Difference between revisions of "2019-10-09: Hope is Not Lost"

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(Created page with "*'''Log: Hope is Not Lost''' *'''Cast:''' Character :: Jacqueline Barber, Character :: Catenna, Character :: Ethius Hesiod, Character :: Kourin, Character ::...")
 
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Latest revision as of 00:59, 10 October 2019


=======================<* Shrine of the Water Trial *>========================

Lefay, the Shrine of the Water Trial, is a place in Spira yet not a Spiran place. You arrive on a bubble of water: some final protection that leads you down, granting you the air that gives you life. You can draw safe breath there. Then, you land in the shadowed halls of a structure most ancient...

...and with iconography on its towering stones that is not Yevonite. The carved Seraphim and reliefs of the Goddess suggest Althenan heritage, and yet far more ancient -- and in a style unlike the ones found in the Church's impositions in Luca and Kilika.

Here and there, high up, you see the fissure lines -- the places where this structure was, somehow, fused into the bottom of Macalania Temple and lost.

You see Lefay, the Shrine of the Water Trial, and stand in its depths. Lost, perhaps -- save that there is only one way forward.

DG: A party led by Jacqueline Barber is now entering Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
===================<* Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial *>====================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Bubbled From Harm *>======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 You fall.                                                                     
                                                                               
 Fall, fall, fall... into the shadowy, sapphire depths of Macalania Lake.      
                                                                               
 Perhaps it was the unending numbers of Odessa's rank and file, filtrating     
 through portals in endless waves. Perhaps it was the tidal wave you scarce    
 outran at the apex of the battle between Lombardia, Queen of the Metal        
 Dragons, and Sin itself. Perhaps the fierce fighting in Macalania Temple has  
 sent you plummeting down to the depths below.                                 
                                                                               
 Whatever the case may be--                                                    
                                                                               
 You do not meet a frigid, wet end in this abyss.                              
                                                                               
 (BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKOJbeymd4M )                           
                                                                               
 There is a blue light from below.                                             
                                                                               
 Slowly, but comfortably, a round sphere of water cloaks itself around you.    
 You find yourself dry and with air to breathe, as you descend to the          
 structure of an ancient shrine hidden underneath the frozen surface of        
 Macalania Lake.                                                               
                                                                               
 The bubbles are pliant and sturdy, but impede your movements a little. Try    
 to coax yourself to float down towards the shrine... and keep tabs of who     
 you're with--                                                                 
                                                                               
 So that you do not risk losing each other again.                              
=Dungeon Conditions: Hesitate=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

It feels like the earth itself is collapsing. The land shakes, and chasms are opening up. The ground breaks, crumbling beneath peoples' feet and spilling them into the abyss. There's no telling how much longer Macalania Temple is going to hold out. Some were there when it happened, saw the events as they played out, and others, witnessing from afar, arrive to help as the ground begins to collapse.

For Jacqueline Barber, it is the former. She is falling. Falling down to the darkness below, where the icy chill of Lake Macalania awaits. So, too, are the others, but she can't see them now. As she finds herself falling into darkness, she can't help but think back on the days events.

She couldn't help Lunata, when she was distraught and unstable.

She couldn't rescue Lydia, from those that had abducted her.

It hurt more than any of the wounds inflicted on her this day. Yet again, she had failed to help those close to her.

And, can she even help herself?

Even if she were to halt her momentum, it would only delay her fall into Lake Macalania. And a warming potion would only do so much against being submerged in the freezing waters below.

She feels...helpless. And so, she closes her eyes and waits - but what she receives is not a splash into dangerously cold waters.

She finds herself surrounded in...a bubble. It is, in opposition to what one might expect from a sphere of water - it is a warm, encouraging thing, keeping one dry and supplied with air as they descend.

Jacqueline blinks in surprise. She had not anticipated this. She shuts her eyes for a moment longer. She feels very much like curling up here...but, from below, there is a subtle, blue glow. And illuminated in it, she can see familiar faces, enveloped in similar bubbles. Who must be feeling things similar to what she feels now.

She hesitates for a moment...and then, weakly, she tries to urge her bubble in their direction. Whatever she might be feeling at the moment she feels, above all, that she doesn't want to be alone at the moment - and that they probably didn't either.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Rapid Remedy toward her party's challenge, Bubbled From Harm.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Like a falling star, the Moon Shaman plunges into the depths of Macalania Lake.

Tears trickle behind Catenna, each one gleaming in delicate silver. Opening her eyes just slightly, she can see only the blur of the world through her tears. Featureless azure she can barely see. Sapphire shadows that ripple around her.

They don't matter.

...Lydia....

Her arms tighten, embracing the soft white Owlet to her bosom as if she could somehow hug her little avian familiar into fluttering back into her life with her precious star sister in tow. Closing her eyes again, she exhales and tilts her head, letting the air ripple around her as she waits for the inevitable cold splash.

One that never comes. With a breath, Catenna opens her eyes once more - and she widens them at the sight of the bubble popping to life around her.

"What in goodness's sake," she murmurs, reaching out as she bobbles in the warm globe of water, reaching out to test its edge with her fingers. it gives just enough that she can slip something through, but does not break. Biting her lip, she looks down at Saarda-Shanta. Tears continue to stand in her eyes.

And then a motion registers in her peripheral vision. Another bubble. Another--

"Jay!!" Catenna cries out, more emotionally than she intends as she catches sight of the woman who has become another sister to her. "Jay, we are here!" She casts her arm out, and a coil of rope slips through her bubble, spooling out towards Jay's bubble.

"Grab ahold... we must stay together, Jay...!"

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Grappling Hook toward her party's challenge, Bubbled From Harm.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Many troubling things have happened in sequence, all at once - but there is at least one point that may yet stick, assuming there is time to stick much of anything before falling to a demise born of icy water, a hard surface, or any combination thereof.
        When Lydia was taken from them, Ethius scarce did much to directly act - an uncharacteristic call for more passive action that prioritized mere survival. The same man who can, does, and in virtually every observed circumstance utterly annihilate constructs that offend him to some nonsencial pattern only he knows.
        For all that happened - or didn't - one good thing that can be said of the man is that he almost always seems to hold some presence of mind. Even after taking a nasty knock to the head, sometimes.
        When they descend, he rapidly moves to tie the harness of the Hot Air Sack around one wrist. He doesn't know how far until the bottom. He knows time spent checking that is time wasted. He just does - getting it half-tied at risk of it being too loose for when it's time to cast the appropriate spell (which is three seconds ago). Hot air fills the patchy, repurposed loot sack.
        The sense of air rushing past him has long since left. He looks to either side. Has he been submerged? He would have felt the impact. He would have... blacked out?
        He's conscious. He hears yelling, and only then does he realize what is going on. He is within a bubble. He is no longer falling at life-threatening velocities, but drifting along. Catenna's heartfelt yelling for her dearest sister. Now comes the next problem.
        He might be among the highest up, owing to the slowed momentum of his descent prior to bubbling. He could fall behind.
        "...If you are present and conscious, please state so," he has some problems seeing past the watery membrane of the protective bubble. All the colors sort of blur together, even if he can make out Catenna's vague outline and features with her voice as a guide.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Hot Air Sack toward his party's challenge, Bubbled From Harm.
<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin seems almost to be on autopilot as she descends. She's been quiet lately, even for Kourin, even before Lydia was taken. Spira has not been kind to the young swordswoman.

Being in a bubble is interesting, at least. Spirit barks, once, in his own bubble, before they land.

"I am here," she answers Ethius.

DG: Kourin has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Bubbled From Harm.
<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

Tesni Inoue was falling and her mind was gripped with a terror born of understanding the implications of what one of her companions had been twisted into. She fell and fell her mind racing as the basic primal drive to survive kicked in and she sought a way to survive the fall she will end up finding a sphere of water forming about her and she will be able to breathe heck she's dry too. She had expected an unmarked grave and two worlds to simple list her fate as missing and unknown.

 This was not to be the case as she would find that the bubble can be moved a bit she might just be able to control it somewhat and Tess will start trying to adjust it and keep with her falling companions as they go.

 she caught sight of Jay and Catenna and would attempt to move her bubble to catch up and keep with them.

 "Catenna! Jay!"

 She calls out as she falls she's hurt but she's not as bad off as she could have been she's still mobile and isn't in danger of bleeding out or anything like that.

 Her brown eyes glanced around for a moment as she moved her bubble.

 "We can't get separated!"

 Also takes note of Ethius and Kourin as well most of the group is still together this is good, for once she is glad Ethius is along side her. Somewhere the Devil is dealing with the pilot light in hell going out.

DG: Tesni Inoue has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Bubbled From Harm.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Revelation and loss seem to go hand-in-hand far too often for the Caravan Kinship. Lydia... Was gone. Was she ever even there at all? Or was she simply a simulation running within a much larger program, a false life that played at being a fascimile of humanity, with a history and a personality that could deceive even the most insightful of observers. They had trusted her, opened themselves to her, and now she is gone.

Perhaps she was never even there to begin with?

And yet, in all this, where was Cyre?

He had certainly been present in advance of the incident, and had definitely made it to Macalania temple alongside the others, but he wasn't there to witness Lydia's grotesque transformation personally-- and perhaps that's a good thing. Who could say how the notoriously temepstuous shaman would have handled seeing someone who was so much like a sister to him disappear at the hands of some smug, sky-dwelling jerk.

Well, as it turns out, Cyre WAS there. Sort of. He was present, not inside the temple, but outside, standing atop the frigid structure to keep an eye on the dragon and Clysmian tearing each other to pieces not so far away. That wasn't just to ensure the rest of his family could beat a hasty retreat if the situation called for it, but also...

He's a shaman.

If an opportunity presents itself to observe a Clysmian of such power directly, to perhaps learn of some way to fight against it, then it's hard to not take up that vigil.

Of course, he'd only intended to be gone for a dramatically appropriate period of time. Too bad destiny had other plans for all of them.

But as the bubbles fall into the depths, a familiar breeze would begin to blow. There, high above, a glowing green light was descending, conjuring blasts of air to help guide certain spheres closer together. Who else could it be...?

Well, it COULD potentially be some kind of Seraphim, or maybe Hiro, but no. It's Cyre, sailing downward with both bubble and parachute. At the very least, he seems... No worse for wear? He's intact, more or less, and relatively uninjured. That's more than can be said for most of them.

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Reverse Parachute toward his party's challenge, Bubbled From Harm.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Lydia is gone. But for a few moments... she was back -- and while she was back, she told him to live until she could see him again. He couldn't save her from the terrible thing that happened -- and now he can't even manage to follow that one simple request! They're plummeting toward a freezing lake! He's a questionable swimmer in tropical waters... how is he supposed to survive this!! But he CAN'T die, not here, not now, he can't just helplessly let everything fall completely to pieces and then give up without ever doing a damned thing to set it right. He tries to steel himself for impact -- maybe if he puts everything he has into it, he can make it to shore...

But the fateful... SPLASH...that comes next...

Is only in his mind.

A mystical bubble coccoons him -- so strangely reminiscent of the barrier that shielded him from OS's attack moments ago that he wonders if maybe Lydia isn't gone yet after all...

He looks around in astonishment to find that the others have been picked up as well.

"What's going on...?! Did one of you guys do that...?"

Furthermore, the whole temple gave out. Did whoever intervened save everyone who was falling? He looks down at the water with dread. Ah... but the bubble is just... floating randomly... where is it even going, he doesn't know how long it will last....He hears familiar voices calling out to one another.

If you are present and conscious, please state so.

"I'm here -- did anyone see anyone else falling into the water?!"

Ivan calls his whip and tries slinging it outside of his bubble. If anyone's in the water, maybe they could be hauled back out that way...

DG: Ivan has used his Tool Whip toward his party's challenge, Bubbled From Harm.
===================<* Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial *>====================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Bubbled From Harm *>======================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 You fall.                                                                     
                                                                               
 Fall, fall, fall... into the shadowy, sapphire depths of Macalania Lake.      
                                                                               
 Perhaps it was the unending numbers of Odessa's rank and file, filtrating     
 through portals in endless waves. Perhaps it was the tidal wave you scarce    
 outran at the apex of the battle between Lombardia, Queen of the Metal        
 Dragons, and Sin itself. Perhaps the fierce fighting in Macalania Temple has  
 sent you plummeting down to the depths below.                                 
                                                                               
 Whatever the case may be--                                                    
                                                                               
 You do not meet a frigid, wet end in this abyss.                              
                                                                               
 (BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKOJbeymd4M )                           
                                                                               
 There is a blue light from below.                                             
                                                                               
 Slowly, but comfortably, a round sphere of water cloaks itself around you.    
 You find yourself dry and with air to breathe, as you descend to the          
 structure of an ancient shrine hidden underneath the frozen surface of        
 Macalania Lake.                                                               
                                                                               
 The bubbles are pliant and sturdy, but impede your movements a little. Try    
 to coax yourself to float down towards the shrine... and keep tabs of who     
 you're with--                                                                 
                                                                               
 So that you do not risk losing each other again.                              
=Dungeon Conditions: Hesitate=================================================
==============<* Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial - Round 1 *>===============
=======================< Results - Bubbled From Harm >========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   0 --(5)--> 5                   Fail
Rapid Remedy                        1   Agility Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kourin                              0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tesni Inoue                         0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Whip                                2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Grappling Hook                      2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Hot Air Sack                        2   Agility Effects: Resilient            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Reverse Parachute                   1   Agility Effects: Rally and Quicken    
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Jacqueline Barber           0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Hesitate(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Quicken(1)|Resilient(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Jacqueline Barber 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: Catenna has drawn a new Challenge.
=====================<* Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial *>======================
==========================<* CHALLENGE - Darken Eyes *>===========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------                                     
 Without warning, a swarm of free-floating eyes encased in black scales        
 descend from above. Unlike so many of the eyes dotted on the walls of the     
 shrine, these eyes float freely -- though fortunately they're more intent on  
 violence the old-fashioned way rather than sending you back to the entrance   
 again.                                                                        
=Dungeon Conditions: Suffer===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Water isn't a very good medium for sound. When Catenna's voice reaches Jacqueline, it is muffled by the water between them. But the emotion in it reaches her - and that may very well be what causes her to open her eyes initially.

She urges her bubble toward Catenna's once more...but, finds she doesn't have the strength or the will to do it on her own. Just when she's starting to feel like she's drifting away from them, she sees a spool of rope flying toward her. She reaches out, grabs it, and holds out tight.

We must stay together...

Jacqueline nods. Above all...that was what was important.

And she hears Ethius, as well.

"H..." She starts. She has to take a second to stabilize herself. "H-here."

Slowly, all of the bubbles begin to join together - either brought together by gusts of wind from Cyre, or joined by Ivan and his whip. And together, The seven bubbles join into one, descend. They go deeper, and deeper, descending toward the blue light...and when they pass through it, they find themselves in a stone structure that looks unlike anything else they've seen in Spira. The iconography is distinctly not Yevonite - it resembles more what they've seen in Althenan structure, but vastly more ancient than anything used these days.

Their bubble alights upon a stone dais at which point it fades, setting them gently down - and leaving them to investigate this place they've found, together.

Jacqueline, very carefully, gets to her feet - she may need a little help.

"Wh...what is this place...?" She murmurs, wrapping her arms around herself for a brief moment.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Reeling Jay in, Catenna kneels beside her to hold a hand out to her. The wideness of her eyes betrays her feelings clearly. There's a hurt there that she does not show others often.

More voices call out. "Ivan," Catenna calls out with audible relief as the former assassin turns up in a bubble in his own right. As she moves to help Jay up, she purses her lips. "There's some curious magic at work here...."

<As is only appropriate, would you not think?> Saarda-Shanta hops up onto Catenna's shoulder, cocking her head towards Ivan. <A curious place. One senses that we are being tried against some unseen scoreboard. Intriguing.>

"Tried?" Catenna blinks as she touches down on the ground below, in the midst of a room with a few closed eyes carved into the walls. The Moon Shaman looks from side to side, frowning. "...Is this some aspect of Yevon's church that we knew nothing of?"

The little white owl shakes her head. <Things seem not so clear.>

"But then...." Catenna's question dies on her lips as something dark globs into her peripheral vision. Dipping from the 'bove, several vaguely rounded, scaled shapes bob into the room.

All at once, their eyes flash open - and they charge.

Catenna gasps, jerking to one side as one of the Darken Eyes comes hurtling at her. The rest come swarming in, whirling around the group and bobbing in to attack.

Clenching her teeth, Catenna tries to push her sadness aside. "...All we can do is move forward," she growls before pushing her hand out. Gravity rumbles as she cups her Medium with her other hand, drawing power into a single locus that begins to suck several Darken Eyes into one place.

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Celesdue Medium toward her party's challenge, Darken Eyes.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Behind the grouping of Darken Eyes...steps out...

...A black cat.

And in fact, it's recognizably Schrodinger! And...seems to be wearing Lydia's (wannabe) Armsmeister Goggles on its head.

They meow faintly, rubs at their own cheek with a paw, and steps forward as if they're going to approach and rejoin the group...

...Only to turn around at the last moment with a louder echoing meow and runs off, leaving the party to deal with the Darken Eyes on their own.

That's cats for you.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Everyone joins together. No one else is heard - it is down to these nine. Himself, Jay, Cyre, Catenna, Saarda-Shanta, Kourin, Spirit, Ivan, and Tesni. Strange, Ethius thinks inwardly, to see numbers whittled down to this much - there were far more present about.
        They are alive, if the blood that dots his gloved fingers when pressed against his forehead are any indication. As is the single cough, as he takes in the strange architecture.
        "By my understanding, our descent was straight down until momentum was arrested by unknown means," bubbles, everyone knows what bubbles are. Bubbles arrested the momentum. This is not a time for Ethius to fail to identify what obvious apples are again, like so long ago.
        He makes up near the back of the party, as if taken in by the architecture as Schrodinger appears, meows, and scampers off.
        A bit too easy to miss as Hellion eyes flit down and strike. Ethius has one complication - he hasn't been able to replenish his stock of Powder Grenades across those desperate battles, and finds himself too diving right out of the way.
        He does, however, have handfuls of powder on hand that have yet to be prepared the way he would like - seeing him in that same situation where they were fleeing the Guardian Temple in the middle of a war zone.
        He takes a handful of it in his palm.
        "I will provide a smoke cover," he insists, without a satchel on hand. With his free hand, he starts gesticulating that spell as he quietly chants the symbols. The next time a Darken Eye swoops his way...
        He slams a palm into it, as the dust in his hand pops and explodes. (This is not gentle on the hand!)
        (It hurts a lot!)

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Powder Grenade toward his party's challenge, Darken Eyes.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Catenna would see a massive, emerald claw reach out of the abyssal sea and crush around the eye swarming at her specifically.

It squeezes shut. The eye goes *pop* in an abrupt implosion of overwhelming pressure.

And there, out of the hazy, green glow, a...

Cat?

No, not Schro! A different cat entirely! A man-cat, in fact! Or perhaps a cat-man!? "Catenna!" Cyre calls, falling into a rolling, tackling, worriful... Hug.

"Althena's tits, I thought I'd lost you when the temple collapsed. All of you," Cyre sighs happily, tension visibly leaving his face as the eyes continue to swarm. "I'm glad that we're all okay, and..."

An eye.

Bops him on the back of the head.

Cyre gives it a distinct frown before punching it right in its tenebrous iris. How rude. They were having a moment there.

"It looks like Schro made it too, and..." Cyre... frowns as his eyes scan the group one-by-one. "...Did you all find Lydia?"

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Gale Claw toward his party's challenge, Darken Eyes.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline can see the hurt in her eyes - she can tell how deeply this must have affected her. Jacqueline does not speak - she just holds onto Catenna's hand quietly as they descend, and as she helps her to her feet.

"...This...doesn't look like Yevon. ...Althena, maybe...?" Jacqueline murmurs quietly, at Catenna's question. And then, before they can move forward, enemies appear.

This place isn't completely safe, then. Jacqueline backpedals as the eye-shaped monsters appear, pressing herself against the wall as they swoop in.

Quickly, she reaches into her bags, drawing out the Codex and flipping through its pages.

"It's, um...a Darken Eye, I think. It's...more vulnerable to physical attacks than sorcery. It has some spells of its own, but...its physical attacks are more effective." She says. Mumbles, almost, but it's still loud enough to hear.

She closes the book and she's about to cast a spell when she spots a familiar furry figure.

"A-ah! Schrodinger!" Jacqueline gasps in surprise. She starts toward them - but then, they run off.

She sighs, then looks toward Cyre.

"I'm glad to see you. I was afraid we would be separated, too..." She replies.

She looks around. Kourin, Tesni, Ivan...they're here, too. She looks a little relieved and manages a slight smile for them. Anything more than that will have to wait until these Darken Eyes are dealt with. ...But, when Cyre mentions Lydia, Jacqueline's expression fades again, and she goes quiet.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool The Lifeweaver's Codex toward her party's challenge, Darken Eyes.
<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

Tesni Inoue is able to make a landing with the others and keeping with them as they come down she will end upon the dais and the bubble pops. She will get free and shake her head and lets out a whistle.

 "I don't know, must have built the temple above over something far older."

 She guesses for a moment she will look to CAtrenna for a moment.

 "So we're being tested, well here we go again I guess let us hope we can pass with flying colours..."

 She notes just as the eyes show up.

 "...how does the biology of that even work?!"

 She already is going for her arm, none of the fancy rounds are being used as she carefully takes her shots on the eyes, going for the eyes.

 The cat is noticed but there's nothing that can be done as she's dealing with the eyes. Ethius is here and a good deal of others are still here.

 "Sounds about right Ethius but let's talk the hows later once the hills stop having eyes.

 Then Crye askes about Lydia and the look on Tess' face gets grim.

 "... yes."

 She was not close to Lydia as some of the others were but to see what happened other to anyone is horrific.

 "It's bad, very ... bad."

DG: Tesni Inoue has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Darken Eyes.
<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin watches as the eyes float out to do distinctly non-ocular things. "A test of skill?" she wonders aloud, drawing her left hand along the blade of her sword, leaving frost shimmering on the blade. "I do not believe these creatures are biological in nature, Miss Tesni," she says. "They would seem to be magical. I cannot imagine them surviving otherwise."

Her blade flashes in a glittering arc. Eyes close.

DG: Kourin has used her Tool Rimebomb toward her party's challenge, Darken Eyes.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan looks around at the others as the bubble merges. Catenna is safe. Jacqueline. Ethius. And others from the Kinship who must have come up here as part of their earlier plans.

But at the same time, the group whose bubbles found one another is not quite the same as those who were fighting together up top. Are Riesenlied and Noeline all right? And where is Talia...? She never caught up with them...

As everyone assembles, expressing relief at their reunion, Ivan is quiet; he casts another look back toward the water, and then up toward the sky. Is there some way back up there...? But it's too late anyhow... they aren't there anymore. They all vanished in that light. And what does he mean to do if he caught up to Lydia, anyway? He saw her dissassemble... empty inside. Whatever was done to her, it's not a contaminant that could be removed, it's what she's made of and the source of her life. How is he or anyone supposed to split Lydia apart from the stuff that she's made of to set her free?

Is the only answer to kill that man? To kill everyone with a stake in controlling her? He's tried vowing to kill everyone responsible for hurting Talia before, and has a tally of zero. It was empty then and it's empty now. What is he supposed to do..?

A-ah! Schrodinger!

Ivan turns back with a startle, another flicker of 'is she back...?' ...but the cat is alone, and only stays a moment before it darts off, and a swarm of eye creatures descend on them.

Ivan releases a torrent of flame toward the eyeballs with a yell. "Go away!! Can't you read a room!!" They're trying to process things, you eyeball jerks!

DG: Ivan has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Darken Eyes.
=====================<* Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial *>======================
==========================<* CHALLENGE - Darken Eyes *>===========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------                                   
 Without warning, a swarm of free-floating eyes encased in black scales        
 descend from above. Unlike so many of the eyes dotted on the walls of the     
 shrine, these eyes float freely -- though fortunately they're more intent on  
 violence the old-fashioned way rather than sending you back to the entrance   
 again.                                                                        
=Dungeon Conditions: Suffer===================================================
================<* Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial - Round 2 *>=================
============================< Results - Darken Eyes >=============================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   5 --(12)--> 17                 Pass
The Lifeweaver's Codex              2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kourin                              0 --(12)--> 12                 Pass
Rimebomb                            3   Combat  Effects: Rally                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tesni Inoue                         0 --(12)--> 12                 Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                0 --(12)--> 12                 Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             0 --(12)--> 12                 Pass
Celesdue Medium                     2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       0 --(12)--> 12                 Pass
Powder Grenade                      3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     0 --(12)--> 12                 Pass
Gale Claw                           3   Combat  Effects: Sacrifice and Embolde
------------------------------------< Party >-------------------------------------
Leader: Jacqueline Barber           20 --(20)--> 40                Pass
Conditions: Hesitate(1)|Suffer(1)
Effects: Embolden(1)
================================< Dream Chasers >=================================
DG: The party led by Jacqueline Barber 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: Ethius Hesiod has drawn a new Challenge.
========================================<* Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial *>=========================================
==========================================<* CHALLENGE - Make Haste Slowly *>===========================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 Right down this hallway, up the next, twist around towards this next room     
 and...                                                                        
                                                                               
 Ah. Back where you started.                                                   
                                                                               
 The Shrine of the Water Trial, for all its advanced and mystical origin, is   
 quite the excruciating building to navigate. Perhaps it is the watery         
 reflections that confound the senses. Perhaps the way the passages twist and  
 turn and lead to one another, bereft of landmarks.                            
                                                                               
 You'd best act fast with your backtracking, while the temple's corridors are  
 fresh in your mind. This is not just a physical trial, but one of mental      
 acuity too.                                                                   
                                                                               
 Make haste slowly.                                                            
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow=====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Out reaches a huge claw. Catenna gasps in surprise, then blushes as she realizes who's emerging.

Cyre's arms encircle her, and she sniffles a little as she sinks into the Nahual's arms, bringing her own up to embrace him tightly. For just a moment, she buries her face in his shoulder. "...Cyre...."

Then an eye swoops in and bops Cyre. Catenna gasps and jerks away, looking towards the gravity well - and the meow. "...Schrodinger...."

Ethius's smoke cover helps. Eyes begin to dart around manically, baffled by the sudden opacity in the air. Cyre clobbers another eye and sends it bouncing comically into a wall. Kourin comes slashing through, blade dancing dangerously with the bite of cold; Ivan comes in behind with a murderous torrent of flame.

Eyes fall out of the sky en masse. They land with sad thuds. Catenna exhales and flicks her hair back before turning to look up at Cyre, her eyes taking on a hint of sadness again.

"...Lydia has... been taken by the Solaris people. They awoke some manner of new personality inside her...."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Difficult truths are being reaffirmed - Lydia is no longer with them as the one they knew. Were they not caught in the place they're in now, they'd be in a place to catch up, cry, swear revenge, and/or plan what their next move is. Right now, all they can do is go forward across the stone corridors of soft blue glows and running water everywhere. As far as strange, lost places go, it is as tranquil as they come... aside from one ominous decoration.
        Glowing blue glyps resembling eyes. They're everywhere - on pedestals, on the walls. As the group walks past a door a short ways into a new chamber, they walk in front of one such pedestal. The glyph glows with blue light, and everything disappears.
        ...
        They're back where they first descended. They might not recognize such at first - this seems to be a mere teleportation, but the halls do look kind of familiar.
        ...then they look to where they left scarring on the surrounding architectue from their battle with the Darken Eyes, and the pieces will click together.
        Ethius, still shaking out his hand in a rare show of outward pain, says the obvious. "It would appear we have been made to retrace our steps. I must confess, I am not certain as to what triggered it." (He wasn't looking in the way of the pedestal with the eye marks - someone else here might have.)
        He is hesitant to pull out the Spectral Lens for all the heavy use it had seen when he was chasing Lydia deeper into the temple. "...Did we go the wrong way?" He seems confused. There are quite a few branching paths they didn't take... and there may be the temptation to start taking shortcuts, if they end up triggering whatever did that again. All the better reason to mentally map out the place, right - or maybe just get back to where they were.
        A need to move fast, to see if everyone's all right - and be all right themselves. But a need to move cautiously, lest they start over and over and over again.
        Somewhere in this sequence, Ethius attempts a floating shortcut over a path cut off by water.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Hot Air Sack toward his party's challenge, Make Haste Slowly.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Catching up Schrodinger isn't hard. They seem to be traipsing around this new area as well, frequently on a path juuuust out of reach and trotting in one direction or another. Perhaps they're here to HINT the proper path to take ... but it's Schrodinger, they could just as easily be screwing around with the Kinship. Regardless, periodically Schrodinger meows at the group impatiently before continuing on their magical journey through the shrine.

The goggles look pretty cute on Schrodinger but as expected, there's no sign of Lydia.

The meows echo precariously through the shrine.

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Catenna explains - Lydia has been taken by Solaris. Jacqueline looks toward Ivan for a brief, apologetic moment - she notices that look in his eyes when she called out to Schrodinger, as brief as it was.

With the Darken Eyes cleared out, they can only try to move on - but it is not as easy as it sounds.

"...It, um...I think the eye markings on the wall have something to do with it. It looks like...if we cross their gaze in the wrong way, it looks like they send us back somehow." She explains. "We'll...have to be careful."

They don't want to exhaust themselves by rushing it too much - and what's more, Schrodinger's still there, always a step ahead of the party. Jacqueline's steps find herself following after the cat more than anything. Maybe she's just latching onto something familiar.

But, as they move, she does reach into her bags and draw out some potions, distributing them to the party. They could probably use the energy boost, after everything.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Rapid Remedy toward her party's challenge, Make Haste Slowly.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

Catenna closes her eyes and bows her head deeply. A part of her wants to run back and cry for Lydia - but she knows it would be futile. All they can do now is live, for her beloved star sister's sake.

Onward she presses, moving beside Cyre and behind Ethius. The sight of eyes on the wal draws her attention--

*blink*

"Why are we back here," Catenna aks as she realizes where they are. She frowns, looking towards the scarring on the wall, then towards Ethius.

With a blink, she clicks her heels together. "Then we must avoid looking into the eyes. I think it was when I made contact with one that we returned - I can feel a magic at work in them."

Catenna starts forward, uncoiling her rope and laying it on the floor. She keeps her eyes groundward as she travels down the hall again, reeling out more and more rope behind her. "If we are able to mark our path this way...."

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Grappling Hook toward her party's challenge, Make Haste Slowly.
<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin considers using her magic rope to mark the path they've already been, but discards the idea as unfeasible after considering the logistics of what that would have to imply about the properties of the trick rope. Well, her narrator points that out, anyway, and so she really can't do it after all.

"Together, too. Fast, but together.

Then, suddenly, midway through the pose, Catenna does a rope trick.

Well, Kourin has enough rope to tie to the end of...it just, contributes.

It's magic.

Kourin's not having particularly deep thoughts, she's just trying to stay focused on the here and now--it helps her cope.

DG: Kourin has used her Tool Trick Rope toward her party's challenge, Make Haste Slowly.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

The temple is a maze. As they traverse winding paths to nowhere, Ivan finds ample opportunity to get ever more tangled in his own thoughts. All of the 'should haves' and 'didn't's' and 'could have, but not anymores.'

"Aaaah!" he announces, holding his head in his hands, as they look around and find they've been teleported back where they started.

"You guys can go on ahead, I think I'm just going to live here," he declares miserably, before the cat appears again. Is it trying to lead them somewhere, or is it just lost now that Lydia left it behind...?

"H-hey Shrodinger, come here, you can't live in this temple forever..." Ivan says, even though he just suggested doing so himself. He doesn't really have a cutesy pet voice, so he just uses his regular voice. It doesn't sound very coaxing.

Jacqueline hands him a potion. "...thanks," he says.

Catenna suggests avoiding the eyes, and she and Kourin start trying to mark the way with rope. Ivan takes out his whip and squints at it, wondering whether to offer it. It really wouldn't add that much more length...

DG: Ivan has used his Tool Whip toward his party's challenge, Make Haste Slowly.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Schrodinger looks right at Ivan as if recognizing that, yes, Ivan is speaking to them...

...and naturally they turn shortly after and keep trotting away.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

So. That's it, then.

Cyre feels a cold, hateful vitriol broil in his belly. Solaris. Again. "Those bastards," he whispers, hands balling into painfully tight fists. "How many times are we going to have to take her back from them before they finally get the damn message...?"

It was Solaris who took Lydia to begin with.

It was Solaris that made her into that... strange, almost monstrous cyclops.

It was Solaris who almost killed her when they went to reclaim her the second time.

And now... this.

"We'll get her back," he decides, firmly. "We will. I'm done abandoning family to the dogs. Whatever it is they did to her, we'll figure it out. If we have to beg that Hyadean surgeon for help again, then that's what we'll have to do, and--"

Something goes *meow* again.

And it's not Cyre! Cyre does not go meow. Not... not when he thinks anyone is in earshot, anyway.

That'd just be maximally embarassing.

"...Schro's always been smarter than we gave him credit for," Cyre says as the newbie chases after the multidimensional hypercat. "I think we should keep following him if we can, and if the eyes are the problem, them..."

Cyre... unfolds his parachute!

And throws it up over all of their heads.

"There," he declares, triumphantly blinded by his own cloth. "Now we just have to watch for walls and pitfalls and follow Schrodinger with our ears, and we should be fine!"

Probably.

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Reverse Parachute toward his party's challenge, Make Haste Slowly.
<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

Tesni Inoue will explain later if it's needed for now they basics have been toled to Cyre and who knows what else might befall them thankfully nothing is trying to kill them for the moment, wait where the heck are they now? Did they just end back where they started? Tess makes an unhappy face her as she will turn back to try and find the way they came from and hopefully get back on track with things.

 "So an optical trap? Got it, Jay."

 She gets it and will be fare more careful this time. She also will take the potion downing it with a look of thanks on her face.

DG: Tesni Inoue has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Make Haste Slowly.
========================================<* Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial *>=========================================
==========================================<* CHALLENGE - Make Haste Slowly *>===========================================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 Right down this hallway, up the next, twist around towards this next room     
 and...                                                                        
                                                                               
 Ah. Back where you started.                                                   
                                                                               
 The Shrine of the Water Trial, for all its advanced and mystical origin, is   
 quite the excruciating building to navigate. Perhaps it is the watery         
 reflections that confound the senses. Perhaps the way the passages twist and  
 turn and lead to one another, bereft of landmarks.                            
                                                                               
 You'd best act fast with your backtracking, while the temple's corridors are  
 fresh in your mind. This is not just a physical trial, but one of mental      
 acuity too.                                                                   
                                                                               
 Make haste slowly.                                                            
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow=====================================================
===================================<* Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial - Round 3 *>====================================
============================================< Results - Make Haste Slowly >=============================================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   17 --(0)--> 17                 Pass
Rapid Remedy                        1   Agility Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kourin                              12 --(0)--> 12                 Pass
Trick Rope                          2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tesni Inoue                         12 --(0)--> 12                 Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                12 --(0)--> 12                 Pass
Whip                                2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             12 --(0)--> 12                 Pass
Grappling Hook                      2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       12 --(5)--> 17                 Fail
Hot Air Sack                        2   Agility Effects: Resilient            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     12 --(0)--> 12                 Pass
Reverse Parachute                   
DG: The party led by Jacqueline Barber 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> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Exploring their surroundings is all they can do. (This is sort of their overall job description as Drifters, isn't it?) Through their own personal dramas and worries, they employ all their means in which to cover - and recover - ground.
        It is Catenna's specific insight that breaks ground for everyone here: it is the eyes! With that, she starts marking their routes with rope, as to best retrace their steps. The eyes do not seem to move, by observances, so if a route is or was fine before, it is always going to be fine unless someone starves as a result of STAYING FOREVER (Ivan) but that's an entirely different problem.
        Kourin's rope helps when Catenna runs out of the length of it, further marking their safe way across.
        Jay does her part to make sure everyone at least stays alert and hydrated.
        Cyre's carelessness goes rewarded accordingly, as it turns out when they step in front of the eyes, but the eyes can't see them... it doesn't teleport them?! This opens up all sorts of routes that otherwise seem impossible to traverse!
        Ethius, during one of his shortcut attempts, discovers there can also be eye marks on the ground, even in the water where it's not as clearly visible. That's cheating. (BUT SO WAS WHAT HE WAS DOING so that's fair)
        Schrodinger never triggers the eye trap. Sometimes following him helps. Sometimes it doesn't.
        ...
        Altogether, they find they have a fine understanding of the basics of the architecture, and now all that's left to do is... go somewhere. Somewhere other than where they've just been, but now they are where they've been before, and can continue!

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has drawn a new Challenge.
===================<* Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial *>====================
===================================<* Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial - Round 3 *>====================================
==================<* CHALLENGE - Eye Won't Stand For This *>==================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Lefay, the Shrine of the Water Trial, is dotted with an endless number of     
 eyes upon its walls. Direct contact with their sightline brings unsuspecting  
 Drifters back to the entranceway.                                             
                                                                               
 It is a devious trick of the ancients. A trick designed to prey on the        
 limited patience span of human Drifters. The more times you return to the     
 entrance, the more short and irritated one becomes. The easier it gets for    
 one to perform a mistake.                                                     
                                                                               
 But enough gaze-averting. Enough looking away.                                
                                                                               
 If someone unpleasant is staring at you and making you uncomfortable, you     
 don't have to deal with that.                                                 
                                                                               
 Just punch it right in the eye, or something!                                 
=Dungeon Conditions: Tire=====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

The good news is, they have DEFEATED THE TELEPORTER EYES.

The bad news is that pulling a sheet over one's head is, while ultimately extremely effective at preventing anyone from making eye-contact with the teleporting traps seemingly mounted to every other surface, it also means that nobody can... actually... see where they're going.

...

This would, of course, not be a problem if they weren't trapped inside a winding, underwater maze. This wouldn't be a problem if they could be sure there wasn't an eye waiting for them every time someone had to peek to make sure that they were all still going in the right direction. This wouldn't be a problem if THERE WEREN'T SO MANY EYES.

Unfortunately, it is a problem.

And so, with one more *blip* back to the start of the maze than Cyre Lorentz can adequately tolerate under the circumstances, he boldly throws off the parachute with a not-so-mild blasphemy on his lips. He reaches for a bottle at his hip, within which churns a stormy, grey vortex. "That's it," he declares at the leering, jeering eyes glaring at him from all corners, "I didn't survive Sin and find out my little sister got kidnapped again to put up with this crap. I'm done with these things. I say we blast them from the walls and just power our way through."

With... With a bottled tornado.

If nobody stops him, Cyre is going to uncork that thing and unleash a winding, grinding twister at the nearest, largest cluster of ocular glyphs he can find. That will probably work, admittedly, but it'll probably also be... really, really loud.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

It might be worth the risk, though.

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Bottled Tornado toward his party's challenge, Eye Won't Stand For This.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Schrodinger...

Is nowhere to be found now! Guess it managed to avoid being taken back to the beginning. Either that or its script presumes you dodged this trap and it's still waiting for you in the next room.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

The good news is, the rope helps. Catenna loops up for a second -

*blip*

"Bother!"

Down the hall, heels can be heard hitting the floor. Then they stop.

From much further down: "Bother!" Heels can be heard approaching again.

They stop.

From far away: "Bother!"

From well down the hall, there is the sound of a dull thwock. Then another one.

thwock

        thwock

                thwock thwock thwock

From around the nearest corner, an arrow suddenly flies. It punches into the iris of one of the eyes.

Catenna bursts into view after it, scowling like a thundercloud and holding her bow. She draws another arrow before whirling to snap an arrow off towards another wall-eye. "Try not to look straight into them," she recommends before whirling to shoot another eye--

*blip*

"Bother!" a very distant Catenna voice vents.

thwock thwock thwock

DG: Catenna has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Eye Won't Stand For This.
<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin considers the problem of the eyes. Kourin slaps her left hand against one wall, closing her eyes and concentrating. First frost, then a sheet of ice, spreads across the wall. Ever had your eyes frozen? Neither had these walls. Otherwise they would have not messed with a Kourin.

DG: Kourin has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Eye Won't Stand For This.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

There's something exhausting, about being forced to walk the same path over and over again, and Jacqueline's already exhausted to begin with.

She's tired of it.

And so, when the others decided to start getting their revenge against the eyes for sending them back so much...Jacqueline hangs back, to let them deal with it.

Whenever they inevitably get sent back, though, there will be a bottle of red, empowering liquid waiting for them, so that they can resume their offensive.

Jacqueline herself, however, elects to just wait and let them deal with that.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool Brewte Force toward her party's challenge, Eye Won't Stand For This.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Cyre blankets everyone in cloth, blinding them and protecting them from the eyes in one. With a giant parachute draped on top of everyone, Ivan feels inexplicably better about life in some small way.

"This was a good idea," he tells Cyre, earnestly.

Whether it was actually a good idea or not... that seems to be mixed. Back to the start they go, again and again.

But the parachute is calming to Ivan, hiding them from the outside world and all of of its terrible problems in some incredibly superficial yet effective way, as if the world could be put on pause while they literally go in circles in the dark. This time, when they get teleported back to the start, Ivan does not scream.

Seems like maybe Cyre's about to, though. And a new strategy begins to take shape.

With a sigh, Ivan emerges from the chute to face the world again. At least everyone seems to be in agreement that they can unleash hell on the place if they have to come out and deal with it again. He calls his warhammer into his hands, getting in touch with his earlier anger as he gives the nearest eye a solid CRACK.

DG: Ivan has used his Tool Warhammer toward his party's challenge, Eye Won't Stand For This.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        "Mister Cyre." Ethius speaks up, his voice noticeably sharper. He may have passed an aggravation threshold himself, and what a threshold it is - even without much of the accompanying body language and other tics of a living human body.
        This is Ethius, who has been among the most proficient architectual destroyers of the CaraKin - or maybe even alive. So many obstructions, melted to slag. So many odd devices, circumvented. So many lives, taken. The man is, by all appearances, a largely unrepentant destroyer of things wonderful and irreplaceable, a useful tool in which to get rid of things that are simply in the way. There are so, so many eyes in the way.
        "I am to understand emotions are riding high." Can he really claim a stance of neutrality after all he - after all everyone's went through? Many of them here know what he said to Alexander Castle about how Lydia will live her life. The man was, despite himself, invested in her well-being. Of everyone, he should be even more upset...
        "We are an unknown depth below sea level. We have no certainty as to whether or not this place is at risk of collapsing unto itself the moment there is a breach." Ethius remarks as he looks around to take in the surroundings - the current arrangement of eyes. "Furthermore..."
        He starts to take his top off. Wait, what? It's a little chilly down here. The man who likes to hide his face for reasons that continue to make zero sense whatsoever. He likes cloaks and their ilk. His body is, head to toe, covered in a large number of Symbological crests - extensive. His very body, a sorcerous canvas in which he must have immacuately planned in a time where he had full hold of his very memories.
        Ivan starts to crack at the walls with a hammer. Kourin tries to freeze the eye solid.
        Ethius waits, gauges timing and remembering how much of a line of sight the eyes might have needed to go off, and...
        ...rushes up to hold his disrobed cloak against the wall they are attacking, in hopes of both temporarily disabling this specific wall eye and also putting himself up against it, as if...
        ...protecting it?
        "...These are fine where they are."

DG: Ethius Hesiod has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Eye Won't Stand For This.
<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

Tesni Inoue thinks on what Cyre said

 "I'm not giving up on her Ivan proved she was still in there. She's not lost yet."

 She would have to say the cat is pretty smart, cats can be very smart or comically dumb and this cat was the scary-smart sort from what she's seen. Collectively they get though the latest part of the trial however it's far from over. There is a level of frustration sure from being made to backtrack again and again, to the point she's getting ideas like breaking out her crowbar.

, Again and again, it happens finally Tess has enough and she's going to start to use her crowbar on the eyes to just smash the darn things.

 She lets out a cry yelling something that sounds like gibberish and just will keep going after the eyes.

DG: Tesni Inoue has used her Tool Crowbar toward her party's challenge, Eye Won't Stand For This.
===================<* Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial *>====================
==================<* CHALLENGE - Eye Won't Stand For This *>==================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Lefay, the Shrine of the Water Trial, is dotted with an endless number of     
 eyes upon its walls. Direct contact with their sightline brings unsuspecting  
 Drifters back to the entranceway.                                             
                                                                               
 It is a devious trick of the ancients. A trick designed to prey on the        
 limited patience span of human Drifters. The more times you return to the     
 entrance, the more short and irritated one becomes. The easier it gets for    
 one to perform a mistake.                                                     
                                                                               
 But enough gaze-averting. Enough looking away.                                
                                                                               
 If someone unpleasant is staring at you and making you uncomfortable, you     
 don't have to deal with that.                                                 
                                                                               
 Just punch it right in the eye, or something!                                 
=Dungeon Conditions: Tire=====================================================
==============<* Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial - Round 4 *>===============
====================< Results - Eye Won't Stand For This >====================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   17 --(10)--> 27                Fail
Brewte Force                        1   Brute   Effects: Fanfare and Strengthe
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kourin                              12 --(5)--> 17                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tesni Inoue                         12 --(5)--> 17                 Pass
Crowbar                             2   Brute   Effects: Strengthen           
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                12 --(5)--> 17                 Pass
Warhammer                           3   Brute   Effects: Rally                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             12 --(10)--> 22                Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       17 --(5)--> 22                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     12 --(5)--> 17                 Pass
Bottled Tornado                     3   Brute   Effects: Sacrifice and Strengt
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Jacqueline Barber           60 --(20)--> 80                Pass
Conditions: Tire(2)
Effects: Strengthen(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Jacqueline Barber 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> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

At first, it all seems so routine. So familiar. The CaraKin, driven to hair-tearing frustration over being trapped in a particular puzzle for longer than any reasonable attention span should allow, has elected to instead take a sideways solution and blast their way through. And by all rights, it's a successful one! Whether flash-freezing those eyes shut, sand-blasting them with a tornado, or laying into them with nothing but crowbar or warhammer or bow-and-arrow and plain old ordinary elbow grease, it seems the Ancients didn't account for the temple-goers of the future to be quite as irreverent as this particular group seems to be.

But one amongst them seems...

Uncharacteristically unwilling to simply explode the problem in front of him?

Cyre frowns when Ethius decides that his contribution to their solution is apparently to get naked. Or at least, bare-chested. His frown deepens when, rather than obliterating half the temple with a symbological bomb of some kind, Ethius instead decides to put up a tarp and defend one of the eyes with his life.

Seriously. What is with this guy?

"...You're a weirdo, you know that, Ethius?" Cyre sighs as, in the distance, Catenna is again *blipped* back half a room by an eye she accidentally made sideways eye-contact with. At least she ends up in Jay's warm company, with a bottle of rejuvenating liquid waiting for her. "Fine, but we can take out the ones in our way, right? We can't just keep going in circles like this."

Fortunately, enough eyes have been cleared out that Catenna and Jacqueline can catch up in relatively short order. As for Ivan...

Cyre seems to be willing to let him walk around under the sheet for at least a little longer.

<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

I-ivan's not walking around under the sheet all by himself are you kidding!! (he appreciates the thought even if it is mortifying)

DG: Jacqueline Barber has drawn a new Challenge.
===================<* Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial *>====================
================<* CHALLENGE - Your Very Own Tales of Skit *>=================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Your party arrives at an antechamber anchored by a mystical point of power.   
 It provides protection from nearby wandering Fiends. It is also mysteriously  
 designed for camping equipment like Tents to be pitched and set up with       
 ease, just as the light-warriors of old once did.                             
                                                                               
 ...                                                                           
                                                                               
 So much has happened.                                                         
                                                                               
 Odessa. The last-minute miracle of the Guts-Dozer. Lombardia. Sin. Maester    
 Seymour. Jyscal's sphere. And his once-assistant, Krelian.                    
                                                                               
 ...                                                                           
                                                                               
 There is time.                                                                
                                                                               
 Time for you all to mentally digest everything that has happened.             
 Time for you to start to pick yourselves up and rebuild what has been         
 broken.                                                                       
 Time to you to affirm what you must take back. What you can't lose again.     
                                                                               
 There is time now. Take it.                                                   
                                                                               
 Because you are all /worth/ this time.                                        
=Dungeon Conditions: Save Point===============================================
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

After some cathartic destruction of property(and, in one case, a surprise lack of destruction) the way is clear and the party can move on. What they find might be rather surprising, compared to what they're used to.

It's an open space, and within it they can feel a power surrounding them. It isn't a malevolent or malicious(without or without capital M's), power, however - it's calming, soothing, and seems to keep the Fiends roaming the temple at bay.

It's bright, and warm, and there are a few benches set up, and looks perfectly sized for camping equipment.

And, perhaps strangest of all, there's a body of water nearby...and, floating in it, is the Carakin. Someone or something has activated its amphibious mode - or maybe it did so reactively. It looks as safe and dry as ever.

Jacqueline stares at it for a moment, taken aback. She has no idea how she's going to get it out of here. She moves forward toward one of those benches and takes a seat - or perhaps it could be more said that she drops into it, exhausted.

It's been a long, trying day, and so much has happened.

She's quiet for a moment, and then...

"...I...I found Lunata." Jacqueline whispers. "But...she was hurt, and...before I could help her... Sin attacked, and...she fell, into Lake Macalania."

She shakes her head.

"Shalune went after her, but...I have no idea if they're both okay. ...Maybe they found their way here, too. I don't know. I just...and then we lost Lydia, and...and before, I didn't notice what was happening with Matilda..." She buries her face in her hands.

"I keep...I keep losing you all. I don't... I don't know if I'm...fit, to lead you anymore..." She whispers.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Your Very Own Tales of Skit.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

As you arrive in the antechamber, Schrodinger is waiting for you there, apparently playing with a strange crystal (the very one that Lydia was showing Krelian earlier). It has some grey goop on it but apparently Schrodinger got ahold of it somehow and is pouncing on it repeatedly and gradually sending the item spinning around across the floor before pouncing after it and wiggling its tail once more.

Pounce. Pounce.

Naturally, Schrodinger seems completely oblivious to Jay's despair. Poor Jay.

Schrodinger sends the crystal spinning towards the Kinship before promptly losing interest and lying down at Cyre's feet.

<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

It takes Catenna some time to catch up. She grumbles a little but manages to fall in with the group anyway.

With surprise, the young woman frowns at the sight of the CaraKin bobbing there. "Well, that is certainly interesting," she says quietly. "It seems Spira continues to surprise us. Unusual magicks at work...."

As Jacqueline reveals the fate of Lunata, Catenna lowers herself to a seat beside the alchemist. For a moment, she's quiet. Then she reaches out.

Slender fingers find Jay's, and she slides them into the spaces between the other woman's, weaving them tightly together as she guides that hand to her own cheek. Her free hand comes up, her thumb tracing over Jay's cheek. Delicately, she collects a tear with the edge of a nail, brushing it away.

"There comes a time when every leader faces this crisis, Jay," she murmurs, tightening her grip just a little and moving her other hand down to the woman's shoulder. Her expression is serious, her eyes shimmering with emotion that she's walled off behind clear grey glass. "And it hurts... and you most of all, because you love all of us with such purity. But as much as I sometimes wish it could be otherwise...."

Here, she smiles, a small and sad smile. "...we cannot control everything. Lunata made a decision. So did Shalune, and so did Matilda. Lydia we will find again... hope is not lost. Perhaps it is not for any of them. But even if the darkness falls and all seems lost, please remember one thing. It is okay to doubt yourself. But please... know one thing."

Squeezing Jay's hand again, Catenna draws the alchemist in and holds her in a loose hug. A few locks of her hair brush Jay's.

"...That if you cannot believe in yourself, believe in the me who believes in you. Because you are Jacqueline Barber, the kindest woman I have ever known.

"And I love you as if you were my own sister," she adds, her smile small and her cheeks colouring a gentle pink. "And even if you did not lead me, I would gladly put my arm around you and carry you."

<Now kiss,> Saarda-Shanta deadpans from the sidelines.

"Hush, dear heart," Catenna chides in a murmur.

DG: Catenna has used her Tool Saarda-Shanta toward her party's challenge, Your Very Own Tales of Skit.
<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin bows her head. She began this journey with firm faith in the Goddess Althena, and the firm belief that she was unworthy of her mother's love, or anyone's at all for that matter. Since then, she has discovered many truths. She has learned that her mother was a cruel and merciless woman with no scruples who considered her father weak and foolish for his choice to give Kourin life as an orphan rather than simply abandoning the child. She has learned that the Goddess she followed so fervently is no Goddess at all, and that Althena would set aside her principles for pragmatic reasons.

She has learned of the way of the sword, the path of the wandering swordswoman, ever seeking to better herself, ever seeking to challenge herself, to become strong enough to protect those she loves.

She has learned that sometimes, strength alone is not enough.

But most importantly of all, she has learned that she can have friends, that she is not unworthy, and now, before her, one of her friends laments her own seeming inability to keep the group safe from harm.

Kourin reaches out a hand and silently clasps Jacqueline's shoulder. She doesn't need to say anything--she knows her friend will understand the support.

Spirit whines softly and puts a paw on Jacqueline's leg, showing his support too.

DG: Kourin has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Your Very Own Tales of Skit.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

Ivan is surprised to find that Jacqueline was dealing with even more loss than he knew -- that it's given her a crisis of confidence.

His eyes flick downward.

"I'm not sure what saved us at the lake... I hope there's some chance it looked out for your friends as well."

He's worried about the people who aren't here. He doesn't want them all to be lost. Where would he even go from here if Talia and Lydia were both gone...? He had barely started to build himself up again from the time he spent being 'no one' -- he's not sure he's strong enough to stand on his own without them. His connections to others -- some of the people here, even -- exist, but are so tentative he scarcely believes in them. He doesn't want anyone to be gone forever today. And he doesn't want the people around him to fall apart.

Hopefully Catenna's heartfelt words will make some impact on Jacqueline's shaken belief in herself. But Ivan adds, more hesitantly: "I don't want you to quit. You're the first leader I've known so far who cares what everybody else in their group thinks is right."

DG: Ivan has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Your Very Own Tales of Skit.
<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

Tesni Inoue is feeling much better normally she's not for destroying relics of the past, in this case, she was slowly going mad and they needed to get the heck out of this place. She will soon find they are somewhere in the open she will feel there is something here but it's not like what she's found before. Tess? Tess has lost a lot her ticket home, her ability to even be in contact with her blood relatives? She's left thinking about that but more recently with watching a world play out old horrors that once wracked her own people so long. To see it live to try and lessen the suffering but then she thinks about it the lies she's forced to keep the truth she can not reveal without risking doing more damage to both of the worlds she's come to care about. The people who have taken her in been like family and she can not tell them.

 Lydia has been loss she knows Lunata is MIA and she's seen technology that terrifies her, tech that could be the doom of these worlds. In the hand of cult-like fanatics to boot. She takes a deep breath and thinks well she's here she's aware this clearly needs to be stopped and with the level of contamination? Something has to be done and the odds are high Solaris might be the ones who have her ship. There's only one path she's willing to take forward and keep up the fight outcomes her datapad and she makes a few notes for her plans for the future.

 Yet the core of her life's goal a long lost massive starship still eludes her it could be here somewhere and she's almost certain that it might just well be. Again the only way if forward and she's willing to follow Jay into hell for it.

DG: Tesni Inoue has used her Tool Datapad toward her party's challenge, Your Very Own Tales of Skit.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

There's certainly quite a bit cathartic about obliterating part of an ancient ruin with a tornado in a bottle. It's impossible to ever truly escape that basal, primitive part of the brain that delights in the simple pleasures of smashing everything in sight. Destruction! Entropy! These are the things that the <<id>> craves!!

Not capital I id, thankfully. They'd probably all be sitting at the bottom of whatever part of the ocean this must be if he was here.

But all good things come to an end. So too does their rampage. The party instead finds its way to... a place of abject tranquility. A place that says 'welcome home' to weary travellers of all stripes. But for these travellers in particular, it's... something special.

"The CaraKin...?" Cyre wonders, approaching the vehicle that's been his home for so many moons now. "...How did it even get down here?" How are they going to get it out? If they can't, what then...?

But, more importantly...!

Schro!

"What is that you've got there, little guy?" Cyre asks, leaning over to A) pick up Schrodinger and B) pick up that strange crystal it's playing with. That grey goo, he's seen it before. It's what Lydia's body is made of, isn't it? Nano...machines...?

He frowns, unsure what to make of all this.

But something soon breaks his reverie. Jay's sob resounds in his ear. As does her confession. And her admission. Cyre turns his head and stares at the ground for a long, long time. What's he supposed to say here? That she's not at fault? Guilt is a terrible poison like that, though. Even when you aren't at fault, it can be so strong in convincing you that you are. He knows that too well.

Too. Too well.

"You aren't fit to lead...? What's that supposed to mean?" Cyre begins, sighing long and wearily in his own little private skit window. He makes his way over, sitting himself and Schrodinger and the crystal down atop a conveniently stool-sized stone. "It's so easy to give up, you know? Too easy. The mind is geared to just... Listen to the voices on the inside, to believe in the lie that the mistakes we've made are irredeemable. Hopelessness, despair, it's a comfortable, dark, quiet place. A familiar place. It's somewhere that says you don't have to try anymore, that you're done and worn out and no-good, so why even bother?"

His hands are full. This is a problem. Instead, he slumps over, his shoulder nudging into Jay's back from one side. "But... We've been with you from the beginning, Jay. I didn't follow that wide-eyed alchemist from Adlehyde because she was the type to take the easy way out. I know it's hard, that it feels like everything is telling you that you should just stop and run away. But I can tell you from experience that it's not a path that leads anywhere good. I was fortunate to find all of you, to have people who I could count on to drag me kicking and screaming back out of that hole. And now you have to pay the price for that kindness."

"We're not letting you give up so easy, Jacqueline Barber," Cyre murmurs, a low, comforting rumble reverberating from deep in the hollow of his chest. "Take what time you need to rest, to close your eyes and let the pain fade. But don't you ever let yourself grow numb to it. No matter what might happen tomorrow, remember that meetings and partings go hand-in-hand, but that every moment we spend with the people we love outshines a thousand years of sorrow. We need to keep going. To find the people we've lost. To meet new friends along the way."

Like Ivan, over there.

There's no escape now, Ivan.

You're part of this adorable black hole of wub now.

It's too late to run.

"And if you ever stumble, or you make a mistake, or the burden becomes to much to bear, know that we love you. That no matter where you are, you'll never be alone."

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        Ethius bundles back up once he helps see the rest through. Somehow, just covering up the eyes works without expending as much energy - but there may be pragmatic issues involved, as he is a spellcaster and has that... rather interesting and specific diet, but nonetheless as they get there, he's got everything back on. A fortuitous set of circumstances present themselves.
        Ethius checks the eyeglass he carries around. It seems that it has managed to cool down in the time that has passed that he can activate it with another low-yield electrical spell to double check the surroundings and make sure there are no further traps. It is safe as appears... and with this cursory check, Ethius joins Jay and the rest. He stands in his favorite corner, as is the norm. In times of happiness, in times of turmoil, in times of peace, in times of darkness... it's his favorite place to be. Always standing there, with the perfect vantage point to see anyone coming or leaving. Always standing like everyone and everything could be suspicious. Always standing like he were the soul of an inanimate piece of artwork that accidentally fell into a human.
        Always standing at arm's length... at the minimum. As seen with Lydia, who they recently lost to Solaris' machinations, sometimes he even moves to push people back to that length. As Jay starts to express doubts and have all the failures catch up with her, her loyal kinship come by her side to reassure her.
        Ethius continues to stand there.
 
        I cannot tell her she's right.
        I cannot tell her she's wrong.
 
        Ethius watches Schrodinger play about. When Schrodinger finally gets bored of batting about the crsytal, and Cyre goes to pick it up... Ethius takes strides right out of there and comes back with a glass jar. He holds it underneath where Cyre's holding the crystal, hoping to collect the grey goo if it slides off. (Once retrieved, he'll seal the glass jar and weld it shut with an appropriate yield heat spell.) He doesn't comment openly about it.
 
        What has been going on, how much of it I should know of... I cannot tell. It has been several years, and yet... no, I suppose it is all right to speak of this in the broadest terms.
 
        "Your decision is your own, Miss Jay. Nonetheless... the last few years, you have cooperated with my endeavors... whatever they may be, to what end they may." Those may not be the most reassuring words. He hasn't moved in to give her any hugs. He's right back to where he usually stands.
        Ethius has one hand on his forehead. "...To date, I still cannot tell what was going on in my earliest memory - those mountains near Lacour, nor what Solaris was doing... or wanted of me." It is weird. If he's an escaped experiment... he doesn't seem to use their weird sorcery style of No Need To Chant They Just Kind Of Make Things Happen, he doesn't hold any weird devices of theirs. They know he's not the same as Lydia, he's full-on flesh and blood.
        "...I too share many troubles about the individual circumstances. It would be appreciated if I would be able to continue to cooperate alongside the rest of you." The same stiff words. The same practiced pace and diction. Is it from the heart, or from a guide book of things to say in this situation?
        ...I cannot tell if I ever had anyone I could have confided in prior.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Spectral Lens toward his party's challenge, Your Very Own Tales of Skit.
DG: You've already acted for this round. Please wait for the round GM to push +act/complete.
DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Your Very Own Tales of Skit.
===================<* Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial *>====================
================<* CHALLENGE - Your Very Own Tales of Skit *>=================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Your party arrives at an antechamber anchored by a mystical point of power.   
 It provides protection from nearby wandering Fiends. It is also mysteriously  
 designed for camping equipment like Tents to be pitched and set up with       
 ease, just as the light-warriors of old once did.                             
                                                                               
 ...                                                                           
                                                                               
 So much has happened.                                                         
                                                                               
 Odessa. The last-minute miracle of the Guts-Dozer. Lombardia. Sin. Maester    
 Seymour. Jyscal's sphere. And his once-assistant, Krelian.                    
                                                                               
 ...                                                                           
                                                                               
 There is time.                                                                
                                                                               
 Time for you all to mentally digest everything that has happened.             
 Time for you to start to pick yourselves up and rebuild what has been         
 broken.                                                                       
 Time to you to affirm what you must take back. What you can't lose again.     
                                                                               
 There is time now. Take it.                                                   
                                                                               
 Because you are all /worth/ this time.                                        
=Dungeon Conditions: Save Point===============================================
==============<* Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial - Round 5 *>===============
==================< Results - Your Very Own Tales of Skit >===================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   27 --(0)--> 27                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kourin                              17 --(0)--> 17                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tesni Inoue                         17 --(0)--> 17                 Pass
Datapad                             3   Wits    Effects: Rally                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                17 --(0)--> 17                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             22 --(0)--> 22                 Pass
Saarda-Shanta                       1   Wits    Effects: Cleanse              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       22 --(0)--> 22                 Pass
Spectral Lens                       2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     17 --(0)--> 17                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Jacqueline Barber           80 --(0)--> 80                 Pass
Conditions: Save Point(1)|Tire(1)
Effects: Cleanse|Enlighten(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Jacqueline Barber has passed this challenge! The party gained 0 exploration! If anyone needs to use
party management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
DG: Ethius Hesiod has drawn a new Challenge.
========================================<* Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial *>=========================================
============================================<* CHALLENGE - Asura's Wrath *>=============================================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 An enormous Hellion awaits you at the end of Lefay, the Shrine of the Water   
 Trial.                                                                        
                                                                               
 This is Asura.                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                               
 Asura, shelled in armour and bearing three pairs of weapons -- paired battle  
 forks, twinned gear-like warhammers, and matched glimmering greatswords of    
 water. He wields each of these enormous weapons one-handed, seemingly         
 unencumbered.                                                                 
                                                                               
 His howl shatters the very chamber you engage him in, and combat soon         
 follows--                                                                     
                                                                               
 --and after several rounds at it, it's clear his six-armed guard is           
 impeccable.                                                                   
                                                                               
 You'll need the brilliant in your team to stop his movements.                 
 You'll need the powerful in your team to breach his defence.                  
 You'll need the adroit in your team slip through and deal lasting damage.     
 You'll need the soothing in your team to tie this plan together long enough   
 to work.                                                                      
                                                                               
 But that is why you are all here together now.                                
                                                                               
 Past all the horrifying hardships you've survived together.                   
                                                                               
 Overcome this Water Trial together.                                           
                                                                               
 Because you all can /do/ this.                                                
=Dungeon Conditions: Suffer===================================================
DG: Catenna has used her Tool Celesdue Medium toward her party's challenge, Asura's Wrath.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

Jacqueline doesn't object, when Catenna moves to seat herself next to her and takes her hand. Neither does she object when Kourin lays a supportive hand on her shoulder. It's a wordless gesture, but it doesn't need words - the action spoke more than any words ever could. Spirit, too, lends his support, in his own way.

Catenna, then, gives her some encouraging words, drawing her into a loose hug.

Ivan has words, too - a hope that the sorcery in this place helped her friends as well, and that he doesn't want her to quit - because she's the first leader he's known who cares what everybody in the group thinks is right.

And Cyre, too, is there - his words take a different tack from Catenna's, but they're no less encouraging in his own way. Even Ethius has his own words of encouragement to say.

Hearing from everyone...

"...Thank you." She says quietly. She keeps her eyes shut for a little while longer - and then, manages a weak smile. She's still crying a little...but, now, it might not be strictly out of sadness. "...I think...I think I needed to hear all that."

She takes a deep breath, then, and wipes away her tears. As Catenna said, hope wasn't lost yet. So now, it's time for to think on what she can do.

"Let's...take a moment to condense everything we know." She says.

"That man who was talking to Lydia at the temple...she called him 'Master Krelian'. He must be the one responsible for what happened to her." She explains. "He's with a group called 'Solaris' - some of you might know them better as Gebler. Gebler...might just be one group involved with them."

She pauses for a moment.

"There were three others with him - a masked woman, who appeared to have some form of cybernetic enhancements, another I didn't recognize, and a man named Loren Voss - who's been disguising himself as a man named Thomas Blackwell." She says. "I don't know too much about them yet...but, I do know that their technology is incredibly advanced, and dangerous."

She shakes her head.

"I'm not sure yet how far they reach...but we'll have to figure out what we can, if we hope to get Lydia back." She says. She looks toward Cyre, then, as he picks up Schrodinger - and, an object Schrodinger had with them.

"What's that?" She asks.

...But, there might not be a whole lot of time left to talk!

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        When they are all rested up and come to the understanding they must press on, it's not far to feel a powerful Malevolence presence. There's a flavor to it that may feel vaguely familiar to one at Mount Manfred.
        A huge entity shakes the ground as they walk, a hulking monstrosity of many arms, each one bearing a matching weapon. Two huge hammers. Two massive blades. Two huge spears. It howls with anger, rage, and hatred...
        ...and a feeling of helplessness before circumstances out of their control, thrust upon them, twisted into hatred and anger.
        "MALEVOLENCE!" It bellows, a Malevolent creature unto itself. "I WILL CRUSH IT! I WILL ELIMINATE IT! ALL OF IT, FROM THIS WORLD!!" It swings its weapons to and fro, at the people ahead of them who are very much not Hellions in any way, shape, or form, snarling. "THESE WEAPONS SHALL DESTROY IT! ALL OF IT!" There is nothing purifying about these weapons.
        They are very destructive, slamming into the ground, spreading water everywhere where it crashes...
        Ethius' trip to the kitchen, turns out, has another purpose - he just refilled his stock of Powder Grenades with curry powder. (oh no, the curry powder!! it will not be eaten now. :( )
        Ethius does not hesitate to speak of what he's going to do, or what they should do. All of them have moved and fought as a unit for some time - though Ivan may be the new one here, now is the time for all of them to come together as a team - again - to take down a threat not one of them could take on by themselves.
        Ethius, as is tradition, throws down the smoke cover. It tastes of delicious curry! But it's just as dusty and choke-y and blind-y.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Powder Grenade toward his party's challenge, Asura's Wrath.
<Pose Tracker> Kourin has posed.

Kourin spins into motion, drawing her sword as she spins, crushing a rimebomb to jumpstart her ice claw. There is beauty and grace in the efficiency of each slice, each slash of the claw, and she works to keep as many of the creature's weapons occupied at once as she can.

Turns out Kourin can handle a lot of swordy fight stuff at once these days. It's impressive. She hasn't been doing much other than training. Now it pays off.

DG: Kourin has used her Tool Rimebomb toward her party's challenge, Asura's Wrath.
<Pose Tracker> Ivan has posed.

There is a secret gratitude shining in Ivan's eyes as Jacqueline reveals (more like reminds him) the names of the person and organization that stole Lydia away. It is difficult to dedicate yourself to the destruction of 'that guy' and 'his evil empire or whatever,' even if Ivan was ready to do it.

Words are tools that can be used to make a plan that might feel a little more real... even if... they don't have time for a plan because holy shit what is that thing?!

The power of the creature is palpable.

Ivan looks between Jacqueline and Catenna. "Y-you guys can just stay back! I owe you both at least one life-saving attempt!" He then proceeds to do exactly what the narrator advised him not to do, and charge in without coordination or the intention to make full use of his allies, firing himself into the air on summoned bursts of flame and crashing down in a swirl of fireballs and a flurry of strikes with his short sword.

...You're free to bail him out, though.

DG: Ivan has used his Tool Memory toward his party's challenge, Asura's Wrath.
<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

The time for talk is done, at least for now - and now, an enemy approaches. A massive one, with six arms, each one carrying a dangerous and powerful weapon. Jacqueline recoils back, drawing out the Codex once more. That Malevolent aura it emits...it's intense. And...very familiar, considering what she's gone through today.

If she didn't have the Caravan Kinship with her today, after everything...it's not unlikely that something similar would have become of her.

But right now...they had to fight.

"Be careful! This...this must be a Hellion! I don't know how he got here, but he's frightfully powerful... I can tell how skilled he is just by the way he wields his weapons. His defense must be as strong, too..." She murmurs.

But, it speaks, and Jacqueline thinks. Hm...

"Wait! Look at us - do you see any Malevolence in us? Are we the ones you really must be fighting?" Jacqueline asks. "Look at yourself - you're practically brimming with it. Spilling it everywhere. I know it must be difficult...but we can help you. Please. Let us help you. I can feel it. Your anger, your rage, your hatred...your helplessness. It's something I know all too well..."

She doesn't expect to be able to persuade it to stop fighting entirely - but if her words can at least give the Hellion enough pause to let the others act, then they will have done enough.

Ivan asks her to stand back, though, and she readily agrees, stepping back out of the fray. She does, however, keep a close eye - ready to offer some support if necessary.

DG: Jacqueline Barber has used her Tool The Lifeweaver's Codex toward her party's challenge, Asura's Wrath.
<Pose Tracker> Catenna has posed.

"Yes... they seem to be some of the same sky people who interfered in the battle with Mother." Catenna's expression grows more stern, hand falling to her hip. "Likely the same group Alexander Castle worked for. They seem to have been planning this for a long time. But Lydia is still in that body. So long as that is true, she can be saved."

Continuing along with a smooth stride, the Moon Shaman looks to what's ahead. The pall of Malevolence is clear, and she shivers, exhaling slowly through her teeth.

"...Was this something Ida created," she murmurs. "But how could it be? Tethelle took care of her Malevolence--"

The massive Hellion comes barreling at them. Blades swing and swing and swing.

Catenna keeps ahead of them in a way that's unusual for her - almost to the point that nobody in CaraKin has seen her pull it off.

She moves with the grace and speed of a dancer, yet the deliberate purpose of an archer. She pivots and twists away from a few slashes, leaps over another with a twist, lands on one heel and pivots to fire an arrow, leaps again to backflip over another swing, pirouettes and shoots again, boosts herself into the air with a spinning flip to avoid a slash and vault over Asura, firing an arrow as she peaks, then coming down and snapping her hand out as she finds herself facing the Hellion's back. Gravitational force pushes out, attempting to grip the Hellion and hurl it bodily into the ceiling, then back down as Catenna herself leaps back and fires another arrow.

It is a more active, participatory fighting style than Catenna's ever truly displayed before - part dance, part archery and part Guardian arcana.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

The crystal seems to be a memory gem from the Ruins of Memory...though it's possible nobody here has actually found one of those before so wouldn't know what it is. The grey goop doesn't seem to do anything but once the gem is picked up, it starts replaying a memory between Krelian and Lydia, from the latter's perception. The vision is naturally disoriented and it's difficult to make out the words, but what is plenty clear is the image of Krelian ultimately stabbing the 'viewer' in the eye.

Despite the difficulty to make out the words, there's plenty of Lydia-screams that even through the distortion of the crystal and the disorientation of the 'memory holder' are pretty dang clear. It's a pretty atrocious memory all told, yet Lydia seems to have elected to 'save' it for some reason.

Schrodinger is carried by Cyre.

Schrodinger finds this acceptable for now.

<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

Tesni Inoue looks over to Jay.

 "You gave a stray like me. A place to call home and have been there for me ever since Jay. I'd follow you into hell."

 Tess seems to mean it but then when she hears Ethius word he's leigtly trying to comfort Tess but then some of the things he says make her eyes go wide and her gaze falls right on him for a moment something has just clicked into place in her mind on Ethius. What it is? Who can say?

 She does not have any time for anything else as they are under attack something isn't right here something is not right here.

 She levels her ARM, she powers up its ammo forge and produces more rouns which she'll end up opening on it laying down a barrage of fire and sending brass flying from the weapon with each shot. 5R
 "I'll give you covering fire."

 She pushes her already battered body and keeps shooting moving, shooting, she's not popped fresh ammo in yet either, odd.

DG: Tesni Inoue has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Asura's Wrath.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"Blackwell...?" Cyre's expression darkens. That nerd was part of Solaris? "I didn't suspect a thing. Damn, who else have they got hidden among us? I don't--" The memory crystal activates. A terrible, awful thing plays. Cyre winces visibly as the instrument is jabbed into the 'viewer's' eye. Why would Lydia save this of all things...? Is it...

Is it that it's... it's proof that she was, before Krelian did those terrible things to her...?

Well. No room to dwell. A shiver shoots abruptly up Cyre's spine as they cross the threshold beyond the antechamber.

This certainly is a familiar sensation.

"Malevolence... Here, of all places?" The Hellion emerges, a savage divinity made manifest, burning with the sort of single-minded fury that reminds him all too well of that fateful day upon Mount Manfred. But here they have no mirror to shatter. There is simply the monster in front of them, a creature of unknown origins, unfathomable age, and--

"Wh--" Cyre stammers as clouds of curry powder explode all over. "T-that was the curry! Ethius, you jerk! I was looking forward to eating that!" Is... is that what Cyre is going to focus on? Not the giant six-armed monster flailing its weapons menacingly at them? Yes, apparently. "Aaaargh, now we're going to have to find the spices to mix up a new batch! They don't grow under the sea, Ethius! I--"

Ivan charges on ahead.

Like the brave, bold, stupid knight that he is. Ivan... charges.

Cyre just sort of sinks his face into both his hands.

"Okay," he decides. "Fine. I guess. Alright Schro, you're going to have to hang on tight." Fortunately, Schrodinger is a mysterious super-cat, and will probably have no trouble hanging on to Cyre's head, shoulders or elsewhere. The shaman draws a silver talisman from underneath his robes. Once upon a time, doing this on the moon would have exhausted him, but...

Well.

He's the High Priest of Fengalon now, isn't he?

A startling green light suddenly floods the chamber. The wind howls, pouring out in emerald jetstreams from a singular shining point. Cyre's voice rises into a deafening roar as his form vanishes into that expanding radiance...!

Until finally, it erupts into the world.

A massive, predatory creature somewhere between a man and a white tiger. Mantras in gold and jade light wind along its limbs and shoulders like secondary stripes, terminating in an elaborate halo which hovers and revolves just over its back. The beast, at least as tall as the Hellion itself, surges forward with a thundering snarl to tear into the creature with divine fangs and sacred claws as sharp as razor-winds...!

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Gale Claw toward his party's challenge, Asura's Wrath.
========================================<* Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial *>=========================================
============================================<* CHALLENGE - Asura's Wrath *>=============================================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 An enormous Hellion awaits you at the end of Lefay, the Shrine of the Water   
 Trial.                                                                        
                                                                               
 This is Asura.                                                                                                       
                                                                               
 Asura, shelled in armour and bearing three pairs of weapons -- paired battle  
 forks, twinned gear-like warhammers, and matched glimmering greatswords of    
 water. He wields each of these enormous weapons one-handed, seemingly         
 unencumbered.                                                                 
                                                                               
 His howl shatters the very chamber you engage him in, and combat soon         
 follows--                                                                     
                                                                               
 --and after several rounds at it, it's clear his six-armed guard is           
 impeccable.                                                                   
                                                                               
 You'll need the brilliant in your team to stop his movements.                 
 You'll need the powerful in your team to breach his defence.                  
 You'll need the adroit in your team slip through and deal lasting damage.     
 You'll need the soothing in your team to tie this plan together long enough   
 to work.                                                                      
                                                                               
 But that is why you are all here together now.                                
                                                                               
 Past all the horrifying hardships you've survived together.                   
                                                                               
 Overcome this Water Trial together.                                           
                                                                               
 Because you all can /do/ this.                                                
=Dungeon Conditions: Suffer===================================================
===================================<* Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial - Round 6 *>====================================
==============================================< Results - Asura's Wrath >===============================================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacqueline Barber                   27 --(20)--> 47                Pass
The Lifeweaver's Codex              2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kourin                              17 --(20)--> 37                Pass
Rimebomb                            3   Combat  Effects: Rally                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tesni Inoue                         17 --(25)--> 42                Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ivan                                17 --(20)--> 37                Pass
Memory                              3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Catenna                             22 --(20)--> 42                Pass
Celesdue Medium                     2   Combat  Effects: Embolden             
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       22 --(20)--> 42                Pass
Powder Grenade                      3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     17 --(20)--> 37              
DG: You have overcome the dungeon's trials! This run is a success!
DG: The party led by Jacqueline Barber has successfully explored Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial!
========================================<* Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial *>=========================================
===================================<* Lefay - Shrine of the Water Trial - Round 6 *>====================================
=================================<* CHALLENGE - The Proof of Spiritual Power - Lefay *>=================================
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 It is a long and hard-fought battle, but in the end, your team has managed    
 to overcome Asura.                                                            
                                                                               
 Dissipating into motes, the Hellion gives you an approving expression, as if  
 it has been lifted from a great burden. At long last, you can feel, a great   
 and ancient anger has finally found peace at your hands.                      
                                                                               
 A great, bright blue light erupts from a nearby altar and suffuses the        
 entire room with a feeling of power -- a feeling not dissimilar from another  
 trial of spiritual power you may have visited before in your travels, Uzda    
 il-Jam. It envelops your person for but a brief moment, but you feel your     
 spiritual presence strengthening further...                                   
                                                                               
                                    Acquired                                   
                                                                               
                       Proof of Spiritual Power -- Lefay!                      
                                                                               
                                                                               
 When the light subsides, you discover that great stone tablets have taken     
 their place. Engraved upon them are the secrets of powerful water and ice     
 magics only known to some of the most powerful mages in Lunar. If you are so  
 inclined, reach out and absorb the knowledge the ancients in your travels...  
 or if you do not possess the Gift, reach out with an object or weapon -- and  
 suffuse it with the power of water!                                           
                                                                               
 (OOC: You have discovered the spells of Waterga and Blizzaga! A character     
 with the Gift of Althena's Black Magic may apply for these in their next      
 character advancement! Alternately, if you lack the Gift, you can opt for a   
 water or ice enchantment on your weapon or tool.)                             
                                                                               
 ---                                                                           
                                                                               
 A shimmering portal erupts from the ground once you've finished your          
 business with the tablet. It expands further and further, until it            
 overwhelms your senses...                                                     
                                                                               
 And before you know it, the scent of salt and the noise of gentle waves has   
 replaced the ancient ambience of the Shrine. You and your companions are      
 standing on a large, rusted aircraft carrier inhabited by varied folk -- the  
 Thames.                                                                       
                                                                               
 You have arrived in Filgaia!                                                  
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

        "HELLIONS!" The Asura screams. "HUMANS!" The Asura continues to scream. Huh? "CORRUPTION!!" He snarls into even less coherence as time goes on - but they do seem, for some reason, to focus more of their destructive power on Kourin and Ivan for reasons that are not clear. (Well, Ivan is clear, at lest, he's trying to YOLO it.)
        Tesni's attempt to deal lasting damage is met by a parrying blade flat that deflects the bullets, but that she's able to draw attention like that helps so many openings - like letting Kourin survive a near-cleave attempt to get some swordin' in there.
        Ivan burns and cleaves away, working from the amount of debilitation that Catenna can lay down via Celesdue's blessings, arrowing them all the while and allowing Cyre the opening to (sadly) blow away the curry dusting and strike with a divine wind.
        The Hellion recoils, staggers back... and falls to a kneel, as there is a burst of their memory. A memory of bearing a great responsibility, an all-encompassing desire...
        ...Someone who knew, and wished to deal with, and was even given the means of dealing with, Malevolence.
        This was a Shpeherd.
        Their mortal body has long since expired, and there is nothing left as they disappear with a peaceable sigh, their weapons dissipating into motes. A great, bright blue light fills the air from a nearby altar - a feeling of spiritual strenghtening, sort of like that strange place, Uzda il-Jam.
        You gain the Proof of Spiritual Power... of Lefay.
        As they advance further, there are stone tablets taking place of the Hellion and the altar. Powers of water and ice are there... wait, no, Kourin can tell that these are spell tablets for truly powerful spells. As one with the Gift of the Black aspects of Ice... a great secret could be hers.
        There still is great power in the air in both tablets. One of water, one of ice - perhaps it may be possible to carry some of that power in a weapon or a tool (...or a food?) if one touches it.
        "Ahead," Ethius remarks, as a shimmering portal appears on the ground not long after everyone decides to do what they will with these boons. A portal shows on the floor, and grows, grows, grows... until the air is filled with the scent of saltwater. Are they about to drown...?
        ...
        ...
        ...what is everyone doing on a ship

<Pose Tracker> Jacqueline Barber has posed.

...A former Shepherd.

Jacqueline closes her eyes for a moment.

"...Rest now, Shepherd. We've got another Shepherd now to carry on your work. I don't know where he is, but I'm sure he's doing a great job...and we've got more people with us, too, who can purify..." She says. If she can offer him at least some small amount of peace...then that's enough.

She feels...stronger, for it. It reminds her of Uzda il-Jam, and Linaweyul within.

And ahead, there are two stone tablets.

"...This is... sorcery." Jacqueline murmurs. She looks them over. It's Althenan sorcery, specifically - she can't use it herself. But...she can see it, and she can gain an understanding for how the spell is meant to work, for those who can use them.

Even so, there is a feeling of power.

Some of it takes the form of a small fountain ahead of them. Thinking on it Jacqueline approaches it, drawing a bottle from her belongings.

Some of them may recognize it as one of the indestructable bottles from the ruins that were uncovered underneath the Serpent's Coils.

She thinks on it...and then, she very carefully sets the bottle in the fountain. The water shimmers...and then, is launched out gently, landing back in her hands.

It now appears to be filled with pure, clean water - and, if she undoes the cork, water will flow freely, seemingly eternally. But, right as she turns to tell everyone about this...

A shimmering portal opens up, and then, she's gone!

Fortunately, it catches the Carakin, too, whisking it away along with them. It's just as well - nothing short of divine intervention was going to get that vehicle out of a place this deep underground.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

The asura dissolves, its corporeal body fading into so many tiny lights. The wind shaman's divine form, too, sloughs away in a haze of emerald motes. Cyre regards the fallen Shepherd, finally able to rest after so long. "Sleep well, old one," Cyre murmurs, making a sign of respect and benediction. "And thank you, for continuing to guard this place."

A wave of elemental energy washes over him. His spirit surges with power...!

CYRE GAINS: MORE SPIRITUAL PUISSANCE!!

He shakes his head as if to clear it, or maybe as if he were trying to shake rivulets of freezing cold water from his face. And then he sees... them. Tablets. Jay identifies their contents, and Cyre answers with a nod. "Althenian sorcery, maybe. But I wonder..." If the power /is/ aspected to water, as the rest of this place seemed to be, then...

Cyre lifts a strange, electronic disk to one of the tablets and waits.

...

...

...

Maybe... The power of ice will resonate here, between this artificial medium of Aru Solatu and that tablet of ice. Or maybe absolutely nothing will happen! Oh well!

Soon enough, though, another wave of light fills the chamber. Cyre yelps in surprise, as the world suddenly shifts...

And the scent of brine and salty mist fills his nostrils.

They're... On a boat...!?

<Pose Tracker> Tesni Inoue has posed.

Tesni Inoue does not quite get what this creature was once but she finally does when Jay speaks up and she frowns "A fallen Paladin then?"

 She seems sad to have fought something so hard that they then became something she looks at the magic for a moment she pauses s to try and do something with it she will record the tablet she might be able to do something with her own understanding of it but in the end it's soon time to go isn't it?

 "Wait just what?" Blam there's a portal and she's gone toon and then she smells something she loves the smell of seawater as she feels the metal deck of something...something good finally happened today.