Festival: What Lurks in Shadows Deep

Ninetails Dominion has been a pretty spooky place in the aftermath of the various undead problems in the area. Rumors have begun to circulate about a chasm that has opened up in the center of a graveyard in one of the abandoned villages deep in the wilds. What terrors await those who are brave enough to delve into the darkness?

(OOC: Standard Reminisce-style duty-alike scene. Expect interesting challenges. Character-growth experiences. Plot seeds. And status debuffs. So many status debuffs.)

Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

Chasm into the Dark

The lands of Ninetails have faced more than a few problems since the Apocalypse, and it seems that it has become known as the land of the Undead. The Shadow Festival only seems to accentuate this, giving rise to more creatures of the night and bringing them forth from places as of yet explored.

One of the villgaes recently freed by the Hunter's Guild from the Imprisoned Queen's forces seems to have found itself with a new problem. A deep chasm has opened up beneath the gravyard, and dark creatures have been making their way up from the underground.

A group of guards have secured the place, but there are signs that they have been fighting off this infection of monsters for a few days now, waiting for help from any Adventurers who would heed the call. Thankfully, that is why you are here.

"We don't know what is down there." The Captain of the guard explains, "We've been fighting off vamprire bats and skeletons for the most part, no zombies, thankfully."

With that much explained, the group is given full access to the wardened off area around the chasm.

It is going to be a long way down.

Repell Down Into the Chasm:
- Physical vs 10 (climb down)
- Earth vs 10 (create ledges/stairs)
- Air vs 8 (winged characters only, featherfall)

Failure on this roll results in: Your character takes falling damage. They are now injured and you must Rp the remainder of this scene as having an injury of your choice (that makes sense with a fall).
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

Off to the side, not standing near others, is a slender form covered by a white, hooded cloak. She listens to the report, though she gives little sign of any special reaction.

Quest intro being over, she steps forward and looks down into the chasm. It is a long way down.

"Time to begin," she murmurs.

Asuna calls upon earth artes, and begins nimbly leaping down from ledge to ledge, each appearing just before she lands upon it.
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Shiruba gives the Captain a pat on the shoulder. "You and your men have done a great job keeping the location secure so this doesn't spread out. We'll do what we can to root out the actual cause of it."

Then she walks over to the edge of the chasm and kneels down to inspect over the edge. "Mmm. No telling how far down it goes from here. Everyone, be careful." The cait sith wolfgirl slips over the edge herself and starts making her way down, using her own earth magic to form hand and foot holds where she can't find existing ridges in the rock face to use. It's slow going, but she'd rather be cautious and careful now, than create a bigger probem later.
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Once more into the Darkness. Into the chasm of wonder. Into... downwards! Haru is dressed in his usual Navy blue jacket with matching denim jeans and a white shirt beneath. Four stones circle around him in a slow orbit as his Wave Arte focus. The Artificer takes a moment to stop by the captain of the guard as they explain the situation. "Thank you for the brief," the Silver Sword says with a smile, "we are quick to adapt and will get to the bottom of this." Literally. Because it is down. He offers a nod to Shiruba who says as much as well.

There is a confident and calculated set of steps from Haru as he gets access t the warded off area around the chasm. He does the typical 'I lean over the edge' to look down. "Long way down," he observes in obviousness. Fortunately for Haru, Earth is something he is good at. Very good at. One of the stones floating around him goes down a foot into the chasm. It begins to hum with the sound of crushing gravel as the wall of the chasm pops out in a jutting earthen platform. He steps down it, a sequence that repeats itself as he Minecrafts himself an earthen set of stairs downards.
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"Wait, this isn't a contest for the best costume?", Uta frowns in her full-body suit meant to give her the appearance of a dragon, complete with being fully covered in scales, in different shades of red, more vivid at the bottom and getting darker (and possibly bluer? Hard to tell in this dim lighting..) as they go. She gets down from her Peko, which is wearing a shimmering golden jacket with sequins as large as coins, and ties it to a post. "You stay here, Not Stolen. Make sure you live up to your name," she admonishes, as she heads over to the Landers. "Sorry, uh, I was a bit distracted. What were you saying when-AAAAAH!"

And there goes Uta down the chasm.

This, however, gives Uta the opportunity to show off a particularly clever trick that went into the making of her costume: its leathery webbed wings emerging from its back spread with a FWHOOMP, operated by her actual Spriggan wings underneath. Functionality! These help cushion the fall, as-


...the screaming does? Somehow?
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

    Miyako nods quietly as she listens to the briefing. "Sounds like it broke into a pre-existing dungeon, maybe, or something's lair." She looks over to Kotono, flicks her translucent black wings briefly, then back out at the chasm. "Shall we take the fun way down, Ko-chan?" she asks, grinning. Other people make their own stairs, or climb down the old-fashioned way, but for Miyako, any chance to fly is a chance to FLY. She doesn't bother to wait for an answer, just leaps out over the edge to spread her arms and legs and let herself fall for a bit before her wings pick up and start to slow her fall. "Ge-ron-i-mooooo!!!!"
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Listening intently, Kotono nods a little, not showing much emotion at first until Miyako suggests they take the fun way down, and that's when Kotono finally smiles. "That sounds like a plan to me!" She says with a grin. "I like the way you think, Miyako!" She answers as she leaps as well. "Look out below!" She calls out before her wings take effect and start to slow her fall as well. "Skydivers, eat your heart out!"
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    Mizuki arrives in human mode for once, in... costume? A perfectly ordinary serafuku, with her hair died purple and wearing a red alice band in her hair that has a star decoration on one side. She listens to the explanation of the troubles ahead, holding her hand to her chin thoughtfully and nodding, then smiling. "Don't worry, the Psycho Soldier will defeat those evil monsters!" She turns towards the pit. "Asamiya Athena, ikimaaaaaasu!~"

    On the last word she twirls while changing equipment: The hairband is the same, but the rest... over a base of elbow/knee-length white sweatclothes, she's wearing a red sleeveless tunic tied at the waist with a long golden sash and and slit down one side from waist to thigh, with matching red legbands on her calves, fingerless gloves, and boots, the outfit completed by a necklace of oversized purple jewel-like beads that match her hair.

    Landers are probably used to a few more Adventurers acting weird during the Shadow Festival.

    Anyway, 'Athena' walks to the edge of the pit and considers. Normally, she'd just use her were fang body to climb down, but that doesn't fit the costume, does it? So, with gestures she calls for the earth to form stairs along the edge, just ahead of her feet as she steps down. Athena doesn't have earth powers, but it certainly fits the theme of a warrior with mystic powers a bit better than turning into a cat.

    And then Uta takes a tumble. "Uta!" Mizuki's about to try to catch her when she notices the wings slowing her down. "...Oh."

    Still, once at the bottom, she asks the spriggan: "Are you okay?"

    There is a brief, silent pause in the air, but no call of BUSTA WOLF comes. That's a different costume.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

The Darkness Deepens

When the party manages to reach the bottom of the chasm, they are quickly forced to utilize light or fire spells to give them a good view. Glancing upwards the way they had come, it looks as if some sort of shift of the earth had opened up the way down into this natural cavern system below.

There is a feeling of air through the tunnels, however, which suggests that it must connect again to the overworld somewhere. The group only has one way to go, and that is deeper into the darkness through perilously tight tunnels which threaten to scrape at their limbs as they have to squeeze through.

That is when they hear the first set of squeaks that would alert them that they are not alone. The light shines across many sets of blood red eyes, awakening an entire colony of bats. These are not just any normal bats, however, they read as monsters, with the title: Vampire Bats.

The reason is clear as they show giant fangs and take to the air, flying towards the Adventurers in sweeping dive-bombs, trying to latch on wherever they can.

Beware the Bats:
- Evasion vs 10 (avoid attacks from the bats)
- Shield vs 10 (block the bats teeth from sinking in)
- Handle Monster vs 8 (ward the bats off with sound)
- Melee vs 12 (fight the bats off)

Failure on this roll results in: Gain the status defect 'Vampire Drain'. Your character's maximum health decreases. They also slowly lose hit points similar to a poison effect, however this cannot take them below zero. This may only be removed by visiting/RPing at a church.
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Settling on the cave floor with a little flourish of her cloak, Asuna directs her attention forward. She'll leave the lights to others, since they are likely to provide plenty of it. The ronin moves ahead without hesitation into the darkness ahead.

When the vampire bats rush at her, though, she springs into sudden action, bouncing back on her toes and.. does nothing. A heart beat and they are closer. One more.. they are almost on her.

    "Time for a little illumination!"

The beginnings of a flame wall spring into being with a gesture, but she suddenly changes tack. The move results in an intentional fizzle with the gust and noise of an explosion, driving the bats from around her.

Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

Seems like a case of bats in the belfry. Never a good thing, especially when these things could leave a bit of a negative effect on you.

Sometimes, it's better to avoid conflict rather than engage in it. Using her swiftness to her advantage, Kotono drops down and slides forwards almost like a soccer player making a long ranged sliding tackle.

Kotono manages to avoid being caught by the bats and stands up dusting herself off. "That was too close!"
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It is hard for Haru not to be amused by the Uta falling over the end, "Use your wings!" He likes to think he helped, being a man with an appreciation for the wings. The human will never need to wonder where Uta went with that screaming, either. It isn't long before the stair descending human is checking up on her alongsize of MIzuki. "Stick the landing?" he asks to see if she caused herself MORE pain just to treat it. Of course it is dark down here so Haru needs some lighting. Each one of his Ioun Stones begins to glow red with fire and then ignites, providing a series of torches to illuminate the surroundings. Four dancing flames around a man with a monocle. Not evil at all, nope, this is Haru we are talking about here.

"Squeakers," the white haired Artificer observes, hearing them first. Then he sees the eyes. Red and, "they just need a meal." When they start to dive bomb he quickly adds in, "a meal that is not us." At first he wards off the bats with the fire because then you get a Flame Bat which is a completely different thing than a Vampire Bat. "Alright now," the Summoner continues on, hand summoning a whip of lightning and lassoing the critters as they get close. He binds the flailing critters until he can get close enough to feed them a juicy little snack. Rare meat. "Better?" Squeak! "Aw, you were just hungry." Squeak. It still tries to go for Haru's hand. "No, bad bat." Squeak... "Aw, I can't be mad at you." Careful, the fish incident may repeat itself, those are some juicy noodle arms.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

Once she has feet back on solid ground Shiruba takes a moment to inspect their surroundings. "These rock formations look natural, but something shifted to expose them. Could be the Undead got trapped down here when we sealed off their central location... Or were hidden away as a contingency." Either is possible. The Undead Army's generals were a clever lot, as much as she lothed admitting it.

The ponderance as they proceed is interrupted by the shrieking and swarming of Vampire Bats. Damn, those are monsters not normal beast bats, she can't just ward them off. Having to quickly adjust to defensive measures instead she brings out her magic longbow to shoot several down, but she's not fast enough to get all of them and one manages to shift through the arrow barrage to land and chomp down into her neck. "Ow! Dammit!" Shiruba shoves the arm of her bow under the bat to pry it off, but it's already sucked enough to enact it's status effect.

Shiruba stomps on it on the cave floor a few times, then sighs. Whines and rubs her neck with one hand. Then steels herself and gets back into the matter. "It'll have to wait. We need to deal with this now."
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0


It is, in fact, when Haru gives his suggestion that Uta spreads her wings.

"-AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-" continues, but slower. Feather fall.

"-AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-oh. That wasn't so bad," Uta comments, as she touches ground with one foot (clawed, due to costume) and then the other. "Oh, hi Mizuki!", Uta beams. "I remember that costume. You had it at the Monster Race!" She looks around, one hand on her mouth. "Where's your wolf?"

She then returns to Mizuki again. "Have I already mentioned that I'm dressed as an Artist's Impression of the Twilight Dragon? And the reason why I have it is that I'm looking for more information on it? It seems like it's the reason why we cannot fly. Which... befits the current circumstances." She points upwards. "I had no idea what to dress Not Stolen, my peko, as -- so I went with the logical choice of dressing it as my hoard."

And then, suddenly, bats!

"Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na," chants Uta, waving her hands in the air -- and with each note of her catchy 1960s tune, a blast of magic that ripples through the air, connects to a vampire bat, which is swept away with a swipe of her hand. Usually into the wall, where it pixelates.

It takes a lot of concentration, a lot of effort, and at times, it looks like Uta won't make it, but in the end, she emerges victorious.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

Miyako glides down to a hard landing, bending her knees to absorb the impact, then downing a healing potion. "Going a bit batty, are we?" She grins and steps along through the caverns, simply stepping aside when one of the bats approaches her. "Awww," she says as she spots Haru capture one. "Aren't they cute? Look at this, Ko-chan!" She plucks one from the air, holding the chittering critter for a few moments, stroking its fur. "We should get a cat," she decides. What that has to do with bats is just a little unclear.

    "I am a dwarf, and I'm digging a hole...."
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    Merek begins climbing with the party into the deep, taking his time to make his way down with the gauntlets which he wears used to keep along the wall. When they make it to the place they are looking for, he will take the time to lift up a hand, attaching a lantern made with his alchemical abilities along the hip, while he watches the bats. Then he's lifting up his shield to protect him from them while he takes the time to follow with the party.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

    "Oh, the wolf was just for the race. Athena doesn't have a monster companion..." Mizuki explains. "And yeah! You explained you were the Twilight Dragon. Not Stolen... is a fitting name for a hoard, I suppose. May he continue to live up to his name."

    At the bottom of the pit, she conjures flame in her hands to see by and walks with the others. "Bit out of the element for the character, fighting monsters in caves... actually, no, the original game was about a lot of that, wasn't it?"

    There are: Bats! Mizuki throws firebolts and even transforms and breathes fire, but then decides there's too many and just tries to keep them off her, intoning: "Chill frost, protect me from my foe's strikes as you protect my heart! Psycho Shield!" It's the incant that matters, shouting a name at the end is just for effect; The shield of magic force still has cool mist SFX, but she uses it as a barrier to keep the bats off her, returning to human form to stay smaller as she makes her way through the cramped tunnel.

    Miyako's comment gets her to look at the held bat. "Ah... I guess they are cute... but, I'm no good at taming them..."
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

    From above, at the chasm entrance, a little shriek goes forth. "Oh no they didn't waiiiit!"

    Of course, no one knew to wait for Fukaziroh. No one here knew she was coming for sure, and she's normally punctual. So it's only natural to assume if she's not there when the expedition starts, she was busy. But this time it's apparently different. "Better late than never oh hi there good job guarding byeeeeee~" and then a sudden gleeful shriek as Fuka FLINGS herself over the side of the chasm, plummeting headlong into adventure!

    This is followed by a loud thump and a triumphant cry which swiftly turns into yet another shriek! "Damn BATS!" Fuka cries out, as her loud and high-pitched descent drew the attention of some of the denizens of the chasm. Pretty soon though, the little sylph comes running in from the entrance to where the lights of the group are found. Fuka's waving her hands about in irritation, trying to beat back the more persistent of the critters, but between her magic and her heavy vambraces she seems to be relatively unharmed.

    "HIsorryimlateiwashavingamassiveindigestionproblemfromfestivalcandyjustgothere!" she gasps out rapid-fire. After a breath or two she continues, "Can someone get these bats off me thanks?"
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

It seems Kaydon is feeling a bit more like his usual self since the strange mood to finish his gunblade ended. No zombies, good. He can work with no zombies. The initial decent is met with Kaydon immediately doing something incredibly stupid, after looking over the chasm for a moment. Without rappellinggear he'll have to free climb it, which he does until he loses a grip, forcing him to slam his sword into the stone wall to slow his decent. It seems his sword fares better out of the two.

Once safely on the ground however they are beset upon by the bats. Still no undead, but at least bats are easy enough to deal with. Using his gunblade, he shields himslef from incoming strikes, trying his best to fend off the bats from any others nearby that might need help as well, "Come on, move! We can't stay here and let them keep chowing down!"
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

Skeletons in the Shadows

Fight or flight, the party eventually seems to reach the aggression range of the bats and they retreat back to their dark cave. This is only one of the dangers they were warned of, so the group at least has some warning of what lies in wait for them.

The cave seems to creep downward, with more narrow passages which suggest that this was all part of some nature-made system. However, that soon changes. A crack opens unto what looks to be an carved chamber that is held up by wooden slats, with obvious hooks in the walls for lanterns.

They have found themselves in a long-abandoned mine. It is hard to tell what might have been mined here, at least at first. There are scrape marks along the floor, as well as a large amount of dust. More obvious, though, is what look to be shifting patterns in that dust that suggest something, or somethings had passed through here.

Sure enough, in the distance, they can hear a sound like bone against stone. Out form the darkness, a number of Skeletons make themselves known, dragging pickaxes and hammers behind them. Most unsettling, perhaps, is that these all seem to be wearing clothing of some sort. It looks like workmans clothing, ripped, torn and rotten, but it seems obvious that these may have once been the workers of these mineshafts.

Skeleton Miners:
- Light vs 10 (Try to ward them off with light magic)
- Woodworking/Metalworking/Mining vs 8 (trained only - find weakspots in their weapons)
- Bludgeoning vs 8 (Smash them to bone bits)

Failure on this roll results in: You are struck with a heavy melee weapon in a limb of your choice. This limb is considered 'disabled' for the remainder of this scene and in any future scenes. In addition to pain, you are not able to properly use this limb until it is seen to by an individual with the Pharmacy concept in a separate logged RP scene.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

Asuna's little explosive demonstration blows her hood back. Her chestnut hair flies free. Unbothered, she doesn't waste time to pull it back up.

There's a flick of interest towards Uta. She's still not quite turning to meet the woman's eyes.

    "You're Uta. Sorry about your slimes."

Her piece said, it's back to work. She moves forward as if there was nothing to fear. The first skeleton is greeted with a brutal punch of the guard of her repier. It's skull bursts to dust.

Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

    Merek swings with his left arm to lift up a magical sanctuary to ward off the skeletons, only for one of them to strike his right arm, causing red sparkles to shimmer while it begins to lean along his side. He does manage to fight it off eventually, although the damage is done and his arm will not be useful for a while. "Ahh! Well, these... Did these people really used to work here? Do you think that they were made to become undead?" he asks of the party.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

First bats and now skeletons. Unfortunately, Miyako's non-sequitur chatter will have to be dealt with later, as Kotono's got a bone to pick with her enemies.

"Where there's darkness, there must be light!" Kotono says as she brings up her spellrunes. "I'll teach you to mess with us!" She invokes a light spell and then proceeds to cast forth a blast of magical light, intent on warding off the boney offenders with her magic. "No bones about it!"
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

The Artificer does ward off the rest of the bats near him with fire and sound, except Bartleby the Bat. He will forever have a place in Haru's heart... where undoubtly it wants to drain the blood from. But there is more cave to explore! More monsters to face! Adventure. To go where no Artificer has gone before.

Down. Artificers before have not gone further down. Not having bulky armor on, Haru is able to slip through the narrow passages with little problem. "Mine," he claims. Or is he claiming something. He picks up a pickaxe, is he rolling for loot? "And... miners," he drops the pickaxe. "Listen here, you are not old enough to carry those things!" Different kind of minor. The man starts with a new Arte he picked up from Vert as he chants out for thick balls of vine to curl in each other like the worlds greenest ball of yarn. It fires out like a cannon to wreck the skeletons that approach him. "You make Mother Earth sad, time for a time out." Another ball. Its like bowling, right? Just with undead skeletons that want to lodge a pickaxe in his dome.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

Maybe Kaydon should have just just started smashing the skeletons. Kaydon is trying to figure out the best way to destroy their weapons, taking a knee ad trying to focus on one of them. It's a mistake since a moment later one of them attacks him from the side when he wasn't paying attention, slamming a pickaxe into Kaydon's left arm and making him yell out in pain, reacting and hitting the skeleton with his gunblade. The pickaxe remains and he can't pulls it out, "Great, cool. That's not gonna be a problem." It's that stupid goddamn fish all over again.
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The slow trickle of health is going to be annoying, but Shiruba has endured worse, she'll push through and deal with the side effect later. She made too many promises to allies and friends, some sadly no longer with them, that she would not allow the Undead to become a greater problem again, and that is enough to steel her determination.

With all the time she's spent in caves and ruins as an explorer she almost immeadiately notices the shift from naturally formed cavern to the rock being cut and dug away intentionally. "I think we've found our way into a mine." Would make sense, mines tend to start with natural caves and tunnel beyond them.

Sure enough, their next obstacle is what remains of the miners that once worked those tunnels, lifting their tools to advance on the group. Shiruba stopped, narrowing her eyes. Her Woodworking training was mainly about it's application to preparing for construction and weapons like her bow and arrows, but they did cover the basics of making shafts and handles for various melee weapons as well. Particularly on how such lengths need to be sturdy and well balanced.

As the skeleton miners raise their weapons she pulls out her throwing glaive, takes precise aim, and flings the weapon spinning through the air. It appears to arc past several of the skeletons without touching them before returning to Shiruba.

Only for a moment later the delayed reaction hits, as the heads of several raised hammers and axes fall off from where their handles were cut by the throwing weapon, falling on the surprised skeletons holding them.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0


Before Uta can actually do anything about Fukaziroh's bats, the skeletons come. "If Kauchemar was here, she'd probably comment how those people have worked themselves to the bone," she mumbles.

She inhales, and as she begins to flick through her menu to summon her staff from her inventory, someone mentions her name, and the slimes.

The Slimes!

"The Accident..." Uta trails off, transfixed. The echo of magical crossbow bolts. The riveting memory of a cart being shot, in slow motion, and little defenseless slimes falling to their doom, the hammer of a skeleton hitting on Uta's forearm-

Wait, that didn't happen last time! Oh, right, it happened this time.



The skeleton is quickly dispatched with a kick to the face, and through some makeshift self-first-aid, she wraps her injuried arm (the non-dominant one, luckily!) in a cloth, and hangs it from her neck. "Dang, this -hurt-...", she wails, a hint of tear forming in each eye. "I wish someone invented painkillers already..."
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

    Busily trying to justify her delayed presence, fussing over her hair, and generally just being a bit weird, Fuka doesn't at first notice the presence of skeletons until after several of the adventurer group react and prepare to attack or cast. "Oh hey nobody said there'd be UNDEAD!" she shrieks, drawing her oversize sword from across her back and holding it ready in both hands.

    She begins to ready a spell, preparing to blast skeletons with a mix of light and fire that seems almost perfectly designed to take on undead, when one of them rams a pickaxe into her arm, below her shoulderguard, above her vambrace. Fuka's resulting scream is a little more raw than her earlier shrieks of joy and panic, and disrupts her spellcasting. Perhaps worse, she's now left with a sword she can't properly wield which she promptly drops so as to cradle her damaged arm with her undamaged one. No longer having quite so much fun and having no immediate way to contribute further to the battle, she scrambles for someone to hide behind. Fortunately she's small and doesn't need much to hide behind.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

    It's an old mine. "Uhh... don't we need to worry about gas down here? Should we have a canary?"

    Mizuki groans at Uta's pun. But actually doesn't find the skeletal miners super creepy on their own? Somehow it just seems normal in this world. In the moment, she still falls back to thinking 'this is a logical monster encounter for an old mine' rather than 'the miners died here and reanimated, woah that's dark.'

    But, they don't look like something that should be allowed close to her! She tries to burn them -- when you have a lot of fire, everything looks like a nail made of paper -- shaping balls of fire and tossing them by swinging her hands forward from the sides, "Psycho Baaaaall!" but... actually that is a hella clunky motion to make, so her aim is off at first, and it's just not taking out enough skeletons even once she starts hitting them, and the skeletons channel the anger of all players who have been hadouken spammed into strikes on Mizuki's arms!

    She screams in pain, even after others smash the skeletons near her, and feels embarassed at having done so... But when she hears someone mention painkillers she remembers Uta is here and turns to--


    Mizuki just stares at Uta for a moment, "YOU invented painkillers! You're experimenting with them, right? Well now's the time!" She winces as she cradles her arm. "Please."
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

    Light magic? Metalworking? Well, they are in a mine! Miyako is not the best of fighters when it comes to dealing with skeletons, though. She prefers casting from a distance when it comes to dealing with critters like these. Or not having them around while she explores, better yet!

    Unfortunately that's not what she has to deal with today. The first few fall to the flickering slashes and swipes of her fans, but it isn't long before one gets a swipe in past her defense and she's thrown back against the wall. "Thraggling VOOT!" she yells as she swipes out to take its head off its shoulders, but even that doesn't stop it from bringing its pick down on her arm before it collapses. "You are REALLY!" she shouts, kicking the monster into the opposite wall, "HARSHING!" she yanks the pickaxe out of her arm and uses it to hack at the bones "My MELLOW!" By the time she stops, not one bone remains in contact with another.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

Unfathomable Darkness Below

With the Skeletal Miners dispatched, the mine seems to be remarkably quiet. The Hunter's Guild hadn't reported anything else coming up, but there had to be more to this. People don't just turn into monster-skeletons on their own without some kind of outside influence.

The tunnels branch off in a number of directions, but many seem to dead-end quickly in piles of rubble. There is a creaking sound in the entire structure, as if it isn't quite sound any more. A dangerous prospect for anyone trying to use large-scale attacks. There are relatively few paths they can choose to follow, so the group follows the flow of fresh air.

That is when they find themselves stepping out onto a ledge overlooking a giant underground cave. It opens up in all directions and descends deep below like a massive sinkhole. It seems to have taken out entire chunks of the mine, as pathways can be seen heading off into other directions, suddenly appearing or cutting off randomly into the open space.

Thankfully, there is enough rubble here for them to make their way down, but they will need to be careful. Lose rock could very well take them tumbling down into the deep pit below.

Traverse the Rocks:
- Searching vs 9 (find a safe path)
- Divination vs 9 (divine a safe path)
- Cartography/Construction vs 8 (determine a safe path by subtle signs in the surrounding stone walls)
- Earth vs 11 (support yourself by creating stable sections of rock)

Failure on this roll results in: Rocks slip out from beneath your feet, causing you to begin to tumble downward. You have friends, thankfully. One individual who rolled successfully must 'catch' you to prevent you from falling. Both individuals gain a status defect of 'Looming Dark'. It has no effect until you try to sleep, in which you will have horrible nightmares of falling. This can only be removed by Rping with someone with the Song concept in a logged scene offering you a lullaby.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

The skeleton issue seems to cause the party its share of issues. Asuna even has to avoid getting skeleton dust on her snow white cloak. Nothing she can't manage, though, her little flourish achieving just that.

    "Everyone focus and keep moving! We have taken some harm, but we /will/ clear this together," she says sternly.

Asuna doesn't seem to care if she's the first one in the lineup, but she doesn't slow down if she is. She keeps moving forward.

    "Watch your step."

Advice she apparently doesn't heed. Or maybe this is her idea of caution. She moves swiftly, but with intent, selecting her next light leap with caution. Everywhere her footfalls is just reinforced by earth artes.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

    Merek looks to the ledge and cave, while he takes the time to lift up that hand of his which is still good, taking his time to begin creating places to walk along rocks. Then, he's making his way with the party, "This is not an easy task to do," he will admit.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

Looking at the ledge and the whole cave, Kotono attempts to analyze the situation and hopefully find her way across safely.

Unfortunately, she takes a little too long, and before she can react, the rocks give out beneath her feet and she knows she doesn't have much time left.

"Ahh! Someone help me!" Kotono cries out, feeling her heart shift into ludicrous speed gear as she silently prays someone will save her.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

With the skeletal miners dealt with Shiruba can turn her attention back to finding a path to explore farther. She crouchs down and puts her hands on the ground, conjuring a light vibration through the rock and dirt to 'feel' the location around them. Which makes her frown. "This section of the caves is highly unstable. It's probably had sinkhole issues in the past."

She manages to pick her way through the loose rock and dirt without much issues. But at least once has to reach over and grab Kaydon to keep him from tumbling down one of the weak spots she was avoiding. Yes, she can pull the Were Fang back up. Shiruba may not be a melee fighter, but you know how much strength goes into drawing back a full sized longbow while keeping balance and position?
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

"The important thing is that you are here," Haru asides after the flurry of verbal and non-verbal excuses plus exchanges with Uta and Fuka. The Sylph may be last minute, but she shows up when she needs to and it is often a better time when she is.

This underground maze is a complete labrynth! "We keep going left, right?" Haru asks helpfully. Its a tactic, for sure. If you are going the right way you are going the wrong way. You need to find all that off-the-path treasure. Following air is also smart, he does that. "This is a Terrable situation to be in," Haru observes to the party. The Artificer isn't being negative about it. No, he begins to summon Terra, his Earth Elemental. "Terra. Vocare. Terebro. Numerus. Terebrare. Hostis." he chants. From the very present Earth, a four meter tall earth golem is constructed with two notable drill arms and some sick beats to jam to. "Drill safe, drill slow, lil lady," he says in a mock Western cowboy accent. If the Earth Sprite could groan, she would. Deft at mining and construction, the big ole summon starts helping by reinforcing and widening the path down for Haru to descend. He has noodly arms and legs and thats what friends are for: helping not become a splat mark at the bottom of this thing.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

Kaydon was doing his usual thing, going too fast. He let out a surprised sound when his footing is lost and he starts to fall only to get grabbed by Shiruba, "Thanks." He says, as he frowns a bit. He doesn't even notice the debuff pop up. It doesn't affect his stats or anything so it's easy enough to ignore in the jumble of everything going on.
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"I have?" Uta comments, startled, at Mizuki. "Oh! Right! I have!", she says, and after some flicking through her inventory, she materializes a small jar. "Apply this cream where it hur-AAAAAAAAGHHHHHHHHH!" There she goes, she's just slipped. On the plus side, the small earthen jar of topical anesthetic has gone flying right at Mizuki, so, hopefully, she'll be able to catch it. On the minus side, the Earth has given from under Uta, and she's plummeting to her doom!

"I THOUGHT I COULD FEATHER FALL! Did one of those miners hit my wings too?!"
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

    When the skeletons are dealt with, Fuka makes her way over to her fallen sword and picks it up with some effort, sending it to inventory rather than trying to sheathe it one-handed. Grumbling, she drinks a healing potion which helps recover her harmed arm somewhat, but the debuff remains and she won't be using it well any time soon. She could probably use someone binding it up at least, but in her current state of embarassment she's not about to seek someone out to ask for help. She was, after all, of no help in the fight and needed protection. Not the sort of thing that sits lightly with the mighty battle fairy!

    "No painkillers?" Fuka asks Uta as the group advances. "What, no special drugs to inject? Not even the pink ones?" she asks. "They're Elly's favourite, you know. The pink ones." Fuka rambles, her naturally sunny mood slowly resuming and pushing aside her shame.

    Coming out onto the sinkhole, Fuka stares at it in some trepidation. "H, I think now is definitely not the time to be terrable. Or boreing! Counting on you!" she claims cheerfully, even as she settles in to chant her own magic. She may not be as good at earth magic as Haru, but it's still one of her stronger elements with which she can put many a strong adventurer to shame.

    Some of the adventurers go out early, relying on their eyes or on magics to manage their way to a safe path. And some... fall. Fuka, uncharacteristically, is being cautious. That caution goes out the window when she sees the earth begin to give way. Accelerating her chant, she causes vines to form out from herself which lash themselves to firmer ground, and simultaneously the vines sprout from Miyako, the person most immediately in her view that she sees no one else able to help. Fuka grabs the vines sprouting from Miyako and HAULS, putting all the strength she has into keeping the imp from plummeting to her death. Fortunately, even one-handed, Fuka's a match for that... though it's a close thing indeed. Close enough to give nightmares, perhaps.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

    Miyako peers out across the darkness of the cavern. At least there's no more skeletons to worry about here. The Spriggan scowls down at the depths below, trying to see if she can make out the bottom, or perhaps a ledge at least. Nothing. Finally she picks -something- out, and gets a running start to try to glide her way across. Then the rocks give way under her as she nears the edge and she tries to leap...

    She said, -tries to leap-....

    The next thing she consciously remembers, she's looking up at Fuka as the blonde hauls her up from the abyss. "Hey," she gasps out. "... thanks... 's a long way down..."
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

    Hopefully Uta can temporarily numb her arm, at least.

    After being badly hurt once, Mizuki is less in the mood to keep messing around and try to take actions themed to her costume. She transforms, using her were fang senses to better see the tunnels and sniff out which ones lead somewhere... And is confronted with a very deep hole. "Aren't we already pretty deep underground? How far down does that *go*?"

    Still, she honestly giggles at Haru's pun before making her way across the rock.

    Uta finally remembers her anaesthetic... at the worst possible time. "Wait, I can't put it on NOW, we're-- Uta!" When Uta starts to fall, Mizuki reaches out for her without thinking, in what WOULD be a safe motion except that she tries to use her bad arm to hold on to a handhold and yowls in pain when her weight's put on it, tumbling down with that sense of falling and only darkness below her, and she wonders if she's about to find out what happens to Mario when he falls down a bottomless pit...

    And then she's not falling anymore. Caught by: Haru! Blue eyes look up to blue eyes.

    He saved me?

    Any weird feelings are clearly the result of adrenaline from thinking she was about to suffer a terrible fate, that's all, clearly. Still, her face reddens a bit (or at least, the inside of her large feline ears.) "Thanks. You saved me..."

    She goes more slowly and cautiously the rest of the way, stopping to shape hand and footholds with Earth when she's not entirely sure of them.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

The Collapsed Mineshaft

As the Party descends into the darkness below, they find that the abandoned mine is not so silent as they had first thought. As their lights come across the floor of the collapsed area, they can see that entire swaths of mining equipment has fallen here to rust and be forgotten. This might have been under one of the key collection areas as there is plenty of twisted metal, tools, and, of course, remnants of clothing.

There are places here that the ground has given way even further, descending down into an abyss that the miners must not have known about when they dug here. Thin lines of metal can be seen when the light is lifted, a sign of why the Landers must have been interested in this place at one time in the past. It is clear that a disaster happened and the mine has been left in this state ever since.

The expanse of the collapse is wide, stretching out into the inky black before them. However, blue lights slowly start to ignite in the distance. One by one, alerted by their presence, ghosts begin to come 'alive' and make their way towards them, moaning with the pain and agony of their deaths here in this dark, cursed place.

The air grows colder around them, and a distinct feeling like goosebumps rises as the ghosts bring about a feeling of fear and dread.

Ghost Hunters:
- Hunting vs 10 (Use your hunter knowledge to slay ghosts)
- Light vs 10 (drive the ghosts back with divine magic)
- Song/Air vs 10 (use sonic attacks to damage the ghosts)

Failure on this roll results in: You are able to be touched by one of the ghosts, imparting a 'Chill Touch' status defect. This causes the character to feel cold. The cold causes shivering and shuddering speech. This effect can be removed by logging an RP scene where they warm themselves by a fire and eat/drink warm food/liquids.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

While Asuna's eyes are always forward, she is somehow still aware of Uta's danger. She abruptly turns, leaping back up the treacherous terrain, her hair whipping out behind her in dramatic fashion.

It's a very challenging catch, and Asuna has to take it in a tumble, pulling Uta close and shielding her as much as possible. There's a somersault or ten, some pretty painful impacts, and then the ronin is back on her feet, willing the earth to support her and her passenger.

Upon reaching stable ground, she sets Uta down gently.

    "Sorry for the rough rescue."

No further comments, though. She's moving ahead once more, eyes locked ahead.

She picks her way along until the rush of cold comes. And with it, the ghosts. Asuna's reaction is swift, leaping back with a rush of air and in a thunderous explosion of sound. But she leaps right into the reach of a ghost. She spins away with a hiss of anger, and then she starts to shiver.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

Somehow, Kotono didn't fall to her untimely demise or something worse.

Rather, she was saved by Merek. Her heart slowly begins to slow down again, and as she regains her sense of what's going on, she looks to him and tells him, "I owe you big time."

As she gets back with the others, Kotono starts to feel uneasy about things. Is it because of what just happened? Is there something else going on?

Well, one thing is for certain.

There are ghosts coming! And definitely not Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde!

Bringing up her spell runes again, Kotono this time opts for some aerial magic. A sonic blast is cast from the Spriggan at the ghosts in an attempt to drive them away.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

    Merek takes the time to take ahold of Kotono's own hand when she begins to slide away. Then he pulls the woman up, "You're alright," he offers, then he nods. Although it seems like he almost went with her, which has him looking to the fall. He doesn't want to think about it, he probably will eventually though the moment seems to be for him to keep walking. When they come to the ghosts, the man takes a moment to begin singing, though instead of a song he uses a sonic ability on them with what can be said to be that Aria of the Magic Flute while he walks along.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

A shiver runs down Shiruba's spine from the cold presence of the ghost, making her tail frizzle out. But at this point, with herself and several friends already wearing down from the trials they've gone through, has reached the point of 'done with your shit' when it comes to undead trying to be creepy and spooky.

She draws an arrow from her quiver, pulls it back in her bow to charge it with the energy of wind and lightning, then fires. As it sails close to the ghosts it 'explodes', for lack of better phrasing, the charge of storm magic resulting in a deafening peal of thunder to vibrate their semicorporeal forms with the sonic shockwaves.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

Thats right. Some times Haru can be Heero, too. It isn't often feats of strength and it won't be today, either. The noodly armed Artificer has to extend out to Mizuki to catch her, a long electric line going from an anchor in the wall to Haru. Haru to Hands. Hands to Mizuki that wrap around like a strong vine. Sparkle Sparkle. The one visible blue eye looks to Mizuki with a smile before the magic hoists them back up. "Of course. When you are in need of saving, you call upon a Heero, right?" Horrible Haru pun.

Reaching the bottom is a lot easier thanks to his summon, which Haru dismisses after the task is carried out. No more unz unz unz, which may be giving people headaches after all of this. "What happened here?" he asks with genuine curiosity. The tale spins itself with the way the mine is constructed. "Did they dig too deep?" Is this Moria?! Is it, Mr. Ghost? Wait, Ghosts?! Haru fortunately has white hair so it can't be spooked white. "Terra, come back. We need your Unz Unz Unz!" No, Haru, she is on a break. Respect her work-life balance. A grunt as he makes his own 'Unz Unz Unz' sonic attacks to mimic the drillbeat, only with crackling lightning instead of the sweet industrial melody of the drills. Haru uses Unz Unz Unz: Its Super Effective! Either for dancing ghosts or repelling them.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

    Fuka smiles down at Miyako, her prior bad mood entirely gone. "That's why I'm here." she promises the imp, though of course she's going to feel kind of bad about how so many of them almost died there. Sure, everyone's safe, but it was waaaay too close. She's not dwelling on it now, but she might do so later, when alone and trying to sleep.

    Really the whole festival is a little disturbing, but this is the part that kind of gets to her most. The subtler horrors, not the overt monsters. As for ghosts... well, those little buggers were bad news in the monster race, and Fuka feels rather ill-equipped to deal with them right now, especially with her lingering injury. She invokes her menu awkwardly, summoning Frank, the Arc-ane Blade, into one hand. Awkwardly she points the weapon, channeling blasts of mana through the sword to streak out as lightning to blast into some of the attackers.

    Due to the awkwardness in trying to use the massive weapon one-handed, even just as a glorified blasting rod, Fuka can't dip and dodge, so one of the ghosts lands a solid spectral claw into the little sylph. "A-aaah!" she cries out, stammering. "C-c-c-c-cold!" she says, teeth chattering, as she leaps back and sends a blast into the ghost, dispersing it. "Sh-sh-sh-sh-shivering!"

    And you thought she was about to say something else starting with sh. Well, she probably was, then changed her mind with how hard it was to get the word out.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

"Wait, what happened? Where am I?", Uta stutters, confused. Her surroundings swim in and out of focus, spinning. She blinks multiple times, and shakes her head, trying to clear it. "Wait, uh, er..."


"Okay, how many fingers am I holding up?", she asks, index, middle, and ring finger held up in front of her face.

She leans over and squints, tilts her head twice, and hazards, "Uh... er... five?"


She attempts to raise her other hand, but yowls in pain, so she falls back on taking her good one close to her nose, which she uses to feel its upper contour. "Knuckle... one... two... three... knuckle..."

Silence. "Sorry, it was... uh..." Squint. "About four? About four fingers. How many did I say they were? Five?"


"Close enough," she says, and moves to stand up.

"BY THE WAY!", she calls out in Asuna's direction. "I'M NOT ONLY GOOD FOR SCREAMING, OKAY? I am a capable adventurer who AAAAAAAAAAH! GHOSTS!"

She swipes her good finger through her menu, and -finally- manages to materialize- hey, that's not her usual staff! It's a brand new one, still with the general design of a snake coiling around a gem, but the gem is a ruby red crystal, looking like an anatomically correct sculpture of a heart. The upper part of the wooden 'cage' it's held in even represents veins and arteries in an artistically elegant, yet accurate, way. The bottom part being, of course, the coils of the snake.

What she does next is, she starts to vocalize a song, a cappella, haunting. A melody... isn't that... for those who have been trying to recover the Phantom Colosseum, it's one of the songs the Sirens sang, when they entranced the sailors! And as Uta reproduces it, it magically resonates with the gem, which diffuses its properties around the area.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

As the party delves deeper into the mine, Miyako leans against Kotono for a bit before she finds it in her to straighten up and fly right. Or at least walk straight. "Thanks, again," she offers Fuka, though it seems to be starting to get a bit chilly.

    "Look at all this," she muses, picking through the refuse of a miners' camp. If they were still in the game she'd be praising the attention to detail, but here? Here, it's just a little sad. Real people died down here in the dark.

    The approach of the ghosts almost demands a response from her. It might not be entirely appropriate for the location, but....

        Oh in the Tow'r of London, large as life
        The ghost of Anne Boleyn walks, I declare
        For Anne Boleyn was once King Henry's wife
        Until 'e had the 'eadsman bob 'er hair
        Oh, yes, he done her wrong long years ago
        And she comes back each night to tell 'im so!

    She reaches over to yank Fuka away from the ghost, still singing.

        With 'er 'ead, tucked, underneath her arm, she walks the Bloody Tower!
        With 'er 'ead, tucked, underneath her arm, at the mid night hour!
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

    She's caught by Haru! Mizuki is stopped from falling with surprisingly strong noodle arms wrapping around her and *he even gives her that self-assured smile and she feels like she can almost see bishie sparkles around him as he smoothly says a one-liner like she's in a goddamn shoujo manga*. She hears the tone before her brain can process the words, and just blushes *more*. What. WHAT.

    Eventually the rejoinder 'Just don't self-destruct with me in your arms' forms in her brain, but all that comes out is sort of a stuttered "da."

    What was that. She likes GIRLS, right? RIGHT? Fortunately the rest of the way down is easier because Mizuki is hella distracted and lost in thought.

    So, THAT's on her mind, and further distracting, pain is something Mizuki isn't great at dealing with. It's one thing if you hurt a muscle and it's kind of annoying while you sit in a chair doing IT work all day. Like, that sucks, but she's dealt with it. But not only is her arm badly sprained or broken or something, she's got to do physical adventuring activity. It... kind of makes the whole experience less fun. But an Adventurer shouldn't whine, right?

    It getting uncomfortably cold, despite her fur, makes the approaching ghosts get on her last nerve. All of her discomfort and frustration and confusion are channeled into a mighty ROAR that... actually damages the ghosts that were coming for her, okay.

    For anyone inflicted with chill touch, she offers at least brief solace: "Um... do you want a hug? I'm fuzzy and warm..." She tries to give Uta a hug as well, reminding her kindly, "You're a capable adventurer. We all have bad days, Uta. It's okay."
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

It seems this time Kaydon is able to use the skills from being a were fang in order to try to fight the ghosts. He stops, holding his gunblade in his non-injured arm, as his ears and nose twitch, "Hold." He says, as he stops moving, "Something's close.." He can feel the air growing colder, and then he turns and strikes at seemingly nothing, a burst of fire magic from his gunblade on the strike causing an explosion to enhance the strike that causes the ghost to burst into pixels.

"They keep going invisible, but you can still sense them! Use your ears!" He calls out to the group, before he strikes down another one of the ghosts, repeating the process. It's harder to do without his left arm, but at least he seems to be able to land those hits when needed
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

The Source of Darkness

Even as the ghosts are sent to their final rest, there is still a sound like a whisper in the air. It echoes in the walls all around them. It permiates through their senses and resonates in their bones. It feels almost... like something were reaching inside their very souls and plucking at their heartstrings.

Then, the source of the feeling appears in a swirl of ash. It comes together into a massive, reaper-like creature made of flowing particles. It opens its mouth and gives a hollow sound, like a scream from a dry, throat. The bits of tattered clothing and tools start to hover slightly, blue glows forming aorund them.

This creature is the source of why so many undead linger here in the mine. If left alone, it will only create more pain and sorrow here. However, fighting through fear and pain is not quite so simple as it seems.

Special Notes:
If anyone in the party has the System Protection power path, you may roll this concept now. If you succeed at a 8+ roll, you may protect yourself and one other player from the effects of the Ash Wight.

The Ash Wight feeds upon fear, pain, loneliness, and sorrow. Choose one negative +memory that you have. As the Ash Wight first appears, you experience that moment as if it were happening before you, though you retain your current senses of your surroundings. Your pose should reflect this verbally/physically. This should be noticable by others. The effect is short lived, but the emotion felt from that memory will linger in the battle. If you have no negative +memories, page Reminisce for additional information.

Battle the Fear Within Yourself:

Magical vs 12
Physival vs 12
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

    "Asuna you.. clutz.."

Asuna scolds softly at herself, teeth chattering.

She's angry for her failure, but it changes nothing. There is work to do and people need her. Shaking her body, Asuna moves on.

She stills one arm for shivering too much by gripping the hilt of her rapier more tightly. The other clutches her cloak around her. It doesn't help with the cold, but she keeps it up anyway.

Casting a glance Mizuki's way, she shakes her head.

    "I'm f-f-fine."

    "And you are.. d-d-d-don't w-worry about it," she adds to Uta.

Moving ahead, she finds herself confronting the Flash of Death itself.

    "N-n-noooo!" She stumbles back, an ache she cannot handle crushing around her. She reaches with her artes, but they are simply no match for the traps of her own mind.

    "W-w-why...? Why can't we see Miki anymore? It wasn't her fault.. it w-w-was the Flash.. of Death."

She feels the ground against her hands as she falls to her knees, but it's distant, secondary. Tears fall, but she shoves herself back to her feet with a growl. Fighting through the blur of those tears, she isn't terribly effective, but she's hurting, angry, and looking to take it out on something.

Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

Kotono doesn't know what to make of this. This whole Flash of Death thing. She instinctively grabs her blades, but then she's overcome and she drops to her knees.

And for a moment, it's almost like she's not there anymore, but in her acrobatics class again when she was younger.

"No! Don't fall Reiko!" She and her partner Reiko are doing a partner exercise, but Reiko is losing her balance.

The Spriggan grits her teeth and tries to move, but she can't, almost as if the fear and terror has left her stuck in place.

"Reiko! I've got you!" She's trying to save her partner but it's no use.

But there's still nothing, just a Spriggan frozen in place. "Reiko! NO!"

The Spriggan begins breathing rapidly and heavily. A moment later, there appear to be tears in her eyes. "Reiko, are you all right?! I didn't mean it, I swear! If anything's happened to you, I'll never..."

It wasn't Kotono's fault, and Reiko did recover, but the guilt always stuck with her.

Then the Spriggan drops to one knee, the tears streaming down her cheeks. "Reiko..." And then her eyes open and she stands up, a mixture of terror and anger on her face. "What was that? Who did that? I'll make you pay!" She cries out as she draws her blades, looking for a potential target.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

    Merek looks to the creature while he begins to walk to it, and lifts up his only good hand while he begins to swing at it with the magical power of the flame. He then catches that attack from the creature, and it strikes him clear as day. That's when all seems to really go into a difficult spiral spin for him.

It seems like all reality is fading away and he's back there. His fiance', the one he was going to marry. He walks along and into that room, there she is, covered in blood. The pool along the floor. All he can remember is the words of the people staring at him. 'She was trying to offer the code you wrote, she was so happy to see you do well in CC.' Rewinding back a bit he got the call, he needed to come, something happened. He is holding her in his arms, the smell of the blood. Blood. Blood. Metallic, like the chemistry lab. What chemistry lab? You don't remember anymore why the smell was so familiar. The memories lose their way. Why did that scene seem so familiar?
    She wouldn't recover, they tried for a long time. You weren't there.

    All that is within his mind seems to come to him at once and he looks up with tears along his eyes at the creature. Though something else. There is anger, at her murder. All he can see is the woman he loved murdered, all for something that he wrote. He screams, "AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! KILLER!" He sweeps along and begins to pummel the creature with Ragnarok's Wisdom, swinging with both his fists. The one that is disabled simply begins shattering into red light where it was already broken until all he can use is his feet and a swing of his other arm. "I WILL KILL YOU" The dead aren't listening. He forgets where he even is at.
    And he will keep swinging, even after it is killed, even amid all the other people there watching him basically lose his mind.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

The ghosts are dispatched... but there is still a feeling of wrongness in the air. Shiruba's ears prick upright, as canine's tend to do when they're trying to detect and pinpoint something. Fortunately it doesn't take long for the source of the unease to make itself known as the Ash Wraith takes form from the dim remains of the mine. It only makes sense that a monster drawn to fear and suffering would be found in the depths of a delapitated collapsing shaft.

Then her ears twitch again, this time at something only she can hear. Voices from the past, from the Old World as they've taken to calling it, from the recesses of her memory. Shiruba squeezes her eyes shut, teeth gritting, determination momentarily stalled as the voices become more distinct, more forceful. Reminding her how no matter how good she did, how much she succeeded, it was not enough for her parents. The voice of her mother nagging over what she ate, how good she looked, and being able to attract a proper companion. Her father scowling and pressuring her, because of what he wanted as the best for her, not her own interests or desire. Misjudged love, misguided fears, all the aspects of her old life that honestly are part of what drove her to Elder Tale in the first place. Even when it was just a game.

But it isn't just a game anymore.
"... no..." Hands tightened their grip on her weapon, and a more forceful "No!" barked from the wolfgirl as she stomped a foot into the ground to resolve herself. Seeking solace in what was the now she drew back on Thundersnow Howl, drawing it's elemental forces into forming an arrow of electrificied ice crystal in the longbow. "I will not be the best that you want me to be..."

Eyes flared open, then narrowed on the Wraith, as she raises her weapon to aim, drawing it back into full complete charge. "BECAUSE I WILL BE THE BEST THAT *I* CAN BE!" And fired the elemental projectile into the spectre without any farther hesitation.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

Haru can be quite dashing! When he isn't dashing to the back lines as a Wave Artes user or being silly. Which is often. Like now, for example. The last of those ghosts leave him rather accomplished. See? He ain't afraid of no ghosts.

But he should be.

Drip drip drip. The sound of a faucet in the background. No. Its a leaky pipe. Haru turns his head around. "They have plumbing in here?" he considers and when he turns back around he is in a warehouse. Drip. Drip. Drip.

It is dim but he can see the light through cracks in the boarded skylights. Rays of the outside where there is salvation and hope. Figures of men. Men who are talking but he can't make it out. Haru falls to his knees under the weight of the dread. Drip Drip Drip. His limbs paralyzed as he tries to get his hands moving. No. He is in a cavern. This is the effects of some creature. Yet it doesn't feel any less real as his hands stretch out to catch him before he face plants into hard rocks.

Fingers crawl over sheets of paper. 'You bastards killed my husband.' 'I hope you all just die.' 'Watch your back, we're coming for you.' All in big magazine-cut death threats along the floor. "No," he rumbles out with a shaky voice. "This isn't real." So he hears a voice. His head snaps up defiantly to an illusionary assault. "You have no ri--" and his voice is cut short as if he was struck from the back of the head by a rock. Its no less real to him, his demons.

There is a woozy sway to the human's body as he claws at the ground. *BANG* That sound. *BANG* *BANG*. Not that sound. His breathing heaves in anxiety as he rolls back onto his heels. Don't look, Haru. You don't have to look. He does, though, red paint that runs down his palms, his fingertips, dripping onto the ground. Drip. Drip. Drip.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0

The Ash Wight appears in front of the group, and Kaydon prepares himself to attack. The last thing he was expecting was the sudden rush of emotions to hit him. Sure he remembers where he is, the abandoned mine, about to fight a monster. But his mind keeps getting pulled back to the days after the Flash of Death, his mind racing as he thinks of the friends who never came back online. Tears start to roll down his face, as he grits his teeth, "No." He says, "No they're already gone..I can't do anything for them." He says, as he finds his vision starting to blur from the tears, flowing freely down from the gnoll were fang's eyes.

"I can't help them. But I can help people now!"

Kaydon rushes forward, consequences be damned as he fights through the tears, the pain of losing people. People who were his great friends. But he has real friends here, and now, and they need to be protected. He roars in defiance of the pain, and attacks the wight with the Jaeger, the gunblade's strikes sending blasts of fire wave artes into the creature, as Kaydon tries to drive it back, hoping that if he can push the creature away, it'll help the rest of the team recover and fight.
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"You," Miyako growls, levelling her war-fan at the monster with her good arm. Seeing those around her lost in their memories, seeing the expression on Kotono's face. She can feel her own memories clawing at her mind, trying to intrude on her thoughts. But. She. Will. Not. ALlow. It.

    She will not think that.

    "You," she repeats, stomping towards the beast, letting shadow gather around her weapon. "LET. HER. GO!" She lashes out, the shadows surrounding her fan forming into a whip that moves to her direction, slashing at the wraith as she stomps determinedly towards it, trying to force it back. "BEGONE!"
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    Fuka nods to the called out words. "Yes, Songbird is great for many things! Screaming is only one of them!" she confirms to Asuna cheerfully, though her teeth continue to chatter and her voice comes out more in a struggling stutter than clean unburdened speech. Having been saved in turn by Miyako from an attacking ghost doesn't remove the Chill Touch of course, but she's grateful nonetheless.

    Despite the chill in her heart and having only one functional arm, Fuka's rather cheerful as the group finally comes across the boss of the adventure. That's Fuka after all, a person of boundless energy and cheer, without a sad memory to her nature.

    This, of course, may make it a bit of a surprise to anyone who is paying attention, as a tear begins to roll down the small sylph's cheek. "Fukajiroh..." she murmurs softly, almost too softly to hear.

    As sorrows go, it's not the worst thing Fuka's ever faced. There was the horror and disappointment of her fourteenth birthday, when the world itself ground to a halt. She's on guard against that memory however, and it led her to a rather profound revelation besides. The memory of her beloved puppy's death however, that's something more profound and personal. Something the Ash Wight can latch onto and parade before her, so that despite being aware of the enemy confronting her and the rest of the party, despite being aware of everyone facing their own traumas, this sorrow is the one forced into the foreground.

    Her parents were right, in their way. They had forbidden her to take in the puppy, claiming it was ill, that it was too much to take care of. They were wrong too, of course. She took the puppy in anyways, cared for him, loved him. Even as her forbidden son died, she knew she wasn't wrong to try, to care... no matter how much it hurt.

    The little Sylph roars in fury, tears racing down her cheeks. "DAMN YOU!" she bellows, flailing about with gauntleted fists, trying to punch the Ash Wraith. Blinded by tears, she's probably equally as much of a danger to her friends as she is to the monster. She doesn't regret her choice, but neither is she going to just dissolve into helpless pointless sorrow. Fighting the wraith may be as pointless as trying to care for a puppy doomed to die... but that won't stop her trying!
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Uta is, as usual, rather confused at Mizuki just showing up and hugging her. Like many Japanese, she's not really the touchy-feely type in normal circumstances and, as weird as it sounds, what just happened is not exceptional enough to fall into hug territory. But she chalks it up as it being a Western social custom, so she lets Mizuki do her thing.

Until, that is, the Ash Wight appears.

"Plumbing? I don't think so, Haru? It would ruin that telephone, see? Which reminds me. There's a call I need to make."

Uta picks up the handset of the air telephone, dials a number, and waits. "Hello? Tokyo First Online University of Higher Learning?", she asks. Silence. "Oh, sorry, madam, wrong number." Pause. "Yes, I'm sure your ramen are delicious, but I don't need any right now."

A number is dialed again. "Hello? Tokyo First Online University of Higher Learning?" Pause. "Uh, no, I'm pretty sure I said don't want any ramen. Didn't I just say that?" Pause. "Yes, yes, I -know- I'm calling local to Osaka. It's... it's called Tokyo First Online University of Higher Learning, but despite the pompous-sounding name it's a third-rate online college. It's legit tho'!" Pause. "...What do you mean 'they must be the guys you took over the location from'?" Pause. "What's your address again?"

Uta, shocked at what must be the correct address, slumps to the floor, staring ahead. "Yes, I know that Pluto's kiss bankrupted a bunch of institutions, but they must have my academic records, right? People must still be contactable? Isn't that supposed to be an office with a data center or something? Aren't there computers still around?" Pause. Excitement. "Oh, yes, yes, they should look like that! That should be the server, I think!" Frown. "...reconverted to stove?" Pause. "No, I didn't know CPUs ran -that- hot. Is... that... safe?" Pause.

"I don't know, I'm supposed to be getting a degree in -literature- in the upcoming days, not computer science... anyway, okay, computers are gone, but what about the paper trail?" Pause. "Tossed... away? All of them?"

There is silence.

Uta falls to her back. Staring at the ceiling. "No... I did not keep printed records..." Silence. "...What?", she asks, distant. "...on the house?" Beat. "...thanks, yes, I think I -do- need some ramen, after all..."

Uta gets up, slowly, and shuffles toward the Ash Wight. "You know what?", she says, with an empty look in her eyes. "It doesn't matter. Nothing matters anymore..." she drones, and leaps into a devastating flying roundhouse kick to whatever comes closest to being the Ash Wight's face.

But she does so without any feeling. It's just routine.
Yamato - -27 - 8 - 0


A sound like a scream permeates the collapsed mine as the Ash Wight is driven back by the Adventurers. It's obvious that many of them are rattled by the visions that seize them. It makes makes it harder to attack through their own fear, sorrow, or nerves.

The sound echoes in the already unstable chamber. Rocks start to fall around them, as if the whole chamber was starting to take damage from their fighting. It is starting to become too dangerous to continue.

There is a mad scramble back up the rock pile as more of the structure starts to give way. As they retreat, they can see the glowing eyes of the Ash Wight staring at them. It dives down into the abyss below, even as the rocks start to fall around them.

Though they escape, the entire group has taken high amounts of damage. Some of them are even in the single digits of health. The entrance into the abandoned mine collapses behind them, buried under rocks. They have not defeated the source of the undead, but they have, at least, made sure that no more will be finding their way up through these tunnels.

But... they had felt a source of fresh air, hadn't they?
Oh no...
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    Merek eventually manages to be pulled away from the fight, and makes his way with the party along to the top. When they come upon that clean air, the man takes the time to look about, though he's not talking for the moment. He then walks away. It would look like he does not want to talk to anyone.
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It's all over finally, but Kotono's not feeling too well. She's got this strange sense of paranoia or something like that. She doesn't know what it is... nor does she want to.

For now, she looks to Miyako and says, "Are you all right? We need to get you checked out somewhere." Apparently, Kotono seems to have gotten off easy here since none of her limbs were hurt, but poor Miyako is another story.
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Reaching the surface, Asuna glares back over her shoulder. She does not wipe at her tears. They do not exist in her world.

    "I let it get away!"

She slams her fist down on her hip.

Pausing only to make sure no one is left in critical health, and offering health pots to make sure, she stalks away, shuddering in the grip of the cold.

    "I /will/ find you and I /will/ kill you," she promises.
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Hopefully the cave starting to collapse is enough to stir other people from their terrors, but Shiruba yells "The cave is falling, get out!" just to be sure, even as she's turning to scramble back the way they came. She catches a glimps of the Ash Wraith disappearing deeper into the chasm, but there's nothing to be done about it now. They'll have to hope the caves collapsing will at least styme off the undead extrusions for now.

Once they're back on the main surface she tumbles to the ground, panting and groaning. Between the wraith, the falling stone, and the vampiric effect of that bat bite, she's on the fringe of usable health. So she's probably going to lay there a moment, even after accepting Asuna's offered potion to help hold off the HP Drain until she can get somewhere to deal with it.

None of the healers in the group are up to handling status effects after that experience, to be sure.
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Haru is of no help during the final battle unless you count shaking on his knees as a contribution. A deep breath in. A deep breath out. Just breathe. No one is coming to help you. You have to get your act together and help yourself. To your feet. So Haru gets to his feet. Asuna's declaration has him jolt, scared. He has heard that before and that wound is already torn open raw. Much like Merek, who had events of retribution in his past, Haru doesn't want to talk about it. He takes what he knows about people to stay in the wake of their demons. Hide his own. Before the people here try to kill him, too.

Haru isn't about to give up, though. The collapsing cave has him moving forward. This won't be his tomb. Once he gets to the surface he puts on a smile, so fabricated and manufactured that it looks like every other smile he has ever smiled since coming to Elder Tales, "Well that is an attraction they should add to the haunted house. Full spooks award," he laughs. He rubs his hands to hide the shaking, "Its got me plenty thirsty, I'm going to go find a tavern and get a Dark and Stormy to cap this adventure off."
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    In the wake of the Ghost Fight, Mizuki feels a little better after having let it all out in that roar. As what will probably be the boss begins to form, she says cockily, "You'll terrorize these people no more, fiend! Prepare to face the engineer of the Well-Tuned Murder Engine!"

    But... As she turns towards the Ash Wight, she happens to jostle her hurt arm in a way that makes her wince. She hisses through clenched teeth.

    The pain is a reminder of the price for playing around.

    She wasn't good enough in the first place, was she?

    In one fantasy life after another, on a screen, around a table, or in VR, she's barely been Good Enough. Sure, there are some fun memories, and some great triumphs, but she just... she was always trying as hard as she could to do her best. In the real world she was just some geek; and yet even in fantasy worlds where she had so much more power, it took everything she had just to keep things going. Rarely she couldn't even manage THAT, failing to prevent a party member death or dying right away in a raid.

    "I'm... I'm a valued member of Black Cloud..." but whether in Ragnarok Online, Guild Wars, or the first year of Elder Tale online, did she ever really change a conflict notably? Provide anything that other guild members didn't do better? Would anyone even remember her? Would Mycroft Hellfire even be a member of the guild if he wasn't-- "I'm not just the older brother of the guildmaster!"

    And THAT was when it was mere fantasy. "T-this is real now..." and what does she do?

    "I've... played around too much..." The first day can be excused, but the rest? She shakes her head. "Cutesey nya nonsense..." until she was told off for it, "I'm not just some cat! I should know better..." this is a REAL dungeon with REAL monsters and she's STILL playing around pretending to be a semi-obscure videogame character, "...than to, to, to be fooling around with Halloween cosplay nonsense... because of me you got out the anaesthetic and almost fell..." her sub-optimal choices could get someone else hurt or... "I could've gotten you killed!"

                       You're only good for being a cat.                        

    Those weren't the imp's exact words, but it's how Mizuki remembers them.

    "I'M NOT ONLY GOOD FOR BEING A CAT!" She should be doing so much more. "Stupid, stupid, STUPID! Smelling the roses and sleeping, when I should've been finding a way out of here... What if it was behind that wall in Ezzo the whole time?!"

    "I actually get to live the dream of being a hero and THIS is how I spend it?!"

    "I'm sorry... I'm so sorry, everyone..." Mizuki says to the party as the Ash Wight approaches. "I should have done better. Maybe we'd have found a way out of here by now... I'm so STUPID!"

    "I'll do better!" Mizuki grips her daggers' hilts tightly, wincing as her bad arm hurts. She rezzes the sword forged by the now-undead player instead, in her good hand.

    As the fight begins, she tries to sneak around behind the boss; let the tanks take aggro and once it's distracted, she takes the stance for the Sword Arte, Edge Of Shadow!

    But it's not as damaging as she'd hoped. As damage accrues, she feels the weight of every mistake. Mizuki continues muttering to herself. "Why would you use a DARKNESS ELEMENT attack on a ghost, anyway?! STUPID!"

    As her health bar shrinks, Mizuki reaches deep down inside for her determination.

    Get to the next screen. You haven't lost until your last health point and last life are gone. Keep fighting, be ready for the boss to expose its weak point.


    But... what's the point, if she's just going to fuck it up and do silly things like show up weak to the boss because she was playing at being a cat, or a Halloween costume, and then when it DOES show its weak point she attacks a GHOST with fucking DARKNESS?!

    Mizuki's movements grow more and more uncoordinated -- occasionally forgetting about her bad arm, trying to use it, and crying out in pain doesn't help.

    "What's the point..."

    What's the point... If you're just going to mess it up every time?

    "What's the point... I'm just a stupid cat... A fool..."

    Why is her throat so tight? And her vision blurring? Mizuki checks her HUD but doesn't see some kind of choking or blindness effect... Did she miss something? That'd be just like her to miss something important...

    The were fang, covered in red damage marks and on her last legs, swings her sword tiredly at the ghost, tears soaking the fur of her cheeks.
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    Miyako crawls up and out of the crevasse and wipes sweat from her brow, scowling. "... that was..." She shakes her head. Leaning against Kotono, she takes several moments to catch her breath. "Fuck." She grinds her teeth and glares down at the collapsed remains. "This is going to be a pain and three halves."
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    Mizuki's not the first to run, but even in this state, she can recognize the change in objective when others start fleeing. She derezzes the sword and scampers around rocks as best she can on all threes.

    When they finally reach the surface, she sits to rest, looking brief at the others with still-wet eyes... and realizing that the way she's favoring her wounded arm will just reinforce the impression of a wounded animal.

    She should shift back... but what's the point in denying it? She lies down and curls up, tears running from closed eyes as she stifles the occasional sob.