2020-01-28: The Fabled 'Hanging Out' Activity

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  • Log: The Fabled 'Hanging Out' Activity
  • Cast: Loren Voss, Anaitis Sura, Tolone
  • Where: Meria City - Castle Square
  • Date: January 28, 2020
  • Summary: Loren had asked Anaitis to hang out with him, in an attempt to get to know the engineer better. But when they head towards the festival in Meria, another unexpected person joins them. Can love bloom on the battlefield-- er, fairgrounds?

DG: A party led by Loren Voss is now entering Meria Boule Festival Games.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
========================<* Meria Boule Festival Games *>========================
=========================<* CHALLENGE - Funny Money *>==========================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 "Okay, so, five gella gets you one token, but if you want a bargain, think
 about purchasing our fifty gella token pack..."

 First things first -- before you can poke around the games at the festival
 in Meria Boule, apparently you'll have to buy some tokens to trade to play
 the games. That's right, they use their own currency here, and the exchange
 rate seems dubiously steep. The good news is, you'll be able to win more and
 exchange them for valuable prizes.

 One thing's for sure -- if you don't negotiate purchasing (or certain
 'discounts') carefully, your wallet is taking a hit.
=Dungeon Conditions: Injure===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    AS WAS FORETOLD

    ...Loren and Anaitis have managed to get out to Meria City to take part in the promised 'hanging out'. This likely took some minor acts of god vis-a-vis scheduling and shift realignment and offers of favors that Loren may later regret making. But none of that matters because he's finally out on his own with--

    .....This is actually the part that seemed a little more straightforward when he was thinking about it. Now, of course, he's just feeling overwhelmed and very, very much out of his depth. What had he been thinking, again...?

    He glances over at Anaitis, trying to gauge whether they're even enjoying themselves, or if this whole thing is on its way towards disaster.

    He had friends, once. He might be this close to shut-in territory outside assignments but he knows what you're supposed to do when--
    And especially when you're thinking--

    This is when he spots the entrance to the festival. He'd seen it the last time and given it a wide berth, but right now it seems like a good idea. It seems... positively normal and not at all weird...?

    "Hey, uh, let's go check that out?" he says, and just about kicks himself internally for the questioning tone it pitches into.

    SOON

    There's just one obstacle to the games themselves: there's the part where they have to pick up some tickets first.

    The mildly skeptical expression slowly morphs its way into ever more increasing doubt as the man's explanation of the ticketing packages rattles on.

    Loren soon finds himself on far more comfortable grounds: open disdain!

    "Really? Do you think I can't do math? Or are you just that stupid? At that price, it's cheaper to buy nearly as many individually."

    He'll realize in a moment here that he's just been an overt asshole in front of someone he's trying to impress. But for right now, he at least has his self-satisfaction.

DG: Loren Voss has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Funny Money.
<Pose Tracker> Anaitis Sura has posed.

    Anaitis is looking rather lovely today, as is the custom in the fabled 'hanging out' activity that humans-- people partake in! As Loren looks, they seem to be terribly absorbed with... well, virtually every little and big thing that Meria Boule has to offer. That child with a red baloon wearing the blue overalls. The baguette stand with robustly golden-coloured breads. The lazily spinning weathervane overhead the inn sign that reads 'THE GOLDEN ROSE'. Everything, really.

    "Captain, perhaps we should take it at our own pace?" Anaitis suggests, voice melodious as their three-coloured hair flows rather effortlessly, tied into little braids laced with beads hanging about the primary stream. The scarf ending in mirrors is also still wrapped loosely around their shoulder.

    Today's fingernail polish is:

    Mint green with a splash of lavender

    Ah, but then there is a custom where people have to pick up tickets in exchange for... currency?

    "My, so there is a special token that has great value here?" Anat answers, holding up one token. A pause, as they squint and hold up another, then hums and slips out a little brush-like tool from underneath their big white sleeve.

    "Excuse me," Anat points out. "This token appears to be made out of another material than this one. This one is metal... but this appears to be painted wood. Is there a reason?"

    A scam, huh...

DG: Anaitis Sura has used their Tool Engineering Kit toward their party's challenge, Funny Money.
<Pose Tracker> Tolone has posed.

"Good afternoon," says

TOLONE, THE ELEMENT

as she approaches the duo with a comfortable sort of nod. She had been sitting on a bench near the entrance to the festival. The reason for her situation in this place? Unclear, although one can guess. Why wasn't she immediately obvious? She is holding the remains of an ice cream sundae in one hand; it had, previously, been disguising much of her face.

"The purpose of this system is financial capture," Tolone explains. "They have your money and they do not intend to give it back. Essentially, everything past this point exists to justify the administration of negotiable and widely accepted currency for functionally inferior but locally useful currency."

Tolone approaches the window. "One fifty-gella token pack."

DG: Tolone has used her Tool Computer Brain toward her party's challenge, Funny Money.
========================<* Meria Boule Festival Games *>========================
=========================<* CHALLENGE - Funny Money *>==========================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 1          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 "Okay, so, five gella gets you one token, but if you want a bargain, think
 about purchasing our fifty gella token pack..."

 First things first -- before you can poke around the games at the festival
 in Meria Boule, apparently you'll have to buy some tokens to trade to play
 the games. That's right, they use their own currency here, and the exchange
 rate seems dubiously steep. The good news is, you'll be able to win more and
 exchange them for valuable prizes.

 One thing's for sure -- if you don't negotiate purchasing (or certain
 'discounts') carefully, your wallet is taking a hit.
=Dungeon Conditions: Injure===================================================
===================<* Meria Boule Festival Games - Round 1 *>===================
===========================< Results - Funny Money >============================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Anaitis Sura                        0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Engineering Kit                     2   Wits    Effects: Stalwart
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tolone                              0 --(0)--> 0                   Pass
Computer Brain                      2   Wits    Effects: Enlighten
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Injure(2)
Effects: Enlighten(1)
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss 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> Loren Voss has posed.

    If Loren had been paying a little more attention to Anaitis, instead of wrapped up in his own thoughts...

    Instead, what he manages is a half-hearted, "...You can call me by my first name." It's a little weird -- still -- to be called Captain, even a year on. Weirder still to realize he's technically outranking someone who he likes. He has to be careful about this.

    ....And here comes the realization. Loren grows a touch pale and glances over at Anat, as if trying to get a read -- again -- on what they're thinking. But instead, Anat is--

    ...Wondering about the tokens?

    ...oh, right, they've probably never been to a festival if they weren't on fieldwork before.

    "They're, uh, sort of an exchange," he starts to explain.

    Which is when Tolone enters the proceedings.

    Anaitis will get to see another side of Loren: the part where he absolutely wilts before someone with more authority. "Ma'am-- er," he just about chokes, realizing at the last second that he probably should /forego/ propriety given their current location/situation. "I didn't.... expect to see you," he offers, diplomatically enough (for him).

    She provides explanation enough. Before going ahead and purchasing the pack he had insulted. "Er--"

    * Loren's party gained: 50 tokens!

DG: Tolone has drawn a new Challenge.
=======================<* Meria Boule Festival Games *>=======================
=================<* CHALLENGE - No Escape From The Gatcha *>==================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 1          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 "Care to give Lady Luck your best shot?"

 Somehow, you feel like you've seen something like this booth before. The
 setup is simple: you have a lever, a machine that deposits capsules, and a
 list to one side of the little figurines in the capsules. Get a set of rares
 between yourselves, and you can trade them in for some tickets! But if you
 don't, too bad.

 Though you'll get to keep the little figurines if you do lose. That's...
 nice?

 There's just one snag in the whole thing: the lever sticks. You're going to
 have to fight with it a little.
=Dungeon Conditions: Wound====================================================
<Pose Tracker> Tolone has posed.

"Hm," Tolone answers Loren with a nod. "Yes. I didn't expect to be here myself. I'm here to meet someone, but I believe they're inside the festival. I imagine this won't be hard."

She moves forwards. To Anaitis, Tolone remarks, "I like your nail polish." That is all that she says for the next space of time.

In the festival, there is food, there is cheap and colorful tat of various kinds; there are beer stalls (which don't take tokens, nor do the food places, or most of the tat stalls... hm...) and a walkway that is covered indifferently with sawdust. Tolone drifts away from the two Solarians.

Loren can probably tell that Tolone doesn't go *far* from them, though. Even when she purchases a garish ladybug hair pin. Which she immediately puts on.

UNTIL

'Care to give Lady Luck your best shot?'

Tolone crosses the 'road' and approaches the random-blind-draw capsule machine with its impressive lever and crouches down to stare intently at a seemingly random spot on the ground. The attendant is momentarily distracted, but then beams at the other two. "Two tokens for one draw - twenty for eleven. Guaranteed SSR or better!"

DG: Tolone has used her Tool Invincible Alloy Solarium-T toward her party's challenge, No Escape From The Gatcha.
<Pose Tracker> Anaitis Sura has posed.

    "Oh, Miss Tolone," Anaitis bows their head with a rather lovely smile upon their face. They are looking, too, at the remains of the ice cream sundae. "I see... what a curious system that they have enacted."

    They seem more intrigued by the ice cream, though. "Is that a dessert that you have in your hand, Miss Tolone?"

    Tolone also comments on their nail polish, and there is a brimming smile. "Why, thank you. I do try hard to come up with something new every day."

    They stop at food stalls; rather inevitably, Anaitis responds, "Then, Loren... I am pondering whether they sell something similar to what Miss Tolone ate..."

    Too late.

    'Care to give Lady Luck your best shot?'

    "What is... an 'S' 'S' 'R'?" Anaitis genuinely asks Loren.

DG: Anaitis Sura has contributed a Combat Basic Action toward their party's challenge, No Escape From The Gatcha.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    Tolone is here to meet someone. Of course. Someone as high-ranking as her isn't here on her day off like they are. Certainly, she is involved with some matter of another.

    So Loren assumes, at least.

    The fairgrounds proper are, regretfully, loud and full of Lambs. For a moment, Loren reconsiders things.
    But already he's in too deep and-- and there's a part of him that would never let him forget it if he ran away now. This is nothing. You've had worse.

    He's just usually dealt with it on his own, not when he was...

    ...With someone he was interested in.

    Anaitis has a nice smile, he decides, as Anat gives Tolone a particularly lovely one. Self-conscious, he adjusts his glasses and follows after the other two as they head in.

    Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Tolone doesn't drift too far ahead of them. He had been hoping she might go her own way, but...

    "Er? Oh-- ice cream? I'll, uh, keep an eye out for a stall," he says, as if suddenly put on the spot.

    Before there is a bit of an interruption as he tries to see what he can find.

    "Wait, Miss..." he starts, echoing Anaitis' means of address only to trail off as Tolone approaches the machine and stops for a moment. Loren's attention then shifts over to the operator.

    Anaitis asks what 'SSR' means.

    Loren remains silent on the matter for a good ten seconds.

    Then, he admits, as if embarrassed to know this, "It's, er, super super rare."

    Pause.

    "...They're pretty hard to get."

    ...Pause.

    "I guess... I could give it a shot?" ...He never has good luck with these things, though.

    The lever, he finds, sticks on the first draw. ...Which might be why he brings out a roll of bandages for the second attempt.

    ...It's for a little bit of an extra grip.

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Solarian Medical Kit toward his party's challenge, No Escape From The Gatcha.
=======================<* Meria Boule Festival Games *>=======================
=================<* CHALLENGE - No Escape From The Gatcha *>==================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Combat    |Challenge Rating: 1          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 "Care to give Lady Luck your best shot?"

 Somehow, you feel like you've seen something like this booth before. The
 setup is simple: you have a lever, a machine that deposits capsules, and a
 list to one side of the little figurines in the capsules. Get a set of rares
 between yourselves, and you can trade them in for some tickets! But if you
 don't, too bad.

 Though you'll get to keep the little figurines if you do lose. That's...
 nice?

 There's just one snag in the whole thing: the lever sticks. You're going to
 have to fight with it a little.
=Dungeon Conditions: Wound====================================================
==================<* Meria Boule Festival Games - Round 2 *>==================
===================< Results - No Escape From The Gatcha >====================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          0 --(20)--> 20                 Fail
Solarian Medical Kit                1   Combat  Effects: Cleanse
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Anaitis Sura                        0 --(20)--> 20                 Fail
Fight                               0   Combat  Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tolone                              0 --(15)--> 15                 Pass
Invincible Alloy Solarium-T         1   Combat  Effects: Cleanse
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  20 --(10)--> 30                Fail
Conditions: Injure(1)|Wound(2)
Effects: Cleanse
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has failed this challenge! The party gained 10 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Tolone has posed.

Tolone, when given the information about a new pattern each day, had nodded once.

NOW she is crouching down to examine the saw dust. She reaches down to touch it even as the attendant says with a little gasp, "That's RIGHT!" And then Loren grips the lever and pulls down once. Twice. He tapes up for a better grip, even as the attendant reaches for the small bucket of consolation prizes --

AND YET!

With the help of the tape - Loren gets a grip. He P U L L S

The turning mechanism - an adaptation of primitive farming machinery - begins to rotate. It creaks... it groans... ("Wow, this doesn't usually happen," the attendant remarks to Anaitis.) It rolls... and then...

It sticks.

The attendant sucks on his teeth because nothing at all came out.

"She's close," Tolone says, rising upwards abruptly. The attendant recoils, smashes into the side of the machine. It rocks, it rolls, it rotates - and disgorges...!!!

Tolone looks at the capsules, snorts once in what might be laughter, and turns to continue walking. The capsules turn out to have four repeats of a very common figure -- but as it turns out, there IS a very rare one in there, made from actual metal (bronze, to be fair, but even so). It seems to be a representation of the current Master of Guild Galad. How heartwarming! (?)

DG: Anaitis Sura has drawn a new Challenge.
=======================<* Meria Boule Festival Games *>=======================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Pie In The Sky *>=======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 "The pie-eating contest will be startiiiiing shortly!"

 This tent is a larger one in the festival grounds. As the barker declares,
 there is indeed a pie-eating contest about to be underway. If you've ever
 wanted to try to eat a /whole lot of pies/, now's your big chance.

 To best the other competitors and receive the champion's ribbon, though,
 it's going to take all the dedication and determination you can manage...
=Dungeon Conditions: Overzealous, Treasure====================================
<Pose Tracker> Anaitis Sura has posed.

    "Super... Super Rare?" Anaitis asks with genuine curiosity and not-understanding. "Why do they not call it Double Super? Or Truly Super? Outrageously Super..."

    There is a bob and a weave of their head, a long finger placed upon their lips. "Super Super. To repeat two words in tandem... so, this is a facet of the culture of these people."

    There is a delicate smile to the attendant, however, and then Loren procures a metal figure. They squint to say, "How curious. Is this supposed to be a famous figure?"

    Anat follows along with Tolone, then gets flagged.

    "The pie-eating contest will be startiiiiing shortly!!"

    Blink. Blink blink.

    Several competitors are sitting already, but there are some empty seats. Anaitis looks excited and genuinely earnest as they ask: "Oh, Loren, are you going to participate? It sounds rather fascinating, does it not? I do not know much about what a 'pie' is... indeed I would rather have what Miss Tolone is having, but..."

    A longer pause.

    "Would you be willing participate?" Anat is literally sparkling. And just to say I actually incorporated my tool into this, there's a Crest Graph-styled border around them, just to make it EXTRA difficult to say 'no' to.

    (yes i'm using my tool against loren)

DG: Anaitis Sura has used their Tool Crest Graph S toward their party's challenge, Pie In The Sky.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    "It's a thing some Lambs do sometimes," Loren explains, with a shake of his head. "Don't worry about it too much."

    He carefully omits all knowledge he has on the existence of the Super Ultra Hyper Romancing MiniGear limited edition release back in Etrenank. It might undermine the point he's trying to make.

    But one embarrassing failure in front of someone he's trying to impress later--

    He picks up the metal figure and similarly squints at it. "...I have no idea."

    (he has no idea who the Master of Guild Galad is. yet.)

    He moves along after, as if eager to put this one behind him. Until, noticing that Anaitis has fallen back--

    "Are you--"

    The announcement rings out through the air. Loren turns his head to regard the proceedings. Oh. This is one of those speed-eating contests, right? He's never been certain how Lambs can just...

    "Uh?" Loren says, eloquently, as a very excited, very earnest Anaitis asks him if he'll participate. "Well, I..."

    He's silent.

    "A pie's just like, uh. A cake with... a crust?" he says, gesturing vaguely, as he settles on the only part of this conversation with which he wants to engage. "I mean, like... not just like a cake! It's a cake in that you... slice it... but there's fruit inside, and," he comes to an abrupt stop, perhaps sensing this whole line of conversation has truly escaped the barn.

    He falls silent again, going a bit pink this time.

    Anaitis asks him again. Practically -- no! -- literally sparkling at the idea of it. Loren...

    Loren finds he can't say no. His shoulders slouch, and he offers up a, "...okay."

    PRESENTLY

    There are few opportunities to eat that the young captain won't take -- he's young yet, and using Ether tends to ratchet up one's caloric needs accordingly. Still, as he regards the task before him, it does seem an unlikely one.

    But win or lose, he supposes, he has to try.
    ...Especially if Anaitis is watching him.

DG: Loren Voss has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Pie In The Sky.
<Pose Tracker> Tolone has posed.

Tolone's eye gleams red.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Cwi0pkhoSE

"This is where she went," Tolone states, unambiguously.

She moves in, although she does not move to participate. She turns her head to look at Anat, explaining as she does, "It's usually made from preserved fruit or some other material. Cake is closer to a bread loaf. It's not a strict category."

"Ask me how I know," Tolone says.

PRESENTLY

Loren's going to have to deal with competition from someone who is there with pink hair and rabbit ears. Fortunately, this certain someone does not have anything to say because her head is in the game and that game is eating.

From the audience, Tolone says, "Sigh," as in, she literally says that word instead of attempting to render a sigh loud enough to be picked up by a microphone in a Gear.

DG: Tolone has used her Tool Ultra Positron Beam toward her party's challenge, Pie In The Sky.
=======================<* Meria Boule Festival Games *>=======================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Pie In The Sky *>=======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 "The pie-eating contest will be startiiiiing shortly!"

 This tent is a larger one in the festival grounds. As the barker declares,
 there is indeed a pie-eating contest about to be underway. If you've ever
 wanted to try to eat a /whole lot of pies/, now's your big chance.

 To best the other competitors and receive the champion's ribbon, though,
 it's going to take all the dedication and determination you can manage...
=Dungeon Conditions: Overzealous, Treasure====================================
==================<* Meria Boule Festival Games - Round 3 *>==================
=========================< Results - Pie In The Sky >=========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          20 --(0)--> 20                 Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Anaitis Sura                        20 --(0)--> 20                 Pass
Crest Graph S                       2   Brute   Effects: Stalwart
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tolone                              15 --(0)--> 15                 Pass
Ultra Positron Beam                 4   Brute   Effects: something
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  30 --(25)--> 55                Pass
Conditions: Overzealous(2)|Treasure(1)
Effects:
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has passed this challenge! The party gained 25 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Anaitis Sura has posed.

    how long... has it been.

    Since the last bizarre Lamb-invented food challenge. It was that waitress, wasn't it? How many has Loren himself gone through? The Saucery Globe. The bizarre fish that flew through the skies and doled out meals. The Shoopuf ride.

    there is a feeling here not unlike that.

    No matter how much he eats, more awaits him.

    An endless syrupy concentration of glazed fruit filling. Of golden crispy pie crust. It's... it's too much. It's too much...

    But... you know.

    Anaitis' cheering as if they heard who put the bomp, waving their arms up and cheering, "Go for it, Loren!"

    'TIME!!'

    The results are...

    Well, Loren didn't win. But in a way, Solaris won.

    Because Tolone spots a SHOCK OF PINK HAIR still devouring pie?? Masaka? Masaka!!

DG: Tolone has drawn a new Challenge.
=======================<* Meria Boule Festival Games *>=======================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Strongarm It *>========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 "Arrite! Show me what you got!"

 Is this even a booth? Is this even a contest? They're taking tickets, so
 it's probably legitimate... there's a real muscle-bound person here, there's
 a table and a couple of chairs, and that's about it.

 The name of the game is an armwrestling match: best the challenger and
 you'll win some tickets! Care to give it your best shot?
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Tolone has posed.

Afterwards.

"Voss," Tolone says as she slides one arm over her thin shoulders. Not her own arm. The arm of someone else. The arm of someone pink and big-eyed, who is currently in a state of tonic shock. "Seraphita reports that this is 'pie poisoning.' Do you have medical treatment for this condition?" She asks this quietly, and while walking around and not within reasonable earshot of the others.

* Seraphita's pie poisoning makes her a large burden for Tolone!
* So, basically, it's Wednesday.

"ARRIGHT!" bellows an enormous surface-dweller.

Tolone looks at him.

The surface-dweller slams his elbow down. "All you city slickers ain't got MUSCKLES! I'm gonna show you the MUSCKLES I GOT, if you got the MUSCKLES to take me ON! C'mon! Big prises! All you gotta do is beat me!"

Tolone glances at the others for a moment.

"I'll go last," Tolone states.

DG: Tolone has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Strongarm It.
<Pose Tracker> Anaitis Sura has posed.

    Anat gives a happy-clap towards Loren and lays their hand on his shoulder. "You gave it your best effort and I could not be more proud."

    There is a tilt of their head as Anat muses: "So this is her? I see..." A bob of the head, hair still flowing effortlessly behind their head. They rummage softly around their bag and holds out what looks like a standard-grade antacid. ... it might not be the best thing around, but that's all they have.

    But before long--

    ARRIGHT!

    "Oh... musck...les?" Anat finds themselves sat down in front of the enormous surface-dweller. "I see. So I am to move your arm to the table?"

    Anaitis raises their arm and places it in arm-wrestling position. They're waifish in stature! They can't possibly win against such a powerful man who's trained his entire life for this!

    But a Crest Graph quietly shines underneath the table.

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    Loren is no stranger to eating large quantities of food. He's a soldier -- and more to the point, a solder and heavy user of Ether (and as a result takes a higher calorie diet) in the field and daily operations.

    But there's a difference between volume and speed and...

    In the end, it's just too much pie. It's just way too much pie. He's forced to throw in the towel (so to speak) before far more dire fates await him but--

    Even as his shoulders slouch and he's given in to inevitability, a hand rests on his shoulder. He starts, turning to look at Anat. "Oh-- uh," he manages, frozen a moment like a deer in headlights. "T... thanks."

    He really hopes he doesn't have pie on his face.

    But then! There is a sound close at hand! Loren turns his head in its direction. Then he squints slowly.
    Pink.
    Is that...?

    It is.

    SOON

    "She looks a bit pale. ...Green, I guess," he adds, taking a look at Tolone's fellow Element as they make their way (slowly) from the contest grounds. "...It's just from overeating. I could give her an emetic but no one would enjoy that. I recommend--"

    Anaitis offers up an antacid.

    "Yeah. That'll help. Or even toughing it out. ...I don't think she should lie down though, or she could get acid--"

    This is when they are effectively accosted by a booth runner. Loren's gaze tilts upwards.

    "That's muscles," he says, after reaching some internal assessment or another. "The 'c' is silent. Who taught you how to speak, a..."

    He turns his head as Anaitis instead asks quite innocently after the rules of the game.

    One might read the mental calculus on Loren's expression.

    "Yeah, that's the game, but..." Mild alarm would be the least of it. "...hey, you don't have to..."

    But there they go, nonetheless.

    Which just settles Loren's determination to try, himself, regardless of whether Anat wins or loses, but all the more so if Anat loses.

    Maybe he's not really on the level of the likes of Dominia, or the Commander, or any of his peers who favored the martial arts over Ether manipulation in Jugend. But, he's been trying to make up for lost time and--

    It's weird. He hasn't felt this indignantly protective over another person in a while.
    He's not dumb -- he knows perfectly why, here.
    But the intensity of it is still a surprise.

    "Come on. Do your worst."

DG: Loren Voss has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Strongarm It.
DG: Anaitis Sura has used their Tool Crest Graph S toward their party's challenge, Strongarm It.
=======================<* Meria Boule Festival Games *>=======================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Strongarm It *>========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 "Arrite! Show me what you got!"

 Is this even a booth? Is this even a contest? They're taking tickets, so
 it's probably legitimate... there's a real muscle-bound person here, there's
 a table and a couple of chairs, and that's about it.

 The name of the game is an armwrestling match: best the challenger and
 you'll win some tickets! Care to give it your best shot?
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken===================================================
==================<* Meria Boule Festival Games - Round 4 *>==================
==========================< Results - Strongarm It >==========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          20 --(0)--> 20                 Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Anaitis Sura                        20 --(0)--> 20                 Pass
Crest Graph S                       2   Brute   Effects: Stalwart
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tolone                              15 --(0)--> 15                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  55 --(20)--> 75                Pass
Conditions: Overzealous(1)|Weaken(2)
Effects:
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss 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> Tolone has posed.

Seraphita's mouth opens and then snoms forwards to absorb the antacid. She woobles quietly. This does not cure the pie poisoning, but perhaps it will help her process it.

Tolone accepts this.

FIRST UP: Anaitis. The big man presses - grunts - sweats voluminously - struggles - but Anaitis is able to prevail, their secret Crest graph working in their favor even if this cheating is not observed by the authorities. Finally, knuckles brush the table - "Hngh!"

"Hah~! Not bad. You must have some kinda... martial arts training, right??"

SECOND UP: Loren. The big man strains almost as much - but he is able to, after a struggle, prevail. Loren's training holds up well, but this is a contest where, despite the big man's face-saving remarks, it is harder to convey one's training. The force is against force! That's all!

FINAL UP: Tolone. She is impassive for five seconds, her hand completely still, the man sweating desperately as he struggles before she says, "oh" and -

Her entire arm pops off at the bicep.

"GHYYAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!" (That wasn't Tolone screaming.)

SOON

Tolone has put her tickets in a garland around Seraphita's neck. She has also reclaimed her arm. "I guess he couldn't hand-le a surprise."

DG: Loren Voss has drawn a new Challenge.
========================<* Meria Boule Festival Games *>========================
=================<* CHALLENGE - Lightweights Need Not Apply *>==================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 "Show me what you're made of!"

 You find yourself approached by a booth operator who sees, perhaps,
 something they like in your eyes. They'd like to make you a deal. All or
 nothing, staked on your success on their game...!

 Which is, apparently, a drinking game. Your team, staked against a second
 group. Which among you can down the most mugs of-- er, frothy water?

 Do you have the endurance? Do you have the /force/ necessary to succeed? A
 pile of tickets is waiting on your ability to drink more than may be
 technically healthy!

 (OOC: Feel free to have your alt in the opposing group if desired!)
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken, Overzealous======================================
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    In the end...

    It was inevitable. Raw force has never been his strength, even taking into account training in Ether (martial/melee skills aside). Here, as always--

    "Ngh--"

    He puts up a fight but is ultimately defeated, his ego taking full damage. Even his will and desires can only go so far...

    But at least -- and it's a strange feeling, too -- he's found himself a little bit pleased that Anaitis was able to best the man. Though that feeling doesn't last.

    Because soon he has another thing to deal with, in the form of Tolone's detatched arm.

    OR PERHAPS MORE SPECIFICALLY:

    The aftermath of it. The latter? He just watches, expression as stony as if this is the sort of thing that happens every day.

    "Ma'am, perhaps it might be better to have less... detachable limbs?" he says, when all else is done. "I'm not entirely sure I can get the connections stabilized out here without the right tools." He may currently be in direct supervision of her arm, much to his dismay.

    This sort of thing always happens on his watch.

    "Hey! You three!"

    Has this booth operator noticed that one of them is down an arm and in possession of the detatched limb? Or perhaps the bigger questions is: do they care?

    "I'm gonna make you an offer you can't refuse! Come on up and join the DRINK-A-PALOOZA! You win, and I'll double -- no, triple -- your tickets! But if you lose, you've gotta hand 'em over. What do you say -- think you can outdrink the other team?"

    The other team, among others, includes a certain wayward archaeologist... who is currently downing the contents of a hip flask. Pre-drinking?!

    "Uh," is Loren's contribution. But since he's clearly not getting a say in this--

    SOON

    Loren stares down at his glass with the countenance of a man facing down his execution.

    "READY?" says the booth operator.

    ...I'm not ready for this, Loren thinks.

    "SET? GOOOOO!"

    He picks up the glass.
    And after that, there's nothing else to be done except his very best, once again.

DG: Loren Voss has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Lightweights Need Not Apply.
<Pose Tracker> Anaitis Sura has posed.

    Anaitis brightens up at Tolone as they exclaim, completely without guile: "I understand! You are making-- what is it called, a 'pun'. A play on language. Funny on multiple levels!" and... and just genuinely laughs from that.

    ... this person is weird.

    Anat doesn't seem to mind that Loren couldn't muster up strength in an arm wrestling contest, though.

    ...

    Then-- the drink-a-palooza.

    The other team...

    Right next to the wayward archaeologist who's probably ended up babysitting (??) a certain white-haired undead girl Loren definitely knows--

    "Thomassss! Thomasss!!" exclaims Lunata. She is poop-facedly drunk.

    That should be impossible. She's undead, and alcohol doesn't affect her. But perhaps SHEER JOYFUL ENERGY has infected her so much that she's convinced her mind that this is possible.

    "I did it! I did it! Oh my god you're on a DATE too! I ASKED HER OUT AND NOW WE'RE DATING!! AAAAH I LOVE MY UNLIFE!!"

    Lunata gets up and promptly topples over the table and collapses on the floor.

    "... my my," Anaitis tilts their head. You can just feel the sheer 'ara ara' energy coming from them. A Crest Graph is shining again in the back...

DG: Anaitis Sura has used their Tool Crest Graph S toward their party's challenge, Lightweights Need Not Apply.
<Pose Tracker> Tolone has posed.

"Don't worry about it," Tolone tells Loren. "This one's not concealing anything, as you can tell, so I thought it would be the best for the effect. The connections have robust wireless ability. Good of you to think."

The booth operator may have taken it as a prosthetic. He is currently drinking his sorrows away and cursing those who brought him to this place.

AND SPEAKING OF DRINKING

Tolone sits at her chair next to Seraphita, who remains in the throes of pie poisoning. Drinks are given to her. She drinks.

And drinks. And drinks.

How... She doesn't seem to be reacting?!

Anaitis may discover the secret because the back right hand side of Tolone's shoulder is venting some kind of warm flow of air that shouldn't be coming from a human being. She is almost certainly burning it for electric power before it can hit anything else. Does she even have a liver to get drunk with...??

DG: Tolone has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Lightweights Need Not Apply.
========================<* Meria Boule Festival Games *>========================
=================<* CHALLENGE - Lightweights Need Not Apply *>==================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 2          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 "Show me what you're made of!"

 You find yourself approached by a booth operator who sees, perhaps,
 something they like in your eyes. They'd like to make you a deal. All or
 nothing, staked on your success on their game...!

 Which is, apparently, a drinking game. Your team, staked against a second
 group. Which among you can down the most mugs of-- er, frothy water?

 Do you have the endurance? Do you have the /force/ necessary to succeed? A
 pile of tickets is waiting on your ability to drink more than may be
 technically healthy!

 (OOC: Feel free to have your alt in the opposing group if desired!)
=Dungeon Conditions: Weaken, Overzealous======================================
===================<* Meria Boule Festival Games - Round 5 *>===================
===================< Results - Lightweights Need Not Apply >====================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          20 --(0)--> 20                 Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Anaitis Sura                        20 --(0)--> 20                 Pass
Crest Graph S                       2   Brute   Effects: Stalwart
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tolone                              15 --(0)--> 15                 Pass
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  75 --(35)--> 110               Pass
Conditions: Overzealous(2)|Weaken(2)
Effects:
===============================< Dream Chasers >================================
DG: You have overcome the dungeon's trials! This run is a success!
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has successfully explored Meria Boule Festival Games!
========================<* Meria Boule Festival Games *>========================
=================<* CHALLENGE - You May Already Be A Winner *>==================
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 "How many tickets do you got there? ...That many? Hey, good job! Here, how
 about this one?"

 Fresh from your successes at the games you present your tickets to the
 person at the prize booth. They mull them over before producing today's top
 prize:

 Amazing. It's one in the hotly-anticipated, highly collectable Guild Galad
 army figurine series (collect all 12!), each representing a class of soldier
 within the Guild Galad military. Even for something at a 1/35th scale, the
 paint job is exquisite.
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    Loren sort of glances over Anaitis' way as they remark -- weirdly -- on the pun that Tolone made.

    He considers, for the moment, that this is the sort of person he's got a crush on.

    ...In the end, he decides, nobody's perfect. Frankly, after everything, he's fine with someone merely being a little weird.

    BUT BEFORE HE CAN DO MUCH ABOUT THAT

    Fortunately he's not in possession of Tolone's arm. That would had made this next part more awkward.

    IT'S ALREADY PRETTY AWKWARD

    "Uh," he utters, staring at Lunata like he doesn't know her -- or more accurately, doesn't want to know her. "Listen-- look, can you..."

    The worst part isn't the part where she gushes about him being on a date.

    The worst part is Anaitis' reaction. He assumes, of course, that it's towards him. Loren goes rigid where he sits, his gaze fixed on the mug of... something in front of him as if it were his only lifeline.

    "H-hey, um..."

    There's no more room for cowardice in this. He must move onwards!

    "I'm not... I wasn't tricking you or anything," he says, his voice low, the better to hopefully not be overheard by anyone else. "I'm fine with just, you know... hanging out."

    He swallows, hard. It's now or never!

    "...But... I wouldn't mind going out with you."

    There have been better ways of asking someone out, he reflects, mere microseconds after the fact. He's one hundred percent certain of this fact, he thinks, staring off into the middle distance.

    Then he makes the most of it and downs the contents of his drink, because, if this is the way this day is going to go--

    "AAAAAND TIME! The grand prize goes to blue team! Blue team, take your tickets away!"

    "C'mon, Little Bear. Up and at 'em. ...Ah, geez," utters a disreputable archaeologist as she attempts to right her fallen teammate. "Well, at least she's sleepin' peaceably-like."

    ...The good news is that Loren never managed to drink enough to get shit-faced drunk or similar.

    "Ugh..."

    On the other hand, it also made him the poorest performer of the team. And he still has to deal with the reality of what he'd asked of Anaitis...

    (Tolone, meanwhile, downs enough that the operator may be a little worried... and clinches their collective victory neatly.)

    The reward -- when they get over to the booth with their tickets -- is a little plastic figurine. It's nicer even than the weird metallic figurine from earlier.

<Pose Tracker> Anaitis Sura has posed.

    The good news is that Anaitis has a really calm, sweet smile as Loren makes a mention about going out with them.

    That smile lasts for the full five seconds of painful silence absence a response.

    Then Anaitis asks gently: "What is the difference between hanging out and going out, Captain?"

    oh boy

<Pose Tracker> Tolone has posed.

* Tolone will not save you from this one.

* Seraphita has snommed the plastic statue.

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    There is an awkward, almost painful moment of silence. It lasts, to Loren's perception of time, five million years.

    And then Anaitis asks, gently, a simple question.

    Loren opens his mouth. "I--"

    Then, perhaps thinking better of this line of inquiry, closes it again.

    "...I need a drink," he mutters at last, burying his face in his hands.