shit', Shalune thinks to herself in the moments after diving for Lunata, because while she'd never admit it out loud she's starting to get used to a little swearing in her internal monologue. Just from time to time. Besides, she can't muster anything more than that right now, for all her confidence.

The open air is dizzying in its enormity, in the way that it yawns wide around her. The noise of Sin next to her is nothing compared to the whistling in her ears, and a manic little part of her is stuck comparing a headlong fall with a ride on the Little Dipper. It's so much quieter most of the time. She'll take 'horizontal flight' over 'vertical drop' any day.

The sight of Lunata hitting the water below catches her eye, and makes her realize she's dazed. Sucking in a breath, she finally registers the light weight of the Little Dipper in her hands, unfolded and now powered-up. "Sorry, Jay," she mumbles to herself before she grits her teeth, swinging the scooter up to plant her feet on its bed--

--and accelerating downwards.

  • * *

Stood on that cliff, Noeline watches the impending battle with a deep-set frown. A religious war, exacerbated by the age-old grudge of the Veruni and the ancient ire of Sin, all mixing together into a ball of animosity and despair. She can't help but think of the Photosphere - comparing Mother's visage to Sin's bulk, the Veruni to the Metal Demons. Yevon and the Guard to the Baskars and... well, the Guard.

Once upon a time, she would have been the sort of person to walk away from this. To go off on her own, continue an impulsive and lonely kind of life. But she's a much different sort of person now; she has a family at her back, and people to care for and lead, and someone at her side who she would go to the ends of the earth for.

When she looks back at Riesenlied, it's with a warm and gentle smile. It would be lying to say she wasn't nervous about this course of action - but she knows now that it's alright to feel nervous, to admit to it. And she's immensely proud, as well, and prepared to bring all of her convictions to bear to help Riesenlied.

"Of course," she promises as she helps Riesenlied up from the chair, arm around her waist for support, to place a kiss first on her beloved's forehead and then on her lips. Already she can feel the link between them tugging at her senses, the acceptance and trust of her partner offering her a way to dive into that sensation, to share everything between the two of them. "Let's go, together."

  • * *

"Get on!" encourages a familiar figure perched amongst the scales of the second Dragon; Noeline is there, the mingling aura of the Ley and her own Medium mixing around her into a shifting corona, her protection extending to Riesenlied beneath her. Her eyes are open - but there's a definite sense she's not exactly seeing everything as it is, her vision shared between the two of them.

Her sword is already in her hands. Without even registering the incoming volley she's spun to slash two of the green globs away, then cleaves a shimmering line in midair that races forwards to assault the Sinspawn below.

Barely even skipping a beat, the enormous slab of metal winks improbably away - letting Noeline grab onto one of Riesenlied's jutting scales to use it as a bracing point, hand out to catch anyone who needs it and haul them aboard. "How many more are there?!" she yells, even if the question seems rather academic with everything else going on.

DG: Noeline has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Sinspawn Lolona.

<Pose Tracker> Emeralda Kasim has posed.

Emeralda is kind of lost.

Not physically. Physically she knows exactly where she is: with Elly and Fei. Emeralda had gotten bored at the wedding reception and wandered outside before the fated announcement; she had decided to go exploring around Macalania instead, which was probably for the best because have you ever brought a ten-year-old to an extremely long, formal wedding? If the answer is 'yes', we're sorry.

That's where she was once Sin arrived - 'exploring' - and that's where her parents had found her. Emeralda hadn't seen Lunata either; she'd still been in the caves, then.

But mentally, she's lost. She has never been so close to Sin, she has never seen Lombardia at all, and she is busily trying to follow them fighting each other while physically following Elly and Fei, close enough to touch. She can keep up pretty well while looking this way and that.

"Where did all the monsters come from??" she asks, because she's still not entirely clear on that. Okay, Sin is a natural disaster, like a flood or an earthquake; she understands that. But the monsters, though.

Emeralda mirrors Fei's actions automatically, except she doesn't use a RPS badge; she uses an Etherstone, a shard of crystal from Crescens' ether amplifier, to project a spray of ice-cold water harder and further than she otherwise could. That should get them out of the way, she thinks, and picks up the pace again, just in time to see...

...another dragon. One that is telling her to get on. In a voice that she knows perfectly well.

"Riesenlied?" Emeralda says, confused. "Why can you turn into a dragon? Why can everyone have dragon bits?? I don't have dragon bits!" Well, she *had* been talking to Ashton recently. She'd actually spent more than a few minutes trying to figure out if she could indeed have dragon bits, but now she's thinking bigger; if Riesenlied can do the whole dragon, why can't she?

"...wow, you got big," she adds, as she attempts to clamber on. Emeralda is good at holding on tight.

DG: Emeralda Kasim has used her Tool Large Etherstone toward her party's challenge, Sinspawn Lolona.

==========================<* Clash at the Cliffs *>===========================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Sinspawn Lolona *>=======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 In the distance, Sin slams into the water. A tremendous splashdown erupts     
 into the air, and those who rush to the cliffs find that seaspray rains down  
 on them from above. Lombardia floats above the enormous monster, her          
 metallic jaws open, and the sun glinting off her wings.                       
                                                                               
 Sin, it seems, is aware that some might come to help. The cliffside           
 overlooking the water is riddled with chasms, switchbacks, and rivets. In     
 many of these, flashes of light erupt -- as Sinspawn are summoned by the      
 great beast. These resemble towering, twisted networks of coral. They pulse   
 with a shuddering green glow -- and then hurl globs of sticky, emerald        
 miasma at those approaching.                                                  
                                                                               
 The Sinspawn Lolona are large, rock-like creatures that hurl poison-aspected  
 attacks at those that come close. They also emit an ear-piercing screech --   
 and indeed, you see one directly ahead, between you and the cliffs            
 overlooking the battle of the titans.                                         
=Dungeon Conditions: Injure, Tire, Cripple====================================
=====================<* Clash at the Cliffs - Round 1 *>======================
========================< Results - Sinspawn Lolona >=========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Riesenlied                          0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Dragon's Impulse                    3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Noeline                             0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Emeralda Kasim                      0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Large Etherstone                    2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fei Fong Wong                       0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
RPS Badge                           3   Combat  Effects: Rally                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Leon Albus                          0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Raid Funnel                         3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Elhaym van Houten                   0 --(8)--> 8                   Fail
Three-Section Staff                 1   Combat  Effects: Stalwart and Rally   
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Josephine Lovelace                  0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Cannonfire                          3   Combat  Effects: Embolden and Liabilit
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Riesenlied                  0 --(15)--> 15                 Pass
Conditions: Cripple|Injure(2)|Tire(2)
Effects: Embolden(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================

DG: The party led by Riesenlied has passed this challenge! The party gained 15 exploration! If anyone needs to use party management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.


DG: Elhaym van Houten has drawn a new Challenge.

==========================<* Clash at the Cliffs *>===========================
====<* CHALLENGE - Besaid Man Attacks Whale and Dragon at the Same Time *>====
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 In the skies, titans battle. On the cliffs, a few desperate souls try to      
 help.                                                                         
                                                                               
 And from the Macalania Woods, a legend emerges.                               
                                                                               
 Guba, the forty-something washout of the Besaid Aurochs, steps forward. His   
 beard is dirtied; he is bedraggled and sodden. "Ah HA!" he calls out. "I've   
 finally found it... what I need... to finally make the team!"                 
                                                                               
 Guba lifts up the legendary blitzball, the World Champion: a red and yellow   
 ball, with retractable saw-like blades that pop out. Guba bellows, before he  
 goes charging forward, and screams: "All right, chums! Let's DO THIS!"        
                                                                               
 And he leaps off the cliff. The World Champion is swung into position. The    
 sun glints gloriously off the blades. With an arm that possesses a strength   
 that Guba never knew he had, he swings it back, and cries out,                
 "GUUUUUUUBAAAAAAAA!!"                                                         
                                                                               
 ...and aims the legendary Blitzball at Lombardia, instead of Sin. How will    
 you guide Guba to a moment of glory, instead of infamy?                       
=Dungeon Conditions: Madness==================================================

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

The Wolves are quick and at the ready. Leon deploys the Raid Funnels and shields people from the worst of the first blasts of green gas, and returns fire with a shotgun blast that elicits a loud, high-pitched scream; Riesenlied takes the advantage to shove one of them off the platform that it's standing on, sending it careening down into the lake below.

Elly finds the time to search and call for her daughter and reassure her, and flanks them with a (deep breath) sansetsukon (did i get it right) that she whips and strikes around in a pincer attack.

Josephine buries the quiet rage within her, as Lily reassures her that she can help in another way -- and now she's hoisted the Nostos Cannon to land on Riesenlied's back.

It's a Dragon with a Cannon now.

Josephine urges her to go low as she launches several powerful bolts, and Gryndille's gift shows its power, raining destruction on the Sinspawn.

Lydia isn't here but Riesenlied believes in her because she isn't alone in the dark. But he worries about Emeralda because she's so darn good at hide and seek and has the badge bequeathed onto her, which is a worry that translates into powerful chi consuming the creature in front of him.

It's all good in the end, because Emeralda appears! She's feeling quite confused, but Elly and Fei are there to guide her... and she mirrors her father in a cute Suikoden-style Father and Daughter Union Attack, of ice and fire.

Then she clambers onto Riesenlied's back.

<I--it's me, Emeralda,> echoes Riesenlied. A pause, as she quietly feels relief the child doesn't remember when she /first/ turned into a Dragon (inadvertently) against Crescens. Another pause, as she asks why she can turn into a dragon...

... and mother-like, she homes in on the more answerable and less painful of the questions that'll get her more cheerful:

... given that Riese might not be aware of Emeralda's fantastic shapeshifting abilities, her thought right now might just be cute dragon roleplay and she's gonna be REALLY IN FOR A SHOCK--

Still, with Noeline's assistance to get everyone onboard and holding on firm -- with her dark corona mixing with her own Ley, she cuts a path long enough for her to soar--

And soar--

And she's off, into the air, everyone safely onboard as the last of the outer ring falls to pieces!

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

Emeralda has very legitimate questions. Elly tries to give answers.

"Sin," Elly says. "They're part of Sin, or they ride along with it... You can see how huge Sin is, they're like fleas or ticks to it, I suppose." As they get on board Riesenlied, strange though the idea might be, she takes a deep breath and lets it out. "The dragon up there is Lombardia. She's a Hydaen, like Riesenlied. (Their bodies are more diverse than ours.)" (Well, mine, anyway, Elly thinks.)

"... I... owe her something," Elly says. "A lot."

(begin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBsgNrRUSbY)

The entire group - the Black Wolves, and the two Hyadaens - has their scars.

The pain of a culture lost. The pain of comrades lost. A village lost. A sister lost. A family lost. A comfortable dream lost.

Pain loops together. It tells you that something is missing. But when something is missing, you have to reach out. To join hands; to grasp what you have.

But there is still kindness. "I don't mind," Elly says, regarding being taught about dragon ways. She lingers for a moment, to help up Josie and Leon if they should need it - and a few moments later, Riesenlied's power draws in. It rides outwards, making a runway. Space enough to build up speed -

Run - spread her wings - and then there is a familiar thrill to Elly as the wind whips at her hair, as she grasps at a scale, as the air roars past her, as the profound strength of Riesenlied's form throws them into the air without explosion or rocket or magical distortion. By strength the sky is seized!

Up they go! The ground recedes swiftly.

And then, tiny voice emerges from the woods. A dissonant note.

Elly turns her head.

Guba raises up a red and yellow ball.

Elly's lips thin.

The retractable saw blades pop out.

"No," she tells herself. It's not a despairing no. It isn't a fearful no. It isn't a gasp of denial. It is the 'no' of someone who is staring at the last six inches of their rope. He runs forwards.

"No," Elly says in a low voice.

Guba is turning to face Lombardia.

"No," Elly says, even as thunder flashes at the far distant Thunder Plains. She grips the scale she had been using as a pommel all the tighter but she seems to be *completely incoherent with rage*.

It's up to everyone else!


DG: Elhaym van Houten has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Besaid Man Attacks Whale and Dragon at the Same Time.

<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

Leon glances at Fei, when he says 'They'll be okay.' The Captain of the Wolves nods, then looks ahead. "I think so, too--but let's do what we can to make sure of it."

He nods at Noeline; then, he looks sideways at Emeralda, and then his hands grip tight on one of Riesenlied's scales as she begins to soar upward. His breath catches when he does. The last time he did this, he had a Gear; that Gear is currently back on Filgaia.

'No.'

Leon turns his head, and stares at Guba. He blinks a couple of times, then sends the Raid Funnels flying -- rather than talk to him, he just tries to make Guba hit an energy wall. It may not stop him. Leon expects it will be satisfying.

"Really," he says pleasantly to Noeline, "I think is quite reasonable of me."


DG: Leon Albus has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Besaid Man Attacks Whale and Dragon at the Same Time.

<Pose Tracker> Emeralda Kasim has posed.

"I don't like them," is Emeralda's perfectly rational response to Elly explaining Sinspawn to her. They creep her out in a way she cannot clearly describe and for reasons she couldn't put words to if she had to. Fortunately, she does not. Instead, she clambers up behind Noeline.

Emeralda takes Riesenlied's offer as exactly what it sounds like, because *she* knows what she can do and assumes Riese does too. It's not like she hides it. "Okay," she says, suddenly agreeable as she finds a way to hang on with her legs, using her arm mostly for balance. And she's not just agreeable because Riese is all that stands (flies) between her and a big fall.

But then Emeralda sees someone she knows.

Worse: she sees someone she likes. He never gives up! He must be admirable! Also, he sometimes makes Elly say words that she seems to hope Emeralda didn't hear and that's funny.

"HI GUBA!!" Emeralda yells, at top volume; she has her hands cupped around her mouth, and has flattened and broadened her fingers slightly to make a short cone like a megaphone so she can project at him better. "DID YOU COME TO HELP OH NO!!" The 'oh no' was when Emeralda noticed where the ball was going. That's not at Sin, or even Sinspawn! That's aimed at the dragon!

"DRAGONS ARE FRIENDS!!" she calls again, before she reaches out. She still has her Etherstone in hand, and so this is more than a physical reaching out; she grasps with her Ether, yanks - and summons a gust of wind to deflect the ball away from Lombardia and toward Sin!

"NEVER FORGEEEEeeeet..." Emeralda's voice trails off, mostly because she's not cupping her hands to focus anymore and the wind of Riese's flight is messing with it.

DG: Emeralda Kasim has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Besaid Man Attacks Whale and Dragon at the Same Time.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Pain loops together. It tells you that something is missing...

And it is through that pain that she has reached out -- to her fond friends in the Black Wolves, who despite her inability to help them with their missions she considers herself a part of; to her partner and beloved, always by her side, sharing her vision where her vision blurs and darkens because of her misshapen state.

She spreads her wings (spread your wings) and flies; and there is the thrill of open-air flight, as hair flutters and the sensation of cold air hits cheeks.

Then there is a tiny noise.

<Who... is that...?>

Guba is raising a ball. A ball with sawblades.

<Um.>

Guba throws the ball at... Lombardia?!?!

<Aiee--> (in hindsight riese is making dragony-guu noises too)

Somewhere deep within her reconfigured body, Noeline can sense the Ring of Promise shimmer; it is allocated close to her heart, however a bizarre Hyadean's biological makeup works, as she exudes an empathic burst outwards that sparkle with beauteous little photons in the Queen's direction.

<W-Watch out!>

DG: You use your Tool Rings of Promise against your party's Challenge, Besaid Man Attacks Whale and Dragon at the Same Time!

DG: Riesenlied has used her Tool Rings of Promise toward her party's challenge, Besaid Man Attacks Whale and Dragon at the Same Time.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

"I guess Sin by the sounds of it?" Fei asides to Emeralda before boarding the first seven person Dragon Mount on Dream Chasers XIV. He lets out a faint 'whuff' in relief before looking over to Riesenlied as she says she would be happy to teach Emeralda about being a dragon if given permission. Fei considers this and says, "Sure, Emmy, but be sure to pay close attention and to be careful." He is probably more worried about Emeralda accidentally starting a fire than being unable to do the transformation properly. Kids get excited sometimes even pretty well behaved ones like Emeralda.

"Uh, sorry by the way, Riese... I didn't wipe my feet before getting on so they might be a little gross. Um. Sorry about that." His cheeks pinken faintly.

And then Guba attacks Lombardia.

"Oh give me a fudgin' break." Fei says, somehow being more emotive with his emotions here than Elly but nonetheless not quite as cheesed off as she seems to be. He seems more exasperated than anything else.

And so inn an attempt to deter Guba, Fei reaches into his bag...

...draws out a piece of chalk...

...and throws it at Guba's forehead at high speeds! "PAY ATTENTION, YOU DUMBASS!"

He pauses before adding to Emeralda. "That's a bad word. I'm sorry. Guba just makes me so mad."

Emeralda is being super cute and Fei says, "awww." quietly at her antics. Somehow, it makes the HORROR of fighting a kaiju seem a little less scary.


DG: Fei Fong Wong has used his Tool Artist's Toolkit toward his party's challenge, Besaid Man Attacks Whale and Dragon at the Same Time.

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

By rights, this situation should be tense and fearful. Lombardia, finally awoken and deigning to join them on Spira, fights fang and claw with Sin on the horizon. She and Riesenlied are giving chase along with the Black Wolves to lend their assistance to what ought to be an impossible fight - and along the way, she has to make sure to reach for and clasp onto Riesenlied's essence, to hold it tight and reassure and help the Metal Dragon she's riding.

But her heart is soaring with pride and love, a feedback loop of buoying emotions that leave her with an exhilarated and confident grin. Things /can/ change. It's been proven before in Elru, in the ruins of the Photosphere, as humans and Hyadeans began to work together. It's proven again here as Lombardia's presence graces the skies - somehow, something has reached the Metal Dragon of old.

"We can always make you a pair of horns," she grins back at Emerelda as she does so, following Riesenlied's lead in keeping things light for both their sakes. She is at least being somewhat measured, sensing the potential discomfort of the girl's questions; she's quick to lean back down as the last of the Sinspawn are scattered, resting a hand of support on the Dragon's back. She cannot offer a physical embrace right this instant - but she can offer her presence and acceptance and a quiet whisper of warm feeling.

(She can also, when she thinks no-one is looking, punctuate it with a brief affectionate scritch between two misshaped scales, that she's sure Riesenlied will pout at her for later.)

Being Riesenlied's guide and eyes is taxing; it's a tax she happily pays, and will happily pay again, but it does mean that she misses the glint of colour out the corner of her eye, the sudden splash of colour amongst the muted tones of Macalania's forest as Guba of all people decides to show up. It's telling that she only notices it after Elly speaks and when Riesenlied turns to follow it, their shared senses finally tugging her attention in that direction.

"... why, exactly, does that beachball have knives?" she picks the question carefully out towards Leon, if only because he's the unflappable one of the group and the one most likely to offer some kind of sensible answer, if there is indeed even one to be had. There's a glum frown on her face as she watches Guba pull his arm back. "That does not seem in any way sportsmanlike."

She focuses sharply as the ball lets go, muttering something under her breath. For a moment, the air smells of tin as her aura warps and twists, matched by a shimmering rainbow of colours that hangs in the air in front of Gubal. The disorienting field of De Le Metalica is usually reserved for issues more climactic than a spiky projectile, but she's prepared to make an exception.

DG: Noeline has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Besaid Man Attacks Whale and Dragon at the Same Time.

<Pose Tracker> Josephine Lovelace has posed.

Josie's grip tightens on both the cannon and Riesenlied -- and not simply because of their somewhat precarious perch.

She has other things on her mind. But later. /Later/. She'll handle it later, when they're not all possibly at risk of immediate death.

She's never been the best at waiting, but there are things in life that you cannot help but wait for.

If indeed they ever come.

"Try and catch up with her," she says to Riesenlied. "She's got a head start, ain't she?" In spite of the situation -- or because of it -- she is able to now crack a lopsided smile. And then she turns her head to take in the rest of them.

...

Her attention shifts to a small figure on the ground below.

"Who's--"

She falls into an almost contemplative silence.

Then slaps the back of the cannon with her hand. It immediately begins to shine in a full array of lighting -- red and amber and yellow and orange and green and-- wait, purple? -- as she stands on Riesenlied's back, plants one booted foot on the cannon, and shouts as if to wake the dead:

"WHAT IN THE GUARDIANS' GREEN HELL ARE YOU DOING, YOU DUMBASS?! IF YOU HAVE A CHOICE BETWEEN HITTING A DRAGON AND SIN, YOU /FUCKING HIT SIN/!!"

The lights might help draw attention towards them; they mesh nicely with Riesenlied's own glimmer and glow. Assuming her shouting won't do that on its own, at least.

She glances over at Fei then, and then down at Emeralda.

"It's fine, she'll learn those words eventually," she says pleasantly with a smile and shrug, as if this is just another lesson a child learns in life.

DG: Josephine Lovelace has used her Tool Superfluous Lights toward her party's challenge, Besaid Man Attacks Whale and Dragon at the Same Time.

==========================<* Clash at the Cliffs *>===========================
====<* CHALLENGE - Besaid Man Attacks Whale and Dragon at the Same Time *>====
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 In the skies, titans battle. On the cliffs, a few desperate souls try to      
 help.                                                                         
                                                                               
 And from the Macalania Woods, a legend emerges.                               
                                                                               
 Guba, the forty-something washout of the Besaid Aurochs, steps forward. His   
 beard is dirtied; he is bedraggled and sodden. "Ah HA!" he calls out. "I've   
 finally found it... what I need... to finally make the team!"                 
                                                                               
 Guba lifts up the legendary blitzball, the World Champion: a red and yellow   
 ball, with retractable saw-like blades that pop out. Guba bellows, before he  
 goes charging forward, and screams: "All right, chums! Let's DO THIS!"        
                                                                               
 And he leaps off the cliff. The World Champion is swung into position. The    
 sun glints gloriously off the blades. With an arm that possesses a strength   
 that Guba never knew he had, he swings it back, and cries out,                
 "GUUUUUUUBAAAAAAAA!!"                                                         
                                                                               
 ...and aims the legendary Blitzball at Lombardia, instead of Sin. How will    
 you guide Guba to a moment of glory, instead of infamy?                       
=Dungeon Conditions: Madness==================================================
=====================<* Clash at the Cliffs - Round 2 *>======================
======< Results - Besaid Man Attacks Whale and Dragon at the Same Time >======
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Riesenlied                          0 --(18)--> 18                 Pass
Rings of Promise                    3   Wits    Effects: Rally                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Noeline                             0 --(18)--> 18                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Emeralda Kasim                      0 --(28)--> 28                 Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fei Fong Wong                       0 --(28)--> 28                 Fail
Artist's Toolkit                    2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Leon Albus                          0 --(28)--> 28                 Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Elhaym van Houten                   8 --(28)--> 36                 Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Josephine Lovelace                  0 --(28)--> 28                 Fail
Superfluous Lights                  1   Wits    Effects: Enlighten and Fanfare
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Riesenlied                  15 --(10)--> 25                Fail
Conditions: Cripple|Injure(1)|Madness|Tire(1)
Effects: Enlighten(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================

DG: The party led by Riesenlied has failed this challenge! The party gained 10 exploration! If anyone needs to use party management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

Elly sucks in a deep breath.

Guba's GOIN FOR IT

He puts one foot on the energy wall and calls out "THANKS" to Leon.

He leaps up, twisting around with great added force and giving Emeralda a grin and a thumbs up that combines the glint off his receding hairline with the glint from his teeth. Emeralda is his #1 fan: Guba knows this. There are no others. Not even his wife.

But he considers matters for a moment at the words of his #1 fan. He is then hit in the forehead with chalk thrown at incredible force. This does no injury to him, his skull being thick and durable for the sake of hunting and subduing his natural prey, but it does slightly alter his trajectory. But he has a final thing to say:

"LADY!" This towards Josie, to whom he points.

"DON'T SAY THAT WORD! AROUND! A KID!"

A twist, a buck, a double footed mule kick. The [GUBA SHOT] rings out - and it seems like it is going towards Lombardia but it's curving towards...

... a sinspawn, who immediately disintegrates, but is also decidedly not Sin.

"A KID'S GONNA SAY IT BACK!" Guba says, before he descends below the plane of visibility. ("Word to your motherrrrrr . . . . . .)

God protects fools so Guba is probably OK. Especially since - is that the World Champion coming back? Naw, it can't be.

What about the rest of you?

(Elly seems to be vibrating slightly, and restraining her words. Maybe she's channeling this antipathy.)


DG: Leon Albus has drawn a new Challenge.

===========================<* Clash at the Cliffs *>============================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Sinscale Waves *>========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Lombardia slams into the cliff below, though with her claws rather than her   
 entire body. The blast of gravity that slammed her fades, and then she        
 pushes off with her tail and feet. That sends her soaring back at Sin -- and  
 she rakes across the whale-like monster's body. Pyreflies shoot high into     
 the air, as Sin bellows and screeches.                                        
                                                                               
 It seems, despite those animalistic noises, that Sin is quite aware of you.   
 Before you can rush to intervene more, the skies above you darken. Dozens of  
 Sinscales come raining down upon the cliffsides -- trying to bury you under   
 them, before you can rush to the Metal Dragon's aid.                          
=Dungeon Conditions: Fright, Weaken, Stupify==================================

<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

"God damn it," Leon remarks as Guba jumps off his energy wall.

He watches as Guba falls down into the depths below, with a long stare. He doubts, with all those fighting on the cliffs, that he is the only one. (The truth is, Guba will be back to attempt this again and again.)

He runs a hand through his hair, and then turns -- and shouts with surprise, wordless, as he notices that the skies are darker. There are waves of Sinscales coming down -- crashing towards them. Several slam into Riesenlied's back.

The Raid Funnels spin upward, rotating so fast that the cyan barrier of light between them becomes a blur. It lifts up -- and a Sinscale slams into it, then another, and another -- and sparks explode in the sky, before Leon lifts his shotgun and fires.

A Sinscale explodes into pyreflies, before he turns -- looking at the others. "We need to keep them off Riesenlied! And don't get thrown off her back by them! It seems we have Sin's attention!"


DG: Leon Albus has used his Tool Raid Funnel toward his party's challenge, Sinscale Waves.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Fei mentions that his feet might be dirty, and it prompts Riesenlied to think about the logistics of where the dirt on Fei's feet would go once she transforms back.

...

...

She decides to not think too hard about it. I mean she's already technically breaking the law of conversation of mass and all kinds of other silly things anyway. <It's okay, I can clean up later-->

What comes out /next/ is the Black Wolves learning that Dragons can still elicit a thoroughly surprised draconic noise as Noeline scritches her scales and she shoots her a look that's not as pouty as expected because her cheeks can't pout too much.

... not that she's pouting too much, because really, that feedback loop of emotions is exhilirating as much as Noeline is feeling it as she summons her wall; but--

Oh no!

People are swearing!

You dumbass!! There's a-- a HFIL from Josie, and, also, even the F-word!

Riesenlied's draconic ears (where are they, even) are too far apart to...

coo...

Wait, no. If you look really closely... several cuccos have perched to either side of her head like earmuffs. Where... where did they come from? Their job as swear filters done, they flutter off into the distance.

... how muisterious.

There's a shriek, though, as pain enters into the equation again when several Sinscales slam into and land on her back.

(Oh no, Riesenlied's back is fair game now that it technically counts as a battle background stage???)

Leon's got the initiative and deploys those shields as he shoots some off, and she's ready to stoop her body to let them glide off and not give them space to latch onto her.

<Thank you, everyone-- I will try to fend off the ones in the air...!>

A section at the top of Riesenlied's 'shoulders' pop open, since she's a Magic-type Dragon, and a steady barrage of Ley-fire erupts into the air, not unlike that of a G****m's vulcans.

  • pchoo-pchoo-pchoo*

ALSO not unlike those vulcans, it's playing the /one/ vulcan SFX that has been used since like, 1996 with Alpha. You know the one. It's playing in your mind /right now/.

DG: Riesenlied has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Sinscale Waves.

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

Something else catches up to Noeline's attention much too late; there's a faint sense that she hasn't been able to identify, not until she turns her head to one side and refocuses on the sudden display of shimmering lights next to her. "... I don't think I should quite approve of you installing a cannon on the love of my life," she grumbles towards Josie, a little grumpy and not quite certain how to cope with this new piece of precedent.

She rises up a little out of tension as she watches the blitzball thankfully veer wide of the conflict; as much as she might like to see the combined might of the two combatants crash down on the poor man below them, she supposes it might be just a little bit uncharitable of her to think that way. "Honestly," she sighs to herself, but can't help the bemused grin. "Even at times like this, the sheer nature of Spira manages to shine through."

Well, one of its natures, at least.

She looks over at Leon, still feeling like she ought to press for an answer-- but pure instincts make her jolt forwards moments after the man's wordless shout, her sword calling back to her hands in time to become a blurred circle in the air above her. There are sparks for a moment, before she pushes back against the Sinspawn she's caught on her blade, twirling to fling the creature away into the distance.

There's a moment of satisfaction, and then a spike of pain across her shared link, like nails on a chalkboard on the inside of her skull. "Hg--" she bites the noise short, twisting to face one of the ones clutched onto Riesenlied's scales. Between her raw concern and the urgency of the situation, the most she can bring herself to do is drive a shoulder into the Sinspawn, then batter it away with her sword.

"Get the rest!" she calls urgently to the others around her as she feels Riesenlied's power swell, aware that this is when she needs to hang onto herself the most. Heedless of the rest of the Spawn around her she closes her eyes, hunkering down to be as close to the Dragon as she can. Hands clasped, she focuses on their link, on the ring on her finger and cradled against them both.

DG: Noeline has used her Tool Rings of Promise toward her party's challenge, Sinscale Waves.

<Pose Tracker> Josephine Lovelace has posed.

"I'LL SAY WHATEVER THE HELL I LIKE!" is Josie's zero point rejoinder, though it may be for naught since Guba...

Isn't there anymore.

Josie flops down alongside the cannon, clearly in a state of Disgruntled. She claps a hand against back of the cannon, which slowly starts to stop blinking with many lights and ultimately slumps against it, her arms folded over her chest and wearing an expression like: :/

This state of affairs cannot and does not last. Pulling out of her brief sulk, Josie briefly uses the cannon as an armrest as she pulls up onto her knees to sight the latest disturbance.

"Only got so many shots in this," she says, tapping the cannon. "Might need to save some for Sin. Tell you what-- Leon, let me help you with that one--"

She mumbles her way through the incantation for a certain spell.

"Light Flare!"

There is a brillian implosion, below.

Afterwhich she turns her head to regard Noeline. "It ain't staying here," she says, waving a hand dismissively. "Think of it as a one-time thing."

She omits the fact that she's done this before...

DG: Josephine Lovelace has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Sinscale Waves.

<Pose Tracker> Emeralda Kasim has posed.

Emeralda has learned two new words today! She'll probably forget them later. Maybe. If Fei is lucky. She already has her favourite word to use to emphasize things in a rude way, after all.

"JUST REMEMBEEEER," she calls back at Guba as he vanishes from sight. Removing her hands from her mouth, she speaks more quietly. "It's okay," she informs Noeline. "Now she has a cannon. Cannons are cool. Wouldn't you have a cannon if you could?"

no Emeralda do not keep going with that

Fortunately, she doesn't. She has Sinspawn to deal with - some of them are on Riese's back, which is exactly where they shouldn't be! Others are nearby, which is... well, also where they shouldn't be! Emeralda can only move along Riesenlied's back slowly, but she does; she crawls along it to be closer to the front, where she can see better. She's only hanging on with both legs and one hand, as Riesenlied can feel even if she can't see and everyone else can just see.

This is because Emeralda's other arm has lengthened to about thrice its normal length and lost everything resembling a human arm from about the mid-bicep down; it has the same brown tone as Emeralda's normal skin colour, but is more like a slim cable topped with something that looks most like a yo-yo, except the yo-yo has what appear to be a pair of sickle blades popped out of it.

Emeralda is spinning the whole weapon around wildly. She never hits anyone on Riese (or Riese herself) with it, but in one case she only misses Josie by the whole 'arm' bending upward like rubber to avoid her. On the other hand, the whirling blade... thing is remarkably good at clearing the air within about fifteen feet of Emmy! (Fifteen feet, because that's as far as she can reach, counting leaning as far as she can left or right to sweep it further out that way.)

DG: Emeralda Kasim has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Sinscale Waves.

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

The approaching Sinspawn sweep towards them. Aerial as they are, Elly thinks with frustration, I have to wait for them.

Her eye twitches slightly.

Deep within her, something... doesn't shift. But pressure builds.

Aloud, now, she says to Josie, "Not a bad idea, though... I don't know if..."

Are they all just flying to their deaths? Elly looks to Emeralda for a moment. Maybe not, she thinks, but then she sweeps her own staff around -- stepping back away from where Emeralda's metamorphic body is cutting a swath through them! Which puts her, by pure coincidene, near Josie. As Josie's flare shell bursts, Elly tells her, "Thank you," and seems to mean it in a general sense.

A moment later she shoves her staff down the mouth of a Sinspawn -- why do they have mouths, anyway?


DG: Elhaym van Houten has used her Tool Three-Section Staff toward her party's challenge, Sinscale Waves.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei blinks repeatedly at Riesenlied. Then she assures him she can clean up later. "Oh okay."

He watches the cuccos fly off muisteriously into the distance with a quiet expression of gratitude. Like swinging a single wing forward, he salutes them for their efforts. Hopefully Emeralda doesn't start sticking cuccos in her ear. There are some things that are worse in Fei's mind than hearing and repeating swears.

Sinspawn are sadly hard to really weird the weaknesses of, but that doesn't stop Fei from flicking the RPS Badge in the air in an attempt to distract them and then just spinning roundhouse kick Sinspawn off Riesenlied's back.

"Roundhouse kick! Roundhouse kick! Roundhouse kick!" Fei says.

"So uh, I guess there's no hard feelings with Lombardia huh? I wonder how she knew to come here."

He grins widely as he sees Emeralda's own 'techniques'. "Nice!" He compliments.

DG: Fei Fong Wong has used his Tool RPS Badge toward his party's challenge, Sinscale Waves.

===========================<* Clash at the Cliffs *>============================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Sinscale Waves *>========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Lombardia slams into the cliff below, though with her claws rather than her   
 entire body. The blast of gravity that slammed her fades, and then she        
 pushes off with her tail and feet. That sends her soaring back at Sin -- and  
 she rakes across the whale-like monster's body. Pyreflies shoot high into     
 the air, as Sin bellows and screeches.                                        
                                                                               
 It seems, despite those animalistic noises, that Sin is quite aware of you.   
 Before you can rush to intervene more, the skies above you darken. Dozens of  
 Sinscales come raining down upon the cliffsides -- trying to bury you under   
 them, before you can rush to the Metal Dragon's aid.                          
=Dungeon Conditions: Fright, Weaken, Stupify==================================
======================<* Clash at the Cliffs - Round 3 *>=======================
==========================< Results - Sinscale Waves >==========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Riesenlied                          18 --(0)--> 18                 Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Noeline                             18 --(0)--> 18                 Pass
Rings of Promise                    4   Combat  Effects: Efficient and Rally  
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Emeralda Kasim                      28 --(0)--> 28                 Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fei Fong Wong                       28 --(0)--> 28                 Pass
RPS Badge                           3   Combat  Effects: Rally                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Leon Albus                          28 --(0)--> 28                 Pass
Raid Funnel                         3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Elhaym van Houten                   36 --(0)--> 36                 Pass
Three-Section Staff                 1   Combat  Effects: Stalwart and Rally   
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Josephine Lovelace                  28 --(0)--> 28                 Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Riesenlied                  25 --(20)--> 45                Pass
Conditions: Cripple|Fright(2)|Madness|Stupify(2)|Weaken(2)
Effects: 
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================

DG: The party led by Riesenlied 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: Emeralda Kasim has drawn a new Challenge.

===========================<* Clash at the Cliffs *>============================
==============<* CHALLENGE - Calculating the Arc of a Catapult *>===============
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 A trio of large Sinspawn have gathered on the beach below. Huge, hulking      
 things that resembling misshappen fish with legs, they crouch down -- and     
 ready to leap into the air.                                                   
                                                                               
 The battle of Lombardia and Sin have drawn attention and all sorts of         
 unlikely combatants. Even Althena's Guard is here in force -- and behind      
 you, you hear a loud clank, as a wooden catapult settles down. One of the     
 Guardsmen runs up, looking at you for a brief moment like he is uncertain     
 what to do.                                                                   
                                                                               
 "We need a spotter!" he yells. "Tell us where to fire this thing!"            
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify, Tire============================================

<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

The light that streams out from Riesenlied's opened shoulder plates is impressive -- but the Sinscales prove too small and too agile for those lances of energy to easily tear through them. Some are struck -- here and there, they puff into starbursts of pyreflies. More, however, get through.

Fortunately, the Wolves are ready for them. Noeline throws one to the side; Leon's rifle holes through one of the ones that slipped past, as light explodes in front of it. Emeralda's blade slashes through another two -- but then one comes slamming down, smashing into her.

Before it can knock her away, though, Elly's staff hammers into the mouth of a Sinscale and then tosses it off Riesenlied. Fei kicks a few more off, sending them flying.

Which is when, with Noeline's help, Riesenlied is able to bank out of the cloud of Sinspawn, and back into the battlefield. Leon breathes a sigh of relief.


<Pose Tracker> Emeralda Kasim has posed.

Emeralda's blade stops spinning (and being a safety hazard to everyone nearby) when a Sinspawn crashes into her. It doesn't really hurt her - the Sinspawn is in the process of dissolving into pyreflies anyway, and only gets a half-hearted slash off before it breaks apart into light - but it does startle her enough that she stops, her arm retracting back in and compressing back into a more normal shape.

By the time this has happened, though, the group is out of the cloud of Sinspawn and angled closer to the cliff side, where they can see a catapult setting up to fire on Sinspawn below them. The only problem is, well... they can't see without running back and forth.

"Hey!" One of them calls at the dragon, perhaps seeing 'dragon' as 'helpful' - they are Althenians. "We need a spotter!" he yells. "Tell us where to fire this thing!"

Emeralda points from dragonback at the Sinspawn... in a direct line toward them, without paying any attention to things like 'ballistics' or 'arcs' or, indeed, 'where the catapult is'. She may need assistance. Math is hard.


DG: Emeralda Kasim has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Calculating the Arc of a Catapult.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei considers Emeralda's pointing.

"Yeah seems legit?" He shouts, though he doesn't exactly sound certain here. "I mean, how do you miss Sin?"

He squints where Guba fell for a moment and shakes his fist.

DG: Fei Fong Wong has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Calculating the Arc of a Catapult.

<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

Leon's nose wrinkles for a moment.

He knows a little about spotting for artillery, though he hasn't the foggiest about how catapults work. After a moment, he frowns -- and then calls out: "Adjust the angle to be higher than you think, to compensate for their flight patterns! And then make sure you mark how far off they are for the second shot!" he calls down. "And--"

He shakes his head, for emphasis. "For God's sake, don't hit us!"


DG: Leon Albus has used his Tool Climbing Rope toward his party's challenge, Calculating the Arc of a Catapult.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

"Oh! Yeah! Good thinking, Leon!" Fei smiles brightly. "Don't hit us okay??"

He keeps a careful look out for any Barts.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Riesenlied does express some concern -- mutely, through emotion -- at Elly's anger, but it seems to have passed; besides, Josephine and Fei seem to be just as incensed. ... just who was that mysteriously angry man? But he seemed to be Emeralda's fan, so... he couldn't be all that bad.

She's infused with Noeline's power, though, which helps her bank through the clouds and lose them -- and there's a quiet tremble as they coast clear.

She pointedly doesn't think about the cannon installation on her back... especially because it did happen the last time too...

Emeralda shoots her arm out like a wire! There's a quiet gasp as she tries to align for a moment, but it seems like she's okay -- it's almost like a jump-rope!

<Amazing,> she expresses in awe. <Thank you, everyone.>

Fei asks how Lombardia knows to come here...

<... I wonder if Nall had a hand in it. They were close friends, and if anyone is more informed about the Althenan Guard's movements, it would be him.>

But she hears the voice of humans -- senses them, more than sees them -- from below, and she swoops just a little bit and tries to practice stalling in the air, at least enough for the Wolves to suggest something.

She spreads her wings and one of those FF12-style aggro lines arcs upwards from the ballista towards where the Sinspawn hopefully is.

DG: You use your Tool Dragon's Wings against your party's Challenge, Calculating the Arc of a Catapult!

DG: Riesenlied has used her Tool Dragon's Wings toward her party's challenge, Calculating the Arc of a Catapult.

<Pose Tracker> Josephine Lovelace has posed.

It may help that Josie /also/ ducks when Emeralda starts doing that with her arm. "Geez, kiddo," she says, and not because she may have almost gotten hit. Even if she's used to Emeralda... being Emeralda at this point, there's still a degree of shock that kicks in from time to time.

But in the end all is well enough-- the Spawn are pushed back.

They fly in close enough that they can hear a call for assistance from a nearby Guardsman. Josie arches a pale eyebrow, then calls out: "WHAT HE SAID!" after Leon offers his instruction. At this point she's the artillery expert, technically, but there's little else to add on top of that--

Except to voice the words of a particular spell once more and help to mark /which/ target they should aim for.

There is a flash of white light for a moment.

DG: Josephine Lovelace has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Calculating the Arc of a Catapult.

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

Noeline straightens up from the Sinspawn assault, letting out a breath as she once more pats the Dragon between two large scales. "... you're doing well," she promises softly and privately to Riesenlied; she can feel the edge of fatigue in her own voice, but only the edge. There's a lot more conviction she can pull from inside of herself to go through yet.

She's not honestly sure how to heal Riesenlied's wounds from the Sinspawn assault; they don't seem major, but she's not exactly in familiar territory here. In the end, she opts for focusing on them, hoping that pushing the Ley towards the lacerations will help calm and mend them.

Absently, she pats Emerelda on the head as the girl does her best to help the spotters, and there's a distinct suspicion that Noeline might be enjoying getting to play favorites as one of the local aunts. "I think it must have been," she nods to Riesenlied's comment.

"Perhaps the question is more 'why now'? It would be nice to think that our efforts had a hand in it - but I'm not sure that's the case," she sighs a little ruefully... but brightens the next moment into a quiet smile. "But if it means we have more of a chance to help her and talk with her, then all for the better."

"Honestly, all of you," she adds with a glum frown as she watches the trio of Black Wolves hoot and holler. The way she puts her hand to her forehead is rather theatrical - but then she gestures, and a little silvery sphere shoots out from where it's been hidden in her sleeve, emitting a high-pitched 'bweee' as Strife gets downwards towards the Sinspawn.

The little pod nimbly scoots amongst them, pulsing every so often with a bright strobe of light and a flurry of beeps.

DG: Noeline has used her Tool Strife toward her party's challenge, Calculating the Arc of a Catapult.

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

Elly takes a moment as they swerve around to attach - something to the scale she'd been using as a grip, and then she attaches something else to her hip belt, and she says, "So you think the Guard might have asked for backup...? Or do you think that it's more a matter of..."

That is a good question, Elly thinks to herself. How did Lombardia know to come here?

Why is she fighting Sin like this? Is it for some other plan?

I hope there's a plan, Elly thinks, before she jumps off of Riesenlied's side...

... to land near the catapult operators. "You need to understand this," Elly says, "that the wind is coming towards you now from Sin's mass and the actions of Lombardia. So you have to take that into account. Leon told you to aim higher and that's something you definitely have to do. Okay?"

Elly smiles. "Than" she begins to say before the slack of the Reel Sphere runs out.

  • whizzzzzz*

Elly rejoins the group.

Riesenlied may feel a little like she's a premium catch, just for a moment.


DG: Elhaym van Houten has used her Tool Reel Sphere toward her party's challenge, Calculating the Arc of a Catapult.

===========================<* Clash at the Cliffs *>============================
==============<* CHALLENGE - Calculating the Arc of a Catapult *>===============
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 A trio of large Sinspawn have gathered on the beach below. Huge, hulking      
 things that resembling misshappen fish with legs, they crouch down -- and     
 ready to leap into the air.                                                   
                                                                               
 The battle of Lombardia and Sin have drawn attention and all sorts of         
 unlikely combatants. Even Althena's Guard is here in force -- and behind      
 you, you hear a loud clank, as a wooden catapult settles down. One of the     
 Guardsmen runs up, looking at you for a brief moment like he is uncertain     
 what to do.                                                                   
                                                                               
 "We need a spotter!" he yells. "Tell us where to fire this thing!"            
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify, Tire============================================
======================<* Clash at the Cliffs - Round 4 *>=======================
================< Results - Calculating the Arc of a Catapult >=================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Riesenlied                          18 --(0)--> 18                 Pass
Dragon's Wings                      4   Agility Effects: Efficient and Rally  
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Noeline                             18 --(0)--> 18                 Pass
Strife                              2   Agility Effects: Stalwart             
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Emeralda Kasim                      28 --(3)--> 31                 Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fei Fong Wong                       28 --(3)--> 31                 Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Leon Albus                          28 --(0)--> 28                 Pass
Climbing Rope                       2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Elhaym van Houten                   36 --(0)--> 36                 Pass
Reel Sphere                         2   Agility Effects: Stalwart             
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Josephine Lovelace                  28 --(3)--> 31                 Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Riesenlied                  45 --(20)--> 65                Pass
Conditions: Cripple|Fright(1)|Madness|Stupify(2)|Tire(2)|Weaken(1)
Effects: Quicken(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================

DG: The party led by Riesenlied 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: Noeline has drawn a new Challenge.

==========================<* Clash at the Cliffs *>===========================
===============<* CHALLENGE - Opportunistic Odessa Soldiers *>================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Although the battle of Lombardia and Sin has drawn a makeshift, tenuous       
 alliance between the Drifters, Althena's Guard, and Warrior Monks, not all    
 are assisting. Most of the Odessa forces freshly teleported in are currently  
 pursuing ARMS and a few unfortunate Drifters. Some, however, have come here   
 to take advantage of the situation.                                           
                                                                               
 Like they do now.                                                             
                                                                               
 There is no warning as ARMs open up from behind. Several rounds whizz by      
 your heads -- and as you whirl around, you see armed Odessa soldiers rushing  
 at you, firing with their gunsmoke rifles as they approach. "Kill them!" the  
 Lieutenant in command shouts. "While they're distracted!"                     
=Dungeon Conditions: Wound, Exhaust===========================================

<Pose Tracker> Emeralda Kasim has posed.

"Sorry," Emeralda says to Josephine, allowing Noeline to ruffle her hair. She does not sound very apologetic.

It turns out Emeralda's pointing was not actually very helpful. Fortunately, Emeralda is not the only person here.

"Right!" one of the crewmembers calls back at Leon, almost immediately starting to adjust the catapult. That alone wouldn't be enough, though it would at least get them closer, but Riesenlied lights up a firing line and Noeline drops Strife as a beacon, allowing them to adjust a little more.

Elly literally swinging by to lend a hand, though - that tips the scales. "Uh, right, ma'am," one says, apparently immediately aware that he's talking to someone who outranks him even though they are not in the same military and, strictly speaking, Elly is a deserter. "Do you - "

  • whzzzz*

Well, he's not going to be able to ask Elly anymore! They finish their adjustments under the light of Josie's flare, shift a rock, and release!

...

It's a perfect shot! Rocks fall among the Sinspawn, causing two of the largest to explode into gouts of pyreflies, as well as some of their accessory minions. Good work!

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

Still onwards, Noeline guides Riesenlied forwards. Acting as the eyes for the both of them is something that hasn't quite become second nature yet, but she is finding it a lot easier now than the first time they did this - as the two of them learn what they can give and offer to each other, how best to work together, to share and mingle two powers into a single one.

That understanding gives her a chance to risk glancing to one side, splitting her attention as she tries to take stock of the myriad fights breaking out around the Temple's environs and the snowfields beyond. The cheer of the catapult troops and their success rings in her ears, but there's still a great deal of chaos below them.

Some of the Guard haven't quite figured out that the Sinspawn are the bigger threat here, and it takes one of their number being shoved aside by a Yevon soldier for it to sink in that it might be the sort of time to leave such disputes aside. Elsewhere there's still the sound of active combat, and Noeline has a distinct suspicion that the two sets of gunfire she can hear over a ridge they're flying alongside might be at odds with each other.

Except one set suddenly becomes a lot louder, and the hill is abruptly crested by a number of Odessan troops, their leader yelling something and pointing in their direction as the rest of the troops line up their shots. "--get down!" Noeline commands quickly - but doesn't follow her own advice, trusting in Riesenlied's ability to react to the new threat.

Instead, she sweeps her blade around in a line, once more scoring a familiar line of white in the air in front of her. This time, however, it pulses and shifts in an almost unnatural way - and when it races forward it's with a smear of sorcery trailing behind it, which explodes outwards into a shadowy wall.

DG: Noeline has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Opportunistic Odessa Soldiers.

<Pose Tracker> Leon Albus has posed.

Leon's fingers grip a little tighter into Riesenlied's scales. He lets out a shaky breath -- and then looks to the side and blinks, when he hears Noeline call out. Training makes him duck low, too; this is for the best, as the gunshots echo out, slicing /just/ over where he was. "Bloody hell!"

Sorry, Riesenlied and Elly. Maybe Emeralda will learn another new word today?

He cocks his shotgun, then he leans up, and fires. The Raid Funnels move in -- but the barrier between them flickers, and then parts of them fold in. The triangles fly back, to dock on the back of Leon's belt. He grits his teeth.

"They're an opportunistic bunch, aren't they? Opportunistic and unconcerned about Sin, I should add!" he snaps, firing another round at one of the Odessa riflemen.


DG: Leon Albus has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Opportunistic Odessa Soldiers.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Riesenlied can't help but have a charmed little emotion to Noeline headpatting Emeralda, thinking of nicer times... but they'll bring everyone back from the brink. They always do. Janey and Mikaia and everyone else on the Fereshte is waiting for them.

Elly jumps off, though, which prompts distress--

But then after her advice, she whzzs back up with her fishing rod. Hooked onto her.

<Does... does this mean you just caught me on your line, Elly?>

A pause.

Fei starts looking for a Bart in worry and there's a moment where you can kind of tell the Dragon is looking worried too.

<... I hope there aren't any Bart Missiles around,> she kind of jinxes. <T-tell me if you see the Yggdrasil, okay?? Ohh dropping a battleship on me /would/ be cheating...>

Riesenlied's Morale -5

That's just the power of Bart Fatima, causing demoralisation in his allies even when he's not being actively played.

The sensation of danger comes to her as an early-warning system before Noeline speaks it physically for the others -- and there's a minor shriek as she tilts forty-five degrees in angle so as to protect everyone and let her mostly metallic body absorb the brunt of the bullets.

It still /hurts/, of course, but right now, it's best that her armour withstands it; there's a deep glower as she announces,

<You shall NOT hurt them!>

And a flourish of power joins in, a mixture of light with Noeline's darkness in the way they've been exploring with precurating their powers together.

The light erupts forward and washes in the form of a geyser underneath their feet to scatter their formation.

DG: You use your Tool Dragon's Impulse against your party's Challenge, Opportunistic Odessa Soldiers!

DG: Riesenlied has used her Tool Dragon's Impulse toward her party's challenge, Opportunistic Odessa Soldiers.

<Pose Tracker> Josephine Lovelace has posed.

"Don't knock it if it works," Josie asides to Noeline. She settles into a lean against the cannon, both using it as a brace and keeping it from getting further jostled. Riesenlied won't purposefully drop them, but that doesn't mean that accidents won't happen...

And she'd rather not lose the cannon to the snowfields below if anything does occur.

And in the end it does seem to work out so--

...Any mirth she might display to Noeline falls by the wayside as she sights them, approaching from the hill beyond where Yevon and the Guard are by turns attempting to work against the greater peril and at odds with one another.

"Oh hell," she utters, quite bluntly.

And she ducks.

"May your eyes traitors be--" she chants, as quick as she can.

The sphere of light in her hand shines.

Before she hurls it for the air above the soldiers -- perhaps adding to the display between the Hyadean couple, just a little, when it detonates.

"Light Flare!"

DG: Josephine Lovelace has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Opportunistic Odessa Soldiers.

<Pose Tracker> Emeralda Kasim has posed.

"I - "

'Get down!'

Emeralda gets down, abandoning getting her hair mussed and simply pressing herself against Riesenlied. She's glad she does when Riese tilts into a new angle, and Emeralda isn't quite prepared for it. She almost feels herself slipping for a moment until she catches one of her legs; Emeralda wasn't in real danger of falling off, but she was unbalanced for a few moments there.

Also, she has heard all the words Leon said before. So there.

Emeralda peeks out from where she's hiding, 'behind' Riese compared to the Odessans. She doesn't know *why* they want to attack her friends, but she can tell they do, and that's enough. "You can't hurt them!" she yells, unconsciously echoing Riese.

There is a dull rumble from near the Odessan soldiers before, suddenly, a veritable eruption of craggy rocks in every size from basketball to fingernail bursts from the ground, threatening to first throw them up and then shower down around them in a painful hailstorm of rock. She's still got the Etherstone, apparently.

DG: Emeralda Kasim has used her Tool Large Etherstone toward her party's challenge, Opportunistic Odessa Soldiers.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei marvels at Elly's intense fishing line skill. His heart skips a beat. He marvels at the beauty of her flight, the confidence in the words she speaks to the Guard, the fearlessness in speaking as such to an organization that had, until really this moment and will again after this moment, been their enemies.

He smiles. It's frankly a bit goofy. It's strange, he thinks, despite fighting /Sin/ right now--he doesn't feel afraid. Maybe it's because he's fighting with his closest friends? No, that was very frightening last time too. Maybe it's just that there's a pair of dragons lending a hand this time. It feels like the odds are more even.

Now men with guns? Men with guns are always scary and so Fei does what he tends to do and leap in and start punching them in the head.

"What's wrong with you!?" He shouts. "We're busy fighting Sin here, mind your own business!"

DG: Fei Fong Wong has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Opportunistic Odessa Soldiers.

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

Elly did get back on the dragon's back pretty neatly. She smiles at Fei, her hair streaking in the wind. Then she gets shot!

Technically. The bullet hits her hair, which is voluminous. A few red strands whizz into the slipstream and Elly turns her head towards the Odessa troops.

"Hahhh..."

And maybe Elly really is feeling better because part of that hill they're running over seems to collapse in molemanic forms beneath them, even as Elly straightens up, flourishing with the staff.


DG: Elhaym van Houten has used her Tool Three-Section Staff toward her party's challenge, Opportunistic Odessa Soldiers.

==========================<* Clash at the Cliffs *>===========================
===============<* CHALLENGE - Opportunistic Odessa Soldiers *>================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Although the battle of Lombardia and Sin has drawn a makeshift, tenuous       
 alliance between the Drifters, Althena's Guard, and Warrior Monks, not all    
 are assisting. Most of the Odessa forces freshly teleported in are currently  
 pursuing ARMS and a few unfortunate Drifters. Some, however, have come here   
 to take advantage of the situation.                                           
                                                                               
 Like they do now.                                                             
                                                                               
 There is no warning as ARMs open up from behind. Several rounds whizz by      
 your heads -- and as you whirl around, you see armed Odessa soldiers rushing  
 at you, firing with their gunsmoke rifles as they approach. "Kill them!" the  
 Lieutenant in command shouts. "While they're distracted!"                     
=Dungeon Conditions: Wound, Exhaust===========================================
=====================<* Clash at the Cliffs - Round 5 *>======================
=================< Results - Opportunistic Odessa Soldiers >==================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Riesenlied                          18 --(0)--> 18                 Pass
Dragon's Impulse                    3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Noeline                             18 --(0)--> 18                 Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Emeralda Kasim                      31 --(0)--> 31                 Pass
Large Etherstone                    2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fei Fong Wong                       31 --(0)--> 31                 Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Leon Albus                          28 --(0)--> 28                 Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Elhaym van Houten                   36 --(13)--> 49                Fail
Three-Section Staff                 1   Combat  Effects: Stalwart and Rally   
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Josephine Lovelace                  31 --(0)--> 31                 Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Riesenlied                  65 --(20)--> 85                Pass
Conditions: Cripple|Exhaust(1)|Madness|Stupify(1)|Tire(1)|Wound(2)
Effects: Embolden(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================

DG: The party led by Riesenlied 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> Noeline has posed.

Leon's shotgun peppers the Odessan front line and forces some of them down to the ground in a defensive dive, giving Noeline a moment to gather herself and hold onto one of Riesenlied's scales. This time, she's braced for the phantom pain of Riesenlied's wounds, and though the bullets don't puncture the metal armor, it still feels like a rattling set of impacts against her shoulders.

Josephine's light bursts outwards, dazzling some of those who remain - while the ones that hit the ground feel it suddenly shift beneath them, as crags of rock and stone suddenly toss them back up into the air like ragdolls and then pin them in place. The Ley condenses at Riesenlied's behest, and her pride in her partner swells once more as she accepts the addition to her spell, weaving the two together as she stands tall atop her partner.

Noeline's fierce expression does waver a little as Fei and Elly abruptly take the fight to the Odessa troops; she trusts them both well enough to be able to get back to the Dragon's back afterwards, but it's still a sight to see them pile into the squad like that, and she's suddenly forced to improvize, reaching for the power she's let loose.

Trailing behind everything else is the mingling mixture of light and darkness, the two opposing forces blending together and subsuming the last of Josie's spell into their whorl. Noeline grits her teeth for a moment, reaching for something she can only describe as the reins of the sphere as it comes together into a clashing ball of opposites - and the moment that Fei and Elly are clear, lets it unleash to ripple outwards in a wave of Ley and Sorcery combined.

Odessa is left truly scattered in its wake - but only scattered and unconscious, and not anything worse. There's a look of satisfaction on the Hyadean's face as she slowly folds her arms and, with Riesenlied slightly occupied, does her best to emit enough Protective Mother Energy for the both of them.

"... if I had to hazard a guess," Noeline declares towards Leon after everything is said and done, almost prim in the way she pats herself down as if they didn't just run roughshod through some of Odessa's finest. "I would suggest that Odessa did not honestly seem to give much of a damn about Spira. I suspect that once they're done with their business here, they intend to leave and not look back - so what do they need to care about any disruption they cause?"

"That, or they are outright blind to dragons. I'm not prepared to discard that idea," she grumbles.


DG: Elhaym van Houten has drawn a new Challenge.

==========================<* Clash at the Cliffs *>===========================
===================<* CHALLENGE - Behind the Shield Wall *>===================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 4          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Lombardia screeches in the skies above -- and then sends another colossal     
 beam of green energy down. It slashes into the right fin of Sin. With a       
 titanic explosion, sending pyreflies and crackles of energy outward, the      
 limb falls away -- and dissolves into so many pyreflies before it ever        
 strikes the water. Lombardia hovers there, staring down at a creature that    
 looks, for the first time, injured and strained.                              
                                                                               
 And yet, the damage to her body is no less severe. Armor plates are crushed   
 in; silvery blood drips and splatters on the rocks below. Her head turns      
 down, looking at Sin. "We are not yet done, are we, beast?"                   
                                                                               
 Sin meets the queen's question with a terrific roar, which shakes the very    
 stone under your feet. Then, it opens its maw. The attack is familiar:        
 Giga-Graviton, the same that so wrecked Azado and the beach at Mushroom Rock  
 Road alike. A bead of pulsing black energy appears, shining white.            
                                                                               
 "No!"                                                                         
                                                                               
 Lombardia descends -- and the damaged Metal Dragon lands on the cliffside.    
 The ground under her cracks and strains under her great weight, as claw and   
 tail dig in. Then, a massive barrier of interlocked white-green octagons      
 appears before her, like a dome.                                              
                                                                               
 "Humans! Gather behind me! There is precious little time ere it unleashes     
 its fury upon us!"                                                            
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow, Hesitate===========================================

DG: Leon Albus has used his Tool Climbing Rope toward his party's challenge, Behind the Shield Wall.


DG: Fei Fong Wong has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Behind the Shield Wall.

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

Odessa is ripped apart. Again. Elly wonders how they keep coming. What makes someone sign up for this? She knows what it was like in Gebler, but Gebler at least promised something real - life in Solaris, where if nothing else there was material security. What does Odessa offer? Are dreams enough?

And then Lombardia screeches like the heavens. A ray of green carves another piece out of Sin - who is SO close, Elly thinks, even as the great creature lurches to the side. Sin touches Spira; soil screams, rock carves. Lombardia descends.

Lombardia speaks to Sin. Elly cries out something, or begins to, but the vast horrid whalesong of Sin comes, enough to make ears themselves scream. The formation of the graviton comes again.

That horrid light. Elly looks at it and she realizes she does not even have Vierge's armor between her and it. She reaches blindly out - she grips at Fei's hand, without realizing it, before Lombardia comes down.

Relief floods her as a massive spectral sphere forms around them. She knows about this, what it is - broadly speaking, anyway, though she wasn't there. The Black Wizard did something like this, right? But Lombardia --

Guilt washes away the relief. Elly looks to the others. She keeps holding Fei's hand but she looks quick to Leon and Josie, down to Emeralda; over to Noeline. Riesenlied, of course, is harder to look at at the moment - or perhaps she hasn't really looked away.

HUMANS! Lombardia bids them. Though this is only accurate in the average, the instruction is clear. Elly cries out, even as they all move - her feet seeming to go without her -

"Lombardia--!!"

Thank you - I'm sorry, I Couldn't...


DG: Elhaym van Houten has used her Tool Reel Sphere toward her party's challenge, Behind the Shield Wall.

<Pose Tracker> Fei Fong Wong has posed.

Fei's grip on Elly's hand is tight in this moment.

He wonders for not the first time if he dies on Lunar, will he die for good? Will those legacies of past memories end here? Or will he simply be condemning some future individual to the same destiny.

But he has his family now. He has his family now. He has the people he cares for with him.

The others did too, though, didn't they?

Yes, but...

...But he doesn't want to give up all the same. He rests a hand on Emeralda's shoulder for a moment and then--

DRAG-ON DRAGON.

"holy shit," Fei whispers.

Then louder, "Lombardia, I... I'm sorry! And...thank you!!"

Hopefully they uh, make it in time!!

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

The battle with Odessa is concluded, but she has very little relief to show for it--

Because the battle between Lombardia and Sin is getting more and more intense. And after Lombardia's own draconic blaster that cuts through a piece of Sin -- something Riesenlied reflexively swerves out of, as she looks towards Sin...

She hears her voice.

She feels a pang of guilt.

<Lombardia, I...>

This really isn't the time.

She /feels/ Elly's own emotions. She's sorry. ... she struggles herself as she senses that semblance of guilt. Noeline is able to most feel it, the way she's struggling about how Siegfried was a major reason why the Queen of the Dragons felt so despondent she had to leave--

And now he's no more.

<...father...>

That guilt is compounded as that horrible whalesong comes -- as the formation of the graviton seems to tug away at everything that forms her horrible, misshapen form.

And that guilt turns to something like trauma--

<Ah-->

She's trembling. She's witnessing Azado all over again. The sensation of thousands of lives being eliminated in a single /BLIP/. The enormous wall of emotional anguish that hit her empathic senses all at once. Sinking. Drowning. Fire. Seawater--

She relies on Noeline and the others' feelings; she grips onto them as she realises what Lombardia is addressing to them.

Gather behind me! There is precious little time ere it unleashes its fury upon us!

<... I will protect them. I will protect them!!>

She feels the contortion of her wings as she furls them all backwards, sliding onward in a single burst of speed; as she thinks for a moment how unusual the sensation of having her body be pretzeled is...

No matter what. She'll dive towards the sphere as fast as she can, to bring them there... and once they've arrived, she anchors her feet and tail to the ground as well, as she lends the Queen all of her power. Her wings spreading /free/.

DG: You use your Tool Dragon's Wings against your party's Challenge, Behind the Shield Wall!

DG: Riesenlied has used her Tool Dragon's Wings toward her party's challenge, Behind the Shield Wall.

<Pose Tracker> Emeralda Kasim has posed.

Why does Odessa keep coming? Emeralda doesn't know. She's not good with politics or philosophy; she doesn't understand Odessa, not really. Fighting to explore, she understands that. Fighting to protect yourself, or others, she *really* understands that. But everything about Odessa is incomprehensible to her. She doesn't know what they want.

She usually does not worry about it, but now she's thinking because they attacked her. And she's thinking about Sin, and - in a general sense - Lombardia, since she doesn't know much about the other dragon. Is she...?

She's protecting them. Emeralda understands that. She feels a wave of relief - but then, anxiety. Even with Fei's hand on her shoulder, and Elly at her other side, it's not safe here. If Lombardia does what she's doing, everybody might...

Might...

She can't let that happen. Emeralda looks around, wildly - and then she sees it. "Here! Here here here!"

Emeralda takes off from Riese's back, pulling away from Fei and sprinting. She takes a dozen steps, then a few more - and then steps into nothing and vanishes.

Not quite. There is a hollow in the ground there, which Emeralda dropped into; part of the cliff that might have once held water, now a more or less dry gulch, cracked open further by the forces in the sky above. But more importantly, it is a crack that puts a large, flat, angled piece of rock between them and the blast, *and* it's behind Lombardia. Anything to make it easier on the dragon, she thinks.

She's not quite sure how Riese is going to fit in, admittedly. Maybe she'll stay up and reinforce the shield. She'll be all right, right? ...right?

DG: Emeralda Kasim has used her Tool H&S Badge toward her party's challenge, Behind the Shield Wall.

<Pose Tracker> Josephine Lovelace has posed.

The battle against the Odessa soldiers is over with; Josie doesn't so much as spare them a glance more.

Even Matilda had been with them... huh.

She looks up. For a moment, now, it seems like Lombardia may just win--

For a moment.

And then it is gone. There is whalesong. That song, like the last time.

In profile, perhaps someone might catch the look on Josie's face. Horror. And after a fact, resignation.

Is this it? Is this where it all ends? And she was so close--

She grits her teeth. Her face contorts in a sort of fury -- defiance conquers where resignation once held court. Fleetingly it's this gaze that meets anyone who looks her way now. "Riesenlied!"

With her one good hand, she holds onto the cannon.

The other, she spreads open fingered against Riesenlied's body, each sharp movement bringing with it a fresh pulse of pain.

"I'm not dying here! We're not dying here!"

Her lips move in a spell. Speed isn't hers to grant. But she does have one thing remaining:

A small boost. A barrier, drawn from one of the markings written into her skin on her back. A little defensive layering, for Riesenlied. It's nothing against Sin's power.

But it's better than doing absolutely nothing.

Even a futile action--

DG: Josephine Lovelace has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Behind the Shield Wall.

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

"Humans?" echoes Noeline with an amused chuckle on her lips - but the flaring power of Sin strips that humour away as the air seems to distort around her. She's seen this attack too many times before, and the thought of what it might do - how many people it might tear away in its power - is almost too much to imagine for a moment.

She's talked with enough of the Azadian refugees to know how terrible that power is. She may not be as directly empathic as Riesenlied is, but she can still understand the devastation from tales of it, from stories and from the feelings and memories of those left behind. She was there to see the town washed away in a nightmare of destruction.

She grimaces as she feels Riesenlied's terror push down upon her, greater than her own but the two sources feeding off each other for a moment. It takes her an effort of will to gather herself against it, hissing softly under her breath before she can manage to lay a hand on Riesenlied's scales.

Carefully and slowly, despite the speed of the Dragon's flight, she lays herself down more fully against her partner, clung onto her as she closes her eyes. "You can do this," she whispers, because she knows full well that underneath everything is a core of love and trust in Riesenlied that Sin cannot touch. "We will protect them. You won't fail. ... and I'm here with you."

All at once, it's that much easier; she gathers herself, pouring her power into their link, offering whatever she can to help Riesenlied push herself forwards. Her own senses dimmed, it's mostly a fuzzy kind of awe that registers at the back of her mind as her partner's wings furl to drive them forwards, and then unfurl as they land heavily.

The shock of the landing picks her back up. Riesenlied is scrambling forwards to reinforce Lombardia's barrier - and Noeline automatically feels herself doing the same, taking the climb up to Riesenlied's shoulder in hits and starts as she begins to pull at the Medium inside of herself, dragging more of its power to the surface.


DG: Noeline has used her Tool Strife toward her party's challenge, Behind the Shield Wall.

==========================<* Clash at the Cliffs *>===========================
===================<* CHALLENGE - Behind the Shield Wall *>===================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 4          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Lombardia screeches in the skies above -- and then sends another colossal     
 beam of green energy down. It slashes into the right fin of Sin. With a       
 titanic explosion, sending pyreflies and crackles of energy outward, the      
 limb falls away -- and dissolves into so many pyreflies before it ever        
 strikes the water. Lombardia hovers there, staring down at a creature that    
 looks, for the first time, injured and strained.                              
                                                                               
 And yet, the damage to her body is no less severe. Armor plates are crushed   
 in; silvery blood drips and splatters on the rocks below. Her head turns      
 down, looking at Sin. "We are not yet done, are we, beast?"                   
                                                                               
 Sin meets the queen's question with a terrific roar, which shakes the very    
 stone under your feet. Then, it opens its maw. The attack is familiar:        
 Giga-Graviton, the same that so wrecked Azado and the beach at Mushroom Rock  
 Road alike. A bead of pulsing black energy appears, shining white.            
                                                                               
 "No!"                                                                         
                                                                               
 Lombardia descends -- and the damaged Metal Dragon lands on the cliffside.    
 The ground under her cracks and strains under her great weight, as claw and   
 tail dig in. Then, a massive barrier of interlocked white-green octagons      
 appears before her, like a dome.                                              
                                                                               
 "Humans! Gather behind me! There is precious little time ere it unleashes     
 its fury upon us!"                                                            
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow, Hesitate===========================================
=====================<* Clash at the Cliffs - Round 6 *>======================
=====================< Results - Behind the Shield Wall >=====================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Riesenlied                          18 --(100)--> 118              Pass
Dragon's Wings                      4   Agility Effects: Efficient and Rally  
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Noeline                             18 --(100)--> 118              Pass
Strife                              2   Agility Effects: Stalwart             
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Emeralda Kasim                      31 --(100)--> 131              Fail
H&S Badge                           1   Agility Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fei Fong Wong                       31 --(100)--> 131              Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Leon Albus                          28 --(100)--> 128              Fail
Climbing Rope                       2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Elhaym van Houten                   49 --(100)--> 149              Fail
Reel Sphere                         2   Agility Effects: Stalwart             
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Josephine Lovelace                  31 --(100)--> 131              Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Riesenlied                  85 --(10)--> 95                Fail
Conditions: Cripple|Hesitate(2)|Madness|Slow(2)|Wound(1)
Effects: Cleanse|Quicken(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================

DG: Riesenlied is too exhausted to continue!

DG: Noeline is too exhausted to continue!

DG: Emeralda Kasim is too exhausted to continue!

DG: Fei Fong Wong is too exhausted to continue!

DG: Leon Albus is too exhausted to continue!

DG: Elhaym van Houten is too exhausted to continue!

DG: Josephine Lovelace is too exhausted to continue!

DG: The party has failed this challenge! All party members are now Exhausted. This attempt is over.

DG: The party led by Riesenlied has been fully Exhausted by Clash at the Cliffs!

DG: The party will now draw a conclusion.

==========================<* Clash at the Cliffs *>===========================
======================<* CHALLENGE - The Land Breaks *>=======================
|Type: Landmark    |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Just barely, you manage to get behind Lombardia, with all of the other        
 combatants on the field. You are closer to the edge of the barrier than       
 right behind her. You see the full power of the Giga-Graviton blast past you  
 -- carving two massive gorges through the cliffs of Macalania. The barrier,   
 however, holds against it. It crackles and falls away.                        
                                                                               
 Lombardia looks back at you. "I shall drive it to the sea. You have done      
 well--now flee this place. To the temple, ahead!"                             
                                                                               
 Her wings do not beat when she lifts off. Thrusters drive her into the air    
 -- and Sin screeches, as it realizes that she had survived his greatest       
 attack and had the strength to fight on. It begins to do something no living  
 Spiran has seen before.                                                       
                                                                               
 Sin backs away, as if frightened.                                             
                                                                               
 And then Lombardia becomes a blur. There is a loud, thundering boom and       
 umbrella-shaped burst of cloud as she shatters the sound barrier, and then    
 rams into Sin. She tears along its left flank, flesh bursting into pyreflies  
 as she tears a full half of its body off. Sin screams, listing to the side    
 -- and then dives into the water, just as Lombardia hits the ocean.           
                                                                               
 There is a titanic blast of water. A tidal wave, rushing for you -- and       
 driving you back towards the Lake and the Temple.                             
=Dungeon Conditions: Overwhelm================================================

<Pose Tracker> Elhaym van Houten has posed.

The light comes, horrid and bright.

There is a subtle cosmic tugging. Gravitation cannot simply be parried. It is a distortion of space itself. The rippling of Giga-Graviton washes through everyone, whether they like it or not. A queasy shift between gut and nanostructure and metalized duct.

The light fades...

And reality continues.

Elly feels her heartbeat. She looks round in the dugout that Emeralda found.

She looks to Josie. Fei. Past Josie, to Noeline. Up, to Riesenlied, and past Emeralda, to Leon.

The light fades. Things make more sense. The cliff they are standing on now stands prominently out, a good hundred yards past where it was. Gorges have spread on either side. Those Odessa men, if they didn't hustle, have no doubt been sent to their due reward. The artillery installation from the Guard is intact, although if one looks that way, you can see the tiny motions of the figures who were in charge fleeing, perhaps from a battle beyond their power.

Lombardia's head turns. Perhaps there is a moment of understanding, of sympathy, with Riesenlied; a draconic moment of communion. But only a moment. The great worm still lives.

Lives and more.

Elly stares upwards, uncomprehending for a moment, thinking of how in some sense this feels impossible. How could this have happened. Lombardia speaks, even as she paws the ground. "You have done well. I shall drive to the sea. Flee this place. To the temple!"

So Lombardia says. Then her head turns again and with a sudden roar of thrust, Lombardia takes to the skies. Elly watches -- but at this point, at THIS point, she is inclined to listen. "We should hurry," she says. "... I feel like... I feel like I might have underestimated her..."

She sounds like she's trying on joy, but doesn't want to commit. Not yet.

Then there is a shriek and a roaring THOOM as the sound barrier of Lunar is bulled aside, followed by a distant noise. Elly looks BACK now, expecting the other shoe to drop, and instead sees that Sin has been - been - not bisected perhaps, but at least one of the vast fins is falling down, with a motion closer to continental shelving. "Oh," Elly says. "Oh, how wonderful."

Sin, far enough away to be veiled faintly by haze, dives towards the sea. The sound comes full seconds later. A vast splash, in stereo as Lombardia pursues.

The water rises.

And rises.

And...

"... oh no," Elly says.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

Everything is incredibly hard right now, not just physically -- because physically she's exerting everything from the body which, if she distances herself enough from it to think, she doesn't own all the senses of; the process of Accession being a bizarre kind of forced transformation the likes of which Lombardia can achieve naturally--

But she cannot.

Still, there is a moment in which Lombardia looks to her--

And her breath hitches in turn.

<Lombardia-->

She charges; there is a shriek and a THOOM that causes even her to flinch, and when Elly urges them to hurry, she lifts her wings again.

Lombardia hits the ocean and there's a terrified scream from the Dragon, one of panic.

<Please-- be safe! I have... so much more to tell you...>

She's exhausted; being in dragon form is beyond exhausting, when comparing it to how Riesenlied... normally finds a lot of pride in having Walking Days, of just having a pleasant stroll around her community.

But she presses on, emboldened by the thoughts of those around.

You won't fail. ... and I'm here with you.

She has one last job here.

<Hurry! I will spirit us all away!>

She's already rising as the water rises, rises. Her wings outstretch. she can escort them all to the Temple. Where, she prays fervently, imagining her fingers lacing together because she only has claws right now, she hopes her children will be.

She must.