Difference between revisions of "2020-07-31: Eleno's Bequest"

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Latest revision as of 13:34, 1 August 2020

  • Log: Eleno's Bequest
  • Cast: Loren Voss, Neriah Parringer, Cyre H. Lorentz, Yulie Ahtreide
  • Where: Lifeweaver's Whorl
  • Date: July 31, 2020
  • Summary: A group most unusual ventures into the Whorl for a variety of reasons; after a ceasefire, they take to exploring the site together. But even with a truce, the Whorl does not make the going any easier for it.

DG: A party led by Loren Voss is now entering The Lifeweaver's Whorl.
DG: Party formation is now over. An Entry Challenge will now be drawn and displayed to the party.
==========================<* The Lifeweaver's Whorl *>==========================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Into the Ravine *>========================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 For once, you seem to have lucked out. Neither inclement weather nor
 monstrous legion nor tangled jungle bar your path to your destination. In
 fact, the stroll through the woods is downright pleasant...!

 Except that you soon find yourself standing at the lip of a ravine. Your
 destination is far below, and a treacherous climb down the cliff face is the
 shortest path. Your vantage point at least affords you an unmatched view of
 the facility. Great trees have broken the ring-shaped structure into several
 pieces and have presented a vast canopy to conceal much of the ruins from
 curious airship captains. The whole thing is like a many-spoked wheel,
 recessed most of the way into the canyon below.

 Be careful not to slip on your way down. It's quite a fall if you do.

 ((OOC Note: Welcome to the Lifeweaver's Whorl! The actual dungeon is split
 up into indoor and outdoor challenges, each of which will be noted in the
 card itself. Each card will also contain some commentary from someone who
 has clearly been here before you. Feel free to find his half-eaten journal
 notes lying nearby, or perhaps recorded on half-broken consoles...))
=Dungeon Conditions: Hesitate=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    Major Sadalbari had thought the plan was a good one, evidently, since she'd rubberstamped this as well. But there were a few apparently more confidential matters in the region that she wanted to see attended to first, expeditionary-wise, before making any approach towards Sielje.

    Naturally, that meant the expeditionary force in question was... himself and no other.

    'Lifeweaver's Whorl', the site was apparently called. One of the rare places in Filgaia that stood to rival Lunar itself in terms of greenery, or so it was said.

    If anything, Loren's under the impression that this was rather the understatement. He has to practically wade through the foliage on the approach to the site.

    "...Bet she'd like this place," he mutters, squinting at a flower that nearly rivals that weird one he'd given Lan seemingly ages ago in its strangeness. He toys with taking it, except it'd probably wilt or something before he got back.

    At a glance, someone might mistake him for a traveler or scholar of some sort, if a particularly wealthier one -- in fact, the mostly-black outfit was tailored for him specifically, and is only marred by the carefully repaired slash down the front, and then only if one looks closely.

    ...Except for the device he holds in one hand, that is. "Hmm... that one hasn't been observed in fifty years," he says, rising from a squat near a tree trunk as he appears to compare the contents to whatever the readout on that tiny display says. "I wonder if this is the last stronghold."

    He's taken off his glasses for now in deference to the rising humidity; they sit slipped into his jacket's front pocket, which is a state of affairs he will reconsider in roughly five minutes.

    At which time the vague trail he's following vanishes, revealing a ravine below.

    "Are you... are you kidding me," he remarks, flatly, to the ravine's height and the facility far below. "Am I really going to..."

    He closes his eyes for a moment, then moves to slip the device away into his bag, followed by his glasses.

    "Maybe I should go the long way around," he mutters, even as he slips over the edge to drop onto the narrow 'path' below.

    Shit... this is high up...

    He palms a feather token of all things, twisting the cord around his wrist before closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. Maybe this thing will finally give him some good luck for a change.

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Pinion Charm toward his party's challenge, Into the Ravine.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"Oh, it's you." The voice is sudden, sour, and coming from somewhere off to the right - and for Loren, it may be horribly familiar.

There's a ripple against the ravine wall as a figure pulls out of it, pushing back the hood of her texture-shifting overcloak as it melts back to its usual amaranthine red. The woman tosses her lustrous black curls back with a flick of her fingers, ruby lips pulled into a dour frown as she fixes a look on Mr. Voss.

"If I had my druthers I'd throw you into the ravine myself, 'Thomas the Medical Student,'" Neriah says acidly as she rests a hand on the arch of one hip. The other curls snugly around the haft of the large, multi-pronged polearm she's leaning over her shoulder. "But I'm not in the mood for that sort of thing. Besides, I want to check out this facility, and you're going the same way."

She looks out over the ravine before sighing and stepping out over the edge of the cliff.

Her feet settle onto open air. There is even a dramatic *click* from her impractically high heels.

The smile Neriah flashes at Loren is somehow both sweet and venomous all at once. "What I'm saying is that just for today, I'm tagging along with you. Consider yourself lucky."

DG: Neriah Parringer has used her Tool Arched Boots toward her party's challenge, Into the Ravine.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Plumage of the Quetzal bird is said to bring good luck to any who hold it, but...

Maybe... Maybe Loren was some kind of bird-murderer in his past life? Maybe this is just how the world tells him to eat crow for his past misdeeds?

"Oh, it's you," says another voice entirely, but almost simultaneously with Neriah. The result is a strange kind of stereo effect, but considering they're coming from two completely different directions, it's really more of a Broken Surround Sound kind of dealio.

"What are you doing here, 'Thomas Blackmore?' Or should I call you by a different name...?" Cyre Lorentz, shaman of the wind, child of Wehaca, and heir to the legacy of Xibalba, is... Floating there. He's been floating there for a while now, actually, but he's apparently waiting for something (or someone?) and hasn't yet descended into the ravine as a result. His parachute is unfurled, holding him gently aloft as his gaze narrows in on that token in the young scholar's hand, "...Hnnnnn."

He looks... conflicted!?

"...Fine. I guess this is their way of telling me to play nice. Guess a couple more won't hurt." He looks over to the Other Person. Gosh, Ancestors, sometimes Cyre can't help but question your collective wisdom!! "...Neriah," Cyre says, "You're looking... Well?"

Beat.

"I've brought someone else, too. Please don't be too weird with her. She's... really new to this whole deal."

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Reverse Parachute toward his party's challenge, Into the Ravine.
<Pose Tracker> Yulie Ahtreide has posed.

When you were on the run from a shadowy military organization, there's one fact that is always going to be true - you need money. Money for food, money for equipment, money for a place to stay... Without money, you're going to find yourself backed into a corner pretty quickly.

For someone with Yulie's talents, the quickest and easiest way to make some money is Drifter work. This place was marked down as dangerous, but with more and more Drifters heading into it, there was a need for more information, with a reward for those who brought back anything useful.

And so, almost as soon as Cyre says that he's brought someone else, Yulie arrives!

"I'm sorry, I wasn't sure what sort of equipment I should bring..." Yulie says apologetically. She had to go over it, and re-go over it a few times with Arnaud before setting out. She goes quiet, though, as she spots two unfamiliar faces - and they happen to be people Cyre knows.

"Oh, um, I'm Yulie, Yulie Ahtreide... I'll try not to be a burden." She greets, with a polite curtsy. As she straightens up, though, she catches sight of the emblem on Neriah's clothes and goes very quiet.

She remains quiet and very nervous for the entire descent. Some of that may be chalked up to the difficulty of trying to climb down in platform shoes. But she likes them, so that's that.

DG: Yulie Ahtreide has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Into the Ravine.
==========================<* The Lifeweaver's Whorl *>==========================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Into the Ravine *>========================
|Type: Entry       |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 For once, you seem to have lucked out. Neither inclement weather nor
 monstrous legion nor tangled jungle bar your path to your destination. In
 fact, the stroll through the woods is downright pleasant...!

 Except that you soon find yourself standing at the lip of a ravine. Your
 destination is far below, and a treacherous climb down the cliff face is the
 shortest path. Your vantage point at least affords you an unmatched view of
 the facility. Great trees have broken the ring-shaped structure into several
 pieces and have presented a vast canopy to conceal much of the ruins from
 curious airship captains. The whole thing is like a many-spoked wheel,
 recessed most of the way into the canyon below.

 Be careful not to slip on your way down. It's quite a fall if you do.

 ((OOC Note: Welcome to the Lifeweaver's Whorl! The actual dungeon is split
 up into indoor and outdoor challenges, each of which will be noted in the
 card itself. Each card will also contain some commentary from someone who
 has clearly been here before you. Feel free to find his half-eaten journal
 notes lying nearby, or perhaps recorded on half-broken consoles...))
=Dungeon Conditions: Hesitate=================================================
=====================<* The Lifeweaver's Whorl - Round 1 *>=====================
=========================< Results - Into the Ravine >==========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          0 --(8)--> 8                   Pass
Pinion Charm                        2   Agility Effects: Stalwart
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yulie Ahtreide                      0 --(8)--> 8                   Fail
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Neriah Parringer                    0 --(8)--> 8                   Pass
Arched Boots                        1   Agility Effects: Quicken and Fanfare
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     0 --(8)--> 8                   Pass
Reverse Parachute                   1   Agility Effects: Rally and Quicken
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  0 --(20)--> 20                 Pass
Conditions: Hesitate(2)
Effects: Quicken(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.

    'Oh, it's you' come the voices from... two different directions.

    Already knowing he's going to hate every last part of this, and just because of who those voices belong to, Loren reluctantly opens his eyes.

    "Great, just what I needed," the medic remarks flatly, shooting a withering look at the both of them in turn. He exhales sharply through through his nose. "Raised any dark gods lately, Parringer? ...And as for you-- whatever your name is--"

    Did he forget or did he just never learn Cyre's name?

    "--mind your own damn business. I didn't ask for you to-- what are you looking at," he says more than asks.

    He glances up once at Yulie, after which he gives Cyre a look which might just read as 'really?'

    Which is when Loren glances downwards again.

    "You know what, I am not having this conversation on the inside of a cliff. Either go your own way or don't," he says, before inching his way on downwards.

    On this day, luck is with him.

    It is somewhat less with Yulie (is it the shoes?) who slips as she makes her way down the incline.

    Point of fact, Loren is an asshole. But he's not the sort of asshole who will watch some kid -- or just about -- go tripping down the edge past him and do nothing. He grabs onto Yulie, not gently, and makes some attempt to help her steady herself. "Watch where you're going," he says, unkindly.

    Of course, Neriah and Cyre have no issues on the descent whatsoever, and likely beat the other two slowpokes all the way to the bottom...

DG: Yulie Ahtreide has drawn a new Challenge.
=========================<* The Lifeweaver's Whorl *>=========================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Jungle Japes *>========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 ...for the plan to succeed, rapid growth and unparalleled resilience are
 necessary qualities. Samples of genus Pueraria thus far have proven
 promising...

 OUTDOOR CHALLENGE: You've stepped into an emerald wonderland. Everything is
 covered in lush, sprawling vines that seem to grow on even the barest of
 substrate. The shattered ceiling allows an abundance of sunlight to pour in
 and nourish the greenery, some of which tumbles deeper down into the
 facility. You might be able to use these to make considerable progress-- as
 long as you can avoid taking a nasty fall.
=Dungeon Conditions: Secret===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Yulie Ahtreide has posed.

The reason for Yulie's reaction to Neriah is fairly obvious from a look at her - the coat is distinctly Granasian, and the emblem on her Crest Graph pouch marks her as a member of one of their lesser orders. Fortunately, she's a smart girl, and knows better than to start anything.

In her descent, though, she nearly slips! Thankfully, Loren grabs onto her, preventing an unpleasant fall.

"I'm sorry..." She apologizes. Eventually, they all make their way all the way down in one piece, and a way into the facility opens up before them...

...If you can call it that. This part of the facility has been hit pretty hard by ages, it's ceiling broken and shattered and allowing greenery in. The floor, too, has suffered similarly. It gave out long ago, and now the only way across is the vines streaming down from above. There is one thing certain about this place, at least.

"...It's beautiful..." Yulie comments, somewhat awed. "I didn't... realise there was any place like this left on Filgaia."

She reaches out to grab a vine with an uncertain look on her face. ...As beautiful as it was, this probably wasn't going to be easy on her. Did she... do something to offend Granas somehow...? Her last attempt at Digging required a lot of footwork, too... footwork that was a little beyond her current skill level.

...But, she didn't want to be a burden, either, so there's nothing else for it but to try...

DG: Yulie Ahtreide has contributed a Agility Basic Action toward her party's challenge, Jungle Japes.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"Oh, I'm quite fine," Neriah assures Cyre with a cant of her head. "So is my ass, by the way. And if you try to pinch it again, I'm sending you back to Wehaca in a coin purse."

Yulie she doesn't recognize, but she does flash her a neat little smile. "Hello, Yulie. My name is Neriah. You don't have to worry about being a burden. Just watch where Kitty's hands go and you'll be fine."

To Loren, she winks, once. "Actually yes, but you'll see soon."

The decimation in the facility has given way to remarkable greenery, and Neriah looks through it with her eyebrows arched shallowly. For once, she's without a quippy comment or even a snarky threat. There's a genuinely impressed look in her expression.

It passes with a soft sigh as she reaches out to take one of the vines in hand. "I hope this isn't going to be one of those things where we have to swing on vines like those books about jungles and such," she laments. "Ah well."

The vines tumble deeper down, and Neriah grabs ahold of one before swinging out, then back in, heels bracing her against the wall of the downward shaft. There she pauses, taking a look towards Yulie again.

"You're with the Church, aren't you?" she questions, seemingly without particular malice. "Has Granas been good to you?"

DG: Neriah Parringer has used her Tool Arched Boots toward her party's challenge, Jungle Japes.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"Are you going to bring up the day you almost killed Ethius every time?" Cyre answers with the exact kind of deadpan that you might expect from a particularly disincorporated piece of cookware, "I swear Neriah, you hold onto grudges like a geriatric holds onto power."

There's... There's a lot of history here. A lot. Of 'history.'

Yulie's comments don't go unnoticed. Cyre nods, his expression acquiring a wistful patina, "Yeah. It's beautiful, isn't it? Once upon a time, all of Filgaia looked like this, I hear. This place only still looks like this 'cause it had a hell of a gardener."

He looks to Loren as he grabs hold of a vine, his parachute unfurled and ready to catch his (or anyone else's, but especially Yulie's) fall, should it come to that. "I'm sure the old man wouldn't mind people coming in to uncover his secrets, but I worry sometimes about the kind of damage explorers are doing to this place," does Cyre know something about the ruins? Probably, but he also seems dead-set on being obnoxiously obtuse about it.

Maybe all this greenery just has him feeling like he's obliged to... beat around the bush...?

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Reverse Parachute toward his party's challenge, Jungle Japes.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    He's not used to someone actually apologizing this side of van Houten's... van Houten-ness. "Just-- just don't do it again," he reiterates to Yulie, shaking his head as if a little flustered. He keeps his mouth shut most of the rest of the way down.

    Most of the rest of the way, because Neriah.

    "Great," he says to her, pausing a moment before hopping across a particularly narrow gap on the cliffside. "Just what I need."

    Finally, they reach the bottom -- and the facility. What's left of it.

    "Can't I run into a pristine installation just once," mutters the medical officer, the feather token still in one hand.

    He glances over at Cyre as he speaks to Yulie. "So, what, you're saying someone used to maintain this place? ...They're not still alive, are they?"

    A long, long pause follows.

    "Or... still here?"

    Please say this place isn't full of ghosts, too.

    He grabs onto one of the vines and tugs at it as if to test it. "This seems unsafe," he says, before he kicks off on the ledge and, eyes tightly shut and the feather fluttering freely from the strap wrapped around his wrist, swings across.

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool Pinion Charm toward his party's challenge, Jungle Japes.
=========================<* The Lifeweaver's Whorl *>=========================
========================<* CHALLENGE - Jungle Japes *>========================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Agility   |Challenge Rating: 2          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 ...for the plan to succeed, rapid growth and unparalleled resilience are
 necessary qualities. Samples of genus Pueraria thus far have proven
 promising...

 OUTDOOR CHALLENGE: You've stepped into an emerald wonderland. Everything is
 covered in lush, sprawling vines that seem to grow on even the barest of
 substrate. The shattered ceiling allows an abundance of sunlight to pour in
 and nourish the greenery, some of which tumbles deeper down into the
 facility. You might be able to use these to make considerable progress-- as
 long as you can avoid taking a nasty fall.
=Dungeon Conditions: Secret===================================================
====================<* The Lifeweaver's Whorl - Round 2 *>====================
==========================< Results - Jungle Japes >==========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          8 --(8)--> 16                  Pass
Pinion Charm                        2   Agility Effects: Stalwart
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yulie Ahtreide                      8 --(8)--> 16                  Pass
Rush                                0   Agility Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Neriah Parringer                    8 --(8)--> 16                  Pass
Arched Boots                        1   Agility Effects: Quicken and Fanfare
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     8 --(8)--> 16                  Pass
Reverse Parachute                   1   Agility Effects: Rally and Quicken
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  20 --(20)--> 40                Pass
Conditions: Hesitate(1)|Secret(2)
Effects: Quicken(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> Yulie Ahtreide has posed.

"I'll... I'll try." Yulie replies with a nod toward Loren. Does she notice the fluster...? She doesn't comment on it, at least.

Neriah's comment gets a glance at Cyre from Yulie, and Cyre's comment right back gets a glance toward Neriah. It sounds like these two have some history... but, Yulie shakes her head.

"It's okay, he's been a perfect gentleman." She replies quietly. Her tone is a mix between fearful and suspicious.

"Did you... know him?" Yulie asks. The way he talks about it, it almost sounds as if he's familiar with the gardener, whoever it was. "...We should... try to limit the damage we cause."

It's as they're making their way across that Neriah addresses her again, asking about the Church.

"...I... am, yes. And... they have been. I don't know if I would be here today without them..." She replies.

And so, with everyone starting to swing (or just flying, in Cyre's case), they all start making their way across! It goes fairly well, all told. Yulie doesn't even need any help. It's more a matter of hand-eye coordination than footing, really, and she's had plenty of practice with that.

Still, she can't help but feel a little pleased with herself for making it to the other side on her own.

"It looks like we can go further in through here." She says, pointing out a door.

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has drawn a new Challenge.
=========================<* The Lifeweaver's Whorl *>=========================
=================<* CHALLENGE - Rooting Around in the Dark *>=================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 ...foundation is sound. Even if the process takes centuries, it should hold.
 It must hold. I no longer have the luxury of choice...

 OUTDOOR CHALLENGE: This place is a veritable maze. While the intact sections
 of the facility are relatively straightforward, the overgrown greenspaces
 and winding forest understories are anything but. Navigating the roads of
 intertwining branches and natural vine-bridges is about as confusing as it
 gets. This particular stretch is especially dark and meandering, comprised
 as it is out of an uncommonly dense amount of roots, ivies and vines, with
 what feels like a half-dozen looping switchbacks and crossroads. The only
 negotiable paths are shrouded under layer upon layer of vine bundles and
 leaf canopies. It almost seems as though this natural corridor is holding
 the two adjacent sections of facility together. Perhaps the Whorl is not as
 structurally sound as it once was? One way or another, you'll need to
 negotiate this tangle of jungle to progress.
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify==================================================
DG: Neriah Parringer has left your party.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"There's a quote that describes his situation pretty well, I think," Cyre muses as they descend from the canopy and find themselves a rather sound looking door. "That is not dead which can eternal lie--" Cyre presses it open, expecting to find some semblance of solid ground behind it.

He does not.

"--Uh," Cyre hesitates. The reason is fairly obvious! The path ahead is... Not a corridor. It's a veritable jungle. Enormous roots curl up and through what probably used to be a functional hallway. Vines as thick as a man's torso have split cracks into the ancient concrete, laying a foundation for a rat's nest of ivy to coil up and around, blocking out all light.

It's not even a straight shot anymore. The overgrowth has created a winding labyrinth of living bridges and trails, some of which wind back across themselves or terminate abruptly in confounding dead ends. To make matters worse, it's dark as all get-out, and all this greenery makes everything look... very samey.

"Well," Cyre huffs, "That's a bummer. Pick a path, I guess...?"

He lets the others figure out which way to go. He's got a story to tell! "Eleno Margulis was..." He glances askance at Yulie, unsure how much exactly he should talk about Moon Adventures. "I didn't know him directly, but I have benefitted from his wisdom quite a bit. He was a man from a place called Withertallow, a sorcerer with frightening insight into the workings of the natural world. A long... long time ago, he came here." Cyre gestures, brushing his fingertips across a winding vine, "And for a long time, he tended this place's flora and fauna, all in the hope of creating a cure to a terrible disease afflicting his homeland."

"He's part of this place, now. Sleeping, as far as I know. Maybe he still guides its growth in his dreams? I don't really know."

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Rooting Around in the Dark.
<Pose Tracker> Yulie Ahtreide has posed.

Yulie lets Cyre speak without interruption, taking in his explanation quietly. Does she believe it? ...Well, she doesn't see why he'd lie about it, and in many ways this place already defies explanation.

"...I see." She murmurs, carefully maneuvering her way through the labyrinth of wildlife. "It's sad... was he ever able to go back...?"

But right now, they have to worry about themselves. This place is a veritable maze of greenery, and there isn't much to go off of. In times like this, Yulie likes to consult the wisdom of the past. Specifically, she brings out a book, flipping through the pages.

"...There was a time when Saint Calucion found herself lost in a great forest. It seemed to stretch on for an eternity in all directions, but... she was able to find her way about by studying the flora. They know the lay of the land better than any one of us... they may have much to say, if we can only try to interpret what they're trying to telling us." Yulie explains... and then, suddenly, frowns.

...The book neglected to mention how to actually do that. Well, for now, it's worth a try, anyway. It's better than remaining lost.

DG: Yulie Ahtreide has used her Tool Calucion's Journeys toward her party's challenge, Rooting Around in the Dark.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    The quote just makes Loren grimace in apparent disgust. "Can you not--"

    He stops abruptly as Cyre presses the door ahead open, revealing what's beyond.

    Surprise! It's not a corridor. It's an Emperor-damned jungle.

    "Why is this even... has it been abandoned this long?" A pause. "Wait, no. This... grew this way on purpose."

    Loren strides forward, pulling from his bag a particular computer, with which he scans a nearby plant. "...I knew it. There's no way this could have grown in here by accident. Look at this -- could a normal plant live like this in the dark? Or is it only this dark sometimes--"

    He rises to his feet as Cyre speaks a particular name.

    "Withertallow? Are you sure," he asks of the shaman, pointing at him with his free hand. "Because I ran into a place by that name, once." He chews on his lip for a moment as he takes a look around him -- as Yulie seeks guidance in a higher power --

    And simply taps a couple buttons on the computer in his hand, causing the front of it to emit brilliance like a flashlight.

    "For evaluating trauma, usually," he remarks offhandedly. "Come on. Let's go."

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool MediScan v7 toward his party's challenge, Rooting Around in the Dark.
=========================<* The Lifeweaver's Whorl *>=========================
=================<* CHALLENGE - Rooting Around in the Dark *>=================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 2          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 ...foundation is sound. Even if the process takes centuries, it should hold.
 It must hold. I no longer have the luxury of choice...

 OUTDOOR CHALLENGE: This place is a veritable maze. While the intact sections
 of the facility are relatively straightforward, the overgrown greenspaces
 and winding forest understories are anything but. Navigating the roads of
 intertwining branches and natural vine-bridges is about as confusing as it
 gets. This particular stretch is especially dark and meandering, comprised
 as it is out of an uncommonly dense amount of roots, ivies and vines, with
 what feels like a half-dozen looping switchbacks and crossroads. The only
 negotiable paths are shrouded under layer upon layer of vine bundles and
 leaf canopies. It almost seems as though this natural corridor is holding
 the two adjacent sections of facility together. Perhaps the Whorl is not as
 structurally sound as it once was? One way or another, you'll need to
 negotiate this tangle of jungle to progress.
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify==================================================
====================<* The Lifeweaver's Whorl - Round 3 *>====================
===================< Results - Rooting Around in the Dark >===================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          16 --(8)--> 24                 Pass
MediScan v7                         3   Wits    Effects: Rally
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     16 --(8)--> 24                 Pass
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yulie Ahtreide                      16 --(8)--> 24                 Pass
Calucion's Journeys                 1   Wits    Effects: Resilient and Fanfare
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  40 --(30)--> 70                Pass
Conditions: Secret(1)|Stupify(2)
Effects: Resilient(1)
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss 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> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"The saints, huh."

Neriah's still shadowing the group. She's opted to hang back a little ways, letting the others deal with the worst of the challenge.

Resting a hand at the arch of her hip, she moves a little closer to Yulie, quiet eyes on her. "We should have a conversation about the saints sooner than later," she muses with a curve of her eyebrows and a neat little smile. "There's a lot about faith that I think you might need some briefing on."

Eventually she moves up behind Loren, leaning over his shoulder to watch as he picks at the computer screen. She rises on her toes.

She's leaning uncomfortably into his personal space. It's probably awkward.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"That's the sad thing," Cyre says, his lips curling into a frown. "He couldn't. Eleno eventually did figure out how to cure the disease, but it took him too long. An ordinary human lifespan wasn't enough." The flora does in fact speak volumes. The way the vines wind, the way the roots curl. Loren's on the money; this was all intentional. There's a certain pattern to it, an efficiency of golden ratios and branching fractals that only emerges in natural systems.

"So he made himself more than human," Cyre's story continues as they wind ahead down a particular path. It's a path much like any other, but this is theirs, and it seems to be leading them well. "When we found him, he had... Somehow fused himself to a tree. From there, he could continue his work for as long as it took."

"But the years take a toll on a person. They used to say this place was cursed, and in many ways it was. Part of his soul-- some part of him that was cast away when he stopped being entirely human-- took up residence here as a vengeful spirit of sorts. We're pretty sure it's gone now, though."

It's dark. Terribly dark. Loren's flashlight is a tremendous boon, one that saves the party quite a bit of time (and a half-dozen near-trips). Something he says, though--

"...What are you talking about?" Cyre asks the strange sky-man. "My dude, I was there when we went into the Menagerie. We were almost eaten by chimeras together, remember? Of course I know you know what Withertallow is. And, for the record, it is that Withertallow."

"I'm sure you know what that means," he says, meaningfully, as they turn another corner. "...That was his place, too. His old laboratory."

There's a door there! Thank all the Guardians. Also there's a Neriah, who Cyre could have sworn he had lost track of. But she's okay! Hoo...ray?

Beat.

"Uh," Cyre huffs, "Please don't corrupt the girl's faith. The last time that happened I got set on fire."

DG: Loren Voss has drawn a new Challenge.
==========================<* The Lifeweaver's Whorl *>==========================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Hatchery Hijinks *>=======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 4          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 ...iteration was always a problem back home. But these facilities will allow
 me to prepare dozens, if not hundreds of samples at once. The project must
 produce a flawless result, I fear that nothing less will...

 INDOOR CHALLENGE: Something is strange about the vines. Sometimes it seems
 as though they've completely replaced whatever energy infrastructure used to
 run this place. This fact becomes quite useful when you come across what can
 only be described as a hatchery full of writhing, squirming creatures
 suspended in illuminated cylinders of glass and fibrous living membrane. The
 complex biomachinery churning all around you seems to be reaching some kind
 of end-state; whatever is happening here, it's about to finish-- with your
 party in chomping range. If you can reroute power away from the gestation
 tanks, you might be able to buy enough time to get to a safe distance... But
 that requires deciphering the bizarre combination of biological and
 artificial that make up the technology in the room.
=Dungeon Conditions: Injure===================================================
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    'Somehow fused himself to a tree'.

    'Took up residence here as a vengeful spirit'.

    Watch Loren closely. And you also get to watch him shudder.

    "That would make him... how old? ...Never mind, I don't want to know the answer to this question."

    For someone who hails from an Empire ruled by an undying emperor, he sure has thoughts and feelings about deathless states otherwise. Granted, it's different when it's Emperor Cain. At least he knows the Emperor is benevolent.

    But it's as they work their way through the maze that Cyre points out something important:

    "You were... what?" he asks, tilting his head incredulously. And then even that expression melts off into something more...

    'Mute, horrified realization' may cover that look on the Solarian's face well.

    Before he shakes his head, starting off on ahead of the rest of them, into the chamber that is softly lit by a green pulsing glow.

    He stops up short, frozen to the spot for a long moment. Slowly, he drops his machine into the depths of his bag.

    "Shit," Loren breathes softly, staring up at monstrosity-under-glass, pulsing and twisting as if it were straining to be...

    ...birthed.

    "Don't," he says hoarsely, slowly crouching on the floor here and touching it with a pair of fingers, "don't move. Wait. Something's going to," he says, extending his focus into the field of vibration, a call/answer courtesy of the unique properties of the stresses inherent in earth Ether, "come out of those tanks. /Don't break them/. If we can just find the power source... and path... and divert it..."

    He grits his teeth, shuffling his awareness outwards like a rippling wave. Where? Where is it-- what's channeling it--

    And where can it go instead?

DG: Loren Voss has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Hatchery Hijinks.
<Pose Tracker> Yulie Ahtreide has posed.

"I'll, um... think about it." Yulie replies politely to Neriah, clasping her hands in front of her. She's more than a little suspicious about what kind of 'briefing' Neriah would want to give her, considering whose emblem she's proudly bearing - but at the same time she's not sure how to decline politely.

As they make their way through the facility, Cyre tells Eleno's story.

"...That's... so sad..." Yulie murmurs quietly. She goes quiet for the rest of the trip through the labyrinth of greenery, as well.

The labyrinth takes them to what can only be described as some sort of laboratory, with creatures suspended in illuminated cylinders. Yulie stops dead in her tracks, her eyes opening wide and her hands clasped over her mouth to suppress the strangled gasp of shock that the sight of this place provokes.

It could be mistaken for sheer surprise at the sight before them. But for Yulie... this place is all too familiar, reminding her too much of that facility. It takes her a moment to steel her nerves. She doesn't want to hold everyone back here.

While she had never really been allowed to touch it herself... she had gathered quite a bit about technology. This one was meshed and interwoven with living tissue, but maybe...

"Let me, um..." She stammers, still shaken as she steps forward. She draws out the book again, but doesn't read from it. Instead, she holds it close as if for emotional support as she sees to the machinery, trying to look for a way to help reroute the power.

...She seems all too familiar with this kind of technology for someone who, by Cyre's explanation, was new to this whole thing.

DG: Yulie Ahtreide has used her Tool Calucion's Journeys toward her party's challenge, Hatchery Hijinks.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

"What, me?" The look Neriah flashes to Cyre is one of utter innocence.

Soon enough, they've reached the next chamber, but the Impetus of Valmar continues to hang back. Her eyebrows come up in shallow curves as she looks up through the glass cylinders at the pulsating abominations contained therein. For a moment, her expression is indecipherable, as if she's trying to determine how exactly she should feel.

Eventually she curls her lips and lifts her chin. "Ugh. Weird science. Just what we need."

Neriah brings her right hand out to her side, rather relaxed about it - but the feeling of power building up is undeniable. The sensation is unsettling even for those with the most rudimentary sensitivity to magic, a vague sense of awareness of something utterly horrifying that gnaws at the very edges of the senses. It springs into tangibility after a few seconds as a nimbus of red-black light twists into being around her fingers, twisting into a globe of shadow flame.

"Whatever you're planning to do," she encourages Loren, "please do it, because Plan B is I basically turn this room into a crater."

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

As much as Cyre likes seeing Loren Voss (and just, any Solarian in general) squirm like a hooked worm, it's the other expression on his face that really has him... Concerned?

"You... you do remember, right?" Cyre asks, his frown deepening to something that could be described as 'potentially uncovering terrifying fact about skypeople face.' "There were deadly man-eating plants, nature gone absolutely bonkers, and pods full of--"

Green glow. Cyre tuuuuurns his head in the direction of the light. "--Chimeras."

"Fuck me, I just had to jinx us."

And then Neriah threatens to turn this whole place into a crater, and Cyre absolutely blanches because he has seen that happen. "Please don't," he whispers, as if trying to not wake up the horrifying doom beasts. "I vote we turn around and find another way through. Carefully."

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Hatchery Hijinks.
==========================<* The Lifeweaver's Whorl *>==========================
=======================<* CHALLENGE - Hatchery Hijinks *>=======================
|Type: Exploration |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 4          |
---------------------------< Challenge Information: >---------------------------
 ...iteration was always a problem back home. But these facilities will allow
 me to prepare dozens, if not hundreds of samples at once. The project must
 produce a flawless result, I fear that nothing less will...

 INDOOR CHALLENGE: Something is strange about the vines. Sometimes it seems
 as though they've completely replaced whatever energy infrastructure used to
 run this place. This fact becomes quite useful when you come across what can
 only be described as a hatchery full of writhing, squirming creatures
 suspended in illuminated cylinders of glass and fibrous living membrane. The
 complex biomachinery churning all around you seems to be reaching some kind
 of end-state; whatever is happening here, it's about to finish-- with your
 party in chomping range. If you can reroute power away from the gestation
 tanks, you might be able to buy enough time to get to a safe distance... But
 that requires deciphering the bizarre combination of biological and
 artificial that make up the technology in the room.
=Dungeon Conditions: Injure===================================================
=====================<* The Lifeweaver's Whorl - Round 4 *>=====================
=========================< Results - Hatchery Hijinks >=========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          24 --(25)--> 49                Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     24 --(25)--> 49                Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yulie Ahtreide                      24 --(25)--> 49                Fail
Calucion's Journeys                 1   Wits    Effects: Resilient and Fanfare
-----------------------------------< Party >------------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  70 --(10)--> 80                Fail
Conditions: Injure(2)|Stupify(1)
Effects: Resilient(1)
===============================< 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> Loren Voss has posed.

    Loren doesn't answer Cyre. Tightlipped, he presses on ahead.

    Shit. It's worse than I thought it was.

    But even pressing concerns like that fall away under... more pressing concerns.

    And the focus he needs to direct thereafter. Where's the power running? Where's the source? He--

    Loren makes a choked-off sound after a few moments more of probing. "The-- the powergrid's running all over the place. I can't find a place to cut it off at! It--"

    He glances up suddenly, past Yulie who seeks some sort of intercession perhaps, past Cyre who recommends they fall back.

    At Neriah, who promises to blow this room up if they can't stop this. "Wait, don't--"

    It may already be too late.

    The glass begins to crack. Tendrils sprout menacingly from the tanks.

    Loren, for his part, rises to his feet and makes a game attempt for the doorway.

    It may already be too late. After all, Neriah--

DG: Yulie Ahtreide has drawn a new Challenge.
=========================<* The Lifeweaver's Whorl *>=========================
=================<* CHALLENGE - Benediction of Archgenesis *>=================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 4          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 ...all that I can do. And yet, the truth I have been running from for so
 long is so painfully obvious. Even if I find my answer, someday, who will
 bring it to those who need it most? I will die here, so far from home... or
 else I will be bound to this place, never to see them again. When it is
 done, will I even remember what I did all this for?

 INDOOR CHALLENGE: You've finally drawn near to the heart of this place. The
 vines creeping across the facility walls pulse with light and energy, and
 grow so thick that it's impossible to tell that you're in an artificial
 structure at all. Whatever is going on in here, whatever treasures might be
 hidden here, they're very close by.

 The problem is, you're not the only ones who realize it.

 The corridor suddenly shudders as a cascade of roots and vines erupt from
 the walls to bar your path. Saplings shoot up from the floor, expand into
 fully grown tree trunks, and then rapidly die and petrify to bar your way.
 The life-force filling this place surges to keep you at bay. Whatever lies
 in wait knows that you are coming, and it's doing all that it can to stop
 you.
=Dungeon Conditions: Overwhelm================================================
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Does Neriah Parringer look like a waiter?

"Yeah, fuck that," she says with a huff as she levels her palm forward. The shadow flame roiling around it swells madly and expands.

And all of a sudden, everything is swallowed up by fire.

The explosion she unleashes is immense, the sound of it loud enough to roll through the facility like a thunderclap. Flame and darkness erupt out from around the robed woman. Tanks shatter and vapourize, protruding tendrils disintegrating in an instant as a wave of dark energy simply tears them apart, and the room with them. Chunks of structural material blow away, the ceiling outright exploding off the chamber.

The fire and flash pass. Smoke plumes out from the epicentre of the explosion. It's hard to see. But one can hear a voice coming through it.

"I hate weird science," Neriah can be heard huffing. "Oh well. Hope those weren't load-bearing abominations."

As the smoke begins to clear, the devastation becomes apparent: The entire room has been reduced to ruins, along with part of the structure behind it. It leaves a gaping hole in the floor, leading through to a room choked with vines and roots, so thick that it doesn't even look artificial. Stepping up to the hole's edge, Neriah looks down into the chamber. "That's a lot of foliage," she muses.

That's about when roots and vines begin to shoot up through the gap and up along the surviving walls and roof. They're winding up to replace the structural beams Neriah blew out - and to crisscross around her like irregular bars. The Impetus lowers her eyelids slightly.

"I'd really rather not blow more of this place up," she says to nobody in particular.

<Pose Tracker> Yulie Ahtreide has posed.

Yulie tries to shut it down, but she soon discovers a very important fact - this place operates very differently from what she's used to. Fortunately, Neriah blows everything up before she can do anything they'll all regret.

Yulie leaps to the floor, covering herself with her hands. She remains like that for some time, at least until it seems like it's safe.

"...Is everyone alright?" Yulie asks, pulling herself to her feet and brushing off her skirt.

It's about this time that she sees that the facility is repairing itself - and, at the same time, going after Neriah. Neriah might be a follower of Valmar, and she certainly doesn't trust her, but she's not the kind of person who would just stand by and do nothing, even after it's been proven that Neriah can fend for herself.

"I'll try to help...!" Yulie rummages through her bags and draws out a small, clear gem brimming with magical power. She draws the power out of them gem, directing it in a burst of destructive force at the vines in an attempt to help Neriah - and maybe give them a way through, at the same time.

DG: Yulie Ahtreide has used her Tool Magic Gem toward her party's challenge, Benediction of Archgenesis.
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Yep, that sure was a release of apocalyptic power that basically wiped a whole swath of assorted biological horrors from existence. "I don't know what Eleno saw in building those things," Cyre says from JUST AROUND THE CORNER of the doorway, because he had in fact retreated in time to avoid getting his eyebrows (and everything else) burnt off by Neriah's impromptu obliteration. "I really should have asked when I had the chance. Probably security? Or... Something?? Test subjects???"

The world may never know.

What Cyre does know: the place is rebuilding itself, as it so often does. He hops down into the gaping hole in the floor before it seals over, only to see Neriah...

Ohhh boy.

"That's... probably just some automatic security thing-- Hold on." Cyre pauses, reaches, and breaks off a sprig of the Neriah-constricting vines. He gives it a sniff, then rips off a few more sprigs and shoves them into a pouch. "Right," he says, then, pulling a censer from his hip. He sets its contents alight, filling the air with a calming, aromatic smoke. "Just breathe easy. If I know this place right, it's probably just a matter of breaking through here and then dealing with the Guardian. We're going to need our strength."

...The smoke is also somehow applying a strength buff??

This priest apparently knows how to find (and use) the good stuff.

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has used his Tool Invigorating Vapors toward his party's challenge, Benediction of Archgenesis.
<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    After all, Neriah makes the room explode.

    The good news is that Loren makes it out of the room before everything becomes one with the flames. The bad news is that this doesn't matter all that much in the aftermath.

    "What the," he pauses to cough here, waving a hand in front of his face, "hell is wrong with you, Parringer," he says, gingerly approaching the new hole in the floor that stands before them.

    "Guess we should turn arou--"

    "--shit!"

    He backpeddles in spectacular fashion as the vines come up from below, snaring choice bits of architecture and, of course, Neriah. In fact, Loren has a particularly lucky break as a vine careens right past his head, now as rigid as steel. Unless he's lost the plot, they're about to get walled in here by the plant matter.

    Loren takes a step back, trying to find the best place to stand. His nose wrinkles as something wafts past his nose.

    He gives Cyre a look that might as well be 'really?' before his attention loops towards Yulie, who is in the process of hurling explosive magical gems at the vines entrapping Neriah.

    Not that he really cares if Neriah lives or dies (the second would be preferable) but with that spot weakened.

    He lets out a shout as he reaches deep and hauls upwards with earth Ether, the effect materializing as a singular ragged-edged stone spike aiming nearly for the sky.

DG: Loren Voss has contributed a Brute Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Benediction of Archgenesis.
=========================<* The Lifeweaver's Whorl *>=========================
=================<* CHALLENGE - Benediction of Archgenesis *>=================
|Type: Climax      |Dungeon Ability: Brute     |Challenge Rating: 4          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 ...all that I can do. And yet, the truth I have been running from for so
 long is so painfully obvious. Even if I find my answer, someday, who will
 bring it to those who need it most? I will die here, so far from home... or
 else I will be bound to this place, never to see them again. When it is
 done, will I even remember what I did all this for?

 INDOOR CHALLENGE: You've finally drawn near to the heart of this place. The
 vines creeping across the facility walls pulse with light and energy, and
 grow so thick that it's impossible to tell that you're in an artificial
 structure at all. Whatever is going on in here, whatever treasures might be
 hidden here, they're very close by.

 The problem is, you're not the only ones who realize it.

 The corridor suddenly shudders as a cascade of roots and vines erupt from
 the walls to bar your path. Saplings shoot up from the floor, expand into
 fully grown tree trunks, and then rapidly die and petrify to bar your way.
 The life-force filling this place surges to keep you at bay. Whatever lies
 in wait knows that you are coming, and it's doing all that it can to stop
 you.
=Dungeon Conditions: Overwhelm================================================
====================<* The Lifeweaver's Whorl - Round 5 *>====================
===================< Results - Benediction of Archgenesis >===================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          49 --(16)--> 65                Fail
Force                               0   Brute   Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     49 --(16)--> 65                Fail
Invigorating Vapors                 1   Brute   Effects: Cleanse
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yulie Ahtreide                      49 --(16)--> 65                Fail
Magic Gem                           2   Brute   Effects: Stalwart
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  80 --(0)--> 80                 Fail
Conditions: Injure(1)|Overwhelm
Effects: Cleanse
==============================< Dream Chasers >===============================
DG: The party led by Loren Voss has failed this challenge! The party gained 0 exploration! If anyone needs to use party
management commands, do so now. Otherwise, the next round's GM may begin the next round with +dungeon/draw.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Neriah sighs and begins to raise her arm again.

A vine promptly shoots out and snares it to her side. The woman squeak with surprise, her air of practiced ennui briefly broken by a flicker of genuine worry.

Loren may not be all that eager to help Neriah, but on the plus side, there's not much that his spells are doing for her - but on the downside, they're doing little for him, either. His spine of stone bursts into existence and slashes through several trunks. But it's soon embraced by winding roots and branches, embracing and slowing it down. Cyre lights up his censer--

"Why are you getting high at a time like this?!" Neriah exclaims.

At least it helps. They're able to make some headway against the vines. Yulie's destructive forces unleash, tearing a few vines away.

They begin to fill back in within seconds. The room Neriah destroyed is now an unnavigable tangle of vines, roots and thick branches, winding into new beams and struts to support what remains of the ceiling.

With a wince, Neriah strains against the branches that have confined her. "This is... very annoying," she huffs before managing to get her right arm free.

They all make headway. It takes some effort. Loren finally manages to punch his stone spine through a heavy root. Yulie's magic weakens a thick tangle of brambles enough to pull through. And Neriah...

...does not blow up the room this time. She snaps her hand open and fires a thin ray of cold light through some of the roots in front of her, slashing a narrow path she can squeeze through.

"Whoever built this place should be ashamed of themselves," she growls.

<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"Look," Cyre says to all his haters, "When you know it's probably only a matter of time to break through, you might as well take advantage. There's no need to vine about my life choices."

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has drawn a new Challenge.
=========================<* The Lifeweaver's Whorl *>=========================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Galem the Gazer *>=======================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 ...I meet my end, I have prepared a guardian to ensure my work does not fall
 into the wrong hands and to shepherd the creations I have left behind...

 FINAL CHALLENGE: You emerge from the walls of vine and wood into a dimly lit
 grove nestled between the roots of a massive tree. The only illumination you
 can see in this place is that which you bring with you, and the gentle glow
 of the moss and fungus of the forest understory. The air is damp and smells
 faintly of fresh loam. Just as you think you're in the clear, however, a
 brilliant beam of light sweeps across the boughs and bushes. Its source is
 obvious; there's some kind of leafy orb floating there, a rat's nest of
 tendrils trailing underneath it. It possesses a single, unblinking eye that
 acts as a botanical searchlight. It sweeps the zone again before moving on
 with its patrol. You can see several more patrolling in the distance,
 walking a vigilant orbit around a huge, floating, one-eyed seed.

 You seem to have eluded its notice for the time being. Maybe if you can
 evade its sentries, you'll be able to reach your goal without being
 embroiled in an unnecessary fight?
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify==================================================
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

"It's actually pretty amazing," Cyre muses as he squeezes through the Neriah-shaped hole. "He figured out a way to hook himself up to this whole place and somehow used it to continue his work. I can't even imagine how he didn't go crazy after all that. Eleno might be asleep now, but he's left a few things behind for anyone who might be able to reach them."

"But," Cyre warns as they emerge from the crush of vines into a veritable verdant wonderland. Bioluminescent flora and fungi fill the world with soft light, "To make sure that not just anyone could find the fruits of his labors, Eleno created something to protect his work. I don't know the details, but he didn't build this place, he just took it over. Whoever was here first was working on other stuff, including these projects called Mispolm and Lightgazer. Eleno must have taken them, mixed them up, and created--"

There. A leafy orb floating in the clearing. Cyre ducks behind a large root and gently presses the others into cover as well. "Galem," he whispers as the orb turns, revealing an enormous, cyclopean eye. A beam of light radiates from its iris, sweeping across the darkened undergrowth like the beacon of a pharos. "That's one of its drones now. And Guardian itself..." The shaman points, indicating a strange seed-like shape in the distance. "Careful it doesn't spot you. This thing is dangerous. Eyebeam-shooting dangerous. If it's fully deployed and active, then we're probably surrounded by drones. But if we can get past without alerting it, we should be able to find whatever it is it's guarding."

Intelligence delivered, Cyre creeps through the shadows. He keeps to cover, moving with quick, careful dashes...

...And catlike tread...!

DG: Cyre H. Lorentz has contributed a Wits Basic Action toward his party's challenge, Galem the Gazer.
<Pose Tracker> Yulie Ahtreide has posed.

Fortunately, Yulie is small enough that squeezing through the gap left behind is no trouble at all. Once more Yulie finds herself stunned at the place they end up at - but this time, due to the beauty of it.

If only she had the time to appreciate it, as Cyre warns of Galem, the Guardian of this place. Watchful drones... Yulie doesn't quite like the idea of eyebeams.

"I would prefer to avoid a fight..." She agrees. This isn't quite the time to recount yet another of Calucion's tales. But she takes the knowledge of the book to heart, drawing on everything she's learned to try and follow after Cyre quickly and carefully.

She knows a thing or two about trying to sneak about unnoticed. But she's bigger now, and this time it's something more monstrous she's trying to sneak past, rather than humans.

Can she make this work...?

DG: Yulie Ahtreide has used her Tool Calucion's Journeys toward her party's challenge, Galem the Gazer.
<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Bringing herself to a halt, Neriah folds her arms beneath her bust as she tilts her head back towards Cyre. "You guys find some interesting stuff, huh? I sort of envy that. There are times when I wish I could've been one of your CaraKin pals."

She shrugs slowly. "Ah well. My life's a lot more engaging this way."

The leafy orb looming ahead finds no Impetus: Neriah seems to simply vanish. In fact her cloak shifts its texture to match the scenery just behind her as she steps back into it. For now, she just stands by to watch how Cyre, Yulie and Loren handle the situation.

In all honesty she wouldn't mind if it got Loren, but her focus is mostly on Yulie....

<Pose Tracker> Loren Voss has posed.

    With effort, Loren's able to force the stone spire up into a tangle of roots, severing it. He's panting by the time Neriah slices a hole through the wall, pausing a moment to catch his breath.
    And also palm something from the depths of his bag and down it.

    He's slipped on through the hole in the wall as Cyre is mid-explanation.

    "Wait. So he found something someone else started?" He pauses, glancing about himself. "Was it an Elw..."

    His gaze lifts to take in the sight of the guardian. Its drones.

    Loren sucks in a breath. "...Let's talk later. I'm tired of getting shot at."

    Particularly by laser eye-beams.

    He fishes about in his bag for a moment, pulling free his medical computer.

    "I wonder if these things can see red," he muses, tabbing the display a few times before he points the device and--

    A smallish red dot appears on the wall opposite, in the direction the drone is headed. He makes it dance, hopefully invitingly, for a moment, before letting it 'shoot off' in the direction away from them.

    "Sometimes you just need a laser pointer," he says, as if to explain why. He then turns and ducks into the shadows, hoping the drone(s) will take the bait and go the other way.

DG: Loren Voss has used his Tool MediScan v7 toward his party's challenge, Galem the Gazer.
=========================<* The Lifeweaver's Whorl *>=========================
======================<* CHALLENGE - Galem the Gazer *>=======================
|Type: Final       |Dungeon Ability: Wits      |Challenge Rating: 3          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 ...I meet my end, I have prepared a guardian to ensure my work does not fall
 into the wrong hands and to shepherd the creations I have left behind...

 FINAL CHALLENGE: You emerge from the walls of vine and wood into a dimly lit
 grove nestled between the roots of a massive tree. The only illumination you
 can see in this place is that which you bring with you, and the gentle glow
 of the moss and fungus of the forest understory. The air is damp and smells
 faintly of fresh loam. Just as you think you're in the clear, however, a
 brilliant beam of light sweeps across the boughs and bushes. Its source is
 obvious; there's some kind of leafy orb floating there, a rat's nest of
 tendrils trailing underneath it. It possesses a single, unblinking eye that
 acts as a botanical searchlight. It sweeps the zone again before moving on
 with its patrol. You can see several more patrolling in the distance,
 walking a vigilant orbit around a huge, floating, one-eyed seed.

 You seem to have eluded its notice for the time being. Maybe if you can
 evade its sentries, you'll be able to reach your goal without being
 embroiled in an unnecessary fight?
=Dungeon Conditions: Stupify==================================================
====================<* The Lifeweaver's Whorl - Round 6 *>====================
========================< Results - Galem the Gazer >=========================
Player                               Exhaustion                      Pass/Fail
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Loren Voss                          65 --(12)--> 77                Pass
MediScan v7                         3   Wits    Effects: Rally
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cyre H. Lorentz                     65 --(12)--> 77                Fail
Investigate                         0   Wits    Effects: BASIC
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Yulie Ahtreide                      65 --(12)--> 77                Pass
Calucion's Journeys                 1   Wits    Effects: Resilient and Fanfare
----------------------------------< Party >-----------------------------------
Leader: Loren Voss                  80 --(35)--> 115               Pass
Conditions: Stupify(2)
Effects: Resilient(1)
==============================< 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 The Lifeweaver's Whorl!
=========================<* The Lifeweaver's Whorl *>=========================
=====================<* CHALLENGE - Filgaian Seedbank *>======================
|Type: Discovery   |Dungeon Ability: Conclusion|Challenge Rating: 1          |
--------------------------< Challenge Information: >--------------------------
 The land withers by the moon. I fear that it will be barren within a
 generation. Though it is tangential to my task, I cannot allow so much life
 to pass quietly into extinction...

 With Galem neutralized, the grove is yours to explore. At first it seems
 like your journey has been for naught, but you soon locate a door at one end
 of the greenspace. Hidden within is a meticulously catalogued collection
 of... seeds. Seeds of all kinds. Seeds whose parent plants have not seen the
 light of the Filgaian sun for generations. These specimens have been
 carefully preserved and protected by this facility's advanced technologies
 by some long-gone hand. Now, they're yours for the taking, if you think you
 might be able to find some good home for them-- or perhaps you'll just sell
 them to collectors and academics for their own research. The choice is
 yours...!
=Dungeon Conditions: Treasure=================================================
<Pose Tracker> Cyre H. Lorentz has posed.

Fortunately for Yulie (and the rest of the party), Galem's monstrous size works to their advantage. It feels to her quite a bit like she was a young girl again, hiding from a caretaker or two in the small places they couldn't easily look. There's something a little nostalgic about the whole experience...

"You don't have to be the bringer of the end times full time you know. There are amazing things in the world, and it'd be a shame if you burnt it all to the ground before you had a chance to see them for yourself." Cyre whispers aside to the Impetus of Valmar. "I mean, it's not like the end of the world is going anywhere, right? No rush. Take your time."

Cyre is the type to take a more lackadaisical approach to life, it seems. But--

Loren is not so easygoing. He'd rather avoid being laserbeam'd today! And today, it is Galem who is being laserbeamed. Or rather, Loren projects a small red dot on the opposite wall and gets front row seats as no fewer than a dozen floating bush-eye-monsters suddenly lock-on and begin hurling themselves at the flickering red thing. It's... actually kind of adorable? They're like kittens trying to catch something they can never actually grasp. It gets to be so much that the enormous seed-like core stirs and stares at its probes like a parent chastizing its misbehaving progeny. It waits for a moment for the drones to fall in line before gently wrapping a vine around the one still determinedly trying to catch that red light... And tugs it (and all the rest) back up into the canopy.

...Maybe Galem, too, has a family...?

Cyre, meanwhile, seems to be looking everywhere except where that red light is flickering. The grove is clear now, at least. Which gives them ample time to explore...

Eventually, they find something interesting. Hidden in the boughs of the tree is a secret vault. Undoing the security locks is a trivial task, and the door soon comes open to reveal...

...A seed vault. Countless seeds, many of which belong to long-extinct species, all meticulously and flawlessly preserved against the passing of the aeons. "...When Eleno fused himself to this place, he worked on a lot of different projects besides just his miracle cure. During that time, he'd seen Filgaia degrade, and wanted to do something to preserve as much as he could. We've found a vault like this one before, but... Looks like there are some other varieties here. I'll take some back with me."

Cyre looks to Loren, then. "Elw, maybe. I've had my ideas, but he definitely didn't build this place. The architecture and technology are just way too different from the stuff back in Withertallow."

<Pose Tracker> Neriah Parringer has posed.

Neriah doesn't answer Cyre right away. Indeed, she's faded out of view before she can respond. If she is indeed considering what he has to say, she's doing so out of sight of the rest of the group.

They can proceed into the vault - just the three of them. To find the treasure within is to find something rare and remarkable.

Between one glance and the next, a few packets of seeds have vanished.

"There will be time," Neriah's voice whispers, very close to Cyre - and yet, she's not visible. "But this is the hand fate has dealt me, Cyre. And I play my hands for all they've got."

Neriah never reappears. It's unclear when she actually departs, but she does not speak again.