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8/14 Not On His Watch

JWaldman Aug 30th, 2019 (edited) 24 Never
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  1. The Catacombs of Agartha. They're filled with all manner of things, from terrible stone beasts and sand worms to ancient ruins from the ancient Demon Empire that once ruled.
  2.  
  3. Today, we'd be at those Ruins.
  4.  
  5. Spelunking deep into the core of Agartha, they'd find themselves at the gates of some ancient fortification. An underground castle surrounded by a permanent winter. The lights are long gone, and it's hard to see what's in front of them.
  6.  
  7.  
  8. It's cold, dark, damp, and uninviting. The Stone Ramparts of something lay in front of them. Entrance guarded by some metal gate. Looking inside, they see a stone bridge that leads to some manner of Fortress.
  9. [16:41] Cold, dark, damp and uninviting?
  10.  
  11. It sounds just like home. Ardith, with spear in hand, is ready to plumb the depths. With a swish of a tail, a grin on her lips, there's nothings he's not ready for.
  12.  
  13. In her mind at least.
  14.  
  15. She rubs her gloved hands eagerly together; the prospect of adventure and advancement ahead is potent, on the very tip of her tongue. Ardith's been waiting a long time for this.
  16.  
  17. "Alright. For those of you that ain't know. Illyothina's reeaaally loved their traps. So let's let Garrick go in front, okay?"
  18. (Ardith)
  19. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  20.  
  21.  This was the second time Yandir was cast into the gelid wastes of whatever polar point the group expedited themselves into- and he could not say he enjoyed it, or even fathom if it was fate that which continued to bring that pattern up.
  22.  
  23. The young lad skims both palms against his arms, in a friction-for-heat exchange, as his jaw clacks audibly in a strange, comic cacophony spelt by it along with heavy, scupping steps.
  24.  
  25. "W-w-w... B-by... Ixchel."
  26.  
  27. "I-i-illywho?"
  28. (Yandir)
  29. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  30.  
  31.  It's not often she gets to leave Aurum on a sanctioned expedition, let alone with a small entourage and escort of people she can trust upon, so when she was invited over to do something that wasn't trying to put wires together, make plastic cable jackets or toil endlessly to hammer out a brand new Cultivation Tank from scratch? She jumped at the chance. The trip went underground, down to where the lands and the roads were full of the damned, the dead and Kraus knows what else.
  32.  
  33. Illyotha after all, is scarcely mentioned in history books. Few know what it is. Fewer still speak of it. It's certainly not the most hospitable place, especially given this is an actual fortress that lay underground in permafrost. Is it in ruins? Are there traps? Oh joy, it is hilariously dark down here.
  34.  
  35. "I mean... I can see moderately well in the dark, so... we can just keep an eye out. If you've seen those traps, it'd make our lives SO much easier."
  36. (Loretta)
  37. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  38.  
  39.  Garrick would puff away steadily at his raggedy cigarette as the furious fivesome of wanton adventurers made their way through the depths of snow. His molten eyes trailed across the expanse of everwinter with an idle, contemplative hum as he puffed steady clouds of frigid smoke into the frost ridden air.
  40.  
  41. Marvelling at the great ramparts, the ancient gate, the depths of ominous darkness that lay before him, the drake couldn't help but smile to himself at the excitement of the circumstance. This was true adventure, after all. Exploring the unknown. Nodding to the rest of the group, he'd pace forward a step, cracking his neck with a nod.
  42.  
  43. "It's what I'm here for. Not much better in ways of penance."
  44. (Garrick)
  45. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  46.  
  47.  Trudging through the snow, amber-hued eyes looked across the members of the group with a rather big smile. It was exactly the three members of their Merta survival group, the blacksmith he wanted to introduce Loretta to...And his disciple! Quite a creative group he'd like to think, and a hand motioned towards the entrance.
  48.  
  49. "Traps? Well, I don't expect much to come at us from some ruins, other then those actually." Lightly he chuckled, smiling while looking all across the ramparts.
  50.  
  51. "Good to see you were able to come Loretta, didn't know if you were too busy to make it or not...Also just a quick introduction, this here is Garrick, blacksmith, someone I was going to bring to you, for the whole dragon thing." Slowly he'd begin following behind the others, not taking command of the group.
  52.  
  53. It was Ardiths expedition after all.
  54.  
  55. "But that's a whole conversation for another time! For after we survive this plunge."
  56. (Eshmun Hirai)
  57. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  58.  
  59.  {NARRATION} The Fort's first line of defense lay ahead of them.
  60.  
  61. Stone wall and towers. Metal bars rise from the doorways frame, blocking the way inside.
  62.  
  63. Windows lay empty on the wall's wall.
  64.  
  65.  
  66. What do you do, friends.
  67.  Loretta says, "..."
  68.  Loretta casually produces... a fifty foot length of rope from her satchel.
  69. (Loretta)
  70. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  71.  
  72.  Garrick says, "Hmm. Could try to climb, or melt the bars."
  73.  Loretta says, "First rule. Scout ahead and keep an eye on danger."
  74.  Loretta asks, "So! Who wants to inspect the bars while I check the windows?"
  75.  Garrick says, "I'll handle it."
  76.  Garrick says, "If I explode, there's pancakes on my corpse."
  77.  Ardith says, "All you, Garr."
  78.  Ardith says, "Knock yourself out."
  79.  Yandir says, "Eshmun-"
  80.  Yandir asks, "You can turn to mist... right?"
  81.  Yandir says, "Just go through."
  82.  Eshmun Hirai says, "I mean..."
  83.  Eshmun Hirai says, "I can."
  84.  Ardith says, "Nah, nah..."
  85.  Ardith says, "Let's watch this."
  86.  Garrick says, "Could be warded, but only one way to find out."
  87.  Garrick would crack his knuckles with a grim nod, glancing towards the imposing metal bars of the frigid gate that stood before him. Taking a deep breath, molten rock would rise from the frigid, melting soil beneath his taloned feet and curl about his musculature and form, trodding forth in the snow with slush laden steps of melted runoff as the fire drakan approach the gate with a trail of fire.
  88.  
  89. At last, his molten eyes would fall upon the frigid, ancient metal, the smith taking a brief time to admire the architecture and craftsmanship of the mighty portal with a light puff of his cigarette. This of course served the dual purpose of gauging if there was anything strange about the gate, though it certainly wouldn't stop the drakan from clasping the metal bars with both of his emerald scaled palms. He was here to be a pointman, take the dangers upon himself for the sake of the group.
  90.  
  91. And that seemed alright to him.
  92.  
  93. The fire drakan would attempt to warm up the frozen metal with an application of his molten palms, seeing if perhaps heating the ancient entrance a bit would allow it to be lifted with enough brute strength. Or if it would just blow him up.
  94.  
  95. Either or, really.
  96. (Garrick)
  97. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  98.  
  99. {NARRATION} Garrick would do his best to warm up the metal bars, and well he'd do too good of a job. Very easily they'd shatter or melt! Little bits of shrapnel would fly at him and leave him with a few scratches, but that wasn't really that bad.
  100.  
  101. Compared to what was coming.
  102.  
  103. Ancient mechanisms start to spring to life. The whirling of gears and shifting of pistons could all be heard. Before Garrick realized it, it'd be too late.
  104.  
  105. Runes engraved into the Pathway's frame would light up! With that a stream of lightning would fall down upon the entranceway. Rushing into Garrick's arms and causing a great old BOOM.
  106.  
  107. The ensuing explosion and shock would send Garrick flying back. He was mostly ok, the old traps of Illyotha were a bit rusty. But the next shock might not be so weak.
  108.  
  109. [16:59] Ardith isn't quite sure if he's immediately scathed or not, but she sees the glorious boom and breaks into a violent cackling fit, doubling over and slapping her knee.
  110.  
  111. She is not a nice lady.
  112. (Ardith)
  113. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  114.  
  115.  Yandir's eyes bulge as he witnesses the frame of Garrick being blown back so harshly. He rises his hands, and with a clawing motion, improvises a juxtaposed construct of holy-permeated and raw mana barriers to catch the swordsman and reprieve him from the fall.
  116. (Yandir)
  117. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  118.  
  119.  Ardith says, "Ugh. Fuck. Yandy you ain't no fun."
  120.  Loretta says, "..."
  121.  Loretta says, "I mean... it was somewhat comical..."
  122.  Eshmun Hirai says, "..."
  123.  Ardith asks, "Where I come from?"
  124.  Garrick would hum in discontent as the bars shattered, a sense of shame coming over him at his arguable failure as a metallurgist. The flicks of shrapnel drew light beads of blood across his face, but the fire drakan would smile contently as he saw that the way before them had been cleared. Taking a brief victory puff from his raggedy cigarette, the fire drakan would almost prepare to turn around in a whoop of joy.
  125.  
  126. That is, until the shock trailed through his arms with a sudden spark of heat.
  127.  
  128. A concussive BOOM would shake as the fire drakan was blasted back with a burst across the snow, dragging against the slush in a cloud of igneous smoke as he landed firmly upon his back with a crunch of slush. Until noble Yandir caught him of course. What a great guy. The fire drakan would bark out in laughter once the shock wore off, the smile never leaving his toothy expression.
  129.  
  130. "Well, that's one way to open a door."
  131. (Garrick)
  132. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  133.  
  134.  Ardith says, "We call that a 'Tilandrean mine detector'."
  135.  Yandir says, "I wouldn't like to see him hit his nape against something sharp."
  136.  Yandir exclaims, "Falls can be fatal!"
  137.  Eshmun Hirai says, "Know what, you aren't wrong Yan."
  138.  Loretta says, "..."
  139.  Loretta says, ". . ."
  140.  Eshmun Hirai asks, "But since he didn't?"
  141.  Garrick says, "It was pretty funny. And I'm not dead. We press on."
  142.  Eshmun Hirai says, "Lets get going."
  143.  Loretta quietly holds her sides while giggling as quietly as she possibly can. Ardith's comment triggered it.
  144. (Loretta)
  145. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  146.  
  147.  Ardith lifts her spear and whoops, charging forward in an ill-advised and reckless gesture.
  148. (Ardith)
  149. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  150.  
  151.  Yandir says, "Ar-"
  152.  {NARRATION} The runes that line the entrance still seem active, mind you.
  153.  Yandir says, "Curses."
  154.  Eshmun rushes forth alongside the others, chuckling a bit.
  155. (Eshmun Hirai)
  156. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  157.  
  158.  Ardith skids to a halt.
  159. (Ardith)
  160. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  161.  
  162. Ardith says, "...Shit."
  163. Eshmun Hirai says, "...Wait a second."
  164.  Eshmun Hirai says, "Well."
  165.  Loretta says, "... hold on."
  166.  Garrick says, "I did my part. You do your runemaster."
  167.  Ardith says, "Alright, alright. Now /this/ I can maybe deal with."
  168.  Loretta says, "I got something to test the waters."
  169.  Loretta says, "Can send in the Rune Wright..."
  170.  Eshmun Hirai says, "I'll be honest, you two have got this over me."
  171. Loretta produces a throwing knife.
  172. (Loretta)
  173. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  174.  
  175.  Loretta says, "... or you can let me throw this."
  176.  Eshmun Hirai says, "I can only brute force this if needed."
  177.  Garrick says, "If you throw that, and I somehow get blown up again."
  178.  Garrick says, "It'll still be funny."
  179.  Eshmun Hirai says, "Destroy all the runes at once, but...I'd rather not do anything like that."
  180.  Garrick says, "but I'll resent you small child."
  181.  Loretta says, "It is acceptable."
  182.  Yandir says, "What about the stone upon which the runes are set? Or dirt- or whatever."
  183.  Loretta says, "That is why you should get at least a fifteen meter distance."
  184.  Yandir asks, "If you pulverize the surface of the inscription, would they fade?"
  185.  Loretta says, "Yandir, those runes typically respond to stimuli of ANY kind."
  186.  Loretta says, "Think of them as very precise stasis fields."
  187.  Ardith tugs off her left glove and trots up right to the edge of the line of runes.
  188.  
  189. "Let me juuuuust...trying something really quick."
  190.  
  191. She studies the symbols in fascination, then reaches out with a pulse of occultic energy and attempts to disable them in a spot that, perhaps, looks weaker than the others. If one link of the chain falls, maybe they all will?
  192. (Ardith)
  193. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  194.  
  195.  Loretta says, "You touch that? An effect happens."
  196.  Yandir exclaims, "Do it from a distance, I say!"
  197.  Ardith has a fancy rock on her left hand too in a very corrupted ring. Ooh la la.
  198. (Ardith)
  199. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  200.  
  201. Ardith says, "Shhh. I totally got this. Juuuust. Gimme a sec."
  202. Loretta says, "Let me just-"
  203. Loretta casually BACKS away.
  204. (Loretta)
  205. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  206.  
  207. {NARRATION} Ardith would try to study the runes, and well it's a bit dark. The Master Runescribe can, however, tell that the series of runes that generate the lightning field are failing.
  208.  
  209. Something also interesting. As the corrupted ring of a certain someone gets waived in front of it, they seem to darken. As if she waived a keycard in front of a lock.
  210. {NARRATION} But not before a rogue lightning bolt strikes Garrick, again.
  211.  Loretta now just prompts to double over with a MASSIVE fit of laughter. Oh god. Oh fuck. THAT was funny.
  212. (Loretta)
  213. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  214.  
  215.  Yandir says, "..."
  216.  Yandir asks, "Should we step back?"
  217.  
  218.  Garrick is once more absolutely fried by a bolt of lightning, musculature briefly twitching as a cloud of smoke trailed above his form before the drake fell to one knee with a shake of his head. Honestly this one wasn't as bad as the first, he'd grown acclimated to having crispy skin. Planting his mithril blade into the now slushy snow, the scaly smith would slowly force himself up to his feet with a bark of laughter that was half a sigh.
  219.  
  220. At least his cigarette was still lit.
  221. (Garrick)
  222. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  223.  
  224.  Eshmun Hirai says, "Pfft..."
  225.  Ardith doesn't bother to stifle a snicker as Garrick gets struck by an errant bolt of crackling lightning. She definitely didn't trigger it on purpose. Heavens no. Why would she ever do such a thing?
  226.  
  227. "Well, two bits of good news. One is that this look like the runic field's fading. Prolly so old it's not carring a lot of steam. And two? I think...It should be safe now.
  228.  
  229. "Loretta, you wanna toss your knife to make sure? Or shove Garr through?"
  230. (Ardith)
  231. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  232.  
  233.  Garrick says, "I mean at this point it's almost..HRRK...starting to feel cozy."
  234.  
  235.  Ever the present worrywart of caution, Loretta brought about all the equipment one would need for an expeditionary force. Rope. Climbing Hooks. Emergency rations and supplies (that she likely would not be using herself due to known reasons) and even her assortment of throwing knives. She's audibly giggling to herself after having watched the man dubbed as the 'Tilandrean Mine Detector' get shot at again by errant lightning whilst the child just slowly and cautiously brought up one hand up her sleeves... and produced a throwing knife. It's been a while since she employed these!
  236.  
  237. "PfffahahaHAHAHA!!!... okay... okay... let me just... catch myself... oh god... Kraus, that was funny! Okay! Okay... seriousness, seriousness. Ardith, step away from the containment field real quick."
  238.  
  239. She could've thrown it without question or hesitation or cause of concern for danger close fire. BUT.The group had three Scholars.
  240.  
  241. They had to AT LEAST try and look smart, right?
  242. (Loretta)
  243. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  244.  Ardith steps back and away, as curious as she is.
  245. (Ardith)
  246. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  247.  Loretta will now employ a two fold action! Step one? Throw the knife into the field, directly at the runes! Step two? Dodge roll out of the way as a cautionary measure!
  248. (Loretta)
  249. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  250.  {NARRATION} Loretta throws the knife!
  251.  
  252. And nothing happens.
  253.  Ardith exclaims, "...Tah dah!"
  254.  Ardith asks, "See?"
  255.  Ardith says, "Let's go. C'mon."
  256.  Loretta says, "..."
  257.  Garrick squints at the gate.
  258. (Garrick)
  259. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  260.  
  261.  Ardith says, "Fuckin' cold out here, I can't feel my hooves."
  262.  Yandir says, "I-"
  263.  Yandir asks, "Are you able to insert mana into them?"
  264.  Loretta casually prompts to float behind Garrick.
  265. (Loretta)
  266. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  267.  Ardith trots on forward, stepping right through the gate. And maybe into another trap. Who knows!
  268. (Ardith)
  269. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  270.  
  271.  Loretta exclaims, "She's a rune wright, isn't she? They can just drain the energy!"
  272.  Yandir says, "...can they? "
  273.  Loretta says, "They should."
  274.  Loretta says, "Oooor... wipe off the runes."
  275.  Loretta says, "..."
  276.  Ardith says, "That is totally and definitely what I did."
  277.  Yandir says, "I was going to suggest overloading it with raw mana until they- die of rune heart attack."
  278.  Ardith says, "Cuz I'm a rune wright."
  279.  Loretta says, "Which we should categorize for classification and studying purposes."
  280.  Eshmun Hirai says, "Or."
  281.  Garrick would dust his shoulders off, wiping a bit of smoke out of his visage before trodding forth into no doubt inevitable danger without fear. Such was the meaning of adventure.
  282. (Garrick)
  283. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  284.  
  285. {NARRATION} she doesnt blow up!
  286.  Eshmun Hirai says, "We go right through and be perfectly fine."
  287.  {NARRATION} Finally, with Ardith's scribing ability and Accursed Privilege and Loretta's double checking they'd make it in. (Honestly we shouldn't forget Garrick's sacrifice either.)
  288.  
  289. They walk on in and nothing happens! No shocking. No death traps or darts. It was disarmed completely!
  290.  
  291. On the other side they'd find themselves at the start of a long bridge. On the other side? A massive stone fortress that was contained within this underground catacomb.
  292.  
  293. Icicles line the bridge along with stray pieces of rocky debris. On the left and right sides, something interesting could be seen! An entire underground village? Straw roof buildings barely stand up and multiple signs of life are present. Junk, litter, and massive braziers that might've once housed huge fires to warm those who lived down here.
  294.  
  295. A Medieval village in essence, and smell. The odor was awful.
  296.  
  297.  
  298. The bridge seems clear, but of course it's Illyotha.
  299.  Loretta says, "..."
  300.  Loretta says, ". . ."
  301.  Loretta will do what every good Rogue does before an encounter... and hide.
  302. (Loretta)
  303. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  304.  "Agartha has this... very identifiable pattern."
  305.  
  306. Humming a calm, soothing tune, Yandir's eyes scrolled about the entourage, examining each crease, line and bend of the ancient Illyothan architecture about down to its most minute details.
  307.  
  308. "Cold wastes, megalomaniac constructions and colossal bridg-"
  309.  
  310. The sarradian's words die off as he catches a glimpse of what lain beyond- and his nose does wrinkle with the foul aroma that reaches their retinue. Nevertheless... could that truly be civilization?
  311.  
  312. "I wasn't expecting that, however."
  313. (Yandir)
  314. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  315.  Garrick would glance across the great bridge with wonder as his molten eyes widened with excitement, sight trailing across the ancient architecture with fascination as the engineer idly took to mental notes of the Illyothan building style. So this was the masonry of demonic culture? The fire drakan couldn't help himself, he smiled with joy in spite of the cursory burns that trailed across his form from the various shocks.
  316.  
  317. It was everything he could have asked for.
  318.  
  319. Glancing over the side of the bridge with curiosity, Garrick would hum to himself as he pondered yet another inquiry. The thatch roofs of the crumbling houses were a far set away from the imperious structure of the surroundings, they seemed....lesser. Did demons have peasants too....or was this where they kept those that lived beneath them.
  320.  
  321. Pacing to the foot of the bridge, the scaly smith would cross his arms with confidence as he cracked his neck.
  322.  
  323. "It's beautiful. So, it time for me to get blown up again? Ready whenever."
  324. (Garrick)
  325. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  326.  Ardith uses her hand as a visor, standing on the tips of her hoofie woofies as she peers ahead into the gloom. This is much more grand, more sprawling than the temple she'd last been in. That one served as a test; this one shows signs of the lives lived before in ancient times. It's a researcher's wet dream.
  327.  
  328. Already she's scribbling furiously in her trusty little booklet. There might as well be smoke rising from her stick of charcoal with how fast she writes, glancing from page to the scene before her and casting crude sketches onto parchment.
  329.  
  330. It all speaks of something once grand lost to the wastes of time and mutations that tore the one great nation apart. Or whatever else had a hand in their untimely collapse.
  331.  
  332. A sad prospect. All of that potential wasted, crumbling to ash.
  333.  
  334. She starts forward down the bridge, step by step, eyes sweeping from side to side as she goes.
  335.  
  336. "Least the rumors weren't bullshit...Let's get cracking. Time's not waiting for any of us, yeah?"
  337. (Ardith)
  338. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  339.  {NARRATION} So! It's time to cross the bridge.
  340.  
  341. Who goes first! Or does everyone go at once?
  342.  Garrick says, "I'll take point. Better me than any of you get...exploded."
  343.  Loretta asks, "... honestly?"
  344.  Loretta says, "If that bridge falls..."
  345.  Loretta attempts to peer over the edge to gauge distance!
  346. (Loretta)
  347. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  348.  
  349.  Garrick asks, "Then I'll have to learn how to fly, won't I?"
  350.  Garrick says, "Shit dragon otherwise."
  351.  Loretta says, "..."
  352.  Loretta says, "I respect your decisions."
  353.  Loretta says, "And I commend your bravery."
  354.  Smiling brightly, he took a few steps forward, "Alright, now I think it's time for me to be useful...I will cross this bridge first!" A small chuckle was given, as they shoved past Garrick, who obviously would choose to be first.
  355.  
  356. "I'm pretty sure we won't end up with any 'alchemy' based things for me to show off, so...I can take some possible danger." And with little listening, at least to Garrick, he made their way forth.
  357. (Eshmun Hirai)
  358. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  359.  
  360.  Loretta says, "I will remember you when we inevitably have to slide you off the walls."
  361. {NARRATION} It's not a massive drop, but it'd still hurt.
  362.  
  363. A ton.
  364.  Loretta says, "Assume the stonework and masonry is unstable."
  365.  Loretta asks, "From... what. Eight centuries?"
  366.  Loretta asks, "Nine Centuries?"
  367.  Eshmun Hirai says, "I'll just follow the central of the entire path."
  368.  Loretta asks, "Of disuse?"
  369.  Loretta asks, "A millenia, maybe?"
  370.  Eshmun Hirai says, "Should be the most sturdy, if anything."
  371.  Loretta says, "Ooooor..."
  372.  Eshmun Hirai says, "Or...Would the edge be most stable."
  373.  Loretta says, "... you can fade to water."
  374.  Ardith says, "Yeah? See. Fine."
  375.  Eshmun Hirai says, "Pff...I could."
  376.  Loretta says, "And those of us that can float or are weightless, can cross."
  377.  Loretta says, "Safely of course."
  378.  Loretta says, "On that note, I have a fifty foot rope."
  379. Loretta asks, "Who wants to get tied up?"
  380. {NARRATION} Eshmun follows the central path. He Massive Icicles... Stalagmites? I don't know but anyways.
  381.  
  382. They're sporadically placed across the sides of the bridge. Along with piles of rubble and other debris.
  383.  
  384.  
  385. He continues walking until the half-way point when....
  386.  
  387.  
  388.  {NARRATION} Of, if you still want to add something that's fine. We're assuming you're walking through the middle
  389.  Garrick would raise an eyebrow towards Eshmun, though a smile would curl across his face in commendation for the noble alchemist's fearlessness. The fire drakan would watch Eshmun's progress close behind, using his place to steadily examine the architecture of the bridge as he glanced forward with a light, fiery patter in place at the bridge's edge, gauging any weakness in the stone footing.
  390. (Garrick)
  391. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  392.  Eshmun is walking straight through the center of the pathway, with no deviations.
  393. (Eshmun Hirai)
  394. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  395.  {NARRATION} Being a master Blacksmith somehow gives him insight to massive stone structures.
  396.  
  397. Maybe he had to do one of those bridge projects in school.
  398.  
  399. He can tell the bridge is sturdy. There's no real risk of it collapsing.
  400. [17:39] Ardith watches the absolute madmen.
  401. (Ardith)
  402. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  403.  
  404.  Ardith asks, "You guys dead yet!?"
  405.  Garrick says, "Not yet. Give it time."
  406.  {NARRATION} Ancients gears start turning once more. Something loading, winding back... moving?
  407.  
  408. In an instant a volley of crossbow bolts come flying straight for Eshmun! Obviously coming from the end of the bridge. A hail of arrows seeks to make him into a living pincushion. He'd have to do some fast thinking to avoid them.
  409.  
  410.  
  411. Also, to note. After that first volley? Another came, and another, and another. The mechanisms constantly running.
  412. [17:43] Yandir instinctively ducks, after all, if they didn't stop at Eshmun, which he hoped they wouldn't, the ones far behind would be next.
  413. (Yandir)
  414. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  415.  The churning of gears immediately catches Ardith's attention and her head snaps over to the side of the bridge. She shouts out and conjures a quick blast of wind to try and knock the projectiles off course.
  416.  
  417. "FUCKIN' DUCK!"
  418. (Ardith)
  419. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  420.  Ticking, light noises of metal against metal, he would hear the mechanisms very briefly. Something was going on, and as whooshing noises flew towards him...Well, in the brief time he could see a glint of the volley of crossbow bolts, he knew, these were meant for killing.
  421.  
  422. What really made him notice them however and react, was Ardith yelling from their side of the bridge, cussing at him to duck.
  423.  
  424. "Well shi-..." As they spoke aloud, it was cut off by the fact his entire form had spread out. Everything about them had changed from flesh, clothes, armour...Into a giant mist of steam! Which without pausing, would start floating straight towards where the volley had come from.
  425.  
  426. Going back to his friends would give the 'enemies' his back, something that was a poor decisions in all colours of the rainbow.
  427. (Eshmun Hirai)
  428. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  429. Well. That's a nice little gimmick. Was there a tripwire? A sensory rune? Something that relayed information back to the crossbows? The sounds of gears turning andtelltale 'twang!' sound of a Crossbow repeater was not a sound she has heard in a long time given what has happened in Aurum, but that is a sound that she can most certainly hear! Oh. Would you look at that. Ardith is already screaming too for warning. That meant that there was a need to actively defend themselves.
  430.  
  431. So what does she do? She produces a sword that may very well be as big as her, the small child armed well enough to- Oh god, she's gearing up in a stance to parry away any and every bolt heading her way like the swordmaiden that she is.
  432.  
  433. Accept no substitutes.
  434. (Loretta)
  435. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  436.  Garrick would stomp his silvery sabaton into the ground as he snapped his fingers, raising a wall of condensed, molten soil before his person as he fell to one knee. Clasping the impromptu shield of heavy set stone, he'd pace forth diligently across the bridge to aid Eshmun in his efforts as best he could, moving blind with the great wall of stone held up before his person by glowing handholds.
  437.  
  438. At least if he got skewered, he already had a coffin on hand.
  439. (Garrick)
  440. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  441.  
  442. {NARRATION} Everyone was safe, for now. I suppose an argument could be made that Eshmun can't keep up that form forever, and as soon as he leaves it he's getting twenty crossbow bolts into his dome but hey we can all worry about that later.
  443.  
  444. Volley after Volley would come raining down up until that point he disperses. They'd stop.
  445.  
  446.  
  447. Some things the more attentive might've gleamed from this entire mess, there was a good 10... 15 seconds in-between volleys.
  448.  
  449.  
  450. Eshmun better think of a more permanent solution, by the way.
  451.  
  452.  
  453.  
  454. ------------------------------------------------------------------
  455.  
  456. Ardith says, "...Shit guys. I got an idea."
  457.  That. Is fucken RUDE.
  458. (Loretta)
  459. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  460.  
  461.  Ardith says, "I /actually/ have a fucking idea."
  462.  Loretta says, "Pray you don't leak smoke out of your ears."
  463.  Ardith says, "GET BEHIND A ROCK, ESH."
  464.  Ardith exclaims, "THERE'S LIKE. LOADS OF THEM!"
  465.  Loretta asks, "We just gonna run through a fusilade of crossbow bolts from cover to cover?"
  466. Ardith says, "There's time between each reloading thing, right? We just duck and dive behind these ice spikes and stones and BAM, we got it."
  467.  Loretta asks, "You do see the Drakanite is also making cover all his own, right?"
  468.  Ardith says, "Well, yeah. That's the idea."
  469.  Yandir says, "..."
  470.  Garrick says, "I mean her idea is less work for me."
  471.  Garrick says, "I'm not complaining."
  472.  Ardith says, "For those of us that ain't got cover."
  473.  Ardith says, "Y'know."
  474.  Loretta says, "... figures the Drakanite would be lazy..."
  475.  Garrick says, "Racist, but accurate."
  476. Loretta exclaims, "Racist and TRUE!"
  477. The answers were far simpler than whatever absurdity was going through their heads- but every party had some lapses of silliness every now and then, right?
  478.  
  479. As an earth magi, Yandir tires of watching Eshmun bleed and sweat in an unrequired effort, and decides to take action- he rapidly strides through the bridge, utilizing Earth magic to rise several earthen barriers along its length, effectively forming...
  480.  
  481. A trench. Which they could seek cover against in between volleys.
  482.  
  483. "TA-DA!!" he screams, heaving but satisfied.
  484. (Yandir)
  485. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  486.  
  487. Since they were already more then halfway down the bridge by now, their mind was deadest on just going to the end. But, with what Ardith had said? Sounded like a much better idea then what he could be doing. Which was at first a plan of shielding his body and just running.
  488.  
  489. Instead of doing that, their eyes scoured the bridge he was at...Or at least his fog eyes. Hopefully before the next volley was primed and ready, they'd be able to find one further down the bridge to hide behind.
  490.  
  491. Though they wanted to, no words could actually be said to others in his form, so they could only try their best at this point.
  492. (Eshmun Hirai)
  493. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  494.  
  495.  Ardith says, "...Well that works too but it's way less cooler than what I said."
  496. Yandir says, "Being whole beats turning into swiss cheese."
  497.  Garrick says, "I'm sure this way will still manage to get me blown up again, don't worry."
  498.  
  499.  Ardith might as well use the trench Yandir's charitably provided, at the grave cost of her totally more awesome action-movie-star-Indiana-Jones plan. She starts trotting between the slabs of stone, provided they hold, and books it down the length of the bridge.
  500. (Ardith)
  501. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  502.  
  503.  Garrick would deposit his trusty shield of stone, Ser Shieldy, patting it fondly upon its rock solid cheek before following along with the rest of the ragtag party into Yandir's thoroughly convenient trenches of unimpalement. This did seem far more streamlined, if less theatric.
  504. (Garrick)
  505. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  506.  {NARRATION} [We'll wait for Loretta at the END of the BRIDGE]
  507.  
  508. With everyone's ingenious methods of avoiding sweet arrowy release, they'd slowly make their way across the bridge! The end they'd see a row of automated crossbows. Still firing.
  509.  
  510.  
  511. They'd be easily dealt with now, for sure. What's also there is the entrance to the fortress. Right there.
  512.  
  513. Looking at it, there aren't any super intricate runes around it, so Garrick won't explode this time.
  514.  
  515.  Garrick still sweats a bit. He had a new, sudden fear of doors.
  516. (Garrick)
  517. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  518.  Well. There's no complicated plan, no scholarly tactics, no sneaky sneaky actions of wit and action... Just Indiana Jones level B-Movie flick Ardith coming up with a solution to her own expedition that honestly necessitated as little effort from the team as possible.
  519.  
  520. So... the greatsword of the child is set away whilst she does the one thing she can. She follows after the squadron in her extremely diminutive size that can EASILY use any of the party members as cover and tag along with them. It also helps that she's likely the fastest in the group, so...
  521.  
  522. Overall? A quick workout and a means to keep the joints from freezing up in this frozen wasteland with a horrible smell. Nothing too complicated, nor too complex. All things seem to be in order so far, right?
  523. (Loretta)
  524. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  525.  
  526.  {NARRATION} The way into this frozen fortress lies ahead. Do they go in? Or are they AFRAID.
  527.  Eshmun Hirai asks, "Guys, lets just leave, I'm spooked, you know?"
  528.  Yandir FEAR???
  529. (Yandir)
  530. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  531.  
  532. [18:05] Eshmun Hirai exclaims, "Bahaha!"
  533. [18:05] Eshmun strides right on into the frozen fortress, fuck being afraid.
  534. (Eshmun Hirai)
  535. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  536.  
  537.  Ardith says, "Pfft. Wuss."
  538.  Garrick would take a long, deep breath as he tugged lightly at his raggedy cigarette, glancing forth at the ominous, yet oddly beautiful architecture of the inner fortresses door with a light sigh. Steeling his nerves, electricity surged as they might be, he'd pace forward fearlessly into the depths of the unknown.
  539.  
  540. Hopefully unexploded.
  541. (Garrick)
  542. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  543.  
  544.  Loretta is most certainly AFRAID and RESPECTFUL of this ANCIENT FORTRESS.
  545. (Loretta)
  546. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  547.  
  548.  Ardith doesn't respect shit, much less this fortress.
  549. (Ardith)
  550. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  551.  
  552.  Yandir says, "It really unsettles me that Loretta carries this... claymore."
  553.  Loretta asks, "Why?"
  554.  Yandir says, "It dissonates from what I expected of an undead infant."
  555.  Loretta says, "Don't judge a book by it's cover."
  556.  Ardith has balls the size of boulders. It's a wonder she can fit them in her armor. She trots right up and starts examining the entrance right away. And if she can find no obvious runic traps?
  557.  
  558. Why she jumps right through of course. Knowledge and secrets await!
  559. (Ardith)
  560. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  561.  {NARRATION} As they walk in, they find what they were looking for. Mostly.
  562.  
  563.  
  564. A demonic fortress with equally gothic (it's fitting right) architecture. Massive pillars and statues dedicated to old rulers lay about the forts inside. Some destroyed, others depicting inhuman abominations and their many slaves.
  565.  
  566. The cold stone floors are bare. The walls, bare. The ceiling? Bare. It's a plain room, mostly.
  567.  
  568. However! Spread across the outside of the room lays what might be ancient technology. Many different glass "pods" that lay upon odd mechanical stands. Wires and tubes travel from these stands to go inside of the pods, delivering something perhaps?
  569.  
  570. Some are filled with mysterious fluids. Others? They'd contain various bodies. Some of monsters, others of humans. IT seemed to be some forgotten science experiment as most of them are mostly withered, or skeletons, by now. But that bone structure, wow.
  571.  
  572.  
  573. Most notably one of these pods lies in the center of the room. Broken.
  574.  
  575. Ardith starts to geek out. Hard. She's just hit the research jackpot for her field of study. With notebook in hand the Accursed starts making sketches of the statues, approaching each one and searching for any possible inscriptions that might detail the long lost leaders of this forgotten race.
  576.  
  577. The slave thing she...kind of glosses over. The moral implications can wait. This is a gold mind of knowledge.
  578.  
  579. And the pods. Oh the pods. They will get their sketches too, thorough examinations, written details. Her tail doesn't stop swishing in sheer excitement. It's liable to break.
  580.  
  581. The Accursed is understandably and unrepentantly giddy at the sight of it all, even issuing a little girlish shriek as she grins and studies and takes her notes.
  582.  
  583. "Huooohmygod I can't believe it! Look at all this!" she crows.
  584. (Ardith)
  585. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  586. Amusement and awe filled Yandir's eyes, and each sparkle within them could very well be correspondent to a new marvel he beheld, so numerous were the wonders within the Illyothian fortress.
  587.  
  588. This amazed joy, however, halts as he witnesses a collection of pod-encased bodies, lifeless and inert, to be instead replaced by aversion and a repulsing expression, bending the soft features of his face into a canvas of chagrin.
  589.  
  590. He could gauge, however, their scientific value.
  591.  
  592. "It truly is a shame so much of this has moldered into unusable spoil- although, perhaps we can reuse t-"
  593.  
  594. Yandir's line is cut off by Ardith's bellows and bustling clamors, to which he can only respond with a smile. The lad was evidently glad to see his friend seem so accomplished.
  595. (Yandir)
  596. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  597.  Ahh... yes. Exactly what she yearned to see and why she joined up on this expeditionary group. Scientific advancement. The entrance of the fortress is much, MUCH more different than that of the Thatch Huts and small villager tools strewn outside, leaving the sane conclusion to be...
  598.  
  599. That this castle housed a powerful Lord and outside were the Vassals. The architecture only draws attention for the slightest of minutes before more important and imposing things draw the eyes. The statues. The pods. The endless wires and tubes that mayhap Ardith and Eshmun would recognize as quite similar to that of her own Cultivation Tank's make. Whatever liquid was in those tubes? She needed samples of them. Whatever experimentation had just gone on in here? Likely of mutagenic purposes. The very same culture vats inside?
  600.  
  601. Those were the REAL eye catchers as the child just... calmly began to walk towards them and beyond the group with a newly lit fire in her eyes and acuriosity matched only by her own scholarly pursuits. What creatures even inhabited these places and what kind of pursuits of knowledge did they even carry out? Were they for scientific or war purposes?
  602.  
  603. Loretta now begins to mutter as she slowly approaches one such massive test tube, at a slight distance from the party... and nowhere NEAR close to that broken pod in the center of the room.
  604.  
  605. "These are... Culture Tanks. Is this protein fluid or some sort of degradation retardant?"
  606. (Loretta)
  607. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  608.  Garrick's mouth would drop with awe as his molten eyes as his view took in the wonders of ancient demon civilization with a fervor of passion. For just a moment, it didn't feel like they were in the depths of a dread civilization long lost to the past, but a workshop of engineering as alien as it was magnificent. The fire drakan would study the statues keenly as he chewed upon the edge of his raggedy cigarette, marvelling at the masonry, the detailed and delicate depictions of the unnatural rulers. Old adjudicators, kings, or overlords of yesteryear depicted with care without crumbling despite all the years that had passed.
  609.  
  610. So demons could be master masons too.
  611.  
  612. The fire drake would bite his lip with excitement as his eyes trailed across the various pods and wires, the mummified remnants of old experiments bound by glass annd metal in a display of technological advancement that felt like it belonged in a futuruisitic setting, not the past.
  613.  
  614. Yet, something caught the drake's eye as he glanced about with wonder, tugging with light anxiousness upon his cigarette. His eyes would no longer scan the wonders of the room, but glance with care and fire into the shadowy corners and depths.
  615.  
  616. "This is....amazing. But...I don't think we're alone."
  617. (Garrick)
  618. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  619.  
  620. Yandir says, "Culture? It seems I bet wrong."
  621.  
  622.  Bursting into the room like they don't give a shit, yet their eyes looked all throughout the room. In fact, the moment they saw the pods that lay upon stands, he began to brighten up quickly running into the room and nearly planting his face onto the glass.
  623.  
  624. "Dreamer, look at all these things! The fact there is only one broken pod, is amazing. The fact all of these are still up and not shattered, is amazing!" HE definitely looked amazed and would start listening to their two fellow scholars.
  625.  
  626. "Culture tanks? So these things are being kept 'freshly dead' then? Wonder what for."
  627. (Eshmun Hirai)
  628. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  629.  
  630.  Yandir says, "Well, no. They have.. rotten away, it seems- but if that was their purpose, it was likely utilized to gather tissue, or... reproduce these lifeforms."
  631.  Eshmun Hirai says, "I mean, the hope was for them to stay freshly dead at least."
  632.  Loretta says, "... can be freshly dead..."
  633.  Loretta says, "... or in stasis."
  634.  Eshmun Hirai says, "Honestly...The fact this all still stands, so far into the future, is what is really amazing."
  635.  Loretta says, "Some have rotted though, like Yandir pointed out."
  636. {NARRATION} Loretta would be right! A sort of protein fluid combined with mutagen of a sort. Used to grow these bodies, and turn them into something else! Yet, did they start as humans and turn into the more demonic bodies? Or the other way?
  637.  
  638. Someone with a scientific background, like Loretta, could discern that much. Along with the bottom stands being a sort of life support/chemical delivery system.
  639.  
  640.  
  641. Further inspection of the center most pod would also prove Garrick correct. They weren't alone. The glass shattered from the inside. Claw marks rest upon what remains.
  642.  Garrick says, "So this is the apex of demon civilization. What they achieved hundreds of years before us..."
  643.  Ardith asks, "Isn't it...fuckin' /wonderful/?"
  644.  Garrick says, "It..really is."
  645.  Ardith says, "Now we can scrape it up. Study it. Make it even BETTER...Think 'bout it."
  646.  Garrick says, "These statues....they're still standing."
  647.  Garrick says, "The masons that carved these...who were they I wonder."
  648.  Garrick says, "What demon laid down the sword for a chisel and hammer."
  649.  Garrick says, "I wonder if the demons had smiths...if their achievements in metallurgy remain..."
  650.  Garrick says, "Also something with claws is with certainty stalking us, stay alert."
  651.  Eshmun Hirai says, "Listen, whatever that is."
  652.  Eshmun Hirai says, "Compared to 'this', hardly matters."
  653.  Garrick asks, "All I'm saying is....you know how mad scientist projects are usually dangerous?"
  654.  Eshmun Hirai says, "And...They definitely had smiths, the metal work on things, are amazing."
  655.  Garrick says, "What about demon mad scientists."
  656.  Eshmun Hirai says, "This was also from a VERY long time ago."
  657.  Eshmun Hirai says, "So whatever is alive...Must be basically immortal."
  658.  Garrick says, "Or really, really old and pissed."
  659.  Garrick says, "But....it's worth it. This is...beautiful."
  660.  
  661.  The child did not look all that imposing... but their entire unlife and childhood was spent in studies and constant search of knowledge to better the future of mankind as a whole, not just that of Valmasia. The countless libraries of Nostvale, the Scholars of New Alteros, the sages of Frost's Peak, the Nomads of the Sarab Desert. All of this has prepared her for such findings and a meager look presents all she needed to know to begin her discerning.
  662.  
  663. More than that... she's a Magitech Scientist, not just any kind of Researcher and Historian. The machinery at the bottom? It draws her eyes and the small girl kneels down to inspect it within visual eye sight of her party. She knows better than to fiddle with the mechanical aspect of the tank or worse yet, drain it... but her eyes look for the telltale signs of what to tamper with. A power switch, a drainage switch, a panel that can be given life and studies for...
  664.  
  665. Anything that can easily be used in conjunction with Magitech.
  666.  
  667. "... this is... this is just as advanced as my Magitech Forge. It uses a different design though... Hey Ardith! Eshmun! Come over here!"
  668.  
  669. She can't readily touch the machines whilst searching for a panel and ever so gently trying to spot the inner workings of the machine, but she can most certainly commit all she sees to memory and begin to rummage at the very bottom of this tank base, seeking what connects where and where connects to what.
  670.  
  671. "Do we have caravans to take some of this back to Aurum!? This is a once in a lifetime find!!"
  672. (Loretta)
  673. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  674.  Some of her excitement, her utter zeal, fades as Garrick points out something very, very important. Her eyes draw over to the tank in the center of the room, the shattered one, and she examines the shards of glass and claw marks.
  675.  
  676. "It might be dead by now...I ain't sure how fresh these are. But no telling. Still. If something's alive? If we could capture it...Oooh, just fuckin' think."
  677.  
  678. She is not at all thinking of the possible danger of getting murdered and eaten by this thing. No way. Her eyes are on the prize, not the mandatory risk that might come with attaining it. That's all white noise.
  679.  
  680. Then her attention refocuses on Loretta, joining her in admiring the marvel of magitech majesty.
  681.  
  682. "We could probably get it back. Maybe? Fuck if we ain't gonna try. I'm sure there's loads here we could use for research. Like I told ya. This place is a fuckin' gold mine."
  683. (Ardith)
  684. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  685. Garrick would snap his fingers as his right palm alit like a torch, gazing about the room with a sense of wariness even as his excitement surged. The machinery, the pods, all of this was simply scraping the surface of demonic metallurgy. If they could make actual life support systems that far back....what sort of arnaments could they have made.
  686.  
  687. The fabled blades of Kaor....what master smith hammered life into them?
  688.  
  689. Shaking his head, the scaly smith would pace about the corners of the room with his right hand raised as a torch, his left clasping his mithril blade with care and determination, calling back to the group as he scanned about for danger.
  690.  
  691. "If their statues haven't worn, their machines still work, and their traps are capable of turning us into pincushions even after all this time? I don't think whatever came from that pod would die of old age. This place screams longevity....and danger. Plenty of time to take notes if we're not dead."
  692. (Garrick)
  693. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  694.  
  695.  Loretta says, "... even if it screams longevity..."
  696.  Loretta says, "... without power, filtering and constant watch, these things would expire."
  697.  Garrick asks, "Then why is that pod broke from the inside, not the outside?"
  698.  Yandir says, "Perhaps they are fueled by something that simply cannot... die out."
  699.  Garrick says, "I don't think expiration dates apply here."
  700.  Garrick says, "This isn't our world."
  701.  Loretta says, "This is true."
  702.  Loretta says, "... I need a power source..."
  703.  Loretta says, "... If this was a research site, there has to be a light switch somewhere."
  704.  Garrick says, "Unless whatever worked here could see in the dark."
  705.  {NARRATION} Something was attracted to the ruckus Loretta was making.
  706.  
  707. From the Darkness a wispy tendril of some magical composition strikes out against Loretta! It comes close, but barely misses her before retreating back into the dark.
  708.  
  709. The sounds of rushing wind quickly fill the room and a powerful occult presence can be felt. Similar to what Ardith would feel around Illaron, yet way less composed.
  710.  
  711. The Pods would be knocked over as it finds new angles to strike from.
  712.  
  713.  "Outstanding- why did I expect this to be a peaceful endeavor, again?"
  714.  
  715. Foolish indeed, my dear Yandir- no expedition in Agartha ever goes on rid of perils. As the tendrils fail to strike true, the sarradian rolled to the side, erecting barriers of stone and infused with layers of raw, unstable mana around their edges, that'd respond aggressively to anything that struck against them.
  716.  
  717. This was, however, a simple measure executed only to buy time. He turns to the others, huffing a brume of cold air through a gasp.
  718.  
  719. "Stick close! But- where is it?!"
  720. (Yandir)
  721. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  722.  Garrick would glance with concern into the darkness as first Loretta, then the pods appeared to be assailed from the darkness with violence. This was Ardith's potential research getting destroyed, and the scaly smith wouldn't have that. Cracking his knuckles, he'd take a deep inhalation as his head's bone structure and tissue began to shift and snap, a draconic visage with burning eyes coming forth as the scaly smith would breathe a massive gust of flame into the open air above where Loretta had begun to get attacked.
  723.  
  724. Only one way to find out what's there, flick on the light switch.
  725. (Garrick)
  726. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  727. The child had asked for Ardith and others to approach her, an attempt to keep the studies intact and watch whatever she could find. Of course, there was already plenty of caution in turn given there WAS a broken pod in the center of this room! But...
  728.  
  729. Besides Garith's light source, Loretta had to function with what meager darkvision she had and her ingenuity for reverse engineering things, along with making heads or tails of whatever was to come. The metal is studied, the pods are glanced at, the buttons and details of the machines coming out in her mind as to how they're settled up and-
  730.  
  731. Gasp!
  732.  
  733. With a loud wheeze of air from long since dead lungs? The child backpedaled. Hard. A wispy tentacle of malicious energy had approached her and whilst her senses were typically dull, even more so when she was busy studying? The sudden energy signature in the air caught her attention. IMMEDIATELY was the girl backpedaling back to the group and now arming herself thoroughly with that greatsword in hand. Sadly... it was dark. It was very dark. She had no means of knowing WHAT had just tried to take a stab at her and before the pods started to be knocked over?
  734.  
  735. "Dammit Garrick! You just HAD to be right!!"
  736.  
  737. And then came the terrible sounds of priceless artifacts of a bygone era hitting the ground. Honestly? That sound alone was FAR more harrowing than the threat of danger to herself. With any luck and prayers to Kraus, the Pods would come out relatively intact...
  738. (Loretta)
  739. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  740. Something makes the skin on the back of Ardith's neck crawl. A familiar feeling, a sensation that she's well acquainted with. She turns just in time to see a tendril of something lash out against one of her would-be-cohorts and already her spear is in her hand.
  741.  
  742. Yep. Garrick was right.
  743.  
  744. The beast, whatever it is, begins its assault. She can sense it on the air currents, in the prickling of her flesh.
  745.  
  746. "Dead or alive...this is gonna be a juicy find."
  747. (Ardith)
  748. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  749.  
  750.  {NARRATION} It still exists in the shadows.
  751.  
  752. They'll have to do something to find it, otherwise!
  753.  
  754. Another tendril, of pure occult energy, lashes out! Just barely missing the party.
  755.  Loretta exclaims, "Rrr... hold on...!!"
  756.  Garrick asks, ".l..Ardith, can you track its occultic energy?"
  757.  Eshmun Hirai exclaims, "Bah! This isn't something you need to be right about!"
  758.  Ardith exclaims, "I can...fuckin' try? You got fire! Light this shit up, you idiot!"
  759.  Ardith exclaims, "You have FIRE!"
  760.  Garrick says, "Yes, but only so MUCH FIRE. IF YOU CAN SENSE IT, YOU CAN POINT ME IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION."
  761.  Garrick says, "IDIOT."
  762.  Rope wasn't the only thing Loretta had in her hands. She already requested that the group find a light switch or a power source to help illuminate this facility, but now? Now they were under attack by something that was likely hungry. Great. Just what they needed.
  763.  
  764. So... ever the armed and prepared little corpse child that she is? A hand dips into that satchel of hers and a number of cylindrical items are produced.
  765.  
  766. Snap!
  767.  
  768. A bright red light is suddenly produced from her hands and cast forward in direction of the tendrils that had attacked her. A marking flare!
  769.  
  770. "Flares out! Find a light switch, a brazier, anything!!"
  771. (Loretta)
  772. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  773.  Garrick would continue to breath gusts of flame into the shroud of shadows and darkness, wiping beads of sweat from his draconic visage as gusts of flame were delivered into the shadows with the aid of Loretta's flare. The scaly smith had no way to tell one source of occultism from another, but he'd continue to release a cascade of flames in a torrent before himself between exhausted breaths.
  774.  
  775. He could only use so much fire before he ran out of juice. Whatever was out there was moving, and he'd need to pin down exactly where to send the flames at the right time.
  776. (Garrick)
  777. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  778.  
  779. Hearing the sounds of some of the glass cylinders cracking, they gave a brief grunt, whatever was in here was fucking with their research. It was getting in the way of their ruins exploration! Small steps brought him further away from the others and all across his body, fires began manifesting. It licked upon the air, their annoyance at the sneak attacking being obvious.
  780.  
  781. "Whatever this thing is...Ardy, are we wanting to capture, or kill?" A simple question was asked while a shield made of pure energy manifested itself around him, lasting a short while just in case he was attacked while he was momentarily distracted.
  782. (Eshmun Hirai)
  783. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  784.  
  785.  Ardith says, "Capture if you can. If you gotta' kill...leave it intact."
  786.  "Wish me luck, then." The boy murmured under his breath- but luck for what? Well.
  787.  
  788. From the ground, were raised at least a dozen rocky projectiles in the shape of daggers, sharp and slenderized. Then another dozen rose ahead, and another- until the lad could no longer resist the large strain put on his circuitry by such an effort.
  789.  
  790. Along the edges of all of the summoned, shingly blades, were flared flames of sheer, brilliant holy. Individually, their luminescence was rather unimpressive, but their collective would surely amount to something.
  791.  
  792. With a gesture, the sarradian jets them to all every corner of their immediate vicinity and beyond, in an attempt to light the room.
  793. (Yandir)
  794. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  795.  
  796.  Yandir says, "Holy fuck."
  797.  
  798.  {NARRATION} As each of them tries to light up the Darkness, the beast became more clear. A swirling mass of purple smoke. Pure white eyes and dark green teeth adorn its features, as everything else remains in a constant state of flux.
  799.  
  800. A being of pure occult energy lays in front of you.
  801.  
  802.  
  803. It attacks once more.
  804.  
  805.  
  806. Ardith is up to get a -10 perm, unless someone wants to take it for them.
  807.  
  808.  
  809.  
  810. Garrick and Yandir are taking temps
  811.  
  812. Ardith is taking a perm.
  813.  
  814. As it stands -
  815.  
  816. Eshmun takes Yandir's temp
  817.  
  818. Garrick takes Ardith's -10 perm.]
  819.  {NARRATION} The swirling mass of dark clouds storms throughout the Fort's most important chamber. Attacking not only those who intruded, but also the pods which kept it captive and turned it into... this.
  820.  
  821. A mix of time, occult, and gravity are used in its endeavors. Trying its hardest to drain the life out of the party. With every magi that'd be hit, its form became more composed!
  822.  
  823. Slowly, it'd turn into something that more resembled a human. Or perhaps an Archon in this case?
  824.  
  825. A shadow orb would fly forward, attempting to strike Yandir! But Eshmun would get in the way.
  826.  
  827. It seems his ring is fully activated after this, too.
  828.  
  829.  
  830.  
  831. Garrick gets hit with a bout of crushing gravity. Crushing bones.
  832.  
  833. Finally, Ardith was straight in the path of a huge execution beam. But it seems Garrick clashed against it with his sword and magic!
  834.  
  835. In the end, Eshmun would stand back up and destroy the creature.
  836.  
  837.  {NARRATION} Loretta, being the small and nimble undead that she is, probably prepared for this very occasion. It wouldn't be surprising if she had all kinds of gadgets and spools of rope that'd let her avoid any injury at the monster's hands.
  838.  The bout was certainly no unarduous ordeal, and the octacruel before them was nothing to scoff at, but when had Agarthan magi ever given up? Plenty of times, actually. But not this one band!
  839.  
  840. Collectively, thousands of raw blasts of magic assail the abominable amalgam of flesh and darkness before them, until it receded- although even in its dying breath, it would strike with power.
  841.  
  842. Yandir lies motionless before the volley that comes for him, all too exhausted to react in time, but is ultimately saved by Eshmun's valiant interception.
  843.  
  844. "Eshmun!"
  845.  
  846. As the man launches his intrepid assault against the Swirling Darkness, the sarradian strides beside his fellow, measuring the extent of his wounds.
  847. (Yandir)
  848. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  849.  
  850.  This was the find of a lifetime. The LITERAL find of a lifetime and whatever was stuck in here did not want to go back, lashing out in aggression at people that likely coveted the same thing it sought to escape from. Garrick took the brunt of the force for Ardith when a blast of occult came running and as gravitational forces alongside time magicks came about? It became evident that the creature was absorbing the clashing elements of magic to restore itself. To empower it's body!
  851.  
  852. The others were getting wailed on hard, but Loretta was small. Her mana was tarnished, her body insignificant. Excellent for rushing in at high speeds and doing what she did best. Roguish slashing, precision cuts and even parrying a few of the gravitational fluxes that came her way. Yes. Literally parry the gravity bend that came her way with raw sword arm force and the occasional swing.
  853.  
  854. But... Eshmun took one for the team. He dove in the way of Yandir to prevent him from getting blasted to kingdom come and worse. Was he okay? Was he still in good condition!?
  855.  
  856. "Why you- Screw it!!"
  857.  
  858. Well. Approaching the swirling mass of dark and evil is definitely suicide, but swinging her sword at literal metaphysical energies isn't exactly doing it. She can only keep up her fight for so long before this small and weary body gives out after all... so all she can do now is place her hopes on the other members of the team. The hardier members. The HARD hitting members. The child prompts to pick up one of the bladed edges of the greatsword to hold it forward as a makeshift shield in preparation and expectations of parrying whatever dangers come her way as the small frame suddenly lunges forward in what seemed to be a finishing blow!
  859.  
  860. In reality? It was a feint. The swing goes wide, the attention of the monster is drawn to the small little girl as she deliberately missed her strike to try and garner the abomination's attention and-
  861.  
  862. Click!
  863.  
  864. Wait, what was that?
  865.  
  866. BOOM!
  867.  
  868. Oh dear god. The feint's purpose was so Loretta could successfully distract the creature and throw a flashbang in it's face for good measure as light, sparks and an jarringly loud sound echoed in the chamber, to disorient it as LONG as she possibly could so the others could recover.
  869. (Loretta)
  870. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  871.  
  872.  The dance against the creature of the occult began with a crescendo, blasts of superheated dark energy fizzing across the length of the dread laboratory as the party clashed against the gravitic weight of the beasts tentacles. As a swordsman, Garrick had no option but to dive right into the center of trouble, flames trailing behind his molten form as he slashed and smashed against the beast up close and personal, doing his best to weaken it for capture.
  873.  
  874. It was for Ardith's research after all. That was important.
  875.  
  876. With each dive into the depths of the beast's sphere of gravitic influence, the fire drake's life force would be chipped away by the vampiric transfusion of essence. His bulwark of emerald scales and muscle tissue would weaken with each resounding slash and backstep, small cracks spreading amongst his form as he drove forward with determination. The group's magics weaved together in a mult-colored storm of elements and light, the vibrance dancing against the oppressive darkness of the tentacled beast.
  877.  
  878. Yet, as Garrick made his final lunge, he felt the bones in his leg, withered by the degeneration of the beast's sapping life essence, crack and snap from the oppressive weight of gravity that was laid upon him. Hopping back on his good leg to resteel his wits, his molten eyes would scan across the battlefield for his next opening to strike.
  879.  
  880. Only to see a vast beam of destructive energy heading right for Ardith.
  881.  
  882. Not happening. Not on his watch. Not ever.
  883.  
  884. Without a moment's wait, he'd leap with his good leg forth, accelerated by the propulsion of the flame, directly between the beam and the accursed. Flashing Ardith a brief smile with full knowledge that she'd despise his actions, he'd never the less flourish his glinting, mithril blade as the execution beam hurtled forth towards them, lunging directly into its dark kinetic path with two handed slam of his blade against its force.
  885.  
  886. All he felt was pain, then. Agonizing pangs of occultism tearing at his body as he forced his own igneous might against the passage of the beam, gritting his teeth as the molten fire ignited in his eyes as he held his ground against every drop of injurous force the blast had. The drakan would hold his ground.
  887.  
  888. No matter what.
  889. (Garrick)
  890. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  891.  The battle is hectic, its harrowing, with all manner of magics being flung hither and yon. The Accursed is more than eager to shove her spear into this thing though, strategically strafing about it with bursts of occultism to weaken and slow and get the thing down to its last leg. Whatever it is.
  892.  
  893. She sees the oncoming beam and braces.
  894.  
  895. Only to have Garrick jump in the way like an imbecile. He smiles. She glowers. It gives her enough time to lithely dodge out of harm's path and somewhere safer to take another gouge at the creature.
  896.  
  897. He'll probably be fine. He's sturdy. Right?
  898.  
  899. Regardless she's still standing, spoiling for a fight, but Eshmun's beaten her to the punch.
  900.  
  901. Hopefully, just maybe, there's something left of the creature to salvage for her research.
  902. (Ardith)
  903. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  904.  
  905.  Pushing forth, in their flaming defense, the fires that had once been around them quickly vanished. Only his veil of water and a pulsating shield of energy was left, "Keep it alive, I've got it!" THeir words ar ebold, amber-hued eyes staring towards where he could see the occultic being standing out compared to everything else.
  906.  
  907. Energy, Ice, Steam. It all flew everywhere towards the thing as he aimed, their body rushing forth to try and go face-to-face with the powerful creature. Though in most cases, a person might hate or even be annoyed. It might even be a fight for their life with grief involved.
  908.  
  909. For Eshmun however? Their face was bright, a smile stretched as a battle-hungry look filled them, "Yes! Now this is an interesting challenge! Not only do I get a challenging fight, but I also have to capture the thing instead of killing it?" Boldly their voice echoed, only to be interrupted by the fact he had jumped in front of Yandir to take the ball of occultic energy to his body.
  910.  
  911. Upon taking the impact however, their body skittered across the ground, looking rather devastated and nigh' crippled. Occult burns laced the skin, his body racked with pain. Still smiling however, a hand reached into the satchel at his side, where a singular vial filled with what seemed to be just air was uncorked and poured down his throat.
  912.  
  913. In just a few seconds, all the injuries he had taken vanished, their body fully healed.
  914.  
  915. "Is that all you've got!?" Their voice is berating, practically talking down to the monster, while a hand actually ruffled Yandirs hair, the boy that had come to check on him.
  916.  
  917. "Don't worry Yan...I'm an alchemist, until my potions run out, I'll be fine."
  918. Their time was now, a flashbang went off right in front of the monsters face, and Eshmun was already right behind it. IN this hands was a burning lasso of energy, that with one swing, was wrapped all the way around the mutated beast. Though he was aiming for keeping it 'alive' the amount of force that was being pressed onto it, just a struggle from the beast might just cause it to tear into the skin and end it once and for all.
  919.  
  920. They were sparing, but they weren't 'that' sparing to let it even have a chance of fighting back.
  921. (Eshmun Hirai)
  922. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  923.  
  924.  ** sawbones has inflicted an injury upon Garrick. ("Broken Bones", "Extreme gravity has left your leg broken, and well a few other things too.", "Temporary", "Duration: Medium (4 days)") **
  925.  ** sawbones has inflicted an injury upon Garrick. ("Execution Beam", "A powerful beam of occult energy came straight for your friend, and you decided to take it. Darkness rushes through your body and tears at it, leaving great scars that run like a spiderweb across your body.", "Permanent", "Severity: MODERATE (-20 Vit)") **
  926.  {NARRATION} The Beast is lasso'd! But it starts slipping away!
  927.  
  928. Or, more so, it completely disperses. All of its magical energies were fully used up by the fight. There was nothing left as the dark clouds split and fade, fully into the dark corners of the fort.
  929.  
  930.  
  931.  
  932. The pods are mostly wasted. Yet you could probably scavenge for parts
  933.  
  934.  
  935.  She could've used other means. She could've even used an attempted time lock to slow down the target, given time magicks were very well within her fortitude and field of knowledge. The creature was stunned and the sword drawn in expectation and preparation that the child was next to be a possible meal for the monster in question, which meant... issues. The sword was drawn, the body prepared and-
  936.  
  937. Is that a lasso? Is Eshmun becoming a cowboy? What? Why? Oh, the spectral metaphysical construct is turning into dust and fading away very, very quickly. Okay! That means the threat has passed! But the question remains... just what was it? What spurned it? What was it's purpose? Maybe she should've lunged forward to try something a bit more brazen for capture.
  938.  
  939.  
  940. … but the remains of the laboratory... it lies in ruins. The place is heavily damaged now and countless experiments have been stricken, damaged or outrightruined. Upon realizing this? The greatsword is sheathed and with a shrill scream of horror, the young gadget bearing child RUSHES to the immediate wreckage with test tubes, beakers and swabs already prepared at lightning speeds.
  941.  
  942. "The test tubes have been damaged! Save the samples! No, no, no, no- you were intact a few minutes agoooo!!! GARRICK!! ARDITH!! I need you two to salvage as much of this as I can!!!"
  943. (Loretta)
  944. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  945.  
  946.  Garrick would lumber forth with a bit of light hopping on his good leg, taking a steady drag from his cigarette inbetween deep breaths as he took deep breaths. Pulling forth his cotton coat with a single claw, he'd glance down into the seam where his chest should with a wince as he glanced over the occultically charred spiderwebs that trailed across his form, the cracks that had spread upon his scales with a molten glow.
  947.  
  948. Removing his claw, he'd grimace briefly before shrugging, allowing his smile to return with only the slightest bit of strain. There were worse costs to protect those that mattered to you.
  949. (Garrick)
  950. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  951. {NARRATION} With that, the Fortress was cleared. There'd be other places to explore, if they ever chose.
  952.  
  953.  
  954. They'd all go back to Gehenna. Except Loretta. She's not allowed there.
  955.  
  956. maybe
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