Difference between revisions of "2019-11-11: A Legacy That Should Not Be"

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Latest revision as of 01:00, 14 November 2019

  • Log: A Legacy That Should Not Be
  • Cast: Kaguya, Day Muirwall, Riesenlied, Ethius Hesiod, Lydia Seren
  • Where: Dragon Roost Cavern
  • Date: November 11, 2019
  • Summary: Kaguya and her companions encounter an unexpected adversary in the depths of the Dragon Roost Cavern.


DG: Riesenlied has left your party.
DC: Riesenlied switches forms to Heritor of Wayside!
DG: A party led by Kaguya is now entering Dragon Roost Cavern.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
===========================<* Dragon Roost Cavern *>============================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Obscured Temple Door *>=====================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Dragon Roost Cavern incorporates an ancient temple's structure into it. Many  
 of the entrances are from that temple, though few parts have survived         
 otherwise. The first hint you find, after entering one of the cave mouths,    
 is a section of the wall that has worked stone. However, there are huge       
 blocks covering it -- and you might miss them, with grime and moss covering   
 some. It will take careful work to determine which blocks can be moved.       
                                                                               
 ...and, it seems, they should be moved. Despite their size, these blocks      
 prove easy to pull away once they have been identified.                       
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify, Tire============================================
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

"Hmmm... if we just smash our way in, we might collapse the entrance--that would be annoying. We'll have to play it smart."

Kaguya has been the one to arrange this particular expedition, in hopes of leanring or finding something useful down on this island, or, failing that, at least making Riesenlied happy with dragons. She has many goals here, and among them... is figuring out a gentle way to explain to a Knight of Rolance that she's a weird alien.

But she hasn't figured that one out yet--instead, she looks over the boulders, thoughtfully--and then considers.

"I can check if I make a rudimentary..." Kaguya pulls a small, green case, and opens it up to reveal a bunch of little mechanical things in it; she pulls some out, pulls some stuff out of her bag--

She appears to be making a... tube, kind of like a gun but without any apparent bullets or the like. "Laser radar," she explains, and pulls a bomb of all things and pops it open with a screwdriver. Her plan is to check for hollow points beneath the surface.

<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

"I don't suppose persuading you to stay here would do me any good," Day sighs as he looks back towards the auburn-haired young woman following a distance behind him.

Looking out from the shadow of a pillar, Vess shakes her head a little. "Sir Day has always kept me safe."

Lowering his eyelids slightly, Day sighs and shakes his head. "Sir Day feels like he can't guarantee that'll stay the same in a literal dungeon, Vess. But I know better than to argue with you."

As much as Kaguya's a noble of Hyland, Day seems to have few qualms about traveling with her. His allegiance is not to nation-states - it's to the Church. As such, he moves alongside her easily enough, his heavy armour producing surprisingly little sound save for the odd jingle of mail here and there. "We don't know if any part of this is load-bearing," he points out with a glance at Kaguya.

She starts assembling something bizarre to him. Blinking, he frowns and folds his arms, considering the wall in front of them.

"Sir Day," Vess says again, her voice so soft that it could easily be missed. "Some of this mortar is loose."

"Eh?" The young knight leans forward, squinting at the bricks in front of him. "...Hm. So it is. Lady Alathfar, what does your device say?"

DG: Day Muirwall has used his Tool Vess's Guidance toward his party's challenge, Obscured Temple Door.
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

    Riesenlied has been particularly down following her arrival in Spira; she's suffered more damage to herself following the extreme circumstances that Macalania forced upon them, between transforming into the Ley Dragon and fighting OS.

    Her hair is white now, for a start.

    The Fereshte not accompanying them to Filgaia also has torn her heart apart, knowing her children are back in Spira.

    But that is then; this is today, where she's seated in her wheelchair, quietly gazing out towards the ocean and finding a quiet natural beauty in it on the way to Dragon Roost Island. When Kaguya asked her, she was happy to try to have an adventure, and hearing Lydia -- or O.S. -- was going to go made her want to try harder for her daughter's sake too.

    She's anxiously clingy about her two daughters on Filgaia, for obvious reasons.

    "A Laser Radar...?" Riesenlied asks as she looks to Kaguya, with a soft gasp. She looks back towards Day and Vess, smiling quietly. "Oh, hello..."

    Her horns wiggle a little. "I'm Riesenlied. It's nice to meet you."

    She turns back towards the wall and the current issue -- and closes her eyes as the Dragon's Tear shimmers very softly where it sits at her neck, just above the Medium not terribly obviously grafted into her body.

    "Let me try helping you out, daughter."

    Then she reaches out with her hand -- and a soft illumination shines over the blocks where people have touched them.

    A handprint of the living.

DG: Riesenlied has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Obscured Temple Door.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    EARLIER
 
     There is a very big fire raging towards the peak of the volcano. It's sort of worrisome, visually speaking, but the violent shakes of the island have died down some. Ethius is in the company of some Unnamed But Otherwise Regular Drifters of a Vague Set of Identities. They have had their journey through the caverns of Dragon Roost and are about to call it a day.
     Ethius, from his position, looks out to the ocean where he sees a boat pull in. He borrows some binoculars he more or less thieved from a dead body to better gauge the approach. He recognizes some of those faces. His eyes narrow.
     His day here is not done. He scavenges a new handful of fine powder to refill one satchel he's able to reclaim, and a new one for the one he lost along the way here. He figures the Spectral Lens will have enough time to cool down. The seams of the Hot Air Sack are still intact.
 
     A VERY SHORT TIME BEFORE THEY ARRIVE AT THE CURRENT CHALLENGE
 
     Ethius is already on the other side of the door leading here. It's nice, wide, and open...
     "Far Point!" Ethius works the full wingspan available to him to smack one of the moving stones with his staff off of the solution plate, and retracts before the door slams on him or his quarterstaff. He retreats a further ways in and pulls out the Spectrum Lens in order to try and gauge if there are any complicated multi-part devices about to be employed, and how many - and waits.
 
WARNING! Ethius has engaged in STEALTH. He is even harder to directly confirm the presence of. Aside from this Entry Card, he is not directly intervening against the expedition efforts. In fact, much of the way ahead is already cleared... if this ends up being the way they go.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Spectral Lens toward his party's challenge, Obscured Temple Door.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

OS's programming dictates they are suppoosed to investigate runs on behalf of Solaris. Unfortunately, there hasn't been an opportunity for them to prove themselves useful to their Solarian comrades as of yet. Nevertheless, OS is still in the midst of negotiations with Lydia until their player gets off her butt and writes a cutscene but this isn't going to stop them from doing their job in the meanwhile.

OS looks towards Day, the new person. OS then looks towards the young lady following behind Day, the new person. Theey haven't asked their name yet but there is natural affinity between the machine(s) with a Star Medium jammed in their chest and someone named Day. It's just how it works. But beyond that natural affinity Social Link bonus, they don't really know what to say to them or what their deal is and OS's preferred method of gaining understanding is observation.

"We have deemed the current situation amenable to our base state."

The color fades from OS's hair and body, leaving them in their black clothes and silver body. The wings crackle behind them as they approach the blocks before then and pushes their hand THROUGH the bricks, the hand liquifying into a semi-solid state as it pools around the creaks and crevices of the block.

"Lydia has been here before. We believe there may be findings here that may be of interest to mother."

OS aims to yank the block free with a single tug. Hopefully it's one of the 'right' ones because otherwise they might be pulling out one of the wrong ones...

"This group has been deemed acceptable in completing this task."


<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

OS doesn't comment on Ethius ninjing around in the slightest.

DG: Lydia Seren has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Obscured Temple Door.
DG: Kaguya has used her Tool Mad Science Case toward her party's challenge, Obscured Temple Door.
===========================<* Dragon Roost Cavern *>============================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Obscured Temple Door *>=====================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 Dragon Roost Cavern incorporates an ancient temple's structure into it. Many  
 of the entrances are from that temple, though few parts have survived         
 otherwise. The first hint you find, after entering one of the cave mouths,    
 is a section of the wall that has worked stone. However, there are huge       
 blocks covering it -- and you might miss them, with grime and moss covering   
 some. It will take careful work to determine which blocks can be moved.       
                                                                               
 ...and, it seems, they should be moved. Despite their size, these blocks      
 prove easy to pull away once they have been identified.                       
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify, Tire============================================
======================<* Dragon Roost Cavern - Round 1 *>=======================
=======================< Results - Obscured Temple Door >=======================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Spectral Lens                       2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kaguya                              0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Mad Science Case                    2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Day Muirwall                        0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Vess's Guidance                     1   Wits    Effects: Cleanse              
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Riesenlied                          0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC                
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Kaguya                      0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Stupify(2)|Tire(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Enlighten(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Kaguya 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> Kaguya has posed.

For her part, Kaguya seems not to have any issue with the presence of the woman with Day; she knows about her! This is Fine. And, in fact, while she won't say it in front of ~her knight~, she's not exactly going to let a rando get squashed while she's around in front of people.

Yeah she hasn't noticed Ethius being up ahead or anything, though there is a weird blip she can't explain. The question--

And the assertion. "Exactly," Kaguya says to Day about load-bearing. "Much as I love smashing things..." The mortar is loose. That means... "Hey, that's a perfect place to start looking them."

"Yeah!" Kaguya says to Riesenlied as she clicks the last bit into place. "I can show you later."

"Oh--thanks..." Kaguya hasn't seen much of the Life Medium's work. She has... mixed feelings.

In point of fact, Ethius does pick up a weird device--higher-than-the-human-eye-can-see wavelengths of light emit through the stone.

But then she blinks--and looks over to OS. "Oh--"

"Oh it's you, isn't it?" Kaguya asks, looking her over. And up, and down. OS aims to yank the block free...

As it turns out, that's one of the right bricks that Lydia has--and thanks to Riesenlied's magic, they find another, and then Vess's tip pans out, and that's where Kaguya confirms the rest.

"What do you prefer to be called?" Kaguya asks, guardedly.

Then she leads the group inside, where... "Huh. I expected more death."

DG: Day Muirwall has drawn a new Challenge.
============================<* Dragon Roost Cavern *>=============================
===========================<* CHALLENGE - Fire Keese *>===========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 People from the Great Sea are familiar with the keese: a bat-like creature,   
 known for being more aggressive than an ordinary bat and swooping down on     
 the unsuspecting in caves. Fire Keese are a strange variation that live in    
 hot places, such as -- for example -- volcanic caves. Glowing red, and        
 surrounded by a nimbus of flame, several Fire Keese sweep down on you from    
 above and try to claw into flesh! And, also, set you on fire by sheer         
 proximity.                                                                    
=Dungeon Conditions: Exhaust, Injure==========================================
<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

Althena, those horns.

With a tilt of his head, Day looks towards Riese, greeting her with a slow, grave nod. "I've heard about you, Lady Riesenlied. I'm Day Muirwall, a knight of the Church of Althena. Thank you for your kindness towards those who lost their homes to the attack on Azado."

Looking back towards OS, the young knight gives them an assessing look, then nods simply, shoulders tensing subtly beneath his armour. It's his first encounter with anyone like this person - someone who appears more technological than biological - and he's not sure what to think.

"I take it you're familiar with this person," he says with a glance at Kaguya.

Eventually they continue on. Day takes point; he's got the most armour, so it makes sense. The young knight draws the broadsword belted at his hip and slips his left arm into the straps of his shield. It's a tall kite shield, quartered in red and black, a rearing white horse with wings blazoned on it.

Vess, or her part, brings up the rear, well back from the party. As the cavern opens up into a wide-open, downward-spiralling ramp, a few flickering lights dancing through the stalactites up ahead, Day takes the lead, proceeding with care.

"Sir Day, up there!" Vess gasps.

"Eh?" Day looks up sharply - just in time to spot a halo of flame descending towards him.

At the last second, Day drops to his knee and raises his shield. With a screech, the descending Fire Keese slams into the face of the shield and bounces back. It gives Day the opening he needs.

"HOAAHT!" He swings sharply; his sword tears through the Keese, and it screams and falls away in a tongue of fire. But more Fire Keese begin to descend, swooping down from above, talons and blazing wings all aflicker. With a quick step back, he brings himself closer to Riesenlied, shield raised.

"Watch out for the flame! It isn't just for show."

DG: Day Muirwall has used his Tool Kite Shield toward his party's challenge, Fire Keese.
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

    Riesenlied blinks a little as Day says he recognises her, but when he gives her thanks, her anxiousness fades as she bows her head in turn. "Thank you, Sir Day. We've done so much thanks to the people of Azado, who've shown an unbroken spirit despite their setbacks..."

    OS speaks up too. Lydia has been there before?

    "I'll work hard today, OS. Let's work together, okay?" she smiles very warmly. Then to Day: "Yes, their name is OS." A pause, as she reflects on her resolutions, thens miles, "I trust in them."

    She glances towards Kaguya and her quiet reticience; she looks back towards herself, and if she'll allow it, offers her hand -- her human, unscaled hand -- to squeeze at her Veruni daughter's. "Sorry," she whispers. But beams as she says, "I'd love to see later, yes." She's been trying hard to get into her daughters' hobbies, after all.

    The Hyadean takes a glance towards Vess, perhaps to make sure she's doing okay; she also doesn't... appear to have noticed Ethius at all, because Riesenlied and Perception (non-Spiritual) aren't exactly things that go together.

    Vess calls out.

    Fire Keese descend on the group! "Ah!"

    She winces as she throws her hands out, and a soft shimmer surrounds those near her with a translucent barrier of light. "Fall back around me if you need to -- I will protect you...!"

DG: Riesenlied has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Fire Keese.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

OS says, "OS." to Kaguya. "It's short for--" Kaguya is already leading the group inside so instead OS looks towards Day. "We are not a 'person' as it has been defined to us. We are a collective constructed intelligence. We--"

Sir Day, up there!

OS is interrupted AGAIN and ends up looking up towardds the Fire Keese. They drop down on OS and burst into flames and claw at them and they just let it happen for a bit. For every bit of damage they receive, another wounded piece fixes itself up as they look to Riesenlied.

They don't say anything, they just look at her. Like they are trying to collate what is being said and update some kind of rules sheet they have running on in their head. Eventually they add, "We will not dissapoint either you or Kaguya. We are a very capable blade."

They close their eyes for a moment and spikes burst out of their body, skewering the Keese around them before schlorping back into their body and allowing the monsteres to drop to the ground in a single brutal instance.

"Kaguya, is this acceptable levels of death?"

They look down and frown at the resultant scorch marks on their frame before looking over to Riesenlied.

"Mother, our appearance is down 5 percent. We will have to clean up later."

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Rachiel Medry Is Doing Her Best toward her party's challenge, Fire Keese.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Ethius, for whatever reason, proves difficult to track with technological means - even the ground- and rock-piercing device can't return more than the unexplainable anomaly. Even without direct visual on the finer points of Kaguya's means - not that he can positively identify it's Kaguya who is holding said means - the man moves in such a way as though initimately familiar with foiling that means of detection. He has confirmation that they're going the same route his recent party did, and so, moving ahead...
     Ethius lies in wait within one of the volcanic caverns. This sort of environment, by its nature inhospitable to most life by virtue (...vice?) of its searing heat and unclean air, brings him some measure of comfort instead - in so much that it is an environ he feels comfortable working in. An environment he must work in, more often than not. There is one complication.
     He's not the only actor here. This place is home to bats that are on fire, and it seems his previous party's attempt to displace them yielded only temporary results, as they start screeching and swooping.
     He has to pitch one of the satchels discreetly into the wall above where the group comes in, showering way above them with dust that obscures - dust that is nigh-on impossible to electronically pierce.
     It's something of a running battle on his part to reposition as the fiery bats swoop. One hand needs to be over the mask on his mouth to dampen his voice as much as possible. He can't break to a full on sprint, with all of its rhythmic audio signatures, that would give away 'there is someone running ahead.'
     He is practically dancing free-style gesticulating with his free hand as he rapid-fire chants the syllables for the quick-casting Optic Flares with heat signatures extraordinarily similar to the Fire Keese to further serve as decoys.
     He's moving by the seat of his pants through this complication - to fail any one of these steps risks giving away his presence.
     His composure does not falter.
     It is not the first time he's ever had to pull something like this on the fly. (It may be the first time he's had to do this while being attacked by fiery bats. He's not sure yet. He doesn't have the time to be sure, because he has to move without rhythm, while spellcasting, and not die to flaming divebombing bats.)

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Powder Grenade toward his party's challenge, Fire Keese.
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

Kaguya has noticed Riesenlied's white hair, as well, naturally. But she blinks at the apology. "For...?" Kaguya takes her hand, though Kaguya's own is gloved. "I'll show you, then."

To Day, "Sort of. Yes. It's a long story. 'Their', Kaguya notes as well. And then she nods to the others. "Yeah, I hear you have. I'm glad you were able to get them out," Kaguya says, because of course she wasn't there for that. "I can explain some more about them," Kaguya offers Day, "I have a few things I'd like to talk to you and the others about..."

But OS answers. "OS. And, you go by 'they'." Not a 'person', hm?

"Aaa what the sh--" There's bats that are on fire descending on them. When Riesenlied offers to protect them, Kaguya ducks down, scurries, because part of her still doesn't like spooky crap out of the dark with creepy screams!

"Noted!" Then--She doesn't look over to Ethius, with his useful concealment. Instead, she reaches into her bag and pulls out a couple of things. "Let's see--I can modify this, with..." She picks up a few rocks. Then some more rocks. Then she thinks about it, and shoves an ember in.

"FIRE IN THE HOLE!"

Kaguya launches the rocks using what was a perfectly decent radar gun and is now kind of a generic blaster launcher thing of rocks, and they spread like shot towards a whole set of them.

"Reasonable amounts!" Kaguya tells OS. "If you see something that resembles a person, go nonlethal--but these, just take 'em down, it's fine!"

"Also. You were saying, what's it stand for?" Kaguya pulls a few grenades, in case that didn't do the trick, and readies them.

DG: Kaguya has used her Tool Loot Abuse toward her party's challenge, Fire Keese.
============================<* Dragon Roost Cavern *>=============================
===========================<* CHALLENGE - Fire Keese *>===========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 2          | 
----------------------------< Challenge Information: >----------------------------
 People from the Great Sea are familiar with the keese: a bat-like creature,   
 known for being more aggressive than an ordinary bat and swooping down on     
 the unsuspecting in caves. Fire Keese are a strange variation that live in    
 hot places, such as -- for example -- volcanic caves. Glowing red, and        
 surrounded by a nimbus of flame, several Fire Keese sweep down on you from    
 above and try to claw into flesh! And, also, set you on fire by sheer         
 proximity.                                                                    
=Dungeon Conditions: Exhaust, Injure==========================================
=======================<* Dragon Roost Cavern - Round 2 *>========================
=============================< Results - Fire Keese >=============================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       0 --(10)--> 10                 Pass
Powder Grenade                      3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kaguya                              0 --(10)--> 10                 Pass
Loot Abuse                          2   Combat  Effects: Cleanse and Sacrifice
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Day Muirwall                        0 --(10)--> 10                 Pass
Kite Shield                         1   Combat  Effects: Embolden and Fanfare 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Riesenlied                          0 --(10)--> 10                 Pass
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC                
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         0 --(10)--> 10                 Pass
Rachiel Medry Is Doing Her Best     3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------< Party >-------------------------------------
Leader: Kaguya                      20 --(20)--> 40                Pass
Conditions: Exhaust(1)|Injure(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Embolden(1)
================================< Dream Chasers >=================================
DG: The party led by Kaguya 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: Riesenlied has drawn a new Challenge.
==========================<* Dragon Roost Cavern *>===========================
=================<* CHALLENGE - Climbing the Mountainside *>==================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 You have, perhaps once more, found yourself on the side of the mountain,      
 after briefly following a tunnel. The sun is bright and warm here, in the     
 Great Sea, and a breeze blows past. The occasional cry of birds can be        
 heard. This peaceful atmosphere is the backdrop, however, to one of the       
 steepest mountain sides on Filgaia. A cavern up ahead leads deeper into the   
 mountain, but to get there, you will need to jump between narrow ledges --    
 and inch along others, not even wide enough for a person to stand on.         
 Climbing, leaping, and care will be necessary to ascend upward.               
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow, Secret=============================================
<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

In fairness, Day hasn't spotted Ethius either. He's like a lump in the part of the mattress you don't sleep on.

Vess, for her part, give Riesenlied a wide-eyed look, somehow managing to drift into a spot equidistant between the Horned One and Day. It's not a bad choice. Between Riese's barrier and Day's skill with his shield, the swooping Keese find no purchase with their diving attacks. They thump into Riese's spell and deflect away, or they swat against Day's shield helplessly.

When they do, he's ready for them. "HYAAHT!" Again he slashes out at them. Each impact is met with a short, arcing sweep of his sword. OS, however, spares them all the slow way.

Spikes burst out of the body that used to be Lydia's full time. Day stares in surprise as the spines drop a full dozen Fire Keese all at once. "...So that's a collective consciousness," he murmurs, blinking twice.

Kaguya blows away the last of the Keese with her perfectly innocent rock gun. The last of them drops into the abyss beside the stairs with a fading squeak, out of the fight. Slowly, lowering his shield, Day glances around the chamber, a few flickers of fire catching his eye but dismissed as more Keese perishing. You're off the hook, Ethius.

"Vess, are you alright?" he asks.

"Yes...." Vess looks up from the rear of the group, hand caught at her throat. "I wasn't burned."

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

    The combat ends; Riesenlied lets out a quiet sigh as she looks around to say, "If anyone is hurt, I can heal you!" She checks between Vess and gives a nod of thanks to Day and the others for protecting her.

    OS introduces themself as a collective consciousness. It gets her thinking for a moment about Nasrin; her situation is, of course, nowhere near the same. But she likes to think, on her most optimistic moments, that she can use the experience of her own trauma to relate with what her daughters are going through.

    But most importantly, OS tells her that her appearance is down 5 percent. Riesenlied's horns perk straight up as she procures--

    "I have wet wipes...! They should boost your appearance up by five percent," she smiles, taking one out and dabbing a bit of soot off OS's face. "There! We'll clean up later."

    Kaguya asks what the sorry is for, and she turns to say: "Ah, for... the Medium," in quiet confidence to her. "I know it makes you uncomfortable..."

    And perhaps because she knows these days there's very little she can get done in a tense battle situation without channeling into its power, as well as that of the power of the Ley. It's rather intermixed with one another, as far as her actual consciousness goes.

    Still completely missing Ethius and the mysterious lens flares erupting around the bat, Riesenlied moves on with everyone else.

    ... to an entirely sheer cliff on the side of the mountain, which is very certifiably Wheelchair Inaccessible. "Ah. Hmm..."

    coo

    Uh oh.

    coo
    coo

    That sound.

    coo
    coo...!

    Here comes the feathered flock...!

    Riesenlied elicits a gasp as a ringed flurry of cuccos flutter into sight! Riesenlied blinks and smiles very warmly, just about having to restrain herself from squeeing as the Cucco Queen is tended to by her subjects.

    "Cucco...! Are you here to help us out?"

    The chicken-shaped fiends gather into a solid circle and literally lift Riesenlied and her wheelchair off the ground and fly her up. She smiles to the others and reaches out with a hand. "Vess, anyone, climb on if you need to!"

DG: Riesenlied has used her Tool My Dear Friends toward her party's challenge, Climbing the Mountainside.
<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

As they proceed, Day nods to Kaguya simply, expression grave. "I think I could use the explanation. They're somewhat beyond my understanding. I mean that in that mostly I've just never met someone with a mechanical nature."

For just a moment, Day can't help but blush. He feels like the least with-the-times person in the room.

With a look to OS, Day clears his throat and flashes them a tight smile. "You seem to be handling yourself well, appearance aside...."

"Ah! Sir Day, look!" gasps Vess. Day blinks and looks ahead, slowing as they approach the sheer cliff face waiting for them. Sunlight radiates across Day's face, the breeze teasing at his hair in a fluffy billow. "I'm not sure either of us could make it up that far, even with the Shiro's Tail," he muses. "And Lady Riesenlied...."

    coo

"...Eh?"

The flock cometh. Day opens his mouth and stares in astounded disbelief as a literal cucco flock comes fluttering up to tend to the Cucco Queen.

"Aaaaa, they're so cute~," Vess gasps as she gathers a few cuccos in her arms, hugging them close. A couple more flutter up to carry her into the Riesencuccoon. "Sir Day, I can't believe how fluffy they are...!"

Day closes his mouth. He looks down at the Shiro Tail in his hand. It, too, is a soft fluffy white poof.

He squeezes it once for luck, then sighs and tries to look dignified while he reaches out and lets a mob of Cuccos pick him up.

DG: Day Muirwall has used his Tool Shiro's Tail toward his party's challenge, Climbing the Mountainside.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"We are an excellent weapon. Thank you for noticing," OS seems pleased by Day's analysis. "We have noticed your skills as well." They are about to say more but--WET WIPES.

OS stands VERY VERY STILL as their face is cleaned up with wet wipes. OS doesn't do anything as extreme as smiling but they do stand a bit taller like they're proud of their new gleaming face now that it has been cleaned off with the power of momliness and wet wipes. "Thank you." They say.

They look down thoughtfully and make a quick series of not quite right expressions before settling into their usual robotic one apparently finding it more comfortable than trying to force up a cheery one. Not that they aren't enjoying the display of motherly affection.

Eager to provide aid, they offer, "We can take someone up the cliff if they'd like."

Kaguya asks them what they were going to say to her and they nod to Kaguya. "We will attempt to be moderate in our violence." They aren't really sure what moderate violence is but they can give it a shot. "Provided they are not Odessa agents we can subdue them nonlethally though perhaps there is some benefit to capturing a live agent--"

Kaguya asks what OS stands for. "Oh, certainly. OS stands for--"

coo.

OS turns to the chicken-fiends as they abscond with their MOM. "Ah--"

Their mouth hangs open at a loss for a moment before they add, "We will rescue you--"

They fly up and give chase! RUNNING GAG CONTINUES.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Radical Skates toward her party's challenge, Climbing the Mountainside.


<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    The strange man of even more bizarre obsessions as regards advanced, lost, and/or out-of-place technology may well be nearly invisible to the technologically inclined, but there is a significant chink in this armor that the most empathic might pick up if they have cause to prime their means of picking such up.
     'If you see something that resembles a person, go nonlethal,' identifiably Kaguya's voice saying this even after the ruckus of rocks knocking into everything.
     She would order a non-lethal takedown, after fielding the weapons she did at Luca?! Ethius' thoughts are an exclamation mark. A welling of emotion - confusion, incredulousness. While he is presently at an elevation advantage, he presses a hand against his face and holds his breath to ensure his breathing is not picked up - also to have to compose himself. Fortunately, he knows the route that leads to the outer winding path well enough, for his team chose to take a higher route thanks to the multiple means of conveyance afforded them. He moves through some other cavern paths further up, moving with all caution as he considers the environs.
     Riesenlied, in her wheelchair, may not be able to proceed. They will likely double back, Ethius thinks, and this presents problems because they might take a route he's not familiar with. As he overhears the knight he is unacquainted with talk with humility about his level of unfamiliarity with the mechanical nature, he lowers his head some. It reminds him of that fateful war on Glenwood. A sense of something he could have, should have, put a decisive stop to. The way everything escalated. The way Neriah outplayed his attempts to contain the ambitions of the opportunistic.
     The stubbornness inherent that he must persist, stoically and unflinchi--
 
     coo
 
     Ethius freezes as he hears the voice of one of the most feared creatures in all of Filgaia - and by extension Lunar adjacent. His eyes widen as they start to converge towards Riesenlied.
     Abort. Abort! Drawing a gnarled staff with all sorts of jangly bits on it, he slams it down from within the visual cover of another cavern.
 
     * THUNK SHING SHIng Shing shing... *
     The cuccos, unless sufficiently rude enough beyond some sort of ancient authority this staff contains, may be compelled to stop and freeze where they are as Ethius takes off running further a direction away from the gathered, as though the risk in this moment became too great.
 
     There is now a clear sign that a someone or a something is present... but aside from this odd disruption that may compel the cuccos to stop moving for a short while, nothing further yet comes of this.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Staff of Audience toward his party's challenge, Climbing the Mountainside.
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

A lump!

"As long as we're all fine," Kaguya says, and rises. "I'm okay," she says to Riesenlied, "But thanks. ...I'm not sure how well your healing would work on me," she admits, eyeing the Medium a little but smiling at Riesenlied anyway. "But then, it being you, it probably would regardless, huh?"

Aww.

"--Oh," Kaguya says. "No, it's all right. It actually might be helpful, since... it means you can answer some questions I have. And it's cool like--what, have you always liked my haircuts?"

Incidentally, her hair is down to her shoulders again. It wasn't, before Macalania, terribly close to that.

"Hey, that's okay. Look at it this way--Althena doesn't care where you're from, right? So it is with them. They're made of something different, think differently... But they're still an ally. Right?" A beat, "But, I think whoever told you what a person is might've been mistaken. If in aggregate you act this way, then, that counts--technically, living beings are made up of many systems and our guts have microorganisms and stuff. If anything you're more of a single person than I am, if all your components are uniform."

She considers though. If not an Odessa agent... is she going to have to subdue her sister if that comes up? She wonders that immediately.

"...I'd appreciate the chance to capture a live agent."

She forgets finally about the whole OS thing for the moment.

But--it's hard to climb. There are cliffs. Kaguya doesn't feel this so good. So... when Riesenlied gets the cuccos, Kaguya's eyes light up. "Sure, why not? These birds always seemed to like me," Kaguya says brightly, and climbs up with Riesenlied. She's very light! That may help. Probably doesn't matter though as it turns out.

"I'll just call you OS!" she calls to OS. And then, to Day, "Anyway that's like, my sister? Kind of. Adopted. It's a long story. I don't know her that well but I know her sister and her mother, so..." Kaguya gestures. "You know how it is. The priests are always calling each other Brother and Sister."

Is... is that how it works???

Unaware, shamelessly unconcerned, Kaguya lifts an eyebrow. "Huh. Is somebody out there?" she wonders. "....Maybe there's a..." She pauses. "Hey OS have you seen Lydia's cat?"

DG: Kaguya has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Climbing the Mountainside.
==========================<* Dragon Roost Cavern *>===========================
=================<* CHALLENGE - Climbing the Mountainside *>==================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 1          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 You have, perhaps once more, found yourself on the side of the mountain,      
 after briefly following a tunnel. The sun is bright and warm here, in the     
 Great Sea, and a breeze blows past. The occasional cry of birds can be        
 heard. This peaceful atmosphere is the backdrop, however, to one of the       
 steepest mountain sides on Filgaia. A cavern up ahead leads deeper into the   
 mountain, but to get there, you will need to jump between narrow ledges --    
 and inch along others, not even wide enough for a person to stand on.         
 Climbing, leaping, and care will be necessary to ascend upward.               
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow, Secret=============================================
=====================<* Dragon Roost Cavern - Round 3 *>======================
===================< Results - Climbing the Mountainside >====================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       10 --(0)--> 10                 Pass
Staff of Audience                   4   Agility Effects: nothing              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kaguya                              10 --(0)--> 10                 Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Day Muirwall                        10 --(0)--> 10                 Pass
Shiro's Tail                        2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Riesenlied                          10 --(0)--> 10                 Pass
My Dear Friends                     3   Agility Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         10 --(0)--> 10                 Pass
Radical Skates                      2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Kaguya                      40 --(20)--> 60                Pass
Conditions: Secret(2)|Slow(2)
Effects: Quicken(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Kaguya 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: Lydia Seren has drawn a new Challenge.
==========================<* Dragon Roost Cavern *>===========================
==================<* CHALLENGE - Rickety Bridges and Lava *>==================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The next turn leads you back into the central lava chamber. The red glow of   
 the lava, deep below, greets you. So does the furnace blast-level heat, sure  
 to bring a sweat to most people instantly. The path through, now, hugs the    
 wall of the caldera. A series of narrow ledges, which are connected by        
 wooden platforms and stairs of questionable construction, helps fill in the   
 gaps. You will need to jump over them, making numerous difficult leaps...     
 and a wrong step could put you into the lava below. Or, up higher, as         
 occasionally a ball of lava rises up and splashes down onto the ledge.        
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow, Suffer=============================================
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

    Riesenlied and OS share a moment where she's beaming, having done a Momliness and feeling her Mom Level go up.

    LEVEL UP!
    New Title Unlocked: Mom Bomb -> Mom Bomb-Omb

    The cuccoon slowly bobs upwards, and Vess and Day safely picks themselves up into a smaller cloud that eventually rejoins...

    ...the cucclective cucconsciousness.

    "We'll take it slow," advises Riesenlied to Day and Vess as she adds, "Also, aren't they fluffy? I'm glad you like them. Cucco is definitely a wonderful friend... ah?"

    The cuccos stop for a moment, and Riesenlied yelps as she jostles for a moment. It allows OS a chance to catch up. Don't commit a crime to cucco, OS! "I--it's okay, OS! They're my friends," she advises to OS. "They can be your friend too."

    Kaguya admits she isn't certain how well her healing would work, but soothes her by assuring that since it's her, she'll find a way. "I hope so," Riesenlied admits with a smile. "I haven't given up on my promise, you know."

    A pause, as she smiles wider and says, "I'm also glad you're teaching OS to not be too violent," while perhaps not quite gathering some of the other motives behind it, but... a life saved is a win in her book regardless.

    But eventually, the Cuccos make their way up without too much more of a fuss -- Kaguya climbs without much trouble right next to them, at the same time OS uses their wings to soar after the group.

    And Ethius evacuates deeper into the cave with nary a blink from Riesenlied other than what Kaguya pointed out. "Is Schrodinger here...?"

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

OS does not commit a crime to cucco. They are mother's people after all. They can understand this level of social contract and besides which it is tactically unsound.

"Very well," They tell Kaguya. "We acknowledge the potential benefit to a live specimen." OS doesn't seem to recognize that a non-lethal takedown might be unusual request from Kaguya but, to be fair, they don't seem to 'get' people too well.

They do consider Kaguya's words further. "That is possible. 'Personhood' appears to be a malleable concept depending on who is utilizing the term. We cannot promise we are a 'person' in the way you understand people but it is true that humans are also entities made up of smaller parts. They emulate this behavior in the macro field as well, reaching out to other humans and gaining power from one another to achieve difficult objectives such as the elimination of 'Mother'." She looks to Kaguya and adds, "We excel at reaching out to one another on the micro scale. Through the power of interaction, we hope to analyze macro-scale coalescence."

They nod. "OS is fine." They would have been continuously comically interrupted if they kept trying to say what OS is short for so it may be for the best that Kaguya gave up here for now. The truth will surely come out one day.

"We have not seen OS's cat since our recovery from Solaris." Ethius would know that Schrodinger has been spending THEIR time enjoying the company of the Caravan Kinship and being a cat. Perhaps one day Lydia will recover her cat once more but for right now maybe it's better if Schrodinger isn't spending too much time around Solarians.
R
"Friends with cuccos." OS murmurs. "Cucc...CuccOS...."

Their eyes sparkle briefly as they pet a singular cucco with a hand. They understand petting. They've seen a lot of petting in their time.

The next area leads the group back into the central lava chamber. It's very hot. Even OS is sweating tiny beads of quicksilver. The path turns into a series of narrow ledges connected by wooden platforms and questionable stairs.

"...Allow us to show our intense radness." OS says as they activate their skates and start running this is probably a bad idea but it never stopped Lydia and OS observes well.

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Radical Skates toward her party's challenge, Rickety Bridges and Lava.
<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

Day can't help but blush as he looks up at Riese, his arms around a couple of very soft round featherballs. "They are... they are very wonderful friends, Lady Riesenlied," he manages, trying his best to sound dignified while hugging the cutest birb.

When finally they land, Day picks a couple of lingering feathers out of the gap between two parts of his armour. "...They are rather charming, aren't they," he murmurs, glancing back towards where Vess has touched down, too. She's still holding a cucco in her arms.

The young woman looks to Day and Riese with a shining smile, her green eyes bright. "They're the very cutest. And so brave...."

"Brave?" Day scratches his cheek. He begins to move on.

Into an inferno. The heat of the place nearly brings Day to his knees. With a hiss of surprise, he steps back from the edge of the platform and towards safety. Sweat drips down his forehead, the steel of his armour rapidly warming. "This is not the most pleasant experience," he murmurs before looking towards a sweating Vess. Holding an arm out to her, he nods. "...We're going to have to do this differently. Please hang on."

"A-alright, Sir Day." Vess pulls into Day's side, and the knight draws an arm around both her and her cucco friend. With his other hand, he tucks the Shiro Tail into the collar of his armour before bowing his head and beginning to chant softly.

"Holy Althena, Lady of Light, preserve Your servants in this hour of need. May Your breath carry Your faithful to safety. This I pray...."

As he mutters that prayer, there's a gentle pulse of magic. A cool wind stirs through the group, carrying the gentle scent of a spring day, the cooling touch of the last traces of winter chased by the first kiss of a new, fresh season. Opening his eyes, Day breathes in the soft zephyr - and then he moves forward quicker than an armoured man has a right to, jumping quickly from platform to platform, dashing down paths where they seem sturd enough.

DG: Day Muirwall has used his Tool Shiro's Tail toward his party's challenge, Rickety Bridges and Lava.
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    There is a reason that the heat in this chamber has taken a turn for the worse - even knowing that it's all a volcanic cavern and it being hot and hellish and very difficult to breathe in (in fact, no one should ever be inside one of these things ever because of the breathing point especially). Everything seems arranged, just so, that passage is possible only by extreme contrived circumstance. As though the universe itself were, simply put, a capable level designer that only wants to provide challenges that are engaging, entertaining, and rewarding to master and overcome.
     That's the structure.
     The temperature has had some extra help - there's something weird about the way heat has gathered here. It's hot enough right now that it might warp mechanical sight and throw off any signals that attempt to measure presence and movement by heat, but then...
     An Althena devout uses his expression of Her Gift, and the cool wind stirs.
     A cool wind that starts to disperse some of the strangely-placed hot air, cooling said air and clearing the blinding heat haze...
 
...
 
          ?
 
     There is a silhouette of someone or another floating with something bulbous held overhead! If they can clear the area fast enough without mishap, they can catch up...!

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Hot Air Sack toward his party's challenge, Rickety Bridges and Lava.
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

    Riesenlied does sort of listen in as OS describes their interaction with people and what they hope to achieve -- something similar to the magic that happens when people get together and achieve something they wouldn't be able to do individually. ... though a lot of the harder words are lost on her.

    "Hmm..." Riesenlied muses. "I hope they are okay. But I know enough that they are safest when they are not being observed."

    They proceed onward, and the Hyadean gasps as she wipes at her brow and murmurs, "Oh, it got very hot..." Prudent observation! It's full of lava, after all!

    OS shows their intense radness, and Riese gasps and says, "My goodness! How radical!"

    Day is having a good time with the cuccos, and she smiles back at him as she nods. "I met them perhaps two years ago for the first time? It was a wonderful time," for her and yet NOT EVERYONE ELSE.

    The cuccos hover around, but Riesenlied looks a little stunned as she says, "Cucco, would you be able to help here? I don't want your feathers to burn."

    Day casts a spell that brings cool winds, but she still looks a bit puzzled... but the Cuccos are taking advantage of the incoming winds to gather up into another cuccoon to very slowly... slowly... amble her across the gap.

    ... in this way, she's probably travelling at Hot Air Sack speeds.

DG: Riesenlied has used her Tool My Dear Friends toward her party's challenge, Rickety Bridges and Lava.
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

Riesenlied says she's glad about Kaguya and violence, and Kaguya shrugs lightly. "I haven't changed my feelings about it, exactly... But..." She stops, and looks towards Day, shakes her head. "It's complicated," she says instead to Riesenlied. "But I won't kill people without a reason to. We're both strong enough," she says of her and OS, "That we don't have to for most people defending ourselves."

Cucclective... Kaguya's narrative stream isn't going to try to type that properly. Too many letters to mix up.

"It's absolutely a malleable concept, dependent on culture largely. But that's really interesting, actually--you really are decentralized, huh?" Kaguya can't help but be interested; she's a scientist. "Well, I've met people who are incarnate amounts of magic elements, so like, my definition is pretty broad." Pause.

"Uuugh," Kaguya says. "I can feel the sweat," she complains. "I should've worn my suit..." She doesn't mean a tux; she's in Filgaian clothes still, with the Alathfar pin. "Gotta agree. I can't... take this for all that long..."

Not without doing something she'd rather not. For now, though--she notices the cool wind of the gentle day, the traces of winter... Something of nature. It's not what she expected. "...And you see," Kaguya says while Day is far ahead, "The Althenans, I came to appreciate. I've got... friends, you know?"

Kaguya can't quite breathe--but she pulls out her mask, and slips it over her nose and mouth, and then--

Then she does something Riesenlied has never seen her do; she brings her hands up to her shoulders, crossed over her chest, and channels ice magic, of all things, in a shell around herself to help keep her cool.

Then her eyes narrow. "...Someone there..."

Pause. "...Yeah, OS. That's real radical," she says.

But she speaks up, thanks to the mask, to day, as she jumps across platforms, too--slower, more deliberate, but at least she can jump across well. It's just a matter of aiming that's the issue.

"So my birth family are of a people called 'Veruni'--we left the Blue Star long ago," she explains to day, "But returned some hundred years or so ago. I was born..." She thinks about it. "The best way you can think of it is off in the night sky, far from Lunar or the Blue Star. I came to Lunar--and to ally myself with Althena's forces--only later. ...But I came to appreciate why She's followed the way she is. I didn't think much of gods and goddesses, growing up, but I can't deny that She's got the real deal when it comes to power. ...So I've been helping, in return for her people giving me a place among them, and... because I want to see how much you can accomplish, how far you can go--how long the path you can walk is."

"I want to leave a better world, when I go."

Jump.

DG: Kaguya has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Rickety Bridges and Lava.
==========================<* Dragon Roost Cavern *>===========================
==================<* CHALLENGE - Rickety Bridges and Lava *>==================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The next turn leads you back into the central lava chamber. The red glow of   
 the lava, deep below, greets you. So does the furnace blast-level heat, sure  
 to bring a sweat to most people instantly. The path through, now, hugs the    
 wall of the caldera. A series of narrow ledges, which are connected by        
 wooden platforms and stairs of questionable construction, helps fill in the   
 gaps. You will need to jump over them, making numerous difficult leaps...     
 and a wrong step could put you into the lava below. Or, up higher, as         
 occasionally a ball of lava rises up and splashes down onto the ledge.        
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow, Suffer=============================================
=====================<* Dragon Roost Cavern - Round 4 *>======================
====================< Results - Rickety Bridges and Lava >====================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       10 --(15)--> 25                Fail
Hot Air Sack                        2   Agility Effects: Resilient            
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kaguya                              10 --(15)--> 25                Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC                
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Day Muirwall                        10 --(15)--> 25                Fail
Shiro's Tail                        2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Riesenlied                          10 --(10)--> 20                Pass
My Dear Friends                     3   Agility Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         10 --(10)--> 20                Pass
Radical Skates                      2   Agility Effects: Quicken              
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Kaguya                      60 --(30)--> 90                Pass
Conditions: Secret(1)|Slow(2)|Suffer(1)
Effects: Quicken(1)|Resilient(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Kaguya has passed this challenge! The party gained 30 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
DG: Ethius Hesiod has drawn a new Challenge.
===============================================<* Dragon Roost Cavern *>================================================
=========================================<* CHALLENGE - Green Bokoblin Squad *>=========================================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 Your path up the mountain leads to an area near its summit. Here, you find    
 something quite disturbing: a wooden fortress that was once rudimentary, but  
 now has plates of dark iron bolted in to reinforce it. Some of this           
 resembles the structures built by Ganondorf Dragmire's cronies. However,      
 some are more advanced -- suggesting that Odessa has aided in the             
 construction of this base. Exploring the entire thing would be difficult,     
 especially after the trials of your journey.                                  
                                                                               
 You note some of the entrances and the path up here, before you turn to go.   
 That is when you hear a metal door swing open -- and a shout.                 
                                                                               
 A squad of well-armed Green Bokoblins is behind it. A number are armed with   
 spears and swords; however, a few have gunsmoke rifles. One carries an        
 oversized mortar. They shout, then fire the mortar. It explodes with a fiery  
 blast in your midst... and the battle is on!                                  
=Dungeon Conditions: Wound, Injure============================================
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

OS mistakes Day's blush. "She has a partner, but she may be amenable to additional partners. We suggest caution in approaching such a relationship." They are already skating off by this point.
    he cuccos don't just lift Riesenlied across the gap, they also help buoy Day across when it seems like he's having trouble. Maybe they remember...that he hugged...a cucco.

OS's radicalness is affirmed by BOTH Riesenlied and Kaguya and rest assured, they approve of this even though they continue to deem 'expressions' as meaningless. It can be rough reading OS here.

Kaguya make a huge leap...and actually jumps PAST the platform and towards... a non-platform. Air. OS lashes out and catches Kaguya's arm with one of their own.

"Sister." OS tells her--judging from OS's lack of reaction to Kaguya's backstory, even they must have already known a bout it. Expressionless only goes so far when someone admits they are a space alien though naturally this is probably only notable to Day there. "We will not let you die. You will be able to see a better world, the world of your dreams. That is our desire for you."

They set Kaguya down on solid ground before moving on ahead.

MEANWHILE

Ethius continues to be sneaky but unfortunately not perfectly sneaky. A cucco has found its way onto Ethius's head and is nesting there sleepily. The heat makes it a sleepy cucco.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    Whoever it was... they know there's someone ahead. They lose them, but there's only one straight path from here. They'll catch up...
     The path takes them up towards an area that is just shy of the summit - the highest point of the mountain. Which is why it's called a summit, and they're near it. Things have gone well enough among friends and family that the mood could, even with a strange interloper, be leisurely enough to afford flippancy about these things.
     ...Until they come to a smoldering ruin.
     Ash and soot linger about the air, of a character distinctly different from the volcano's own dust. A wooden fortress can no longer be recognized as having been made of such before, its bolted metal reinforcements having turned to red-hot slag.
     More advanced structures... mortars, other weapons... are similarly melted to uselessness. It is to the point that to identify that any one of them were a mortar or anything of the sort is less a credit to one's technological acumen and more evidence that whoever did this did not have the luxury of time to complete the job.
     Or leaving enough intact for identifaction purposes was their intent.
     "You have completed your expedition. Odessa adjacent hostiles have been eliminated with extreme prejudice. The profile of the one intact weapon is of unmistakable make attributed to their known armaments." Where are the Odessa adjacent hostiles the male voice describes? There are no remains to recover.
     That voice... almost all of them know who it is. Where are they talking from?
     "OS. Your mission priorites, as has been made understood by your own words, is thus accomplished." These words are ruthless in their precision - taking a familiarity of what was professed within earshot no more than roughly a day or so ago, and weaponizing them to try and get her to voluntarily withdraw. "I will see Miss Riesenlied safely back down the mountain in time."
     ...But where is he? The dust alone is rough to living people. Technologically, signals can't get through it. Somehow, it's on par - or even exceeds - the best known chaff grenades and other decoy devices available.
     "You have enjoyed your status on Lunar. Your influence on the lives of its people are well-known... and yet, your discourse is most curious." The dust continues to swirl about, as if the very movement and sound of it continues to obscure one's ability to triangulate the voice's source.
     "You did not earn your influence from your respect of others' persons. You did not earn your influence from your claims of piety. You did not earn your respect from a heartfelt desire to make the world a better place. Far from any of these..."
     The voice stops talking. A quiet chanting. A sudden rise in building heat... and the one mortar that can be identified as such explodes.
     "You curried favor by giving them weapons and powers beyond their understanding... their reach. You ushered and thrived in a war that exploited the ambitions of those who knew not the responsibilities and challenges such would bring - you cowed them with power. First, it was with gunsmoke ARMs... which you recklessly saw to their distribution."
     Another quietly performed act of Symbological sorcery. Electricity courses through another former device, which has enough juice to violently shudder and roll itself in front of the entrance before it, too, explodes and becomes a bigger heap instead of a smaller set of heaps that explosions generally make. More dust fills the air, for it was crammed full of the stuff.

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    "Then, you introduced massive weapons with, perhaps, no rival short of Sin - and destroyed the city of Luca in a show of force. Massive weapons even beyond the gunsmoke ARMs... weapons whose deployment have proven restrained in the time that followed. Whether by means limited for what was required to muster them or any other reason, you gave the forces of Althena a taste of power once unknown to them... and thought nothing of disintegrating those who had the misfortune of being in your sight."
     Another burst of heat. Another mass of metal just evaporates. Metal. Evaporated. (That's freakin' hot.)
     "I can only imagine how often they begged you to deploy the weapons again out of convenience. After all, they proved ever effective against Luca - why not go the whole way? The seeming restraint is, on the surface, a mercy... but if you and yours are present here now, and have left these weapons unattended, unguarded on Spira..."
     The dust parts. A 6' man with white hair, dressed like a common naval brigand but failing to understand that they do not talk with big words like he's doing... wielding but a quarterstaff, with no apparent higher technological means at their disposal. (Also there's a cucco on his head roosting. He is clearly doing his damndest to pretend it is not there, lest it brutally murder him mid-exposition.)
     Kaguya, in theory, could vaporize him to a fine pink mist on the spot. (So could OS... and Riesenlied.)
     Eyes settle upon Day and Vess with an unyielding stare... followed by closed eyes for a moment. Was there something he wanted to say to them, but couldn't? Can't? ...I cannot hold their feelings against them.
     "...No. You care not for leaving anything better behind. What you have done to the people of Lunar..." Which begs the question as to why this man would care. He does not look, nor sound, like anyone from there - at all. "...none seem willing or able to hold you to account."
     Nor does she fear such... even without all the numbers in question, it does not add up. Even so...
     Ethius slams the butt of his quarterstaff down anew as he chants together a spell, waving his fingers, flexing them in and out...
     "Dust Compress." Sorcerous lights come from him as the ambient dust slams down towards Kaguya, as if to try and bury her alive - clearing the air entirely, leaving a dreary gray sky above.
     "I'll bury this legacy that should not be!" An uptick in emotion as he advances - his movements attempt to evade everyone else present unless absolutely necessary. This is the only way he relents from inflicting anything and everything within his power, as he tries to zero in on eliminating Kaguya from the picture.
 
YOUR MISSION: Protect Kaguya from this guy who cares for some reason... if she actually needs it.

DG: Ethius Hesiod has used his Tool Powder Grenade toward his party's challenge, Green Bokoblin Squad.
<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

Day hears just enough from Kaguya, at first, that he glances back for a second. He turns his gaze forward again and closes his eyes for a moment. "...I don't like to kill," he says quietly. "Only when there is no other solution."

Kaguya's explanation is detailed and touches on a lot of things that are outside of his immediate ability to understand. When Day does finish bounding from pillar to pillar, settling at the far end, he bows his head and knits his brows. A profoundly troubled look crosses his face. The concept of life on the Blue Star was startling enough. The concept of life beyond it, descending from the sky, seems like it defies imagination.

"I don't claim to understand everything about the world you come from," he says slowly. "And perhaps I never will. But you came to Glenwood and chose to be among us. So long as that is true, we're bound by our service to the Goddess. That's what I understand most clearly."

But the air eddies. Day squints ahead, then frowns.

"Someone is present," he says quietly. "Be cautious."

They proceed onward - and as they come within sight of the ruin, Day clicks his teeth together in sudden surprise. "What is this," he hisses, moving to ready his shield and blade. "Vess, get back--"

A voice speaks to them. It's not one Day particularly recognizes. Vess, for her part, is wide-eyed as she retreats.

She doesn't get far. The explosion nearly catches her, and she darts back towards Day as the entrance is suddenly cut off. "--Vess!" Day hisses as he drops back towards her, moving to cover her. Genuine anger flashes through his outward reserve and attempts at poise. Raising a hand against someone under his protection is more than he can countenance.

The white-haired man makes his presence felt, and Day sets his jaw and plants one heel, raising his shield and holding his broadsword in a ready stance. A few locks of sandy hair ripple in the heat. And yet, for all that a voice in the back of his mind screams at him to put his sword through Ethius in mid-speech...

He doesn't. His honour won't allow it. "Vess," he says quietly, "get behind something and do not come close."

Swallowing hard, the auburn-haired young woman drops back, running to hunker down behind a rock formation. Day takes a step forward, holding his sword out to point the tip at Ethius. "You claim the right to appoint yourself the Lady Alathfar's judge, jury and executioner," he rebukes, "but her path to Althena is Althena's to judge. It doesn't matter that I don't fully understand how she can be. So long as she walks with Althena, it's you I must hold back!"

    Dust compresses. The blast of it blows out the sky - but surprisingly little of it. Day clicks his teeth and raises his shield to keep the worst of it out of his eyes. "Tch-- Althena's breath, see us to safety!" he invokes, and a breath of wind coils up around himself, Kaguya, OS and Riesenlied, pushing back subtly against the dust and bringing a breath of life with it.

The young knight charges forward. He doesn't seem inclined to give Ethius personal space, using the bulk of his armour and shield to force himself straight into melee range.

"HOOOAHT!" That broadsword swings - once, twice. He's skilled, the strokes recognizable as the Lion's Heart style. As he swings, his eyes flash with intent - and his normally calm voice begins to rise to a fierce shout.

"And not just Lady Alathfar... how dare you raise your hand against Vess, an innocent, you..." He cuts off to try and slash Ethius across the chest.

"...you blathering wandought?!"

DG: Day Muirwall has used his Tool Kite Shield toward his party's challenge, Green Bokoblin Squad.
<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

    "... I know," Riesenlied softly answers to Kaguya. She's still a bit anxious about the time she wound up having to face her in battle, after all, in Djose; but at the same time she won't get anywhere without engaging and spending time with her.

    "And... I appreciate that," is what she chooses to answer with, when Kaguya says she won't kill people without a reason. "I know you've tried your hardest for us, for the Outreach, too. I'm not about to forget that."

    Then Kaguya uses ice magic, which prompts a quiet gasp from her. Something about the magic recalls in her. "Was that... from the Temple underneath the Lake?"

    She quietly listens to Kaguya's tale about the Veruni, but is more distracted as she jolts when Kaguya misses her jump but gets caught by OS. She sighs in relief.

    Kaguya mentions about how she wants to leave a better world, and how OS will strive to bring that dream to light. She trembles further at that, taking in a soft and fervent breath as she looks to her Veruni daughter.

    But the air shifts, as they move forward. She's pretty exhausted by this point, despite being carried so much by cuccos; she does, however, notice. The mortars, weapons... melted. It's a very familiar sight by now. In hindsight, was it all...?

    But the speech comes. She is called out too -- that they'll bring her back the mountain in time.

    They call out her crimes. Bringing and introducing ARMs into Lunar. Proliferating those weapons amongst those who'd never known them before... and the Guard Golems as well. Sorcery erupts, and she winces a little as she catches some of the dust and begins coughing violently -- her ill health and dust never quite work well together, even just from indirect contact.

    "Mister Ethius..." she whispers, inbetween her throat hacking. She can sense the anger flowing inside of him. That righteous anger... manifested in his very being, the very act of retributive justice.

    "I understand what you are saying." She does understand, she must understand... because she's taken a stand against it in Djose. And yet... Day dashes forward, and she winces. She understands how he feels, as a Knight who feels Althena should judge her.

    What does her path entail?

    She has never been one wholly for retribution. She knows that much. She has much space in her heart for kindness and forgiveness, even against those who've personally hurt her, her loved ones, her family. Because on some fundamental level, she's always believed in restorative justice. In atonement. But she knows herself that not everyone has forgiven her. There are still those in Arctica, in Adlehyde, who haven't forgiven her. And she needs to be okay with that. Because her act is ever ongoing, never stopping... because it is not a prize, but rather, a journey.

    Because justice is not the only right in this world. Someday... she will see that.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

    The sorcerous light comes, and Ethius' assault is commited - the dust coming down against her.

    "I... I will not let this fight come to see its conclusion -- to either end! I don't want to see you or Kaguya be harmed!"

    And to that end, there is someone who understands that pain. Her palms are held angular to a battered old device in the shape of a glass pyramid -- it is a technological device rather than a Medium, Artificial or otherwise. It is a Beacon, which no longer works under its old power.

    She pours her all into it, the Ley flowing through it as she kindles its light once more, softly chanting though technology does not deem it necessary:

    "Seek my fervent plea, oh loyal companion...
     Though the iron-blue call beckons no longer,
     I have need of you once more.
     Manifest yourself through this beacon--
     I summon you... my Father's dear retainer, Trask!"

    The Beacon's light erupts with a spike of energy coursing through the air -- and with a subsiding flash, the old Metal Beast has emerged. A draconic turtle, with a spiked shell and a fiery maw, at first menacing... but Trask is as wearisome and sleepy as he was back in the Adelyn Ranchlands last a lot of people saw it. An old, withered dog who has lost its master and has not recovered since.

    "... I know it hurts ..." Riesenlied whispers, clinging onto a scale of Trask's. "I know I can't replace him... but Trask, there are people hurting here too. And I need your help."

    And to this end--

    Trask moves to interpose itself between Ethius and Kaguya, and Day and everyone else who might be joining the melee.

    Yet the Metal Beast doesn't move to attack; it has nothing to attack with, its breath fumes and whatever bio-weaponry inside of it long exhausted and gone. But it does interpose. It takes whatever may be flung and shot between the two combatants with an ardent and yet weary defence. It takes ambient dust poured down onto its body. Everything.

    In its state right now, Trask almost embodies something common to Ethius -- a piece of slagged weaponry, its battle-scars evident and many.

    It is making a strong statement in its role as interceptor, as protector for the both of them, despite its inability to speak:

    Trask is ready to lower itself down to its knees or worse for them, as a once living weapon. It promises that much.

DG: Riesenlied has used her Tool Rings of Promise toward her party's challenge, Green Bokoblin Squad.
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

OS looks at the smoldering ruins impassively. "It appears that we have been beaten here." They start making their way forward regardless. Their objective IS the elimination of Odessa agents but the fact that they were destroyed before their arrival bears investigation.

And then there is a voice. A familiar voice, even to OS.

They look up towards Ethius. They don't raise a weapon immediately. Ethius isn't considered an inherently hostile agent.

One might think it'd be strange for such a creature as OS to fall for such a transparent ruse. And yet...

...Ethius is speaking OS's language. Even if Ethius has no authority over OS, even if it is clear to most that it is manipulation of how they think...

"You are correct." OS says. "Our mission is complete. Additionally, your promise of protection to mother is confirmed as to be likely legitimate. Our next objective upon fulfilling our mission should be... to return to base."

OS turns and starts walking away. Ethius's continued speech seems to fall on deaf ears. It's like OS has been hacked, not with programming but with an understanding of how OS SHOULD be worked, like calling in and pretending to be someone's superior and it just...works.

Perhaps this is what OS meant by not being people. A blade can be picked up by anybody with the right care.

But someone is listening.

No, scratch that. Two people are listening.

Stop!

OS says, "Lydia. We must return to base. We have orders."

STOP PLEASE! HE'S GOING TO HURT SIS

"We must return to base, Lydia." OS says, slowing to a stop. "Our instructions are clear."

...Everybody is treating you like you're family now... But you're not family, are you? You are just...trying to steal my life for yourself!

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiXBz3eyek0

OS says, "Our last orders were to investigate this ruin and return upon completion of our task, Lydia." OS says. "Solaris is our creator. We will return to base. ... You are agitated. Why?"

DID YOU FORGET YOU JUST PROMISED TO PROTECT KAGUYA???

OS cups their chin slowly. "...But...we must...return to base. That is the protocol we were given. We admit our desires in this instance are in alignment, but we cannot refuse. We are sorry, Lydia." They take one step further away when--

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

SOLARIS

Rachiel Medry is a Solarian. She never really looked down upon the Lambs, not intentionally, not in a mean-spirited sense. They were good people, she felt, they simply didn't have the same advantages as Solarians. And so...Solarians had to be their shepherds so that they could maximize their potential. That is what she believed with all her heart even though she knew darn well that her compatriots in the organization, in her society, they often believed differently and looked down upon the Lambs, scoffed at them, slaughtered them more like butchers than like shepherds. She wasn't completely ignorant.

She was the best swordsman of her class in Jugend, junior to Elhaym and the current batch of Elements. Her personality had a problem, of course, she was too optimistic, too naive. It limited her advancement. She would have to work very hard to advance in society and help make her own ideals of what it means to be a 'shepherd' reality.

And it paid off in her mind. She got this job. She was allowed to see the surface with Lydia's eyes, through OS's eyes. Their eyes are her eyes. Her classmates thought it was a dead end job but Rachiel saw it as an opportunity: An opportunity to get to actually talk to a Lamb, get to know them, see what made them tick and see for certain if her beliefs had any merit.

She taught Lydia how to fight in that month she was trapped up in Solaris. She showed her how to use a blade for real, the basics of the Solarian Blade Arts, and tried her best to be her friend.

It didn't work. Because of course it wouldn't work. Lydia was a prisoner. Her very agency was stolen from her.

She could never be friends with Rachiel. And yet...

HERE

"BELAY THAT ORDER, OS!" Rachiel's voice rings loud and clear from OS.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GF6kBNLTvaU

"Lydia, I know you think I'm an idiot and just some asshole who holds you on a leash..."

OS turns around, facing Ethius and Kaguya once more.

"But...we can't pick our circumstances, we can't change how we met. If it were up to me, it would've been different. Maybe I'm inhuman even so, just another oppressor..."

...Rachiel...

"But we can still learn from each other... We can still be friends and we can still look out for one another. I know you don't like OS, she's taking some of your life from you, but that's what sisters do. You don't get to decide if you have a sister, you don't get to think for them, and sometimes they run your life! They're your family too, and so is Kaguya, and Riesenlied..and...and it's so sweeeeeet! So new orders! Protect your family! Show me what Lambs are capable of!"

OS focuses on Ethius afterwards.

And then and only then do they smile for the firsrt time ever. "...Kaguya's crimes notwithstanding..."

Lydia and OS charge in unison towards Ethius, NOW treating Ethius as a hostile, growing a blade out of their arm and lashing out at Ethius before the blade 'skirt' also pulls up and spins forward as several tendrils, intending to pin the outsider.

"You have stated you are not family. We have been ordered to protect our family." OS says.

"And I won't fucking let you hurt her. She made me a better person!"

DG: Lydia Seren has used her Tool Rachiel Medry Is Doing Her Best toward her party's challenge, Green Bokoblin Squad.
<Pose Tracker> Kaguya has posed.

"Mm." It's a mixed bag; what she did for the Outreach, what she couldn't do. What she tried, what she should've done. From the Temple. "Not exactly--it just... helped me understand how. It's not so different from my magic, it's just sort of... inverse."

She looks to Day, then--and nods. "...Thanks," she tells him. "I know it's hard to understand, but if I'm going to keep helping, I need to tell some of you. Maybe especially a Knight of Rolance."

"...I told Lydia you might not get the choice," Kaguya says, once she catche her breath from falling too far, "But if I do, it won't be today. Thanks, OS."

But then--Day warns them. Kaguya comes to a stop... and then she hears that voice. She sees the fortress, and its slag weaponry. Where...? Kaguya is protected at first by her mask. But she still can't see through it. He speaks... and no, he speaks to her. Kaguya's lips curl into something between sneer and snarl, her sharp teeth visible as she looks for him. She can't hear where he is--she can't see it. She can't sense it. "You think I started the war?" Kaguya asks unpleasantly. "Sir Day could tell you otherwise."

But suddenly--an explosion, and Kaguya coughs behind her mask, as it starts to completely overwhelm the filter. Still, she cannot see Ethius, but her anger grows. "Thought nothing--"

He speaks of the weapons. "What, like you think I left the keys in?" she manages between coughs, and then forces herself to stand, to look up to him. "What can your pitiful magic do to me--"

The dust slams towards her, and she disappears within it in an instant, just a noise of alarm the last thing heard of her before it all crashes down around her, utterly blotting her out of sight and sound both.

Can she hear Day's defense of her? Can she hear the commonality between them, even as she has her different perspective? Does she notice Riesenlied's words? Can the Heritor's feelings reach her, amidst such terrible preparation? Does Trask's appearance get her? As Ethius works his spells into the darkness, the silence from Kaguya continues.

Until... a pulse. Simple; without force, it's like a tiny wave of the sea, rushing into shore without harm. But where it touches, it is distortion; it inspires queasiness, nausea. And then--

There is a deep rumble from within the tomb of earth created--some of the dust shakes off of it. Then--a point of it is suddenly filled with light, and a small column explodes out of it, as if from a bomb.

Easily, gently, Kaguya just floats out of it, opening her eyes to reveal them filmed over, completely white. "...You..." Her expression twists in rage "You--"

"You don't understand ANYTHING!!" Kaguya's scream erupts like a second shockwave, a shove on everything near her. No--more than that. The cavern walls themselves crack under the sheer force of it.

"DO YOU THINK I DON'T KNOW!?" Kaguya shrieks. "Do you think I don't know the cost?" she hisses. "You have no IDEA what I'm trying to achieve! You--" The words choke off. For a moment she can't even speak--

And Riesenlied can feel the pulse of Kaguya's rage--her hatred, in the moment. Of Ethius, but not only of Ethius. It is a living thing, almost... and then her anger is visible--a black aura begins to surround her hands, her feet, begins to cloud her eyes like ink dropped into water. "Your magic is stronger than I gave you credit for. But it's not enough. I..."

But she sees it. Day, fighting up forward to defend her. Trask, of all things, placing his weary bulk between them. OS--Lydia? Both of them, moving to defend her.

A faint terror lingers in the back of minds--

And Kaguya hesitates. "I--E-veryone, no, you--You shouldn't--....He's..."

Her eyes roll back, and she screams, suddenly, a heart-wrenching emotion that might as well be a deathblow before she--suddenly bereft of the sudden power that had begun to envelop her--falls, and collapses to the side.

Everything in a circle around her is melted to slag, putrefied as if by the forces of decay over a much, much longer period.

DG: Kaguya has used her Tool Loot Abuse toward her party's challenge, Green Bokoblin Squad.
===============================================<* Dragon Roost Cavern *>================================================
=========================================<* CHALLENGE - Green Bokoblin Squad *>=========================================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 3          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 Your path up the mountain leads to an area near its summit. Here, you find    
 something quite disturbing: a wooden fortress that was once rudimentary, but  
 now has plates of dark iron bolted in to reinforce it. Some of this           
 resembles the structures built by Ganondorf Dragmire's cronies. However,      
 some are more advanced -- suggesting that Odessa has aided in the             
 construction of this base. Exploring the entire thing would be difficult,     
 especially after the trials of your journey.                                  
                                                                               
 You note some of the entrances and the path up here, before you turn to go.   
 That is when you hear a metal door swing open -- and a shout.                 
                                                                               
 A squad of well-armed Green Bokoblins is behind it. A number are armed with   
 spears and swords; however, a few have gunsmoke rifles. One carries an        
 oversized mortar. They shout, then fire the mortar. It explodes with a fiery  
 blast in your midst... and the battle is on!                                  
=Dungeon Conditions: Wound, Injure============================================
==========================================<* Dragon Roost Cavern - Round 5 *>===========================================
===========================================< Results - Green Bokoblin Squad >===========================================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ethius Hesiod                       25 --(2)--> 27                 Pass
Powder Grenade                      3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kaguya                              25 --(2)--> 27                 Pass
Loot Abuse                          2   Combat  Effects: Cleanse and Sacrifice
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Day Muirwall                        25 --(2)--> 27                 Pass
Kite Shield                         1   Combat  Effects: Embolden and Fanfare 
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Riesenlied                          20 --(2)--> 22                 Pass
Rings of Promise                    4   Combat  Effects: Efficient and Fanfare
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lydia Seren                         20 --(2)--> 22                 Pass
Rachiel Medry Is Doing Her Best     3   Combat  Effects: Fanfare              
-------------------------------------------------------< Party >--------------------------------------------------------
Leader: Kaguya                      90 --(30)--> 120               Pass
Conditions: Injure(2)|Slow(1)|Wound(2)
Effects: Cleanse|Embolden(1)
===================================================< Dream Chasers >====================================================
DG: You have overcome the dungeon's trials! This run is a success!
DG: The party led by Kaguya has successfully explored Dragon Roost Cavern!
===============================================<* Dragon Roost Cavern *>================================================
======================================<* CHALLENGE - Imprisoned Merian Merchant *>======================================
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          | 
-----------------------------------------------< Challenge Information: >-----------------------------------------------
 With the Green Bokoblins defeated, you have a chance to look into the first   
 room of their base: an open area enclosed by a wooden fence, with some        
 narrower tunnels and ladders leading in deeper. More concerning, though, are  
 the series of crates and cages where stolen goods and people are kept. Most   
 are empty.                                                                    
                                                                               
 You spot one cage that is not empty. A haggard Merian merchant, his fine      
 clothes ragged now, sits there. He looks up and sees you, eyes widening       
 hopefully. You have a few moments before another patrol comes -- and you      
 should probably leave soon -- but his rescue shouldn't prove a problem.       
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
DC: Kaguya switches forms to Calamity Embraced!
DC: Kaguya switches forms to Damsel of Distress Kaguya!
<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    The strange man's gaze tracks only to Day for a short while in their retort as he dedicates his focus to Kaguya's present positioning. He does not show much - if any - remorse towards what Vess may have nearly suffered by his own hand. He did say about seeing Riesenlied down the mountain... but not either of those two.
     A curiosity remains that may only be taken note of after all this, should there be an after for either of them - aside from the ambush tactics, none of his spellcasting attempts seem to be towards Day - at all.
     After the Dust Compress, Day makes extra sure he does not have much time to cast, and throwing oneself bodily against him is - tactically speaking - an excellent move. Ethius is much less well-armored, and that sword that goes across his chest, even glancing, cuts through what he's wearing with those two leading strikes. Red starts to stain it.
     "If not by my ha--" Ethius gets cut off because Day gets an extra oomph to their stride and leaves a gash to his side. The cucco on his head rustles their feathers once in the middle of all of this, and re-settles. It can't be bothered with what's going on around it, this head is prime real estate. It's too comfortable.
     'I understand what you are saying,' Riesenlied's gentle voice can somehow be heard over all of this, for she carries that sort of preference.
     "You--" Don't get to talk, Ethius, for Day manages to get a strike with the flat of his blade against the side of his head, shoving him back. Riesenlied reaffirms her desire to ensure neither of them be harmed, and Trask is summoned to the effort. Trask, a veteran of no small share of scars as it served as the wall against those who stood in the way of Mother's conquest. Ethius only has half of the spell sequence necessary to do lasting harm - if he is even aware of that - but it might not stop him from trying...
     Were it not for Day, again, not giving him the room to maneuver or cast a more complex spell. He has lost direct line of sight with Kaguya, and that's beyond vexing. He cannot even take the moment to voice the thought that runs through him. It probably involved a complicated, dismissive word.
     At some point, he does slip out of Day's fury to try and rush forward, thinking he has successfully moved OS out of the way - but there is a loud shout to belay that order. Is it Solaris' will to also protect this Ver--
     He throws his forearm in front of him and slurs out those syllables as Lydia and OS charge of one, defiant mind, and electrical sparks blindingly flash and loudly thunder with every impact of those tendrils and every slash of the blade. Very curiously... his flesh holds, even when it strikes 'bare' flesh, a Symbological shield stopping the nanomachines from finding purchase. It might even sting to strike him... but it holds him in place. (So Day can beat him up some more.)
     He can't see Kaguya because of Trask. And Lydia/OS really hammering the Symbological shield buttons. And Day. (Cucco naps peacefully.) Where is she? What is she doing?

<Pose Tracker> Ethius Hesiod has posed.

    There is a pulse. It is blood-curdling. Were it not for the shield spell, a killing blow could land cleanly here. But then... light. The force washes out - somehow even past the Trask - and throws Ethius tumbling across the makeshift arena, bloodied and battered... as Kaguya shouts him down about understanding nothing.
     Something he would shout back, but Lydia/OS just cut off his bandanna - to say nothing about the disorientation of that screaming shockwave that robs sound and some sensation of touch. It's not that same feeling of wrong as Neriah - but it is an overwhelming sense of something... beyond.
     No, you don't. He wants to say that, that she is the one who does not understand ANYTHING!! He can't - but he's not sure if it's his lungs or something else. He doesn't have line of sight of her, still, even if he caught the surrounding aural fluctations surrounding the space she occupies - and he has to go through three (...two plus a very complicated number that doesn't round a hundred percent clearly to 'one') able combatants, if they have it in him to keep going after that.
     The screaming ceases. His back is to a significant drop. He remembers this much - one of his earliest surviving memories of this place. Jumping off a mountain in Lacour to evade Solarian patrols. Surely, he should thus feel an urgent need to flee before OS' prying eyes, then? Something still doesn't add up about that scene.
     But that doesn't matter right now.
     "...It is not as simple as whether the keys are left," Ethius says, sedately. "The moment they decide her input, her presence, is no longer needed to make use of all they would achieve of what the Veruni have left behind..." ...That is not for them to be concerned of, is it...?
     He's out of Powder Grenades. He's just going to have to make a jump for it - fast. His chances of survival...
     ...Well, it's not the first time he'd done something like that, now is it, he thinks as he hurls himself right off Dragon Roost.
     He keeps to whatever script guides him in this: little rationale to follow, and no apologies, for whatever sense of right and wrong guides him so.
     Cucco jumps off his head at this point, because nope, jumping right the hell off a mountain isn't comfortable. This older gentleman's rear end that's been cowering down here is-- wait. Older gentlemen?
     Oh, a merchant fellow from... Meria Boule, maybe?
     "D-Don't mind me! Don't mind me. Didn't see or hear anything... ha ha ha.... is that a cucco on my..."
     ...Well.

<Pose Tracker> Day Muirwall has posed.

Day barely knows Kaguya. She's of Hyland; he's of Rolance. But it doesn't matter. So long as they serve the same goddess, she's his ally. Their burdens are shared burdens.

But he'd be lying if he tried to say some of this wasn't anger at the danger to Vess. He doesn't back away from Ethius, striking deftly and with hard, sweeping blows, not lightning-fast given the weight of his broadsword, but skilful, heavy and damaging. There's genuine emotion fueling them, indignation and anger.

He's close enough that he can land those hits. The way Ethius struggles to defend himself at close range does nothing to stop him from actually punishing the man for his temerity.

Trask asserts himself between them at just the right moment. "Gh--!" Day grunts, eyes wide with surprise, before he looks to the side to watch OS - Lydia? Rachiel - hurtling into the field with such drama.

Something else happens. A power seems to roll off Kaguya. Widening his eyes, Day snaps his gaze towards her with alarm. "Lady Alathfar--"

From behind her heap of rocks, Vess is looking on in pale-faced horror, her hands cupped over her mouth. She's staring at Kaguya's back.

She's not the only one with horror written in her face. As Kaguya rolls with dark power, Day pales a little - and when she screams and falls, he clicks his teeth together for a moment.

    it's happening again.
        will you fail kaguya too?

Ethius is speaking. Day rounds on him once more. The caster's blood still clings to his broadsword. "Damned fool!" he shouts, his voice ringing. "Something's happened to her and you stand there and prattle on?!"

Ethius goes over the cliff before Day has the chance to call him another name. It's for the best. Instantly, the young knight whirls. There's urgency. Familiar urgency.

Coldness. A knife twisting in his heart.







    THEN

    there were none in the land who could stand against something like this. their land was too small. too forgotten. only he could. the fiend screamed and lashed at him again. he danced away. struck with the skills the old knight had taught him. blood sprayed across the stone. joined his own. he hurt. this had gone on too long. he needed that one mistake.
    before him, the monstrosity moved. in that moment, he saw it. like a flash. he lunged. the steel of his blade struck like a serpent uncoiling.
    flesh yielded. a scream. a cry, like sobbing. life spilled onto the stones.
    more than life. the creature was no longer. something else was left now. something all too familiar. someone all too familiar.
    he could but collect her in his arms and sob. his tears joined the blood on his cloak.





    NOW

Sabatoned footfalls ring out with steel as Day rushes across the stone and drops to a crouch beside Kaguya, reaching out with a gauntleted hand to bring a hand up behind her head. "Lady Alathfar," he breathes with alarm as he brings his other arm across to guard her with his shield. It's a gesture more of instinct than anything else. A protective impulse. Save her.

Don't lose her again.
                you done fucked up again, romeo.

Just being in the midst of the circle of decay is enough to send a shudder of revulsion through him, and he murmurs a soft prayer, letting a gentle healing wind push out around him. He'll try to move Kaguya to a piece of ground that isn't quite so hideously decayed.

"Lady Alathfar," he murmurs. "What curse has befallen you...?"

Vess still hasn't come out of hiding. If anything, she's buried herself even more deeply behind her rock.

<Pose Tracker> Riesenlied has posed.

    Between the anxious, sweltering heat of Dragon Roost's Summit, between the almost virulent blasts of dust and the chaos of combat arising

    between them, Riesenlied isn't doing so great.

    Trask is standing still, very much still in guard as it displays its usual weariness: this is not a creature who has much left in it.

    Then she hears Rachel's voice -- and her eyes widen as she looks towards OS. From the context, it is clear -- she is Solaris. And yet, even as her minder... she's speaking very warmly, as she orders OS to protect her.

    "OS..."

    But it's Kaguya who's in the most distress -- as she reaches to try to heal her, to soothe her; she sees her eyes. They're completely white.

    You don't understand ANYTHING!!

    Riesenlied tumbles off her wheelchair, and her legs fail her today. She can't stand.

    "Kaguya, I--"

    She trembles further, breathing hard as she tries to reah her; and then there is a burst as her visible anger surrounds her as an aura, and she screams--

    "Ah!"

    Riesenlied gets tumbled further back, flinching as she holds her hands out to try to sustain herself from hitting a bad piece of rock.

    Kaguya collapses; everything around her has melted into slag.

    She turns towards Ethius as he answers--

    The moment they decide her input, her presence, is no longer needed to make use of what the Veruni have left behind...

    "... Spira is not without its heroes still," Riesenlied tries to reassure him. "There are those that would safeguard it against such calamity. And we still have a job there left to accomplish...!"

    Then Ethius jumps, and she chokes again for a moment. She stretches her hand forward, but she's crippled on the spot.

    "Ethius!!"

    Trask suddenly lumbers forward -- and the iron turtle is for a moment a blur of speed as it...

    ... well, it isn't the most gracious of creatures, as a Metal Beast. But it moves on instinct, to try to do... something. To fall faster? To break his fall? To catch him mid-fall?

    "Trask..."

    Riesenlied's coughing is throatier, worsening with each expellation of air. She quietly turns to move -- crawl towards Kaguya, slowly. But with a ferventness in her movement, as she pushes herself elbow by elbow.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

It stings. Or it would. If OS 'felt'. The smile is already gone.

And indeed, there has been a moment there while Lydia took over. But that moment passes when Ethius leaps off a friggin' mountain and Lydia is left holding their bandana.

And then OS is holding their bandana. They observe the merchant for a moment. "Excuse me. We will not harm you but give us a moment."

They glance to Day. "Thank you for protecting her."

Not that Kaguya is generally someone who needs protection. Indeed, if she does need protection it's probably from Kaguya. OS doesn't seem to be terribly worried about Ethius's fate.

But well, at least Lydia is worried, but there isn't much that can be done about that. At the very least, Ethius has a parachute so it's not likely he's going to splatter.

The blades evaporate as they approach Kaguya. Their is still not much expression on her face beyond that brief smile. Smiles, it seems, are for special occassions.

"Rachiel Medry is our handler," They tell Riesenlied. "We must admit we did not expect her input to affect our operations today."

"Umm ... nice to meet you! Ahhh I'm so embarrassed I said all that stuff... I leave the rest in your hands!!"

OS is unphased by the goofiness. There are two fallen individuals here.

"Day. Would you be willing to carry Kaguya? We will carry Riesenliedd. If that is unacceptable," most likely thinking of his responsibility to Vess here. "We can conscript the merchant."

They crouch down to >Lift Mom.

"Fret not, mother. The orders we received today are ones we followed willingly. The cuccos will assist us in our evacuation from this point. There is no need to harm the merchant. It would provide no benefit."

She will put >Mom in wheelchair if unopposed. "Everything will be well. For we worked together. So it must end well."