Difference between revisions of "2020-01-13: Icy Truth"

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   unsteady rock could prove dangerous. How is best to get to it?
 
   unsteady rock could prove dangerous. How is best to get to it?
 
  =Dungeon Conditions: Vault====================================================
 
  =Dungeon Conditions: Vault====================================================
� Logging to file "C:\Electra\Logs\2020\avril_up_colshrie.txt" started
 
  
 
  <Pose Tracker> Acacia Saitani has posed.
 
  <Pose Tracker> Acacia Saitani has posed.

Latest revision as of 22:04, 18 May 2020

  • Log: Icy Truth
  • Cast: Yue Rohay, Marivel Armitage, Acacia Saitani, Avril Vent Fleur
  • Where: Freykragg Isle
  • Date: January 13, 2020
  • Summary: Drawn to the ruins on Colshrie for different reasons, things between the four soon take a decidedly tense turn. What is past is only prologue...

DG: A party led by Yue Rohay is now entering Mount Colshrie.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
=============================<* Mount Colshrie *>=============================
===============<* CHALLENGE - The Storm - Through The White *>================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 It is said that at the peak of Mount Colshrie in the Sielje region are ruins
 named by some 'Cythraul the Demon Tower'. Scholars believe that the tower
 dates back to the Metal Demon War. The ruins are poorly explored and in a
 dangerous location, and as such, the interest in them is high.

 You arrive at Mount Colshrie in the early evening, just as the stars would
 be coming out. They are of course invisible to you since there is, as there
 is so often, a storm swirling about the mountain base. Between the weather
 and the terrain, the mountain is near certain death for a traveler on foot.
 For someone in a Gear or similar, though...

 But even a Gear only gives you a slight chance: the storms on Mount Colshrie
 are known for their ferocity, and soon the world has gone white. Even the
 glittering crystals that dot the mountain are lost to your sight. Can you
 determine which way is best to proceed? A storm like this conceals the
 mountain's hazards: a wrong step could be dangerous. You will have to reckon
 with mountain and storm both as you begin your ascent.

 BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-sgn7QLVP4
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify, Tire, Injure====================================
<Pose Tracker> Yue Rohay has posed.

    Scholars and academics within the Sielje region know Mount Colshrie to be an exceedingly dangerous area -- possessing the ruins named 'Cythraul, the Demon Tower', dating back towards the Metal Demon Wars... supposedly. They are poorly explored and the weather is as much an enemy as the rest of the mountain.

    Even those equipped with the most advanced of Gears would be poised well to exercise caution, due to the severe, buffeting snowstorm that billows around the area.

    ...

    *BOOM*

    Which is why there's an enormous pile of junk with a disappointing idiot that just shattered the speed barrier, a sonic boom shattering sound across the milky-white savagery of the storm erupting around it.

    It's hardly capable of being called a Gear; it's a plane, if a plane had legs sticking out of it at awkward angles and was using a half-melted shield as a nosecone. It billows with as much vernier fire as it does thick black smoke from an engine probably on fire inside somewhere.

    A WHILE AGO - THE CONTEXT

    Yue Rohay was in a strange and unusual mood. Perhaps coy and cagey could describe her usual moods, but she was an even more reticient and uncooperative mood when she patted Minder on the head and then departed -- and the sound of a Gear roaring to life could be heard outside of Meria Boule's outskirts.

    Something was up.

    NOW

    "I'm not going to die... to a low-caliber hazard like this..." Yue chokes to herself, barely audible through the rapid keypress of her truly ancient and forgotten keyboard and the enormous G-forces brought upon her uninsulated cockpit. Where some recent keyboards unearthed from Digs typically have the layout Q W E R T Y...

    This one has " < > P Y F ...

    Truly the Zeboim brought about their own end.

DG: Yue Rohay has used her Tool The Ol Dvorak toward her party's challenge, The Storm - Through The White.
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

The Qubeley is a gear that is mostly drill with a single googly eye in its center and tiny little legs. It does not seem like the best sort of gear for this kind of adventure but Marivel probably knows what she's doing. Or at least will pretend that she does.

The Qubeley wobbles along through the storm. If nothing else, it's a durable mech. Wobble wobble wobble. It seems to be making better progress than you might expect for its build. Nevertheless, the storm does conceal hazards so--

--the Qubeley just digs down into the mountain itself and takes an 'underground' route like a dirty cheat! Or like Marivel. Often these two things are the same kind.

And then it pops up near the Zeboim Era mech and Marivel's voice pipes in, "I am here now! Your heart should be warmed by my presence! You're welcome!"

Qubeley emits a surge of heat that should hopefully provide some respite to Yue's own mech.

"I am the greatest Ga Ha Ha Ha Ha! No escape! No escape!!"

DG: Marivel Armitage has used her Tool Wisdom of the Crimson Nobles by M. Armitage toward her party's challenge, The
Storm - Through The White.
<Pose Tracker> Acacia Saitani has posed.

    Hovering alongside the ravaged, battered Gear is a second. Maybe a lifetime ago, it could have been a partner to the first - a similar design and similar shape, but with red highlights and a whole lot less in the way of blackened and twisted metal, standing upright rather than hunched over in a semi-transformed form. It moves much more slowly, the care but also the mistakes of someone who's still new to piloting a Gear, let alone one like this.

    And that's why it's appropriate to say it was hovering alongside. Because when Yue's mech rockets forwards into the storm, Acacia's is slow to follow as she still gets her bearings. The first gust of wind catches it and suddenly drags it aside; there's a quiet "--oops--" over the radio on a wide open band as the Gear bonks against the side of the mountain and neatly breaks off an outcropping, though thanks to a combination of care and the much more intact armour the Gear seems fine.

    For a few moments it hangs there as the reporter grits her teeth. "Are you actually gonna tell me what's up here?" she wonders, but not in the tone of voice that actually expects an answer. She might sound a little irritated, but she's doing her best to keep it in check, more aware now that sometimes Yue just needs to work through some things on her own.

    "... well, fine. Just-- wait up for me a little bit, okay?" she grumbles. Her engine flares suddenly into life as she grits her teeth, brighter than it has been; with its power the Gear more or less starts scaling the side of the mountain, using the bulk of rock as cover from the worst of the storm when it isn't jumping upwards for height in her pursuit.

DG: Acacia Saitani has used her Tool Thrifty Drifty toward her party's challenge, The Storm - Through The White.
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    It isn't quite a fugue state. And yet, Avril cannot entirely say why she is here, now, in the Gear Skadi and standing before the mountain.

    NOT LONG BEFORE

    Taking tea in the cafeteria on the Thames (quieter at the moment due to most of the crew being tagged in for a large expedition off-shore from the ship) Avril has the opportunity to overhear chatter about the Sielje region. Most of it is just talk about conditions and salvage operations in the area, but...

    There's a small clink of the chipped cup on the mostly-pristine saucer. Avril stands soon after.

    It isn't so much a well-drawn memory but a rough outline sketch of something distantly recalled. But she is past the point of being picky about what threads she wraps around her fingers and follows after. After a brief but fruitless search for her friends she...

    Leaves behind just a note.

    And not long after that, the Skadi departs the Thames, heading north.

    NOW

    There was...

    She closes her eyes, seated safe inside the cockpit. She's sure of it -- she thinks she recalls a building. A tower? She can see in her mind's eye a tower, under a starry sky.
    Well-woven with the sense that she had to be-- that there was something important--

    Alarms rouse her from her meditative posture within the refurbished Aveh Gear. A storm is brewing.

    A storm which brings with it a wall of blinding snow, cloaking her in a white darkness.

    A ping from the computer systems draws her attention. Radar says there are other Gears -- or something like them -- nearby. But are they friend or foe?

    A moment's deliberation later, Avril opens up her communications channels. She must trust, even in that other half of her curls its lip at the very concept.

    "Is anyone there? I am detecting other Gears over radar but I am afraid I cannot see you. My name is Avril Vent Fleur, and this is the Skadi. My current location is..."

    She rattles off a string of numbers; at the very least it should prevent accidental collisions.

DG: Avril Vent Fleur has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Storm - Through The White.
=============================<* Mount Colshrie *>=============================
===============<* CHALLENGE - The Storm - Through The White *>================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 It is said that at the peak of Mount Colshrie in the Sielje region are ruins
 named by some 'Cythraul the Demon Tower'. Scholars believe that the tower
 dates back to the Metal Demon War. The ruins are poorly explored and in a
 dangerous location, and as such, the interest in them is high.

 You arrive at Mount Colshrie in the early evening, just as the stars would
 be coming out. They are of course invisible to you since there is, as there
 is so often, a storm swirling about the mountain base. Between the weather
 and the terrain, the mountain is near certain death for a traveler on foot.
 For someone in a Gear or similar, though...

 But even a Gear only gives you a slight chance: the storms on Mount Colshrie
 are known for their ferocity, and soon the world has gone white. Even the
 glittering crystals that dot the mountain are lost to your sight. Can you
 determine which way is best to proceed? A storm like this conceals the
 mountain's hazards: a wrong step could be dangerous. You will have to reckon
 with mountain and storm both as you begin your ascent.

 BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-sgn7QLVP4
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify, Tire, Injure====================================
========================<* Mount Colshrie - Round 1 *>========================
=================< Results - The Storm - Through The White >==================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yue Rohay                           0 --(3)--> 3                   Pass
The Ol Dvorak                       3   Wits    Effects: Rally
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Acacia Saitani                      0 --(3)--> 3                   Pass
Thrifty Drifty                      2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Avril Vent Fleur                    0 --(3)--> 3                   Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Marivel Armitage                    0 --(3)--> 3                   Pass
Wisdom of the Crimson Nobles by M.  3   Wits    Effects: Fanfare
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Yue Rohay                   0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Injure(2)|Stupify(2)|Tire(2)
Effects: Enlighten(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Yue Rohay 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> Yue Rohay has posed.

    It would seem that Yue doesn't have a choice of going slow, perhaps because of the much more fragile nature of her craft; to not produce enough thrust would possibly be the entire answer of being devoured by Mt Colshrie's snowstorm.

    But even as Acacia's Gear drags, she responds, "Check the Mass Balancer gauge and torque it up. The pressure gauge should read two or higher."

    Acacia asks if she's going to tell her what's up there. Yue pauses for a moment longer, as she realises for once that she answer is 'nope' and that she just wanted to recklessly fly in a funk.

    Filled with too much useless pride, and perhaps revealing that she's not that different from Marivel, she answers, "Another buried truth, of course."

    But an alarm noise answers two more units in the area-- one of them is the Quebeley, a durable machine that's... digging down.

    "Mari..."

    The Quebeley heats up, and she watches as the multitude of fatal errors over the engine icing over start to fade.

    "... I often ponder. Even if I said 'yes, we can fight side by side again'... it would only lead to an even greater disappointment for you."

    But then a last Gear appears, and a voice--

    A voice cuts straight through her bone and chills her marrow.

    "... ... this is Yue Rohay, in the LZ-00 Aura," she finally speaks up. "I have airborne visibility. These coordinates should be safer to traverse."

    She grimaces deeper as she thinks back to Lefay. Her gloved fingers unconsciously tighten over her twinned flightsticks.

    Is this what they call a cruel destiny?

    The four Gears convene as they finally triumph over the storm, yet it won't be long before...

DG: Acacia Saitani has drawn a new Challenge.
=============================<* Mount Colshrie *>=============================
==============<* CHALLENGE - The Clear Sky - Exposed Wreckage *>==============
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Above are the stars and about you the weather is calm and clear, with
 excellent visibility. You're in a good spot: no obvious hazards appear to
 await you, and above, the mountain's peak looms.

 As you continue onward, you spot below a wreck of another would-be
 explorer's machine, revealed by the strong recent winds. Perhaps some parts
 can be salvaged from it -- but making your way down to it across ice and
 unsteady rock could prove dangerous. How is best to get to it?
=Dungeon Conditions: Vault====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Acacia Saitani has posed.

    Maybe Acacia's got the measure of Yue, or maybe it's just her natural skepticism and wit coming through, but the "Uh-huh." she delivers to Yue's boasts is flat enough that you can even hear the period. "This is one heck of a place to bury anything. More to the point, are you okay? --gh--"

    She has to cut herself off when her mech buffets against the mountain again. "Shit," she mutters to herself. "There's too many gauges in this thing. This one?" she whines aloud over the radio, before the thrum of her engine noticably shifts to something a little happier, sending her abruptly upwards, partially carried by the winds and partially thanks to an improved boost.

    Either way, the sudden rush of breaking through the storm is palpable. She drops to a hover, letting out a heavy breath of relief as the Gear more-or-less floats in place. "Uh," she blurts, and takes Yue's cue as far as greeting the others goes. Somewhat. "This is Acacia Saitani in the Nephele. I kind of have no idea what I'm doing, but let's roll with it. Uh, lemme give you a light."

    There's a noise of quiet effort over the radio as the silver-red Gear raises a fist. Rather than pull out any kind of weapon, there's simply a concentration of Ether around its fist, acting as a makeshift flare. "You seeing it? Head in that direction, but aim to come in high, I guess? Kind of comes to a peak below us. Something there, if you want a look," she advises, her machine carefully hovering downwards a little to draw closer to the wrecks beneath them.

    It at least serves to light up the way below, offering a better insight to what prizes might be available, and where.

DG: Acacia Saitani has used her Tool Thrifty Drifty toward her party's challenge, The Clear Sky - Exposed Wreckage.
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

Marivel is quiet for a bit as she hears Yue's words. Then she says, "Yue ... am I truly so exacting?"

Maybe she /is. Marivel isn't always the kindest of people, but--then again--that is by intent. Marivel feels excess amounts of kindness can be a cruelty of its own kind. Still, Yue is an old frenemy and the last thing Marivel wants is for her to feel unworthy. She's had many years to dissapoint her and that faith hasn't been shaken.

She says, "Glad you could make it, Ace." Marivel quips to Acacia before the eye on her mech focuses on Avril. "Ah, Avril! Good to see you again. This is Marivel. How have your friends been?"

The Qubeley pops out of the ground. She doesn't point out Avril to Yue again--she seems to be quite aware and she isn't in the mindset of teasing her right now.

A green light flashes from the Qubeley, outlining parts on the mech that could be useful to tear free--perhaps they can do some repairs Yue's mech before she is FROZEN today.

DG: Marivel Armitage has used her Tool Wisdom of the Crimson Nobles by M. Armitage toward her party's challenge, The
Clear Sky - Exposed Wreckage.
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    In spite of the situation she's in -- approaching a mountain alone and meeting with heretofore unknown forces while her optics are compromised -- Avril cannot help but giggle lightly when Acacia introduces herself with the caveat that she has no idea what she's doing. "I suppose that may place us, as it were, in a similar boat?" she voices. Then, similarly activating her external lighting (it is a dull lilac-blue) she begins to make her way towards Acacia's position. "Approaching your position now, Acacia. I have also activated my lighting."

    Chasing the vestige of a memory, alone... it might have been that way from the start with her, if she hadn't met her friends.
    Where would she be now? Perhaps, she reflects, pulling up alongside Acacia, it is pointless to wonder too much about an alternative history and its maybes.

    But such is her nature.

    "Here I am. --Ah, Marivel? Is that you? I did not know you had a Gear. Here, permit me to register your ID... there. Would it be alright if I sent it to Dean and Rebecca later, or would that be presumptive?"

    But some of her good cheer seems to melt away as Yue speaks.

    Yue... that woman. Veruni, as well?
    She had... known her. Known the 'real' her.

    Whatever her fears she had voiced to her friends -- and then resolved amongst them -- here they come again, rising like a lump in her throat. Perhaps it's foolish to think they'll ever cease to exist. But...

    The snow clears as the Qubeley makes its appearance. "Oh," Avril says, finding her voice once again. "...It's rather cute, Marivel. Wherever did you find such a Gear?"

    Acacia's voice interrupts over the line. There's-- something down there.

    "..."

    "...I see it too. I think... this snow seems somewhat stable, but please take caution on the descent. The recent deposits from that storm will be slippery underfoot," she observes.

DG: Avril Vent Fleur has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Clear Sky - Exposed Wreckage.
<Pose Tracker> Yue Rohay has posed.

    "... I don't know, Mari. But I've been thinking of those words a lot," Yue admits. "Now more than ever. Perhaps I'm getting more sentimental the older I get."

    She checks over towards Acacia again when she speaks up, and then chuckles very faintly as she remarks, "That is fine. If you wish to be proper, say that you 'copy' their message, and then say 'over' when you're done speaking over the radio, over."

    She pauses for a moment as she realises how flight squadrons and echelons probably won't ever be a thing again, and it fills her with a pang of nostalgia.

    She hears Avril speak as well, however. She narrows her lips as Acacia points her towards a broken-down Gear and murmurs, "Hold a moment, Acacia."

    The Aura effortly does an Immelman turn and swerves to where the Nephele is located; as she draws nearer, she purposefully stalls the engine to simulate a hover on a machine that doesn't seem to be capable of doing so, juking her thrusters to emulate it as much as possible.

    She catches sight of Avril's gear. A modified Aveh model... but the particulars of the machine aren't what's most important -- though she wouldn't dream of underestimating.

    It's who's piloting it inside.

    She shakes her head and remarks:

    "Acacia... Avril. Climb aboard. It should be safer than to walk along that precarious path."

    She is silent for a while longer...

    ...

    There is an irony in letting the Nephele and the Ice Queen both step over her, if they so choose to.

    She doesn't voice it out loud.

    At least the Quebeley is shining a light and putting out some fires before she tears herself apart.

DG: Yue Rohay has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Clear Sky - Exposed Wreckage.
=============================<* Mount Colshrie *>=============================
==============<* CHALLENGE - The Clear Sky - Exposed Wreckage *>==============
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 Above are the stars and about you the weather is calm and clear, with
 excellent visibility. You're in a good spot: no obvious hazards appear to
 await you, and above, the mountain's peak looms.

 As you continue onward, you spot below a wreck of another would-be
 explorer's machine, revealed by the strong recent winds. Perhaps some parts
 can be salvaged from it -- but making your way down to it across ice and
 unsteady rock could prove dangerous. How is best to get to it?
=Dungeon Conditions: Vault====================================================
========================<* Mount Colshrie - Round 2 *>========================
================< Results - The Clear Sky - Exposed Wreckage >================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yue Rohay                           3 --(13)--> 16                 Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Acacia Saitani                      3 --(3)--> 6                   Pass
Thrifty Drifty                      2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Avril Vent Fleur                    3 --(3)--> 6                   Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Marivel Armitage                    3 --(3)--> 6                   Pass
Wisdom of the Crimson Nobles by M.  3   Wits    Effects: Fanfare
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Yue Rohay                   20 --(30)--> 50                Pass
Conditions: Injure(1)|Stupify(1)|Tire(1)|Vault(1)
Effects: Enlighten(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Yue Rohay 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.
<Pose Tracker> Acacia Saitani has posed.

    "Ace?" blurts Acacia with a snort of air over her radio. "I don't feel like one right now. I didn't even know you had a Gear," she adds with a slightly uncertain air as she watches the drill robot pop up out of the ground. Almost immediately, part of her is wondering if the rather one-note machine even counts as a Gear, but then she's anything but an authority on the matter, so she's pretty happy to just let it go.

    "I could go for a boat right now, honestly," she adds, doing her best to be breezy as she quips. "I kinda feel like I could get airsick. Windsick?" she wonders - but she jukes a little to one side when she spots the answering light, moving out the way of an outcropping to make sure that she's visible for Avril's approach.

    She wouldn't know what the heck an Immelman turn is if one was perfectly executed and finished right into her face, but she blinks as she watches Yue execute one, impressed despite herself. "I thought team-ups were s'posed to be more thrilling than me just standing on top of you," she adds, and despite the lack of picture - she hasn't found that button yet - there's an obvious grin in her face shortly before it gives way to honest concern. "Can that machine really take our weight, though?"

    But she's learning that when it comes to flying, she should probably shut up and listen to someone with a lot more wisdom. Guided by Avril's lights, she gingerly maneuvers the Nephele downwards and onto the Aura, her movement somewhere between 'hunkering down' and 'being as careful as she can be'. She might not recognize she's doing it, but there's a little buffer of Ether around her Gear's feet, preventing the worst of the damage - but with Yue's machine in the state its in, there's only so much she can do to stop further damage.

    At least with Avril's assistance and Marivel's quite literal ground-work, the salvaging is a speedy process; before long they're lifting upwards again, back into the calmer pocket before looking onwards.

DG: Avril Vent Fleur has drawn a new Challenge.
==============================<* Mount Colshrie *>==============================
===============<* CHALLENGE - The Storm - The Mountain's Wound *>===============
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The storm closes in; the world about you is doused in white, even to the
 point of dimming the glowing crystals common atop this mountain.

 But you can still see the obstacle ahead of you: a great crevasse, a wound
 carved into the mountain. No doubt, the current weather will make crossing
 the deep gap difficult. But it must be done, if you want to proceed in this
 direction.
=Dungeon Conditions: Suffer, Hesitate=========================================
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    Yue bids the both of them climb aboard her Gear -- vehicle, Avril corrects, taking another look at the thing. Vehicle would be more appropriate given its current appearance.
    She wonders, distantly, if it might be a Golem.
    She cannot tell.
    "...Understood. I am now boarding," she responds, after but a moment's hesitation.

    There's a sense of... something. Something that draws away and pulls up sharply. An emotion she can almost taste on the tip of her tongue -- dark, bitter, cold -- but cannot give voice to.

    Something familiar.

    But she shakes it off even as her other self stirs like something moving under dark iced-over water. Because there's little else she can do with it except press on, and on.

    The descent is largely without incident. She can feel that the machine Yue is using is in some sort of poor condition, but it does seem to hold. And, she doesn't quite think, there isn't much she can do for it.

    She realizes after all, during the salvage -- when she has a chance to look at it properly -- that it's old.
    Very, very old.

    Maybe she could work out how to repair it, but whatever would she do for what it might need?

    "This Gear seems recent, but not too recent," she remarks, considering the make. She has picked up this and that over the last couple of years and married it to her sense for such things. "Though I could not say when? Hm... I wounder if it might be a match for one of our own machines, or could be integrated?"

    If nothing else the fuel reserves are intact, a useful thing after the long trek to the mountain itself.

    "We must continue on," she says, after the salvage is complete. "There is... something on the mountaintop. A thing that I can nearly recall, it seems. I... wonder if..."

    She ventures on ahead of them, ascending the snow-glazed mountain as they ascend ever higher--

    Until the way is blocked by a crevasse rent in the ice and rock by the permanent cold that coils the mountain. "Oh--" she breathes.

    And that is when the storm rolls in, thick fat flakes of snow raining from the clouds and obscuring their view.

    "I... saw where the other side was. I will cross," she says, drawing on the reserves siphoned from the downed Gear and then some. "Then I shall light the way."

    She engages all thrusters.

DG: Avril Vent Fleur has used her Tool Turbocharger toward her party's challenge, The Storm - The Mountain's Wound.
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

"Oh not at all, you've all seen Qubeley before," Marivel says. Which is true! She introduced it to everyone back when they were investigating some stolen things from Honeysdy. "But I suppose we weren't in gears back then. He's not quite ready for prolonged battles but for climbing up a mountain, he should do well enough. How is Dean? Has he hunted any good golems lately?"

Avril comments that Qubely is cute.

"Ah--I didn't find it. I made it." Marivel explains. "I'm not very good at AI, but as far as building mechanical frames, I like to think I'm rather good at it. Actually the truth is... I may act like a sorcerer supreme but I'm really more of a mechanic at heart." She winks. "You can check out some of my work at the Castle sometime if you'd like, but to be honest I don't really build machines for fighting anymore--just upkeep on the ones I already have. I suppose back in the day it was pretty normal to build a large robot and fight with it--or even a smaller mechanical child and use them to fight, but--it feels like a waste these days to use them for war."

She smiles faintly. "Golems...reploids... they are our children. We should endeavour to be their friends, not their foes. We should not use them to fight but rather fight with them, for our mutual future."

She exhales a bit. "Most people don't really see eye to eye with me on this, but..." She looks over to Avril's own gear. "Dean is rather impressive, to understand so innately."

That's probably why she DID bring the Qubeley out to meet him in the first place--it wasn't JUST to brag and be arrogant, that was a side perk!

Marivel doesn't comment further to Yue. She is, unusually, at a loss. "I..."

Acacia brings a distraction. "Oh not that kind of ace, Acacia, just a shortening of your name. Though if you were I'm sure we'd all support you."

She pauses. "Well I'd say Qubeley is more a golem but I know for most people think they are about the samething but I'd argue there's some differences betwixt them--"

She quaffs some tomato juice (for grownups) in the cockpit which perks up her senses as she aims to flick a switch and the spikes fold inward, revealing a tiny propeller that lifts Qubeley into the air as it aims to traverse the creveasse, following Avril's signal.

DG: Marivel Armitage has used her Tool Tomato Juice For Grownups toward her party's challenge, The Storm - The
Mountain's Wound.
<Pose Tracker> Yue Rohay has posed.

    "The cockpit is equipped with the ability to regulate oxygen and air, but it can only do so much when the air thins at this altitude," Yue explains as Acacia shares that she's feeling airsick. "You will get used to it with experience, but you should keep an eye on the barometer." Tutorial over! </quistis>

    ... are any of Yue's tutorials more than 'look at the appropriate gauge'? Nerd.

    Marivel mentions that she's more of a mechanic at heart. "... that's true," she advises too. "Gears... unlike Golems or Reploids, they were only designed for one thing, was it not?"

    The Aura has a worrying 'CRUNCH' as both the Nephele and the Skadi both climb ontop of it, and something concerning pops off.

    "... that was probably not important," Yue concludes, to the tune of several other warnings blaring off in the background of her radio. "I'll just hack around it. Over."

    Is the Aura a Golem? It's strange. There is the pervasive sense of something ancient about it -- perhaps not ancient in the awe-inspiring and lost sense, as so many pieces of lost technology are, just... old.

    But perhaps 'old' has a way of feeling 'closer' to the Ice Queen.

    Avril mentions that there's something in the mountaintop. A thing that she can nearly recall...

    "..."

    Yue lowers her head as she murmurs, "It is true, is it not, Avril? You lost your memory. Your friends -- that cheerful boy and the headstrong girl -- said so."

    There is a longer silence. Is there any meaning anymore to pursuing this person, who is so obviously not the Avril she knows?

    And if not, what does that mean to everything she's endured, every scar and burn and mark upon her body and mind and spirit?

    The storm starts to roll in, and Avril engages all her thrusters. Marivel is at a loss, and she feels even more guilty now.

    There's an instinctive scowl, as she whispers, barely audible on the radio, "I can't... let you get away from me."

    The Aura roars to life once more, the Nephele still onboard. Yue seems to just have forgotten that the Nephele is onboard, actually -- and suddenly warning signs flare to life as Yue rams the throttle and torques her engine to full.

    The aircraft, if nothing else, seems built to have an impressive top speed, though the trail of fire escaping in small flakes into the distant snow is... worrying.

DG: Yue Rohay has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Storm - The Mountain's Wound.
<Pose Tracker> Acacia Saitani has posed.

    Well, that's another person with mysterious feelings about what might be at the top of this mountain, and Marivel's come along for the ride - so as far as Acacia is concerned, Yue's bluff from before has been a pretty wild success. The redhead frowns at her radio for a long moment at Yue's quiet, her brow furrowing; for a moment, her natural instinct to dig for more details wars with wanting to let Yue keep her secrets. At least the thought of linking Avril to the Veruni doesn't cross her mind, not yet - after all, she's been kind of surrounded by long-lived sorts as of late.

    "I'm just more used to 'Aki'," she comments over the radio, drawling a little as a slight nostalgia edges her voice. "At least, I was back in Guild Galad. I think my editor wanted something short and snappy he could call out over the main desks, but also something he could really yell angrily if he needed. Kinda hard to do that with 'Acacia' or 'Ace'," she snorts to herself.

    She falls silent when Marivel talks about her home, about Reploids. Maybe Kamui is pouting right now, knowing that she's gone off to train with the Gear Yue entrusted to her. She makes a little note to get something on the way back, and then immediately focuses on that for the sake of staying upbeat.

    "--hey!" she blurts instead as the Aura's engines fire; there's the sight of a Gear almost scrabbling to hold on to its battered twin, before Acacia realizes just in time that would probably be an incredibly bad idea. Instead, she goes with her gut, her hands tightening around her control sticks. She's still not got a whole lot of ideas on how to effectively pilot - but she knows enough to trust her gut instincts, the engines firing as she tries to match the Nephele's speed to the Aura, the better to not tax her ride.

DG: Acacia Saitani has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Storm - The Mountain's
Wound.
==============================<* Mount Colshrie *>==============================
===============<* CHALLENGE - The Storm - The Mountain's Wound *>===============
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 The storm closes in; the world about you is doused in white, even to the
 point of dimming the glowing crystals common atop this mountain.

 But you can still see the obstacle ahead of you: a great crevasse, a wound
 carved into the mountain. No doubt, the current weather will make crossing
 the deep gap difficult. But it must be done, if you want to proceed in this
 direction.
=Dungeon Conditions: Suffer, Hesitate=========================================
=========================<* Mount Colshrie - Round 3 *>=========================
=================< Results - The Storm - The Mountain's Wound >=================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yue Rohay                           16 --(15)--> 31                Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Acacia Saitani                      6 --(15)--> 21                 Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Avril Vent Fleur                    6 --(10)--> 16                 Pass
Turbocharger                        3   Agility Effects: Quicken and Sacrifice
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Marivel Armitage                    6 --(10)--> 16                 Pass
Tomato Juice For Grownups           1   Agility Effects: Cleanse
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Yue Rohay                   50 --(20)--> 70                Pass
Conditions: Hesitate(2)|Suffer(1)
Effects: Cleanse|Quicken(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Yue Rohay 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: Marivel Armitage has drawn a new Challenge.
=============================<* Mount Colshrie *>=============================
===============<* CHALLENGE - The Clear Sky - No Way But Up *>================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The sky above is clear, painted in a glittering swathe of stars visible, an
 echo to the softly glowing crystals dotting the mountainside. You can see
 clearly where you are going.

 And in a mixture of fortune and misfortune, you can see that the way you had
 been headed would have been no way to go at all. But, there is always up.
 Flight (if your Gear even has the capacity) is ill-advised due to the
 weather -- even becalmed as it is now -- but the condition of the rock and
 stone on this side of the mountain is ideal for crafting the means to make a
 climb upwards... if you can indeed also work out where would be best to
 begin blasting into the mountainside.
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify, Exhaust=========================================
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    "Ah, no, you are correct, but I did not recognize it until..." Avril trails off; a beat passes. "Dean is well, though I am not entirely certain he has located any Golems of late. Perhaps there are not as many of them in this region of Filgaia? ...No, that cannot be right," she amends, scrunching up her brow.

    The real problem is that she's not entirely sure how she knows that can't be right.

    "Oh, you created it?" There is a small but no less impressed note in Avril's voice. "Something about the design seems familiar, though I know not where I have seen it." Pause. "The Castle?"

    She is not familiar, it seems.

    She is silent through the rest of what the Crimson Noble has to say, chiming in only when Marivel speaks of Dean and how his feelings on Golems and the like aligns with her own. "Yes... they are not merely 'things' to him," she remarks, pefore moving along for the crevasse.

    "...Yes," she voices again, as Yue speaks of her friends and more importantly, her missing memory. "I have learned some of who I had been, though recollection of it eludes me still. I am afraid I remember next to nothing, and in truth, only have glimpses of what I once knew. Perhaps this tower may lend me a clue further to my past."

    She cannot turn away, even if a part of her wants to. It feels as if it would be a betrayal, even if the one betrayed is none other than herself.

    Amidst the storm that takes them.

    For a moment she has achieved a sort of flight, typically forbidden in this era for a Gear -- or indeed other vehicles. The landing is rough, jarring her even through the machine's shock absorbers. But no actual damage has been sustained. She soon stands on the other end of the crevasse and hits the light to clean as a beacon to the others. "I am here. Please take care when landing--"

    Getting across actually is the easy part, as they all will find.

    Landing... might be harder for some more than others.

<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

Marivel pauses, "You have...been to the castle?" As far as she is aware Avril hasn't been to the Castle, but it's certainly strange that Avril is speaking as if she had been there--but perhaps she means some other castle? It's possible...but Marivel hasn't actually been to any castle but her own since meeting Avril.

Marivel looks at her control panel thoughtfully. Avril is familiar in the sense that she was something of a famous (or infamous) figure back in her time--is this some long lost memory of hers? It doesn't feel right there either.

Marivel finds herself reflecting on her time(s) within the memory maze--just for a moment--before she shakes off the thought. Memories can be jumbled and if anyone has the right to jumbled memories, it's likely to be Avril herself.

She holds off on commenting on Dean as well for a bit, having said her peace more or less, and focuses on Yue instead.

"Well, tis not as if they sprung from one mind. But in my opinion, golems are usually ridden on top of or stood alongside, gears are usually piloted from within. Qubeley is a bit of an oddity but only because there really isn't a place to 'stand' on him--That's how I'd differentiate between them, but of course I'm not exactly the owner of the terminology. I just find it to be the convenient way of looking ati t."

"You are an Ace Journalist, but if you prefer Aki--I will remember this." Hopefully her player will too!!

The next area is rather pretty. The sky is clear and you can see the stars above you. And before you--

--well there's only one way to go and it's up.

And it's probably not going to be great to fly either. So... Climbing...

"I suppose I'll try the long way around," Marivel says mildly.

DG: Marivel Armitage has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Clear Sky - No Way But Up.
<Pose Tracker> Yue Rohay has posed.

    It's strange. Bizarre, even. How could the woman of more than thousands of years ago be here -- is what she would ask, were Marivel were also not right there next to her. There are ways. How is she here, even? It was because of Promme -- Big Shal, who rendered her asleep in a safe chamber all this time to sleep to the future...

    But what does the future hold?

    "Acacia suits you, though," Yue tries to distract herself with lesser talk.

    Distract as well, because--

    *FWHOOM*

    "Ah. That is a big fire," Yue observes entirely too calmly as she stares towards the entire left wingsection of the Aura. She stares down. "Oh, I lost my stabiliser at some point. Probably back when we were salvaging that Gear..."

    Some people say that Gears are an extension of the pilot's body, and perhaps it is rather fitting that the extension of Yue's body is an armless, legless bird that can barely fly and can only catch on fire.

    "Perhaps... but I am biased," Yue comments to Marivel on her talk of Golems. "I have seen no one create a Gear that was Everyone's Friend, after all."

    Still, she's on fire. What should she do about this? Well, there's a convenient incoming snowstorm. She flies straight into it. That'll put her fires out! And when she comes out the other end, the Aura is completely frosted. Don't fix it. Pop the console. Do a dirty hack. Work around it. Run away. Just like she's always done.

    ...

    Frosted, as she finally has to face the music when Avril explains her condition.

    "You are searching for your past. But... you already know, from your own tone -- and what that Rebecca told me -- that there is nothing but pain behind it."

    She lowers her head.

    "If you chose to be 'Avril', an Avril that wished to travel with her friends and be merry the way I have seen you..." She grimaces for a moment. Could she forgive that much? "Perhaps there would be no issue. But..."

    Yue narrows her eyes.

    "The closer you reach out to the icy truth within... the closer the day where we will have to cross paths. That much... I am sure you can feel within you too."

    She purses her lips.

    It almost sounds impressive, except for the fact that Yue's cockpit is literally painted red right now with the ongoing warning sirens. Which kind of undermines the speech too. There's a quiet scowl as the sound of her typing almost becomes more audible, the jangle of her chains as she strains against her bonds. The sound of her rapid typing is almost audible.

    "Because I can feel her presence growing."

DG: Yue Rohay has used her Tool Octopus Board toward her party's challenge, The Clear Sky - No Way But Up.
<Pose Tracker> Acacia Saitani has posed.

    "Yue!" blurts Acacia as she struggles to get her Gear under control. The buffeting of the winds and the lateral movement it forces on her nearly sends her toppling off of the Aura completely; her engine sputters for a moment as if responding to her lack of confidence, before her brow furrows and a resurgence of effort manages to just about get her machine under control, wrestling against the winds.

    When the world stops spinning around her, she finds the Nephele clinging to the rockface of the mountain, sheltered for the moment from the unending storm. There's a few lurching moments where she looks wildly around her for any sign of Yue, and then realizes part of the Aura is pinned under the arm of her Gear, offering it a means of support so that it doesn't slide right off the cliff face.

    (She'd like to use the word 'nestled', but there's really no way to make that work here, not least because bits of the other Gear appear to still be on fire. Acacia considers grousing over it, but they've come this far.)

    "... I mean, whatever name you wanna use is fine," she drawls as she finds her breath again. "Just depends how much you like me clamping my mouth shut and looking bashful over it." The fact she's saying that much out loud, she can probably attribute to adrenaline; she's still panting a little from the slightly madcap dash over the crevasse.

    One deep breath later and the Aura starts to climb its way slowly upwards. She's fallen silent at this point, concentrating on fine-tuning her movements and making sure she doesn't rip rock away from the wall. She's aware of the discussion about Avril's identity, but the same impulse that means she doesn't pry too hard into Yue's past means she chooses not to intrude upon it. Right now it's another piece of information to hold onto, and wonder over.

    Taking Yue to task, though, that she's always happy to do. "Would it," she grumps between handholds, "Kill you," she hauls the Aura up after her as if she were doing the lifting, pulling on her controls with some effort, "To rely on me a little?"

DG: Acacia Saitani has used her Tool Mana Egg toward her party's challenge, The Clear Sky - No Way But Up.
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    "Oh, I see," Avril replies, ducking her head in a shallow nod in the depths of her cockpit. "Hmm, perhaps Dean and Rebecca might like to visit your home?" she ventures. If it is only off the coast from Guild Galad...

    Perhaps it might be worth a visit. Beyond the hints she has not yet gleaned much from in Honeysday, she has little else as her guide in her quest.

    Save whatever might lie atop this mountain. Perhaps if this too proves inconclusive, the time may have come to...

    Her friends have their own desires, and they have been putting them aside for far too long for her -- whatever they might say otherwise. Perhaps she should encourage them to pursue them again--

    And perhaps, that would give her the time and space to permit herself to ease up on it and thereby make herself receptive to whatever may yet come.
    Or, as the little guilty part of her voices, perhaps that may be how it ends: she can go on her merry little way with her friends--

    Yue's voice intrudes on this line of thinking.

    "..."

    Silence is the order of the day from the Skadi, as they continue onwards in their ascent.

    "Of that... I am aware," she says at last. "There will be no kind or gentle answers to be found, should I further excavate my own past. I have... some understanding of what I may find. Yet... I cannot turn away. What I was will impact what I will be whether I desire it to or not. I... cannot remain ignorant."

    She cannot, in the sense that she cannot permit a betrayal, cannot break a promise, cannot accept another's deceptions.

    But the way in which she phrases it to Yue -- to everyone on the channel in fact -- is thus:

    "I am the Queen of the Veruni. Whether it pleases me or not, that is who I am. What my people do, that is for what I must take responsibility. ...If I remain ignorant, I open myself up to another's manipulation. So, Yue..."

    She is dimly aware of that fact that Yue's vehicle is not, perhaps, doing too well. But it seems that Acacia has it in hand--

    "If that means that our paths must cross... then that is what must be."

    Her hands tighten as she reaches the mountainside, the near-sheer path that presents itself upwards to, perhaps, the peak above. The sky above is clear and glittering with stars as she gazes (through cameras) at the heavens. Her hands fly across the controls, drawing upon a measure of her remaining fuel and rerouting power--

    For the stone-shattering strike from the Skadi as she makes footholds -- handholds -- for her ascent.

    "I am sorry," she says at last.

    Avril can feel her presence growing, too.

DG: Avril Vent Fleur has used her Tool Power Stabilizer toward her party's challenge, The Clear Sky - No Way But Up.
=============================<* Mount Colshrie *>=============================
===============<* CHALLENGE - The Clear Sky - No Way But Up *>================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 3          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The sky above is clear, painted in a glittering swathe of stars visible, an
 echo to the softly glowing crystals dotting the mountainside. You can see
 clearly where you are going.

 And in a mixture of fortune and misfortune, you can see that the way you had
 been headed would have been no way to go at all. But, there is always up.
 Flight (if your Gear even has the capacity) is ill-advised due to the
 weather -- even becalmed as it is now -- but the condition of the rock and
 stone on this side of the mountain is ideal for crafting the means to make a
 climb upwards... if you can indeed also work out where would be best to
 begin blasting into the mountainside.
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify, Exhaust=========================================
========================<* Mount Colshrie - Round 4 *>========================
=================< Results - The Clear Sky - No Way But Up >==================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yue Rohay                           31 --(0)--> 31                 Pass
Octopus Board                       3   Brute   Effects: Fanfare
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Acacia Saitani                      21 --(0)--> 21                 Pass
Mana Egg                            2   Brute   Effects: Stalwart
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Avril Vent Fleur                    16 --(0)--> 16                 Pass
Power Stabilizer                    1   Brute   Effects: Strengthen and Fanfar
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Marivel Armitage                    16 --(10)--> 26                Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Yue Rohay                   70 --(20)--> 90                Pass
Conditions: Exhaust(1)|Hesitate(1)|Stupify(2)
Effects: Strengthen(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Yue Rohay 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> Marivel Armitage has posed.

"Heh. Well, tis difficult to compete with Big Shal. One shouldn't treat the exceptional as the mean." Marivel quips to Yue but she does stall to add to Yue, "But you are crossing paths with her right now, Yue, and tis not so bad is it?" She frowns a little because she has been prophecized to be dissapointed one day in Yue and that kind of makes her want to stubbornly behave as if it won't happen even if, okay, it is a little dissapointing Yue still seems upset with Avril but to be quite honest she still wouldn't be dissapointed because it's kind of understandable to have trepidation with regards to Avril way back when. She wasn't called the Nice Queen after all.

"Well if they don't, it's fine." Marivel says. "It isn't the most hospitable location after all." That's kind of an understatement. Avril also makes a dramatic declaration to Yue and Marivel exhales briefly and flops back against her chair. Avril's concern here is also pretty valid and it's always the worst when there's tension between two people who both have valid concerns.

But ultimately she says, "Avril has good people around her. Even if you cannot believe in Avril's will, we can believe in them."

And with that she adds, "Well I'm going to take a break from the drama myself. Acacia, you're in charge. Good luck!"

And with that Qubeley drills off for a bit as it takes a complete detour to try and find a path that leads to where her friends are going that allows for less steep climbing. It might be a bit.

Luckily everybody else has a dandy time climbing up this impossible mountain. Even if Acacia is in charge and even if she is in charge of only Acacia because she is the only other ARMS operative present but, hey, having no authority hasn't stopped Marivel from being bossy so it doesn't have to stop Acacia either if she doesn't want it to.

Yue even manages t make a perfect landing somehow and Avril has at least maybe made it easier for the next people to come by to not have to work so hard to climb it?

DG: Yue Rohay has drawn a new Challenge.
=============================<* Mount Colshrie *>=============================
=====<* CHALLENGE - The Storm - Flight From The Terror Of The Mountain *>=====
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 3          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 You must be nearing the summit. If the rumors are true, there is an ancient
 ruin lost up the inaccessible mountain. Perhaps it won't be long now--

 A scream from above interrupts that thought rather thoroughly. Your sensors
 pick up a hostile presence approaching, swiftly, and from behind.

 Just as the storm begins to pick up, completely hiding the form of the
 enormous and utterly hostile brightly colored avian creature known only as a
 hraesvelgr.

 It has the advantage.

 The storm is terrible.

 Perhaps the best plan is to try to lose it in the storm and make haste for
 the summit. But here of all a slip could be /very/ unfortunate.

 BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOeb7StJlRc
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow, Fright, Injure=====================================
<Pose Tracker> Yue Rohay has posed.

    Yue is further silent as Avril makes her own declarations, of things that she already knows she knows. There is silence from the Veruni even as Acacia grabs hold and chews her out on not letting her lend a hand. It further drives her into silence.

    "I expected nothing less from you."

    There is a longer silence.

    "But I at least offer you this advice, as someone who lived two lives for the longest time."

    The summit is near. A ray of sunlight cuts through the snowstorm for a moment, as if to offer a ray of hope--

    And then a scream interrupts that hope rather thoroughly. Sensors and warnings blare as a hostile presence approach from behind. A huge, hostile, brightly coloured bird... a Hraesvelgr. Perhaps the best way would be to outpace it into the storm...

    Into the ice once more.

    "Do not try to be two people at once."

    She lowers her head.

    "You will end up betraying both sides at once... and lose everything for it. I would not want you to disappoint your friends in the same way I have."

    There is a faint exhale as she looks towards the Quebeley for a longer moment. "I wonder myself, Marivel. I have always ever been one to afraid to live truly. Maybe that is the source of the inevitable disappointment. Am I truly crossing her or am I praying for something better, disregarding how my emotions are screaming at me?"

    She lowers her head.

    Which is why she slacks back and then leans towards the radio. "Then I will leave this challenge to you, Acacia."

DG: Yue Rohay has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Storm - Flight From The Terror Of
The Mountain.
<Pose Tracker> Acacia Saitani has posed.

    Yue's silence is what makes Acacia almost immediately balk; there's an intake of breath over the radio, then the familiar grumble of a reporter who's probably awkwardly picking at her hair. "It's-- not like I'm actually mad at you," she mutters with an audible wince. "But you don't have to just dive straight in with no regard for yourself every time, you know?"

    Part of her thinks about continuing, pushing a little further - reminding Yue that Minder's out there and needs her still. But something tells her that it isn't the time, that there's more to the story she doesn't know - even beyond the bits she's sure she doesn't know. She's caught glimpses of the situation around Yue's family and past, but whether it's right of her to barrel into that, she's not really sure.

    And she becomes rapidly even less sure of herself when Avril resolutely states she's the Queen of the Veruni, using words that don't exactly portend doom but certainly portend a harrowing time for all involved. And then when Yue's response is much more solemn than Acacia is used to, laced with advice that speaks to a longer experience than she could ever imagine. And then to cap it off Marivel leaves her in charge as she takes the much easier route of burrowing straight into the mountain, leaving the reporter briefly gaping at mid-air as she wishes she had the ability to disappear into the rockface right now as well.

    For a long moment that stretches out too far, Acacia lets a breath out through her nose, letting the Nephele cling to the outcropping its found for itself. For a moment it looks like the storm might wear itself out - but then a gigantic birdcry echoes around the mountain as a shape swoops towards her, and her knuckles whiten on her control sticks as she realizes she needs to move now.

    The weight of the Aura is a factor, but as the Nephele kicks off the wall there's a quiet noise of effort from the reporter - and when the silvery-red Gear's engines fire it's with a renewed fire, and one that might not be wholly generated by the Gear's engines. It's timed to wash across the Hraesvelgr, the piercing cry of pain as it's momentarily blinded - then Acacia does something unthinkably rude and steps off the bird, using its bulk as a perch to leap across to the broader face of the mountain.

    "A 'queen' travelling on her own without any memories doesn't seem like much of a queen. The Veruni seem to be doing fine without you. Or at least doing something without you," she adds, her breaths short as she pushes the Nephele back to climbing rather than risk further flight. There's a miniscule pause, then she's moving again, adding in a quiet mutter: "You haven't disappointed me yet."

    The tone is a bit ruined the next instant as she yelps. "--bugger off, bird!"

DG: Acacia Saitani has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, The Storm - Flight From The
Terror Of The Mountain.
<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    It is a strange thing to have a conversation with someone who remembers you, the past you, and particularly from an incident that you no longer recall.
    Perhaps more than one incident.

    On a level, Avril wants more than anything to ask her. What she was really like. What the terms of their past encounter were. Anything and everything Yue might know about her -- the Ice Queen.

    But...

    That's why she can't ask.

    On a level, she already knows. Suspects.
    And, to have it confirmed, to lose even that small amount of denial she can still afford...

    And then there's the more cagey part of her personality, the part that feels both alien and familiar, akin to some sea-going behemoth sailing well-traveled waters, nearly. Can she really trust Yue's part of the story? Can she afford to?

    Who does Yue serve now?

    She ascends the cliffside in silence, a quiet that has been similarly joined by Marivel, who lacks the taste for this politicing-like discourse.

    Yue only speaks again once they clear the edge to the top of the peak. Some advice.

    From overhead, there is a scream from a monster. A large one, according to her sensors.

    Avril -- and the Skadi -- turn to sight it.

    "Oh," she says, as she sees it.

    As Yue discharges her suggestion.

    Do not try to be two people at once--

    In the isolation of the cockpit, Avril freezes up. She had thought she was past it, that she had made her decision to continue on--

    You war with yourself, girl. And you make yourself the lesser for it.

    But it will be time yet before she can embrace that other half of herself, let alone make her peace with what she fears most. Contradiction still wraps the core of her being; she might have admitted her fears to her friends, but it does not change the fact of what she feels: that she is at war, within.
    I want to run. I don't want this to end.
    I must find the truth. I must reach my conclusion.

    "...I understand," she says at last, as the great bird begins its descent.

    Acacia is likely the one to save her an undue attack -- fire washes across the avian fiend as Skadi turns, almost too late.
    Avril rerouts remaining power to the thrusters.

    In a gunning roar of the engines and a brilliant blaze of light, the Gear surges ahead into the white.

DG: Avril Vent Fleur has used her Tool Turbocharger toward her party's challenge, The Storm - Flight From The Terror Of
The Mountain.
<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

Marivel doesn't mind politics. She wouldn't call this politics except maybe of the office variety. However, Marivel is also a firm believer of self care and there's only so much despair she is willing to endure.

And more to the point, Acacia feels like she is more of a positive influence on Yue than Marivel herself is right now so by Marivel logic that means the best thing she can do is remove herself from the equation for a while and see if they are hopefully making out with one another when she finally turns 'round the bend.

Plus, like, okay, Qubeley doesn't have hands. It can't really... climb. This is literally the worst place to take Qubeley on an adventure. A cave? It'd work out great! The sea? It could work! But this is literally the worst place for Qubeley to try and do its business.

And indeed...Qubeley remains out of sight during the adventure with this bird. It seems that it is going to attempt to escape it by digging past it. It's a great plan for Marivel though ultimately not helpful for the others.

Except for a soft transmission that emits to Yue's screen. Not vocal words, just a text transmission she can read, or not.

'One face, many souls. We are all multitudes. She is cruel, you are not. You are too kind to be ruled by chains. Not for long.'

DG: Marivel Armitage has used her Tool Tomato Juice For Grownups toward her party's challenge, The Storm - Flight From
The Terror Of The Mountain.
=============================<* Mount Colshrie *>=============================
=====<* CHALLENGE - The Storm - Flight From The Terror Of The Mountain *>=====
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 3          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 You must be nearing the summit. If the rumors are true, there is an ancient
 ruin lost up the inaccessible mountain. Perhaps it won't be long now--

 A scream from above interrupts that thought rather thoroughly. Your sensors
 pick up a hostile presence approaching, swiftly, and from behind.

 Just as the storm begins to pick up, completely hiding the form of the
 enormous and utterly hostile brightly colored avian creature known only as a
 hraesvelgr.

 It has the advantage.

 The storm is terrible.

 Perhaps the best plan is to try to lose it in the storm and make haste for
 the summit. But here of all a slip could be /very/ unfortunate.

 BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOeb7StJlRc
=Dungeon Conditions: Slow, Fright, Injure=====================================
========================<* Mount Colshrie - Round 5 *>========================
=======< Results - The Storm - Flight From The Terror Of The Mountain >=======
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yue Rohay                           31 --(100)--> 131              Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Acacia Saitani                      21 --(100)--> 121              Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Avril Vent Fleur                    16 --(100)--> 116              Pass
Turbocharger                        3   Agility Effects: Quicken and Sacrifice
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Marivel Armitage                    26 --(100)--> 126              Fail
Tomato Juice For Grownups           1   Agility Effects: Cleanse
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Yue Rohay                   90 --(10)--> 100               Fail
Conditions: Fright(2)|Injure(2)|Slow(2)|Stupify(1)
Effects: Cleanse|Quicken(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: Yue Rohay is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Acacia Saitani is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Avril Vent Fleur is too exhausted to continue!
DG: Marivel Armitage is too exhausted to continue!
DG: You have overcome the dungeon's trials! This run is a success!
DG: The party led by Yue Rohay has successfully explored Mount Colshrie!
=============================<* Mount Colshrie *>=============================
===============<* CHALLENGE - Cythraul Tower Ruins - Mediums *>===============
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 You approach at last the ruins of Cythraul tower, the rumored structure
 well-hidden on the storm-ridden peak of Mt. Colshrie. To call what remains a
 'tower' is a bit of an overstatement -- and yet you can still see that this
 place once reached to the heavens. When you disembark, you're able to
 explore what remains.

 Most of the place is dust and ruin. Traces of the structure do remain
 however -- it's enough to determine that this place is over a thousand years
 old, perhaps older. And, possibly, not of human (or similar) origin.

 It's in a section of the structure that resembles in small scale part of the
 interior of the Guardian Temples that you find them: stone tablet Mediums.
 They have been sleeping here for a very, very long time...

 BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_pggmF8Wks

 (OOC: These are stone tablet Mediums (see the Guardians file, and also
 sorcery). You can pick which Guardian to which yours is aligned but they may
 only be from the Elemental, Terrestrial or Celestial tiers. Shamans can make
 full use of the Medium but others may only use them to summon the Guardian
 in question. Hyadeans and Veruni are unable to use these in any capacity.
 Ask staff if you have any questions.)
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Yue Rohay has posed.

    In truth, Yue could probably fall apart right here and now if it weren't for Acacia. She hadn't quite regarded the reporter with as much words as the others, but it isn't for a lack of attention. To see that drive and certainty again... a part of her is, perhaps, afraid, but it's only the kind of fear that comes from seeing something glow where there was only darkness for so long.

    She feels her piloting more than she sees it -- the tick of the Nephele is so intimate to her that she can tell what Acacia is doing, after all.

    And she does well -- as the bird arrives, the vernier thrusters burn it as she slides off the wall and lands on its face and keeps on going.

    "Do not underestimate what the Radicals are doing, Acacia," she whispers. "Just because you know me and the Minder and Ambrosius. Dig into that story, if it piques your interest."

    It would thrust her deeper into danger. But isn't giving the Nephele already painting a target on her anyway?

    ... I understand.

    Yue is silent for a while longer.

    She doesn't have any other words for her.

    It's not words that will bridge the gap between them.

    But as she draws closer, even warring with herself the entire way...

    What will she wind up choosing?

    Avril guns further, into the white. With the Nephele in combat with the Hraesvelgr, and the Aura damaged, she's the one with the shot to the redline.

    Then Yue receives a transmission.

    There's something in unspoken text that is just as meaningful as spoken words.

    She lowers her head.

    As Quebeley burrows into the hill, it receives a transmission in turn. It's a broken message, which has to be recombined together; the simple answer might be that the Aura's transmission systems are so junk that it can't even text other Gears. But it's metaphorical too.

    'Thank you.'

    ...

    And they come towards the tower at long last. ... it's not much of a tower. It's a bit of an overstatement. What remains is a ruin... even though it once reached the heavens. Perhaps that it does not stand is a classic example of hubris.

    And yet inside...

    There is an interior with several stone Mediums within. They have been sleeping here for a very long time.

    Yue lowers herself, hair whipping in the wild winds, and gazes towards them with a conflicted expression for a moment. Then she looks towards Acacia and expresses, "I recommend that you take one with you. Take one that resonates most to your very own being."

    She lowers her head. "Some spellcasters turn their nose at any source which is not their own. They create artificial borders. But a complete understanding of the Powers that Sustain this World can only be had when you have a complete viewpoint, free of those borders."

    She lifts one, gently, as if to underline her point.

    Yue shouldn't be able to use it. It is a stone Medium, not an Artificial Original. It should not be usable by those who Filgaia deems foreign.

    It softly shines in her gloved hand, just for a brief moment.

<Pose Tracker> Acacia Saitani has posed.

    "... I'll try. Carefully," Acacia mumbles back. She does her best to be private, even if she's not really all that sure whether you can actually whisper over a radio, not with other people on similar bands. And even if she's not sure how to go about researching the Veruni without a couple of trips into Elru, currently the other side of Filgaia entirely. Or maybe that Kaguya girl will decide to stomp her for it.

    Still, it's something to look into, and she'd rather take action than not most of the time. She files the name away in the back of her head to ask about it later, and for the time being decides to concentrate on avoiding the damn bird as it rakes against the side of the Nephele. "Okay, I am seriously gonna turn you into dinner if you don't just--"

    In fits and starts, the group manage to make their way up to the summit, out of the Hraesvelgr's domain. Teeth already chattering, Acacia pulls her vest around her as she gets out of the Gear, stumbling briefly in the snow before she bolts into the interior of the little shrine and immediately does her best to get around a corner and out of the wind.

    "... Mediums," she confirms, remembering back to the time she thought an interesting op-ed would be to talk about each of Filgaia's forms of sorcery - and how the main thing to come out of it was the pretty piece of inert glass still tucked into her inner pocket. "That's-- a lot of them, too," she mumbles, her brain starting to work as she glances around her at the masonry and decorations of the place. She's smart enough to not use her camera for fear of damaging anything, but does her best to take a quick sketch even if her fingers are numb.

    "... I--... I guess, yeah," she mutters back to Yue, then furrows her brow. "Shouldn't we take all of them? To one of the tribes, or something? Or does that count as greedy?" She's filling the time more than anything, giving her enough of a pause to settle on one of the thin plates of stone. She weighs it in her hand, then tucks it away in her pocket without hesitation.

    She watches Yue select one for herself without comment. She'll connect those dots for later, but right now she's thinking on the Veruni's words. She's not quite sure she's cut out for something lofty like 'complete understanding' - but she's always been the sort to use everything at her disposal.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    The race to the end is a difficult one.

    But they all make it. As the sky clears, revealing the stars overhead, Avril lingers a moment just outside Skadi's cockpit, her gaze turned to the sea of glittering stars that drifts over Filgaia. A stray gust catches her long silver hair, the last remnants of the storm.

    Have I...

    ...been here before?

    It's familiar enough, almost enough to touch. But it's there and gone, the stars under the coming dawn.

    Indeed, she can see here atop this mountain the first vague hints of the rising sun. Here, perhaps, at the roof of the world.

    "This place... belonged to the Elw," Avril says once she takes her first step upon the ground and faces the tower ruins proper, only to blink at her own announcement. "...How... do I know that?" She's dressed for this weather and yet she still crosses her arms over her chest and shivers, standing there for the moment before heading within.

    She had thought by coming here she might find a hint. Or at the least, some answer to why this place had beckoned her hence.

    There are only more mysteries.

    Her gaze distant, she approaches the small scattered pile of Mediums, her thoughts racing back to that time in the Guardian Temple.
    She picks one up without looking at the engraving upon it, turning it to gaze at the mark of the Guardian there inscribed.

    Once upon a time, a people fled to the stars.

    Once upon a time, a people called the stars their home.

    Once upon a time, a people made their return to where they had been born, and could fly to the stars no more.

    She gazes down at the mark of the Star Guardian, Rigdobrite.

    "...Is this... what I was meant to find?" she wonders aloud.

<Pose Tracker> Marivel Armitage has posed.

Qubeley digs back out into the summit. Marivel doesn't respond to Yue but rest assured, she is feeling a little better about this outing than she did moments before. She was worried for Yue, and also a little sad that their relationship seemed so strained. She wasn't even entirely sure what caused it but at least it seems like things will be okay. She believes in Yue.

And also you, the player.

Anyway, she clambers out of her gear/golem and approaches the site. She smiles at Yue, briefly, but doesn't comment with words any more. She doesn't make the rules with regards to who can use a stone medium or not.

"Interesting. Perhaps this was a temple once." She says. "Or a research facility of some kind." She mulls a bit on it, collecting a stone Medium of Fengalon which might seem like a strange choice, but perhaps not.

"I leave that choice to you." She tells Acacia. She doesn't seem to have a personal stake here. Maybe she trusts everybody else too! Or she just has a breezy attitude about it.

"Still... a perilous place to reach..."

<Pose Tracker> Yue Rohay has posed.

    Acacia asks if they should take all of them back towards the tribes.

    Yue lowers her head. "This is just my opinion, but I suppose there is a reason Mediums are not found as storebought items."

    She places the one she's chosen to her chest, a little bit closer. "The Baskar do not hand them out freely... only to those that they deign to have the respect and worthiness. And here, in this once-tower of the Elw..." as Avril confirms that as well, "It must be a kind of destiny for us to find these."

    She glances towards Avril as she selects one herself.

    Once upon a time, a people made a first departure to the stars.

    They did not take everyone with them. They abandoned a last hope behind.

    And now, that they have made their way to the end of time, through the star ocean... they have returned to this blue sphere.

    How much can two people drift apart when, upon the conclusion of many milennia, only integrity and faithlessness await?

    The Medium is proof of that. The Medium shall tell that answer. For this is their second story.